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Chris Matthews: Rick Perry Could Be 'Bull Connor With a Smile'

Hardball host Chris Matthews on Tuesday smeared Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry as "Bull Connor with a smile," referring to the segregationist Commissioner of Public Safety who famously used attack dogs and fire hoses on civil rights protesters in the '60s.

Left-wing journalist Wayne Slater, who has previously lumped Tea Party protesters with the Holocaust museum shooter, attacked Perry as someone who talks about "states rights, states right, states rights, states rights" and "could make some voters, again, very nervous." In response, Matthews excoriated, "Yeah. This could be Bull Connor with a smile. " [MP3 audio here.]

As a reminder, Rick Perry is a GOP presidential candidate. Democrat Bull Connor, as PBS' Eye on the Prize miniseries explained, turned "high-pressure fire hoses and police dogs on them, creating some of the most indelibly violent images to date. Horrified Americans see it all on the news."

Earlier, Matthews, talking to Slater, derided Perry's attacks on Obama: "I know you're an objective reporter, but I smell birtherism about this guy. His attack on Obama isn't just policy. It's about the nature of the person who's president. It seems to me."

[Thanks to MRC intern Alex Fitzsimmons for the video.]

A transcript of the August 16 exchanges can be found below:

CHRIS MATTHEWS [to Wayne Slater]: I know you're an objective reporter, but I smell birtherism about this guy. His attack on Obama isn't just policy. It's about the nature of the person who's president. It seems to me. Your thoughts?

...

MATTHEWS: Another potential liability, as you point, for Perry is what he said about Social Security and Medicare in the past. Here's what he told the Daily Beast just last fall on the record: "I think every program needs to stand the sunshine of righteous scrutiny, whether it's Social Security, whether it's Medicaid, whether it's Medicare. You have $115 trillion of unfunded liability in those three. They're bankrupt, they're a Ponzi scheme." So calling Social Security, Wayne, a ponzi scheme to somebody watching right now this program, who's 65 or older and is getting Social Security, may not like the sound of it being trashed as a Ponzi scheme. They may say, "This is a legitimate thing I paid into when I was working for 50 years. I'm not benefitting righteously from it. Stop trashing it."

...
WAYNE SLATER (Dallas Morning News): You hear Democrats talk now about the Texas miracle really wasn't a Texas miracle and a lot of, you know, minimum wage jobs and pollution and so forth and so on. That's not going to work in the fall, if the economy is still bad. The question is, the attack on Perry is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, Medicare need to be changed or potentially abolished, which is not precisely what he said. Raising questions about the Voting Rights Act saying it is just a tool for gerrymandering in the south and the Civil Rights Act, the terms under which we established, this has the look of someone who, when he talks about states rights, states right, states rights, could make some voters, again, very nervous.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. This could be Bull Connor with a smile.

— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.