Chris Matthews disappointed me today. He had U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush as a guest on his MSNBC show, “Hardball,” to talk about whether racial politics are playing a role in the ongoing U.S. Senate saga involving Roland Burris. Ever since embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Burris to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, Rush has been saying people must accept Burris as a U.S. Senator because he is black and there otherwise aren’t any blacks in the Senate after Obama resigned his seat.
Matthews and Rush discussed this topic for 10 minutes and the “Hardball” host never asked Rush why race is such an important factor now when it apparently wasn’t as important to Rush five years ago when the congressman endorsed a white man, Blair Hull, instead of Barack Obama in the 2004 Democratic Senate primary, when there weren’t any African-American senators. The reason why Rush didn’t endorse Obama at that time is because Obama unsuccessfully tried to unseat Rush several years earlier, and Rush was still miffed at Obama. I knew that from reading David Mendell’s excellent biography of the president-elect, Obama: From Promise to Power. Matthews may have known that, too, but that doesn’t excuse his lack of asking the question when TV talking heads often repeat recycled questions. (Listen to any Obama press conference for evidence of that.)
The only person I’ve noticed mention Rush’s endorsement of Hull is Chicago Tribune editorial board member Clarence Page in his newspaper column Sunday. It is disappointing that nobody else in the media has mentioned this, considering how much attention is being devoted to the Burris saga.