Chris Matthews Panel Raves About 'Ridiculously Good Looking' Obama

The media's swooning over Barack Obama continued on Chris Matthews' syndicated weekend show. Obama drew such rave reviews from the panel as: "terrific!" "hero!" and "ridiculously good looking!" However Obama wasn't the only Democrat drawing praise as Harold Ford Jr's campaign was described as: "nearly flawless,"  but Republican George "not the brightest bulb on Broadway," Allen didn't fare as well with the critics, as his campaign was labeled: "one of the stupidest campaigns that [was] ever conducted in the history of American politics."

The following are some of the move over-the-top blurbs from the panel on the October 21st, Chris Matthews Show:

Chris Matthews: "Barack Star! Could he actually go for it? Could the first-term senator from Illinois, son of Kansas and Kenya, mount the galloping horse of history and run for president now?"

Joe Klein. Time magazine: "I was in Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, and another time in Iowa with him, and boy, the crowds are huge, and he's terrific! He really is really good."

Matthews: "He seemed to bring back that excitement of the Democrats."

Klein: "Yes, he's a hero!"

Klein: "He's, he's incredibly eloquent, he's really well-informed, he's very judicious in the way he speaks. He's one of the most talented politicians I've seen in 37 years of doing this."

Matthews: "This guy can stand before a crowd and make them feel magic."

Katty Kay, BBC: "And along comes somebody like Obama, who has all sorts of charisma, he is ridiculously good looking!"

For those who can stomach it, the following are more complete transcripts of the Obama and Ford hype, as well the Allen criticism:

Chris Matthews opening the show: "Barack Star! Could he actually go for it? Could the first-term senator from Illinois, son of Kansas and Kenya, mount the galloping horse of history and run for president now?"

Matthews: "First up, Barack Star! Democrats are excited the party's on track to win the House, but how about winning the White House? Barack Obama is on Time magazine's cover this week as the man who could be the next president. He brought the house down during the last Democratic National Convention."

[Clip of Barack Obama]

Matthews: "And when he went to the famous Tom Harkin steak fry in Iowa just last month, he got a great reception."

[Clip of crowd applauding Obama]

Matthews: "And just look at all the states Obama's visited over the last month. Joe."

Joe Klein: "I was in Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, and another time in Iowa with him, and boy, the crowds are huge, and he's terrific! He really is really good."

Matthews, holding up Time cover story on Obama: "What is this about? Why, just describe the phenomenon of, because we're all on other theories here about who's gonna be the nominee next time. Out of nowhere we're getting covers like this one. Look at this thing. It's everywhere. You wrote this piece-"

Klein: "Yes."

Matthews: "-but it's all over the place. It's in Washingtonian, every magazine's got him on the cover. What's the hype? What's it about?"

Klein: "Well, I mean, the hype is that he's really smart and he's really good and he also isn't the kind of hyper-partisan bloviator that we've had in my sad, pathetic-"

Matthews: "Yeah."

Klein: "-baby boom generation."

Matthews: "No, no! But he seemed to bring back that excitement of the Democrats."

Klein: "Yes, he's a hero!"

Matthews: "Even when they lost, Adlai Stevenson or Hubert Humphrey. Even when they lost, the Democrats revered these guys. Those days are a long way off."

Klein: "He's, he's incredibly eloquent, he's really well-informed, he's very judicious in the way he speaks. He's one of the most talented politicians I've seen in 37 years of doing this."

Matthews: "Okay, could it be, Norah, that he's simply able to talk like a president? I'm from Philly; talk, but the fact of the matter is, the fact of the matter is, you got to go back to Cuomo, Mario Cuomo, the mayor of New York, Jesse Jackson in his prime, for a great orator."

Norah O'Donnell, NBC News: "Yes."

Matthews: "This guy can stand before a crowd and make them feel magic."

O'Donnell: "Go back and read his speech there before the Democratic National Convention. Of course, there is that line, ‘there is no red America, there is no blue America, there is only the United States of America.' And I can say that, and it's, what a great line! And you know, it's interesting. It kind of, kind of tracks with the language we've heard from President Bill Clinton lately about the common good. There's this theme, and maybe it will appeal to the American people about a nonpartisan, a more nonpartisan and more unified. ‘Let's spend less time talking about our differences and spend more time talking about what unifies us.' That's a very powerful message that he can use if he wants to run."

Katty Kay: "And it comes particularly, doesn't it, at a moment when we've had this terrible stagnation in American politics. Look at what's happening in Congress here in Washington. Nothing is getting done. There's been a huge amount of infighting, and people are desperate for some sort of real leadership. And along comes somebody like Obama, who has all sorts of charisma, he is ridiculously good looking, I mean..."

O'Donnell: "Wow, Katty!"

[crosstalk]

Matthews: "Okay, okay. Now that we're finished with the bobby-soxers here, let's ask does Obama have a better shot at being president than Hillary Clinton? When Maureen Dowd was on the show two weeks ago, she shared an intriguing thought:"

[Maureen Dowd: "Our great political reporter, John Apple, died this week, and he was very up on politics right until the very end, and I will give you a prediction from him, which is that it will be easier in 2008 for a black to become president than a woman, he thinks, because women have a track record of failure in this regard. And he thinks that Colin Powell kind of got the American psyche ready for the idea."]

Matthews: "Well, Johnny Apple of The New York Times is my favorite political reporter. He also was good at other things like food and stuff like that."

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: "That's right."

Matthews: "Clarence."

Page: "That's right, that's right."

Matthews: "Clarence, you're the go-to guy for reality check, okay?"

Page: "Thank you, thank you. As always, right?"

Matthews: "Reality check, and this is such a tough question. The country that's so divided and race and things like that, and even gender. Is it more opportune for him this time than it is for Hillary?"

Page: "Well, my wife certainly thinks so. She agrees with Maureen Dowd on this and about everything else. But we would talk about this at home. I'm not so sure. I think, actually, it's a great time for a woman or a black candidate, but, but Johnny Apple may very well be right, simply because of circumstances right now. Hillary Clinton carries political baggage with her right now, and as somebody said, ‘Obama hasn't even got a carry-on.' Was that in your piece?"

Klein: "No. It wasn't in mine, but it was a good line."

Page: "Yeah, he's, it's a great line, absolutely."

Matthews: "She's got a trunk."

Kay: "To what extent, also, does it make a difference that he is from Africa? He's not an African-American, I think it was you said that..."

Matthews: "Okay let's, let's get to something a little less subtle that I think's a big part of this, perhaps. We have in an American life, a deficit of elected African-American leaders. We have no governors, haven't had except for Virginia, in the whole time going back ever. We have like one senator-him. So for someone to run for president and win as an African-American, however that is a reality, has to leapfrog all this history. Is it possible, the big question, Joe, is it possible that there's this weird new exception out there of the superstar? Oprah, of course. Tiger Woods, I think Michael Jordan, I think Bill Cosby, even. These people who seem to be so big, like Barbra Streisand was, that they go beyond the, the old terms. Is it possible that he can transcend the history of a country?"

Page: "Well, the amazing thing..."

Matthews: "I got to hear from Clarence first here, because this is reality here."

Page: "Well, well you know, I think, for one thing, Colin Powell rose to prominence, rocketed to prominence around the time of the O.J. Simpson verdict, right after the L.A. riots, around the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings. The country looked for a candidate who would embody the come-together spirit of the American dream. Obama came along, you know, I was there in that hall, you were, too, when he gave that speech at the Democratic Convention. Hours before he gave the speech, Democrats were excited. And you know why? Because they finally got a black face for the party who's not Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, let's be frank."

Matthews: "Yeah."

Kay: "Who doesn't have the anger."

Page: "That's how this thing got launched. And-"

Matthews: "You wrote a-"

Page: "-it went beyond the party, because the whole country right now is looking for that kind of a come-together kind of figure."

Matthews: "Okay. This whole thing in American history between blacks and whites, this story ain't over yet. It's about fear and resentment. It's asymmetric. One side feels one thing; the other side feels another. And it ends up being just trouble. Can this guy, you, you say in your article, talk about what you said about how he doesn't seem angry."

Klein: " Well, the African-American essayist Shelby Steele said to me that the reason that whites are so receptive to him is gratitude. He is an African-American who doesn't grind their noses in racial guilt. And what you see when you're out there is fascinating. The black folks who come up to shake his hand are very proud, and but there's a lot of those ‘be careful, now' looks. You know, ‘be worried.'"

Matthews: "What're they afraid of?"

Page: "We're like that, we're paranoid..."

Matthews: "But people are curious what you mean."

Klein: "No, but look, Alma Powell, Colin Powell's wife, was really afraid that he would be assassinated."

Matthews: "I know that."

Klein: "I mean, there is real craziness out there. On the other hand, when you see the whites approaching Barack Obama, you know, they're ridiculous. They're, you know, they're practically salivating. It's unbelievable. They're all a twitter, you know? They love the guy."

O'Donnell: "But he has a great American story about the melting pot that is America."

Matthews: "Yeah."

O'Donnell: "And what he talks about, essentially, is a meritocracy, which we all find so wonderful about America. Can you succeed no matter what your color, race, you know, gender, whatever it may be in this country. And he says, 'nowhere else in the, you know, in the world could my story of success.' He was editor of the Harvard Law Review. Will his message sort of resonate in 2008? Will the country be ready to embrace him?' I think his biggest challenge is experience. Experience. And we talked about this, too. We're talking about-"

Matthews: "Obviously, that's true, because he's just been in two years, now. Let's take a look at The New York Times. Apparently he's ringing the bells on the right as well as the left. David Brooks, one of our regulars, had a column just recently entitled, ‘Run, Barack, Run!' A quote, here's what David wrote: ‘The times will never again so completely require the gifts that he, Barack Obama possesses. Whether you're liberal or conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.' Katty, I don't quite get what David's thinking here. He didn't say he'd vote for him; she just said he'd....so I'm not sure what that means."

Kay: "David is pointing out that this a man that understands the rest of the world at a time when America needs to understand the rest of the world. Now, unfortunately, you look back at 2004, John Kerry had to play down his international connections, the fact that he understood the world. But now America is different. They've looked at the Iraq war, they've looked at the fact that this president did not understand the world, and it's got this country into a mess. And so I think that Barack Obama could play up his global understanding."

Matthews: "Because he grew up, a large part of his life, in Indonesia. He's saw America from a distance.

Kay: "He had a period in Indonesia, and he has that Kenyan background."

Klein: "But we all have to find out how courageous he's going to be on the issues. I mean, his book, The Audacity of Hope, isn't all that audacious on the issues, and again, we spent time on this when I interviewed him."

Page: "Remember, Joe, you're a New Yorker now. Out in the Midwest, we're not so audacious..."

...

Matthews: "We're getting now to the serious questioning of this panel. Should Obama get some experience, like a lot of people say, get to be governor of Illinois, something like that, or strike while the iron is hot? We put it to the Matthews Meter, 12 of our regular panelists. Is running in '08 Obama's best chance to win the presidency? It's very close, but seven say yes, go now, it's his best chance. Five say he should wait and get some experience. Clarence, you said ‘go for it.'"

Page: "Yeah, go for it. This is the moment. And it doesn't mean I think he will go for it, necessarily, but I think he's leaning more in that direction because just the momentum is pushing him that way. But this, you know, look at Colin Powell's moment in '96. Colin Powell was still a popular guy, but now he, too, has the baggage of time, and he wasn't even an office-holder in a traditional say."

Matthews: "Joe, you say that Hillary has to begin to fade before he jumps."

Klein: "Well, yeah. I think it depends on when Hillary gets in. If she gets into this race in January or February, she has to spend the whole year going to those dog-and-pony shows, you know, the candidate forums where she's up on the stage with all these dogs and cats."

Matthews: "Right."

Klein: "He can go late. He can go in September."

Matthews: "How late can he go?"

Klein: "He can go as late as right now next year."

Matthews: "Okay, I want to ask everybody now. This is the bottom line. I've warned you all about this bottom line, and you are being taped for future reference. You're in the archives. Will, a year from now, next October, Obama be a candidate for president?"

Kay: "Yes."

Page: "No."

O'Donnell: "Yes."

Klein: "No. His wife a very powerful force in this. And his family."

Matthews: "I think I'll leave the tie sit."

...

Now the Harold Ford segment:

[Clip from Harold Ford Jr. ad]

Matthews: "Welcome back. That was Harold Ford, Jr., a Democrat talking about his Christian values. Republicans have had a near-lock on the South for years now. But now it looks like Democrats running for the Senate are challenging them. Harold Ford in Tennessee, Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Jim Webb in Virginia are in tight races in red states that President Bush won big in 2004. And Norah, that's the challenge. Look at the map. How they doing? What do they've they got to offer down there?"

O'Donnell: "Well, if Democrats want to retake the Senate, they're going to have to do well in these Southern states, just like a Democrat who wants to win in 2008 will have to play well in the South. What Harold Ford has done, which many experts say, is run a nearly flawless campaign talking about God, essentially. At the end of his campaign speech, he says everyone, he asks everyone to please vote for me, and then he says, ‘and please pray for me.' He's walking around Tennessee with one side of a little baseball card, essentially has his face. On the back, it has the 10 Commandments. Why does he need to do that? Because in Tennessee-"

Matthews: "Which are his favorites? I've never seen anything like this before."

O'Donnell: "Why's he doing that in a state like Tennessee? Tennessee, of course, is a Southern state, but it doesn't have a large black population, so he has to appeal to Christian conservatives, or white Christians, in order to vote for him to become the first black senator in the South since Reconstruction. That's why his election is historic in many ways, and that's why he's campaigning as a conservative. He's against abortion, he's against flag burning-"

Matthews: "He's pretty hawkish, too."

O'Donnell: "He's very hawkish on issues."

Klein: "Hawkish."

O'Donnell: "He stood next to Bush on the, on the Iraq war."

Klein: "Immigration is a big one."

O'Donnell: "Immigration, exactly. He has criticized Bob Corker, his opponent, for hiring illegal aliens because he's in the construction business."

Matthews: "Well, that'll help him with both black and white communities, I would bet, being tough on immigration. Let me ask you about the interesting race right down in this area, Virginia. Northern Virginia. A military guy, Jim Webb, running against George Allen. How's that look in terms of Democrats?"

Klein: "Well, I think that Allen has kind of stabilized what had been, to this point, one of the stupidest campaigns that [was] ever conducted in the history of American politics."

Matthews: "But was it an enlightening campaign? Isn't it useful for candidates to make mistakes so we can find out who they are?"

Klein: "Well, I think we already knew that George Allen was not the brightest bulb on Broadway, but now we're absolutely certain of it."

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