Granted, it came at the very end of the forum on cancer that Lance Armstrong organized today in Iowa. But if in response to your final question a presidential candidate recites an ode to collectivism, a denunciation of individualism, and throws in the mind-boggling claim that people don't want tax cuts, don't you somehow find a moment to follow up?
Not if you're Chris Matthews.
View video here.
Here's how it went down today on MSNBC at 12:55 P.M. EDT as Matthews interviewed Bill Richardson (D-N.M.):
CHRIS MATTHEWS: We have a president who was elected a couple times and he's able to focus national attention on the war on terror, effectively, he's kept our attention, he's shifted our focus to overseas, effectively. You can argue whether it's the right proportion, but he's done so. He's galvanized the country around his personality and away from issues that you talk about. He hasn't focused on cancer, he hasn't focused on health. He hasn't focused on tax equity or any of the issues Democrats raise. Why can't you win the battle of public attention?
When Richardson hesitated before venturing an answer, Matthews suggested "you blame the media, fine."
RICHARDSON: No, no, no . . . I go to all the little living rooms in New Hampshire and Iowa. And you know what people say to me? They say they want somebody to inspire them. They want somebody that'll say: "hey, collectively we need to do things together as a country, instead of this individualism. You know the president has these wars that don't go through the budget, the tax cuts for people that don't want 'em. The American people want somebody that'll say to them, collectively we need to win these battles for universal health care, for eradicating cancer, for ending this war, for protecting pensions, for protecting the American people. The jobs that today are going overseas, the enormous strain on the American people, the middle class, simply to send their kids to college and deal with wages that haven't kept up with inflation. And so, I think there's a sense out there that if I'm elected president and I say we are going to spend this amount on cancer, and I'm gonna lead, and you have to do your part with healthier lifestyles, I think the American people will respond.
Now again, Matthews was short on time. But here was a candidate for president of the United States of America who had just offered an astonishing pitch for collectivism over individualism and made the breathtaking claim that Americans don't want tax cuts. And all Matthews did was offer a "thank you" and shake Richardson's hand.
In any case, remember Richardson's paean to collectivism if he comes under consideration for Veep and the MSM starts painting him as a "moderate" and a "centrist."