Sarah Palin's most fervent supporters have been characterized in a lot of different ways, some of them far more unflattering than "monochromatic." That was the word MSNBC's Chris Matthews chose to use, however, in describing the crowd at Palin book signing Wednesday in Michigan -- though he hastened to add, "not that there's anything wrong with it."
"Can you find out what their belief is in Governor Palin?" Matthews asked Norah O'Donnell, who was reporting for MSNBC from the scene.
"I think it's an emotional connection," O'Donnell replied. "A lot of the people I spoke with today were unable to articulate exactly why they supported Sarah Palin. ... This is a largely white -- almost no minorities in this crowd -- and they're here because they love Sarah Palin."
"They look like a white crowd to me," Matthews agreed heartily. "Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it is pretty monochromatic up there. ... Nothing wrong with that, but it is a fact."
Matthews then turned to Salon's Joan Walsh to ask about the "nastiness" of Palin's attacks on McCain campaign staffers, exclaiming, "Here's somebody who was governor of a state ... trashing little people!"
"I think that there are a couple of whopping lies," Walsh said of Palin's account in her book of the 2008 campaign, "as well as just a mean-spiritedness that doesn't serve her well. ... It's why she'll never be president. ... She's a very divisive, mean-spirited person. ... People who love her, love her, but the general public doesn't trust her."
"She is the anti-politician," O'Donnell chimed in. "They're mad at the Newsweek cover, they think it's sexist, they think that the media has beaten up on her. ... There's a lot of adoring fans out there."
Matthews, however, was not ready to let go of the racial aspect. "I think there's a tribal aspect to this thing" he insisted,"in other words, white versus other people." Pointing to Palin's call for "profiling" as a response to the Fort Hood shootings, he commented, "Everybody knows what 'profile' means -- it's Driving While Black."
Some conservative blogs have since complained that Matthews is suggesting "that racism is at the heart of her appeal."
Walsh, however, avoided responding to Matthew's implications of racism. "She plays the victim card, and this obviously resonates ... with part of the base," Walsh concluded. "I don't think Barack Obama has to fear her ... but definitely Mitt Romney and that totally uncharismatic crew, they have to be shaking in their boots."
"These other candidates are so boring that she sparkles," Matthews agreed.
This video is from MSNBC's Hardball, broadcast Nov. 18, 2009.