Cunningham 'not a nuanced fellow'
Hardball's take on the Cunningham flap, from Wednesday:
Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst. And Michael Smerconish is a radio talk show host based in Philadelphia. Pat, what side are you on in this one? You have not just this guy Bill Cunningham. You have the head of the Republican party of Tennessee. You`ve got Rush Limbaugh all sort of taking the side to the right of McCain, if you will. I don`t know if that term applies here, ideological term, in saying, it is OK to basically trash this guy, humiliate him because of his middle name.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, you have to separate this, Chris. Bill Cunningham is not a nuanced fellow. He`s a Cincinnati talk show host, probably really famous in Cincinnati. Anybody who goes through is on the show and it is raw, rough, conservative rhetoric. McCain`s problem is he is using this fellow as a warmup for his own gathering and then when he denounces him, he is a member of the talk show host community, Cunningham is, so Sean Hannity comes to his rescue, Rush does and McCain has himself between a rock and a hard place.
MATTHEWS: You mean those guys are untouchables? You can`t attack them?
BUCHANAN: Well, you can go right ahead in attack them. You`ve got no problem. But that is part of the Republican base.
MATTHEWS: Should he have let it go?
BUCHANAN: I think -- No, here`s the thing, if the press asked him about it, he should have said, look, I don`t agree with those comments at all. Quite obviously, he made them. He is a talk show host. Here is what I believe. But I think he might have gone too far with this. Now he has a huge fight and he is in the middle of it. That thing in Tennessee, Chris, that is more interesting and they are going to -- we can talk about that.
MATTHEWS: Let me just tell you. The Tennessee Republican party today issued a press release, very well written here -- they know what they`re saying -- and it talks about -- it`s concerned about the future of the nation of Israel, the only stable democracy in the Middle East, if Barack Hussein Obama is elected president.
BUCHANAN: This is more serious stuff. Read through that. The whole effort there is to tie Barack Obama to radical Arabs who are tied to Hamas or Hezbollah and Farrakhan, and to drive a wedge between Obama and the Jewish community, and make him move to denounce Farrakhan or to basically - - well, basically denounce Farrakhan.
MATTHEWS: Well, he did last night.
BUCHANAN: And they are going to keep to driving these wedges to alienate the Jewish community, which likes McCain.
MATTHEWS: So it is partisanship.
BUCHANAN: That is more effective politics than what we have been talking about.
MATTHEWS: Michael, is this partisanship, bigotry, what is it? How do we talk about this issue fairly and honestly in politics? You have to do it on the radio every day.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that John McCain
did the right thing. I disagree with my friend Pat. First of all, relative to Cunningham, you know, you hire a magician for a kid`s party. Don`t be offended when somebody shows up with a rabbit. This is part of his schtick. This is what the guy does.
Where I think he crossed the line was with the reference to the middle name. Because, come on, usually when you referencing the middle name it is John Wayne Gacy, or it`s Mark David Chapman, or it`s Lee Harvey Oswald.
MATTHEWS: It`s a murderer.
SMERCONISH: In this case, what they`re saying -- let`s be clear. They are playing on that urban legend that the guy is a Muslim and he is not. I have no problem with anything that Cunningham said, because that is part of his persona, except for the middle name business, and John McCain should stay far away from it.