Chris Matthews to John Edwards: Are You Scared By Bush's 'Messianic Nuttiness?'

After a prolonged absence for health reasons Chris Matthews returned to the airwaves last night and as if making up for lost time quickly returned to bashing Bush over Iraq. As part of Hardball's College Tour, Matthews brought former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to join in the bashing and within the first few minutes of the show asked Edwards if Bush going to Iraq "was a daddy thing," and if he thought it was "scary" that "a President of the United States of limited ability," was able to create a "firestorm of almost messianic nuttiness." 

Then a little later on Matthews asked Edwards "why do you think we're still hated around the world?" and worried that 9/11 had "screwed up our value system about humility in the world." 

The following exchanges occured on the December 12 Hardball, as Matthews, as part of an ongoing college tour, brought Edwards to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Chris Matthews: "What's the lesson over there? Did we, did we, I know you've been very direct about this saying it, you, among, among a lot of senators in both parties supported this war, it was a mistake..."

John Edwards: "I said I was wrong. I said I was wrong."

Matthews: "You said something very interesting in that article. In the lead, you said there was a political agenda here. It wasn't just WMD. What was that? What was the President up to here with going to war in Iraq?"

Edwards: "It's impossible for me to know. I think he had an agenda against Saddam Hussein from the moment he stepped into office."

Matthews: "Was it a daddy thing?"

Edwards: "Could be. I think, I can`t get inside his mind, but it`s possible."

Matthews: "He never told us that."

Edwards: "No, of course he didn't tell us. No, he said this was all about the war on terrorism, central to the war on terrorism. He took a place that was not central to the war on terrorism and turned it, made it central to the war on terrorism."

Matthews: "You're a student of American life. You`re very in active in politics, very successful. Do you think that it`s scary that a president of the United States of limited ability was able to take this country and create a firestorm of almost messianic nuttiness about the fact of the French are no good, we`re going to have freedom fries. The Dixie Chicks are no good. He created a national attitude of you have to be for me, or you`re bad. Did that scare you a little?"

Edwards: "I think, I think the lesson is there`s a depth, a maturity, an experience, the ability to exercise good judgment that`s required of the President of the United States that ought to be on the forefront of any decision that a voter makes in 2008."

In the next segment Matthews continued to pitch his hardly, hardballs to Edwards:

Matthews: "And why do you think we're still hated around the world?"

Edwards: "Why do I think America's still hated?"

Matthews: "Yeah. We are."

Edwards: "Because I think that over the last six years, the Bush administration has shown a fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to lead. I think to lead you have to have more than power. You need power."

Matthews: "Right."

Edwards: "You need to be strong militarily, economically, et cetera. But I think you also have to show that you have the moral authority to lead. Countries have to naturally want to come to you. In order for that to be true, you have to sometimes act in things that are outside your own strategic self-interest, things like the genocide in Sudan."

Matthews: "When President Bush ran for office, he said something that grabbed me. He said, 'I think we need to be a little more humble in our foreign policy. Do you think 9/11, as horrible as it was, screwed up our value system about humility in the world, whether we're the boss of the world?"

Edwards, to a round of applause from the UNC students: "No I think George Bush screwed up our value system."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.