Matthews: Bush 'Won't Tell the Truth' About the War, So 'Only Solution Is an Election'

Appearing on Monday's Tonight Show, MSNBC's Chris Matthews predicted Democrats will win the House since “I don't know how you can lose to this crowd,” declared that he's “rooting for” a Democratic Senate candidate because of the candidate's race, went on a rant against Dick Cheney over the false premises behind the Iraq war and argued that since President Bush “won't tell the truth about this war,” the “only solution...is an election.” Jay Leno began the segment by asking about the Mark Foley scandal, but soon moved to whether Democrats will take over the House. Matthews predicted they will win the House, but not the Senate, adding of a Democrat who is black: “I'm rooting for Harold Ford in Tennessee for a reason. I think we need a little diversity up there on Capitol Hill. That would be nice.” Apparently Maryland Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele, who is also black, would not add the proper “diversity.”

Matthews charged that Donald Rumsfeld “wants all the power in the world, but he doesn't want any responsibility.” As for Bush, Matthews contended: “The President won't talk to anybody who said he's made a mistake. He won't admit any mistakes, and in the end, he won't tell the truth about this war over there. And that's the problem we got with the President. The only solution to this is an election.” Matthews earned applause from the audience in Burbank when he urged both parties to declare “we're getting out of there [Iraq] at the end of this President's term.” (Transcript follows)

Video clip (3:53): Real (6.5 MB) or Windows Media (7.6 MB), plus MP3 audio (1.3 MB)

Matthews also made clear his wish that John McCain not promise to keep troops in Iraq: “Unless somebody stands forth, if McCain does it, I'd hate to see it, but if somebody comes forth and says, 'I want to keep 150,000 troops there after the next election,' we'll vote against that guy, if that's what you think.”

In the midst of Matthews' rambling comments about the false claims made by Cheney and Rumsfeld, host Jay Leno interjected a question which presumed the news media haven't been aggressive enough toward the administration: "Why has the media dropped the ball? Why don't they, I mean, this seems like, it seems like the reporters now just take what's given to them.”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for a portion of Matthews' appearance on the October 2 Tonight Show with Jay Leno:
Jay Leno: "Will this effect the elections?"

Chris Matthews: "Oh, yeah, it's part of the whole smell. I mean, you got one guy messing around with the pages. You got somebody else with $90,000 in cold cash in his refrigerator that they find on Capitol Hill. You got another guy who sells out for a yacht, this guy down here, Duke Cunningham. You know? And you got a lot. And then you got George Allen with his problem, with macaca and all that stuff. He's in deep macaca."

Leno: "That's like the trifecta. They've got sex, racism, and-"

Matthews: "Yeah, I'm calling them the magnificent seven. I got a list of these guys. No, I think it's gonna hurt the Republicans. They're in charge."

Leno: "Will Democrats win the House?"

Matthews: "Not because they're doing a great job in opposition, but I don't know how you can lose to this crowd."

Leno: "Yeah." [laughter]

Matthews: "I think that, I heard Mark Russell the other night. He always does the jokes about politicians. He said, 'What do congressmen say to each other on Wednesday? Have a nice weekend.' They're not working very hard up there, you know? Now we know it's not a do-nothing Congress. But, of course, when they do stuff, it's illegal."

Leno: "Illegal, yeah. Now, will they win the Senate, do you think?"

Matthews: "Yeah, I can count four. I can't count the six they need."

Leno: "Okay."

Matthews: "I'm rooting for Harold Ford in Tennessee for a reason. I think we need a little diversity up there on Capitol Hill. That would be nice. So I think that it's going to be close in the Senate. I think they'll take the House."

Leno: "What do you make of the Woodward book? What do you make of this?"

Matthews: "Well, it's, somebody said, Frank Rich said the other day in the New York Times, it's tardy in investigative reporting. I mean, we all knew this pretty much from watching the behavior that the President, you know, there wasn't any WMD, and then Cheney said there was going to be, there was going to be a nuclear explosion. Condi said there's gonna be a mushroom cloud. They said that they were connected to 9/11 somehow. Cheney said it all over and over again. There was no connection. It wasn't payback.

“It was just some other war we started. And finally Cheney kept saying, oh, this is going to be a cakewalk, this is going to be easy, they're going to treat us as liberators. Well, the latest polling, which the President doesn't want to face, is that three out of five Iraqis want us dead. Four out of five want us out of their country. They hate us being in their country. We're not there for them because they don't want us there. And so these are facts, we're getting hit every 15 minutes, an American unit gets hit in Iraq, and the President still says things are getting better, we're winning the war against terrorism. Every 15 minutes, we get hit over there. And the inside intelligence he's getting is that next year is going to be worse, more than every 15 minutes, so we're not getting the truth. I think the one thing good about Woodward's book is he's not partisan, he's not political, he gives us the facts. And the facts say everything I just said."

Leno: "Why has the media dropped the ball? Why don't they, I mean, this seems like, it seems like the reporters now just take what's given to them. And like you say, we have, we have stories on Paris Hilton."

Matthews: "There's too much of that crap."

Leno: "And we have all the stuff, but this doesn't-"

Matthews: "Of course, unfortunately, the Foley story sort of overlaps into this scum kind of story. You know, we have that. But I do think, we looked at the polling. I just did it today. And in every state but Missouri, the number one issue among voters, regular people, is Iraq. They don't like this war. They want us out of there, wish we had never go, had never gone in the first place. Missouri, for some reason, and this makes sense, health is the number one issue. But everywhere else, they say it's Iraq. And I think it's gonna hurt the Republicans."

Leno: "And how does Rumsfeld keep his job? Like, I read that Andy Card-"

Matthews: "Cheney. You want a short answer?"

Leno: "Yeah, Cheney?"

Matthews: "He got him the job, and he's going to keep him there. And Rumsfeld is-"

Wanda Sykes, the previous guest: "Does Rumsfeld have, like, pictures on Cheney or something?"

Matthews: "Well, they go way back. They go back. They worked together under Ford. They've been together forever. You know, Rumsfeld is one of these guys, I think we know guys like this in show business, too. He wants all the power in the world, but he doesn't want any responsibility. So Bob Woodward said to him, 'Do you feel bad when you make a mistake and soldiers die?' Now, most human beings would say, 'Yeah.' He says, 'I've never been responsible for a soldier dying.' And then he said, 'Well, only indirectly.' And then he said, 'Only two or three steps removed.' And yet he's just mentally, this is the denial that Woodward's talking about in this book.

“The President won't talk to anybody who said he's made a mistake. He won't admit any mistakes, and in the end, he won't tell the truth about this war over there. And that's the problem we got with the President. The only solution to this is an election. People say, 'What should we do?' Hold an election for President in a year, next year. And by 2008, I think both parties ought to get together and say, 'Look, when Bush is gone, nobody else is going to keep us there, so you people over in Iraq get your act together because we're getting out of there at the end of this President's term. We're getting out by then.' [applause]

"And I think we'll give it another year and half. But then they've got to understand that we're having an election in this country. And unless somebody stands forth, if McCain does it, I'd hate to see it, but if somebody comes forth and says, 'I want to keep 150,000 troops there after the next election,' we'll vote against that guy, if that's what you think.”
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