Chris Matthews gave it to the Democrats on Saturday in a talk at the Miami Book Fair, saying they’ve lost their connection to white working people, and had better try to get it back.
“You know, ever since we started this Archie Bunker thing in the early ’70s, making fun of white working people, we kissed them goodbye,” he said. “You make fun of people, you look down on them? They get the message. You call them deplorables? They hear it. You bet they hear it. You say they cling to their guns and their religion? Oh yeah, I cling to my religion. OK. I’m a little person, and you’re a big person. Thank you, I’ll be voting for the other guy this time.”
Matthews was at the book fair in Miami to promote his new tome, “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit.”
He told the story about Kennedy going into a black neighborhood in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968, right after Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot, but when most people hadn’t yet heard the news.
“He took his skin off to talk to that crowd,” said Matthews. “He exposed himself, and any true empathy, I believe, has to come cloaked in vulnerability. You have to be vulnerable to be empathetic. You can’t just come in and say, ‘I’m the tough guy, I’ve got my armor on, our prayers and thoughts are with you.’ That crap politicians always say. I’m so stick of it. True empathy comes from pain, it comes from experience, it comes from being a person.”
“This is something the Democrats have long lost — this affectionate patriotism.”
Matthews contrasted Kennedy’s humanity with today’s Democratic leaders.
“Our leaders, and I’m not just pointing to the one at the top, I’m talking about all the ones in Congress, they read out statements written by staff people who are bored to death,” he said. “Cold toast. That’s what we get from these people.”
And then he named names.
“The other day when Trump came out with that tax bill of his, Pelosi said, or was it Chuck Schumer — it doesn’t matter who reads this stuff, it’s the same words — ‘It’s a Ponzi scheme.’ Oh, you original little person,” said Matthews. “I am so tired of these people. Say something human. Say something that means something to you. Relate to people about what this tax thing will mean to their lives. They don’t even bother. It’s too much work. They’re too busy raising money, kissing ass, which is what they do.”
Matthews was a speechwriter for former President Jimmy Carter and chief of staff to Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill before becoming a newspaper journalist, and then going into television. His show, “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” has aired on MSNBC since 1999.
Matthews started his talk at the book fair, held on the campus of Miami-Dade College in downtown Miami, by holding up the cover of his book and talking about the artwork, saying he wanted it to be the right image — showing Bobby Kennedy reaching out to minority children, as no other white candidate for president has done. And then he flipped it over and showed the photo on the back side — a photo from 1968 that shows a father and two boys, one with no shirt on, saluting.
Matthews described them as a “dirt-poor white family” standing along the “Jersey tracks” and saluting Bobby Kennedy as he went by.
“The father is obviously affectionately patriotic about Bobby Kennedy,” he said. “This is something the Democrats have long lost — this affectionate patriotism. Gut patriotism, of the heart.”
He pointed out the father in particular.
“He’s obviously been in the military,” said Matthews. “He’s got this crisp salute that he’s offering his Democratic leader. I mean, this is all gone — this connection between the white working class and the Democratic Party. I think it has to come back. It has to.”