Matthews Calls Cheney an Ankle Biter, Backtracks on West Point 'Enemy Camp' Claim

There's something about these big events that cause MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews to go off script and say something seemingly ridiculous.

Matthews has publicly admitted President Barack Obama has given him a thrill up his leg after a campaign speech in Feb. 2008, and uttered "oh God," earlier this year after an Obama address to Congress, prior to the Republican response from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal earlier this year. And on Dec. 1, he referred to West Point as "the enemy camp" in coverage following a speech from Obama announcing his intentions to increase troops in Afghanistan. And, later that night - Matthews took a shot at former Vice President Dick Cheney (emphasis added).

"The president said tonight that we're fighting in Afghanistan because al Qaeda is in Pakistan," Matthews said. "Is that what this is all about? Is that why we're fighting and some are dying in Afghanistan? To deliver the message to the government over in Pakistan to fight harder against al Qaeda. It sounds more Rube Goldberg than ‘Remember the Alamo.' Also try tonight to workout whether the president's goals in Afghanistan are achievable. Are they? And of course, there's always Dick Cheney who jumped it from under his bridge to bite the president's ankle even before he made the speech tonight."

Later in the broadcast, in a segment with Mother Jones reporter David Corn, Matthews backtracked on the claim he made earlier in the evening - the West Point was the "enemy camp" (emphasis added).

"He went up there to West Point, okay, and maybe earlier tonight I used the wrong phrase, ‘enemy camp,' but the fact of the matter is that he went up there to a place that's obviously military. People in the voluntary army that - and you have officers up there, people who have been tough," Matthews said. "McChrystal, Petraeus identified with the Bush strategy, much tougher, more hawkish. He went up there, it was almost like he telegraphed the fact that he was going to, what, change sides on the issue of dove versus hawk."