Matthews Goes on Tirade Against Empty-Headed Bush, Yearns for 'Smarter' President

Declaring that "I think the next President's got to be stronger and smarter than this one," on Tuesday's Imus in the Morning, MSNBC's Chris Matthews went on a tirade for over two minutes against President Bush and those around him who filled his intellectual vacuum. Don Imus pleaded: "Did you plan on taking a breath at any point?"

"It's all ideology with this crowd. All they care about is ideology,” Matthews fretted as he charged: “The President bought it hook, line and sinker.” Matthews delivered insults as he asserted that Bush “trusts the intellectuals, the guys he knew at school. You know, they're a bunch of pencil-necks and now he buys completely their ideology because he didn't have one of his own coming in. That was his problem. I don't know what Bush stood for except 'I'm a cool guy and Gore isn't.'” The Hardball host yearned: “I hope the next election isn't a problem of who goes to bed with their wife at 9:30 at night or who knows how to tell a joke on a stage, but it's who has the sense of strength that comes from having read books most of their life, tried to understand history.” Though Matthews didn't warn of “every single” bad development in Iraq, he contended that “every single thing that's happened in Iraq was predicted by history” and lamented that “Bush didn't have the academic background to challenge” the ignorant ideologues who ignored history. (Transcript follows)

Audio clip (3:12): MP3 (1.3 MB)

While Matthews had just denounced the ideology of those who filled Bush's empty head with nonsense, he castigated Cheney, the leader of those instilling Bush with their ideology -- at least in the world conceived by Matthews -- for not being more visible: “I don't know what this guy, the Vice President. The Vice President, you know how he hides during difficult times? He's in his bunker, he's in his undisclosed location. Where's Cheney in all this?"

Matthews criticized Bush as he, in fact, demanded a world in which the President acts just the way Bush supposedly does -- which so infuriates liberals -- as a cowboy who doesn't consult advisers and just shoots from the hip: "We want a President without a ranch, I'm sorry you're on one. We want someone whose there on the beat. Who seems to be sharp with regard to the issues and moves quick and comes out and speaks before he talks to some guy named Karl Rove.”

The rant from Matthews' matched some of the same points he made last week on the July 18 Tonight Show on NBC (see Noel Sheppard's post), but on Imus he had more time to elaborate and pontificate.

MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro caught the diatribe from Matthews, starting at about 7:45am EDT on the July 25 Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC, and corrected the closed-captioning against the video:
Chris Matthews, by telephone: “It’s all ideology with this crowd. All they care about is ideology. The President bought it hook, line and sinker. It was just put into his head sometime after 9/11. And his philosophy is what was given to him. He didn’t have any philosophy when he went in and they handed it to him. The guys you used to make fun of at school, pencil-necks, intellectuals, the guys you never trusted. All of a sudden, he trusts the intellectuals, the guys he knew at school. You know, they’re a bunch of pencil-necks and now he buys completely their ideology because he didn’t have one of his own coming in. That was his problem. I don’t know what Bush stood for except 'I’m a cool guy and Gore isn’t.’ And that was our problem. We elected a guy because he was a little cooler than the other guy and I hope the next election isn’t a problem of who goes to bed with their wife at 9:30 at night or who knows how to tell a joke on a stage, but it's who has the sense of strength that comes from having read books most of their life, tried to understand history.

“Every mistake we’re making in the Middle East right now was made years and years ago by the British, by the French. The mistakes we made in Vietnam were made by the French before. In Algeria the French made all the mistakes we’re making now. If you engaged in an invasion, you will face resistance from the local people based upon religion and nationalism. You will then have to put down that insurgency and you’re going to have to use cruelty and torture to get information because it’s the only way to get intel in a counter-insurgency. Every single thing that’s happened in Iraq was predicted by history. It’s a standard pattern. Ten, twenty years from now when kids are reading this in high school, they’re going to say why are the Americans so dumb? They made the same mistakes all the Europeans had made before.

“And its like this guys, everything is a surprise. The insurgency was a surprise. The no WMD was a surprise. Everything that happens, Maliki is out there now taking the Arab side against us. That’s a surprise. Some of these guys are anti-Semitic. That’s a surprise. Everything is known. And the thing about this crowd that came in around Bush is they must have known it, but they didn’t want to know it. And Bush didn’t have the academic background to challenge them. And I don’t know what this guy, the Vice President. The Vice President, you know how he hides during difficult times? He’s in his bunker, he’s in his undisclosed location. Where’s Cheney in all this?”

Don Imus, trying to cut in after Matthews had gone on for more than two minutes: “Did you plan on taking a breath at any point?”

Matthews: “I’m trying to complete the thought. And I think if we had longer-”

Imus: “Well, I mean you had nine thoughts.”

Matthews: “-conversations instead of back and forth and stupid American politics driving this thing, we would be better off.”

Imus: “I wanted to comment back with why can’t we elect somebody who, not based on whether they can tell a joke or not. And the media won’t let them do that because they’re not interesting. The American people, I mean they can’t get on the Tonight Show and they can’t get on most talk shows if they’re not interesting and entertaining and charismatic an all that.”

Matthews: “Well we’ve had Presidents who could tell a joke and think (laughs).”

Imus: “Okay, well I mean Kerry was a, I mean whatever you think about John Kerry, unfortunately I voted for this moron. But you know, one would suspect that he probably knows more about what’s going on in the world than President Bush does, but I guess he does if he ever made up his mind.”

Matthews: “That’s the problem. I think the next President’s got to be stronger and smarter than this one. And I think, I don’t know who it’s going to be but every election we have in this country, we try to serve the current problems. Well with Clinton it was Monica, so we brought in a guy who went to bed with his wife at 9:30 every night and who is kind of regular. And the time before that we picked Clinton because we wanted to focus on domestic and George Bush senior was focusing on a new world order or Jimmy Carter was weak so we brought in Reagan or we brought in Jimmy Carter because he was clean after Nixon and Ford. We’re always trying to solve the current problem. We’ve got to step back and say well, what’s the bigger picture? What do we need as a President? And part of it is the President, he has a better response time, he doesn’t come into these issues 3, 4 days late like Bush does. He’s somewhere in the back or on his ranch, God knows where he is when Katrina hits or 9/11 even. He was off somewhere.

“I mean we want a President without a ranch, I’m sorry you’re on one. We want someone whose there on the beat. Who seems to be sharp with regard to the issues and moves quick and comes out and speaks before he talks to some guy named Karl Rove or somebody like that. We don’t have that kind of, I’m not sure Hillary is going to be any better than Bush because she’ll be talking to her people for days before she figures out where she stands. And I think we want a President whose going to be lickety split, 'look, here’s what I think based upon history and based upon thinking this through. This is what’s going on here.’ And I just don’t think we have that now, and I think we want it.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center