Sen. Shaheen Shreds Bogus Claim By Maddow

March 28th, 2009 2:10 PM

Get ready for a rare spectacle -- Rachel Maddow, chastened. By a Democrat.

In one of her nightly efforts to slam so-called "conservadems," members of a newly formed Senate caucus of moderate Democrats, Maddow invited one of its members, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, on her MSNBC show Wednesday night.

What followed was a thing of beauty --

MADDOW: Sen. Shaheen, I understand that bipartisanship is sort of, is a very attractive idea in the abstract. Honestly, trying to make the, trying to work with Republicans toward policy ends on things like the stimulus bill, on the health care legislation, on climate change legislation, is likely to make it less likely to pass, rather than more likely to pass. The Democrats have a huge majority right now and it seems like the obstacle toward them passing what they want to pass is not that they can't attract Republicans from the minority, but that they can't stay unified enough to pass anything.

SHAHEEN: Well, but that's not true. In fact, since we have been here we passed a number of pieces of major legislation. The Lilly Ledbetter bill that addresses equal pay. We've passed children's health insurance, something that couldn't get done under the last Congress and last president. We passed a public lands bill that makes significant investments in protecting our environment. This week we're working on national service, I'm sure we're going to pass that by the end of the week. We passed an economic recovery and reinvestment act that took us over 60 votes in order to pass, and so it was important to be able to work together to get that done. We passed an omnibus budget bill that finally put in place a budget for 2009. And we're now going to be addressing the president's budget proposal. But you know, I was a governor. I prepared a budget for the state of New Hampshire with my administration and I sent it to the legislature and I knew they weren't going to rubberstamp my budget, that they were going to put their own imprint on it and that's what's going to happen, I'm sure, with this president and this Congress and that's the way the process works.

The conversation ended with Maddow thanking Shaheen for coming on her show, but the contrast in demeanor was palpable. While the wind had luffed in Maddow's sails, leaving her dead in the water, Shaheen appeared upbeat after prevailing over one of the smarmiest know-it-alls on television.

When I first saw this on Maddow's MSNBC Web site, I wondered if Maddow didn't respond for lack of time, since the segment ended right after Maddow thanked Shaheen. But in the television broadcast, which I recorded (and shown in the embedded clip), another minute or so passed before Maddow cut to a break, and it looked like Maddow had time if so inclined.

A possible reason for tension heading into the interview -- not only does Maddow often bash Democrats unwilling to rubber-stamp Obama's spending spree, she has appealed to people with insider knowledge to rat on Dems who may join the new Senate caucus.

In other words, an openly gay pundit seeks to expose anyone who might come out with political views she deems abhorrent.