Matthews on Obama Victory: 'Rebuke' for Bush?

Anchoring MSNBC's live coverage of the Iowa caucus, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews couldn't contain his excitement for Barack Obama. Even before the results came in Matthews predicted an Obama victory would be: "The shot heard 'round the world. This is Lexington and Concord with the target being not King George but President George this time."

Matthews also claimed Iowa Democrats delivering a win for Obama could only be seen as a "rebuke" of Bush: "There's no doubt about it. And there's no way to read it except as a rebuke to President Bush."

Before the night's coverage ended Matthews even tipped his hand as to he's voting for when he announced: "You know I'll bet there's not a Peace Corps volunteer in the country who served in the Peace Corps in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s or recently that won't vote for this guy. He is so emblematic of our attempt, I think, to rejoin the world." It should be noted Matthews himself served in the Peace Corps.

The following exchanges occurred during MSNBC's live coverage of the Iowa caucus on January 3:

[7:46pm]

CHRIS MATTHEWS: If Obama wins tonight and according to the polls he's in good shape. Gene, you start. If he wins tonight that's the shot heard ‘round the world. This is Lexington and Concord with the target being not King George but President George this time.

[8:53pm]

MATTHEWS: If Obama wins this caucus it will be the biggest political story in maybe 20 or 30 years our of this country. It'll be a story as certainly as big as, as Ronald Reagan defeating Jimmy Carter. It will be a story about a change in political direction for the country. A shot heard ‘round the world, if you will. Barack Obama, son of Kenya, as well as America, with Kenya in turmoil right now. To be a son of that country, to be over here as a candidate for President and to win the Iowa caucuses is a change of American history. There's no doubt about it. And there's no way to read it except as a rebuke to President Bush. This is seen in the world as a man who represents a kind of a Third World view of the thing, of issues like Iraq. He looks at it as a member of the world community not just as an American. Not a, "Our way or the highway," sort of person at all. Very much a member of the world community. And I think the world will be very happy to hear this.

[9:26pm]

MATTHEWS: Yes, yes! I want to say it loudly! I want to say it loudly!

KEITH OLBERMANN: Well say it loudly.

MATTHEWS: This country and this is not a partisan comment, this is the country's view right now. We are in a rut. We are stuck in this rut. We are stuck in Iraq. No one has any idea how to get out of Iraq. Sure we've had the surge succeed but that's not the way to get out, that's just more stuck. We're more necessary. We've got a situation on every issue where the two sides are divided 50/50. Nancy Pelosi gets whacked everyday because she can't get the job done because she doesn't haven't the 60 senators to get the job done on the Senate side. So we have climate change, we're not doing anything really. We're not doing anything on energy. We're not doing anything on social security, Medicare reform. We're not doing anything on the war or on foreign policy. Everything is stuck. It's intractable. And I think the American people feel that. It's coming across in our NBC polling. People don't like the direction. They want something to happen. Now here's the question. Will they follow through and pick one side or the other to run the government and get something done? Or will they pull back again and clinch and divide power again? Which they've done before, which does bring about gridlock.

[11:32pm]

MATTHEWS: You know I think there's even something grander going on here and I can never say that, of course, about America where race has always been our San Andreas fault. The thing that does, always threaten to divide us, in fact, too often does. But there's something about Obama, where he comes from. He's almost delivered to us through Indonesia, through a Kenyan father. He's a man of the world. A Third World, in many way, person, not just an American. It's all a big picture here. You know I'll bet there's not a Peace Corps volunteer in the country who served in the Peace Corps in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s or recently that won't vote for this guy. He is so emblematic of our attempt, I think, to rejoin the world.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.