As Joe Scarborough, one of the rotating anchors of MSNBC’s continuing election coverage tried to interrupt, Matthews justified his comments by insisting that, “I have to tell you, we have an ethnic problem in this country. And it’s coming to the fore, this race problem we have.”
Of course, whether or not Steele wins, most of his votes will come from Maryland’s more conservative voters. Does this mean that Matthews is blaming liberal Democratic voters for the supposed racist antagonism against Steele?
As NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth already documented, Matthews also blamed racism for the fact that Democrat Harold Ford appeared to be trailing in his race for a Tennessee Senate seat:
“We all know the history of our country electing white people. Blacks vote for whites. Whites don't vote for blacks. It’s just been a problem. It's just a horrible problem. I thought he was really courageous in making this run. I never thought it was really that winnable. He's from Memphis. He's had a history of family illegalities. Talk about the old man being involved in affecting your election. An uncle in trouble. I think he had to overcome an awful lot. But most importantly, he's an African-American guy running in the United States.”Matthews made his comments about Steele around 2:25pm EST on Sunday, during live coverage shortly after President Bush’s delivered comments praising the death sentence verdict against Saddam Hussein. As he and Scarborough handicapped the various races, Matthews blurted out what he presented as praise of Michael Steele:
“Michael Steele has run a first-rate campaign. He’s a gentleman of the first order. You talk about meeting him — I’ve met him at so many football games and baseball games, and he’s always great to hang around with, but that’s all I really know about him.”
“But the commercials have been so positive. He’s so — I hate to say this, because this sounds so damned ethnic — unthreatening, which a lot of white voters like to see from an African-American, unthreatening. You almost have to be castrated to take the fear away from some people.” As Matthews said "unthreatening" and "castrated," he raised his voice to emphasize each word.
At this point, Scarborough tried to interrupt, but Matthews plowed forward: “And this guy comes on as a funny guy, a lighthearted, positive guy. And the people go ‘God, this guy is a guy I would like to have living next door’ — although that may be pushing it in some cases.”
After Scarborough tried again to interrupt, Matthews finished up: “ And so I have to tell you, we have an ethnic problem in this country. And it’s coming to the fore, this race problem we have.”
Of course, the fact is that in both Tennesse and Maryland voters are siding with the candidate who best represents their positions on the issues -- Republicans voting for the white Bob Corker and black Michael Steele, Democrats picking the white Ben Cardin and black Harold Ford. Matthews could be rejoicing over how color-blind the American political system is in the early 21st century, but instead he's impugning voters as too racist to vote fairly.