"This may be new low-grade Trump," huffed Chris Matthews as he introduced a new short Instagram video by the Trump campaign which mocks Hillary Clinton with a clip of the Democratic presidential frontrunner barking like a dog.
The Web video, via the RealDonaldTrump Instagram page, begins with a graphic that reads "When it comes to facing our toughest opponents" before cutting to video clips of Vladimir Putin practicing Judo and a masked ISIS terrorist holding a handgun.
"The Democrats have the perfect answer..." notes another title card, followed immediately by a clip of Clinton barking like a dog at a campaign rally and then Putin laughing. "We don't need to be a punchline!" screams the closing text graphic.
After airing the clip, Matthews gave viewers at home a video of Clinton from a February 15 rally in Nevada where she was describing one of her "favorite political ads of all time" from rural Arkansas featuring a dog who barked when a politician told a lie. "We need to get that dog and follow him around" to fact-check Republican campaign claims, Clinton quipped, immediately going into her barking-dog impression.
"OK, Robert [Costa of the Washington Post], that was pretty low," Matthews groused, "treating her like a dog. Let's face it, what they're up to there. In the world of sexism, that would be pretty high up, I would say."
Trump's people "cruelly made her look like that," Matthews whined. Actually, no, Chris, Hillary made herself look like that.
What's more, how is it sexist to take a humorous clip, albeit, obviously, out of context, to launch an attack on an opponent who happens to be female? Does Matthews doubt Trump would have hesitated to use such a clip if Hillary were a man? Or to use such a clip on a fellow male Republican opponent in the primaries?
Indeed, wouldn't it be sexist to say you cannot use the barking-dog impression in an ad simply because of Hillary's gender?
For his part, Costa brushed aside the sexism lament, noting that Republicans who have been skeptical of Trump would need good anti-Hillary red meat to help unify the party heading into November:
When they look ahead to the general election and the hard tactics he would take against Clinton, this edge he has and these kind of Instagram ads and videos, they like it.
And when you talk to party officials, there's a sense that because of this edge, Trump may be able to bring the party together because of the way he handles Clinton on these issues.
In response, Matthews favorably quoted an erstwhile Republican primary contender he never really cared for when she was in the running:
Well, to quote Carly Fiorina from a thousand years ago, in other words, a few weeks ago, she said every woman in America knows what he meant.... There's a reason they're laughing.