Chris Matthews And Vice President Chowderhead

Well it happened, Chris Matthews has finally descended into name-calling. On last night's Hardball during a segment with General Anthony Zinni, Matthews resorted to calling supporters of the Iraqi invasion fools and chowderheads. Matthews asked General Zinni:

"What fool thought that a third world country would let us march into their country and start calling the shots without resistance? I mean, I am just saying. Who believes that?"

After Zinni blamed Pentagon planners Matthews took aim at Vice President Cheney:

"Well, Chalabi, the head of the National Congress, who had such good relations with Cheney and Scooter Libby, was running around town here telling everybody, ‘don’t worry, the minute we get this guy knocked off, Saddam Hussein, we’re going to have a government of people there who are pro-Israeli, pro-Western, aren’t going to cause any trouble in the region. They’re gonna be swell guys to deal with and there is not gonna be any resistance.’ What kind of a chowderhead would believe that in the middle of the Arab world? That we were gonna face this magical situation where everybody is gonna be giving us flowers, the girls will be kissing us, they’ll be jumping on the tanks, in love with our G.I.’s. Who sold that picture?"

At the end of the segment Matthews was so pleased with Zinni's attacks on the administration he urged him to run for public office, something Matthews did back with another anti-war hero Cindy Sheehan.

Chris urging Zinni to run in Matthews' home state: "You ever gonna run for anything?"

Zinni: "No. No way, never ever."

Matthews: "You’d do well in Pennsylvania. Anyway, thank you."

The following is more of the exchange between Matthews and Zinni:

Chris Matthews: "So let’s move on to the second point you make, which is the failure to provide for what would happen next. The idea that we wouldn’t have any problem defeating the Iraqi army was not there. We were gonna defeat the Iraqi army. Ken Adelman said it would be a cakewalk. It wasn’t a cakewalk."

General Anthony Zinni: "Right."

Matthews: "But then the question came, what do you expect of a third world country once a bunch of Americans show up? Who believed there would not be resistance? What fool thought that a third world country would let us march into their country and start calling the shots without resistance? I mean, I am just saying. Who believes that?"

Zinni: "Well, I can tell you, the planners at the Pentagon seemed to adopt these very naive expectations and assumptions. Certainly in my time Centcom the planning was based on much different assumptions. We assumed the reconstruction of Iraq would be a very difficult and long-term process, political reconstruction, economic reconstruction, security reconstruction, social reconstruction."

Matthews: "Well, Chalabi, the head of the National Congress, who had such good relations with Cheney and Scooter Libby, was running around town here telling everybody, ‘don’t worry, the minute we get this guy knocked off, Saddam Hussein, we’re going to have a government of people there who are pro-Israeli, pro-Western, aren’t going to cause any trouble in the region. They’re gonna be swell guys to deal with and there is not gonna be any resistance.’ What kind of a chowder head would believe that in the middle of the Arab world? That we were gonna face this magical situation where everybody is gonna be giving us flowers, the girls will be kissing us, they’ll be jumping on the tanks, in love with our G.I.’s. Who sold that picture?"

Zinni: "Well first let me tell you nobody in the Arab world believed it. Believe me I talked to all the leaders there. They tried to counsel against us placing too much faith..."

Matthews: "Was Chalabi the initial liar there or is he just the?"

Zinni: "Well he managed to convinced a number of people here that, that was the course. Chalabi sent someone down to my headquarters to convince me that if we supported just 1,000 of his people that they could march like The Pied Piper into Baghdad and I dismissed him."

Matthews: "Cheney believed him, didn’t he? Cheney said we would be greeted as liberators. No, we were while the cameras were on. For about a day or two, I was saluting it. It looked to me like the whole country, it was like a P.R. stunt, the whole country was tearing down statues and loving our guys and somehow that faded into reality. That part wasn’t real two days later, three days later and the reality was there’s gonna be a resistance. Apparently there’s been guns going of in that country since we got there."

Zinni: "Well I think we had a moment there where we were in charge, we owned the country. The problem is we had insufficient forces and a plan to tank charge. We had allowed the snakes to come out."

Matthews: "Third question. Bad intel or dishonest intel, bad intel or dishonest planning for the insurgency? In fact, as you say, recognized it was coming, and now this de-Baathfication. This decision to take every guy in the Iraqi military and say go home with your gun, with your military training, with your attitude, go home and see your wife and tell her that you’re finished in life and that’s what we did to these guys, right?"

Zinni: "Yeah. And one my predecessors that started a program, a psychological operations program to communicate back into the ‘90s with the regular Iraqi army. We dropped leaflets on them when we bombed, we communicated through other channels we had out there, on the news media."

Matthews: "To join, to join our side."

Zinni: "We were saying, when the time comes, if you don’t fight, we’ll take care of you. That was the message."

Matthews: "Well why did we drop ‘em? We drop kicked ‘em back to their houses with all their weaponry, their ammo, their attitude, knowing they would have to come instead of giving them a paycheck, we could have sent every one of these guys to Harvard, it would have been cheaper than this war."

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