According to Chris Matthews on Monday, the Republican presidential candidates are engaging in a "reign of terror" and "don't like democratic government." In a possible (though confusing) allusion to the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Hardball anchor smeared, "These are guys who tear down statues. They don't put them up." [See video below. See MP3 audio here.]
Matthews has a history of comparing Republicans to violent extremists in the Middle East. On July 5, 2011, the MSNBC host foamed, "Well, the GOP has become the Wahhabis of American government, willing to risk bringing down the whole country in the service of their anti-tax ideology."
On Monday, after liberal guest David Corn insisted that GOP candidates Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain weren't interested in government, Matthews slimed, "I think this is the reign of terror...They don't like democratic government. They don't like having a leader...These are guys who tear down statues."
The Reign of Terror refers to the French Revolution. So far, Republicans have not beheaded anyone.
Earlier in the segment, Matthews insisted that a joke Donald Trump made about Jon Huntsman is the equivalent of "bringing the values of the Middle East to American politics."
(Trump insisted that Huntsman, who has been dismissing him, actually wanted to meet with the reality personality. He added, "I'm sure he'll tell the truth about that, because he's a Mormon.")
A transcript of the December 5 exchange can be found below:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at this. Republican candidates Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul have declined to participate in this joke. They're not going to do the Trump event. And Trump took the opportunity to take a swipe at, of course, at Huntsman and his religion. This is what he does. He goes after tribe. He accused Obama- Barack Obama of being from some other country. He accused of Huntsman of being from some religion that he likes to make fun of. Here he is. This is tribalism at its worst. This is bringing the values of the Middle East to American politics. Let's watch.
DONALD TRUMP: I think most of the important candidates will come. Huntsman has one percent of the vote. I don't think he's coming. And, by the way, Mr. Huntsman called my office a number of times trying to set up a meeting. I didn't have a meeting with him. And then he went on a debate and said that "I didn't meet with Mr. Trump like anybody else in the room." So, you know, I'm sure he'll tell the truth about that, because he's a Mormon.
MATTHEWS: Well, after that attack on the guy's religion, a spokesman for Huntsman responded,, "you'll be surprised Trump who's not telling the truth here. We never requested a meeting. We are focused on issues that matter, not presidential apprenticeships." I don't know where we're at in this thing, but I guess it is the Republican campaign. I guess Newt is surging. And Howard, we have to cover it. But this has become a desperate trail route to the White House that you have to go through Trump tower. I used it up front. It is a- it's a tower heist. It's a heist of the Republican nominating process.
DAVID CORN: If you don't care about government, why not Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain? Why not? Why not Donald Trump?
MATTHEWS: I think this is the reign of terror. Anyway, I don't think they like government or leadership or politics– really politics. They don't like democratic government. They don't like having a leader. They like to bring down- these are guys who tear down statues. They don't put them up.