Shorter Chris Matthews: Jack Kemp Opposed GOP's Racism, Xenophobia

October 7th, 2015 8:55 PM

Leave it to Chris Matthews to find a way to blast the GOP as racist and xenophobic in a softball promotional segment plugging a new book on the life and politics of the late Jack Kemp.

As part of his introductory comments before interviewing Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes about their new book Jack Kemp: The Bleeding Heart Conservative Who Changed America, Matthews praised Kemp by noting ways in which the usually-conservative football star-turned-politician challenged GOP orthodoxy:

Authors of a new book about Kemp's career call him the most important politician of the 20th century who was not president. Kemp was the champion of supply-side economics, the idea that lower taxes create economic opportunity.

But at times his positions on other issues agitated members of his party. He fought his entire life against racism toward African-Americans, opposed anti-immigrant legislation, and tried to open the Republican Party to minorities. He declared a conservative war on poverty, and supported outlawing assault rifles.

But, what sets him apart from today's GOP the most was his distaste, as you just heard there, for personal attacks.

[Immediately before this, Matthews had played a clip of Kemp from the 1996 campaign trail in which the vice presidential nominee hailed the virtues of bipartisan comity.]

For his part, co-author Fred Barnes informed Matthews and viewers at home, Kemp "was born into a Republican family" in Los Angeles where, "if you were a Republican, you were for integration, you were for civil rights and so on." As such, Barnes noted, Kemp's views on civil rights were held long before his days playing pro football alongside African-American teammates.

As Matthews closed his segment with Barnes and Kondracke, he praised Kemp and said that "we could use a little of" his civility with political opponents, adding, "He's not really the same personality stripe as Donald Trump."

Of course as we have repeatedly documented, Mr. Matthews is no stranger to all kinds of vicious ad hominems against conservatives he despises.

"I think it's good reading for progressives too," Matthews said of Barnes and Kondracke's book before dipping out to commercial. Here's hoping what Chris reads sticks.