Lawrence O'Donnell is as liberal as any of his fellow MSNBC hosts, but on Thursday's Last Word he distinguished himself by daring to rake President Obama over the coals for his speech at that morning's National Prayer Breakfast. It was there the president alleged that ISIS fighters aren't real Muslims, but are instead "betraying" Islam. The president advised the attendees and the country not to "get on our high horse" against the faith and remember that "during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ."
O'Donnell would have none of it. Before segueing into a video of Obama's remarks and a panel discussion, O'Donnell minced no words:
"If you ever want to search for the worst speeches given by a modern president, begin with the National Prayer Breakfast, the first of which was attended by President Eisenhower in 1953. President Obama, who is the most gifted writer and speaker in the history of the American presidency, today delivered the worst speech of his presidency. It was full of hollow pandering from start to finish, as politicians' speeches to religious groups always are. And he insisted that the Islamic State is not Islamic."
During the discussion with Zainab Salbi, Jerry Coyne, and Asra Nomani, which was civil and spirited, O'Donnell acknowledged Obama's point about the past atrocities of the Catholic Church, saying it used to be "the most murderous force on the face of the earth for hundreds of years." But, he emphasized, "that's hundreds of years ago."
O'Donnell also said that Obama's remarks imply that the president knows what real Islam is. Many liberals claim that ISIS militants aren't real Muslims on no other basis than the fact they find the actions of ISIS objectionable. This is the classic No True Scotsman Fallacy, and O'Donnell rebutted this claim as well:
"In the process, the president seems to be saying that he knows what the real Islam is -- he knows that there is such a thing as 'real Islam,' and that he can tell you.... what it is. And that is a frequent mistake that people who have not been highly educated in religion make: thinking that there is an identifiable 'real' version of any religion."
This rare and reasoned critique of Obama from one of cable news' more liberal hosts didn't sit well with a lot of liberals on twitter, who simply couldn't fathom this development. Some of them even accused O'Donnell of venturing into crazy right-wing Tea Party territory:
These people were doubly pissed at O'Donnell because he simultaneously violated the two most important Leftist orthodoxies going: 1) President Obama is always right; 2) Terrorism can never have anything to do with Islam, even when groups like ISIS call themselves Islamic and take their philosophy straight from the Quran.
It doesn't matter that O'Donnell did it a relatively tame fashion. All that matters is that he did it. Therefore, he's now no better than Pamela Geller, or Robert Spencer, and is possibly a Koch brothers-funded talking head.
I've already written about the inability of many on the Left to come to terms with the problem of radical Islam, so I won't repeat myself here. All I'll say that the problem is serious enough in and of itself without scores of people jumping through hoops to try to convince everyone else that the root of the problem isn't as obvious as it seems, or that the problem doesn't even exist.