Andrew Sullivan Shocks Chris Matthews: Palin Can Beat Obama as the 'Principled' Tea Party Candidate

Andrew Sullivan this weekend seemed to shock Chris Matthews when he said that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin could actually beat President Obama in next year's elections running as the "principled candidate" representing "this grassroots movement of cutting government down to size."

Maybe even more surprising, Time's Joe Klein seemed to agree telling the host of "The Chris Matthews Show," "You were around in ’79 and ’80 as I was. Did you see many people in the Carter administration think that Ronald Reagan could beat Jimmy Carter?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Does anybody here really, does anybody imagine Sarah Palin being elected President of the United States?

ANDREW SULLIVAN, DAILY BEAST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: You can.

SULLIVAN: Yes, because…

[LAUGHTER]

GLORIA BORGER, CNN: Uh oh, here it comes.

SULLIVAN: …not because of her apparent virtues, not because of Obama’s weakness, but because of unforeseen events. I do think that if for example we have a collapse in the markets because of a debt ceiling crisis, if we have a second recession…

MATTHEWS: You’re talking Armageddon.

SULLIVAN: If we have another terrorist attack…

BORGER: Sorry.

SULLIVAN: No, I’m just saying we shouldn’t rule out things.

MATTHEWS: Okay, okay, let’s go…

JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: You were around, you were around in ’79 and ’80 as I was. Did you see many people in the Carter administration think that Ronald Reagan could beat Jimmy Carter?

MATTHEWS: Okay, let’s imagine that short of an Armageddon moment like the capture of 80 hostages and the humiliation of the United States for year-long and inflation and unemployment like Carter had.

Well, we’ve got the soaring gas and food prices as well as the unemployment. Apparently Obama gives Matthews too much of a thrill up his leg to notice.

Regardless, a few minutes later, the discussion came back to Palin:

MATTHEWS: Okay, let’s go to Palin. Lot of fun here. Palin, you love Palin. In some strange way you’re fascinated by her, Andrew.

SULLIVAN: As I said on the show many times, she started running the day after the 2008 election ended, and there’s no reason to believe she isn’t running.

MATTHEWS: Did she take a smart break the last three or four months so that the Newts and the Trumps make fools of themselves more or less?

SULLIVAN: Her position has been formerly if no one else will represent this grassroots movement of cutting government down to size and standing up for America abroad, then I will have to go in.

MATTHEWS. Anger. She’ll be the anger candidate.

SULLIVAN: Not just the angry candidate. She’ll be the principled candidate against what she will describe as the free…

MATTHEWS: Are you getting her into this race? Are you escorting her into this race?

SULLIVAN: No, no, no, no, no. I’m too terrified for the country to do such a thing. But I don’t, I do think Washington has misread her, underestimated her, and doesn’t see the…

MATTHEWS: Okay, can Palin and Bachmann run both on the right?

KLEIN: Sure they can both run, but I don’t know that either of them can win. But one thing you have to say about Palin: she doesn’t know anything about policy, but she’s got skills. She knows how to be a standup politician.

MATTHEWS: I agree. Great on the stage.

KLEIN: Yeah.

BORGER: But I believe in the end she’s so relentlessly negative that the, the American people don’t like relentlessly negative politicians. Look at Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was optimistic, positive…

SULLIVAN: But “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” is the most – I know it’s completely phony – but it’s very optimistic. This whole “Triumph of the Will” movie she’s putting out there, two hours of total upbeat, optimistic stuff. She, she knows this, and she’s going to work around it.

It is indeed fascinating that any media discussion of Republican presidential candidates always goes back to Palin.

Is it because the press really want her to run to make the race more interesting, or much like Sullivan they secretly fear she could be the one to beat the president they love so much?

*****Update: Sullivan once again made a Nazi reference to Palin by calling her upcoming documentary "Triumph of the Will."

As NewsBusters reported Friday, Sullivan first did this at his Daily Beast blog substituting the title of a 1934 Nazi propaganda film for Palin's "The Undefeated" (H/T Right Scoop).

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.