Chris Matthews Makes Black History

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D.

MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews put his proverbial foot in his mouth last week following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address.

The world was watching President Obama, the man previously with the Midas touch. He had come under fire from many in the country, including his own party, with the Democrats losing the Senate seat in Massachusetts, thereby losing power in the Senate. President Obama’s poll numbers were also in decline, suggesting that citizens were losing faith in his ability to turn the country around.

I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to watching the address because I wasn’t interested in hearing him do more of the same — accept all of the responsibility for the problems in the country that preceded him, support his lame party that does not support him and not acknowledge that the only bipartisanship that the Democrats and Republicans have is to collectively work against him.

Imagine my surprise when President Obama came out swinging, taking everyone to task and demanding that we get over ourselves in order to create the change that is needed to move this country forward. Gone was the man who seemed to be slightly off of his game, at least by all media accounts; in his place, stood the president of the United States who had finally realized his power and concretely stated that he would use it to do what is necessary for this country.

I like tough talk, so my inner Republican stood up and clapped, even if the real Republicans tried hard not to clap in opposition to his policies.

Fast-forward to Chris Matthews, who was so visibly excited about the president’s speech because — say what you will about President Obama, but — the man can deliver a speech like few others. He has the ability to pull you in, connect and have you motivated to go out and change the world.

Matthews caught the bug and looked like he could barely contain himself. He was jovial and energetic as he ran back the plays of the actual address. Matthews, who can be a loudmouth, usually goes hard after folks, especially this president, so I waited for him to pounce; yet he didn’t.

What Matthews did do was make one of the craziest public statements that I’ve heard in a long time: The address was so good that he forgot that President Obama was black. REWIND. Take the needle off of the record. Come again? President Obama’s speech was so good that he forgot that he was black? Wow (in my Mos Def voice). In 1980s terms, I burst out laughing … and in today’s terms I was LMFAO.

Matthews dared say what so many people think, and while he tried to clean it up almost immediately, the words had landed.  Click here to read more.

This article originally appeared in Creative Loafing, where Nsenga Burton serves as cultural critic. Follow her on Twitter @ntellectual.

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