If anyone's going to destroy Newt Gingrich's presidential aspirations, Hardball's Chris Matthews would rather it be him, or at least someone else in the liberal media. Appearing on colleague Tamron Hall's NewsNation program in today's 2 p.m. Eastern hour, Matthews whined about anti-Gingrich "bombing campaign" of TV ads placed by political action committees that have helped to drive down the former Speaker's poll numbers in the run up to tonight's caucuses.
"My sympathy is not for Newt, it's for democracy," Matthews pontificated, having argued that Romney's "wealthy friends have destroyed" Gingrich with a "Dresden"-style "bombing campaign."
"It's been run by the Romney people, unofficially, but everybody knows who's running [it], it's called Restore Our Future .... I can only compare it to the Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II. They've left nothing standing in terms of the Gingrich campaign," Matthews complained.
"In this case, Newt was wronged, and that's hard for me to say that, but he was wronged by this system," Matthews groused, parroting a liberal complaint about the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision which allowed for so-called Super PACs.
Matthews went even further by arguing, in essence, that third-party issue ads run against candidates in a primary race is un-American and an insult to the men and women who laid down their lives for the freedom and security of the United States:
My love is for democracy. My love is for a maybe a romantic notion of a fair fight. The idea that two or three or five or seven people go in a ring and you get a good look at all of them, they make their best case, and you judge among them. In live television or in live performances.
A real American-style election.
What you've seen out here is nothing like democracy. It's not about equality, it's about financial equity. It's not about democracy, it's about dollars.
This is not what people fought for in all our wars. This is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind. This is Dresden. This is a bombing campaign without a signature attached to it, and that's what's been going out here for weeks.
And I'll tell ya, the scary thing about it, it's worked. And that's the scary thing. You watch down the road, every political consultant is watching this situation in Iowa saying, "Next time I find a candidate, I'm going to find one with deep, deep pockets, with many, many friends who are going to kick in enormous amounts of money to destroy my guy's or my woman's opponent."
And that is not the template we want for our country as we move forward, I don't think.
Of course, Founding Fathers like John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson faced all manner of anonymous criticisms, some legitimate and others scurrilous, during their campaigns for the presidency. Third party issue ads are hardly a new phenomenon, having existed well before the 2010 Citizens United case.
Perhaps what really bugs Matthews is not just that Gingrich may be taken out of contention in Iowa -- meaning he won't have his favorite whipping boy Newt to kick around anymore -- but that the same conservative issue ad apparatus is going to prove devastating in the general election fight against President Obama.
After all, Matthews himself is on record confessing that he believes it's his duty to help Obama succeed.
P.S.: Speaking of Dresden comparisons, as my colleague Brent Baker noted back in March 2003, then-MSNBC anchor Brian Williams was chided, although not by name, by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for comparing U.S. precision bombing of Iraqi military targets to Dresden.
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