The thrill is gone. Grumpy MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Tuesday night concluded, “There seems to shaping up... a civil war in the Democratic Party between those who want a revolution, which I think is a minority in the party, and those who just want a ride home. They want to get a designated driver. Get ‘em home.”
Later, after Brian Williams turned to Matthews for answers on Bernie Sanders's win, the MSNBC host lamented, “I'm a bit frustrated, and I'm not the answer to all questions.... I'm just not tonight. I'm a little frustrated because I don't know what this” all means.
This is quite a contrast to the excited Matthews of exactly 12 years ago tonight. On February 12, 2008, the liberal journalist swooned for Barack Obama and his latest primary wins, telling the country that the charismatic Democrat sent a “thrill” up his leg:
I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often.
It’s an impressive accomplishment when then-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann must be the voice of reason. He calmly cautioned his co-host: “Steady.”
Undeterred, Matthews continued:
No, seriously. It's a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.
This wasn’t the first time Obama provoked a physical sensation in Matthews’s lower appendages. On July 27, 2004, Matthews reacted to Obama’s keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention:
I have to tell ya a little chill in my, in my legs now. That is an amazing moment in history right there. It is really an amazing moment. A keynoter like I've never heard.
In 2020, however, Matthews is angry and dispirited about the 2020 field. Last Friday, after the Democratic debate in New Hampshire, the Hardball host errupted at the Democratic Party’s embrace of socialism:
[T]hose of us like me who grew up — who grew up in the Cold War and saw some aspects of it after visiting places like Vietnam like I have, seeing countries like Cuba, being there, I've seen what socialism is like. I don’t like it. Okay? It's not only not free. It doesn’t freaking work. It just doesn’t work.
I remember the Cold War. I have an attitude towards Castro. I believe if Castro and the — and the Reds had won the Cold War, there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have one of the ones getting executed and certain other people would be there cheering, okay? So, I have a problem with people who took the other side. I don't know who Bernie supports over these years. I don’t know what he means by socialism.
It can safely be said: For now at least, Sanders won’t be sending “thrills” up the leg of Chris Matthews. What happens if the socialist wins the nomination? We’ll just have to wait and see how certain liberal journalists react.