Chris Matthews began Wednesday's Hardball in usual fashion attacking the Tea Party as the "Cro-Magnon political party," but he ended this evening's show in an unexpected way as the MSNBCer advised that the more Obama "sells" his ideas to "the political middle the better his chances" and added "Those who argue otherwise don't know this country, its history or its basically conservative gut."
Matthews began his "Let Me Finish" segment by suggesting the reason former President Bill Clinton currently has a high approval rating was because he's "a reminder of a better economic time for an important other. But the real reason is that Bill Clinton...knew the key to political, as well as policy success, lies in keeping faith with the middle." [audio available here]
The following Matthews observations were aired on the September 29 edition of Hardball:
Question posed to former George W. Bush adviser Mark McKinnon after playing clips from Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle and Rand Paul:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know Mark McKinnon it sounds like we're listening to the Cro-Magnon political party sometimes. They don't believe in evolution, they believe guns should be used against congressman and congresswomen if you don't like the way they voted and we should reconsider the best thing Congress has done in 100 years - civil rights. So what do you make of your political party and the candidates that the Tea Partiers have shoved forward?
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with some numbers. Bill Clinton now has a 53 percent approval rating from political independents in the United States, a 16 percent disapproval, 16 percent disapproval from independents. This for a Democrat at a time the party is under hard assault. There are reasons for this. Clinton's out of line of fire right now, that's for one. He's a reminder of a better economic time for an important other. But the real reason is that Bill Clinton, like Tony Blair in England, was a champion of what both called a third way. They were social democrats, who knew the key to political, as well as policy success, lies in keeping faith with the middle. Scare off the middle and you lose the country. You hold the middle by hugging to their main concerns. You focus on the economy, yes it's the economy, stupid. You convince people that you want government involvement when and only when the private sector can't act. You do it out of necessity, not out of desire. If you love big government, you will not succeed with the American middle. Barack Obama won because most believe that the Bush administration lead by ideologues had hijacked America to the course an ideological war. An ideological foreign policy. President Obama will face the same rejection by the same political middle if he's seen in the hands of ideologues of the left. Big things still need to be done, especially in job creation, energy and immigration. The more he does them and sells them close to the political middle the better his chances. Those who argue otherwise don't know this country, its history or its basically conservative gut. That's Hardball for now. Thanks for being with us.