Barack Obama, liberal? Surely you jest. Rachel Maddow found the suggestion so silly, she literally burst out laughing. The Air America host was part of this evening's panel on Race for the White House. David Gregory couldn't complete his reading of Rich Lowry's take on Obama before Maddow let loose.
DAVID GREGORY: Let's go to Smart Take #2. This is Rich Lowry from National Review Online, he's also talking [in a NY Post column] about Obama [emphasis added]:
Obama represents a rejection of triangulating Clintonism. He had no Sister Souljah moment during the primaries. Indeed, he initially embraced his Sister Souljah, in the form of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, introduced to the public in videotaped anti-American rants. Nor did Obama make any creative policy departures, like Clinton's advocacy of welfare reform in 1992. Obama is the fullest flowering of liberal orthodoxy since George McGovern. And yet his candidacy might not be electoral suicide. He has formidable gifts as a politician; he's eloquent, winsome, a quick study. He confronts a Republican Party that, beset by intellectual exhaustion, congressional scandal and an unpopular incumbent president, teeters on the verge of a Watergate-style meltdown. So Democrats contemplate the delicious prospect of having their purity and victory, too.
As Gregory speaks the words "Obama is the fullest flowering of liberal orthodoxy since George McGovern," Maddow can be heard laughing off camera. When Maddow's turn came to comment, she tried to make the case that Obama doesn't make it as a real liberal.
View video here.
RACHEL MADDOW: I think if this was a pure liberal candidacy we'd be talking about single-payer healthcare, we'd be talking about prosecuting members of the current administration for war crimes, we'd be talking about abolishing the death penalty. I mean, I can dream up a liberal candidacy for you. I would have to dream it, though, because Barack Obama is not that guy. I love the caricature, but it's so far from the truth.
So in Maddow's book, anything short of Dennis Kucinich is no real liberal. Even by that high standard, Obama might well qualify, given his most-liberal-voting-record in the Senate, and his history of pro-choice absolutism, and support for abolishing the death penalty and banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.
Note: Philly radio talk show Michael Smerconish host was presumably there to provide some Republican balance, but wound up reinforcing Rachel.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: It's not an analogous situation to 1972. And he didn't embrace Sister Souljah, he defined himself in contrast to Jeremiah Wright when that scandal broke.
Maddow can be seen giving an approving nod—with good reason.
My two cents: We might be tempted to laugh off Maddow's risible attempt to portray Obama as other than the liberal he is. But it is surely nothing less than the opening volley of a MSM campaign to paint Obama as a "centrist" or "moderate," much as it has done on behalf of virtually every Dem prez candidate