Tonight on Hardball, Chris Matthews’s race-based hysteria reached new levels of absurdity.
First, he turned the show over to correspondent David Shuster for a report on campaign ads. Shuster included in his report the mind-numbingly stupid claim that the drums in the background of a Corker-for-Senate radio ad are a subliminal racist attack on Corker’s Democratic, African-American opponent, Harold Ford Jr. Only a racially paranoid moron could listen to this ad and concoct this loony “jungle drums” conspiracy. Shuster attributed the theory to “liberal bloggers,” but he should have just given credit where it’s due: TPM’s Greg Sargent.
Sargent’s “jungle drums” scoop hit a snag when the Corker campaign pointed out that the drums in the radio ad are the same ones Corker is using in a TV ad that doesn’t even mention Ford. But the intrepid Sargent clung to his stupid theory, claiming that:
While it’s true that the same music is playing in the ad, and it’s true that there is some sort of drumming audible, it’s still dramatically different from the radio ad, which pumps up the very loud rumble of drums every single time Ford’s name is mentioned. They’re just not comparable.
Seriously. What kind of moron hears drums in an political ad and immediately thinks: Those must be jungle drums! Why that’s… that’s racist! Yet this idiotic charge is now being repeated on national television, courtesy of liberal-blogosphere hero David Shuster.
Next, Matthews himself engaged in a little race-baiting. Republicans are running an ad in New Jersey that spoofs The Sopranos to attack Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez. Matthews played a clip of the ad, then asked political analyst Charlie Cook for a reaction. Cook explained that the ad was about the allegations of corruption that have haunted Menendez throughout this campaign. But Matthews saw a deeper conspiracy at work:
MATTHEWS: Well maybe because I’ve spent so much of my life in New Jersey… but you know, I have to tell you Charlie, it’s an ethnic ad. Whatever else it is, it’s an ethnic ad. It’s about Italians in New Jersey, it’s about the mob. Tying Menendez into Torricelli. They’re closing the loop, they’re making their point, and that has been politics in that state for years, between the WASPy people like Christie Todd Whitman and the Keans, father and son, running against the ethnic people, they tied it all together: If you’re ethnic, you’re a crook, right?
Cook was completely speechless. Matthews continued:
What the hell does Bob Menendez have to do with The Sopranos? What’s he got to do with Bob Torricelli, besides, they’re not WASPs, they’re ethnics?
Cook — who had just noted the well-documented charges of corruption that have hurt the Menendez campaign — continued to struggle for a way to respond to this madness. Matthews finally let him off the hook with, “OK, I don’t want you to have to join me on all this stuff.”
Finally, Matthews wrapped up the segment with a statement that took his racial obsessiveness to a whole new level. Concluding a discussion about the humorous campaign ads of Michael Steele, the African-American Republican running for Senate in Maryland, Matthews said:
I love the ads, my wife loves the ads, they’re really funny, some of them. And very unthreatening. An African-American guy, it seems, has to run an ad that’s so unthreatening that he’s almost child-like in his presentation, but it seems to be working.
Stop it Chris Matthews. You and people who share your weird, racial paranoia are poisoning the national debate and hurting the country.
UPDATE: Just when you thought he couldn’t sink any lower…