Go ahead and criticize President Trump’s Mika tweet, but there’s no denying this was disturbing. On Thursday’s Hardball, MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews compared the President to not only communist Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam and a modern-day Romanov but also channel Benito Mussolini having son-in-law Jared Kushner murdered.
Let’s first start with Matthews invoking Mengistu. During a tease about reported disarray in the Trump administration with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson being stonewalled from doing his job, Matthews gloated about the “meltdown.”
“It’s a far cry from that love feast we watched a few weeks ago, which is right out of Mengistu’s government in Ethiopia with all the people bowing to the president. Apparently all is not well in paradise,” Matthews quipped.
Later, Matthews told The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker that he’s “allowed to have opinions” (unlike print reporters, supposedly) “and one of my opinions was that nepotism is a bad thing in government” as evidenced by the supposed American incarnations of the Husseins:
You put Uday and Qusay in your government and you’re going to have a problem with everybody else in the government because nobody can fight with them. Nobody can challenge them and, in the end, the son-in-law is always right because he can always to go his father-in-law or his wife and say they were mean to me.
Instead of Tillerson overseeing foreign policy, Matthews observed how “[t]he power seems to have gone to the son-in-law” and thus the Trump’s are “the Romanovs.” He then nudged Parker to agree (which she didn’t): “Is it a royal family instead of a Democratic or a Republican form of government? Or is it a family running the government? Is it Ivanka and Jared and the President sitting around in the White House upstairs ruling the world?”
Once Parker finished her thoughts on how the Trump’s perceive what they’re doing as simply running government like a business, Matthews told New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that it might behoove Trump to take a page out of Mussolini’s playbook, which was murder your son-in-law.
“So the son-in-law — you know, one good thing Mussolini did was execute his son-in-law. I mean, I’m talking about Ciano,” he clownishly argued.
Bruni awkwardly stepped in to play the role that Keith Olbermann did when Matthews had a thrill up his leg, telling him that he should “be careful here.”
“That was an extreme measure. But this was — this is a strange situation,” Matthews concluded before giving way to Bruni.
Matthews's joke about Trump murdering his son-in-law was brought to you by Cascade, Johnson's baby lotion, and Lincoln Financial.
Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from June 29's MSNBC’s Hardball:
June 29, 2017
7:16 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Cabinet Chaos]
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Coming up, a meltdown in the Trump camp. Catch this. This is wilder. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explodes at a White House meaning for undermining him. They say the people around the President — the personnel people are screwing him. It’s a far cry from that love feast we watched a few weeks ago, which is right out of Mengistu’s government in Ethiopia with all the people bowing to the president. Apparently all is not well in paradise.
7:25 p.m. Eastern
MATTHEWS: Well, according to The American Conservative magazine, Secretary Tillerson believes he's been contradicted and undermined by the White House. A close associate of Secretary Tillerson explained: “Rex is just exhausted. He can't get any of his appointments approved and is running around the world cleaning up after a president whose primary foreign policy adviser is a 36-year-old amateur.” Now, Ashley, I’m allowed to have opinions and one of my opinions was that nepotism is a bad thing in government. It just is. You put Uday and Qusay in your government and you’re going to have a problem with everybody else in the government because nobody can fight with them. Nobody can challenge them and, in the end, the son-in-law is always right because he can always to go his father-in-law or his wife and say they were mean to me. Do something about it. It is a disastrous decision from day one and now we find Kushner in the Middle East, brokering the Middle East peace process, whatever it is, among the Arabs and Israelis and Likud and everybody else and meanwhile, Tillerson is sitting around doing what? He can’t even appoint his own deputies. The power seems to have gone to the son-in-law. This is the Romanovs. Just a thought. The Romanovs. Is it?
ASHLEY PARKER: Well, I mean, that’s certainly —
MATTHEWS: Is it a royal family instead of a Democratic or a Republican form of government? Or is it a family running the government? Is it Ivanka and Jared and the President sitting around in the White House upstairs ruling the world?
PARKER: I don't think it’s quite that but I think it is run like a family business. The president and his aides see it publicly and privately and the President’s family, his children, especially his daughter Ivanka and, you know, Jared Kushner, they operate with a degree of impunity that does not exist for these other aides. So, if you look at just Jared and Tillerson, Jared basically emerged as a shadow Secretary of State. You mentioned peace in the Middle East. His portfolio includes not only that, it includes China, it includes Mexico, it includes Canada and that's just on the foreign policy front. So, if you're the secretary of state, ambassadors and leaders of foreign nations know that they can directly go to the President’s son-in-law and have his ear that deeply undermines you and makes it really difficult for you to do your job.
MATTHEWS: And then you find out in all these investigations that Jared was opening up a tunnel to Moscow so he wouldn’t have to deal with the State Department. So the son-in-law — you know, one good thing Mussolini did was execute his son-in-law. I mean, I’m talking about Ciano
FRANK BRUNI: Let’s be careful here, yeah.
MATTHEWS: That was an extreme measure. But this was — this is a strange situation.
BRUNI: No but this story is a lot bigger than Tillerson. We've — I mean, we’ve had sessions have to volunteer to resign. We know there have been extraordinary tensions between him and President Trumps. We know other cabinet members, Mattis, have been questioned, countermanded, demoralized. I don’t think you can have a cabinet of people who can work to their full abilities because they’re constantly being questioned by the boss. They don't feel like their job are secure. There’s this culture of people leaking to protect themselves, to safeguard their reputations. I shudder to think when there is turnover in this cabinet, which I think there will be sooner than in most, who are we going to get to replace these people? Who would want to work in the Trump administration? Usually, a President has an infinite pool of talent to choose from because everybody wants to step forward and serve. I don’t think this President is going to be left with a puddle.
MATTHEWS: So, what's worse? This or the tweeting?
BRUNI: I mean, we have to make a choice?
MATTHEWS: Yeah, well, the country is watch.