There’s a lot we could cover regarding the back-and-forth interview Thursday night between Lawrence O’Donnell and Herman Cain. A lot. But we’ll focus on one thing: O’Donnell’s smug accusations that Cain sat on the “sidelines” during the Civil Rights Movement and Cain’s response. Oh boy — here we go.
Let’s start with Mediaite’s explanation of the exchange:
O’Donnell and Cain talked about so much more, as well, from a passage in Cain’s book where he describes “staying out of trouble” rather than directly participate in the civil rights movement, to Cain’s military service. O’Donnell, in fact, openly admonished Cain for his lack of participation in the movement — which, obviously, did not sit well with Cain one bit. “Did you expect every black student and every black college in America to be out there in the middle of every fight? The answer is no.”
That’s a good start. But there’s also plenty of of other quotes to work in. Like this one from O’Donnell:
“Mr. Cain, in fact you were in college from 1963 to 1967, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, exactly when the most important demonstrations and protests were going on. You could easily, as a student at Morehouse [College]…actively participated in the kinds of protests that got African-Americans the rights they enjoy today. You watched from that perspective at Morehouse when you were not participating in those processes…black college students form around the country and white college students from around the country come to the South and be murdered fighting for the right of African-Americans. Do you regret sitting on those sidelines at that time?”
Wow. That question followed an earlier one where O’Donnell suggested that if Rosa Parks and 60s-era black would have taken his [Cain's] father’s advice and stayed out of trouble, blacks would not have won their civil rights.
Not surprisingly, as the tension built and Cain increasingly became annoyed at the accusatory and suggestive questions, Cain finally let O’Donnell have it:
“Lawrence, Lawrence, Lawrence, I’m going to– I’m going to try this one more time. I graduated from High School in 1963. I didn’t start college until the fall of 1963. Now I don’t understand why you’re trying to make a big deal out of this small point, when we have an economy on life support. WE got 14 million people out of work, and you want to try and deduce something that is incorrect form my words in my book. OK? Let’s do the people of this country a service, Lawrence.”
And with that, O’Donnell moved on to — homosexuality.
You can watch the Civil Rights Movement part in the first clip, and the rest of the interview in the second one: