Jonathan Chait offered up a snarky little article this morning, Chris Matthews Goes Tea Party on Elizabeth Warren. What happened was that Matthews was complaining that Washington wasn’t getting the things done that she things should get done. He said things like, “You’re blaming it on the Republicans, but you control the Senate and you control the White House.” To this, Chait right responded, “Well, right, but the Constitution doesn’t say that if the House, Senate, and president disagree on a bill, then best two out of three wins.”
The reason that Chait refers to this as going all Tea Party is that the main thing that distinguishes the Tea Party from mainstream Republicans is this idea that the former think somehow they can will themselves to power. They may only control the House of Representatives, but if they just hold firm the rest of the government will be forced to follow. This is what happened in the government shutdown. The real problem is that on the right there is a certain kind of delusion that we don’t see on the left. For example, I’m a very practical leftist who is open to pretty much anything that works. But I have no illusions that I’m not far to the left of the country. The Tea Party really does think that their policy preferences are popular, when they are actually a lot less popular than mine!
So I disagree with Chait’s contention that this delusional thinking is now breaking out on the left. This is just yet another case of Chris Matthews being a jerk. And he is hardly a liberal. He pretends to be a liberal because MSNBC is now a liberal network. When MSNBC was a conservative network, Matthews was one of the biggest proponents of war. He was also allegedly the main person pushing for Phil Donahue’s firing. And that should tell you all you need to know about Matthews: it isn’t about ideology. It is all about his power and money. His “brand” is as a straight talking truth teller. And the truth he tells is whatever is convenient at the time. It was once really convenient to be a big booster for the Iraq War.
In this interview, Matthews is just trying to sound serious and like an “every man.” He wants to know how the Democrats are going to bring back the middle class. Elizabeth Warren had good things to say. But Matthews complains that union aren’t doing anything—demonstrably false. He says the president says something different every day and he doesn’t know what is going on. And then he gets into his, “Why does the Republican control of the House constrain you?” Mostly, it just seemed like he needed a nap.
I don’t know why Matthews is on the air anymore. He must be good friends with powerful people. Because he’s an idiot. He’s got to know that Obama has, in fact, called for increased infrastructure spending and it has been blocked by the Republicans in Congress—especially because he called for it. Of course, he’s the guy who wrote the totally stupid book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked. All he was doing in this interview was pushing the moderate’s answer to everything, “Why can’t the parties just get along?” Well, when one of them manages to win elections by not getting along, there isn’t much the Democrats can do until the voters wake up.