Forgive the slowness of getting to this amazing exchange on Meet the Press, but with all the fuss that Chris Matthews and other national pundits have made over George Allen's "Macaca" salutation, it's amazing (and a testament to media Bush-loathing) that Missouri Democrat Senate challenger Claire McCaskill could completely copy rapper Kanye West and insist President Bush let people die in New Orleans because they were black, and nobody blinked. (Coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC? Zero.) At least Tim Russert brought it up last Sunday, late in the Missouri Senate debate on Meet the Press. But McCaskill wouldn't retract it. She was "acknowledging the feelings" of professional race-baiters and certain rappers who wear pink:
Russert: Let me turn to George W. Bush, because he’s become an issue in the campaign. Ms. McCaskill, you were quoted in the pubdef.net giving a speech which was blogged, saying, “She reminded people that ‘George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black.’” One, why would you say that, and do you believe it?
McCaskill: Well, first, I was acknowledging how thousands and millions of Americans felt. The visual that we all saw in Hurricane Katrina was frankly, something none of us will ever forget. Incompetence turned tragic because the people there were unable to help themselves. This administration...
Russert: But do you think the president let people die because they were poor and black?
McCaskill: I do not, I do not believe the president is a racist. I was acknowledging the feelings of many, many Americans that this administration has left the most vulnerable, helpless—this administration has been about Wall Street and not about average Americans.
Russert: But do you apologize for this statement?
McCaskill: I, I think if it is misinterpreted that I was calling the president a racist...
Russert: Misinterpreted? “George Bush let people die on rooftops because they were poor and because they were black.”
McCaskill: That was—I was acknowledging what Americans believed at the time.
Russert: So you stand by it?
McCaskill: Absolutely, that’s what Americans believed. Now, I don’t believe he’s a racist, and if that—if people think—and maybe I shouldn’t have said it that way, Tim. Maybe I should have said it another way. I probably should have said it another way. But the feelings are real.
And by the way, if we had that tragedy, how ready are we for a disaster in this country? After the billions of dollars spent—once again, no accountability—they still are not looking in Congress at how all the money was misspent in Katrina. With all the billions spent on homeland security, our citizens died because we couldn’t get them food or water. This is not an administration that is ready to protect us.
I can hear this exchange replayed on talk radio with that old Morris Albert song, "Feelings." And this came before McCaskill restated her position on President Clinton: “I think he’s been a great leader, but I don’t want my daughter near him.” None of that made other NBC News programs. Here's which McCaskill soundbite ended up on Today on Monday, the Foley soundbite:
When a 50-year-old man is asking a teenage boy on the Internet for his picture, the response needs to be something other than, 'I better go tell the chairmen of the Republican Campaign Committee.'