Chris Matthews has gone farther and more aggressively than any other major television figure in the accusation that the Romney campaign and its supporters are using racism as a core campaign tool against Barack Obama.

Everything has become racist to Matthews.  The use of the term “Chicago.”  Arguments over Obama weakening welfare-to-work requirements.

Even when he claims to like a speech, as in the case of Condi Rice, Matthews contrasts it to alleged racist “birthers” who support Romney.

Matthews even suggests that those who want a restoration of constitutional balance want a return to slavery:

Matthews has come under criticism for his histrionics and theatrics at the RNC, but it is his race card baiting that is the most disturbing.

Matthews is so relentless and so over the top in his accusations that we have to assume he either misunderstands the vast majority of those who oppose Obama, or he is engaged in a cynical cry for attention.

I believe it’s the latter.  While Matthews does have a history of playing the race card, this past week he outdid himself and just about everyone else, even on MSNBC.

Matthews knows he is dealing with fire in his accusations, yet he pretends that he is calling out others for racism when in fact he is using cynical accusations to get attention:

People who dance on it, exploit it, enjoy it, risk widening that divide, opening it up back to where it was so recently. Nothing is simpler. Nothing is more primitive than to beat the drums of tribal grievance … welfare cheating, food stamp grabbing are all part of the lingo, along with the old calls for law and order and states rights and all the rest … say what you want, the message is familiar, deeply redolent of the old demagoguery that stirs up the working white people against the black.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Am I being unfair to Matthews in attributing bad motive?  Maybe he actually believes what he is saying.

I don’t think so.

There was a very revealing passage as part of one of Matthews’ many racially-based rants this week, he made the following statement (transcript and video via Newsbusters):

But I go back to living in DC all these years. I’ve lived there 40  years, a black-majority city, and anybody who wants to get up early in  Washington and drive down North Capitol (Street) and drive past Florida Avenue,  sees nothing but young, but black people up at 6:30 in the morning going to  work. That’s where they’re going, to work, and not at big-wage jobs and not to  get a welfare check, they’re out working hard all day and not coming home with a  fantastic paycheck. So this notion of blacks live on welfare and whites live on  work is a brilliant political ploy but it’s not true, Rachel (Maddow). And you  know it, I know it.

As Newsbusters documents through several sources, Matthews lives in Chevy Chase Village, which is less than 1% black.

But even putting that hypocrisy aside, why does Matthews assume that when Republicans refer to welfare reform or food stamps they are referring to blacks?  Does he have the same argument about Bill Clinton, the keynote speaker at the DNC this year, whose welfare reforms Obama has weakened?

The selective standard applied by Matthews on welfare reform reveals everything you need to know about the intellectual honesty of his argument.

Chris Matthews has found a niche, to  be the most vocal, most outrageous, most relentless proponent of portraying criticism of Obama as racially motivated.

It’s a marketing ploy.

And I think he knows it damn well.