MSNBC's Russert Frets 'Hope and Change' Did Not 'Carry the Day,' Invokes George Wallace

As MSNBC's Chris Matthews appeared on Tuesday's Andrea Mitchell Reports to promote his special on Donald Trump's life, substitute MSNBC host Luke Russert wondered why the "divisions that had ravaged the country" did not go away after President Barack Obama's election because "everybody thought that we were now coming into a post-racial society, that 'hope and change' was going to carry the day."

A bit later, he brought up segregationist Alabama Democratic governor and former presidential candidate George Wallace as he wondered whether Trump was more like Wallace or Ross Perot.

At about 12:34 p.m., Russert brought up President Obama's election and divisions in the country:

If you go back to 2008 and the election of President Obama, everybody thought that we were now coming into a post-racial society, that "hope and change" was going to carry the day, that the divisions that had just ravaged the country for the past decades, would seemingly start to go away bit by bit by bit.

The MSNBC host added:

The opposite has happened. Its seems the country has gotten more divided, more angry. What happened along the way here that Trump was able to tap into? Was it politicians trying to use President Obama's election for cynic (?) purposes? Or was the electorate totally misunderstood in 2008?

It did not take long for Matthews, who has a long history of being divisive by injecting false charges of racism into discussions of opposition to President Obama, to charge that there is "no doubt about it" that 10 to 20 percent of Americans have a problem with there being an "African-American president" in the White House. Matthews:

Well, there's so many things going on. I think all these police shootings have been one thing and driving while black and all those things that we worry about and the incarceration rate is one area. I'm not sure if that's related to Obama. The idea of having an African-American president in that building there disturbs about 10 or 20 percent of the country. There's no doubt about it. There's no doubt those people are looking to Trump. There's no doubt about it. But he's doing better than that. There's something else going on in the country.

Host Russert soon injected George Wallace into the conversation:

You're a history guy, and I wanted to ask you this. If you look at successful insurgents in the past, people who seemingly came out of nowhere, but they are representing a segment of the population that felt jilted, you have Ross Perot, and you have George Wallace at the presidential level in the last decades. Sure, but where does Trump fit in? Is he more Ross Perot? Is he more George Wallace? Or is he a mix of both?

Matthews began:

He's more Ross Perot. He's more, well, there's always a piece of George Wallace in American political life. Race is there. I would say he's nonideological because when he -- he's no hawk. He hates the Republican party's policy of getting into every one of these businesses like we got to go fight in Syria. He says let Putin do it. He's very much against the hawks, so he doesn't fit with the Republican establishment, which is hawkish.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, December 22, Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC:

12:34 p.m.
LUKE RUSSERT: If you go back to 2008 and the election of President Obama, everybody thought that we were now coming into a post-racial society, that "hope and change" was going to carry the day, that the divisions that had just ravaged the country for the past decades, would seemingly start to go away bit by bit by bit. The opposite has happened. Its seems the country has gotten more divided, more angry. What happened along the way here that Trump was able to tap into? Was it politicians trying to use President Obama's election for cynic (?) purposes? Or was the electorate totally misunderstood in 2008?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, there's so many things going on. I think all these police shootings have been one thing and driving while black and all those things that we worry about and the incarceration rate is one area. I'm not sure if that's related to Obama. The idea of having an African-American president in that building there disturbs about 10 or 20 percent of the country. There's no doubt about it. There's no doubt those people are looking to Trump. There's no doubt about it. But he's doing better than that. There's something else going on in the country. Failure of the political establishment, we all grew up with. The failure to deal with, you can say illegal immigration is not a problem. Well, to a lot of people, it is a problem.

You can call it "undocumented workers," you can euphemize it all you want, and a lot of people say, "You know what, you're just coming up with a clever new word for it. It's a problem." You could say that trade is not a problem, but if you live in the big cities, and you used to get a job at Bud or Boeing, one of those companies, like our parents and uncles did, those jobs aren't there anymore. So the working guy doesn't have a job anymore. And so you say those aren't a problem? They are a problem.

So a lot of these wars, you say these stupid wars we've gotten into like Iraq where the working guy has to go out there and fight these wars and get killed and get dismembered and lose family time for years at a time, you say that's not a problem? It is a problem. And who bears the brunt of that? The working guy. All the time, the working guy takes the hit. The elite that can move around with Ivy League degrees and move around, they don't care. They've got enough degrees to handle any economic change, but the average working guy can't. He's stuck.

And so a lot of it is economics, and it's also nationalism in a sense that the elite running our country don't protect the individual American citizen. They don't look out for them. They don't look out for them in trade. They're not looking out for them. They're not looking out for the average worker out there. The average worker says these big shots are all buddies with each other, they're all hanging out with each other, the media are all part of it, and they're all elite, and they have great educations, and I'm stuck out here making the same amount of money I made 30 years ago. And I'm ticked about it. He talks to that guy.

(...)

RUSSERT: You're a history guy, and I wanted to ask you this. If you look at successful insurgents in the past, people who seemingly came out of nowhere, but they are representing a segment of the population that felt jilted, you have Ross Perot, and you have George Wallace at the presidential level in the last decades.

MATTHEWS: Also Goldwater and McGovern.

RUSSERT: Sure, but where does Trump fit in? Is he more Ross Perot? Is he more George Wallace? Or is he a mix of both?

MATTHEWS: He's more Ross Perot. He's more, well, there's always a piece of George Wallace in American political life. Race is there. I would say he's nonideological because when he -- he's no hawk. He hates the Republican party's policy of getting into every one of these businesses like we got to go fight in Syria. He says let Putin do it. He's very much against the hawks, so he doesn't fit with the Republican establishment, which is hawkish.

I don't find him easy to figure out. I would say nationalist. Now, maybe we haven't had one of those in a while. They can be scary. A nationalist can be scary. But if you're not a nationalist and you don't look like one. Sometimes Obama comes off as too cool for school. Too international. Too much into the global. He loves trade. He loves dealing with Cuba. He loves dealing with the climate and all those issues that are international. That's very big picture internationally. To the average guy out there, says get back with me where I live. I'm making 70 a year. Look out for me, buddy, and focus on my job, my career, my kids' careers, they didn't go to college either. So I think the President by being a bit up here has left the ground below him wide open for Trump.

2016 Presidential Economy Wages & Prices Education Higher Education Iraq Middle East Immigration Conservatives & Republicans Poverty Race Issues Racism MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports Luke Russert Chris Matthews Donald Trump Barack Obama George Wallace