Matthews: Chilean Miners Would Be Dead if They Followed Tea Party's 'Every Man for Himself' Philosophy

  Leave it to Chris Matthews to shoe-horn in a crass political point against the Tea Party, even in the midst of a heartwarming story like the rescue of the Chilean miners. On Wednesday's Hardball, the MSNBC host, along with his guest Richard Trumka, president of the AFL/CIO, claimed those miners would never have survived if they had followed the "every man for himself" philosophy of the Tea Party crowd.

After Trumka initially recounted his joy at watching the miners being rescued, he quickly veered into his standard rhetoric of the need for more regulation. Matthews then picked up on Trumka's cue to launch into an attack on the Tea Party, as he distorted their limited government view as one of total anarchy that would mean "no more government, no more everything," as seen in the following exchange:

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CHRIS MATTHEWS: Okay let's talk about what the...message to a lot of the people was. The message coming out of the Tea Party people, and lot of them are good people, is every man for himself, basically. "No more taxes, no more government, no more everything. No more safety net. No more health care for everybody. Everybody just get out there, make your buck, save it, screw the government, move on." Right?

RICHARD TRUMKA: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: You know these people, if they were every man for himself down in that mine they wouldn't have gotten out.

TRUMKA: That's exactly right.

MATTHEWS: They would have been killing each other after about two days. This is a story of how people can work together, the people who were down there for two months. The people who were above ground from all over the world, using state of the art equipment not to get rid of the need for manpower but to save manpower in this case.

TRUMKA: You know this is just another example of how radical the Republican Party is becoming, do away with the minimum wage. You just talked about that. Bad policy, it will wreck the economy. If you didn't have government regulation, you wouldn't have clean water, you wouldn't have cars that were safe, you wouldn't have electricity that you could afford, I mean, just a number of things where you need a good, efficient government and they just throw all that aside.

The following is a more complete transcript of the exchange that was aired on the October 13 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is an old pal of the show, the AFL/CIO president Richard Trumka. I want to get to, because this guy worked down in a mine, about half mile down. You know what it was like. By the way you let's start with that because it's very human interest. We haven't talked about it tonight, but it is thrilling to watch those guys. You were there at the Chilean embassy.

RICHARD TRUMKA: I was, when they were bringing out the first miners out and I can tell ya, they were like our brothers. And it was almost like I hit the lottery. There was this feeling of elation because the Earth doesn't normally give up a live body after that, being trapped underground that long. This one, when the first miner came out it was like, it was just like my brother or my uncle or my dad or anybody coming out. It was just such a win for us.

But, but it brings up two other issues I think you have to look at it, Chris. One we're very, very elated that these miners are safe. Second of all we have to thank the rescue workers that got them there and third, it's the lack of health and safety in the mines of the world, doesn't know boundaries, because you have to have good laws that are - and you have to have the people with the will to enforce them and the resources to get it done and we don't have that in the mining industry.

MATTHEWS: I got another elation out of it. I've never been a miner like you, we were just talking about claustrophobia off - which I think I would probably have down there, because you said some guys are susceptible to it. You are third generation of working down in the deep mines.

TRUMKA: Correct.

MATTHEWS: Okay let's talk about what the, the, the sort of the, the message to a lot of the people was. The message coming out of the Tea Party people, and lot of them are good people, is every man for himself, basically. "No more taxes, no more government, no more everything. No more safety net. No more health care for everybody. Everybody just get out there, make your buck, save it, screw the government, move on." Right?

TRUMKA: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: You know these people, if they were every man for himself down in that mine they wouldn't have gotten out.

TRUMKA: That's exactly right.

MATTHEWS: They would have been killing each other after about two days. This is a story of how people can work together, the people who were down there for two months. The people who were above ground from all over the world, using state of the art equipment not to get rid of the need for manpower but to save manpower in this case.

TRUMKA: You know this is just another example of how radical the Republican Party is becoming, do away with the minimum wage. You just talked about that. Bad policy, it will wreck the economy. If you didn't have government regulation, you wouldn't have clean water, you wouldn't have cars that were safe, you wouldn't have electricity that you could afford, I mean, just a number of things where you need a good, efficient government and they just throw all that aside.

MATTHEWS: Well why do people buy the rhetoric?

TRUMKA: I don't think they do buy t.

MATTHEWS: They say, "Get rid of all regulation, get rid of taxes, get rid of government." And, yet when they buy it. I always like this. We're Catholic, on Friday, we always had tuna fish, right? And, and you open up the can, you want to know that somebody besides the guy making buck off of it, made sure it was clean, it wasn't ptomaine in there.

TRUMKA: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: When you get up in an airplane I want to know there's some kind of an FAA that's looking at regulation or safety. I want to know there's somebody besides making the buck. Doesn't everybody have that, when it comes to them? They believe in government?

TRUMKA: See I think what they try to sell is every person should do that for themselves. And no one, no worker has the wherewithal to do that. If you are rich, you might be able to taste, buy somebody or have somebody taste your food for you, but they can't afford, I couldn't afford to make sure my planes are safe, that I'm properly regulated, my drinking water is safe, that the food is safe that we do. That the automobiles that we drive have been improved year after year to protect health and safety.

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