Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chris Matthews Advocates Affirmative Action for the Presidency

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By Betsy Newmark

Ed Morrissey highlights this bit of Chris Matthews on Jay Leno.

I hope for one thing when people go to vote: that they look at Barack’s background, that they look at the age of the two candidates, that they look at their abilities and really open up their hearts and say “what’s really good for my kids,” who don’t have any color awareness.
Kids don’t think about race.
Think like your kids for once.
Think the way they think.
It would be great if the older people in the country, the 70 year olds, the 80 year olds who are suspicious of change to say, “you know, why don’t I think the way my kids are thinking and think about the future.”
Whatever they decide, just open up your heart to this prospect of something different.
That’s what I hope we do.

Of course, as Morrissey points out, what Matthews is really saying is that he wants us to vote for Obama because he is half-black. He’s saying that people shouldn’t care about race and they should just vote for Obama because he’s so clearly better qualified. But how is he better qualified? That is continually unclear except that he does better than John McCain at sending shivers up Matthews’ leg.

But isn’t voting for someone because he’s black demonstrating that race is the most important characteristic to you?

Matthews seems to think that the only reason that someone would vote against Obama is because of his race. So are the 42% of people who are now telling Gallup that they support McCain racist? Can’t Matthews get his head around the idea that there are people who don’t want to vote for Obama because they disagree with him on issues or don’t think he’s qualified or are put off by his aura of arrogance? And isn’t Matthews shortchanging Obama to imply that his race is the main reason to vote for him? Other than his race, how is he different? We’ve had young candidates before. We’ve had well-spoken candidates before. What we haven’t had before is a mixed-race nominee for a major party. And Matthews thinks that is a good thing. Many of us think that that is a good thing. But we just don’t think it’s enough of a qualification for the presidency. This isn’t like admitting someone to college because he’s a minority and you think that would be good for the school. This is leadership of our country when we’re engaged in two wars and going through an economic downturn. We need more than an affirmative action or “let’s feel good about ourselves” reason to vote for someone.

And then there is Matthews’ fatuous request that we think like our kids. Fortunately for me I can think like my kids and still look at the candidates objectively. Does Matthews think less of how his kids make up their minds about major decisions? And has he been as big an advocate of thinking like our kids on an issue like Social Security or Medicare where it’s clear that our kids are not going to have the benefits that older generations have had unless we make some major changes? And is the young mind necessarily the best model for choosing a president? Ron Paul was very popular on college campuses this year. Should we have thought as the kids thought and gone ahead with him?

And what age child is Matthews talking about? Perhaps he has in mind very young children as those idealistic creatures who don’t notice race. Should we suddenly be making decisions on the leadership of this country based on the decision making ability of kids who, if allowed, would decide to have ice cream for three meals a day?

I know that Democrats have made a mantra our of doing things for the children’s sake, but I think we’ve come a long enough period of time away from the 1960s and the idea that kids are so much more moral and noble than adults and that the elder generation should step out of the way just because the youth have declared that the times, they are a-changing.

Now that I’m middle-aged, I can appreciate how weak my reasoning was on some major decisions in my life not excluding my first vote for the presidency. But like Mark Twain’s father, I’ve grown wiser in the intervening years. Why would I want to return to reasoning like I did when I was a kid?

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