Chris Matthews would undoubtedly bristle at being thought of as part of the Hard Left. But this once reasonable liberal has succumbed—perhaps to the pressure of being the lowest-rated evening host on the increasingly radical MSNBC?—to adopting tactics reserved for radicals. Namely: the criminalization of policy differences, and attempting to discredit and destroy one-time allies who stray from the party line.
For years, the mention of the name Dick Cheney has brought an automatic lip curl to Chris Matthews’s face, as someone beneath contempt whose views have no place in American politics. Matthews considers Cheney a “war criminal,” and a “felon,” who represents a dark and un-American war machine.
Last night, Matthews came up with a new description of “Cheee-ney” (as he peculiarly insists on pronouncing the name) as he mocked Human Events for making Dick Cheney their Man of the Year:
MATTHEWS: The bathtub ring of the Bush Administration himself, that residue of the last 8 years that won’t leave us, Dick Chee-ney!
Last night, Matthews inducted Joe Lieberman into the club of people whose very name cannot be used on Hardball without a contemptuous outburst as he berated a very liberal guest, Darcy Burner of ProgressiveCongress.org, for daring to quote Joe Lieberman on even a small matter of fact.
MATTHEWS: Joe Lieberman’s your witness. Are you kidding me. Are YOU kidding me? You come here as a “progressive” and you tell me your witness is Joe Lieberman… and you believe him?”
But while Joe Lieberman is a traitor for standing up for a principle– in a week in which every MSNBC host declared open war on him, culminating with Keith Olbermann labeling him a “streetwalker”— Ben Nelson, who actually SOLD his vote for a fixed price, is hailed as a consummate politician.
BURNER: I think Ben Nelson just got $100 million a year for the state of Nebraska in Medicaid subsidies, which the people of Nebraska are going to be very grateful for, whatever the people in the other 49 states of the union might think, and that that‘s a pretty huge deal for him to walk away from.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, those pro-lifers are very tough. Very tough. Anyway, thank you.
What has being pro-life got to do with it? Nelson sold his pro-life birthright for a mess of pottage, while Lieberman stood up for the notion that there should be some level of freedom involved in the delivery of health care in America. In fact, it was Lieberman whose stand watered down the Senate bill to the point where Nelson could cave on it for a price– and Nelson is the “tough” politician while Lieberman is the “prostitute”?
Here is Matthews’s indignant exchange with Burner in full. He is in full SNL skit Chris Matthews form:
BURNER: Because, frankly, Joe Lieberman said today that the president never pressured him around some of these key issues, never pressured him around the Medicare buy-in, never…
MATTHEWS: So he‘s now your—he‘s your witness.
BURNER: … pressured him on the public option…
MATTHEWS: Joe LIEBERMAN‘S your witness?
BURNER: Joe Lieberman…
MATTHEWS: Are you kidding me? Are YOU kidding me? (LAUGHTER) You come here as a progressive and you tell me that your witness is Joe Lieberman?
BURNER: Joe Lieberman is saying that he was never…
MATTHEWS: No, I don‘t care what he‘s saying. You believe him on this whole issue?
BURNER: Well, OK. I will grant…
MATTHEWS: He‘s your one you trust?
BURNER: I will grant that his credibility is highly questionable…
MATTHEWS: Well, why are you using him then?
BURNER: … on this.
MATTHEWS: Why are you citing him?
BURNER: But he—but he is the person…
MATTHEWS: Excuse me. I have a problem. This is where the argument‘s gotten, where liberals are quoting Joe Lieberman about what the Senate‘s capable of doing. Joe Lieberman represents Hartford, Connecticut. He still does. He always will. He won‘t be a senator for any other state, will he? So he‘s still going to be there, looking after the insurance industry up there. He‘s still looking out for Joe Lieberman, right? And you‘re saying you‘ve got a new Joe Lieberman you‘ve just pulled out of your pocket now. I‘ve got a progressive Joe Lieberman in here…
BURNER: I‘m not suggesting…
MATTHEWS: … who says that he hasn‘t…
BURNER: … he‘s a progressive.
MATTHEWS: … been pressured enough by President Obama and he‘d like to be whipped some more? What are you—you‘re saying he wants to be pressured more.
BURNER: I am not suggesting Joe Lieberman is progressive. I am only…
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry. But you‘re saying he‘s trustworthy.
BURNER: I am saying that he said today that the president never talked to him about a public option, never talked to him about the Medicare buy-in.
MATTHEWS: OK. Maybe because he knows who he‘s talking to.
BURNER: It‘s possible, but it‘s also the case that we haven‘t had…
MATTHEWS: Look, I‘m—all opinions are valid here. But I just don‘t think Joe Lieberman is a credible source of information about the chances of progressive legislation in this country.
Ripping Joe Lieberman is now a Politically Correct imperative on the Left. No respectful mention of his name will be left unchallenged. Of course, Dick Cheney is used to that:
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First up: Those soldiers of the right over at “Human Events” magazine came out today with their conservative of the year award. They gave it to the bathtub ring of the Bush administration himself, that residue of eight years that won‘t leave us, Dick Cheney.
Here‘s neocon John Bolton, George W. Bush‘s U.N. ambassador, explaining the pick—quote—“Cheney‘s quiet, inner-directed motivation is simply impervious to the attacks orchestrated against him by the Chicago machine style politicians at the White House. It‘s yet another important reason to have confidence that Cheney‘s solid policy analysis will yet prevail in the national political arena.”
Funny you should mention Chicago. Cheney‘s solid policy analysis, as you call it, included exquisitely and quietly, as you put it, and inner-directedly, as you put it, running an office that ended up being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney based in Chicago—there‘s the Chicago connection—for five felony counts against Cheney‘s chief of staff, not exactly the Nobel Prize for Peace, is it?
By the way, is breaking the law in the CIA leak case the current definition of conservative?
Matthews lauds the New York Times for exposing American intelligence sources and methods in fighting Al Qaeda; but the non-story of Scotter Libby, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson will forever live in infamy.
Wear this new status proudly, Senator Lieberman. It’s a badge of honor, and you are in great company.
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