"Does Bill Clinton want his wife to win this thing?" Chris Matthews teased as he opened the December 17 "Hardball." After all, the former president, Matthews added later, was full of "chutzpah" and "a total card shark" in his December 14 interview with Charlie Rose.
Clinton told Rose essentially that Barack Obama should take a page from his decision not to run for president in 1988. The former president told Rose he concluded an '88 run was unwise due to his lack of political experience. Neither Matthews, nor guests Howard Fineman of Newsweek and Linda Douglass of National Journal were buying it.
Here's the transcript:
LINDA DOUGLASS, National Journal: One of the things he said on that program [the December 14 "Charlie Rose"] that was really interesting was when he was going after Barack Obama's experience saying, "Look, this guy's only barely been in the Senate. You have the least experienced person ever. I myself, Bill Clinton, didn't run in 1988 because I decided I wasn't ready." Well, remember, in 1988 what really happened was, yes, he did have a young daughter, but he also was confronted by accusations about womanizing -
CHRIS MATTHEWS, "Hardball" host: He had his own person down there do the bimbo eruption check and discovered there were just too many bimbos to stop from erupting, so he decided not to run. And now to spin this around, Howard, and say "this is a [sic] object lesson from my wife." Isn't there any limit to the decency factor here?
HOWARD FINEMAN, Newsweek: You have to be born without the gene that produces the emotion of shame in the human soul, and that's Bill Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Did they go to the Jerry Lewis school of chutzpah here? I mean, where do you learn not to be embarrassed by your own paper trail?
FINEMAN: He got out the phrase that they wanted to get out which is voting for Barack Obama is a roll of the dice.
MATTHEWS: Right. They wanted that out.
FINEMAN: That's what they want.