Matthews Rooting for Iraq Civil War?: "Problem Is It Took Time For This to Take Shape"

Is Chris Matthews rooting for civil war in Iraq? It's hard to interpret his words otherwise when, after asserting that officials in previous administrations and former President Bush had warned that going into Iraq would lead to civil war, Matthews observed:

"The problem is it took a little time for this to take shape."

"The problem," Chris?

Matthews' hoping for the worst was just the capper on the Bush-bashing fest he conducted with Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show. Those nature documentaries of vultures on the Serengeti plain have little on the way Matthews and Lauer went after President Bush's political bones.

From Iraq to Afghanistan, likeability to leadership, with some bogus CBS poll numbers thrown in to leaven the witches' brew, the pair absolutely reveled in what they saw as the President's current predicament.

Over the last 24 hours, commentators from Rush Limbaugh to the NewsBusters' own Greg Sheffield have debunked the CBS poll, exposing how the network loaded the survey with a grossly-disproportionate number of Democrats. But that didn't prevent Today, good environmentalists that they are, from recycling the negative numbers. Macy's doesn't usually tout Gimbel's, but apparently it was worth it to NBC to display the CBS logo at length in order to parade the flawed poll findings on the screen.

That was just the launching pad for the Lauer-Matthews gloom-in. Excerpts:

Lauer: "Do we have an issue in Afghanistan?"

Matthews: "We do. We can't catch Osama Bin Laden and we can't find Al-Zarqawi. And the government [of Afghanistan has no authority outside Kabul]."

Lauer: "The latest poll has the President at an all-time low. Is it the economy or Iraq or Afghanistan or the ports deal?"

Matthews: "It's terrible news for the President. . . 29% on personal approval. People don't like the President even more than they don't like his policies which is a staggering blow. He had two things going for him. The war on terror . . . and likeability. They are both going down."

Lauer: "Let's talk about the ports deal. . . We have a 45-day security review. Can the president and the administration change opinions in this country in that period?"

Matthews: "I keep trying to imagine the President in one of those rallies even in front of military men who are loyal to him. To make our ports secure we will turn it over to an Arab government. It doesn't work. The common sense guy working in South Philadelphia near the ports or in say Baltimore says: 'Ports are run by Arabs? It doesn't make sense.'"

Is Matthews now bending to prejudices he would normally condemn?

Lauer: "How did President Bush and Karl Rove get blind-sided?"

Matthews: "It's endemic. When we saw the Katrina horror, it was because the President wasn't even watching television. This is a technical problem. His staff is not keeping him alert 24/7. With the Harriet Miers nomination he was off base. Now he is off base with the ports issue. Michael Savage on the radio, the radio talk jocks were on this issue weeks before the President was. Why isn't Karl Rove telling the President, 'head's up, we have to get this on fast'? Nobody is waking up the President to these issues. It's a habitual problem of incompetence. People are wondering: why is his second term so second-rate?"

The normally-MSM-reviled Michael Savage becomes a suddenly respectable source when it suits Matthews' Bush-bashing purposes.

Lauer: "Ending on Iraq. There used to be talk if U.S. troops pulled too early we might see civil war. Now we might see civil war even though we are still there."

That's when Matthews got off his ghoulish line: "We were warned by [James Baker and Brent Scowcroft] and former President Bush you can't go into Iraq without starting a civil war. That was all predicted by the Republican experts. The problem is it took time for this to take shape."

He continued:

"Now as you point out your troops can't keep these people apart. The President has one thing going for him. He has three years left to rebuild his administration. He hasn't begun to do it yet. That's the real challenge to shake-up his team and get a 24/7 team together. He doesn't have one now."

Amazing how one bad poll thrown into the MSM pit can arouse such a feeding frenzy.

Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY. 'Right Angle', the TV show he hosts, was recently named 'Best of the Best' among public-access shows in his area. Contact him at: mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.