I've never hidden my deep and abiding love for Rachel Maddow as a pundit and am so glad for the recognition she's due. Armed with facts and wit, she can run circles around all these other talking heads without breaking a sweat. Maybe that's why the MSNBC bookers saw fit to match her to four conservatives on Race To The White House: Substitute host Joe Scarborough, Tony Blankley, Michelle Bernard (who has of late been the omnipresent guest on all MSNBC shows), and former Scarborough Country and Hardball producer Noah Oppenheim, now the author of The Intellectual Devotional.
But the taker of the proverbial cake has to be Scarborough, who compensates for his general wrongness of position by a steady stream of snide and dismissive remarks. In a discussion focused around the media-driven narrative that Barack Obama has flip-flopped in his positions (they LOVE that word, have you noticed?) and is rushing to the center, Rachel is the lone voice from the left pointing out that his rhetoric has not changed radically and that he has always advocated a centrist ("post-partisan," I think it was called) position and Scarborough both sneers at Rachel for pointing this out and cheers Obama for taking a more "responsible" stance. When poll after poll finds that the majority of Americans think we should get out of Iraq, Scarborough thinks it will reassure Middle America if Obama slows down the withdrawal.
Were I running John McCain…er, were I, were I running Barack Obama’s campaign, I would tell him to do this. Because I think this actually reassures Americans, okay this guy said what he needed to say to win the far left in the primary and now as he moves to the general election, he’s getting more responsible on FISA, he’s getting more responsible on troop withdrawal. Doesn’t this make middle Americans in Ohio and West Virginia and Pennsylvania like Barack Obama more?
I think the important thing to recognize here is that there's a difference between taking a centrist position because it's good for the general election and changing his position. What I'm saying about this Iraq stuff is not that Barack Obama secretly has a left position on Iraq that nobody else recognizes. I'm saying his position on Iraq is very centrist and has been all along and is not changing. This was the position his campaign was taking through the primaries and we have ascribed a much more liberal policy to him, but when you go back and you look at the tape and you go back and look at the statements from his campaign, all the way back through the spring, all the way back when they were attacking Hillary Clinton for having a plan for withdrawal that wasn't subject to conditions on the ground, it shows you that this is where he's been all along. You can call it centrist, but it's still consistent.
And The Scar's response?
You might support Obama, but you have the "Clinton cackle" down, Rachel.