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Dem wars: Lanny whacks Rachel

Karl Rove may be feuding with Christine O'Donnell these days, but for all the delicious infighting, the Republicans don't have a monopoly on this sort of sniping.

Now Rachel Maddow has become a target of some on the left.

Lanny Davis, the Democratic stalwart and former Clinton White House aide, has called her "sanctimonious and intolerant" in an interview on Talk Radio Network's syndicated "America's Morning News."

There's more, but first, the back story.

Back on March 31, during a discussion of health care, Maddow said on her MSNBC show that "Bill Clinton was probably the best Republican president the country ever had, if you look at the policies that he passed." A hard shot, to be sure, though not personal in nature.

Clinton didn't forget. He fired back this week, during an appearance with Tony Blair:

"One of the leading television commentators on one of our liberal cable channels said I was the best Republican president the country ever produced, which would come [as] quite a surprise to the Republicans, half of whom still think I'm a closet communist.

"What she meant by that was I didn't necessarily follow their 'conventional wisdom. I said, 'What do you mean?!'" The 42nd president defended his record as pragmatic.

During yesterday's interview with radio hosts John McCaslin and Amy Holmes, Davis teed off on Maddow by suggesting she is somewhat extreme. "We have our tea party side," he said.

While calling Maddow "very talented and very smart," the Washington lawyer declared:

"But she's sanctimonious and intolerant of anyone who disagrees with her. So, if it's Bill Clinton, she calls him a Republican because he doesn't meet Rachel Maddow's test. So, the worst element of our party are people who call themselves liberal who are actually illiberal because they are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them...
"It's called the demonization of political opposition."

Lanny is the ultimate Clinton loyalist, having defended the man through scandal and impeachment, but he missed the mark here. Maddow has people on her show with whom she disagrees, sharply but politely. Her interrogation of Rand Paul over his view of the Civil Rights Act was a model of tenaciousness and civility.

If Maddow thinks Clinton's Third Way centrism leaned too far to the right, she's entitled to say so. That hardly makes her intolerant.

By Howard Kurtz  |  September 16, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Latest stories , Top story  | Tags: Bill Clinton, Lanny Davis, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, tea party  
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Next: 'Daily Show' takes tea


Your column used to be a lot easier to find. Now I have to search for it.

And when I find it, it's all chopped up into different pieces, so I have to click on additional links. Yeah, WP gets more clicks that way, but you get fewer readers.

Now that they've disaggregated what used to be a convenient roundup, they should also change the name to Media Note.

Posted by: gato2 | September 16, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

More clueless commentary from Howard Kurtz.

Lanny Davis is a lobbyist with no morals; he'll advocate for any corrupt Honduran coup leaders willing to pay him. He's not "on the left" -- he's on the side of whoever offers him the most money. Bill Clinton has been his partner in collecting the big bucks, so he reflexively defends Clinton against principled, honest progressives like Maddow.

In fact, Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we've had since Eisenhower. The DNC -- formed by Clinton and Davis, among others -- was all about endorsing up the pro-corporatist policies (and the donations that act could earn them) that the Republican Party tried to deemphasize when they started promoting culture wars to kiss up to evangelical Christians, as evangelicals can be leery of trans-national corporations; such entities tend to remind them of the Antichrist.

Posted by: tbetz | September 16, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree, gato2. I appreciated the intelligence of the previous columns, and the fact that they were an aggregation of sources. Frankly, I am ready to give up on this new format. Have you found a better source you'd care to share?

Posted by: scotpowell | September 16, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Lanny obviously does not watch Rachel or he would not have made those comments.

Agree w/gato2 - "Media Notes" is like a bouncing ball. Goodbye.

Posted by: rlj1 | September 16, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

agree with gato2 and the others about what appears to be this new format of indvidual topic blogs versus one daily column containing an amalgamation of stories and hypolinks.

on the substance, it is incredible how some Democrats can't seem to allow one or two days of good press without stepping on it by scrapping with each other [Davis and Maddow; President Carter and Senator Kennedy]...

makes it a whole lot harder to focus the electorate on their accomplishments in such a relatively short time notwithstanding both the enormous economic and military difficulties and the Republicans actions and negativism to try to prevent success...

Posted by: BobinSRQ | September 16, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

... shows how much Lanny knows... the quote about WJC's Republicanism originally came from WJC's Fed Chm, Alan Greenspan, and he should know, he was there.

Besides, what do you call a president who deregulated Wall Street and outsourced the American Middle Class and its employers to China and elsewhere?

He advocated, before and during his presidency, governing by the discredited "Third Way"(google it) which is known for being "substantially more right wing and corporatist than the European model".

We can figure it out, no matter what WJC and his Lackey say.

Posted by: Lena3 | September 16, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Rachel Maddow sanctimonious and intolerant? If anything, she's the most mellow, least intolerant, most fact-based, best educated news anchor on television. If she has a guest she disagrees with she makes that clear, has a good debate and is always polite, allows them to speak as much as they wish.

Lanny Davis is an intellectual lightweight. He promotes a "Civility Project" where we're all supposed to be nice and not criticize...and then when Maddow MILDLY criticizes the former president, Lanny pipes up with nasty accusations of sanctimony & intolerance & even compares her to the Tea Party nuts.

Isn't this the behavior of a hypocrite?

Posted by: doryo | September 17, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

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