Dana Milbank's recent op-ed in The Washington Post changing its description of Barack Obama from the "presumptive" nominee to the "presumptuous" nominee has stirred not a little debate. First there's the utterly one-sided nature of the attack. Milbank criticizes Obama for acting as presidential candidates act, as if he shouldn't visit with foreign heads of state that he would likely meet if elected president and other Washington figures and for having a big security detail. Nothing Obama's done is different from what McCain has done, it's just been received better received. But Obama is presumptuous and McCain is not, even though McCain had an ad calling himself "President McCain."
Which leads into a more malevolent subtext for the choice of the word "presumptuous," which is just a few words over in the thesaurus for the more loaded "uppity."
Poor Rachel Maddow has to fight through made up quotes--because the media doesn't want to question why McCain is trying to portray Obama as messianic-- to challenge the media for selectively crying hubris. Watch her put Pat Buchanan in his place.
MADDOW: Whether or not (McCain's attack ads) are working, I think we have a responsibility to talk about whether or not they are deserved, Pat. I think when John McCain doesn‘t speak to Pat Buchanan as being presumptuous, when he calls himself President McCain, but Barack Obama speaks to you as presumptuous for doing something much less damning, that says more about you than it does about the candidate.
God, I love this woman.
Transcripts below the fold
BUCHANAN: Look, Rachel said there was humility, real humility here. Let me read you his direct quote, according to Dana Milbank. 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 traditions." Upon what meat has this our Caesar fed. He‘s sounding like America‘s hot dog really.
MADDOW: Pat, the issue here is that that quote has been disproved today. That quote has been contradicted by multiple other sources, talking to "Time Magazine," talking to other reporters, explaining that he did not say that at all.
GREGORY: Let me break in. Smerc, you‘re coming. The actual quote, as Politico reported on this-this is what Obama reportedly said, according to 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 the room from a journalistic standpoint when that statement was offered. But, the "New York Times," I‘m amazed nobody has brought this up so far, June 4th, 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. 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. 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 win the hubris line, I think for prejudiced reasons.
BUCHANAN: Is Dana Milbank doing this for prejudice reasons? Come on.
MADDOW: I‘m not accusing him of being racist.
MADDOW: Pat, how could you look at-
BUCHANAN: Everybody that‘s critical of Obama, when he‘s in a rough patch, to which he‘s responding with angry ads which show these attacks are working.
MADDOW: Whether or not they are working, I think we have a responsibility to talk about whether or not they are deserved, Pat. I think when John McCain doesn‘t speak to Pat Buchanan as being presumptuous, when he calls himself President McCain, but Barack Obama speaks to you as presumptuous for doing something much less damning, that says more about you than it does about the candidate.
GREGORY: Got to take a break here. Coming back, your play date with the panel.