Chris Matthews' infatuation with John McCain has returned. The day after the Republican senator bashed his own party, knocking "Hobbit" Tea Partiers, the Hardball anchor on Thursday lauded him as "great" and even suggested McCain as a MSNBC guest host: "...He can substitute for me some night with that kind of talk!"
The former GOP presidential nominee criticized 2010 Senate candidates Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle. Quoting from a Wall Street Journal editorial, McCain recited possible debt ceiling scenarios: "Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced budget amendment and reform entitlements and the Tea Party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor."
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
In a tease for the segment, Matthews couldn't contain his rekindled excitement for the politician, hyping, "John McCain goes maverick on the Tea Party...The old John McCain is back and that tiff is next in the Sideshow. He's the straight talking express again."
Of course, McCain and Matthews took a break in 2008 when the Senator ran for President against Barack Obama, a MSNBC favorite. On September 27 of that year, Matthews slammed the Republican's "contempt" for Obama.
Playing psychologist, Matthews speculated of McCain: "He never looked at his opponent. What is that about? Is that an inferiority complex? Is that embarrassment? Is that guilt? Or is it contempt?"
A transcript of the July 28 segment, which aired at 5:30pm EDT, follows:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Up next, John McCain goes maverick on the Tea Party. He called them hobbits. I don't think he meant it nicely. He lambasted Tea Party Senate candidates who lost, Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell. The old John McCain is back and that tiff is next in the Sideshow. He's the straight talking express again.
MATTHEWS: First up, when was the last time you heard from failed Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell? Well, it happened yesterday, all thanks to comments made by the great John McCain on the U.S. Senate floor as he read a piece from the Wall Street Journal. Let's listen to the Senator.
JOHN MCCAIN: The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue and the public will turn in masse against Barack Obama. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced budget amendment and reform entitlements and the Tea Party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor This is the kind of cracked political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP senate nominees.
MATTHEWS: Well, actually, he can substitute for me some night with that kind of talk. Anyway, both men were ticked off, both women ticked off at the reference that came back to McCain with interestingly crafted statements. Angle attacked McCain's Lord of the Rings reference saying, "As in the fable, it is the Hobbits who are the heroes and save the land. This Lord of the Tarp," that's McCain, "actually ought to read to the end of the story and join forces with the Tea Party, not criticize it." Wow. What world do they live in? And Christine O'Donnell, you know, she's not a witch, responded by saying, "It doesn't help me to attack to those conservative whose graciously gave him another chance to keep his Senate seat." Well, I remember history a little differently out in Arizona Last year. Really, I think what happened was, they had their own candidates out there and the candidate's name was J.D. Hayworth and McCain beat the Tea Party candidate.