I used to believe that Chris Matthews had a glimmer of intelligence. I know he views the life-and-death business of governance as a huge joke. But I did not think he would sabotage Barack Obama’s campaign just to provide grist for his MSNBC-TV show. And that’s exactly what he did on “Hardball” last night. He showcased some of the worst slander being circulated against the Democratic candidate for President by the McCain campaign, and provided the weakest defense imaginable against those sleazy lies and innuendos. His performance ranks right up there with that despicable New Yorker cover, which was supposedly intended as satire.
To savage Obama’s character, Matthews chose Michele Bachmann (photo below, left), a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota who is a laughing-stock back in her home state because of her extreme views. Her political philosophy has been summed up thus: Everyone will have a gun, nobody will have an abortion, no one will pay taxes, everyone will go to church, and there won’t be any more pinko liberal teachers in school.
She raised eyebrows recently when she introduced the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act” to stop the phase-out of incandescent bulbs. According to this woman, any human connection to global warming is “voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” Invited to speak at Living Word Christian Center, a large charismatic church located in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Bachmann said it was God who called her to run for Congress. She described herself as “a fool for Christ.”
Matthews sat by last night while this raving zealot suggested that Obama has close – and as yet undisclosed – ties to a former Sixties radical named Bill Ayers, and is therefore likely to be a “terrorist.” She also brought up Rev. Jeremiah Wright (who, I am sure, needs no introduction), a tactless Catholic priest named Rev. Michael Pfleger (who once made a racial remark about Hillary Clinton) and a convicted influence peddler named Tony Rezko. Matthews did not correct Bachmann when she falsely stated that Obama’s campaign was launched in Ayers’ living room, although I am sure he knows by now that the campaign was launched at a Ramada Inn. He did not point out that the only association Obama had with Ayers was that both belonged to the board of directors of the Annenberg Foundation, which was founded by a former Reagan ambassador to “advance the public well-being through improved communication.” He did not mention that Obama has repudiated remarks by Wright and Pfleger. Matthews chose instead to engage (incompetently, I thought) in a philosophical debate on the pros and cons of liberalism. His defense of our right to dissent was so weak that he did not even protest when Bachmann evoked memories of McCarthyism by calling for an investigation of the United States Congress to expose members who are “anti-American.”
Matthews also let that ridiculous cartoon character Pat Buchanan compare Obama to the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society. The show was the worst display of inept discourse that I have heard in many years. Any eighth-grade student of American history could have done a better job than Matthews of exposing the logical flaws in Bachmann’s insanity and Buchanan’s inanity. (But eighth-grade students have better sense than to provide a bully pulpit for the likes of Bachmann and Buchanan.)
I am sure I don’t have to tell you this, but bear with me while I set the record straight. Obama is not a Muslim. He is not a terrorist. He is not anti-American. He is not an Arab. He has repudiated Rev. Wright’s anti-white, anti-American sentiments and deplored Rev. Pfleger’s tasteless remark. He was not even mentioned in Rezko’s testimony. And he is not a “pal” of Bill Ayers. (Obama was 8 years old when Ayers was involved in violent protests against the Vietnam War, and has no close ties to the rehabilitated radical who is now a college professor and adviser to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.)
In fact, Obama is a church-going Christian who loves his country and his family. No breath of scandal has ever been attached to his name. He is also a brilliant lawyer and an inspired leader. And he deserves better than the kind of shoddy exploitation in which Matthews indulged last night.