Chris Matthews Rips Obama's Handling of Egypt Crisis: 'I Feel Ashamed As an American'

MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews appeared on Morning Joe, Friday, to slam President Obama's handling of the escalating crisis in Egypt, saying it made him "ashamed as an American." Matthews, who famously declared Obama gave him a "thrill" up his leg, excoriated what he perceived to be the President's disloyalty to Egypt's leader, Hosni Mubarak.

The Hardball host berated, "And Barack Obama, as much I support him in many ways, there is a transitional quality to the guy that is chilling." He added, "I believe in relationships...You treat your friends a certain way. You're loyal to them."

Matthews has previously lauded the authoritarian Mubarak. Pointing out Mubarak's stand against Hezbollah and other extremist elements in the region, the anchor on January 31 wondered, "How can you say he'll easily be replaced? This guy's the George Washington of peace over there."

[See video below. Audio here.]

Deriding immediate calls for Mubarak to step down, Matthews lamented, "Character and planning...I feel shame about this. I feel ashamed as an American, the way we're doing this. I know [Mubarak] has to change. I know we're for democracy, but the way we've handled it is not the way a friend handles a matter."

Matthews even attacked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's performance: "I watched Secretary Clinton today. I don't get anything. I don't see anything other than two and two are four. I keep waiting for five. Show me you've done your jobs over there."

A transcript of his answer to Joe Scarborough's question, which aired at 8:22am EST, follows:


JOE SCARBOROUGH: Chris, a statement yesterday from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, real concern among Arab states, if this is how we treat our ally of 30 years and I know it's tough to bring these facts up to people who want to call for his immediate lynching, but if we treat an ally of 30 years this way, demanding that he leaves quote "now," Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, are other allies in the region start questioning America's character [sic]?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, I think that's the great word, Joe. It's character. Our national character. We do is have a character. And Americans think about ourselves as the good guys and being good friends and loyal. And these are values that mean a lot to us as people. You don't walk down the street and watch your friend get gunned down and not do anything about it. We're not Kitty Genovese here. We're not a situation in New York or something when somebody gets mugged and we watch it happen. Was he our friend for 30 years? Are we denying that? I remember, Joe, when he came to one of those afternoon events they had in the House Foreign Affairs committee back in 1981 after Sadat had been assassinated. And, of course, we Americans loved Sadat. There was a great emotion towards him because of what he had done for peace and his courage. And we just loved his dignity and his personality. And Along came Mubarak, this strong personality. We thought things might come apart over there and he held everything together. He was strong. I was with Tip O'Neil that day and I walked aback from that meeting with him and I said, "He's a strong guy." And we were just chatting about what an impressive figure he was and we've been with him for 30 years. And now we're saying, it's time for the gate. Well, we should have known this. My second point of view about this, it's friendship. He's 83 in May.

He's getting old. We should have prepared this 10, 20 years ago. In friendship, where was the State Department? Don't we have hundreds of people sitting over there in Foggy Bottom with no other job except to know what's going on in Egypt, with no other job, but to know the culture and politics in that country and to understand who the potential leaders and factions that might off set the Muslim Brotherhood? What are they doing? I watched Secretary Clinton today. I don't get anything. I don't see anything other than two and two are four. I keep waiting for five. Show me you've done your jobs over there.

And I just wish, in our friendship, we should have been smart and I think we don't have a plan B. I mean, the guy's almost 83. His plan was Gamal. I was talking to Secretary Powell while ago. I hope it wasn't off the record, because he said it rather clearly to me. I said, "What do you think of Mubarak?" He said, "He's like every other leader in the world there. All they think about is primogeniture." They want their oldest kid to be their successor, whether it's Gadaffi or Bashar Assad. They call themselves Baathist, monarchist, whatever, Islamists.

It all comes down to the same thing. They want their oldest kid to replace them. And what was the plan for transition for our friend? Did we ever talk to him about it? Did we talk about it, encourage him? That's my view. Character and planning. And I don't see- I feel shame about this. I feel ashamed as an American, the way we're doing this. I know he has to change. I know we're for democracy, but the way we've handled it is not the way a friend handles a matter. We're not handling as Americans should handle a matter like this. I don't feel right about it. And Barack Obama, as much I support him in many ways, there is a transitional quality to the guy that is chilling.

I believe in relationships. I think we all do. Relationship politics is what we were brought up with in this country. You treat your friends a certain way. You're loyal to them. And when they're wrong, you try to be with them. You try and stick with them. As the great old line was, "I don't need you when I'm right." You've got to help out people when they're in trouble and all I'm seeing is transaction. Who we going to get the next deal with? And, by the way, we don't have a plan for the next deal, so we're not even good at transactions, let alone relationships. What are we good at here? That's what I keep asking. What have we done as leaders and friends? Nothing except watch.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Wow!

— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org