Matthews to Sharpton: McConnell Worse than de Klerk

Matthews declares Sharpton argument the smartest thing he's heard in five years

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MSNBC host Chris Matthews is on a roll, unfavorably comparing the reaction of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to President Obama’s election to that of South African apartheid-era president F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela’s election Friday on Now with Alex Wagner.

“For him to recognize his role in history as a patriot at that point is so different than the way Mitch McConnell handled the election of Obama,” he said. “So different. To set it up that way, the juxtaposition, they were willing, the McConnell people onto the far right were willing to destroy the country in order to destroy Obama, whereas to succeed in a country he loved, F.W. de Klerk was willing to see it transformed to black rule so that it could be done successfully so he would have his country have a better future.”

Setting up this remark was none other than Rev. Al Sharpton, who earlier made the predictable segue to Republican obstructionism of Obama, which, in Sharpton’s view, is motivated by efforts to de-legitimize him. No matter what, Sharpton argued, Republicans were determined to “have his demise.” It should be noted that this argument has been made hundreds of times on MSNBC.

Yet, a day after his fawning interview with President Obama and post-interview analysis that included him gushing that “he came amongst us,” Matthews declared Sharpton’s comments to be the smartest thing he’d heard in five years and “the most perceptive thing I’ve seen.”

Full exchange:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I want to point out something. I haven’t heard anything as smart as what I heard Reverend Sharpton say a couple minutes ago in five years. That is the most perceptive thing I’ve seen. It just rocks me. The difference between the way F.W. de Klerk handled the need for change and inevitable election, democratic election of Nelson Mandela, a legitimate election, truly legitimate for the first time. [De Klerk] was never legitimately elected. For him to recognize his role in history which  was to be a patriot at that point is so different than the way Mitch McConnell handled the election of Obama. So different. To set it up that way, the juxtaposition, they were willing, the McConnell people onto the far right were willing to destroy the country in order to destroy Obama, whereas to succeed in a country he loved, F.W. de Klerk was willing to see it transformed to black rule so that it could be done successfully so he would have his country have a better future. Reverend, I owe it to you. I think that is the key statement about what happened yesterday, the loss of Mandela and what his history is about and the key statement of why this has been so poisonous the last five years. We have real people in this country with real power and status who have used that status of power to hurt the country so they could hurt the president. That’s the most damming assessment I’ve heard and I think the truest.

ALEX WAGNER: An important assessment.