Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chris Matthews: "We're not sociologists, we're Americans."

A new milestone in buffoonery by the TV blowhard and alleged political journalist Chris Matthews.

Throughout the Democratic nomination race, in which there has been a good deal of nonsense from journalists and political pundits, Chris Matthews of MSNBC has distinguished himself for commentary blending frequent absurdity with out-of-control Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Matthews also played a fairly significant role in introducing the race-card theme into coverage of the campaign--and, in the process, into the campaign itself.

I had more or less decided to ignore Matthews, but tonight he really outdid himself.

=> Matthews, we should note, has always made a habit of talking about "working class" people (along with the standard pseudo-populist disparagement of "elitist" Democrats). On his April 1 "Hardball" show, for example, Matthews had an exchange with Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an Obama supporter, and his introductory remarks were fairly typical in this respect:
Obama — that’s Senator Obama — has taken a different tone in Pennsylvania, where I’m at right now. He faces an aging blue-collar electorate, one of the oldest states. I think it’s the second oldest state, in terms of demographics. People want details about how he plans to improve their lives, keep their kids from moving out of the state, and creating jobs down the road for their grandkids. Can he win over working-class voters here in Pennsylvania? Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is an Obama supporter. Senator McCaskill, did you advise Obama to go out and try to bowl the other day?
And this rather bizarre question that he then went on to ask is also par for the course with Matthews:
Let me ask you about how he — how’s he connect with regular people? Does he? Or does he only appeal to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees?
(Apparently, neither African-Americans nor people with college degrees are "regular people". Whom does that leave? Well, no doubt that's not exactly what he meant to say....)

=> Tonight, Matthews suddenly decided that even mentioning class and race in connection with elections is for "sociologists," not "Americans." Using phrases like "blue-collar" is "elitist talk." And simply by talking about "white working-class voters," Hillary Clinton is almost "like the Al Sharpton of white people."

If you think I'm making all that up, watch this video.

--Jeff Weintraub

P.S. As for the line from Matthews contrasting "sociologists" with "Americans" (yes, that's a direct quotation), I guess I should feel reassured by John DiIulio's insistence that even sociologists are "entitled to all the rights of citizenship." On the other hand, as I pointed out in that connection,
even if believing sociologists are entitled to the same legal rights as other Americans, I do think it would be very difficult for a self-confessed sociologist to get elected President of the US.

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