The master video page is here in case these three tender vittles leave you hungry for more. Strange but true: This crop of “Lean Forward” ads is much more overtly partisan than the original crop released last October. Compare Matthews’s spot then to the one that came out today; Maddow’s and Olbermann’s ads at the time were similarly soft on ideology compared to Lawrence O’Donnell waxing rhapsodic below about the public option and “immigration,” by which of course he means illegal immigration. Maybe they’re worried that the brand has lost some liberal luster since Olby decamped and this is their way of polishing it up. Just because you don’t see Ronald McDonald out by the front door waving doesn’t mean the burgers aren’t still good, progressives.

By the way, I love love love the idea of Chris Matthews, who seems to devote roughly 58 minutes of airtime a day to Birthers and related Trumpery, lamenting the fact that top Republicans won’t move on and challenge Obama on the issues. Never mind that many big names — Romney and Pawlenty, for starters — have tried to move on by saying they believe Obama’s natural-born, and never mind that it’s a fait accompli that the eventual nominee will stay far away from Birtherism during the campaign. The true magical irony of this clip is that no matter how issue-oriented the Republicans are, Matthews himself will lead the way in searching for racist “dog whistles” under every rhetorical rock in the Republican garden. Josh Trevino put it perfectly on Twitter vis-a-vis the news about Barbour: “Haley Barbour’s departure from the field of 2012 probables strips us of what would have been an awesome media game of spot-the-subtext.” Indeed; as the most identifiably southern candidate, he would have been demagogued the most crudely. But the demagoguery will still be there, even if mild-mannered midwestern wonk Mitch Daniels is the nominee, because Matthews and the media can’t do without it. But he just wants to talk about the issues, see.

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