What a perfect way to start a Monday morning — check out this video from today’s Morning Joe of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews tearing into RNC Chairman Reince Priebus about the Republican Party’s reprehensible race-baiting strategy, and in particular, Mitt Romney’s inexcusable jump into the “birther” pool:

Although he has gotten better recently, I wish Chris Matthews would unequivocally call out and condemn the blatant anti-gay bigotry of hate group leaders like Tony Perkins in the same way that he admirably calls out and condemns the Republican Party’s 2012 strategy of racial politics in the clip above.

Thomas B. Edsall adeptly dissects this GOP strategy in a revealing piece published in today’s New York Times. And he doesn’t mince words (emphasis mine):

The Romney campaign’s shift of focus toward welfare and Medicare suggests that his strategists are worried that just disparaging Obama’s ability to deal with the struggling economy won’t be adequate to produce victory on November 6.

The importance to the Romney-Ryan ticket of two overlapping constituencies — whites without college degrees and white Medicare recipients — cannot be overestimated. Romney, continuing the Republican approach of 2010, is banking on a huge turnout among key white segments of the electorate in order to counter Obama’s strengths with minority voters as well as with young and unmarried female voters of all races. . .

Faced with few if any possibilities of making gains among blacks and Hispanics — whose support for Obama has remained strong — the Romney campaign has no other choice if the goal is to win but to adopt a strategy to drive up white turnout.

The Romney campaign is willing to disregard criticism concerning accuracy and veracity in favor of  “blowing the dog whistle of racism” – resorting to a campaign appealing to racial symbols, images and issues in its bid to break the frustratingly persistent Obama lead in the polls, which has lasted for the past 10 months.

According to Edsall, the Romney-Ryan campaign is essentially trying to have its cake and eat it too — saying, as Paul Ryan did recently, that the 2012 presidential election is “about ideas” and “a positive vision of the future,” while at the same time injecting distinctly racist overtones into its television and online advertising in the tradition of the infamous Willie Horton and “White Hands” ads. And it’s likely to get worse: the principal media consultant for the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, which will be running a large percentage of the anti-Obama ads between now and November 6, is a person named Larry McCarthy — who just happens to be the creator of the original Willie Horton ad. Fasten your seatbelts, folks.