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Dan Rather: 'Articulate' Obama Couldn't Even 'Sell Watermelons'

HDNet's Dan Rather stepped on one mine after another in the racial minefield that exists when talking about the nation's first black President as the former CBS anchor, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over the weekend, uttered the following take on the President's ability to get health care passed and how the GOP and independents would view it. [audio available here]

DAN RATHER: Part of the undertow in the coming election is going to be President Obama's leadership. And the Republicans will make a case and a lot of independents will buy this argument. "Listen he just hasn't been, look at the health care bill. It was his number one priority. It took him forever to get it through and he had to compromise it to death." And a version of, "Listen he's a nice person, he's very articulate" this is what's been used against him, "but he couldn't sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic."

While Rather may not have been being intentionally racist one has to wonder what the reaction would be if a conservative had used similiar language on the show.

[UPDATE, MARCH 10: Writing in the Huffington Post, Rather apologized for his language: "I'm sorry people took offense." Details here.]

(Thanks to the MRC's Bob Parks for alerting us to the remark and creating the video.)

Earlier Rather called the current legislation a "Republican health care bill" as seen in the following exchange as it was aired on the March 8 Chris Matthews Show:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Will health care, the health care bill of Barack Obama, the one he roughly is for now, coming out of the Senate and coming out of the House. Will it become law? Will he win?

...

DAN RATHER: Yes because what we have now is basically a Republican health care bill, if it gets through. It's, it's got a lot...but I think the President finally putting his whole sack in on it, yes he wins but it's not a certain thing.

MATTHEWS: Andrea?

ANDREA MITCHELL: I think close call it has to win or else this presidency is in serious...

MATTHEWS: So in other words they'll make it happen.

MITCHELL: They've got to make it happen.

MATTHEWS: Joe Klein?

JOE KLEIN, TIME: Congressional Democrats are dreadful but they're not entirely stupid. They have to pass it.

MATTHEWS: And Nancy Pelosi will have her greatest triumph.

KLEIN: Sort of.

RATHER: When you talk about a triumph though. One, part of the undertow in the coming election is going to be President Obama's leadership. And the Republicans will make a case and a lot of independents will buy this argument. "Listen he just hasn't been, look at the health care bill. It was his number one priority. It took him forever to get it through and he had to compromise it to death." And a version of, "Listen he's a nice person, he's very articulate" this is what's been used against him, "but he couldn't sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic."

- Geoffrey Dickens is the senior news analyst at the Media Research Center.