Chris Matthews ‘Deeply Respects’ Donald Trump’s White Nationalism, Except for ‘Racial Aspect’


As is often the case, Super Tuesday provided cable news viewers with multiple opportunities to wonder just what in holy hell is Chris Matthews even talking about. A few hours after he bizarrely asked Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) if the words “trust” and “experience” meant something different to black people, Matthews was back to deliver more “insight” on the 2016 presidential race, like how Donald Trump’s “romantic” brand of white nationalism is something he can “deeply respect”:

Well, all of these candidates have something that I can think about that I would say positively about them. But if I do that, people will think I’m positive about them. It’s more complicated. Every one of them has an attribute that I do respect deeply, and at least consider on the mark. But no one adds up so far. Trump, in his own way, has a sort of romantic quality, a sort of Gatsby quality, the country we took from the Indians, he sort of appeals to the motherland.

Unfortunately it has a racial aspect to it that can’t be put aside very easily. But it’s there. America, he knows how to do it. The bad guys are the Russians, the bad guys are the Chinese, the bad guys are the Mexicans, it’s us against the world. There’s a certain sort of nationalism there we can all understand. But it’s pretty crude.

You have to be steeped in white status quo politics to even think something like that, because saying there’s a “racial aspect” to Trump’s nationalism is like saying there’s a “wet aspect” to water. The thing that Matthews says is appealing to him is the same thing he says is “pretty crude,” in that there is no difference.

But even if you grant that he really believes there is a difference, he also says the “racial aspect” can’t be put aside “very easily,” which means it can be put aside. Matthews is a frightening bellwether for the dopey “independent” voter who will decide this election, who find Trump’s appeals to racism distastefully naked, but for whom they are not a deal-breaker.

Matthews, who headlined an hour-long “documentary” infomercial on Trump and has excitedly praised Trump’s “phallic” buildings, clearly has a thing for strong-men that overrides the matters of principle and substance that he pays lip-service to. While it’s no fun to watch, Matthews is a useful warning sign that many more Americans like him are susceptible to Trump’s appeal.

As a commentator, though, Matthews is pretty useless, and what’s more, he advertises it. If you watch MSNBC with any regularity, you’ve surely seen this promo more times than you wanted to (one of the lesser, yet still grating, side-effects of MSNBC’s un-blackening process has been the concurrent increase in the obnoxiousness of its promo music):

Why? Cuz I love the magic of politics. When the stars align against the odds. When a leader somehow happens.

I love the sheer human spirit of the maverick. The pro. The hero.

You can have the one-note wonders, the flip-floppers, the hacks.

Give me the gutsy, the grownups. Honest. Give me the ones with fire in their bellies, the ones who tell you why they’re there. Those I can take and cheer non-stop!

I’m not going to quibble with the “magic of politics,” because we all have our own personal affinity for some romantic and intangible quality in politics. My problem with Matthews is that he sees his job as finding a leader that he can “cheer non-stop.” That’s not the job, no matter how much their phallic buildings or codpieces make you tingle.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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