If the aphorism de mortuis nil nisi bonum instructs us to speak only good of people who have passed away, perhaps there is a corrollary applicable to those dealing with a dread disease. While I am thus somewhat reluctant to do so, I cannot let pass without comment Mike Barnicle's words about Ted Kennedy on today's Morning Joe.

MIKE BARNICLE: Last night when he came out, it was clearly a bittersweet experience. There was a tinge of sadness to it, to be frank about it. He's an enormously courageous man . . . You know, I've encountered very few people of my life, Joe, who are more extraordinarily attuned to others who are in pain. Whether it's physical pain, whether it's something caused by an illness.  Whether it's an accident of fate, whether it's something that has befallen them, some tragedy of any sort.  He is uniquely equipped to reach out to people who are hurt and damaged.

View video here.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is hardly reticent about touting himself as a Democrat. After all, he's the Vice President of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and in January was re-elected its representative to the Democratic National Committee. But in ABC and NBC news stories Thursday night about how a Michigan judge ordered him to jail immediately for violating his bond, neither identified him as a Democrat (verbally or on screen) -- not even in a full two-minute NBC story. On CBS, fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell didn't mention Kilpatrick's party in three teases/plugs for the upcoming story, nor in the introduction to it, but two-thirds into his report, Dean Reynolds, who in a March story failed to ID Kilpatrick, referenced: “Once a rising star in Democratic Party politics...”

Making that same “rising star” point, from a smoggy (or foggy?) Beijing, NBC anchor Brian Williams managed to avoid mentioning Kilpatrick's party affiliation:

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was once viewed as a rising political star in the United States. Tonight he has fallen pretty far from those early lofty and glowing predictions...

Two of the cable news networks were no more accurate. Filling in on MSNBC's Hardball, Mike Barnicle avoided Kilpatrick's party in a brief item on news of his jailing while on CNN's The Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer did not note Kilpatrick's Democratic affiliation in several updates and plugs and, in a full story in the 5PM EDT hour, the MRC's Matthew Balan noticed, Mary Snow failed to verbally name Kilpatrick's party in her piece.The only hint came in this chyron at the bottom of the screen for barely three seconds: "MAYOR KWAME KILPATRICK (D) DETROIT."

Ron Suskind's charge, that the Bush administration forged a letter to falsely link al-Qaeda with Saddam Hussein, landed the journalist/author not only a spot on Thursday night's "Hardball," but also the following recommendation for his book, The Way of the World, from guest host Mike Barnicle:

MIKE BARNICLE: And in reading the book, I have to tell you, in reading all your stuff, I admire all your stuff. But in reading this book and these charges that have laid out here and because of my background, covering like city stuff and everything for years, I can't help but come to the conclusion, at the end of this book, this book is basically charging the President of the United States, or the Vice President of the United States with being an accessory, before the fact, to 4000 murders and more in Iraq. They lied us into war, according to this book.

The following is an excerpt of the interview as it occurred on the August 7, "Hardball":

Be with you in a sec. Gotta finish this bag of Cheetos.  Man, what a mess down here in Mom's basement. Let's see, where were we? Barnicle.  Right. Bloggers. Doesn't think much of us. On this evening's Hardball, decrying the decline of bi-partisanship, Barnicle put much of the blame on the blogosphere.

Subbing for Chris Matthews, Barnicle had as his guest historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The jumping off point was a clip of Obama saying he could imagine naming McCain as his head of Homeland Security.  Barnicle wondered whether that was feasible in what he sees as a hyper-partisan age, and pointed the finger largely at bloggers.  Kearns Goodwin suggested that despite the difficulties, she could imagine either of the candidates reaching out to his opponent.  That prompted Barnicle to let loose on bloggers, casting them as largely a bunch of loons with too much time on their hands.

View video here.

Filling in yesterday for Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball, Mike Barnicle showed what an understanding, compassionate fellow he can be:
We have some sad news to report this evening.  Columnist Bob Novak has announced he has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  He is retiring from the “Chicago Sun Times” to focus on his treatment and recovery.  Bob Novak, despite your ideology, is a terrific guy, a good friends of ours.  We certainly wish him all the best.

There's no current wisdom more conventional than that which has Hillary Clinton entirely out of the veepstakes.  Take the opening of yesterday's Hardball, for example, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews.
MIKE BARNICLE: It didn't get much notice in the media and it didn't show up in any newspaper obituary pages, but the idea of a Democratic ticket of Obama and Hillary Clinton died a very quiet death this week.  How did the dream-team ticket disappear so fast and so quietly?
Introducing a later segment, Barnicle displayed a statement from a group that had been pushing the idea of Hillary for veep now saying that it's abandoned its effort "because it seems that Senator Obama has made his decision to offer the slot on the ticket to another candidate."  The subsequent schmoozefest with Dem consultant Steve McMahon and Air America honcho Mark Green took it as a given that Hillary would not be the VP candidate, focusing instead on what other role she might play in the campaign.

View video here.

But not so fast . . .

You might say nothing could be more unsurprising than a panel of political pundits admitting the obvious: that Barack Obama is playing the race card when he accuses John McCain of saying the Dem candidate "doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency."

But what makes the punditry panel's unanimity notable is that no one would accuse them of being McCain backers, and what's more, that they turned up on Hardball.  Surely Chris Matthews, were he not on vacation, would have found one diehard to deny reality.  But with Mike Barnicle guest-hosting, a consensus of truth-telling broke out.

Barnicle began by playing a clip of McCain, interviewed by CNN's John King, saying that it is legitimate to accuse Obama of having played the race card.  The video is worth viewing if only to watch McCain end the interview by shaking a surprised King's hand and walking away. Then the panel commented.  Perry Bacon of the Washington Post said he would decline to answer directly, but his answer left no real doubt as to his view.

View video here.

Mike Barnicle went into hyper-sensitive mode on Wednesday night's "Hardball," as the substitute host feared the McCain campaign was questioning Barack Obama's citizenship, simply because a McCain ad placed the words "foreign oil," right next to Obama's face.

Barnicle did pull back a bit, as he asked if he was "overreacting," but his initial reaction to the ad was reminiscent of the New York Times' claiming the word, "Rats" popped up in a GOP ad back in 2000.

The following exchange occurred on the July 30 edition of "Hardball:"

MIKE BARNICLE: You know we sit here in living rooms and dens across America and these ads come beamed across and you sort of, half pay attention to them. I think a lot of people just half pay attention to 'em. But there's an element in that ad, right toward the end of the ad where it has Obama's face up and the word "foreign," next to it with "more foreign oil." There it is, it's right there on the screen now.

In the midst of a campaign in which conservatives fret John McCain is missing opportunities by staying to the left on too many issues, Chrystia Freeland, the U.S. Managing Editor of the Financial Times based in London, declared “extremely imprudent” the conservative desire for John McCain to make a commitment against raising taxes. On Tuesday's Hardball she saw the “hard right,” not politicians unwilling to stick to a pledge, as the problem:
The first President Bush did not fare very well when he made that absolutely firm, clear campaign pledge not to raise taxes. So, you know, I think that in a way, the biggest problem John McCain is facing in this campaign is the hard right of his own party, which is trying to pin him into positions that are not really very realistic right now.
Her comment came after fill-in host Mike Barnicle read a statement from the Club for Growth rebuking McCain for saying that raising the Social Security tax is not “off the table.” Barnicle posed this leading question to her: “Can any sane politician, Chrystia, make an adamant, set in stone statement given the fact that we're a country at war with an energy crisis -- about never raising any tax under any circumstances?” She agreed “it would be extremely imprudent” to do so given the “dire economic situation the United States is facing right now.”

Between now and Election Day, we're sure to see—and chronicle at NB—plenty of MSM sycophancy for Barack Obama.  But between the thrills going up assorted media legs, evidence is emerging that some in the media are beginning to assess the Dem candidate in a clearer light.  Take for example, Gabriel Sherman's piece at the New Republic which as its title—End of the Affair—suggests, has as its thesis that at least for some of its members, the MSM's puppy-love stage might be coming to an end.

Today comes Howard Fineman's admission, hesitant as it might be, and mitigated by his suggestion that Obama came close to hitting an absolute home run with his European trip, that yes, well, after all, the guy is—how can I put this?—arrogant.

Newsweek's senior DC correspondent was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews. The jumping off point was Obama's cancellation of his plans to visit injured American troops in Germany.

View video here.

See Bonus Coverage at foot: Barnicle accuses Jesse Jackson of "corporate blackmail."

Two veteran members of the Senate, two entirely different treatments from Andrea Mitchell.  Reverence for Ted Kennedy; scorn for Strom Thurmond. Guest hosting in Mika Brzezinski's spot on Morning Joe today, Mitchell, emotion in her voice, hailed Kennedy as "valiant" and a "hero."  As for Thurmond, Mitchell mocked that he wasn't alive even when he was in the Senate.

View video here.

The reference to the late South Carolina senator arose in the context of a discussion of the way in which, with the nomination of Barack Obama, the torch of Dem leadership has been passed to a new generation, whereas the same isn't true in John McCain's GOP.

If we're going to promote a candid discussion of race in our country, we can't jump down the throat of everyone who ventures onto the racial minefield.  Rather than finding offense in Roger Simon's suggestion that choosing Bobby Jindal as his VP running-mate would hurt John McCain among racist voters, I propose we simply analyze it.  Here's what Simon said on this evening's Hardball, as guest host Mike Barnicle led the Politico reporter and Newsweek's Howard Fineman through a tour d'horizon of possible VP picks.
MIKE BARNICLE: Interesting new Republican face, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.

ROGER SIMON: Interesting.  Young.  Very young, almost too young to run, not quite, he gets over the constitutional limit. But I gotta raise the delicate subject: if you're John McCain, and you know that you're going to get an 'x' percentage of votes based on race, do you pick a dark-skinned vice-presidential candidate, who some people are going to say–wrongly—is black, is a Hindu converted to Catholicism, who's an Indian-American? You know, none of that should matter in American politics, but is it a safe choice, or is it a choice that is going to get everybody chattering? I think McCain is going to go for a safer choice than that.
View video here.