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Rachel Maddow got into a fierce argument with Pat Buchanan about affirmative action and the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday night.
The epic battle included accusations, interruptions, and strong feelings with Maddow incredulous that Buchanan could not bring himself to admit that discrimination might play a part in the fact that 108 out of 110 U.S. Supreme Court justices have been white.
Buchanan said he considered Sotomayor unqualified and called her an "affirmative-action appointment" by Obama. When Maddow pressed him on why he was critical of affirmative action, Buchanan launched into a vigorous defense of whites who have been discriminated against.
When asked why the overwhelming majority of justices have been white, Buchanan declined to explicitly cite discrimination, but explained that "White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans who had been discriminated against. That's why."
When Maddow asked whether the reason that 108 out of 110 justice were white is because "white people deserved to have those positions," Buchanan answered: "A lot of people get up there for a lot of reasons."
An incredulous Maddow continued: "I would hope that you would see that picking 108 out of 110 white justices of the Supreme Court means that other people are not being appropriately considered... and the reason we have affirmative action is you recognize that the fact that people were discriminated against for hundreds of years means that you sort of gamed the system unless you give other people a leg up..."
When Buchanan began to interrupt her, Maddow said, "Hold on, I let you talk for a long time."
Later, Buchanan compared the historically white make-up of the Supreme Court to an all-black track team or all-white hockey team, asking Maddow, "Why do you assume discrimination simply because you got one component on the Supreme Court... Where's the genius who is a woman who you think is a genius? Go for her..."
When Buchanan referenced the white firefighters who Sotomayor ruled against in a court ruling, claiming that they "are victims of that evil affirmative action," Maddow replied, "I couldn't disagree with you more."
Later, Buchanan attacked Maddow for being out of touch and seemed to slam judges who support affirmative action when he stated, "You know what they ought to do? They ought to defend the rights of white working-class folks."
Maddow cut him off and snapped, "I don't need a lecture from you about whether or not I know, what I think about working class Americans... For you to privilege race... and say that what we need to tap politically is white people's racial grievance, you're playing with fire and dating yourself."
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