On Hardball tonight, Chris Matthews destroyed the birtherism as a 2012 political strategy being employed by Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich. Matthews said, ” It’s this behavior of thought, if you can call it that, which delves down to the lowest charge you can make about Obama, picking it up from the gutter until you do it again and again until you’re caught and have to say oops.”
Here’s the video from MSNBC:
Chris Matthews began his blistering critique of Huckabee and Gingrich by saying, “Let me finish tonight with this horrible ongoing relentless nastiness we’re getting from Huckabee and Newt Gingrich. Newt started this Kenya talk, this Mau Mauing of the president, this insidious charge he’s not an American, not one of us, but a product of the 1950s, bush war against the British, that he’s an African killer of white people, ambushing them in their homes and offices without mercy or sympathy.”
He discussed how Huckabee picked up Gingrich’s line of birther thought and ran with it, “This is what Newt calls the predictive model of Barack Obama’s conduct. If you want to know what the president will do on any issue, think Mau Mau, think killer of white people, think savage. It’s this that Huckabee picked up on like you would pick up an old cigarette butt in the street looking for a few more drags on it. It’s this behavior of thought, if you can call it that, which delves down to the lowest charge you can make about Obama, picking it up from the gutter until you do it again and again until you’re caught and have to say oops. I didn’t mean to throw the worst I could at him. No it was just a um, I have to say something here. It was just a mistake.”
Matthews talked about how Huckabee and Gingrich are corrupting our politics, “These dreadful corruptions of our politics are talking this way because it will talk them into the national debates and the Republican Party will wish they didn’t have them in their company. Imagine sharing the stage with this triple mountebanks. This later day duet of disharmony. This Duke of the Dauphin now working the cable circuit the way the charlatans of the antebellum period worked the riverboats.”
The Hardball host concluded, “They know Obama was born here. They know he was never met a Mau Mau. They know he never lived in Kenya. He never met his father, had his father abandon him at age 2. They know all this, but they spout their predictive models and cover for their mistakes because it’s what sells, to that element of the right that feeds on anything that can be thrown at the president. I wonder where they got these ideas, Newt and Huckabee. The idea that a guy they disagree with on policy must be attacked at his very American nature. He has to be slain in the public eye before they can win what they want. Maybe that’s something they learned when they were 2. Something deep in their infant’s memory that they can’t quite say where they got it. I guess that something of an excuse.”
The truth is that Huckabee and Gingrich are doing this because the Republicans believe that they only way they can defeat Obama in 2012 is polarizing the electorate and delegitimizing this president. As we are seeing in Wisconsin currently what passes for Republican policy today is wildly unpopular with most Americans so instead of waiting to go negative on Obama with conspiracy theories and outlandish personal attacks, the GOP started out negative and has continued beating their desperate smear drum in the hope the American people would eventually adopt and embrace its insidious rhythm.
Matthews was right. Huckabee, Gingrich, and all the other Republicans who pander to the birthers know better, but they view these attacks on our very American president as their only shot at capturing the 2012 Republican nomination. In their minds if they keep repeating this birther nonsense enough, they hope that it will begin to stick. Chris Matthews politically dismembered Huckabee and Gingrich, because he understands that the poison they are injecting into our public discourse can’t easily be removed.
While the vast majority of Americans know that President Obama is an American citizen, by pandering to paranoid fringe conspiracy theorists, Huckabee and Gingrich are playing a very dangerous game. What they view as an electoral strategy could be viewed by a dangerous and unstable individual as a call to violence against our president.
The Republicans have embraced a cynical political strategy based on spreading ignorance and fear. It is a strategy that we all must take seriously, because as the impact of the results of the 2010 midterm election should have demonstrated to us all, inaction also has its consequences.