Matthews: How Long Before We See Tea Partiers Start Showing Up in Uniform, 1930s Style?
Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's Hardball, not so cryptically compared the actions of Republican volunteers to that of Nazi-style tactics from the 1930s as he claimed the restraining of a MoveOn.org activist by a Rand Paul supporter reminded him of what "we saw from hoodlums in the thirties in another country I will not mention" and added: "I mean it isn't far from what we saw in the thirties, where all of a sudden, political parties started showing up in uniform." Matthews, who was joined by Salon's Joan Walsh and the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, even went on to claim physical attacks against political opponents was something that existed exclusively on one ideological side as he asserted that it was "right wing by its very nature."
This was the second night in a row Matthews advanced this theory and he didn't bother to mention the other side of the story, that a Jack Conway volunteer perhaps had acted violently at the Paul rally as well. The Post's Cillizza, to his credit, actually tried to talk Matthews down as he told the MSNBC host: "I don't think it is right wing by its nature. I would say at the end of campaigns, passions get very inflamed...I do not think it is a right wing thing, I do not think it is a left wing thing." However Cillizza failed in his effort to bring reason to the Hardball host as Matthews challenged Cillizza to "Name the last liberal progressive candidate who hired a private army, the last one that was stomping his political, her political opponents in the street?" before getting on his liberal high horse: "Well we see different kinds of passion here, don't we? We see one passion being reporters trying to get stories in Alaska so they could undercover skull-duggery. We have the passion of a woman who shows up to demonstrate with a wig on and a placard and then we see the passion of the other side, which is to hire armies of paramilitaries and stomp people."
(video after the jump)
The following is the full exchange as it was aired on the October 27 Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well let's take a look at this issue. Here is outside a debate before it happened where a video.com, video.org, MoveOn.org, rather, supporter tried to approach Rand Paul. This is part of this crazy that's going on. And to give him some kind of award about corporate influence peddling. Let's watch this and listen.
MATTHEWS: Well there you have it. There's nothing like a bit of videotape. That Rand Paul volunteer who stomped on the head of that woman demonstrator, told a local TV reporter that she should apologize to him. That woman whose head he has his foot on should apologize to him. Now this is how people think these days in that part of the world. Let's take a listen here to this guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She is a professional at what she does and I think when all the facts come out, I think people will see that she was the one that initiated the whole thing. I don't think it's that big of a deal. I would like her to apologize to me, to be honest with you.
MATTHEWS: And here is another point of view on the matter.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: What if somebody from MoveOn had tried to move through the crowd and give something to President Obama? What would the Secret Service have done? Television footage shows Valle's blonde wig being pulled off before she is pinned to the ground, a man puts his foot down on her head. Now in the video that AP itself posted, the man put his foot down on her shoulders, in what looked to me like an effort to help restrain her.
MATTHEWS: Okay, now Rush Limbaugh is not to be believed here. First of all the person's head is pinned down by this foot and everybody can see it.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: And this is the kind of stuff I said the other night probably, I'll say it again, the kind of stuff we saw from hoodlums in the thirties in another country I will not mention. And this kind of behavior by people who were supposedly political fans or - they go operational like this, operating as local police is something we saw up in Alaska, where they arrested a reporter. What is this behavior by American political activists where they now arrest people, stomp them? These are supposed to be people who are just good old American Tea Partiers. What's the story here, Joan Walsh? This physical behavior by people?
WALSH: This woman was wearing a wig. It was part of street theater, she was not carrying a gun, I'd like Rush Limbaugh to acknowledge, like Tea Partiers have carried guns to President Obama's rallies. She was not wearing a t-shirt saying "the tree of liberty needs to be watered by the blood of tyrants" regularly. It was street theater, she was dinging Paul on his corporate connections, that's perfectly legitimate, and she was stomped. This guy who claims that he put his foot on her shoulder, you see in the video, he takes it from her shoulder and he puts it on her head. Can you imagine that?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST: Chris you can't, you, Chris, you know you can't-
MATTHEWS: Okay I gotta wonder, Chris Cillizza I gotta wonder when people are gonna start wearing uniforms. I mean they've got an army out there in Alaska of militia people. You've got these guys going around acing like street thugs. I mean it isn't far from what we saw in the thirties, where all of a sudden, political parties started showing up in uniform.
CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST: Two things, one, take it out of politics a little bit. You can't do that, right? You don't do that. You don't act like that in decent society. So, so put the politics aside. I would say-
MATTHEWS: You don't think is right wing by its very nature? Isn't this extremist politics physically manifested?
CILLIZZA: No I don't think it is right wing, no I don't think it is right wing by its nature. I would say at the end of campaigns, passions get very inflamed and sometimes people act as this guy clearly did, inappropriately, and in a way in which no person who is a member of civil society would say is acceptable. I do not think that is an ideological thing. I do not think it is a right wing thing, I do not think it is a left wing thing. I think there are people who are unable to contain-
MATTHEWS: Okay, let me ask you one last time-
CILLIZZA: Guys there are people who are unable to contain their passions.
MATTHEWS: Name the last liberal progressive candidate who hired a private army, the last one that was stomping his political, her political opponents in the street?
CILLIZZA: Chris, I'm not, I'm not defending, I'm not defending-
MATTHEWS: Name a liberal who has done that.
CILLIZZA: I'm not defending that action, I'm simply saying by saying this only exists on the right or it only exists on the left isn't fair. Passion - people who are unable to contain their political passions and act in a responsible way-
CILLIZZA: -I don't think is because they are a Republican or because they're a Democrat or a Green Party or whatever.
MATTHEWS: Okay. Well we see different kinds of passion here, don't we? We see one passion being reporters trying to get stories in Alaska-
MATTHEWS: -so they could undercover skull-duggery. We have the passion of a woman who shows up to demonstrate with a wig on and a placard and then we see the passion of the other side, which is to hire armies of paramilitaries and stomp people.
WALSH: And handcuff people and stomp them.
MATTHEWS: Different kinds of passion here, I think.
WALSH: Yeah it's disturbing.
MATTHEWS: Okay thank you very much Chris Cillizza - a straight reporter but I think you are missing some of the nuance of the far right these days. Joan Walsh, thanks forever.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here