Matthews and Friends Question Whether Trump Cares About El Paso Victims His Rhetoric Killed

It was another par for the course night of nonsense on Hardball Tuesday, featuring MSNBC host Chris Matthews waxing-poetic about past presidents providing leadership in challenging times compared to Donald Trump. His panelists then suggested his rhetoric led to the death of Latinos in El Paso that he truly doesn’t care about.

Matthews began the show by stating that “American history has showcased leaders commanding the moral authority needed to face this country’s long challenges” and then “survive and prevail,” ranging from Abraham Lincoln to FDR to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan.

 

 

He then argued that Trump lacks positive leadership qualities and that his Monday address to the nation was disingenuous (click “expand”):

Now, however, we find ourselves without it. The dual attacks of this weekend raised the question whether we can address gun violence and the rising threat of white nationalism. Trump’s official response was a scripted speech he read Monday from a teleprompter in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. Trump recited the kinds of words condemning white supremacy and hate killings that a President should say in the wake of such a tragedy, but they were words he could not credibly deliver nor be taken to heart....There’s a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to this. But, clearly, what is credible...is Trump on tweet, the one he tweets out, what a great word, tweet, at 6:30 in the morning when most people are still asleep. That’s Trump.

Always a favorite of Matthews to provide commentary for diehard liberals under the guise of journalism, PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor invoked the late Toni Morrison: “The great Toni Morrison that died today said, if you can only be tall if someone else is on your knees, then you have a serious problem and there are people all across this country who think the President has a serious problem likely shown on Twitter, which is that he wants to demonize other people.”

Hiding behind what other people have told her, Alcindor opined (click “expand”):

He wants to make immigrants as scapegoats. I just came back from Dayton, Ohio, where people there are pointing to his rhetoric to say, not only is he creating divisions in our own community, but he’s also — I mean, his inaction in gun reform and in passing gun legislation, he is creating the societies and creating this atmosphere that is making us all unsafe. I think, yes, the President definitely changed his tone and condemned white nationalism, but he said nothing of how his own words could have contributed to this unstable individual going and killing so many people in El Paso. He could have said, “look, people think I’m talking to white nationalists. I’m not doing that. People think that when I say immigrants are invading this country that you should then go out and shoot them, I’m not doing that.” He could have made it so much more personal, and he didn’t do that and part of that is because he doesn’t want to be tied to this thing. But it’s hard for him to be credible on this topic because the people I’ve talked to all across this country just don’t see him as a moral authority for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that he has added to this atmosphere.

Matthews then complained that Trump didn’t blame himself and guns for the El Paso terrorist’s actions and never mentioned how the alleged gunman went to the WalMart specficially to target Latinos.

The Root’s Jason Johnson replied that Trump didn’t mention any of those things in his Monday speech because he “doesn’t care” about them since “[h]e only cares about these things to the degree that they reflect on him.”

Johnson also quipped that the President’s remarks at the White House came across as though he were “making a hostage video.”

As if Americans are incapable of determining what’s right or wrong and need to be told what to do and think, Johnson added that “when you don’t have any sort of moral authority at the top of a country, it makes it difficult for anyone else to act on the problems that are there.”

Going back to give another supposed history lesson, Matthews lamented that Trump couldn’t summon the same emotion or believability that Bill Clinton did after the Oklahoma City bombing, which Never Trumper and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens endorsed as someone who “was morally credible” like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were in the pat.

Stephens added (click “expand”):

Presidents in history have always been able to rise to the occasion and to unite the country beyond partisanship. Trump is uniquely unable to do so, because from the very beginning, not just of his presidency, but of his candidacy, he has been demonizing multiple racial and ethnic groups....So all of this has a cumulative impact, which is why the statements that he read from the teleprompter the other day seemed so weightless, so insincere and so contrived, and why....you can bet....that pretty soon we’re going hear from the real Donald Trump communicating to — to his following to a base that doesn’t entirely mind the assault, not the violent assault, but the rhetorical assault on Latin American immigrants, on Mexican-American citizens.

Later, Alcindor again hid behind the alleged takes of other people, asserting that “so many people” think that Trump has been “grasping for the legacy of President Obama and is still angry at the fact that he isn’t beloved in the way he thinks President Obama was and, frankly, in the way that President Obama was to a lot of people.” 

Alcindor also speculated that Trump loathes Obama because of his skin color, which she deferred to Johnson to formally state as an alleged fact to the glee of Matthews.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on August 6, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
August 6, 2019
7:00 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: TeleTrumper. Let’s play Hardball. [HARDBALL OPENING CREDITS] Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews in Washington. American history has showcased leaders commanding the moral authority needed to face this country’s long challenges. Abraham Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery and won the war that ended it. FDR stood firm against Hitler and saved the world from fascism. Martin Luther King marched for civil rights and ultimately sacrificed his life for it and Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan had to resolve to avert catastrophe during the Cold War. Their moral authority helped this country survive and prevail. Now, however, we find ourselves without it. The dual attacks of this weekend raised the question whether we can address gun violence and the rising threat of white nationalism. Trump’s official response was a scripted speech he read Monday from a teleprompter in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. Trump recited the kinds of words condemning white supremacy and hate killings that a President should say in the wake of such a tragedy, but they were words he could not credibly deliver nor be taken to heart. As The Washington Post points out: “That unifying message stood in stark contrast to more than two and a half years of name-calling, demonizing minorities and inflaming racial animus.” Trump’s speech came on Monday after a visit to his golf club in New Jersey, where he “spent part of the weekend complaining to allies and club members” of the golf resort “about media coverage that seemed to blame him for the shootings.” According to this report in The Post, “senior policy adviser Stephen Miller led the effort” to draft the speech he gave on Monday, and “White House aides....talked to Trump about what he would say and how his tone [should] be presidential.’” But as he often does, the President spoke more candidly on Twitter, where he blamed the media and attacked President Obama. Meanwhile, the President heads tomorrow to El Paso and Dayton. [INTRODUCES PANEL] There’s a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to this. But, clearly, what is credible, Yamiche, is Trump on tweet, the one he tweets out, what a great word, tweet, at 6:30 in the morning when most people are still asleep. That’s Trump. This guy reading a teleprompter in the — I love it — in the Diplomatic Room. In other words, the room where you have to be diplomatic. Your thoughts. Who’s the real guy?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: I’ll say this. The great Toni Morrison that died today said, if you can only be tall if someone else is on your knees, then you have a serious problem and there are people all across this country who think the President has a serious problem likely shown on Twitter, which is that he wants to demonize other people. He wants to make immigrants as scapegoats. I just came back from Dayton, Ohio, where people there are pointing to his rhetoric to say, not only is he creating divisions in our own community, but he’s also — I mean, his inaction in gun reform and in passing gun legislation, he is creating the societies and creating this atmosphere that is making us all unsafe. I think, yes, the President definitely changed his tone and condemned white nationalism, but he said nothing of how his own words could have contributed to this unstable individual going and killing so many people in El Paso. He could have said, “look, people think I’m talking to white nationalists. I’m not doing that. People think that when I say immigrants are invading this country that you should then go out and shoot them, I’m not doing that.” He could have made it so much more personal, and he didn’t do that and part of that is because he doesn’t want to be tied to this thing. But it’s hard for him to be credible on this topic because the people I’ve talked to all across this country just don’t see him as a moral authority for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that he has added to this atmosphere.

MATTHEWS: Well, Jason, of course, he never used the word “I” in that scripted remarks. 

JASON JOHNSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: He didn’t blame — he said guns kill people, not people. Mental — he did anything he could to relieve guns of any moral responsibility, obviously. And he didn’t mention the fact that it was a Latino community that was targeted, that there was an ethnic piece, a racial piece, never mentioned it.

JASON JOHNSON: Because the President doesn’t care, Chris. Like — like at his core, I don’t think he only cares. He only cares about these things to the degree that they reflect on him and you’re sort of key thing, which is the real Trump? We all know who the real Donald Trump is. That’s the guy who gets in front of crowds in Cincinnati.

MATTHEWS: Why did he do this phony baloney thing yesterday?

JOHNSON: Because he has people who advise him who say you have to at least pretend that you care about how to do this job. He wasn’t his typical funny, witty, engaging self. 

MATTHEWES: No. He wasn’t spontaneous.

JOHNSON: You know what he’s like. He looks like he is making a hostage video. And he has that odd stuff that he gets.

MATTHEWS: Yes, definitely. Like he had his fingers crossed.

JOHNSON: Yes, fingers crossed that sort of keep himself concentrated and motivated and here’s the problem, Chris. At the end of the day, when you don’t have any sort of moral authority at the top of a country, it makes it difficult for anyone else to act on the problems that are there. The Republicans feel like they’re stymied because they don’t have moral leadership from the President. The Democrats have to waste time criticizing the President and then enacting their own policies. We don’t have leadership right now in this country. That’s why some of these issues are so difficult to tackle.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Bret Stephens on this questions, because even Bill Clinton with his limited — some on the moral front, he had some problems, to be honest about it, but, you know, when we had Oklahoma City and he went down there and talked for the country, people believed it. They thought, you know, at least, on a lot of levels, Bill Clinton’s a good guy. He may have problems but he’s a good guy and on this issue of caring about the country, caring about how the government was attacked of the American people because it was the government of the American people, he was credible, morally credible, I thought.

BRET STEPHENS: He was morally credible. I remember George W. Bush downtown in Manhattan in the days right after 9/11 or even going back to the Reagan administration after the Challenger disaster, the killing of our Marines in Beirut. Presidents in history have always been able to rise to the occasion and to unite the country beyond partisanship. Trump is uniquely unable to do so, because from the very beginning, not just of his presidency, but of his candidacy, he has been demonizing multiple racial and ethnic groups. It began with the birtherism. It continued with the assault on Latin American immigrants when he announced his candidacy in 2015. I’ll never forget the way he characterized Judge Gonzalo Curiel as unfit to be a judge simply for being Mexican-American, his assaults on Muslim Americans. So all of this has a cumulative impact, which is why the statements that he read from the teleprompter the other day seemed so weightless, so insincere and so contrived, and why you can — you can bet, just as he did after Charlottesville, that pretty soon we’re going hear from the real Donald Trump communicating to — to his following to a base that doesn’t entirely mind the assault, not the violent assault, but the rhetorical assault on Latin American immigrants, on Mexican-American citizens.

MATTHEWS: Sure.

JOHNSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: I think he’s going to circle around like other people have thought, but he’s particularly good at it. Trump is attacking former President Obama now after Obama yesterday called on Americans to “soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of” those of “any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred. In response, President Trump tweeted a quote from Brian Kilmeade of Fox News saying: “Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control. Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running[.]” But let’s talk about the idiocy of this thing. First of all, he claims as an intellectually higher authority, a commentator on Fox. It doesn’t embarrass him. He’s not quoting Rudyard Kipling. He’s just — just some character speaks better than he does, and he acknowledges in his words, and he hates Obama. He’s never gotten over what Obama said about him at that White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He made fun of him because of the idiocy of what he was doing professionally.

ALCINDOR: Well, there are so many people that see President Trump as just grasping for the legacy of President Obama and is still angry at the fact that he isn’t beloved in the way he thinks President Obama was and, frankly, in the way that President Obama was to a lot of people. He’s still grasping for this idea that he, even though he won the 2016 election, nobody was really there praising him or excited about him.

MATTHEWS: Obama won two majority votes of the American people. 

ALCINDOR: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: A small point, but he won both popular majorities.

ALCINDOR: Then we can all go back to the first scandal of this presidency, which is that he was trying to claim that his inauguration was bigger than Obama’s. From the very beginning, he’s had this kind of — this rhetorical thing that he’s continued to do —

MATTHEWS: Does it bother him that Obama is black, to be blunt? I mean, we’ve watched this guy pattern, excuse me. Does that bother him?

ALCINDOR: I mean, here’s the thing, he kicked off his political career, his political life by saying Obama wasn’t born in this country. So I think there is — of course, there’s a problem there with him personally with President Obama. I don’t know if it’s because he is black. Maybe Jason can say that —

JOHNSON: Yes. I’ll say it.

ALCINDOR: — because he obviously —

MATTHEWS: Yes. Maybe you don’t want to say it, but I don’t think it’s an odd question. He seems to be really bugged by this guy and his success.

JOHNSON: It infuriates Donald Trump for anybody to be more popular or more beloved than him and he really has never been able to deal with the fact that, one, like you said, Chris, that Obama made fun of him, but that this black guy has gotten all the love, all the appreciation, even from the same New York elites that used to like Donald Trump in the way that he has had.

MATTHEWS: Guess who’s moving to New York, by the way?

JOHNSON: Who’s moving?

MATTHEWS: Barack Obama. 

JOHNSON: Well, exactly. He’s going to make it worse.

MATTHEWS: It’s going to drive him crazy.

JOHNSON: Exactly. He’ll be in his own neighborhood.

MATTHEWS: And, by the way, guess who has a lot of money now? Barack Obama. Anyway, I’m not going to belittle the conversation, but it is kind of delightful anyway and, by the way, I think it bothers him that Obama has moral superiority to him —

JOHNSON: Completely, even now.

MATTHEWS: — For a guy that’s messed around a lot in his life, and I’m not knock it per se, because a lot of people do and I don’t like it, but the fact is Barack Obama has been an upstanding husband, father, has done every single thing morally right in his life —

JOHNSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: — it seems, in terms of public life. It must bug him. 

NB Daily El Paso/Dayton shootings Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Race Issues Racism MSNBC Hardball Video Chris Matthews Jason Johnson Yamiche Alcindor Bret Stephens Donald Trump Bill Clinton George W. Bush Ronald Reagan Abraham Lincoln
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