MSNBC Panelists Were NOT Happy 2020 Dems Bashed Obama Too Much, Not Trump!

Unlike their late-night analysis after Tuesday’s debate, MSNBC had their acts together on Wednesday night, putting together in many of their initial takes a near-unanimous message: former Vice President Joe Biden was on the defensive and that it was an abomination how many of the Democratic presidential candidates condemned the Obama administration.

Hardball host Chris Matthews’s night two movie reference was Gulliver’s Travels with Biden being “tied down after rope after rope for his long political career,” having to “defend every element of it going back, as Michael Bennet said, 50 years on issues like busing.”

 

 

Matthews added that “the story” was how “[i]t was very hard for him to play defense,” even though he “was 100 percent better but maybe 200 percent better than he was in the first debate” and improved from the standpoint of being cogent.

MSNBC political analyst and former Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) was next and fretted that she “want to turn the volume down” at times with all the candidates attacking each other.

But it was here that she first took issue with the candidates going after Dear Leader Obama (click “expand”):

And the weirdest thing to me which I'm having a hard time with is is it a smart strategy to attack the Obama administration? I mean, this is a Democratic president elected twice. I think he's the only Democrat we've had with the margins he's had since FDR that did that, remains wildly popular in the Democratic Party...And the notion that the goal tonight was to attack the Obama administration, I think that could blow up in some folks’ faces before this thing is all over and I've got to say this. Biden was a lot better. You know, he — it was a circular firing squad and he was in the middle and it was really — I think he withstood the attacks pretty well, had some wobbles from time to time, but overall, he was much stronger and much more forceful. His delivery was so much stronger than he was in the last debate. 

Williams read a tweet from TDS sufferer Joe Scarborough as a second to McCaskill’s point and, despite being on different ends of the Democratic Party spectrum, AM Joy host Joy Reid agreed, unleashing a torrent against Wednesday’s 10 candidates for rebuking Obama (click “expand”):

You know, it’s — it's rare that the senator and I agree on anything, I think really. We don't agree thatch on policywise, but it was weird for me to watch about almost 40 minutes of primarily attacks on the Obama administration's policies. It was odd. It took — I mean, de Blasio made a full-on attack of ObamaCare. Essentially said we have no working health care system in America, but hello, we have ObamaCare. So that means the system he's attacking and saying it isn't working is ObamaCare. It took until Cory Booker finally said — mentioned Donald Trump, you finally had a couple of candidates realize that they need to also mention that it is Donald Trump that's trying to take away the health care of 30 million people who got it from ObamaCare. So it was an odd strategy to me. It was almost as if we had this debate with the luxury of Hillary Clinton being president and all we were debating was how we were going to further fix health care. It's almost as if the debate forgot who's president because the attacks on Donald Trump, I don't — I don’t remember his name being mentioned that much and so it was odd for me for these candidates to debate changes in health care and their different policies on immigration as if Trump doesn't exist. I was expecting at least — you know, I think Cory Booker did it a bit — hit the President. Donald Trump is supposed to be who you're running against, not Barack Obama.

Asked later to elaborate, Reid doubled down with a jab at CNN’s Jake Tapper (click “expand”):

I don't think Joe Biden gave a masterful performance tonight but I think because he was sentient, because he defended himself....I think when he was having this debate with Kamala Harris after, you know, Jake Tapper set up this Kamala versus Biden food fight at the top of the debate, as he was defending the Affordable Care Act what I heard was let's save and protect ObamaCare and add the public option, which I think for his base, for African-Americans, old African-Americans is going to sound like a defense of President Obama....But again, I think for the person that is running against Donald Trump, the job, in my view, is not to prove that you have a slightly better health care idea than Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren. It's going to be to demonstrate to the public...just how much of a system failure this presidency has been for them...I think Lawrence is absolutely right. You know, this debate is not necessarily an attack on President Obama. But Obama isn't the point and I hope at some point Democrats get to the point, which is that the man in the White House is their opponent[.]

To add yet another voice on that, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson fretted that “they were spending a lot of time doing that” and “if you're a Democratic candidate for president and you spend your precious time on the debate stage attacking the very popular former president you're not — I think you're not making progress.”

“To that end I think Joe Biden...certainly did much better than he did in the first debate. I mean, he did not seem ancient. He did not seem out of it. He fumbled a few facts....He got in a couple of really good zingers. So I think it was all in all a pretty good night for him even though he spent it under attack,” Robinson concluded.

Providing the contrarian view was self-avowed socialist and The Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell, who ruled that “[i]t is in the nature of the Democratic Party to be self-critical because it is always trying to move forward on social policy, which the Republican Party is not and is always thinking of social policy from new angles” on issues like feminism, gay marriage, and racism.

Thus, O’Donnell diagnosed his fellow lefties as suffering from “an easy overreaction” and predicted that Obama probably didn’t “[feel] like he was being attacked.”

Like numerous MSNBCers did after Tuesday’s debate, O’Donnell blasted CNN moderators Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper (click “expand”):

I do think that they did lose focus once again on Donald Trump. Not in their closing statements, which is quite interesting. Right? Because the opening statements and the closing statements are the two things they prepared. They get a minute for each one and in those things they never attacked anybody else on the stage. But in the CNN design of game show of “I'm going to raise something that this one said two years ago and get you to fight with that person about it,” they fell into it and they didn't step above it, most of them. Most of the time and that is a format mistake that they really should have thought their way through and once again the proof that there is not now and hasn't been for a very, very long time anyone who you would call a leader of the leader of the Democratic Party because if the Democratic Party had a leader, after last night the ten people tonight would have all been sat in a room tonight and they would have said remember you're running against Donald Trump and remember that one of these people, at least one is going to be on the ticket that you're going to be either on or campaigning for and don't say anything that makes it difficult for you to campaign for this ticket when you're going to have to campaign for this ticket. That discipline wasn't there.

A presence on Tuesday, MSNBC political analyst and MoveOn.org’s Karine Jean-Pierre added her voice just before midnight Eastern that the candidates “unload[ed] their opposition book, research book, on each other and they did not prosecute the case against Donald Trump enough,” but instead “attacked” Obama “more...than Donald Trump.”

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s post-debate analysis on July 31, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Decision 2020: Post-Debate Analysis
July 31, 2019
10:53 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, last night reminded me of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as the two main characters fighting off the Bolivian army. Tonight it was more like Gulliver's Travels. I mean, there was Vice President Biden tied down after rope after rope for his long political career. He had to defend every element of it going back, as Michael Bennet said, 50 years on issues like busing. It was very hard for him to play defense. But he had a couple of allies tonight. I was surprised. On the issue of ObamaCare for all he was joined on that on his side against it by Michael Bennet and by Tulsi Gabbard, who were very strong in his defense and on the issue of decriminalizing border crossings for the southern border he had a couple of defenders on that issue as well. I thought it was a pretty good divided fight tonight and I thought like last night the issues were border, decriminalization of illegal entry and of course Medicare for all. Those issues. I thought those were parallel tonight and I think he had some supporters, but tonight it was clear that over and over again he was playing defense and the hardest thing for him to defend in the current climate politically was the deportations. I thought he was hit very hard on, that on the question of double talk because he said it was wrong for his opponents — for Gillibrand to change her vote because of the election and right out of nowhere he got hit on the fact that he was changing his vote on the Hyde Amendment, for example. So he had so many people coming at him from so many directions I think it would be very hard for him to be a successful goalie tonight and I'm sure — but I will say one thing. He was 100 percent better but maybe 200 percent better than he was in the first debate. He seemed to be aware he was in a debate, which is a start for him and I thought he was reciting a lot of stuff. In fact, a lot of times when he got to the end of his time it was like he ran out of his recitation rather than his thought. I don't think that looked too good. 

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Chris, as you know, all of these take on their own character. By tomorrow morning these events have a funny way of developing with a boost from social media their own storyline. We woke up this morning and Williamson was having her moment. As we go to bed tonight, who do you think is going to get that moment among the names that didn't come up in our initial run-through? Is it an Inslee? Is it a Yang perhaps? 

MATTHEWS: Well, I thought Cory Booker had a pretty good night. I think he took him on. I thought as usual de Blasio, the mayor of New York, kept taking these long shots at him. I don't think they were that effective. I think tonight — I'm not sure there was a big winner tonight like last night. Suzanne Williamson [sic] — I think that — Marianne Williamson. I think tonight was Biden on defense. That was the story. 

(....)

10:57 p.m. Eastern

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Okay, so honestly there, were times I wanted to turn the volume down. I care about this deeply. 

WILLIAMS: That's honesty. 

MCCASKILL: I'm really interested in this. But when they were all -- I mean, you had Gabbard attacking Kamala and you had someone even going to the trouble of attacking de Blasio. You know, it was like, what? And the weirdest thing to me which I'm having a hard time with is is it a smart strategy to attack the Obama administration? I mean, this is a Democratic president elected twice. I think he's the only Democrat we've had with the margins he's had since FDR that did that, remains wildly popular in the Democratic Party.

WILLIAMS: Wildly popular. 

MCCASKILL: Wildly popular. And the notion that the goal tonight was to attack the Obama administration, I think that could blow up in some folks’ faces before this thing is all over and I've got to say this. Biden was a lot better. You know, he — it was a circular firing squad and he was in the middle and it was really — I think he withstood the attacks pretty well, had some wobbles from time to time, but overall, he was much stronger and much more forceful. His delivery was so much stronger than he was in the last debate. 

WILLIAMS: Joy Reid, Joe Scarborough had a good night in that we heard Julian Castro mention Moscow Mitch before the end of the evening. I've also been following Joe tonight on social media, and I wanted a quote from this. “Okay, let me get this straight. Democrats hate ObamaCare and hated his immigration policies? What planet are they from?”

JOY REID: Yeah. You know, it’s — it's rare that the senator and I agree on anything, I think really. We don't agree thatch on policywise, but it was weird for me to watch about almost 40 minutes of primarily attacks on the Obama administration's policies. It was odd. It took — I mean, de Blasio made a full-on attack of ObamaCare. Essentially said we have no working health care system in America, but hello, we have ObamaCare. So that means the system he's attacking and saying it isn't working is ObamaCare. It took until Cory Booker finally said — mentioned Donald Trump, you finally had a couple of candidates realize that they need to also mention that it is Donald Trump that's trying to take away the health care of 30 million people who got it from Obamacare. So it was an odd strategy to me. It was almost as if we had this debate with the luxury of Hillary Clinton being president and all we were debating was how we were going to further fix health care. It's almost as if the debate forgot who's president because the attacks on Donald Trump, I don't — I don’t remember his name being mentioned that much and so it was odd for me for these candidates to debate changes in health care and their different policies on immigration as if Trump doesn't exist. I was expecting at least — you know, I think Cory Booker did it a bit — hit the President. Donald Trump is supposed to be who you're running against, not Barack Obama.

(....)

11:04 p.m. Eastern

EUGENE ROBINSON: Well, yes, they were attacking the Obama administration. They were. They spent a lot of time doing that. I think if you're a Democratic candidate for president and you spend your precious time on the debate stage attacking the very popular former president you're not — I think you're not making progress. You know, I — so, we've had these two nights now. I think last night we saw a couple of people, especially Elizabeth Warren, who were very good at explaining policy. Command of every detail and good at explaining the impact of policies and everything like that. I thought we got much less of that tonight but we got more of the sizzle, more of the — the leadership question that we talked about. You got a chance to sort of evaluate these people as potential presidents and you know, to that end I think Joe Biden did — certainly did much better than he did in the first debate. I mean, he did not seem ancient. He did not seem out of it. He fumbled a few facts. He — he — a couple of times he said three trillion when he meant to say 30 trillion and he got — but Joe Biden always did that. Joe Biden did that when he was a young senator. 

MCCASKILL: 30. 

ROBINSON: Yeah, when he was 30 years old and he was more fluid in his discourse and he got in a couple of really good zingers. So I think it was all in all a pretty good night for him even though he spent it under attack. 

WILLIAMS: Lawrence O’Donnell. 

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: It is in the nature of the Democratic Party to be self-critical because it is always trying to move forward on social policy, which the Republican Party is not and is always thinking of social policy from new angles. It is also always trying move forward on social sensitivities, on issues like racism, on feminism. So if, for example, marriage equality had come up at this debate tonight and someone pointed out that Barack Obama was once opposed to marriage equality, I would not take that as an attack on Barack Obama. I would take that as an expression of the way thinking in the Democratic Party is constantly moving forward. You can look back two years, four years, and six years and say I think we should do it this way instead of that way, and — and I now want to do it this way because we did it this way. I mean Julian Castro at a certain point said something about learning from mistakes, that he was part of in the past and so I think there's an easy overreaction here to the idea that Barack Obama's being attacked. I don't — I don’t think he felt like he was being attacked. If he was watching this. I think he knows what that is. I do think that they did lose focus once again on Donald Trump. Not in their closing statements, which is quite interesting. Right? Because the opening statements and the closing statements are the two things they prepared. They get a minute for each one and in those things they never attacked anybody else on the stage. But in the CNN design of game show of “I'm going to raise something that this one said two years ago and get you to fight with that person about it,” they fell into it and they didn't step above it, most of them. Most of the time and that is a format mistake that they really should have thought their way through and once again the proof that there is not now and hasn't been for a very, very long time anyone who you would call a leader of the leader of the Democratic Party because if the Democratic Party had a leader, after last night the ten people tonight would have all been sat in a room tonight and they would have said remember you're running against Donald Trump and remember that one of these people, at least one is going to be on the ticket that you're going to be either on or campaigning for and don't say anything that makes it difficult for you to campaign for this ticket when you're going to have to campaign for this ticket. That discipline wasn't there. By the way, I don't think any of them have crossed that line. I think John Delaney can go out and campaign for this ticket. I think they can all still campaign for their ticket or join the ticket. I don't think they're at that spot but they're veering toward it without that concentration on Donald Trump.

(....)

11:36 p.m. Eastern

REID: I don't think Joe Biden gave a masterful performance tonight but I think because he was sentient, because he defended himself and the record under President Obama — now, his previous record I can't speak for, the crime bill, et cetera, hurts him long term, especially with younger black voters. I think with older African-Americans who are his base. I think people will double down on him. 

WILLIAMS: You heard a moment that explains this. 

REID: Yeah. I think when he was having this debate with Kamala Harris after, you know, Jake Tapper set up this Kamala versus Biden food fight at the top of the debate, as he was defending the Affordable Care Act what I heard was let's save and protect ObamaCare and add the public option, which I think for his base, for African-Americans, old African-Americans is going to sound like a defense of President Obama. It was odd he didn't use Obama's name because he usually does it so much. I think that was one thing. I think the second thing is this tension between progressives and kind of the more middle of the party really has been there since President Obama was there. There was a lot of that tension over a lot of his policies including over health care. I mean, there was a point, you know, at which Democrats were very much against the Affordable Care Act because, in their minds, it wasn't Medicare for all, right? This debate is happening, it's kind of been a pent-up debate since President Obama was there that's spilling out. But again, I think for the person that is running against Donald Trump the job in my view is not to prove that you have a slightly better health care idea than Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren. It's going to be to demonstrate to the public, as Michael Moore said, to the people who are troubled by Donald Trump, just how much of a system failure this presidency has been for them, just how much Donald Trump has failed them, how much he's failed to do anything for them he's done for the super wealthy, and to tell people how much he's failed them and what you're going to do to make things better. That's your job and so I think it's great for Democrats to have this debate. I think Lawrence is absolutely right. You know, this debate is not necessarily an attack on president Obama. But Obama isn't the point and I hope at some point Democrats get to the point, which is that the man in the White House is their opponent and they're going to have to convince people that he is enough of a threat to their own future that they need to line up in and 77,500 more of them need to vote in those three states.

NB Daily 2020 Presidential Debates Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Video Chris Matthews Joy Reid Lawrence O'Donnell Eugene Robinson Joe Biden Donald Trump Claire McCaskill Marianne Williamson Tulsi Gabbard
Curtis Houck's picture


Sponsored Links