Appearing on MSNBC's All In show on Wednesday, August 28, MSNBC's Chris Matthews called it a "great irony" that only two Republican Senators opposed the 1965 Voting Rights Act, an implicit suggestion that the modern GOP opposes voting rights.
The MSNBC host's observation came as he recounted that many Democratic politicians in the 1960s, including friends of President Kennedy, were segregationists. Matthews began:
All Kennedy's pals in the South were segregationists. His best friend was George Smathers, his best friend was a segregationist. Richard Russell, the beloved Richard Russell. The Russell Building is named after the guy, an out and out segregationist. The great anti-war hero Fulbright, total segregationist. Twenty-two Southern Democrats.
He then got to his observation that it was a "great irony" that most Republicans supported voting rights:
The Republican party, a great irony I talked about tonight, only two Republican senators voted against Voting Rights, John Tower of Texas and Strom who was always a secret Dixiecrat anyway.
Host Chris Hayes had prompted Matthews's remarks as he posed:
One of the things that happens in history, right, is that when we look back, everyone seems like they're all on the same page. But at the time of course it's incredibly contentious, and there's tons of conflict.