Appearing on colleague Andrea Mitchell's eponymous 1 p.m. Eastern program today, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews to viewers that last night's South Carolina GOP presidential debate was chock full of "dog whistles" and racially-tinged "code words." What's more, according to Matthews, there's no point trying to argue with him on this because "you either see it or you don't."
Perhaps Matthews's dopiest claim was that Newt Gingrich calling Fox News debate panelist Juan Williams by his first name was a thinly-veiled way to attack Williams's ethnicity before a "conservative white" audience in the South:
There were interesting aspects to that, wasn't there some applause when he called him Juan? I mean it’s an interesting thing here. I mean, I once, it's very clever -- I mean Newt is a very smart guy. He knows how to play an audience.
There was a wonderful exchange between George Herbert Walker Bush and Pete DuPont one time where he answered a question to him and he said, "Let me help you with that one, Pierre."
Now it is his name, and Juan is his name, but there's an interesting way it's used and to personalize it, and Juan Williams has a lot of guts getting in front of that audience that’s conservative white in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and asking a question which is a reasonable question.
[T]his is going to get very, you know, very ethnic, very racial, it's going to get very hot.
And I think you saw it there in that audience there the other night. And I think it's going to be bad. I don't like it. And I think we're looking for signs of coaxing people back to their sort of tribal attitudes. You know, and how it's done and that use of the name Juan, the way he does it. You can't argue these things. You either see it or you don't. It’s just the way he did that.I sensed a little applause when he said "Let me help you," when he answered the Juan question.
Matthews realizes his arguments about racism are patently unprovable, but he had a ready defense for that: it's a secret code that racists understand and he, the ever-enlightened student of politics, also gets, even if you at home disagree with him:
Well, we know what's going on. And everybody knows what’s going on. And to argue with it, the problem with arguing it is, the people who don't hear it don't want to hear it, or they hear it and don’t want to admit it.
You can't argue a person into it. You can't say to a person that's code, because the people that don't want to hear that it's code will say that it's not and the people who clearly hear that it's code will. It's not something that you can argue with a person.
In other words, there's no point arguing with Chris about this. Making a rational argument based on facts and evidence don't matter to the Hardball host, it's all about a pre-determined narrative intent on reading racism into ripe circumstance.
The debate was in South Carolina. Juan Williams is black. The audience and candidates are white. Voila! Instant racism!
At least, that's what race baiters like Chris Matthews would have you believe.
For a related BiasAlert that includes the transcript, click here.