Chris and Lawrence change their tune!


Gush about brilliant Bill Clinton: Last night, after Bill Clinton’s address, Lawrence and Chris started gushing.

Before we recall what they’ve said in the past, let’s review what Matthews said about Clinton’s manifest brilliance:
MADDOW (9/5/12): Chris, when you were hearing the arguments laid out by President Clinton, were you hearing him augment the existing message of the Obama campaign or was he doing a whole different thing? Was he running his own Clinton-for-Obama campaign?

MATTHEWS: Well, I thought that it is as if Bill Clinton was the best staffer President Obama has, because he went out and got the numbers.

He really did the arithmetic tonight in a way that I thought the president and none of the people around the president have been able to do. Arithmetic is a good word, by the way. It reminds us of grade school, elementary school. It doesn’t intimidate us.
We can figure things out ourselves.
When you talk about how Bill Clinton balanced the budget and held the debt down and actually reduced the national debt during his second term, you have to wonder. All he did was look at spending and revenue and did the logical choices, whereas W. came in and did the opposite, starting a couple of wars, cutting taxes, going Wrong Way Corrigan in both directions of revenue and spending.

So it seems so logical when Bill talks.
We agree that Clinton did a very good job. (It's about time somebody did!) But Matthews joined a great many others in suggesting that Clinton explained some very difficult topics—things which are hard to explain.

That really isn’t the case, except within the context of a press corps which can’t explain squat or squadoodle. Can’t explain squat—or won’t try.

(See our next post, about one especially pathetic CNN fact-check last night.)

In coming days, we’ll go over a few of the topics Clinton explained last night. In truth, these topics aren’t real hard to explain. They’re just hard to explain for people like Matthews, and for the rest of the hacks.

Having said that, did you notice the change in the weather from Chris and Lawrence, two long-standing Clinton-haters? In his first chance to speak, this is what the brilliant O’Donnell said from the convention floor:
MADDOW: Let’s bring on Lawrence O’Donnell, who is in the convention hall. Lawrence, tell us your experience of the speech, what you saw there.

O'DONNELL: Well, Rachel, I think one of the concerns that the Obama team has to have is what was the effect of the speech outside of this hall, where it went more than a half-hour longer than it was scheduled to go.

It was one of those Clinton tests of a television audience attention span. He used to do this sometimes with State of the Union addresses that many of us thought went too long. But then on Bill Clinton`s longest State of the Union address, when the pundit opinion was unanimous that it had gone far too long and he had lost the audience, he got his biggest poll jump ever from a State of the Union address, which was the longest one he ever gave.
Even here, Lawrence couldn’t quite make himself say that Clinton had given a very good speech. He went straight to a standard old scripted concern: Bill Clinton talked too long!

Lawrence is a squirrel. His mind drifted back to one of the three million times when numbskulls like him swore that President Clinton had bombed, only to learn different.

(Please note: O’Donnell said “the public opinion” was unanimous that Clinton went too long in that famous State of the Union address. That claim is absurdly inaccurate. In instant polling of the address, public opinion was very positive. It was insider pundits, fools like O’Donnell, who insisted that Clinton had spoken too long.)

Still and all, as O’Donnell continued, even he was forced to admit that Clinton had given a good speech. As he closed, he referred to “the magic of the speech,” the way Clinton had “improved that speech beyond what was written for him.”

Even that was passive-aggressive, of course. (Clinton didn't write his speech!) But do you remember what Lawrence used to say about big dumb-ass Clinton? Back in the day, Clinton was always been the dumbest guy in the room! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/5/12:
O'DONNELL (3/6/03): In my experience being in the Oval Office with Bill Clinton, he knew about an index card worth of material.

I'll put it this way. I was never in a meeting with Bill Clinton and senators where Bill Clinton was not the single most ignorant person in the room. And I don't say that as a criticism; that's the way it's—that's normal. He's from out of town. He's just coming from a governorship. He didn't have Medicare under his jurisdiction in Arkansas. He didn't have Social Security. He didn't have trade. So they don't know anything.

These governors that we make president—you know, it's like taking the president of Avis and making him the president to Warner Bros. What do you think he knows on the first day? Nothing. And, you know— But the image that Clinton easily achieved was that he knew more than most presidents. That's because up against the White House press corps, that's a really easy thing to achieve because no one's allowed three follow-up questions in a row. If they were, you'd discover that, “Hmm, I guess he has that one rap on Medicare, but he doesn't have anything else, does he?”
O’Donnell is one of the genuine fools of the past several decades. But last night, even this inveterate Clinton-hater knew that he was being paid to rein his pomposity in.

In his own first statement last night, Matthews gushed about the way Clinton “beat up the other side. There is no other phrase for it,” Matthews said. “He took down all the Republican arguments on welfare, on Medicare.”

Remember how angry Chris used to get when “the Clintons” engaged in such conduct? For one small example from 2008, see this second post from yesterday's DAILY HOWLER.

In that post, we reviewed some things Matthews said in 2008, when he was still a reliable hater of all things Clinton and Gore.

Under the new corporate structure, O’Donnell and Matthews have finally flipped. They’ve moved away from many years of deeply destructive Clinton/Gore-hating.

After Clinton’s very good speech, Lawrence was still a bit passive-aggressive. After pretending those topics were hard, Matthews was willing to gush.


  1. Did O'Donnell say that the "public" opinion was unanimous or that the "pundit" opinion was unanimous that Clinton's state of the union had been too long?

    1. Yep.

      Either Bob's misquoted (perhaps by typo) O'Donnell in that instance, or else Bob is arguing a point that Bob himself quotes O'Donnell as not having actually said.

      I can't bear to go to the tape myself. And there are no transcripts right now. But the other sources quoting this have it that O'Donnell did in fact say "pundit opinion."

      So, Bob, your parenthetical comment about this is nonsensical on everyone's and even your own quoting of O'Donnell.

      The point about these piper pundits' willingness to sing the tune they're paid to is valid, of course.

  2. Yes, Bill Clinton gave a very good speech. The optics were brilliant and the "Big Dog" did his thing. Unfortunately, he flushed your liberal/progressive values down the toilet great speech.

    The great orator spoke in the affirmative regarding Simpson Bowles and lectured us rubes on the need for a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction. Can you see that we have already lost the economic arguments?

    Our Dear Leaders keep telling us this fact, but we refuse to listen.

  3. Mr Griffin, head of MSNBC, explains the formula for success:

    Griffin said MSNBC has "evolved" over the past four years. The network, he said, is "about smarts, it's about depth."

    "People connect with us," Griffin said. "It's not about just having your ideas reflected back at you. That is bogus. That is wrong. It is about trusting people who do their homework, who know it, who live in the world of facts. They connect with all these people. There is a personal connection between our hosts and our audience. They believe in them. They trust them because they do the homework. They do the hard work. So they come in here and they want their picture taken with the picture of the guy. They believe in them. That's a powerful thing."


    And on Tuesday, Sam Feist, Washington bureau chief for CNN, told The Huffington Post that "if you watch MSNBC during convention coverage, you have a cheering section for the Democrats."

    Griffin rejected the notion that the network's hosts are supporting one party over the other.

    "My problem with that is it doesn't give credit to what we've done," Griffin said. "That's painting in big, fat, ugly strokes and it's just not right. If you look at our coverage, if you look what our people said during the Republican convention -- It wasn't cheerleading for the Democrats when Ed Schultz says 'a star is born' with Ryan and gives him a ton of credit for that speech, when Lawrence O'Donnell comes right after the Romney speech and says 'best speech of his career, of his life, that's what they needed to do and they did it,' when we have Steve Schmidt on our desk explaining the strategy of everything they're doing."

    "Yes, we have a sensibility," he continued. "And yes, it's progressive. But I think that there's a difference between us and Fox and a big difference between us and CNN. And that is, we go deeper. We're not afraid to have depth. Our shows require you to sit down and listen and we connect with the audience."

    1. Unclear, Anonymous, whether you think Griffin's statements have merit or recognize them for the bunch of bullshit they are...

    2. Commentators on Fox also give credit for good speeches by the Democrats. That doesn't mean Fox isn't a propaganda channel. There's a facade of even-handedness on top of the relentless agenda-pushing. "Depth" for MSNBC means four egomaniacal millionaires trying to top each other in "explaining" why Democrats are good, and Republicans are bad.

  4. Matthews best comment of the night:

    "I always figured that if Bill Clinton landed on Mars, he would know how to do it with them, he would know how to reproduce, he would know everything. He'd just instinctively know how to talk to people."

  5. Somerby is still living in the past. Matthews has been gushing about Clinton, both Clintons, for *years* now, since well before MSNBC became "the one true channel."

    But Bob is incapable of allowing that somebody might change his opinion when he learns more, perhaps because he's incapable of it himself.

    1. About what, for example, should Somerby change his old opinion, given the new evidence?

  6. Wrong gyrfalcon, in fact, Obama love for MSNBC was in large part an outgrowth of "get Clintonism."

    1. Exactly. The Clintons only receive praise from MSNBC when they are serving Obama.

  7. Years and years ago, for one summer, my brother and I watched Roller Derby on UHF. The bad guy on almost every show was Ronnie "Psycho" Raines, who used every dirty trick in the book to try and beat the LA Thunderbirds, the good guys of the show. After being vilified in every possible way, Ronnie was traded to the Thunderbirds and became, hilariously, a good guy too.
    I would have forgotten all about Ronnie "Psycho" Rains, if it wasn't for Chris Matthews.

  8. Matthews lacks, or lacked Rain's charisma, not to mention his derring-do.

    Anyone who defends this broken corporate/mainstream media culture is out of their mind.