December 21, 2009

Chris Matthews and his panel name Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, the birthers and their ilk and white tribalism as the plague of 2009. The right wingers will of course take this as proof that Matthews is part of that 'librul' media and complain about the tingle up his leg while forgetting about Mitten's chin and Grandpa Fred's Aqua Velva.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back. And more of our look back at this year. Next category, we're calling it a "Plague on All Our Houses." First, swine flu – now, that was a big, big deal this year. The birthers, another kind of plague, the people who pushed the idea that Barack Obama was not born in America. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk -– the nutty talk went off the rails this past summer. Here is Beck:

GLENN BECK: This President, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don't know what it is.

BECK: This guy is, I believe, a racist.

MATTHEWS: And our last plague, those reality TV wannabes. The balloon family and those White House gate crashers. Howard, another rich list. By the way, Glenn Beck, white people. What's that supposed to mean?

HOWARD FINEMAN: Well, it's hard not to name him the "Plague of the Year." And not for ideological reasons. Because I think the name calling, the shameless name calling, and stirring up of the worst in our society is something that should be condemned. It was a year ago, almost a year ago, that we were all out there on the mall, when Barack Obama was sworn in as President, one of the great moments in American history, no matter what your politics are, no matter who you are, where you come from, and to sort of drag all that through the mud I think is a plague.

MATTHEWS: Yes, bring back tribalism.

FINEMAN: Yeah, exactly.

KATTY KAY: I would say the birthers, and I think because it's insidious...

MATTHEWS: Same deal, by the way.

KAY: I think it’s a similar deal, and with the birthers, it's getting at this idea that Americans somehow don't like anything that's foreign, that anything that's foreign is suspicious. And there's no evidence of this. And the way that people like Sarah Palin have said this is an issue without actually coming out straight and saying I think he wasn't born in America. There’s a very mean-spiritedness about the birthers, I find, worrying about...

MATTHEWS: I think it’s tribalism, white tribalism.

NORAH O’DONNELL: It is, and it's an effort to delegitimize the President in some way, to offer an ad hominem attack in many ways...

KAY: Without even straight-up attacking.

O’DONNELL: ...suggesting he’s not credible, he’s not American. And it’s sort of a way to – it’s racist in many ways to do it.

MATTHEWS: John, you've got a book coming out, a big one, coming out very early this year, right at the new year time. And you’re going to be on here to talk about it. Was this something that was simmering, this sort of tribalistic resentment of Barack Obama being what he is?

JOHN HEILEMANN: Yeah, it’s funny, you know, people forget that this happened at the end of general election in 2008 where John McCain and Sarah Palin were out at their rallies and you started to see, when she started to talk about how he was palling around with terrorists, you started to see the early incipient kind of signs of what became the birther movement, where you’d have people standing up calling him a socialist, calling him a communist...


HEILEMANN: ...calling him an Arab. You know, that stuff was out there, and you only saw it at the very, very end. And by that point, Obama was so far ahead that people kind of ignored it. But it was there and they activated it.

MATTHEWS: And did you hear that Palin was saying that later on, more recently, she wished they’d done more of that Reverend Wright stuff, more of that ethnic stuff, that racial stuff? She wanted to push that.

HEILEMANN: She was very unhappy about going after Reverend Wright.

MATTHEWS: To John McCain’s lasting credit he refused to play the racial card, which is always easy to play in this country, as we’ve seen.

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