Julie MarshIs Chris Matthews destined to follow in Keith Olbermann's footsteps, heading right out the door at MSNBC? Based on his unprofessional characterization of Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) as a "balloon head" and his history of similar sexist remarks, I think Chris Matthews ought to be polishing his resume.
Yesterday afternoon on Matthews' program Hardball, he played a video of Bachmann speaking about how the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery. He then challenged his guest, Tea Party Express co-founder Sal Russo, to defend Bachmann's assertion and questioned the wisdom of choosing her to give the Tea Party sanctioned response to that evening's State of the Union address.
Bachmann was wrong; our Founding Fathers did not work tirelessly to end slavery. They owned slaves. Abraham Lincoln and the Union worked and fought to end slavery, much to the consternation of the Confederacy. Legal discrimination persisted for another century. Bachmann tossed around inaccurate rhetoric in an attempt to manipulate emotions, and she failed to fool anyone -- Democrat or Republican -- who knows even a shred of American history.
But that does not justify Chris Matthews' rude, misogynistic, and downright childish name-calling.
Bachmann should feel silly for trying to pull such a stunt (I do not believe that she actually thinks slavery ended with the Constitution), and Russo should feel silly for his clumsy attempts to stick to his talking points and, failing that, for defending her. His tap-dancing needs a lot of work, and Bachmann should have known better.
Instead, we're talking about Matthews' latest gaffe. He took himself off-message by making such a ridiculous statement. Commentators are supposed to push the envelope and elicit reactions, but it's possible to do so while remaining professional. Matthews' tendency to stoop to insults belies a lack of basic respect for others and for his position.