Via the Daily Wire, I’ve seen some weird things during the Trump era and expect to see many more but “Chris Matthews delivers a red scare on MSNBC after a Democratic debate” is out of left field even by the new standards.
It’d be like a Fox News primetime host attacking the GOP’s leadership as a bunch of warmongering crazies.
Wait, what am I saying? That happens all the time now.
Anyway. Matthews is right to worry about socialism, of course, but his critique in the two clips below is very much Republican-flavored. That’s what’s so surprising. If a Democrat is going to fret about Bernie on MSNBC, you’d expect him to do so in terms of the party’s bottom line. Is Sanders electable? Can he win a national race with the GOP’s messaging machine flaying him for his long embrace of socialism? What effect will the sticker price of his programs have on all of those well-heeled suburbanites who turned blue in the 2018 midterms? That sort of thing. That’s not what Matthews is worried about. He’s worried about … being executed in Central Park:
“I have my views on the word ‘socialist,’ and I’ll be glad to share them with you in private and they go back to the early 1950s. I have an attitude about them, I remember the Cold War, I have an attitude toward Castro,” Matthews contined. “I believe if Castro and the reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed and certain other people would be there cheering, OK?”
“So I have a problem with people who took the other side,” Matthews continued. “I don’t know who Bernie supports over these years. I don’t know what he means by ‘socialism.’”
Chris Hayes jumps in to reassure him that Bernie-style socialism is the cuddly Scandinavian kind, not the red-in-tooth-and-claw Cuban variety. But it wasn’t Denmark where Sanders famously chose to honeymoon. His progressive allies went to bat for Maduro last year when Trump stood by Juan Guaido, whom Venezuela’s legislature had named acting president after a dubious election. Bernie’s DSA fan base treated Jeremy Corbyn as a hero even after multiple Labour MPs quit the party last year to protest his weakness in confronting anti-semitism. A core left-wing critique of Trump is that he’s not merely bad in his own right but that he empowers obnoxious elements in American politics like alt-righters. He may disagree with them on discrete issues — e.g., Israel — but he’s emboldened them and given them a foothold in mainstream politics that they didn’t have recently.
Matthews is turning that around here. What sort of elements might be emboldened by Bernie’s rise to power? Stipulate that Sanders himself wouldn’t condone violence against opponents for the sake of The Cause. (Although Matthews might not give him that benefit of the doubt!) One of his fans would, and did, three years ago in an historic way. Who wants to roll the dice on adherents of a notoriously imperious movement like socialism being sticklers about “norms” once they get their hands on the controls?
That’s the GOP’s argument if Bernie is the nominee. Like I say, I didn’t expect to hear it on MSNBC.
Matthews might have to get used to feeling the Bern, though. Two new polls out of New Hampshire today show Sanders ahead, one by four points and a second by a more comfortable seven points. (A third poll has Buttigieg nosing into the lead by a point.) That second one is especially ominous since it has Bernie inching up to 28 percent and Warren dipping to just nine. That suggests that progressives who preferred her are writing her off and consolidating behind him; if the bottom drops out for her, it may convince her to quit the race before Nevada, which would free Sanders to consolidate the lefty vote there too. If he wins Nevada, suddenly he’ll be very hard to stop. I’m not sure we’ve seen anything in the Trump era as weird as “Mike Bloomberg is the last best hope of saving America from socialism” but we may be at that point three weeks from now.
Two clips here from last night.
Video: Watch Chris Matthews GO OFF like a boss (no, I'm not joking) about the dangers of socialism re; Bernie, the pure evil of communism, the legitimate fears of a Red Scare in the Cold War, and how "there would have been executions in Central Park" if they won pic.twitter.com/2XxmZbsJTc
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) February 8, 2020
Chris Matthews laying it down.
Socialism is an issue in this campaign.
He doesn’t like socialism and “it doesn’t frickin’ work!”
— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) February 8, 2020