No November Surprise: Matthews Says Saddam Verdict Helps Dems

Here's an antidote from an unlikely corner for all the Dem outrage at the 'November surprise' of the Saddam verdict.  On this morning's 'Today,' none other than Chris Matthews just pronounced his considered opinion that the verdict actually helps . . . the Democrats.

According to Matthews, given the unpopularity of the war, anything that draws attention to Iraq hurts Republicans.  Apparently that even extends to a good-news story such as the Saddam verdict.  Opined Matthews to host Lester Holt:

"One general rule would be anything that brings attention to Iraq is bad for the Republicans. I think Iraq's become a four-letter word for the voter. And this trial and condemnation of Saddam Hussein is probably going to remind us of Iraq again. It's probably going to help the Democrats to some extent."

More predicatable was the analysis over at CNN, where a skeptical Susan Roesgen asked Suzanne Malveaux:

"What about critics, especially in Iraq, even Saddam Hussein's chief lawyer, who say the verdict was timed to come out just before the election to help the GOP?"

Well, if Saddam's lawyer said it, that should surely be good enough for CNN!

Roesgen continued her effort to rain on the Saddam-verdict parade in a subsequent interview of international criminal law expert Prof. Michael Scharf of Case Western law school. Asked the cynical CNN host:

"Does this turn [Saddam] into a martyr for the Iraqi people more than a monster?" 

Oh yeah - huge martyr to all those Shias and Kurds whose relatives he slaughtered.

And later: "In some ways this trial has been a sideshow compared to the ongoing bloodshed in the streets of Iraq. Does this verdict really matter?"

Translation: let's get off this positive development and back to the IEDs!

To his credit, Prof. Scharf, who has written a book about the trial, gave a balanced view of events, noting the trial has served as a model of due process in contrast with the courts under Saddam. If Iraq can stay together as a country, the trial will be seen as a key point in bringing back the rule of law, opined the professor.

Let's hope the good professor himself will be be brought back by CNN despite his refusal to take direction from Roesgen's gloom-'n-doom script.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.