I guess Chris Matthews couldn’t bring himself to go the full Harry Belafonte and call Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell “house slaves”. Instead, in his effusion over Barack Obama, Matthews throws away all journalistic objectivity and manages to also mangle the truth in demeaning Rice, Powell, and other high-ranking officials in the Bush administration as “showcase appointments”:
Again he [Barack Obama] carries with him the history of tonight. And it’s important to point out, as we have not so far, Barack Obama was not given this nomination, he won it. He was not offered a nice title like Secretary of State, like Condoleezza Rice got from the Republicans. He was not offered the title of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as Colin Powell was, or Secretary of State. He won the nomination of a Democratic Party voting together. He defeated all other opponents and took the prize and took the leadership. He is the chosen leader of the Democratic Party.
He is not some popular appointment or a showcase appointment. He is the victor here tonight. That’s why he dictates the agenda. That’s why he says, personally, what the Democratic Party will do if he’s elected President. He is the leader of the party. He may be the leader of the country through a democratic process. It is so vital to understand the history being made here tonight. This is not something cute or wonderful. It is something compelling and powerful. This country has changed its history.
First, his description of Obama’s nomination is simply not true. Indeed, Obama was selected, and selected by the power structure of the Democratic Party. Neither he nor Hillary Clinton won the nomination through the primary process; Obama had a pledged delegate lead, but nowhere near enough to win the prize. He won because the superdelegates decided to back him instead of Hillary Clinton. Hillary actually received more popular votes in the end than did Obama, who prevailed in caucuses.
The idea that the Democratic Party “voted together” is even more risible. The party tore itself apart on the shoals of identity politics and opened perhaps a fatal weakness for the fall. The entire convention was an exercise in damage control, a moderately successful exercise to be sure, but the idea that Obama came into Denver riding on a cloud of unity only exposes Matthews as the worst kind of brown-nosing hack.
For some reason, Matthews and NBC apparently feel they have to denigrate the service of Rice and Powell in order to inflate Obama. Why? Rice and Powell held positions of actual power, and acquitted themselves well in those roles. It’s a conventiently circular argument to accuse Republicans of not wanting diversity, and then pointing to the diversity of the Bush administration as some kind of window dressing.
Matthews and Keith Olbermann have become the prime-time purveyors of hatred in American broadcast news. NBC should fire them all and hire actual journalists who can refrain from swooning on camera.