Matthews Mocks Bachmann's Appointment to Intelligence Committee and Wonders If She's On a 'Messianic' Crusade

Chris Matthews has a new obsession for 2011 and her name is Michele Bachmann. Matthews has gone after Bachmann with the same fervor he used to reserve for Dick Cheney and on Thursday's Hardball he mocked the Minnesota Republican Congresswoman's new appointment to the House Intelligence committee as he snidely observed: "This is great irony here, on the Intelligence committee. I wonder what the rules are for getting on that committee? I guess they're pretty lenient."

Matthews also questioned Bachman's motives for getting involved in public service as he asked The Daily Beast's Shushannah Walshe about a profile she wrote about Bachmann that touched on her religious beliefs:

MATTHEWS: Well what is the religious piece here because I don't want to push it too hard, but is there a kind of Joan of Arc thing going on here? The way you write that piece makes it sounds like she's on a kind of crusade. I'm serious. Almost a Messianic goal here, which goes beyond what we normally consider politics in America.

(video after the jump) 

 The following exchanges were aired on the January 6 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Up next, Michele Bachmann, we're in the humorous category, may be thinking about running for President, but she's playing coy on the subject. But she has a much bigger role in Congress, introducing a bill to repeal last year's financial regulatory bill in toto. And she's also landed a seat, now this is great irony here, on the Intelligence committee. I wonder what the rules are for getting on that committee? I guess they're pretty lenient. What's Bachmann up to? We want to know. You're watching Hardball, only on MSNBC.

...

MATTHEWS: And by the way she's been tapped by the Speaker Boehner, for whatever reason, to be on the Intelligence committee? You gotta wonder about that.

...

MATTHEWS: Well there seems to be an element of appeasement here, by the leadership of the Republicans. John Boehner already coming in here as Mr. Clean and the first thing he does is basically give away the store and put this person on Intelligence. Michael, I want you to watch something she said on this show she said a couple of years ago and tell me if you think this is the kind of person that belongs on the Intelligence committee, if you're just objective about it. Let's watch her in action saying what she thinks our job in the media is to do. Let's listen.

(Begin clip)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would be, would love to see an expose like that.

(End clip)

MATTHEWS: An expose, I mean that's where her head was at. I don't know if she's gotten more developed or not Michael, but why would they put her on the Intelligence committee, to catch her like a mouse trap so she'll start talking and Boehner can get rid of her that way? What's he up to?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS ANALYST: Well that's, that's exactly the question a lot of people are, are asking. You know it's not just that, Chris. I mean she got a pretty long history of saying some pretty provocative, out there, things that have not always been completely substantiated. During the, remember when President Obama last November flew off to India after the election and there were all those stories about how it was going to cost taxpayers $100 million, $200 million a day. All of which were bogus, taken from some account in some obscure Indian newspaper.

MATTHEWS: Right.

ISIKOFF: Michele Bachmann was one of those who was feeding that and saying, "Well, I heard from a newspaper," so therefore it was justified in, in saying it. So, do - the question that's being asked and including by some Intelligence committee members is this the kind of person you want to have on the Intelligence committee, the guardian of the nation's secrets? Somebody who really can't talk about anything you learn in that committee because most of it is highly classified. Shushannah called her a publicity machine. You know a publicity machine doesn't quite mesh with the profile of somebody you'd normally be looking for to serve on a committee like that.


MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Shushannah. Well put it all together. What is her purpose here? Is it publicity? Is it - there's something about the way she presents herself. I got to be careful here, but I don't quite get it. Is it, is it, I don't know what it is. There's almost an odd look you get when you talk to her on television. I don't know. What do you make of her, sort of persona? What can you tell us that we don't know.

SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, THE DAILY BEAST: Well I think that the question is what is it all about, is an important question. I think that her ideals, what she believes in, she does very much want to be passed, want the rest of the country to believe in as well. But I think that a lot of it is also being the center of attention. And you know I have spoken to a lot of former staffers. She's has a problem with keeping staffers. She's had a lot of turnover. A\and even ones that still like her and hold her in high esteem talk about how much she needs to be the center of attention. Needs to - and you're, you're talking about somebody who's gone from six years of complete obscurity, to somebody who's a huge national celebrity. Somebody who's, who is talking about running for president. I mean that's incredible. And so-

MATTHEWS: Well what is the religious piece here because I don't want to push it too hard, but is there a kind of Joan of Arc thing going on here? The way you write that piece makes it sounds like she's on a kind of crusade. I'm serious. Almost a Messianic goal here, which goes beyond what we normally consider politics in America.

WALSHE: Well I mean, I wouldn't say Joan of Arc, but I think that her religion is a very important part. And it's definitely driving her. It is one of the reasons she said publicly, several times that she turned to God when she decided to run for Congress. She, you know, when she's making, trying to either pass legislation, when she's praying, thinking about legislation, she does turn to prayer and she's been open about that. When I was writing a profile about her and I spoke to close associates and friends, they said she often turns to prayer in moments like this and I think that, that is what is very much propelling her in all ways, whether it's pushing legislation or higher political goals.

MATTHEWS: Yeah well there's - I pray too and I think prayer is wonderful myself and I believe in it. So I'm not gonna knock that. I just wonder whether her ambitions are a bit enlarged here, beyond just political office. Does she see herself, final question here, leading some kind of crusade to change America in some - this thing about having us investigate Democratic members of Congress for anti-American activities is the kind of extreme stuff, you know, we grew up reading about in the late 40s and early 50s.

—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here

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