Via Mediaite and the Right Scoop, he hasn’t reached the point of insisting that the mere act of challenging Obama in an election is racist, but he’s right on the doorstep now. We’re maybe two weeks away from that argument. Less, I figure, if Rasmussen’s tracker is right about Romney inching back into the lead nationally. Granted, he doesn’t utter the R-word here, but it’s clear enough from his “I don’t like the look of it” sneer plus the fact that this is, after all, Chris Matthews, and therefore all critiques of Republican antagonism towards Obama must ultimately devolve into an accusation of racism. The punchline is that the famously ambitious Romney has actually been running for president since 2005 at the latest, and probably since before that. I can’t believe anyone on either side, save Matthews, thinks he wouldn’t have given it another go this time if Hillary had won the presidency four years ago instead.
Needless to say, Bill Clinton was essentially running for president since, oh, the mid-1970s or so. After his national debut at the ’88 convention, it was a fait accompli that he’d run for real in ’92 so long as there was some path to victory in the primaries available to him. (Which there was once Cuomo stayed out.) It wasn’t disrespectful or disdainful or whatever for him to challenge the incumbent. In fact, a friend of mine who knows plenty of Democratic strategists told me that they’d heard that The One himself had someone in Iowa sniffing around since practically the day after he won his Senate election in 2004 — even though Obama famously told reporters at the time that he wasn’t ready to run in 2008. Newsflash: Politicians with a national profile are always thinking about the presidency. To believe otherwise, you either have to be hopelessly naive about American politics or neck-deep in the tank for the candidate you favor. And I’ve never thought Matthews was naive about politics.