Chris Matthews mocked Republicans on Friday's Hardball over their hawkish stance towards Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist group that recently kidnapped hundreds of girls. Matthews made a thinly-veiled racial attack on the GOP during a panel discussion on the terrorist organization: "By the way, when did the Republican Party take this keen interest in Africa? I may have missed that one."
Guest Michelle Bernard, who is of Jamaican decent, quickly followed the MSNBC host with a more overt racially-based jab at Republicans: [MP3 audio available here; video below]
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CTR. FOR WOMEN: I was about to say. It was very nice to see all these – all these conservatives – you know, beating the battle drum for justice for people who look like me.
Matthews devoted the lead segment of his program to attacking the GOP for going after Hillary Clinton for her handling of the rise of Islamism, particularly in Nigeria, during her time as secretary of state. He brought on Bernard and regular guest Howard Fineman of Huffington Post for their take on the issue. The black political analysts quickly followed her blast at Republicans by asserting that recent presidents, including Obama, haven't done enough in Africa:
BERNARD: ...Truth is, Bush administration, Obama administration – administration after administration has been ignoring the fact that we have Islamist extremists creeping up all over Africa, and it's time – rather than put the blame on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama – or, quite frankly, George Bush – it's time that we sit down and think, are we really so tired about talking about America post-9/11, and are we really so war-weary after Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and all the other conflicts in Libya and elsewhere that we are willing to continue to ignore countries like Africa – continents like Africa? Nigeria is the most populous, important country to the United States.
Both Matthews and Bernard glossed over the fact that former President Bush was widely praised for his concern with Africa during his two terms. An April 2013 item from ABC News pointed out that the Republican politician won "praise, even from foes" on his African policy, particularly in sending billions of dollars of assistance in the fight against HIV and malaria.
Later in the segment, the MSNBC host made two more of his usual blasts at Republicans/conservatives, as Fineman noted how Islam is a significant component of the ongoing issue:
HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: ...The women's issue is one very important part of the equation. The other not-so-sub sub-text here is religion. It's faith. These are – there was an attack in a Catholic Church in Nigeria where Boko Haram killed people.
MATTHEWS: Because they're Catholics-
FINEMAN: Because they're Catholics. And what the connective tissue here is – for the people attacking Hillary [Clinton] and Barack Obama – is that, somehow, they're soft on Islamists. They don't say it in quite those words, but that's what they're-
MATTHEWS: Because Obama is a Muslim-
FINEMAN: There you go; there you go – that is the subject-
BERNARD: Just for anyone who doesn't really understand that you're making a joke-
FINEMAN: If anybody who doesn't get it-
BERNARD: We should say that he really is not a Muslim. (laughs) People who normally watch Fox might be watching us-
MATTHEWS: I'm translating – I'm translating for the clowns in the clown car-
FINEMAN: You and I know exactly how they're connecting the dots. That's what this is really about. This is as much about religion as it is about gender, and that's the connection between Hillary and Barack Obama – that they're somehow squishy on this thing.