There've been some good cable news smackdowns the last couple days, this one from Hardball today being a particularly good one. Lawrence O'Donnell was on fire with Pat Buchanan arguing that the opposition to President Obama's being invited to speak at Notre Dame was a fake controversy created by "religious fanatics." Damn. I agree with John Cole: "I honestly don't think you would have seen something like this just a few years ago".

Check it out (h/t Crooks & Liars):

Then there was the not to be missed battle between Christopher Hitchens and Ken Blackwell over whether the United States is a Christian nation. Hitchens -- taking the "no" position (duh) -- just destroys Blackwell, it's embarrassing for Blackwell and, like the Buchanan/O'Donnell clip above, makes me want to stand up and cheer.

Watch it (h/t HuffPo):

These two smackdowns are interesting because they represent the rise of a newly emboldened sort of secular liberalism, challenging notions of judeo-christian centricity that have long been accepted by people in the media and even by those on the left. For so long, one couldn't challenge a conservative's Christian faith no matter how crazy or extreme the views, that faith was somehow untouchable even as they questioned the faith (or lack thereof) of people with whom they disagree with impunity. The free ride is over, boys.

Any other good smackdowns I'm missing?

Tags: Lawrence O'Donnell, pat buchanan (all tags)



Re: Smackdown!

Watching this, I can't believe Blackwell was almost a Governor. (Well, he lost by a lot, but he was the GOP nominee.)

by LeftistAddiction 2009-04-10 02:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

Didn't stop him from rigging Ohio so that we ended up with 4 years of Bush though.

by TMP 2009-04-10 09:13AM | 0 recs
Best Jon Stewart line ever

was after the last Blackwell-Strickland debate, showing a clip of Blackwell saying "my opponent stood down for american families and stood up for the North American Man-Boy Love Association!" or something.

How many points down in the fourth quarter do you have to be before you throw the hail-NAMBLA?


by corph 2009-04-10 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

The Buchanan take down was pretty amazing.  I'm honestly surprised that he doesn't have a cogent explanation of why he differs from Catholic theology on the death penalty.  It isn't like the Church's opposition should be a surprise to any lifelong Catholic.

by Dreorg 2009-04-10 03:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Pat does make the argument

He does have a cogent explanation, which is the distinction he kept making about the Church's view of abortion as being based on "full faith and morals", as opposed to its view on the wrongness of the death penalty, which is based on a less fundamental principle. I'm not well versed in the theology, so I don't have the terminolgy down, but it is an intellectually honest distinction. It's sort of like (and may be related to) the distinction between when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, at which time his view is considered "infallible", and when he comments in a non-ex cathedra mode.

On the other hand, while I feel a little sheepish about it, I love seeing O'Donnell squash Buchanan and drive him nuts. It's not really fair, but we have so long been subject to specious and misleading arguments, that I can't help but glady accept when the roles are reversed.

by KitBinns 2009-04-10 09:20AM | 0 recs
i don't think so

catholic teaching is equally opposed to the death penalty and to abortion.  there is no difference.

by bluedavid 2009-04-10 09:16PM | 0 recs
Buchanan is a GOP fanatic who is a Catholic

It is time to distinguish GOP fanatics who happen to be Catholics vs Catholic fanatics.  They make it appear Catholics is only about abortion and gay marriage and simplify that issue.  

Catholic fanatics are not political---they are fanatics for Christ.  They dont deal with isolated issues like gay marriage or abortion.
They pray a lot,go to mass everyday,life revolving around Church,  go to retreats, pray rosary often, go to missions, charity etc.

Media has allowed GOP fanatics who are Catholics to speak as if they are speaking for the Catholic Church.  

Have they once ask what GOP thinks about the Matthew 25 bible passage on Whatever you do to the least of my bretheren you do to me?  That I think embodies more the Catholic Church than anything else.

by jasmine 2009-04-10 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Buchanan is a GOP fanatic who is a Catholic

you nailed this-- i've never met a catholic like the ones they're always putting up on the TV and i've been surrounded by them my whole life...

by bluedavid 2009-04-10 09:17PM | 0 recs
Buchanan wins!

I give this one to Pat.  O'Donnell has clearly lost it and comes off as a raving lunatic.

by BigBoyBlue 2009-04-10 05:36AM | 0 recs
give me a break

the logical take down was amazing.  pat yelled just as much as o'donnell.  you're full of shit...

by bluedavid 2009-04-10 09:18PM | 0 recs
Are we a Christian nation?
"As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries....
     The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
          -- Treaty of Tripoli (1797) signed into law by John Adams after passing the Senate unanimously
by RichardFlatts 2009-04-10 06:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Are we a Christian nation?

beat me to it :)

by jsfox 2009-04-10 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Are we a Christian nation?

True, but I still agree with the idea that our foundation of the United States was based on Judeo-Christian principles.  If we derived from a belief system that was truly utilitarian and did not come from religious principles we could have ended up with something similar to the USA, of course, but it is also easier to see how we might have ended up with something more similar to forms of government where individual human life is not held with such sanctity - for instance Fascist Germany or Communist Russia - or fundamentalist Saudi Arabia.  I think Hitchens tends to miss this larger point because he is so focused on specifics and whether we are explicitly a "Christian nation".  I would never say that we are a Christian nation, and I fully support separation of church and state, but I can still see the point also that we were founded by a Judeo-Christian (protestant) culture, we were not created in an atheist vacuum - although certain founders may have been atheists or had misgivings about religion.

by mikes101 2009-04-10 09:35AM | 0 recs
No, we were founded on principles of Enlightenment

But in fact we were founded primarily on Englightenment principles, in explicit reaction to the "Judeo-Christian" principles that elevated the word of God (as interpreted by various and competing representatives)as being the unquestionable and singular truth. Enlightenment thinkers believed in the power of reason over dogma and in the inherent ability of people to find accommodation with each other through the competition of reasoning.

I find that the invocation of "Judeo-Christian" prinicples in this context to be an undefinable buzz word meant to counter the reality that our founders were committed to a secular state. The phrase typically seems to refer to morality in general, with a dash of individual human worth thrown in. These are virtually universal principles among religions and political theories, even if not always lived up to by either.

by KitBinns 2009-04-10 12:00PM | 0 recs
Not a mutually exclusive thing...

Yes, we also owe our history to ancient Greece and Rome, as well as the Enlightenment and many other contributing factors.  I am not saying we are "Judeo-Christian" above all else, but I do think that to say that the US exists independent of history and has no religious or historical foundation also misses the point.  As I have pointed out in my examples of failed states, and contrary to your beliefs, these are not universal principles.

by mikes101 2009-04-10 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Are we a Christian nation?

"Judeo-Christian (protestant)"

WTF does that mean????  are jews somehow now included in protestantism??  and what about catholics and orthodox??

methinks you speak from your ass...

by bluedavid 2009-04-10 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Are we a Christian nation?

No - I meant that the Christian influences of our founding fathers were mainly Protestant influences.  I did not mean that Jews are Christians.  

Hey here's a thought - Try thinking before posting!  My grammar and sentence structure may not be perfect but it looks like it is better than yours, and if you think for just a moment you should be able to grasp the meaning...

by mikes101 2009-04-11 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!


Do you have to make any adjustments to your MSNBC embed html to make it work?  I was trying to write a diary with a link to a segment of Rachel Maddow's show last night, and get errors messages regarding the code.

by Dreorg 2009-04-10 06:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

Or, if you wanted to just add this to your list of smackdowns: 30145811#30145811

Rachel Maddow (with the help of Ana Marie Cox) takes on Tea Baggers.  It is the funniest thing I've seen in ages.  I was howling with laughter.

by Dreorg 2009-04-10 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

I was talking to a student at Notre Dame the other day about the controversy. According to him, this is how it breaks down:

- The graduating seniors are really excited. They want to see Obama.

  • The underclassmen are really excited.
  • Most of the alumni are really excited.

The only people who are upset are:

- People not in the Notre Dame community.
- A very small minority of older alumni, like the guy from the class of 1950 who wrote a letter to the student newspaper saying that Obama was the anti-Christ.

Now, I'm sure that there's some variation, and some seniors aren't happy. But the friend I was talking to was really angry that the Pat Buchanans of the world were swooping in to try to ruin a really wonderful experience.

by Fitzy 2009-04-10 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

like the guy from the class of 1950 who wrote a letter to the student newspaper saying that Obama was the anti-Christ.

Was it signed P. Buchannan, Esq.?

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-10 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

I think anyone who is a Catholic most likely wrestles with some of these questions.  i.e. Why is abortion worse than the death penalty?  Or, the converse, what makes the death penalty bad, but abortion just an anonymous "choice"?  Shouldn't we try to eliminate both?  It may well be that today's politicians and some Church leaders are hypocritical on these issues, but that still doesn't really answer the questions.  Wouldn't the most consistent position be to either oppose both abortion and the death penalty or to accept both?

by the mollusk 2009-04-10 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

the church DOES oppose both.  while i disagree with them, i can sort of appreciate their consistency, and also appreciate the fact that the american church is strongly anti-death penalty even though the american public (in most states) is not.

by bluedavid 2009-04-10 09:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

I guess I meant wrestling with these questions in terms of where your political identifications lie.  That is, if you are Catholic, there are many abundant reasons to identify with the Democratic party, but the abortion issue is always going to be a little tense.  Same way if you were a Catholic Republican, you'd have the abortion issue going for you and then you'd have to keep making excuses to yourself for everything else.

by the mollusk 2009-04-12 10:39PM | 0 recs
Blackwell vs. Hitchens?

Ooh boy.  That's the rhetorical equivalent of bambi vs. Godzilla.

by corph 2009-04-10 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

This is the proper format in which to give wingnuts face time on the cable news channels.

I hear folks on our side constantly saying, "Ugh, why do they let tools like Buchanan on TV?"

I say, no, no, no!!! Let Buchanan say whatever he has to say, but make sure that there is a strong contrary personality to smack down his wingnut talking points.

The problem is if you have a network in which all you have are voices from the liberal perspective, you'll get wingnuts screaming, with some validity, that that network is just being a shill for the Democratic Party.

Nevermind the fact that that is in fact what Fox News is for the GOP.

True centrists will see right through the whining, if it is baseless.  The notion that Fox News is even remotely "fair and balanced" in its editorial persepctive has become laughable to all but the most diehard GOP loyalists.  It isn't just liberals that see their glaringly obvious bias these days, almost every moderate swing voter who watches more than ten minutes can pick up on it, too.  The only people who can't see that the Fox News emporer has no clothes are the 27-percenter idiots who still think Bush was a good president.

When you have another cable network that will set up a debate between someone like Buchanan (widely respected among conservatives) and O'Donnell (widely respected among liberals) and O'Donnell just completely smacks him down, nobody will be able to say that it wasn't a fair fight.

by Obamaphile 2009-04-10 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Smackdown!

The U. S. Constitution, Article VI, definition of what is the supreme law of the land clearly proves that the U.S is not a Christian nation.

by captain dan 2009-04-10 03:03PM | 0 recs


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