A very bad, very dumb man: Joan Walsh played some Hardball last night. More on that below.
But first, let’s consider something Chris Matthews said during Tuesday night’s opening segment. Let’s understand why he said the very strange thing he said.
Matthews devoted that opening segment to the problem he called “Obama derangement syndrome.” First, he discussed the man who heckled Obama on Monday night—though he didn’t seem to know what the man had said, and he didn’t have the right part of the videotape ready to show.
Matthews is seldom prepared on the facts—but he’s always prepared on the narrative. That explains the weird thing he said about Wayne Lapierre’s latest statement.
Lapierre is head of the NRA. Last week, he made an absurdly stupid claim about Obama. After vouching for Lapierre, Matthews played tape of his statement, then made a peculiar comparison.
Matthews spoke with Ron Christie, a Republican spokesman. To watch the full segment, click this:
MATTHEWS (9/27/11): Well, here’s something—another strain of the crazy far right. Here’s the National Rifle Association’s Wayne Lapierre—and I’ve known this guy a long time. I’m astounded by this new accusation that the president is leading some conspiracy. Anyway, here he is, Wayne Lapierre, head of the NPR [sic]—not National Public Radio, National Rifle Association, at the conservative conference in Florida last week. Let’s listen to Wayne Lapierre of the National Rifle Association.Lapierre’s statement was patently crazy. In this post, Steve Benen described it as a “self-parody,” then explained the obvious motive for such an absurd set of claims. But Matthews never got around to explaining how stupid Lapierre’s statement was. Instead, he made a peculiar comparison: Lapierre’s statement was “almost like…Lincoln talking about what was going on in the Civil War below the Mason-Dixon line!”
LAPIERRE (videotape): The president will offer the Second Amendment lip service and hit the campaign trail saying he’s actually been good for the Second Amendment. But it’s a big, fat, stinking lie! It’s all part—it’s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country! Before the president was even sworn into office, they met and they hatched a conspiracy of public deception to try to guarantee his reelection in 2012.
MATTHEWS: You know, I got to tell you, again, Ron. This—the language, “lie," "conspiracy.” It’s almost like, I don’t know, Lincoln talking about what was going on in the Civil War below the Mason-Dixon line! I mean, this is Civil War talk about a president of the United States!
RON CHRISTIE: Oh, come on, Chris. Look—
MATTHEWS: Well, yes! Look at what he just said.
Why did Matthews make this peculiar comparison? It has to do with the comfort food he’s currently serving the troops. To please his gullible liberal viewers, Matthews is trying to turn every such statement into race war against Obama. He especially likes playing his Civil War cards, no matter how strained they may be.
In this case, his weirdly strained comparison didn’t seem to make any sense; it led to a pointless exchange of culture-war insults with Christie. But it’s obvious why Matthews said what he did—it’s obvious, and it’s stupid and ugly. But then, Matthews has always been like this, even when he was making up ugly shit to please his past owner, Republican honcho Jack Welch, the man who made him wealthy.
This brings us back to what Joan Walsh said about Matthews’ past approach to Bill Clinton. When we saw her on Hardball last night, we finally realized what she must have meant in her recent statement about white liberals and Obama. For our previous post on this topic, click here:
WALSH (9/25/11): In terms of media, today's progressive media infrastructure didn't exist during the Clinton presidency…Salon came to national prominence to defend the president from the GOP witch hunt, but our writers and editors divided over Clinton's various achievements and disappointments. On MSNBC, liberals Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews helmed a lineup that was hugely critical of Clinton (today Matthews is one of Obama's leading defenders, while Olbermann, once a passionate supporter, has left both MSNBC and the Obama camp). The New York Times editorial pages, helmed by white liberal Clinton critic Howell Raines and featuring (once-liberal) Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich, savaged Clinton and Al Gore. White progressives at the Nation attacked Clinton harshly on NAFTA, welfare reform and his Wall Street-friendly economic policies, while defending him from impeachment, much like Salon.Good lord! Walsh’s probable meaning is so absurd that it didn’t occur to us at first. But she probably meant that Matthews was “hugely critical of [President] Clinton” because he, Matthews, was such a big liberal! Within the context of her overall column, this put Matthews on the side of gods. It showed that he, as a major white liberal, was willing to criticize the white Democratic president!
In this case, the story is ever better. In Walsh’s construction, Matthews criticized the white Democratic president—but he’s supporting Obama, who’s black!
One part of Walsh’s statement is true, of course. Matthews was in fact “hugely critical” of President Clinton. After that, he spent two years savaging Candidate Gore in the ugliest, most dishonest ways possible. This had nothing to do with being a liberal. There’s no way on the face of the earth Joan Walsh doesn’t know that.
(Matthews spent the next seven years trashing Hillary Clinton.)
Last night, Walsh played Hardball again. Her lying has kept her alive. Her country stays uninformed.