The MSNBC Primetime Obama Tax Deal Schism: O’Donnell vs. Olbermann and Maddow…

When Lawrence O’Donnell joined MSNBC a couple of months ago, the conventional wisdom was that MSNBC now had three hours of Liberal/Progressive programming (or Socialist in O’Donnell’s self-described case) and the theory was you wouldn’t be seeing much of an ideological change between 8pm and 11pm ET. Well the conventional wisdom may have to be rethought because MSNBC is now presenting a fractured schism between two polar opposites on a major issue dominating our news cycle: Obama’s Tax Deal.

Last night the first two hours of MSNBC prime showed Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow launch full frontal assaults on Obama’s Deal with Olbermann turning in a twelve minute long Special Comment blasting Obama for appease-ism followed by Rachel Maddow doing a methodical dissection of what’s fundamentally wrong with this deal. So far so good. Everyone’s on the same page.

But then the clock turned ten and The Last Word took a decidedly different tact. O’Donnell had on a panel of progressives where he made clear his position that this deal was the best thing Obama could do at this juncture and that a Congressional showdown between Democrats and Republicans over tax policy of the type Olbermann was urging would not work. As part of Olbermann’s Special Comment he cited a statement from Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu that she would do everything in her power to stop this deal. But O’Donnell used his “Re-Write” segment to blast and ridicule Landrieu for that statement. On Twitter today O’Donnell has continued to take a different tone from the Olbermann/Maddow wing with a series of Tweets

I agree with @nytimes: Democrats should vote for Obama tax deal “because it is the only one they are going to get.”

Liberal critics of the Obama deal say exactly what Pat Buchanan said of George H.W. Bush: he’s weak.

Let’s see if liberal Obama critics can do what Pat Buchanan did to H.W. Bush: destroy him and help elect a President from the other party.

Now just who might those “liberal Obama critics” might include? Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow?

It used to be that the internal MSNBC factionalism pitted Joe Scarborough against Maddow and Olbermann. But on this issue the leading force of push back to the withering progressive attacks by Olbermann and Maddow on Obama’s Tax Deal is a fellow traveler.

This is just the latest example of why The Last Word isn’t the show you think it might be and why O’Donnell continues to be refreshingly unpredictable.

Update: Predictably, the Blue Blogs are not happy with O’Donnell (via J$)

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35 Responses to “The MSNBC Primetime Obama Tax Deal Schism: O’Donnell vs. Olbermann and Maddow…”

  1. mlong5000 Says:

    I just love the gang at MSNBC having an hissyfit over discovering the One can’t walk on water.

  2. And another stupid thread begins. I’d rather watch soccer..

  3. … why O’Donnell continues to be refreshingly unpredictable.

    I think the fact that he worked in Washington both for Senator Moynihan and the Democrats in the Senate gives him greater insight into how legislation can be made and how much ideological purity one can embrace. As the saying goes, politics is the art of the possible. Some things are and are not possible.

    And as he pointed out to the leftist blogger Glenn Greenwald on MJ a couple of weeks ago, 20% of Americans call themselves liberal or progressive. The other 80% don’t. For good or bad, you simply cannot pass major progressive legislation with that facing you.

  4. The Senate is a farce where the minority rules. O’Donnell knows that and accepts the possible. Progressives know that and blame the President.

  5. The betrayal felt by many liberals who are so opposed to this deal is Obama’s tacit acknowledgement that his party’s stimulus by federal spending policy has not worked and now is time to try letting Americans stimulate the economy through spending their own money. Mr. O’Donnell has experience with the back room deals and how things work.

  6. Olbermann and Maddow were completely unhinged last night.

    Like I said, if the “base” fights this, we lose everything.

  7. The Senate is a farce where the minority rules.

    A near $1 trillion stimulus, the greatest healthcare legislation in our history and the most far reaching financial reforms since the Great Depression. All in less than two years.

    Some minority rule.

  8. You can bellow about the legislation that got through all you want, but Obama had both houses of Congress and knew he couldn’t even attempt a public option – much less universal coverage – because a Senate majority is not a Senate majority unless it’s a filibuster-proof super majority.

    It’s the same reason no effort was made to let the upper-income tax rates expire. I happen to be happy with that outcome during this recession, but it’s a BS set up for a President to face. In my world, the person with the most votes wins..not the way-most.

  9. You can bellow about the legislation that got through all you want, but Obama had both houses of Congress and knew he couldn’t even attempt a public option

    That was because the public was against it – as well as the moderates in his party – not because of Senate filibuster rules. He didn’t have the votes.

    And we’ve had the filibuster for more than 100 years. Thankfully.

    Whether what he passed was good or bad is irrelevant; what’s relevant is that it was enormous and far reaching and the minority in the Senate couldn’t stop it.

  10. The system is designed to be difficult even when most everyone agrees. The alternative is a wide-swinging pendulum from election to election. That wouldn’t be good.

  11. W sure made a bigger mess of things than I ever could have imagined. And Obama made so many promises in the course of the campaign, no wonder many of his liberal supporters are so disappointed. (I knew before I voted for him that he wasn’t going to be able to live up to all he’d promised.) Maybe if he hadn’t halfway accepted the GOP argument on taxes by insisting even the middle class tax cuts had to stay..

    Lawrence’s show might be the best thing on MSNBC. It’s great television.

  12. In any event, two years from now Olbermann and Maddow will be calling the Republican Presidential nominee the anti-christ and will be giving full-throated support to Obama’s re-election.

    Sound and fury……

  13. I actually watched the three hours last night and Spud has pretty well nailed it.

    Olbermann dealt with the situation with his usual caustic anger. His comment was stilted and one of the worse he has ever given.

    Maddow dealt with it with a mix of humorous ridicule and a well researched take down of Obama’s position that the Republicans actually opposed certain tax cuts with proof they did not. It was much more effective than KO’s comment and made for a very entertaining show.

    O’Donnell then proceeded to take apart the positions the two previous hours had just presented by pointing out the results of not passing the tax extension for the middle class by the end of the year. His arguments were logical and not emotional; the most compelling his reliance on what would happen to the bottom tax bracket; going up from 10% to 15%. This 50% raise in taxes on the poorest taxpayers would take many months to overcome.

    His takedown of Landrieu as the hypocrite she is was nothing short of devastating. One of his best shows ever.

  14. And thank God that stupid universal healthcare idea got shot down. That’s one of the most moronic ideas ever.

  15. Yall should watch O’Donnell vs Grayson right now. O’Donnell is kind of grandstanding but Grayson is worthless and makes the whole Democratic party look bad with his smugness and constant bomb-throwing.

  16. “Moderates in his party” have all the power because of the 60-vote rule. You should be able to get your stuff through even if a couple of your side back out. Nope. Every single Dem in the Senate had too agree, or the bill gets ‘compromised’ into a mishmash. Take healthcare, for example..

  17. I expected a lot more from Rachel. She is far too smart to let emotion get in the way of being pragmatic. See was showing signs of preception tonight. Hope that she has fully recovered by tomorrow.
    Lawrence is starting to get rather irritated that the Democrats in Congress don’t understand the “process”. I really can’t blame him.
    I contend that Lawrence has the advantage in dealing only with the facts.

  18. Rachel – like Ed – is a True Believer. They genuinely believed in the Progressive Obama, even though he showed every sign of only being as “progressive” as was pragmatic. He may believe in a Perfectly Socialist World With No War in his heart, for all I know, but he’s never going to fight for it if realities on the ground say No Can Do. He’s just another Democratic Senator..one without enough experience to dance with the Big Dogs on the Hill.

  19. Fred; They all understand how the process works they just want to grandstand for the cameras. It’s good to see LOD hold their feet to the fire.

    He just took Grayson to task for saying many Democrats would vote against the tax proposal by reminding him they also said they would vote against the health care bill if it didn’t have a public option and then voted for it. Also check out the Landrieu takedown from last night to see congressional hypocrisy in action.

  20. fritz3, If I were to accept your position, then, it is Ed, Keith and Rachel that are demonstrating hypocrisy. I tend to believe that these people are smart and simply allowed emotion get in the way of reason.
    As far as the congressional types, left or right, they only seem to want to play the passion card. Rarely does one see an adult.

  21. joe, You make an interesting and, I believe, valid point. Thanks for reminding me of that prespective.

  22. I don’t know that the Landrieu takedown was fair. She voted for the Bush tax cuts when, thanks to Clinton, we had a surplus as far as the eye could see, times were good, the economy was doing well, low unemployment. I still think it was a bad decision then, but it wasn’t a decision that she made expecting things would look so dramatically different, economically, 10 years down the road.

  23. Apologies if this has already been posted, but it’s my reference-point for KO’s attack on the tax deal. I bumped it to 745, as suggested. My takeaway is how the light has shown for the ‘true believers’, at least in one sense. The comment to the effect ‘if you don’t understand, it’s your own fault’, seems oddly familiar. What this administration does is never wrong, it just hasn’t been explained well-enough. Or you’re not quick enough to understand. I just want to know when ‘Progressives’ will start labeling each other ‘racists’, since that tends to be applied to others who disagree.

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/zontv/2010/12/olbermann_finally_gets_the_hyp.html

  24. He finally gets the hypocrisy, duplicity and arrogance of Obama

    I’m not prepared to land the first two blows yet, but “the arrogance” is a problem, and that – along with his stunningly thin skin – reminds me of Sarah Palin way too much. They both carry a chip on their shoulders, and react to the slightest displeasure with vitriol..with a willingness to throw their own under the bus at a drop of the hat. Those are really crappy leadership qualities. It’s kind of an annoyance coming from an ex-governor/pundit/reality show star. It’s something else in the Leader of the Free World..

  25. After given a chance to review Obama’s Illinois and US senate record and voting history, did you honestly expect that he would have the skills necessary to lead? Wasn’t going to happen and isn’t going to happen. He’s plenty smart enough, just doesn’t have the lower-level experience.

    US military officer’s training – they treat you not only like a puny private, but like a dog-meat puny little private with less brains than a rock. Why? Because you can’t give orders until you’ve learned to take them. Fist-term governors get chewed on thoroughly. No more sitting senators as nominees, please.

  26. The notable thing about LOD is that he has broken the “MSNBC keeps hiring Olbermanns” model. And he did it after sitting in KO’s chair. KO’s people were mad at Bush, now they’re mad at Obama. Meanwhile, O’Donnell is counting votes and doing math and doing some real world analysis. LOD is BOR to KO’s Hannity.

  27. – LOD is BOR to KO’s Hannity. —

    I wanted to say that, but not being a viewer sorta hindered me. LOD actually searches-out and acknowledges pesky things like facts, which the TB’s can’t be bothered with.

  28. “If I were to accept your position, then, it is Ed, Keith and Rachel that are demonstrating hypocrisy. I tend to believe that these people are smart and simply allowed emotion get in the way of reason.”

    Fred: I think there is a bit of hypocrisy involved as well as emotion but much of the anger is frustration at the situation and the choices it forces the POTUS & Democrats to make.

    “I don’t know that the Landrieu takedown was fair.”

    Alindc: Her original vote was based on political pragmatism and getting elected as a Democrat in a southern state. Her anger now is based on the same political pragmatism. There are probably only a handful of iconoclastic Senators (Colburn & Feingold come to mind) that don’t play the game that way.

    “I’m not prepared to land the first two blows yet, but “the arrogance” is a problem, and that – along with his stunningly thin skin – reminds me of Sarah Palin way too much.”

    Joe: Arrogance & thin skin goes with the territory. Very few politicians lack either characteristic in large quantities.

  29. lonestar77 Says:

    Basically, LOD is being a grown up about the situation while KO & giggles are not. KO & Maddow live in such insular bubbles that I think they actually believe that the majority of the people in this country are either with them ideologically or would be if they just weren’t so darn stupid. LOD understands that liberals are a political minority and a pretty small minority at that.

    As for LOD’s show not being “the show we think it might be”, uh, yeah it is. It’s a left-wing show that defends a left-wing President. LOD understands how things work in Washington. Unlike Olby & RM, he knows that most people think the moveon crowd and the Kos kids are wingnuts. He knows you can’t govern the country like you could the city of San Francisco.

    Then angry left isn’t happy unless they’re angry. They have to be angry at someone/something all the time. This is as good an excuse as any.

  30. LS; Change the names and everything you say above could also be stated about the tea party movement.

  31. Then angry left isn’t happy unless they’re angry.

    That’s simplistic horsecrap that pays not an ounce of respect to the concept that others may not see the world the same way you do. The left has a legitimate POV, and doesn’t get anymore pissed off than you do.

  32. The angry left is perpetually angry because they are a perpetual minority, despite their outsized influence. I wouldn’t say they’re happy about it, it just is.

  33. The angry left is perpetually angry because they are a perpetual minority

    So is the angry right… as if they are all nice peaceful people who don’t want to “take our country back”? That’s all you hear them say. Both fringes have the capability to get crazy… that’s why they are who they are.

  34. lonestar77 Says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe. The angry left isn’t the entire left, it’s the angry left. They are the wingnuts. The dailykos people. They are NEVER happy.

  35. […] a good RECAP of all the different liberal reactions to the tax compromise.. Tweet This Post This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 at 1:13 pmand is filed […]

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