Democrats have worked overtime attempting to paint Tea Party-backed candidates as politically extreme, personally nutty, or both. But in most cases it doesn't appear to be working, and it's even backfired in Kentucky's Senate race, a Newsweek writer admitted yesterday.
Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's Hardball, not so cryptically compared the actions of Republican volunteers to that of Nazi-style tactics from the 1930s as he claimed the restraining of a MoveOn.org activist by a Rand Paul supporter reminded him of what "we saw from hoodlums in the thirties in another country I will not mention" and added: "I mean it isn't far from what we saw in the thirties, where all of a sudden, political parties started showing up in uniform." Matthews, who was joined by Salon's Joan Walsh and the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, even went on to claim physical attacks against political opponents was something that existed exclusively on one ideological side as he asserted that it was "right wing by its very nature."
This was the second night in a row Matthews advanced this theory and he didn't bother to mention the other side of the story, that a Jack Conway volunteer perhaps had acted violently at the Paul rally as well. The Post's Cillizza, to his credit, actually tried to talk Matthews down as he told the MSNBC host: "I don't think it is right wing by its nature. I would say at the end of campaigns, passions get very inflamed...I do not think it is a right wing thing, I do not think it is a left wing thing." However Cillizza failed in his effort to bring reason to the Hardball host as Matthews challenged Cillizza to "Name the last liberal progressive candidate who hired a private army, the last one that was stomping his political, her political opponents in the street?" before getting on his liberal high horse: "Well we see different kinds of passion here, don't we? We see one passion being reporters trying to get stories in Alaska so they could undercover skull-duggery. We have the passion of a woman who shows up to demonstrate with a wig on and a placard and then we see the passion of the other side, which is to hire armies of paramilitaries and stomp people."
(video after the jump)
[Update, 12:15 pm Wednesday: See below on CNN's additional coverage of the assault.]
CNN devoted seven news briefs on Tuesday to an assault on a MoveOn.org employee by Rand Paul supporters caught on camera outside the Kentucky Senate debate on Monday evening, but failed to mention a second assault on Rand Paul supporter by a booster of Paul's opponent, Jack Conway. Most of the briefs also omitted how the MoveOn employee was trying to get an embarrassing picture of Paul.
Emily Maxwell of KYPost.com reported late on Monday how "tensions flared at he senatorial candidates' debate here Monday night in two confrontations between Conway and Paul supporters, Lexington police reported. The first involved a woman who is a member of www.moveon.org and who was determined to pose in front of Rand Paul holding a sign that read 'Rand Paul Republicore: Employee of the Month.'" After detailing this first incident, Maxwell continued that "the second occurred after a Conway supporter stepped on the foot of a female Rand supporter, who recently had foot surgery, according to police. The woman was wearing a surgical boot, but after the injury, her incision was cut open. Police say she refused medical treatment and also filed an assault report."
Anchor John Roberts set the example for CNN's coverage of the incidents in his news brief six minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of American Morning, as the video of the assault on Lauren Valle, the MoveOn.org employee played:
Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway's recent ad questioning the faith of his opponent Republican Rand Paul was so beyond the pale that even NBC's Matt Lauer, on Tuesday's Today show, repeatedly hit Conway with questions about its appropriateness as he pressed, "Did it cross a line? Is it fair, even in the increasingly dirty world of politics?" The ad, which brought up allegations of Paul's behavior in his college days, was so over-the-top Lauer could not let Conway's charges go unchallenged as he questioned Conway's veracity, as seen in the following exchange:
MATT LAUER: This latest ad of yours ignited a firestorm. It clearly ignited the passions of Mr. Paul. Did it cross a line? Is it fair, even in the increasingly dirty world of politics? Do you stand by it?
JACK CONWAY: I stand by it. I'm not questioning his faith, I'm questioning his actions, Matt. The president of Baylor University banned a group that Rand Paul joined. And he banned this group, a few years before Rand Paul went to Baylor. He banned them because they were quote, "Making fun of Christianity and Christ." And, and our question is, why did he join a group that was known for mocking people of faith?
I watched just about every major political talk show on television this weekend, and the funniest thing I heard was a comment by David Boaz of the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.
In the predictions segment of "The McLaughlin Group," the Kentucky native spoke of the hotly contested race for Senate in that state between Tea Party candidate Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway.
What ensued left the entire panel laughing - except, of course, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift (video follows with transcript and commentary):