On the Tuesday night edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked if Cheney would "see the light" and retire.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well Mike Wallace announced his retirement today, and Mike Wallace who I thought never would retire. If he retires, maybe Cheney's gonna see the light. What do think? No? No takers on that?
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: I'm not sure if Cheney would see it that way.
Give Dem strategist Hillary Rosen high marks for candor.
It's been obvious for ages that from Medicare to Social Security to foreign policy, the Dems don't have anything that comes close to a hint of a suggestion of an outline of a constructive proposal.
Just the same, Democrats deny that the only thing they have to offer is fear itself. They claim they're being constructive, and keep promising to come forth, at a date certain, with specific proposals. It's just that the date somehow manages never to arrive.
It was thus curiously refreshing to hear a Democrat admit what everyone knows: the Dems have no policy and see no reason to offer one. The particular context was the war in Iraq. Interviewing Rosen on this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews asserted: "I don't think your party [your party?] has a policy."
It's not exactly news to the GOP base that John McCain is not one of them. But it was perhaps noteworthy to hear Chris Matthews, ostensibly a McCain man [at least when it comes to his preference among Republican presidential hopefuls], acknowledge that fact on this evening's Hardball. He might also have raised eyebrows on the other side of the aisle by ripping Democrats for their weakness on illegal immigration.
Speaking of the issues that were stressed at this past weekend's Republican coffee klatsch in Memphis, Matthews stated "all I heard was . . . no gay marriage, immigration - lock it up, stop illegals - keep cutting taxes and keep appointing conservative justices."
If you put stock in the actual results of the Memphis GOP straw poll, you've got things . . . Oz backwards. At least, that's Chris Matthews' view.
In Dorothy's adventure, the Wizard cautioned us to "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." But this morning, Chris Matthews told us that the way to understand what happened in Memphis was to do just that - look behind the curtain at the Republican heavy-hitters lining up behind John McCain.
Interviewed by Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show, Matthews claimed:
"The big thing for McCain is the strength he showed not in the straw vote [where he finished at the bottom of the pack] but among powerful people. [Haley] Barbour, Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott and [J.C.] Watts all talked up McCain. I think McCain is building up strength."
Tonight's Hardball post-mortem special on the just-concluded Memphis straw poll of GOP presidential hopefuls was a treasure trove for political junkies.
One obvious conclusion: it was good night for Mitt Romney. As a northerner, someone from Massachusetts and a Mormon at that, finishing second in the South was a notable accomplishment.
But Chuck Todd of the Hotline suggested another headline:
"The biggest thing: we'll look back at this conference by saying this is when we found out that Haley became McCain's southern sherpa. He has made McCain bona fide. I think a Haley-McCain coupling from this weekend sends gigantic shock waves to Republicans."
For some time now, Chris Matthews has played the leitmotif of a "second-rate second term" at the White House. When on this evening's Hardball he invited Margaret Carlson to whack the Bush pinata, there were embarrassing consequences for the toothy ex-Time editor, now languishing at Bloomberg News.
Matthews tried his best to tee it up for Carlson:
"Margaret, I look at a pattern of events and they come out of people's mouths, conservatives, liberals, whatever: Katrina - competence question. That nomination for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, and now the ports issue. Is there a pattern of not being on base as we say in baseball, being caught off base by the President?"
The average American’s net wealth is the highest in history. More Americans own their home than ever in history. Unemployment is currently lower than the average of the previous three decades. The average weekly pay for non-supervisory production workers has increased by almost 16 percent in the past five years while inflation has risen by 13 percent. Yet, Chris Matthews stated on “Hardball” Tuesday evening that the current economy is only helping the people at the very top (video link to follow).
In a discussion with political analyst Charlie Cook, Matthews opined that one of the problems the Republicans are going to have in the upcoming midterm elections is the economy, and the public’s perception of it. In Matthews’ view, despite what the GDP is doing or what is being written about in financial papers, his “sense” is “that the money is going to the top.” Why is this? “Because of the tax breaks they got under Bush and because the way the economy is geared right now.”
Don't expect to see Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton dining tête à tête any time soon. On this evening's Hardball, he described her as "Dukakis in a dress."
The comment arose in the course of his interview of House Majority Leader John Boehner. The topic was McCain. Boehner, perhaps with a grain of reluctance, labelled McCain a "good guy." But Boehner cut Matthews short when he floated a scenario in which the GOP would turn to McCain as its candidate "if you see Hillary coming, if it looks like she's got up a head of steam."
Boehner: "Wait a minute. You know, if ifs and buts and were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. I don't think she can win."
President Bush arrived in Pakistan “like a drug dealer...under cover of night,” according to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. On Friday’s Hardball, Matthews highlighted the security measures taken to protect Bush as he arrived in the same country in which al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden may have found sanctuary, but he pivoted between suggesting the threat to Bush is quite real and language that suggested the President had skulked into Pakistan like a coward.
Would he have preferred Bush arriving in a bright red suit with a bulls-eye painted on his back?
Beginning the segment at about 5:25pm EST on Friday night, Matthews first asked MSNBC’s Hasan Zaidi to describe “the weird way in which our President had to enter your country, enter that country today.”
MSNBC versus NBC News. MSNBC's David Shuster, at the top of Thursday's Hardball, and NBC's Lisa Myers at the start of the NBC Nightly News, played the identical soundbites from Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center warning, on Sunday August 28, about his “grave concern” the levees in New Orleans could be “topped,” and a clip of President Bush four days later maintaining that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." But they used the soundbites to prove opposite assessments. Shuster contended that Mayfield's video “seems to contradict what President Bush said about Katrina” since Mayfield's warning “clearly” means that “the President's team did anticipate the breach.”
Lisa Myers, however, recognized the meaning of words and how water flowing over a levee, topping it, is not the same thing as a breaching, the collapse of a levee, which is what occurred. Myers explained: "Today Mayfield told NBC News that he warned only that the levees might be topped, not breached, and that on the many conference calls he monitored, 'nobody talked about the possibility of a levee breach or failure until after it happened.'” (Transcripts follow.)
There’s no getting around it. Chris Matthews hears what he wants to hear even when the facts are right in front of him.
After showing the video of President Bush being briefed by Max Mayfield saying: "I don’t think anybody can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that’s obviously a very, very grave concern," Matthews took that as evidence that Bush lied when he said no one anticipated the breach of the levees.
Here’s what Matthews said after running a clip of the video: "Okay. There we saw it and I want to repeat something that I just read and I want to repeat it to you because I read a few minutes ago.
Here’s the President four days after Hurricane Katrina, that’s four days, actually five days after that briefing. ‘I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees,’ that’s the President. Kate O’Beirne, square those two facts, the briefing we just saw on tape and the President saying he was never briefed as to the possibility of the water coming over from Lake Pontchartrain."
Is Chris Matthews rooting for civil war in Iraq? It's hard to interpret his words otherwise when, after asserting that officials in previous administrations and former President Bush had warned that going into Iraq would lead to civil war, Matthews observed:
"The problem is it took a little time for this to take shape."
"The problem," Chris?
Matthews' hoping for the worst was just the capper on the Bush-bashing fest he conducted with Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show. Those nature documentaries of vultures on the Serengeti plain have little on the way Matthews and Lauer went after President Bush's political bones.
Conservative author? Want to be invited on MSM shows and given deferential treatment? No problema! Just be willing to take serious shots at a Republican president. Case in point: on tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews rolled out the red-carpet for author Bruce Bartlett, who had worked in the Reagan and Bush, Sr. administrations. Title of Bartlett's book? "Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy". Bingo!
Matthews: "If you had to narrow it down to the biggest offense, as you see it, that Bush is not conservative, what is it?"
Bartlett: "Spending. Spending is just totally out of control. Bill Clinton was actually vastly better on the budget and there is simply no comparison between the two."
In recent days, Rush Limbaugh has called attention to the sharp-elbowed way in which the Democratic leadership forced former Marine major and Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett out of the race for U.S. senator from Ohio, installing Cong. Sherrod Brown in his place. On tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews offered an interesting theory: that Hackett's controversial statements, particularly his unsubstantiated allegations of past cocaine use by President Bush, became too hard for the Dem leadership to defend.
In a set-up piece, MSNBC's David Shuster reported that "Hackett's style began creating waves. On [a past edition of] Hardball, he stood by his allegation that President Bush was once a cocaine user." Shuster rolled tape of Hackett on an earlier Hardball stating that he took such allegations "at face value" and assumed they were "quite factual." In that same earlier Hardball, Matthews was shown grilling Hackett hard: "you know for a fact that Pres. Bush, the Commander-in-Chief, because you're running for the US Senate, was a cocaine user? You know that for a fact?"
It wasn't enough for Chris Matthews to analogize the Bush administration to a family of Mafia killers. He had to call President Bush "Fredo," the weak brother. Matthews' theory was that Bush was unable to control Cheney's handling of the shooting incident in a manner similar to which Fredo was unable to control his wife.
As he amply demonstrated at his press conference today, Harry Whittington is not on life support, but Matthews was working as feverishly as an EMS on a heart attack victim to keep the Cheney story alive. And in doing so, Matthews managed to be ungracious to perhaps the most gracious man in America, the very same Harry Whittington himself. Said a sneering Matthews:
"They dressed up Mr. Whittington rather well, with a lot of make-up, he looked great, I'm glad he's back, but he walked right back into the hospital again. What was that? "
Thirty-six minutes into tonight's Hardball, host Chris Matthews finally permitted a Cheney defender, former Cheney aide Ron Christie, to grace his program. Even then, Christie was denied an unobstructed opportunity to make his case, having to share the segment with hyper-partisan Dem consultant Bob Shrum - he of the record-breaking number of losing presidential campaigns - who tried to drag in everything from Iraq to Hurricane Katrina.
Until Christie's belated appearance, Hardball was an absolutely ceaseless cavalcade of criticism heaped on the Veep and his handling of the shooting incident that included:
clips of NBC reporter David Gregory haranguing Scott McClellan;
file footage of Gloria Borger supposedly tripping up Cheney over the Saddam/Al-Qaeda connection;
MSNBC reporter David Shuster's decidedly downbeat portrayal of events;
a grim assessment from Washington Post reporter Jim Vandehei;
a pessimistic view of Whittington's medical situation by former NIH director Bernadine Healy; and finally
a panel discussion with former Clinton Press Secretary Dede Myers and DC factotum David Gergen
The negative portrayal of the Vice-President and of the administration's handling of the matter was absolutely unrelenting.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews seriously asked on the 5pm EST edition of Tuesday’s Hardball, about media coverage of the Cheney hunting accident: “Has the press been playing this down?” Matthews exclaimed that he was “shocked” at how “this was bottom of the fold in the New York Times and the Washington Post yesterday.” He went on to claim: “I've talked to experts, they can't believe that the papers treated this as such a light issue.” Turning to guest Dee Dee Myers, Matthews contended: “I was kind of surprised, to put it lightly, to see that the major newspapers on the East coast had buried this story below the fold and it was only today that they brought it up above the fold." Matthews’ thesis was too ludicrous even for an astounded Myers, President Clinton’s one-time Press Secretary, who countered with common sense: "I don't think putting it on the front page is burying it, Chris, I think that was an appropriate placement for the story.” (Fuller transcript follows.)
Mondays are normally a target rich environment for television talk show hosts that, like most Americans, take weekends off. After all, they’ve got more days to cover than normal. And, given a major East Coast snowstorm, a Congressional report on how the three levels of government handled the Katrina disaster, two air marshals facing drug charges, Saddam returning to trial, Alabama church burnings, the United Nations calling for the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, clashes in Haiti, and Tehran threatening to abandon a nuclear treaty, you would think that there was a lot for any member of the press to really sink his/her teeth into today. Yet, for some reason, Chris Matthews decided to spend the better part of three quarters of Monday’s 7PM EST installment of “Hardball” discussing a quail hunting accident the vice president had this weekend.
Matthews began: “Questions, questions, questions. The vice president of the United States shoots someone in the face late Saturday afternoon. Why didn`t he tell us? Why did Cheney wait until today, Monday, to talk to the president?”
In reality, it seemed that Matthews was the one with questions, and was thoroughly annoyed that the vice president of the United States, after accidentally shooting a close friend while hunting, didn’t immediately call a press conference to alert the media. This indignation went so far that NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory and Matthews actually discussed whether or not the vice president was calling the shots, and, therefore, had too much power. From closed captioning:
Let the record show that it took the MSM less than a day to float the possibility that Dick Cheney intentionally shot Harry Whittington.
And who better to surmise that the Vice-President might have been trying to bump off his buddy than Ron Reagan, that primetime speaker at the Kerry convention who moonlights as an MSNBC "political analyst"?
Reagan appeared on tonight's Hardball with Chris Matthews, and in decrying the fact that the Secret Service apparently denied local law enforcement immediate access to Cheney, said the following:
"Law enforcement is entitled to investigate this case, to find out what happened, to find out if he had anything against Mr. Whittington, and to find out - again I don't mean to suggest anything - to find out if anyone had been drinking . . ."
On last night's Hardball Chris Matthews invited on Rep. Barney Frank to defend the wild claim Frank made during the Hurricane Katrina hearings: "We have to do more, because here’s what I have to say and I hate to have to have to say this about my own government. But I believe what we are seeing with regard to New Orleans and the surrounding area is a policy frankly of ethnic cleansing by inaction."
Tim Graham blogged about it here but a quick survey of MRC analysts reveals MSNBC's Hardball has been the only network show to touch on the remark. This is a far cry from the reaction Pat Robertson received for his controversial remarks especially when you consider the arguable relevance he still has at least compared to Frank's status as a current sitting member of Congress.
Hardball's screen graphic "Global Fury" presumably referred to the rioting over the Mohammed cartoons. But it might also have been a subliminally sardonic comment about Chris Matthews' guest, Amy Goodman, host of the far-left radio show "Democracy Now."
If Hillary is angry, perhaps she's taken lessons from Goodman. This is one angry woman. Goodman's explanation by way of a justification of the rioting?
"This is about people feeling marginalized. This has to do with the war in Iraq, this has to do with 'the Occupation' [translation: Israel's claim to a right to exist], this is about hundreds being held at Guantanamo with the Koran being desecrated."
On Tuesday's Hardball, the discussion turned to Jimmy Carter's remarks at the funeral of Coretta Scott King. The former president had brought up wiretapping. Host Chris Matthews observed: "Of course that‘s hot because J. Edgar Hoover was wiretapping Dr. King and feeding all the dirty to LBJ, you know?"
The former FBI chief had indeed wiretapped the late civil rights leader, but not on his own authority and initially not for President Lyndon Johnson. King biographer David Garrow wrote in a 2002 Atlantic Monthly article:
"On October 10, 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert
F. Kennedy committed what is widely viewed as one of the most
ignominious acts in modern American history: he authorized the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to begin wiretapping the telephones of the
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Kennedy believed that one of King's
closest advisers was a top-level member of the American Communist
Party, and that King had repeatedly misled Administration officials
about his ongoing close ties with the man."
I’m having a hard time understanding Chris Matthews lately. On the one hand, in the past couple of months, his Sunday program has been by far the most balanced of the broadcast network political talk shows save “The McLaughlin Group.” Yet, something odd happens when he steps on the soundstage of MSNBC to host “Hardball” – his ultra-left, San Francisco Chronicle columnist side emerges…and then some.
Tuesday’s installment was a perfect example. In fact, Matthews’ San Francisco liberal side came out so strongly that he should be ashamed of his performance. First, he spent much of the hour gushing over former president Bill Clinton’s “passing of the torch” to his wife at Coretta Scott King’s funeral. Then, he actually compared bloggers to Danish cartoonists. Finally, during a discussion concerning King’s funeral, he didn’t have the spine to suggest to his guests what likely the majority of Americans are thinking: A funeral is not the right forum for a former American president to be condemning the policies of the current president, especially in his presence.
There's been speculation today that Democrats and their MSM allies would turn on erstwhile hero John McCain in the wake of his breathtakingly critical letter to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama - whom we are legally required to refer to as "a rising star of the Democratic party."
But at least one MSMer with impeccable Dem credentials - Chris Matthews - was reveling in the cat fight this evening.
Obama and McCain apparently had a gentlemen's agreement that they would cooperate in a bi-partisan way on a lobbying reform bill. But it seems that Obama back-tracked, withdrew from the agreement, and came out in support of Dem leader Harry Reid's highly partisan proposal.
McCain unloaded on Obama with a letter he made public containing, among others, these jabs:
On last night's (Monday's) Hardball NBC's Andrea Mitchell portrayed Hillary Clinton as a centrist in defense of Ken Mehlman's charges of Hillary Clinton being too angry. Hardball host Chris Matthews postulated that Republicans were playing the gender card in portraying Hillary Clinton as emotional. Mitchell said that it wasn't necessarily a gender-based attack but agreed that the it was an attempt to "demonize her," and "try to make her seem more extreme than I think she really is."
Mitchell also used the terminology of the far-left in referring to pro-life Democratic Senate candidate Bob Casey as "anti-choice."
The following is the complete exchange between Matthews and Mitchell:
Picking up on President Bush’s assurance, in his Tuesday night State of the Union address, that military decisions in Iraq will be made by military leaders, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough rejected the notion of any such military independence, but during ABC’s coverage, when Charles Gibson similarly questioned if the military will be able to determine troop levels, retired General Jack Keane, Vice Chief of Staff of U.S. Army from 1999-2003, maintained that the feared political pressure is an illusion. Matthews asserted that the Generals in Iraq were not “really given the freedom to say how many troops they needed because when Shinseki said this is going to take a couple of hundred thousand troops, not a hundred thousand troops, he was cashiered. So this idea that these guys are free to think out loud, I thought, has been yet to be proven." Scarborough echoed: “They parrot, for the most part, the Generals and the Admirals, 99 percent of them parrot” the Pentagon. Keane contended on ABC that the idea that “the military commanders are under some kind of pressure from the administration” is false and military commanders will “call the shots as they see them.” (Transcripts follow.)
President Bush didn’t play for with Democrats in 2002, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews complained to Senator John McCain just before 11pm EST Tuesday night. Raising how in his State of the Union address Bush had made an “appeal for comity, for civility,” Matthews charged when Bush wanted authorization for military action against Iraq, “he jammed that vote right up against the election of 2002. That wasn't a very civil thing to do, to force the Democrats to vote right before an election to give him basically full authorization to do what he wanted to do, but wouldn't say what it was. Was that a civil move?" McCain rejected Matthews’ premise and reminded Matthews of how “we had taken a vote during the Clinton administration that had called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.” Matthews countered: "But that was by democratic means, not by war." (Transcript of the exchange follows.)
At the conclusion of his interview with Senator George Allen, Hardball host Chris Matthews issued a preview for the upcoming segment after a commercial break. The next segment would cover the meaning of the alleged photographs of President Bush pictured with Jack Abramoff. Matthews said that President Bush is "horny for those pictures".
MATTHEWS: Up next, will we ever see those pictures of Jack Abramoff and The President. We're all looking for them, the President is horny for those pictures, you're watching Hardball on MSNBC.
Host Chris Matthews interviewed White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, on Hardball last night. Strayhorn is running for Governor of Texas as an Independent. She is the current Comptroller of Texas and held the position as a Republican for over twenty years. She recently made the switch to an independent because she wanted to get rid of "partisan politics". Matthews, however, took her party change as a sign of anger with the Republican Party because it is "corrupt". Matthews brought up the subject of her party change many times during the interview and repeatedly tried to get her to say she left the party because of corruption, as if she had an ulterior motive. At one point in the interview he tried to link current Governor, Rick Perry (R) with Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay.
The interview included questions like “Did you leave the Republican party because of Rick Perry?”, “Are you a conservative”, and “Do you feel that Republicans have left their fiscal conservative roots”.