Lots of commenters last night were asking for clips of Rachel Maddow and Michael Smerconish hailing down a rain of ownage on Pat Buchanan, so why not indulge them? At issue was Dana Milbank's article in yesterday's Washington Post, that "reported" on Barack Obama's "presumptuousness." Maddow was invited to take the matter on, and she led with this statement, "This issue is weird when you look at the facts on which it is based."
And she couldn't be more right! As I endeavored to explain yesterday, Milbank's Obama-is-presumptuous thesis was basically underpinned by nonsense: a laundry list of thoroughly commonplace activities that all presidential candidates engage in, coupled with a quote from the candidate that Milbank a) didn't hear, and yet b) sliced up into hash, anyway, transforming a humble statement into a self-aggrandizing one.
Pat Buchanan basically showed up for the show under the impression that Milbank's article was faithfully reported, and attempted to read Milbank's incorrect quote into the record. But Maddow wasn't having it:
BUCHANAN: Look, Rachel said there was humility, real humility here. Let me read his direct quote according to Dana Millbank. He's telling the Congressional guys, "This is the moment the world is waiting for. I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best tradition." Upon what meat has this our Caesar fed? He's sounding like America's hot dog.
MADDOW: The issue is that quote has been disproved today! That quote has been contradicted by multiple other sources, talking to Time Magazine, talking with other reporters, explaining...he did not say that at all.
GREGORY: Let me break in. Smerc, you're coming. Let me break in with what the actual quote is. The Politico reported on this. This is what Obama actually said according the the Politico: "It's becoming increasingly clear, in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, it's not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol." Smerc.
SMERCONISH: All right. Nobody was in a room from a journalistic standpoint when that statement was offered, but, The New York Times - I'm amazed that no one has brought this up so far - June 4, 2008, a direct quote from Senator Obama, "I love when I'm shaking hands on a rope line and I see a little old white lady and a big burly black guy and Latino girls and all their hands are entwined, and they are feeding on each other as much as on me. It's like I'm just the excuse." In other words, he's said it before, in the proper context. It's a feel good statement about the country and what he represents. We don't have to debate what he said behind closed doors because we have him on the record. And giving him the benefit of the doubt, he said the same thing yesterday that he told the Times on this day.
MADDOW: Which I would argue is a symbol of humility and not hubris. But people want to run with the hubris line.
It was a beautiful piece of work, but I want to add a dose of caution and attention, here, because after Buchanan had been beated all about the skull on this matter, he fell back on a line he had already advanced earlier in the show:
BUCHANAN: Everybody that's critical of Obama when he's in a rough patch. He's respending with angry ads that show the attacks are working.
Buchanan had leveled this comment at Maddow earlier in the show, suggesting that the very fact that the Obama campaign was compelled to respond -- and the very fact that Maddow had even reacted with objection -- was proof that the McCain attacks were "working." In other words, McCain wins if Obama even fights back! Watch closely, as this becomes part of the toxic conventional wisdom.
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