CNN anchor Don Lemon lashed out Tuesday at Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Joe Manchin (WV), suggesting that they shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while they stood in the way of their own party’s proposed federal overhaul of election laws.
Lemon, host of the evening show “Don Lemon Tonight,” joined hosts John Berman and Kasie Hunt to discuss the two bills — the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act — and the fact that both Manchin and Sinema have thus far refused to get onboard with their own party’s attempts to alter or throw out the filibuster. Their refusal has effectively brought President Joe Biden’s agenda to a standstill in the Senate, because without their votes plus Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the inevitable tie, Democrats are unable to move the bills through the 50/50 Senate.
“That’s bull … That’s BS. And you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a hypocrite.” @donlemon unloads on lawmakers who want to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. while standing in the way of voting rights reform by opposing the filibuster. pic.twitter.com/UKX0tQGI2E
— New Day (@NewDay) January 18, 2022
“Inevitably, you get the politicians, especially the ones in Washington now who are blocking — you know, the people’s access to the voting booth, and they want to use Dr. King conveniently,” Lemon began, going on to call them “the biggest hypocrites on the planet.”
“Because if Sinema and Manchin really want to honor the legacy of Dr. King and all the people who fought for Civil Rights and voting rights for this country, what they would do is do a carve-out for voting rights within the filibuster. That’s what they would do,” Lemon continued. “For some reason, they are mired in tradition and they are stuck with these rules that are backwards.”
Lemon went on to agree with former President Barack Obama, who said at the late Congressman John Lewis’ (D-GA) funeral that the filibuster was a “relic of Jim Crow,” making no mention of the fact that Democrats had used the filibuster to great effect — over 300 times during former President Donald Trump’s tenure and once just last week — when it was to their political advantage.
“Just because there is a rule doesn’t mean that rule can’t change,” Lemon added. “The Constitution is amended, so it’s time to amend the rule and fight — and protect the most sacred right that we have as Americans.”
Hunt pointed out then that Democratic leadership intended to force a vote on the issue anyway, noting that meant Manchin and Sinema would have to be “on the record” for voting against the proposed rules change — and Lemon said that was certainly important.
Lemon went on to compare Manchin and Sinema to the “white moderates” Dr. King had mentioned in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” reading a portion of the letter aloud:
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season,” King wrote.
Lemon’s conclusion, after reading the letter, was that anyone who claimed to be a Democrat and espouse the values of Dr. King should not be willing to stand in the way of the filibuster rules change — particularly when it was being changed to allow for the passage of the two bills in question.
“‘We can’t change the rules because the rules are tradition, but we’re going to block people from the voting,'” Lemon said in mocking tones. “And you’re supposed to be a Democrat who espouses to the ideals of Dr. King — that’s bulls***. That’s BS,” he apologized for the profanity, prompting a laugh from Hunt. “That’s BS. And you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a hypocrite.”