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Matthews salutes Mitt Romney

Let me finish tonight with the good, the bad, and the ugly of American politics.

Let me finish tonight with the good, the bad, and the ugly of American politics. Okay, let's just talk about the ugly.

People who can't win an argument usually get personal.  You're fighting as a kid about some sports thing or whatever and out comes "Yeah, you oughta know … and then the direct shot at the other person's height, appearance, ethnic group, parents, whatever sticks out as the cheapest, nastiest - and, of course, easiest target.

Ugly politics is like that.  In the old south you could say someone was pro-black, using a term that made it sound weak and somehow perverted.  You could say a person was a "communist" back in the early 1950s because they didn't think about the Cold War the way you did.  "Pinko" … "fellow traveler" … there were all kinds of phrases that got the message across

Today, the ugly line, if you're looking to nail to President, is the play on his background - his African father, his white mother, his growing up in Hawaii and those few years in Indonesia - and say he's a foreigner, someone who was born somewhere else, someone whose parents or grandparents snuck him into the country after having him born somewhere else, off in Kenya, or where-ever.

It's a cheap number, of course, and it's not even a schoolyard bet guys like Trump are making - they're covering the loose talk with all kind of hedges - like, yeah, okay, he could be American-born, he could be a legitimate president, but I'm still right to make the charge because it ticks people off, it bothers people.

Right, it does. People don't like having high school Harry talk in what should be, what needs to be, a serious decision about who is going to lead this country in the years ahead.

So here's my salute to the guy who's got the guts to say the truth as he knows and not shoot spitballs.  His name is Mitt Romney.  He says the president was born here and that's the end of it as far as he's concerned.  He wants to debate the issues important to the country.

Mitt's going to have to deal with the fringe out there.  He'll have somebody raise their hand at meeting after meeting making some charge or innuendo about Obama not being an American - and it will get a hand from the angry people - and when he disagrees and tries to deal truthfully with the issue, he will take heat and some guffawing and maybe, here and there, some loud booing, but he will be a presidential candidate, a proud and serious one, and, if it's not too old fashioned to say so, a man.