On the July 6 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson read the following excerpt from a speech delivered by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in Fairfield, Iowa, on July 3: "Somehow we have lost the capacity to recognize ourselves in each other. You know, people talk a lot about the federal deficit, but one of the things I always talk about is an empathy deficit." Carlson then asked: "How high is this guy? It's like what is he -- he always talks between bong hits?" Tucker later said: "Well, he sounds like a pothead to me. I mean, look, tell me what you're for. I don't want to hear about the [']empathy['] -- what the hell is that? Do you know what I mean? If I want a therapist, I'll pay for one."
On the July 2 edition of his show, Carlson said that Obama "seems like kind of a wuss," as Media Matters for America noted.
From the July 6 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, which also included Clifford May, president of The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and Newsweek senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe:
CARLSON: Richard, you were just in Iowa with Barack Obama. Maybe you can explain the following scene: Barack Obama goes to essentially the Maharishi University town -- Fairfield, Iowa, home of John Hagelin, the Natural Law Party [presidential] candidate -- and gives this speech in which he says this -- they love him, and he says: "Somehow we have lost the capacity to recognize ourselves in each other. You know, people talk a lot about the federal deficit, but one of the things I always talk about is an empathy deficit." Now, I always talk about --
MAY: You're dead inside? You have no empathy for people? What's up?
CARLSON: How high is this guy? It's like, what is he -- he always talks between bong hits? I mean, what is that? What does that mean, an "empathy deficit"?
WOLFFE: You're -- so what, the African-American candidate is the exotic guy, who has a Maharishi --
CARLSON: Well, he sounds like a pothead to me. I mean, look, tell me what you're for. I don't want to hear about the "empathy" -- what the hell is that? Do you know what I mean? If I want a therapist, I'll pay for one --
WOLFFE: Let me explain something to you about what Democrats do, because this is his standard stump speech. He didn't come up with this last --
CARLSON: Yeah, I know. I know.
WOLFFE: Just for -- you know, there is something about the common good that they argue about --
CARLSON: Don't have a problem with that.
WOLFFE: -- about seeing each other, helping each other. Whether it's public education or health care, that's the core message of every single one of these characters. They're not all on the [Dennis] Kucinich bus.
CARLSON: And I wonder, why is it Democrats have had problems getting elected president?
WOLFFE: You tell me.
CARLSON: I think you just explained it.
MAY: Tucker, I don't think Americans lack empathy, let me say that. But my favorite part of the story is the Obama supporter who had written on his car, "The time is now," and a Maharishi follower said, "But the time is always now."
WOLFFE: I must say, by the way, very creative reporting. Hat tip to The Politico there. But I was there in that crowd. You could not tell that was a Maharishi crowd. I mean, Fairfield -- it does exist as a real place beyond people doing yogic leaping and people doing transcendental meditation [TM].
CARLSON: First of all, it's yogic flying.
WOLFFE: I'm sorry.
CARLSON: Second, I grew up in Southern California. My cousin was deeply into TM. I can spot them a mile away. They're very sweet people. They're very, very, very nice people.
WOLFFE: They wear Crocs and things.
CARLSON: Yeah, they wear Crocs and things, but they are -- they're potheads, and you're not going to convince me otherwise.