This morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, Lawrence O'Donnell proudly declared the obvious: he's a socialist.
After hearing the news today about the suspension of Keith Olbermann
from the same network, I can't say anyone's all that surprised.
O'Donnell's proclamation was made when "The Last Word" anchor
got into a lively exchange with Salon.com contributor Glenn Greenwald
"Unlike you, I am not a progressive. I am not a liberal who's so afraid of the word that I had to change my name to progressive. Liberals amuse me. I am a Socialist. I live to the extreme left - the extreme left - of you mere liberals."
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You have to give the guy credit for standing behind his views, and doing so openly. You have to respect him for that, at least.
The exchange was part of a discussion amongst the guest panel on the program, during which they debated over the reasons why Democrats lost their elections this past Tuesday. It was actually a very engaging and interesting dialogue. O'Donnell's points in particular were revealing of exactly why voters need to be more skeptical about the real views of political candidates.
The discussion heats up when Greenwald takes issue with O'Donnell's election night coverage, in which, in Greenwald's view, O'Donnell portrayed liberalism as having failed. But as Greenwald and O'Donnell get into a rather uncomfortable finger-pointing spat over O'Donnell's election night coverage, it progresses into some interesting talk about strategy. Greenwald speculates that Democrats lost because they failed to project themselves openly as true progressives with liberal values. O'Donnell argued to the contrary. Citing the statistical breakdown of the electorate in America, O'Donnell - to his credit - points out that when 41% of the American electorate is conservative, you can't run on a liberal platform. He explains that liberals have to tone it down and run more like Blue Dog Democrats in conservative districts, if Democrats expect to win.
"I don't pretend that my views, which would ban all guns in America, make Medicare available to all in America, have any chance of happening in the federal government, OK. You can sit there and pretend that liberals should run more liberal in conservative districts."
While I can't fault O'Donnell for being honest about his views, that part of the exchange was more than illuminating. It essentially confirmed, with so much clarity, what so many conservatives have said all along. There are no Democrats anymore - that party was hijacked by liberals long ago. Most have simply been parading as conservative Democrats to appease the electorate. And this is in part why the two sides of the political spectrum seem so at odds with one another.
Earlier on, at the start of the segment, Joe Scarborough opened up with Lawrence O'Donnell, sitting beside him. Scarborough is discussing some of the strong comments from some of the Republican leadership in the wake of Tuesday's House victory. He tries to dampen the anxiety of incensed Democrats:
"People just need to relax....So when [he] hears people setting their hair on fire over something that a Republican says, or something that a Democrat said, you just want to say, kids, relax...there's a constitution that requires - REQUIRES....will you please explain to everybody - whether Boehner loves Obama is irrelevant, there's a Constitution that requires them to pass budgets, pass appropriation bills...we will be fine."
And immediately after reassuring the American public by reminding us that we have a constitution to control our government, on a network news station, he turns to and introduces .... Lawrence O'Donnell, American Socialist.
Now *that's* reassuring.
You can get the clip here and full-length exchange on video here.