MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Accuses RNC Chairman Reince Priebus of Playing “The Race Card”
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews let it all hang out and accused RNC Reince Priebus of playing the race card. Priebus’ defense will not play with the skeptical for one reason: the laugh line in the joke wasn’t Romney being born in Michigan but on the birther aspect. But judge for yourself (and leave your reaction in comments). Matthews also jumped on the “Europe” cliche as well:
Here’s one reaction to this clip.
And here’s the context now, as provided by the New York Times’ Thomas Edsall in a post “Making the Election about Race”:
The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.
Ads that accuse President Obama of gutting the work requirements enacted in the 1996 welfare reform legislation present the first theme. Ads alleging that Obama has taken $716 billion from Medicare — a program serving an overwhelmingly white constituency — in order to provide health coverage to the heavily black and Hispanic poor deliver the second. The ads are meant to work together, to mutually reinforce each other’s claims…
,…The Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler, gave the welfare ads his lowest rating, four Pinocchios. The Tampa Bay Times’s Politifact was equally harsh, describing the ads as “a drastic distortion” warranting a “pants on fire” rating. The welfare commercial, according to Politifact, “inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance.”
Sharp criticism has done nothing to hold back the Romney campaign from continuing its offensive — in speeches and on the air — because the accuracy of the ads is irrelevant as far as the Republican presidential ticket is concerned. The goal is not to make a legitimate critique, but to portray Obama as willing to give the “undeserving” poor government handouts at the expense of hardworking taxpayers.
Insofar as Romney can revive anti-welfare sentiments – which have been relatively quiescent since the enactment of the 1996 reforms – he may be able to increase voter motivation among whites whose enthusiasm for Romney has been dimmed by the barrage of Obama ads criticizing Bain Capital for firing workers and outsourcing jobs during Romney’s tenure as C.E.O. of the company.
The racial overtones of Romney’s welfare ads are relatively explicit. Romney’s Medicare ads are a bit more subtle.
And, of course, now a prominent GOPer — using the best defense is a good offense strategy – accuses the Democrats of playing…the race card:
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, one of his party’s elder statesmen and leading strategists, today accused Democrats of playing the “race card” in accusing Republicans of making race a subtext of the campaign.
Democrats have argued heatedly that Mitt Romney’s unexpected new focus on welfare policy, his reference to President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and his embrace of Donald Trump — who campaigned on the latter subject — represent thinly-coded appeals to working-class white resentment of a black president.
“Name a campaign in the last 25 years where the Dems didn’t play the race card,” Barbour told BuzzFeed. “Surprise!”
Barbour cast the Democratic move as a sign that the party is afraid black voters won’t show up at the polls.
“They feel this unbelievable need to turn out their base,” he said, citing recent moves on environmental and immigration policy as plays to other elements of the Democratic base.
UPDATE: The reaction of Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey to the Matthews clip:
Like Matthews, I don’t really get the joke from Romney’s Michigan speech, but it’s very clear that it was meant as a joke. That’s as far as I go with Matthews. If debate over federal programs like welfare are suddenly evidence of latent racism, then we should end the program altogether so as to keep it from being a topic of national debate. Absurd? So is Matthews’ blanket assertion that discussing Obama’s executive order that weakened the bipartisan welfare reform signed by Bill Clinton into law amounts to a racist attack on Obama. What’s next? Will discussing the failure of Obama’s stimulus bill be racist? Discussing an unemployment rate of 8.3%, a U-6 number back over 15%, and the lowest civilian participation rate in 30 years?
Matthews obviously doesn’t want any discussion of Obama’s record, and wants to scare Republicans away from it by toxifying those issues as raaaaaaaaaaacist. The aromas of desperation and fear are strong in this clip.