In Lunacy, Veritas

Chris Matthews is crazy. Nevertheless, when left-wingers talk openly with one another, their craziness can be revealing. That is the case, I think, with this remarkable MSNBC clip. Matthews, fresh from his kneepad interview with President Obama, praises what he terms a uniquely brilliant insight by Al Sharpton: South Africa’s white politicians of the apartheid era were more patriotic than today’s Republicans:

I haven’t heard anything as smart as what I heard Reverend Sharpton say a moment go in five years. The difference between the way F.W. de Klerk handled the need for change and the election – democratic election of Nelson Mandela – legitimate election, he was never truly elected – for him to recognize his role in history which was to be a patriot at that point is so different than the way [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell handled the election of Obama.

DeKlerk released Mandela from prison, legitimized the African National Congress and negotiated an end to apartheid with the ANC. After the election of 1994, he served in a unity government under Mandela. How this relates to Mitch McConnell in 2009 is mystifying. Is Matthews faulting McConnell for not procuring Barack Obama’s release from prison? For not legalizing the Democratic Party? For failing to offer to serve as Obama’s Vice-President?

They were willing, the McConnell people onto the far right, were willing to destroy the country in order to destroy Obama. Whereas, to succeed in a country he loved, F.W. de Klerk was willing to see it transformed to black rule so it could be done successfully so he could have his country have a better future.

The loss of Mandela and what his history is about and the key statement of why this has been so poisonous the last five years. We have real people in this country with real power and status who have used that status of power to hurt the country so they could hurt the president.

That’s the most damming assessment I’ve heard and, I think, the truest.

This is sheer lunacy. In the first place, when Obama took office the Democrats controlled the House and had a veto-proof majority in the Senate. They could do anything they wanted, and they did. Without permitting any input whatever from Republicans, Obama and the Congressional Democrats enacted the epically wasteful and ineffective trillion-dollar “stimulus,” rammed Obamacare through Congress, and ran up unprecedented deficits. The idea that they were somehow stymied in any of this by Republicans is absurd.

More broadly, is it really Matthews’s view that whenever a new president is elected, the opposition party should abandon its principles and endorse that president’s policies, whether it agrees with them or not? Is that what the Democrats did when Ronald Reagan took office? Or George W. Bush? Do you remember Chris Matthews, or anyone else, urging Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt to abandon their opposition to Republican principles in 2001 and unanimously affirm President Bush’s legislative proposals? Just kidding.

Matthews’s tirade may have been crazy, but it wasn’t random. On the contrary, it reveals what he really thinks: that Barack Obama isn’t just an ordinary president, entitled to the ordinary level of deference–which is to say, little or none. Rather, Matthews believes that solely because of the color of Obama’s skin, his election was a historical event akin to the end of apartheid in South Africa. Further, he thinks that Obama’s skin color, and nothing more, created a duty on the part of everyone–especially Republicans–to ignore all philosophical principles and all considerations of public policy, and to cheer Obama on, regardless of what he might do. This is the import of Matthews’s praising DeKelk for being “willing to see [South Africa] transformed to black rule.”

The video is at the link.

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