Dittoheads, you've been dissed. Chris Matthews has dismissed you as "manipulable"— mind-numbed robots, you might say. CNBC's John Harwood seconded the snub. It happened on this evening's Hardball as Matthews mused about the potential impact of Operation Chaos on the upcoming primaries.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: How much of a move do you hear, John Harwood, the so-called Operation Chaos is going to play next Tuesday in Indianapolis [sic], the effort by Rush Limbaugh, the lovable Rush Limbaugh, I must say, to encourage Republicans, registered Republicans, to go vote for Hillary just to cause chaos and perhaps get her the nomination? How big a role will that be?
JOHN HARWOOD: My suspicion, Chris, is that's a lot more talk than action. I think there aren't that many voters who can be manipulated in that way to go make trouble in a primary election. And one of the things that's striking--
MATTHEWS: Butwhen you call yourself a "dittohead," it seems to me you've already defined yourself as someone who is, uh, let's put it this way—manipulable.
Chris Matthews invited on former President Jimmy Carter on Tuesday’s "Hardball," and not surprisingly tossed softballs at his former boss and prompted him to weigh-in on Jeremiah Wright as he asked: "Do you think his pastor will be used by people on the right to play the racial card?"
The following exchange occurred on the April 29 edition of MSNBC’s "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think his pastor will be used by people on the right to play the racial card?
JIMMY CARTER: I don't have any doubt. They'll use everything they can by the racial card. That's what the Republicans have done, at least in the South, ever since 1964 when Lyndon Johnson ran against, against Barry Goldwater. And my mother was Lyndon Johnson's campaign, campaign leader in Sumter county. So yeah I think they will use everything they can against Obama if he gets the nomination.
One small step for David Axelrod, one giant leap for Barack Obama away from Jeremiah Wright . . .
When chief Obama strategist Axelrod appeared at the end of this evening's Hardball, I expected him to dodge the current Rev. Wright controversy with some bromide about the reverend's right to express his opinions. But—in evidence of just how badly Wright's current comments are hurting Obama—Axelrod surprised me by acknowledging that he wished Wright hadn't piped up and suggesting that the good reverend's out for Numero Uno. Axelrod did manage to work in a blame-the-media angle.
View video here. [Note: Axelrod comments come after Matthews takes shot at Bill Kristol.]
You're a member of the MSM and a Barack Obama backer. But I repeat myself. More specifically, you're Chris Matthews. What better way to promote your guy's candidacy than to claim that Republicans would really rather run against Hillary?
That's just what the Hardball host did on this afternoon's show. Here's his exchange with the–in my opinion–very impressive Republican strategist Todd Harris, who worked for McCain in 2000, and with Dem strategist Michael Feldman.
In Chris Matthews's mind, a bigot is someone who's "culturally conservative" on race. Matthews equated the two on this evening's Hardball in attempting to explain exit polling from yesterday's PA primary showing that 38% of white Catholic Democrats wouldn't vote for Obama in the general election.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, somebody who doesn't like that group of voters might call them Archie Bunkers. I'll call them Reagan Democrats, John [Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News], they're Reagan Democrats: people who are culturally conservative, maybe a little culturally conservative on the racial front, on the ethnic front. They like to think of themselves as Democrats on the economic issues, but when it comes to the squeeze, on some of these cultural issues--didn't this all come up earlier about three weeks ago in San Francisco, this conversation.
On Wednesday night's "Hardball," Chris Matthews thought he saw racism in two ads targeted against Barack Obama, but when his media panel full of liberal journalists disagreed he back-pedaled a bit.
First up Matthews ran a clip of what he called a "nasty," ad by the North Carolina Republican Party. The Politico's Roger Simon agreed with Matthews that it was "nasty" but said, he wasn’t sure it was "unfair."
Then Matthews ran an ad hitting Obama for opposing the death penalty in Chicago for gang members and claimed:
"It's a giant permission slip to somebody who doesn't want to vote for him to begin with. And it’s also a permission slip for the Republican Party to use him as a target throughout the general election."
However Simon disagreed with Matthews’ implication that it had a racial tinge as he pointed out:
Update 7:50 PM: Chris Proclaims Polls Closed 1/2 Hour Early! See foot.
The problem with Chris Matthews playing footsie with the idea of running for US Senator from Pennsylvania: when he says something nowadays, how can you tell whether he means it, or is just trying to position himself for a possible run?
Take this evening's Hardball, during which Matthews castigated Joe Lieberman as having been a "terrible" running-mate for Al Gore in 2000. Kiki McLean, a senior Clinton advisor, was Chris's guest. McLean mentioned that she had been an aide to Lieberman in 2000, and to Gore when he was the Veep candidate [1992?]. That set Matthews off.
During Morning Joe's opening segment today, Joe Scarborough, in an apparent allusion to the ambitions Chris Matthews has expressed, facetiously wondered whether the panel should start calling the Hardball host "Senator."
But just a bit later, Scarborough seized on a question Matthews posed to John McCain yesterday to illustrate a classic bit of MSM bias: the way the liberal media only speak of a "litmus test" when it comes to Republicans choosing pro-life nominees, never in regard to Dems picking pro-choicers.
Stephen Colbert called it "an announcement." Chris Matthews went on the Comedy Central show last night and, responding to the host's importuning to declare his candidacy for US Senator from Pennsylvania, ultimately stated: "I want to be a senator."
Over on MSNBC, Morning Joe played a clip of their colleague's appearance, then chewed it over.
STEPHEN COLBERT: There's a lot of talk that you might be running for Arlen Specter's seat.
Not that it comes as a surprise, but should Chris Matthews reveal his pro-Obama rooting interest as blatantly as he did today?
On this evening's Hardball, the man who gets a thrill from Barack expressed "concern" that Hillary might have a stronger-than-expected finish in the Pennsylvania Dem primary. Matthews was reading the tea leaves with two Keystone State pros: Dick Polman of the Philadelphia Inquirer and veteran journalist Larry Kane. After Kane reported that the Obama people are more optimistic than they're letting on, and believe it's going to be a "close finish," Matthews let his Obama slip show in this exchange with Polman.
A week ago I was mystified when Chris Matthews went out of his way to butter up Ed Rendell when the Dem Pennsylvania governor appeared on Hardball, and described the schmoozing here. Now, call it mystery likely solved. According to one account, Matthews has approached Rendell for help in a possible 2010 U.S. Senate run. That seems an ever-more-likely scenario, given Matthews's decidely non-Shermanesque response to a suggestion that he's well-positioned to make a run against Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) in 2010.
The "Hardball" host's intriguing comments came in response to Philly-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish who speculated on Wednesday's show about the possibility of a Matthews Senate campaign.
Unexpectedly, the former Tip O'Neill aide declined to tamp down the rumor:
On Wednesday's "Hardball" Chris Matthews repeated his charge that neo-cons believe in enforcing human rights only at the "point of gun." During a discussion on protests following the Olympic torch's path to China, "The Financial Times'," Chrystia Freeland pointed out that "neo-cons" as well as liberals, believed in spreading human rights to which Matthews interjected: "Yeah but at the point of a gun!"
The following exchange occurred on the April 9 edition of "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, is this a bit of an elitist issue Chrystia? In other words, college students, people who are perhaps more interested in international events than it is a trade issue?
For those interested in a political giggle this fine Saturday, I recommend a cute sketch done by Comedy Central's Jon Stewart Thursday evening (embedded right).
First, Stewart lampooned Chris Wallace for placing a "24"-style ticker on the screen to illustrate how long it's been since the host of "Fox News Sunday" challenged Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama to come on his program.
Next, Stewart went after "Hardball's" Chris Matthews for his shameless cheerleading for Obama.
Yet, in the end, Obama had the last laugh, deliciously at Matthews' expense (viewers are cautioned about mild vulgarity in the clip):
Like characters in a Currier & Ives scene, a gentle snow has covered the Clintons. Make that a gentle Snow . . .
On yesterday's Hardball, Chris Matthews, smelling a rat, was livid when he learned that the Clintons had failed to file or release their 2007 tax return. But on today's Good Morning America, Kate Snow managed to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear of the Clinton's delay. Far from depicting it as a means to evade the promulgation of inconvenient facts, Snow painted the procrastination as proof of the Clintons' humanity. Compare and contrast . . .
HARDBALL APRIL 4TH
DAVID SHUSTER: As far as the details we do not have the details from last year. We don't have those specific consulting fees for last year.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I was predicting [that] . . . now Joan [Walsh of Salon.com], it seems to me everybody wanted to know where the Clintons got their income. Is there any sticky income? We're not getting that information. The one thing we were promised to get.
Chris Matthews got Barack Obama one-on-one on Wednesday night as part of "Hardball's College Tour," but didn't admit to getting a "thrill" up his leg from the Illinois senator's appearance. However, Matthews did ask Obama questions mostly from the left, like if he was "tough enough to take the heat," from "right wing radio," and warned him the "Republicans will bring [Jeremiah Wright] back."
On the lighter side, Obama didn't directly address Matthews about his leg tingles but did seem to make an allusion to it in the following exchange:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about, at any time in this campaign, did you have a chuckle that you just couldn't get rid of? Something weird that happened, that was so crazy that you just went to bed laughing about?
OBAMA: Oh I think that, that happens about once a day. You know? But then I stopped watching cable news.
MATTHEWS: I got another set of cards in the back room.
The following questions from Matthews to Obama occurred on the April 2 edition of "Hardball":
Ed Rendell is too truthful to be a good vice-presidential candidate. Just ask him. The Pennsylvania governor and Hillary supporter was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball. Wrapping up the interview, host Chris Matthews broached his availability as Veep.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think the Democrats have a shot at carrying Florida on the best of conditions this year?
ED RENDELL: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Particularly when the issues about Social Security are fashioned. I think this is going to be the best chance we've had to carry Florida since 2000.
MATTHEWS: I think Hillary has a better chance than Barack in Florida.
RENDELL: No question.
MATTHEWS: But I think Barack has a better chance if you're his running mate. Would you be available, Governor, to be a running-mate with Barack Obama--
He calls it Hardball, but again tonight Chris Matthews showed he's a softy when it comes to Barack Obama. Chris was crestfallen when NBC News political director Chuck Todd laid out the case, chapter and verse, that political payback, even revenge, explained Sen. Bob Casey's endorsement of Obama as much or more than the "spiritual" reasons Chris so wanted to believe in.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Chuck, I didn’t expect this guy. He’s a very cautious U.S. senator in his first year, his first term, and what did he do? Almost a spiritual announcement he made today: I’ve got to be for Barack.
"After me, the deluge" (après moi, le déluge) -- popularly attributed to Louis XV
Look for Chris Matthews to start calling her "Louie." The Hardball host was as roiled as Robespierre today at Hillary Clinton's threat to take the Dem party down in a convention credentials fight over the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates.
In the course of an interview with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News yesterday, Clinton made clear her intention to take things to a floor fight if necessary, and went so far as to preemptively undermine Barack Obama's legitimacy as a candidate if he doesn't go along with her proposal to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. That set Matthews off, though it was panelist Tucker Carlson who supplied the most colorful language, describing Hillary as a "kamikaze" who is "ready to wreck the party."
Hardball had some fun this evening at Hillary's expense over the mystery of The Sniper Who Didn't Fire. Credit Politico's Roger Simon with the most devastating remark.
Hillary's heroic claim has been that "we used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady." Simon said what in retrospect might be obvious but something I hadn't previously heard anyone else observe.
ROGER SIMON: She says I was there because it was too dangerous for the President. It was too dangerous--so he sent his wife and only child? It makes no sense.
The Big Three Networks and Their Plan to Protect Obama (PPO)Why did it take until Thursday March 13, 2008, for the nation to begin to learn about Barack Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright? The man whose Trinity United Church of Christ Obama has attended and generously funded for seventeen years? Whom he had publicly and repeatedly cited as his mentor and had named as a campaign advisor? Whom he chose to perform his wedding and baptize his two daughters?
Because, until then, we were in the midst of Phase I -- preventative medicine -- of the media's version of campaign health care for the Senator's Presidential bid. Call it the Plan to Protect Obama (PPO).
The Reverend Wright story had been percolating beneath the surface for several years. It finally broke through to widespread dissemination last week. A picture is worth a thousand words -- moving pictures with audio of Wright's anti-American, paranoid rantings from the pulpit have finally inspired many more than that.
Somebody better break it to the New York Times: they might still be the paper of record in their own minds, but to the rest of the world they're just one more dead-tree joint struggling for attention.
The Old Grey Lady's unjustified conceit was on display during this afternoon's Hardball, when one of its columnists was aghast that Chris Matthews had had the audacity not to have read her oeuvre.
Deborah Solomon, who has a weekly column in the NYT Sunday magazine, had interviewed the Rev. John Hagee, a minister who has endorsed McCain and has made a number of controversial statements. I'd mention in passing that while Hagee's critics have accused him of anti-Semitism, he has in fact received numerous awards from Jewish groups for his steadfast support of Israel.
Reciting three quotes highlighted Tuesday night on NewsBusters (and the MRC's Wednesday CyberAlert), plus one from CNN's Campbell Brown which we missed, FNC's Brit Hume led his “Grapevine” segment Wednesday night by illustrating how “Barack Obama's speech on race yesterday played to rave reviews in much of the national media.” Hume recounted:
On NBC, the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart said the address was, quote, "a very important gift the Senator has given the country." NBC's own Chris Matthews said it was, quote, "worthy of Abraham Lincoln" and quote "the best speech ever given on race in this country." ABC's George Stephanopoulos said Obama's refusal to renounce his highly controversial pastor was, quote, "in many ways an act of honor." And on CNN, Campbell Brown called the speech "striking" and "daring," asserting that Obama had, quote, "walked the listener through a remarkable exploration of race from both sides of the color divide, from both sides of himself."
On Tuesday night's "Hardball", Chris Matthews praised the current Democratic frontrunner's speech on race as "Worthy of Abraham Lincoln," and also claimed it bypassed Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" address as the "best speech ever given on race in this country." Of Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia today, Matthews went on to declare: "I think this is the kind of speech I think first graders should see, people in the last year of college should see before they go out in the world. This should be, to me, an American tract."
The following comments from Matthews on Obama's speech occurred on the March 18 edition of MSNBC's "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS OPENING THE SHOW: A divide as American as the Grand Canyon, a speech worthy of Abraham Lincoln. Let's play Hardball!
On Thursday night’s "Hardball," Chris Matthews compared Barack Obama's writing abilities to those of the great American writer Mark Twain. Prompted by Philadelphia radio talk show host Michael Smerconish’s praise of Obama's first book "Dreams From My Father," the "Hardball" host effused: "It's almost like Mark Twain. It's so American, it's so textured."
The following exchange occurred on the March 13 edition of MSNBC’s "Hardball:"
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that this argument that he's an empty suit is gonna get tested and proven false. I just finished and have spent all week long, reading to my radio audience excerpts of "Dreams From My Father," Barack Obama's first book. And I'm telling your audience on "Hardball," if you want to know what makes this guy tick forget the grandiose, highfalutin speeches this is the real deal.
On Tuesday's Hardball, MSNBC host Chris Matthews voiced agreement with New York Times columnist Orlando Patterson, a Harvard sociology professor, as he read a passage from Patterson's latest column during which the Harvard professor declared that, in watching Hillary Clinton's recent campaign ad questioning Barack Obama's qualifications for handling a 3:00 a.m. emergency, he "couldn't help but think of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, the racist movie epic that helped revive the Klu Klux Klan with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society." Declaring that the ad reminded him more of "a 911 call than 9/11" with "a mother protecting her kids from a prowler outside," Matthews declared such an ad "would be racist." (Transcript follows)
Obama still has his fans in the MSM, or Hillary her detractors . . .
Appearing on this afternoon's Hardball, the seemingly mild-mannered Evan Thomas of Newsweek took a surprisingly tough shot at Clinton, disputing the very premise of her now-famous "it's 3 AM" ad. Discussing Hillary's comeback, Evans offered his blunt assessment with no real prompting.
EVAN THOMAS: What I don't get about this ad, the whole idea about 3 AM is you want coolness and detachment, right? She's not cool and detached. She's either really hot and angry, or she's icy cold and tough. But I don't think of her as cool. I think of Obama as being the cool, detached guy. Now maybe he doesn't have the experience, but I think if you peel this onion, there's something about it that just doesn't make sense to me. She doesn't strike me as the person who's the cool, detached, steady person at the other end of the phone.
Like an offensive-line blocking for their quarterback Chris Matthews and the rest of Wednesday night's "Hardball" panel game-planned to protect Barack Obama from what they saw as the coming "vicious" and "nasty" attacks from Republican sack artists in the fall.
On Wednesday night's "Hardball" Matthews, along with NBC's Norah O'Donnell and Newsweek's Howard Fineman continued to gripe about conservative talk show host Bill Cunningham's emphasis of Barack Obama's middle name of Hussein as Matthews worried: "Is this gonna be a vicious, almost ethnic fight, going after the guy because of his heritage, his name and saying, He's gonna sell us out.’ Is that what's coming?"
In the course of offering a tribute to William F. Buckley, Jr. on this afternoon's Hardball, Chris Matthews made a surprising revelation: that he came to political consciousness as a WFB conservative.
You'll find the transcript of the Hardball host's remarks below, but I'd encourage you to view the video, here. See if, like me, you're struck by the heartfelt nature of his comments.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: If you want to influence someone, get to him or her in high school. It's my experience that people at that age are the most impressionable, the most searching for guidance, for example, for purposes. It was in high school that I came under the charm and the influence of William F. Buckley, Jr., the dashing, charismatic young conservative who wrote God and Man at Yale, McCarthy and His Enemies, and founded the wistful, precocious, companionable monthly, National Review. As a high schooler, I could tell you which drugstore got National Review first. I went to hear Bill Buckley at a meeting of the Montgomery County Young Republicans. It was from National Review that I gained my early affection and appetite for political philosophy and argument.
On Tuesday night's "Hardball", Chris Matthews took offense to radio talk show host Bill Cunningham's criticism of Barack Obama, during a John McCain rally, as he called the comments "rotten business" and wondered "Is this now gonna creep into the debate, the discussion? This ethnic stuff and whatever?"
The following exchange occurred on the February 26 edition of "Hardball:"
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well let's take a look at, we had some really rotten business today. Here's radio talk show host Bill Cunningham at a John McCain rally today.
The airwaves have been filled today with the clip of an angry Hillary saying "shame on you, Barack Obama," and another of Clinton mocking the notion that, to believe Barack, "celestial choirs will be singing."
But on this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews unearthed yet another clip of Hillary at her harshest. And after playing it, a butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth Matthews ripped the Clinton campaign strategy. Words won't do justice to Clinton's fingernails-on-blackboard tone, but here's what a raspy-voiced Hillary said in the video Matthews played.
HILLARY CLINTON: Quit misleading people about what I do. [Ed.: shades of Bob Dole's unsuccessful line to George H.W in 1988: "stop lying about my record.'] Quit telling people what is not true about my plan. You know, come on: enough is enough! Let's get real here, and compare exactly what both of us stand for!