MSNBC host Chris Matthews has been a consistent critic of what he calls the Republican Party’s veiled racism in its attacks on President Obama, and last night on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” HBO show he went after conservative radio host Roger Hedgecock on why conservatives continue to play a “racial game” during the campaign.
Matthews said that in much of the Republican criticism of how the number of food stamp recipients has increased under Obama and in the false claim that Obama eliminated the work requirement from welfare, what the party is really doing is sending a signal to whites that Obama is taking their money and redistributing it to black people.
Hedgecock tried to protest, saying that it is true that the numbers receiving entitlements have gone up under Obama.
“And why is that?” Maher asked. “Because of the recession that began under George Bush.”
Hedgecock said that President Obama and the Democrats bash success constantly, telling Republicans that they should pay more taxes just because they are rich. But Maher called this a fake “straw man” argument that Republicans have come up with inside of their bubble.
Matthews said Republican candidate Mitt Romney and many others in the party seem to think that only rich people work hard and are successful. Matthews asked Hedgecock whether a high school teacher who “busts her hump” for 30 years is a success, or a soldier who risks his life in Afghanistan.
“This total focus on money is this guy’s problem,” Matthews said. “The big lie here is that the people who make a lot of money are the only ones who work hard.”
Rana Foroohar, an editor at Time magazine, pointed out that there is no longer real social mobility in the United States—countries in Old World Europe now have more social mobility—so the bootstrap model of lifting yourself up to the middle and upper classes in the U.S. is no longer relevant for most Americans.
“Drive around [Washington] DC at 6:30 in the morning, in the tough neighborhoods and you see people lined up to get on the bus,” Matthews said. “They’re not going to get a welfare check. They’re going to work. And the idea that people who somehow don’t have a lot of money are lazy, where do you get that from?”
“There are a lot of people like your crowd that inherited everything,” Matthews continued. “They were born sliding into home and they try to take credit for it. I think there’s a gentleman’s agreement out there about covering up this racial game your side has been playing this whole campaign…The food stamp president, the welfare president, you guys never quit.”