For the second day running, Chris Matthews has run a Hardball segment entitled "Does Hill Fit the Bill?" It's his way of asking whether Hillary Clinton would make a good presidential candidate, and, presumably, by play-on-words, whether she's up to the political standard set by Bill.
While Matthews hasn't squarely answered his own question, he clearly seems skeptical about Hillary's personal and political qualities.
His first guest on the topic this evening was the urbane Roger Altman, Hillary adviser and a Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. Matthews grilled Altman on Hillary's hawkishness.
Matthews: "A lot of people in her party, maybe four out of five Democrats, especially New York Democrats, are against this war. Think we never should have gone into Iraq. Hillary on the other hand OK'd the president's authority to go to Iraq and has subsequently stuck to that position, that that was a decision that she still honors, believes in, is by most standards a hawk. How can she lead a doveish party as a hawk?"
And later: "A lot of people, especially Democratic activists, who care about big issues like war and peace, are going to remember that when it got to the critical point of decision, she went with the Joe Liebermans and the Jane Harmans, she was one of the hawks, where most of the party stood with opposing the war. You don't think that's going to be a problem for her in the primaries?"
Things then took a more personal turn.
Matthews: "Does Hillary have a sense of humor?"
Altman, the good soldier: "Yes, she does. She has a good sense of humor." End of response!
And then, Matthews: "What are Hillary's hobbies?. I'm sorry, do you have any idea what her hobbies are? What does she do besides think about the public, public policy and issues and politics and all that, does she have some other Hillary world out there that we should know about to understand her fully?"
The guests in a subsequent segment were Dem strategist Hillary Rosen and GOP consultant Ed Rollins, who's working for KT McFarland - who is vying for the Republican nomination to oppose Hillary for her Senate seat.
Matthews panned Hillary's speech at the just-concluded NY state Dem convention: "I thought her speech wasn't too good yesterday. She was unsure how to use whatever notes she had. It just seemed to be be an odd day not to be prepared if it was such a big hype."
He had unkind words for her stagecraft as well. "What's all the dancing and clapping about? Why does she come to the platform clapping and dancing? What's the celebration about?" It does seem that Hillary has all the stage spontaneity of a member of the North Korean parliament.
All in all, it's not too hard to read between the lines: Matthews believes Hillary is out of touch with her party on Iraq, the biggest issue of the day. On a personal level, he apparently sees her as a humorless cold fish whose idea of a fun evening is dusting off some old Hillarycare flow charts.
But if Matthews is turning thumbs down on Hillary, who's his man to replace her at the top of the 2008 ticket?