On Monday's Countdown show, responding to Mississippi Republican Governor Haley Barbour's recent contention on NBC's Meet the Press that President Obama has personal popularity -- based partially on being the first black President -- that is separate from the unpopularity of Obama's policies, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann labeled Barbour's words as "incoherent," and charged that President Obama is in reality a "target of racism from the right." Olbermann:
But it was Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour who had perhaps the most incoherent read, explaining that Obama, the target of racism from the right, remains popular not because of his policies, but in a Donovan McNabb way, because of his color.
During a discussion with MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, Olbermann also suggested that "Barbour knows that members of his party hate the President for being a black Democrat," as he posed a question to Wolffe about Republicans being in denial about their party's unpopularity and the meaning of the 2009 elections. Olbermann:
...we can pretend that Mr. Barbour knows that members of his party hate the President for being a black Democrat, no matter what outsider status they try to use as a euphemism. What is the point, then, of again creating their own reality about 2010? Is this the individual Republican politicians trying to preserve their jobs in the face of this enthusiasm as you described it coming only from this one ultra-right wing of their party?
The Countdown host even got to make an apparent Nazi reference as he and Wolffe wrapped up the segment talking about tea party activists forming their own third party which may drain votes from Republicans. Not specifying whether he was referring to Republicans or tea party activists -- or both -- Olbermann concluded: "And the irony is they'll wind up with the same percentage of votes that the Socialist Party used to get in the 1930s."
Olbermann and Wolffe also showed their usual disrepect for tea party protesters by referring to "tea bags," and, at one point, Wolffe even referred to the tea party activists as "this unruly tea bagging group."
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Monday, November 9, Countdown show on MSNBC:
KEITH OLBERMANN: After years of writing their own reality, you might forgive Republicans for their reaction to a reality they no longer control, the passage of an actual health care reform bill. Our third story tonight, the Republican Party’s message, Americans are so outraged with President Obama that they will punish Democrats next year the way they did last week when they elected only Democrats to the only two national seats up for grabs. The Republicans calling Saturday's health care vote a watershed moment that will lead to Democratic losses, presumably the same way the Democrats were tossed out of power in 1994 after they passed Medicare in 1965. Congressman Mike Pence, chairman of the Republican Caucus, explained yesterday that while Democrats actually won the two congressional races with health care reform explicitly on the line in both congressional districts, it was the statewide races that the Republicans won that revealed the national mood.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN): I think the message from last night is that the Democrats didn't get the message in August or last Tuesday. I think from this past summer, we saw the American people express overwhelming opposition to a government takeover of health care. They attended town hall meetings, rallies across the country. And then this last Tuesday, I mean, the historic reversals the Democrats saw in just 12 months in New Jersey and Virginia again was an effort by the American people to send a message to this party.
OLBERMANN: Never mind the exit polls in which six out of ten voters in Jersey said explicitly this is not about national stuff, and the other four were split between registering support for the administration and voicing opposition to it. No, it was uninformed yahoos yelling, “Keep the government hands off my Medicare,” Pence speak for America. Forget Republican Senator Lindsey Graham's wishful response to them, quote, “We're not going to be a party of angry white guys. We’re going to be a party of center right politics.” Pence is one because a new party has registered in Florida, the Tea Party – for real, comparing itself to the tea partiers who just cost Republicans that district in New York. Nice work, guys. But it was Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour who had perhaps the most incoherent read, explaining that Obama, the target of racism from the right, remains popular not because of his policies, but in a Donovan McNabb way, because of his color.
GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR (R-MS), FROM THE NOVEMBER 8 MEET THE PRESS: We shouldn't confuse the President being personally popular. Americans want our presidents to succeed. And, particularly, the first time we ever elected an African-American President. I think there's great sentiment in favor of him. It's his policies that are unpopular.
OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, senior strategist at Public Strategies, author of Renegade: The Making of a President. Thanks for being with us, Richard.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Do they, is it A, they think the tea bag crowd speaks for America, or is it B, they're desperately trying to convince the tea bag crowd that they do speak for America?
WOLFFE: Well, what they're trying to do – forget the delusions of grandeur here for a minute – what they’re trying to do is face up to the reality that nobody feels enthusiastic about the Republican Party, that people don't even want to tell pollsters they're Republicans. So what you have here is an effort to sort of capitalize on the only energy there is on the right, this independent movement – people who were waving the tea bags – and appropriate that for themselves. It's not going to work. This is not a group of people who are going to fall in line. Otherwise, they would be calling themselves Republicans. So never mind what they think about, you know, their real popularity. They know the only energy and momentum lies with this unruly teabagging group.
OLBERMANN: Let's pretend for a moment that Mr. Pence knows that gubernatorial races are not referenda on Congress, especially when exit polls are as blunt as they were, we can pretend that Mr. Barbour knows that members of his party hate the President for being a black Democrat, no matter what outsider status they try to use as a euphemism. What is the point, then, of again creating their own reality about 2010? Is this the individual Republican politicians trying to preserve their jobs in the face of this enthusiasm as you described it coming only from this one ultra-right wing of their party?
WOLFFE: Well, I don't know how much respect we need to show for Governor Barbour's comments.
WOLFFE: I mean, it's crass and stupid and simplistic, and it reveals a lot. But what they're really trying to do here, it's not about 2010, it's about now. They're trying to erode the authority of the President to stop him in his tracks right now, to say this guy has no authority. You don't have to respect him. There's no down side to opposing him. And to reframe the landscape right now. Because they know that over the next several months the President has the chance to really establish a framework to go into the 2010 midterms. If they can stop him now and say he doesn't represent change, he's not done anything as well as obviously being a radical socialist Nazi, you know, if they can do both of those, then they tie Democrats up in knots. If, however, the White House and Democrats go into 2010 with a record of change, with a record of accomplishment, it's a very different proposition.
OLBERMANN: But is this not ultimately what we long ago used to hear described as false feedback? I mean, don't you eventually have to break it to people that they are not the majority? I mean, you know, when Lindsey Graham confronted his own town hall and he asked the people there rhetorically how many senators there were and only a few people answered 100, and then he asked them how many of them are Republicans and even fewer could answer 40, there's a reality check that does come into play eventually one way or the other, doesn’t it?
WOLFFE: Well, you'd think so. But if the Republicans cared about reality so much, then why is Sarah Palin so popular? What they have here is two old scripts. One is the Nixon script of the silent majority, and the other is the Reagan script of, "This is really a Republican country, and the pendulum is just swinging in our favor." The problem is since 2006, it hasn't been a Republican pendulum at all. So they're stuck with two out of date narratives, and tracking that with the current policies is extremely hard for them. All they can do is live with the stories their grandfathers told them.
WOLFFE: But now when you hear that there is this actual tea party being registered in Florida, this is, Dick Armey just created supposedly a conservative movement that has now decided to eat the Republican Party alive first?
WOLFFE: Yeah. I don't think Dick Armey's intentions are in line with the Republican leadership. I've said for some time this is headed for a third party grouping. And ideologically they are much more interested in being pure and true to their whatever they think their ideals are than getting elected. That for the Republicans is really dangerous. Never mind what they think about health care.
OLBERMANN: And the irony is they'll wind up with the same percentage of votes that the Socialist Party used to get in the 1930s. Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, Public Strategies, author of Renegade, as always, thank you, Richard.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.