WEINSTEIN: The convenient memory loss of Chris Matthews

Jamie Weinstein | Senior Writer

Like most days since Chris Matthews decided to adopt his left-wing MSNBC persona, he said something colossally stupid Thursday.

Matthews was on “Morning Joe” this morning to promote his interview with President Obama when he launched into a rant.

Obama “has had a very difficult opposition out there … who from the very beginning wanted to destroy this presidency,” he said. “And some of it is ethnic, and some is good old ideology. But they way they treated this guy is unusual in our history.”

“Al Gore accepted the fact, even though he won by 600,000 votes, that W. was president. And the Democrats accepted the legitimacy of George W. Bush 100 percent,” he added, when host Joe Scarborough tried to push back a bit.

“There is an asymmetry here between the hard right and the Democratic center, there is a real asymmetry, Joe,” he continued. “There really is. And to say that they are both the same is not true.”

Really? The Democrats accepted the legitimacy of George W. Bush 100 percent after Al Gore conceded? Maybe in Mathews’ bubble, but not in real life.

The reality is that Bush’s legitimacy was not accepted by much of the Democratic left after the Supreme Court decided in Bush’s favor in Bush v. Gore, especially during W.’s first term.

“He will be president legally. But he does not have moral authority, because his crown did not come from the people. It came from the judges,” the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson said shortly before Gore conceded.

Groups sprouted up claiming Bush was “Not My President” because of the way he was elected. Bush’s inauguration was subjected to enormous protest by a liberal base that didn’t quite 100 percent accept his legitimacy.

“Not since Richard Nixon paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1973 has a presidential Inauguration drawn so many protesters — and last time, people were out to protest the Vietnam War,” the liberal online magazine Salon described the scene.

Prominent liberals also didn’t quite buy Bush’s legitimacy.

“I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a ‘deserter,'” faux documentarian Michael Moore said. “What I meant to say is that George W. Bush is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar and a functional illiterate.”

Moore would go on to sit in Jimmy Carter’s box at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 and the Democratic establishment enthusiastically embraced his conspiracy-filled anti-Bush documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Nor is President Obama the only president to be subjected to unfair attacks by the opposite party’s base. Scarborough brought up how some on the right went into loony land to attack Clinton, but what about the way George W. Bush was attacked?

I was a student at Cornell during a significant part of the Bush presidency, so I am well aware of the calumny Bush was subjected to by liberals. I saw him compared to such infamous figures as Hitler and Osama bin Laden.

And the attacks were not only the provenance of the Democratic base. Democratic members of Congress were vicious in their attacks of Bush, even accusing him of allowing 9/11 to happen.

Democratic Michigan Rep. Keith Ellison, for instance, suggested the 9/11 attacks were like Bush’s Reichstag fire, a reference to the fire that many believe Hitler staged on the German parliament and blamed on the communists in order to grab power by spreading fear of a communist takeover in Germany.

“It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that,” he said. “After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country, Hitler, in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I’m not saying Sept. 11 was a U.S. plan or anything like that because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you.”

Sure he wasn’t saying that exactly; he was just saying. And some people aren’t sure President Obama was born in Hawaii. They aren’t saying they believe he was born in Kenya, they are just saying.

Georgia Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney insinuated that Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand and allowed them to happen in order to further his father’s business interests.

“It is known that President Bush’s father, through the Carlyle Group, had — at the time of the attacks — joint business interests with the bin Laden construction company and many defense industry holdings, the stocks of which have soared since Sept. 11,” she said.

One could easily go on. Forever. The point is Chris Matthews has no idea what he is talking about. But I suspect you already knew that.

There is surely some people who oppose Obama for “ethnic” reasons — I think Mathews meant racial reasons — but contrary to liberal mythology, most conservatives oppose the president for his policies. And for good reason.

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