As NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein reported, Sunday's "This Week" wasn't a good omen for Hillary Clinton or her supporters.
Fortunately, for those of us that enjoy Hillary bashing as much as a Gershwin tune (how 'bout you?), dessert was served on "The Chris Matthews Show" as panelists including Dan Rather, Norah O'Donnell, Katty Kay, and Andrew Sullivan gave conservatives an early Clinton kicking Christmas present to savor.
Is this still payback for Bill and Hillary chastising Tim Russert for his behavior during October's debate in Philadelphia? Maybe more important, have press members decided that if they continue to pile on the supposedly inevitable one, the Democrats' only chance in 2008 is if Mike Huckabee is the Republican nominee?
Before we get there, here are some marvelous examples of Hillary bashing from seemingly unlikely sources to brighten your day:
- Rather: I think [Barack Obama] will keep it going, but I still think John Edwards is the undervalued stock and could surprise.
- Matthews: It's clear that if you watch this campaign the last six or seven weeks that Hillary Clinton has gotten much more desperate than she was before that Philadelphia debate. She's been on the defensive, very ti, ti, ticklish about any attacks on her.
- O'Donnell: She's had a very difficult month no doubt. We've seen the polls not only nationally, but in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina all close where Obama is essentially running neck and neck with her in all of those early primary or caucus states. You can see that her confidence level has diminished.
- O'Donnell: In these final weeks of a campaign, sometimes the most important thing is momentum. Especially in Iowa you showed those polls. Voters make up their minds in the final weeks. The sense in the Hillary Clinton campaign, there are headlines like, "Is it Over," "Is She Stumbling," "Is There a Meltdown," it's out of control. They've got a national co-chair who's bringing up Barack Obama's past drug use. Does that suggest that there is turmoil in her campaign rather than, rather than it moving upward?
- Sullivan: She has no argument against Obama. That's what happened. That's why she's going negative. Substantially on all the policies, the only tiny thing she has that mandates universal healthcare. The rest is a wash. The Democrats have policy equivalence. So, they're looking for who is the leader. Who can change the country? Who can move us forward in a country where we're sick of the direction we're in? And Obama has all the arguments on that side. And then you have the competence issue, which Clinton has always used. And we look at her campaign, and you know what? She's not very competent. And she was running for coronation. When she couldn't be crowned, she had to fight for it, she lost it. And that's very indicative. You think she's going to hold up against Republicans when she can't beat Obama?
- O'Donnell: When polled, Americans view Hillary as running the most negative campaign thus far. So that already hurts her to some degree, especially in an election where voters for the most part favor change over experience. They want a change. They want an end to this nasty politics. They want an end to this stagnancy in Washington. So, that's why you've heard Bill Clinton out on the stump in Iowa now claiming that Hillary is the change candidate after months claiming that she is the one with experience to be President. That she is the one that'll be ready on day one.
Yet, maybe most telling about this segment was this following exchange:
Rather: But Obama helped himself a lot in this last debate when the attack came on Joe Biden about being, quote, racist.
Obama on tape: I will provide some testimony, as they say in church, that Joe is on the right side of the issues and is fighting every day for a better America.
Rather: He was high road, classy, I thought it was perhaps the biggest lick he struck in the whole campaign by handling it so...
Sullivan: Because he was in a healing mode. Obama was in a way, he took the position of being able to say I'm going to bring black and white people together and get past this.
Sullivan: And people really do want to get past division.
Matthews: It was a grand moment.
Sullivan: It was a beautiful moment. The other great moment was when she went after him and laughed at him over the fact her Clinton advisors were on his foreign policy team and she actually stepped away, and she said, "I'd love to see him answer that." And it was a very nasty moment, a desperate moment from her, and he came back, and he said, "I'm looking forward to having you advise me, Hillary." And the alpha-female ceded to the alpha-male in that moment.
Matthews: I love this cultural stuff. Let me ask you about this latest thing that was on the website, Obama put up, about an older woman, a white woman if it matters, saying how she was replacing her Hillary lawn sign with an Obama lawn sign because --
Sullivan: The nastiness. And you saw that in the focus groups after that debate, too. They don't like it and they can smell it. And, Obama was, I mean, I was one the people that was wrong about this. I was saying, "Obama, go for her, go for her." He didn't go for her several weeks ago, he kept his cool and she now lost it.
At the end of this segment, three of the panelists felt Obama would win Iowa, one gave it to Edwards, and nobody thought Hillary would take the state.
Yet, maybe less shocking was how this same panel was so enamored with Mike Huckabee, almost as if they agreed with what Drudge reported Tuesday concerning the former Arkansas governor being "easy kill in a general election":
- Sullivan: I think that Huckabee's major attraction is that he's one of us as they understand it. He is culturally and socially part of the Republican base, and none of the other candidates really are...It's less about the policy positions, I think, Chris. It's about his sensibility. This is a guy who graduated from Bible college. This is a guy who speaks the language and the idiom, the way that Bush spoke the idiom of the party that Bush and Rove have built.
- Kay: It's not just that he is like Bush and Rove, he also has this common touch I think which people like.
- Rather: The biggest thing Huckabee has going for him is his sense of humor which has been in extremely short supply through the campaign.
- Matthews: He seems to have won the authenticity fight with Romney.
- O'Donnell: Absolutely. And that is his appeal, his likeability factor.
These exchanges were especially fascinating given the context of one of the final segments of the show when Matthews asked who Democrats wanted to challenge for the White House in 2008, and the panel was split two-to-two between Huckabee and Romney.
As to who Republicans want to face, three felt Clinton, with one saying Edwards.
Deliciously, when Sullivan said, "She's the one person that can bring the Republican party back together again," Matthews asked him if she would get his vote. Sullivan responded: "Who, Hillary Clinton? Um, I can't vote but, um, no, ever, ever, ever!"
Strangely, the entire panel laughed at that, including Matthews.
What does this tell us?