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Joe Klein: "Crazy" Or "Bigoted" If You Don't Think Obama's Intelligent

On this weekend's broadcast of the syndicated roundtable program "The Chris Matthews Show," panelist Joe Klein of Time magazine took exception to Romney surrogate John Sununu calling President Obama "lazy" on Andrea Mitchell's MSNBC program late last week. Mitchell, who was also a guest on Matthews' Sunday show, asked Sununu to apologize when she interviewed him. Sununu refused to do so.

"I was clearly troubled," Mitchell said on "The Chris Matthews Show" this weekend. "Just using that phrase 'lazy' and attaching it to this president, to any president, but to this president had all sorts of resonance and unpleasant echos and I just want to give him the chance because he is the campaign co-chair. He's not just your average surrogate, this is John Sununu. And then, later that same day, he went on FOX and he was asked, 'You don't think there will be a better prepared on stage next week?' and he said, 'When you're not that bright, you can't get better prepared.'"

"Mitt Romney was aggressive but polite. That was a civil debate. This is not, I have to believe, what Mitt Romney wants to be representing himself," Mitchell added.

"Let's hope not, but John Sununu, a few weeks ago, said Barack Obama was not a true American. He took that back. But he says these things," fellow panelist ABC's Sam Donaldson said.

"It also fits into the grander picture. What you're seeing among conservative commentators now is this whole emperor has no clothes thing and the whole teleprompter meme from the last four years. They actually believe this guy isn't intelligent, which is crazy, or it is bigoted," Joe Klein said.

"I think it sounded ugly, I'll put it that way," moderator Chris Matthews, agreeing with Klein, said.

"I think you can certainly make an argument, and conservatives have been making an argument -- especially when foreign policy is concerned -- that the administration has been incompetent. I don't take issue with Sununu discussing the competence of this administration. But to use words like lazy, to use words like stupid, which I also heard, it just -- that feels lazy, that feels a little easy," conservative commentator S.E. Cupp said.

"If I was Barack Obama, I would want them to keep doing it," Donaldson chimed in. "Call me the worst name you can think of. Thank you very much conservatives. And you're right, not all conservatives. In fact, just a very few."

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