Chris Matthews, on Thursday's Hardball, took GOP Congresswoman Virginia Foxx to task for claiming that Republicans "passed civil rights bills in the sixties" as he accused her of having a bad memory, going as far as to compare her to one of the androids from the science fiction classic Blade Runner:
Up next wait ‘til you hear the latest from Congresswoman, whoa! Wait ‘til you catch this. Well this is another version of The Dream, let's put it that way. This is Virginia Foxx, in action. She's actually trying to say -- remember this? It was the Republicans, don't you remember? They are the ones that pushed through civil rights back in the sixties. Remember it was not the Democrats, remember that? Interesting memory there. Next in the "Sideshow." I think she's one of these replicants from Blade Runner where they had an imposed memory put into them. [audio available here]
After playing a clip of Foxx claiming it was Republicans "who passed the civil rights bills back in the sixties, without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle," Matthews charged it was the GOP who became the political "winners" in the South for "opposing civil rights." While Foxx's claim wasn't entirely accurate, Matthews also needs a history refresher course as the Republicans were pivotal in getting the legislation passed, something the late Paul Weyrich pointed out in a July 2004 column:
Republicans in the 87th Congress were determined to get the Black vote back in the GOP column. It was they, under the leadership of Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Il.), who drafted a very extensive Civil Rights Bill. They didn't have the votes to pass the bill and there were some in the Republican Party, such as Sen. Karl Mundt (R-SD), who opposed it.
Still, word was out in the Black community that the Republicans were looking after them. President Kennedy, who contrary to current mythology was not a popular President, worried that the Black vote might return to the GOP. In a close re-election, which he anticipated would be the case, that would be fatal to his chances. So he quickly introduced an alternative bill that some analysts at the time said was not as potent as the Republican bill. No doubt that was an effort to win over some Democrats who were not enthusiastic about the legislation.
It is easy to forget, with the disciplined leftwing Democrat caucus in the current Senate in the 108th Congress, that not only were there Southern Democrats back then who opposed the kind of legislation that Kennedy proposed but such Northerners as Frank Lausche (D-OH.), Alan Bible (D-NV), and Mike Monroney (D-OK), were not enthusiastic about it either.
Then President Kennedy was killed. Lyndon Johnson, a Southerner, used the Kennedy death to push for the passage of the Civil Rights Bill in his name.
That did bring in a few more Democrats but not nearly enough to break a filibuster - which back then required only 26 Senators to be successful. It was the Republicans, with Dirksen leading the charge, who helped to vote cloture, end the filibuster and pass the bill. Without the help of Republicans, the Omnibus Civil Rights Bill would have been in the ashbin of history.
The following rants from Matthews were aired on the November 19 Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Up next wait ‘til you hear the latest from Congresswoman, whoa! Wait ‘til you catch this. Well this is another version of The Dream, let's put it that way. This is Virginia Foxx, in action. She's actually trying to say -- remember this? It was the Republicans, don't you remember? They are the ones that pushed through civil rights back in the six[ties]-. Remember it was not the Democrats, remember that? Interesting memory there. Next in the "Sideshow." I think she's one of these replicants from Blade Runner where they had an imposed memory put into them.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball and what a "Sideshow" we have tonight. First, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Remember how the 1964 Civil Rights Bill killed the Democratic Party in the South, which it did? Remember how Lyndon Johnson said that would happen, when he signed the bill? Remember how what he predicted did come true, how the former Dixiecrats all became Republicans? Remember? Well guess who doesn't remember? Or at least says she doesn't. Here's North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx on the floor of the House today, giving her version of recent history during a debate on the environment.
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX: The GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this, in this country, just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the sixties, without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle. They love to engage in revisionist history.
MATTHEWS: Well here are the facts. 46 Democratic senators voted for the Civil Rights bill, 46 and 27 Republican senators. Well that's the numbers. I wouldn't say that the Democrats passed it or the Republicans, I would just say more Democrats voted for it than Republicans. But here's the bigger story. LBJ was right. Backing civil rights cost the Democrats the South. And the Republicans were the winners by opposing civil rights. She's wrong, history is right.