Terrorists, Dog Day Afternoon and the great way Hillary looks: Through the end of the Clinton-Gore years, Chris Matthews was one of the two or three most influential broadcasters in the country.
He was also barely sane, but all hands agreed not to notice. He savaged Candidate Gore for twenty months, helping script the rest of the children in the ways to defeat Clinton’s veep. For quite a few years, he was also the capital city’s most unhinged Hillary-hater.
At the time, he was being paid $5 million per year by his owner and CEO, the conservative Republican Ole Massa Welch. Faithfully, the store-bought shouter pursued the Jack Welch line.
Alleged “liberal journalists” said nothing. They still won’t discuss this today.
By now, Matthews has been completely repurposed, in line with the new corporate agenda at his ridiculous “news channel.” On Tuesday, he showcased his reinvented Big Love in the following way, fawning over the visual greatness of his new greatest love of all:
MATTHEWS (7/30/13): Yesterday, we saw a picture, a very flattering picture of her and the president sitting as equals, as a president sitting with another president, a very presidential picture over in the Rose Garden. Few get that treatment.That’s the way he used to talk about Gennifer Flowers, back when Flowers appeared on his show, for half an hour, to list all the Clintons’ murders, in August 1999.
And today, in the morning, she had eggs and, scrambled eggs and toast, I’m told, with the vice president of the United States, perhaps to pass to him her thinking. I’m sure they talked about it.
There’s more. The former secretary of state has released a Web video announcing her support for gay marriage—a Web video. She stood side by side with President Obama and three former U.S. presidents down in Dallas at the Bush library dedication. She came as an equal to them.
These are what people in politics call optics, and the optics point to a much less coy Hillary Clinton profile, as of this week, I believe, laying the groundwork to become Barack Obama’s heir apparent and the next leader of the Democratic Party and then on to the presidency.
Joining me is an expert, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, and Michelle Goldberg of the Daily Beast.
Governor, I do think—and you are an expert and much closer to the Clintons than I am, both to Bill and to Hillary. I think that they’re no longer playing the cat-and-mouse game. They’re— She now is looking fabulous. I don’t know—I know I shouldn’t talk about looks with a woman, but I’ll say it. The way she’s presented herself—it always gets me in trouble, and I’ll say it again.
She looks presidential as hell. I’ll just put it that way. The dark suit, the haircut, everything says this person looks ready for primetime, ready to go to the game. She’s got game right now. I’m looking at her and I’m saying no more pretending, “I might or might not.” The coyness is gone.
(“You're a very beautiful woman,” Matthews said at one point in that program. “And I have to tell you—he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that!” “Gosh, you’re making me blush here,” Flowers replied, briefly putting her murder charges on hold. Matthews came right back at her: “It's an objective statement, Gennifer. I'm not flirting. So let's go on.”)
To recall the way he used to talk about Hillary Clinton, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/27/08.
Sadly, we regular citizens are part of a very primitive people. (We're tied to a dying animal, to utilize what Yeats said.) It’s astounding that a man like Matthews is still on the air, behaving quite oddly, after so many years of behaving oddly in the other direction. But in the years when he was sliming both Clintons, then Candidate Gore, the career liberal world just sat there and took it—pretended they didn’t notice.
Everyone agreed not to notice—and to this day, that past behavior simply cannot be discussed. The Corns and the Walshes won’t tell you about it. The Finemans won’t ask him why he has flipped. The Drums and the Krugmans won’t discuss the craziness that exists all around them, rendering their intelligent analyses essentially moot.
In one large aspect, your society is run by a guild of media priests. This rather crazy person is part of that ruling priesthood.
Matthews has been quite crazy this week, a bit like a performer on Fox. On that same Tuesday program, his opening segment featured Anthony Weiner’s alleged resemblance to the crazy, bank-robbing Pacino character in the famous film, Dog Day Afternoon. He played a lengthy clip of Pacino’s crazy behavior in the film, comparing the psychotic bank-robber to Weiner.
Joan was there, helping enable the crazy:
MATTHEWS (7/30/13): I saw a movie years ago. We’ve none of us have forgotten it, Dog Day Afternoon, about a desperate guy, a desperate guy who’s robbed a bank, and he’s desperately trying to appeal to the crowds. And there’s some hopeless kind of a, “Root for me, I’m the underdog.” It’s a classic scene, Dog Day Afternoon, with the great Al Pacino.In Joan’s eyes, her darling Chris was being too compassionate! To watch this nonsense, click here, move to 10:15.
WALSH: I remember.
MATTHEWS: I think this is what this guy Weiner is up to right now. Let's watch:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PACINO CHARACTER: What hope have you got? Huh? Come on, put them on your head! Tell them you’ve got an attempted robbery!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Armed robbery.
PACINO: All right, armed then! Nobody’s been hurt. Go back there, man! Get over there, will you? He wants to kill me so bad, he can taste it!
Attica! Attica! Attica! Attica! Attica! Attica! Attica! Attica! You guys are Attica!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This New York guy that doesn’t have a prayer in heaven of being elected mayor of New York is out there doing this. He’s stirring up crazy. He’s trying to make himself a victim of himself, but somehow a victim of the media, of us, of the Clintons, even as of today. He’s trying to blame them for feeling uncomfortable about the guy.
Is this going to work? You’re a political expert. Is it going to work?
WALSH: No, I don’t think it’s going to work. I think that’s compassion on your part to compare him to that amazing achievement—accomplishment by Al Pacino, who does make him a compassionate figure. I don’t think Anthony Weiner is succeeding at that.
Matthews calling Weiner crazy recalls the iconic peas in the pod. For the record, Walsh became a “political expert” by the time she had fawned to Matthews so much that he knew she could always be trusted.
Last night, Matthews returned to the “Attica! Attica! Attica” chant as he kept wasting everyone’s time rubbing his own most sensitive organ as he complained about Weiner’s. Soon, though, he dragged out a new rhetorical ploy—three Republican senators are “political terrorists,” he said:
MATTHEWS (7/31/13): But first, the GOP at war with itself! Ted Cruz is going after fellow Republicans for not supporting a government shutdown over Obamacare. Let’s just say he’s a political terrorist on this one.He was going to talk about them!
And Weiner’s sexting scandal has been very good for the tabloid business and for late night comedians.
Finally, let me finish with the political terrorists of the right. I’m going to talk about them. Their names are Cruz, Paul and Lee.
And this is Hardball, the place for politics.
In his next segment, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt told Matthews that he shouldn’t be using that term when he talks about Cruz. Eventually, Chris offered a thoughtful reply. To watch this full segment, click this:
MATTHEWS: You know, I have compared him to [Joe] McCarthy. Maybe that’s just the look-alike. I shouldn’t get into what people look like. But he does remind me so much when I look at him interrogating a witness on the Hill, he looks like Joe McCarthy. He just acts that way with that somber, indictive aspect, like this guy is the evil one.“Demagogue” wasn’t strong enough for Chris. Chris was insisting on “terrorist.”
But I will say he’s a terrorist, because what the guy has done, basically, he says my goals are—is demolition. Blow up health care, blow up the continuing resolution. Bring the government to a standstill. And then make us forfeit on the national debt.
Your thoughts, Steve? I know you’re not that kind of Republican. I don’t know what you make of this guy.
SCHMIDT: No. Well, Chris, I disagree with your use of the word “terrorist” in its application to him. What he is, is a demagogue. He’s irresponsible.
MATTHEWS: Why? Why is not a terrorist?
SCHMIDT: Because I think, when we use the word “terrorist,” we apply that to the Boston bombers. We apply that to the September 11 hijackers.
MATTHEWS: A political terrorist. I have said political terrorist. That’s what he is.
SCHMIDT: I’m just—I’m not, I’m not comfortable with the word. But—
MATTHEWS: OK, don’t use it. Use your words. Use your words. I’m comfortable with it.
If memory serves, we liberals get very, very upset when the loudmouths do this on Fox. Whatever! Chris went on and on with Schmidt about the reasons why “terrorist” was the precise right word. “Let me go to war with you,” he said to Schmidt as he did.
But wouldn’t you know it? Just like that, Democratic strategist David Axelrod told this big nut the same darn thing! Axelrod not being a nut, he thought that word was wrong too:
AXELROD: Just to support my friend Steve, because we share the same barber, I want to tell you that I also am uncomfortable with the word, only out of respect for the victims of violent terrorists.As we've told you many times, MSNBC is patterning itself on Fox.
MATTHEWS: OK. I have the same respect. I make the point political. I have used the term political terrorist. I will continue to use it. But, for shorthand, I will say terrorist. But go ahead.
AXELROD: But here’s another point, which is this notion. And this is the point that Coburn and so many conservatives have made. They’re not going to defund Obamacare. Obamacare has a self-perpetuating funding source. And its funding is largely accounted for, outside of what they can affect.
MATTHEWS: OK. Then why are they—why are they, why are they threatening to crash it, if not for terrorist reasons?
On occasion, people have suggested that Matthews may truly be mentally ill. The summer months sometimes seem to provoke this kind of episode from him. Or he may just be trying to pump his rather low ratings.
Whatever! This man was a hired political assassin long ago. He went on and on and on and on, teaching the rest of the Washington “press corps” all the stupid things they should say to put George Bush in the White House.
Jonathan Alter wouldn’t tell you. Howard Fineman wouldn’t tell you. David and Joan have pandered and fawned and kissed his ass for years.
For all those years, we the liberals just sat there and took it. None of our leaders had voiced a concern, and until six of our leaders say X, Y or Z, we won’t say those things either.
We used to mock the ditto-heads. By now, we have proven that they are us. As he stages his episode, Chris is treating us like fools.
Let us guess that some of us liberals are very much going to like it.