On Monday’s “Hardball” on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews once again went on the offensive against Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, but this time he said race was a component of Cruz’s message.
Matthews drew attention to some the geographic distinctions Cruz had made when he returned to Texas following the end to last week’s federal government shutdown, charge Cruz with trying to define who was American and who was un-American.
“It’s a little weird, but is Chicago part of America?” Matthews said. “Is Philadelphia — my hometown where I’m going to address the National Constitution Center tomorrow — is Philly part of America? Is L.A.? Is San Francisco? Is Austin, Texas? The reason I’m asking this stupid question is because this partisan gunslinger, Ted Cruz, is out there today defining who is and who isn’t an American.”
“Remember Michele Bachmann asking the press on this show to conduct a person-to-person investigation of who in the U.S. Congress is anti-American?” he continued. “Well, Cruz is worse. The same senator who suggested the nominee for the defense secretary was taking money from the communists in North Korea now decrees what part of this country are in and which parts are out, which parts are American and which parts aren’t.”
Also in part of his attack on Cruz, Matthews reverted back to his comparisons of Cruz to former Wisconsin Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy, something he has done on a regular basis over the past several months.
“This is McCarthyism writ large,” he said. “Disagree with this guy and be prepared for the accusations. We are witnessing, I think, the greatest challenge to progressives, to moderates and reasonable conservatives in modern memory. It’s an indictment against the great majority of Americans. To compromise he says is bad. To support the law he says is wrong. To oppose his brand of right-wing politics is to stand accused by him of being un-American.”
Matthews saved his harshest criticism of Cruz for a question posed to the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman by asking if Cruz was intentionally drawing a racial divide.
“Howard, this isn’t a casual reference,” Matthews said. “This is ‘We’re Americans, we white people out here in Texas, as opposed to people who live in the big cities, the ethnics, the blacks, the browns. Those people in Washington, those liberals, they’re not Americans.’ This guy either has a total lack of understanding of American history and the hell we went through in the McCarthy period or he knows it damn well and is playing that card. What do you think it is — knowledge or ignorance?”