Interlude—Chris Matthews visits Ford Field: Have we mentioned the fact that cable “news” hosts treat us rubes like baboons?
Consider what happened when a very bad person hosted last evening’s Hardball. As he started, he tickled a key he would tickle all through the program:
MATTHEWS (2/24/12): Mitt was in Detroit today to push his new economic plan, but the optics didn`t help. Check out the scene—1,200 people there at Ford Field where the Lions play football, which means Romney addressed 65,000 empty seats. Who’s the guy’s advance man on this one?Romney had given a major address about his ridiculous budget proposals. But people like Matthews don’t tire themselves with matters of substance. All through the program, he focused on all the empty seats a person could see as Romney gave his address. Over and over, again and again, he played tape of the empty seats and ridiculed Romney for the “optics:”
MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, at his big economic speech today at Ford Field in Detroit, Mitt Romney spoke to an audience—well, we've got a—of 1,200 people in a football stadium that holds 65,000 people, not the ideal message of a thunderous, overflowing crowd you'd want to see heading into a critical primary, would you.Throughout the program, Matthews kept playing that tape, mocking Romney for the optics created when a “little crowd” sits in a large stadium. He even played that tape side-by-side with the tape from Obama’s convention address in 2008. As he played that bit of tape, he even told us baboons, right to our faces, that this was “a totally unfair comparison!”
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Mitt Romney spoke to a crowd of 1,200 today in a football stadium that held, well, 65,000 potentially.
MATTHEWS: Well, here's a totally unfair comparison of dueling stadium speeches and the crowds attending. Take a look. On the left, you see the packed crowd at Invesco Field at Mile High back in 2008, when Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president. It was a full house that night in Denver.
And there on the right, well, that's Romney’s little crowd today at Ford Field in Detroit, all 1,200 of them, and a lot of empty seats in that huge stadium.
Over and over, Matthews mocked Romney for the small crowd in the large park. Imagine our surprise an hour later when correspondent Peter Alexander, on NBC Nightly News, offered this explanation:
ALEXANDER (2/24/12): And tonight the Romney campaign insists that it had nothing to do with the decision to hold today’s speech on the field, Brian. The Detroit Economic Club, the host of the event, said they originally planned to hold it in the stadium’s atrium. But the Secret Service, they say, was concerned that the size of the crowd would make that area unsafe so it was decided to move it to the field. But as you know, Brian, in these events stagecraft is often as important as what the candidate himself says.Really? The event was moved from the atrium to the field because of the Secret Service? We don't know if that is accurate. But matthews made no attemptto explain the pointless matter he flogged throughout the hour.
Later, Rachel Maddow devoted one of her endless, pseudo-professorial segments to this pointless piffle. Note the skillful way she explained away the possible role of the Secret Service, which she said she had to mention:
MADDOW (2/24/12): Booking a 65,000-seat stadium for 1,200 person event. That is not an accident. They knew this was going to happen. There were pictures that ran in the local press before the event took place showing how bad the event was going to look.They should have bailed on the address! The lord god professor has spoken! (Good god, but Maddow is awful…)
Did the Mitt Romney campaign bail on the event? No, they did not. And then to add further injury to injury, they did not even fill the seats that they put there on the field in the first place. Even after jamming everyone in this teeny tiny little sliver of a stadium to try to make it look there was crowd, there were still all sorts of empty-folding chairs.
It should be noted that the Romney’s campaign swears today that this was not their fault. They say because of security concerns with the original location, the Secret Service asked them to relocate, and the surface of the field was the only option at that point. But again, everybody knew way in advance this is what it was going to look like before the event started and they decided to go ahead and stick their candidate in the middle of that anyway.
By the way: Does it matter if a major economic address is held in a very large stadium? Actually, no—it doesn’t. In even a slightly rational world, people would realize that the content of a major economic address is more important than “the optics.” And the content of Romney’s economic proposals is foolish bordering on insane. But the children who pretend to be a press corps will find any way to avoid such boring discussions. In the morning’s New York Times, the hottest new silly-boy, Michael Barbaro, goes on and on—and on and on—about the troubling optics.
These people don’t like discussing matters of substance. Note again the wonderful way Alexander ended last night’s report, speaking to Brian Williams:
ALEXANDER: But as you know, Brian, in these events stagecraft is often as important as what the candidate himself says.Really? In these events, stagecraft is often as important as what the candidate himself says? Why in the world would that be the case?
Alexander seemed to think we’d all understand. Brian simply thanked him.
In her pseudo-professorial way, Maddow mentioned a few events of this type involving Candidate McCain in 2008. The chimps are always ready to play, especially if the troubled optics involve a targeted pol. One more flashback: In July 1999, the Secret Service involved itself in a Gore campaign event, an environmental event involving a canoe ride on a river. This too produced some bad optics. The chimps jumped and screeched and flung their poo for a good solid week. At that time, Gore was targeted.
These are very empty souls—and they’re making millions of dollars.
By the way, what did Romney say in that major address? Matthews didn’t go there.
The children are very upset: The children are also very upset by Romney’s remarks about Michigan's trees. Given the chance to speak to a journalist about the economic address, this was Maddow's first question:
MADDOW: Joining us now is Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for the Washington Post. She`s been traveling with the Mitt Romney in Arizona and Ohio and Michigan. Karen, thank you for being here. It's nice to see you.That was this child's first question.
TUMULTY: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Do you have any insight into why he keeps bringing up the height of the trees in Michigan? I thought it was a non-sequitur the first time, but he keeps doing it. Does it mean something?
The children are very stupid. The greatest album we’ve ever heard is the debut album by the McGarrigles. In her glorious coming-of-age song, Talk to Me of Mendocino, the late Kate McGarrigle spoke about trees in the state where she came of age in much the way Romney does:
I bid farewell to the state of ol' New YorkPeople who hate look for ways to hate. They aren't happy until they find one.
My home away from home
In the state of New York I came of age
When first I started roaming
And the trees grow high in New York state
They shine like gold in autumn
Never had the blues from whence I came
But in New York state I caught 'em.