Matthews Smears Conservatives; Obama 'Profound' with 'Fire I've Been Waiting For'...Like Denzel Washington

Hailing Barack Obama's attacks on John McCain's foreign policy as “profound” with “the fire I've been waiting for,” during live MSNBC coverage Saturday afternoon of Obama introducing running mate Joe Biden, Chris Matthews was pleased “he finally took on John McCain on the issue of our time, which is Russia” as “he used the word bluster twice.” Matthews then smeared John McCain and conservatives as warmongers: “There are a lot of neo-conservatives out there that just love the old black and white Manichaean cold war feeling again. They'd like to get rid of color television, in fact. Let's go back to the '50s and let's fight with the Russians again.” That earned approving laughter from co-anchor Keith Olbermann who later cited Biden's call “to restore America's soul” and wondered: “Does it bring it up to this kind of Lincolnian greater than the sum of the parts public good mission almost?”

Matthews explained to his viewers that Obama “referred to it as bluster because if you read the really smart columnists,” and those would be “people like David Ignatius and Tom Friedman” who are “in the middle politically,” Obama was just “calling it what it is, bluster. It's just words, just sword-rattling, and he called it today. I thought that was profound.”

At about 3:42 PM EDT, just after Biden finished speaking, Matthews oozed over Obama's address with “dignity and indignation,” comparing him to actors Denzel Washington and Spencer Tracy. Really:
When I was watching Barack, I said there's the fire I've been waiting for. Maybe it was the camera angle, but I was looking up, if you look at some of the stronger performances, and they're almost always strong by the actor Denzel Washington, when he's really sticking it to the bad guys at the end of the movies, when he's really making his sort of Spencer Tracy moment, there's something about the face, there's something about that statement of strength and even anger where you really make your point with dignity and indignation, and I thought he was doing it today for the first time as a candidate: Barack Obama taking the fight to the bluster of the opponent.

UPDATED with video and MP3 audio (2:15, 800 Kb)

On Ignatius and Friedman being “in the middle politically,” I'll give him Ignatius, but only someone well to the left could see Friedman as anything other than liberal.

(ABC and CBS went live at about 3:03 PM EDT/2:03 PM local CDT. CBS returned to tennis and then golf after seven minutes, but ABC, with Charles Gibson in on a Saturday, stayed on for more than a half-hour to show the entirety of Obama and Biden, though Gibson talked some over them, before joining a Little League championship game already in progress. NBC stayed with it's taped Olympic coverage.)

From MSNBC's post-event coverage of the Saturday, August 23 Obama-Biden event in Springfield, Illinois:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, IN WASHINGTON, DC: What I liked about the performance by Barack Obama was this: He finally took on John McCain on the issue of our time, which is Russia, of course, and it's invasion of Georgia. And he used the word bluster twice. Now, there are a lot of neo-conservatives out there that just love the old black and white Manichaean cold war feeling again. They'd like to get rid of color television, in fact. Let's go back to the '50s [laugher from Olbermann] and let's fight with the Russians again. They're only comfortable in that setting.

And he referred to it as bluster because if you read the really smart columnists -- and you and I read them -- people like David Ignatius and Tom Friedman, they're really bright people out there, in the middle politically. They point out that it doesn't take much brains to put the finger in the eye of Vladimir Putin if that's what you want to do for political gain. Here's a guy, Barack Obama who's not supposed to have a strong suit, in the area of foreign policy, calling it what it is, bluster. It's just words, just sword-rattling, and he called it today. I thought that was profound.

And then to have Barack sort of complete the punch by saying, you need to be more than a good soldier today. You need to be a wise leader. Now that is really scraping the bark off. That's going to his strong suit in the case of John McCain, his war heroism as a POW and saying, good work, thank you for our patriotism, but where's your vision? Are you going to get us past this fight with Russia or are you just going to enjoy it? Are you going to get past this problem with Iraq or just continue it forever. Are you just going to enjoy this struggle instead of winning it and ending it.

And I think that was the way he this talked today. I though it was a very well put together duet and I think, there was a moment there when I was watching, I don't know if you're comfortable sharing this thought, but I'll just say it for myself. When I was watching Barack, I said there's the fire I've been waiting for [Olberman can be heard: “umhumm.”]. Maybe it was the camera angle, but I was looking up, if you look at some of the stronger performances, and they're almost always strong of the actor Denzel Washington, when he's really sticking it to the bad guys at the end of the movies, when he's really making his sort of Spencer Tracy moment, there's something about the face, there's something about that statement of strength and even anger where you really make your point with dignity and indignation, and I thought he was doing it today for the first time as a candidate: Barack Obama taking the fight to the bluster of the opponent.

....

KEITH OLBERMANN, IN NEW YORK CITY: In his speech, Joe Biden specifically tied John McCain to swift boating. He made, as Chris just pointed out, the swift boating terms in our country, he put that term and John McCain together and he said flatly that we need to restore America's soul. This kind of terminology, does it effectively lift this campaign out of Democrat versus Republican and make it into something of a well, I hate to use the comparison, but we're doing it obviously in front of Lincoln's state house, does it bring it up to this kind of Lincolnian greater than the sum of the parts public good mission almost?

DAVID GREGORY: Well, I think they hope that's the case. I think other will view it as partisanship from the left to the right and doing what they have to do it tactically to beat the Republicans...
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center