The goal this week, it seems, over at MSNBC is to try and find any references at the GOP convention that could be turned into accusations of racism. Larry O’Donnell did mental gymnastics when he interpreted a golf quip to be some sort of link to Obama and Tiger Woods’s libido. Chris Matthews even got into a fight with the RNC chairman of alleged “foreignization” of the president. And now Ed Schultz has joined the party.

While analyzing Mitt Romney’s convention speech on Thursday, Schultz couldn’t help but hear a birther reference tucked within the oration.

“Here is another thing that jumped out at me. ‘When the world needs to do really good stuff, you need an American,’” he said.

He continued:

“That was the other line, you know, we’ve got to do big stuff. We’ve got big problems. We don’t have an American. How else are we supposed to take that line? To imply that the guy who’s leading the country right now is not an American, ‘when the world needs to do really big stuff we need an American.’ I felt that was below the belt, and it was a dog whistle, whatever you want to call it, a bone throw to the birthers out there that ‘I’m not that far from you.’”

Co-host Rachel Maddow was all too happy to agree.

“It struck me as the same way,” she said, “especially coming on the heels of his birther joke from this past week.” That, of course, was a reference to Romney making the comment that he doesn’t need to show his birth certificate in Michigan (where he was born).

Mediaite has the clip:

Of course, there is context — context that the crew failed to mention. Mitt was talking about the greatness of America at that point, and was explaining the space race:

I was born in the middle of the century in the middle of the country, a classic baby boomer. It was a time when Americans were returning from war and eager to work. To be an American was to assume that all things were possible. When President Kennedy challenged Americans to go to the moon, the question wasn’t whether we’d get there, it was only when we’d get there.

The soles of Neil Armstrong’s boots on the moon made permanent impressions on OUR souls and in our national psyche. Ann and I watched those steps together on her parent’s sofa. Like all Americans we went to bed that night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world.

God bless Neil Armstrong.

Tonight that American flag is still there on the moon. And I don’t doubt for a second that Neil Armstrong’s spirit is still with us: that unique blend of optimism, humility and the utter confidence that when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.

That’s how I was brought up.

Which raises the question: Who is the one really “dog-whistling”?

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