Scarborough: Rockefeller "owes Ron Johnson an apology"

An interesting cut from TPM, certainly for Joe Scarborough’s defense of conservatives opposed to ObamaCare, but also for what it leaves out. The cut takes Scarborough’s argument alone, and cuts the responses from the Morning Joe panel entirely. Scarborough calls on Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) to apologize for his crude play of the race card in a Senate hearing, which resulted in Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) impassioned response castigating the outgoing Rockefeller for smear tactics:

“I must say, I have been behind closed doors with thousands of conservatives through the years. I have never once heard one of them say in the deep south or in the northeast or in South Boston, ‘Boy, I really hate Obamacare because that black president’ — no, I’ve never heard anybody come close to saying that,” Scarborough said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And I have spoken to some wildly right wing groups. I have never heard it once.”

Scarborough was reacting to a tense exchange between Rockefeller and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) Wednesday during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on health care. Johnson took offense when Rockefeller suggested that some of those who oppose the Affordable Care Act don’t like the President because he’s “of the wrong color.”

“He’s the only Republican in the room, and Sen. Rockefeller suggested that millions and millions of Americans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as the President likes it to be called, have racist reasons for doing that,” Scarborough said. “That’s one of the stupidest, most offensive things I’ve heard a sitting senator say.”

“He owes Ron Johnson an apology,” he added.

I’m curious why TPM cut out the other responses from the panel. It certainly helps with timing; Scarborough’s argument takes nearly two minutes, and it doesn’t even include his particularly effective point about the identical conservative reaction to HillaryCare while Scarborough was in Congress, in which race was hardly an issue. Did the liberals on the panel object to Scarborough’s argument? I’m guessing no, at least in part, but I also doubt it went completely unchallenged.

Not that it makes much difference to Rockefeller, who’s standing by his remarks, even if he’s standing alone:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller may no longer fear the political consequences of charging the GOP with opposing President Barack Obama’s agenda because he’s the “wrong color.”

But he might be alone in that.

On Thursday, no Democrats publicly rushed to back Rockefeller’s assertion that Obama has met legislative resistance because of his race, a remark that sparked an emotional debate Wednesday with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) over whether opposing the president and his health care law amounted to being “racist.”

Staring down his retirement after 30 years in the Senate and often using a wheelchair because of a bad knee, Rockefeller chose his words carefully Thursday speaking to a pair of reporters. He didn’t use the word “race” or “color” when asked to clarify his remarks — but he refused to back away from his core assertion.

Politico’s Burgess Everett marvels at how this will play back home:

Rockefeller’s assertion is hard to imagine coming from a Democratic senator who represents a state — West Virginia — where the president is more unpopular than in almost any other — but it was no mistake. Rockefeller said the same at the beginning of May, arguing during a transportation hearing that “for some, it’s just we don’t want anything good to happen under this president, because he’s the wrong color.”

I suspect that Rockefeller may choose to live in the Beltway after his retirement this fall.

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Jazz Shaw 1:01 PM on May 27, 2023