(image by Ninian Reid /)
Chris Matthews recent "testy" exchange with Elizabeth Warren simply must be seen as something more than his routine personal struggle with his ego and his scarcely disguised suspicion that he is, after all, perhaps not the brightest bulb on the string. The difference that distinguishes this encounter is his deliberate, and not typical, rhetorical use of "cheap shots." First of all, he rhetorically puts Warren in the position of being a spokesperson for the Democratic Party, which he with his self-vaunted insider "hardball" persona (and any thinking person who has observed her political career) knows she clearly is not. Then he faults her as a proxy for Barack Obama, another phony characterization, and doubles down on the President's (and by implication her) inability to move forward a political agenda. "You're not getting it done!" He cites Democratic control of the executive and the Senate, as if that "power base" were sufficient to offset a House that each day obstructs any effort the President makes to advance even the most obvious and least controversial policies. One might have thought that in Matthews' professional training as an aide to Tip O'Neill, he would have noticed the power of that body to obstruct or encourage bipartisan behavior. In fact he has written a book on that subject. Then there's a Senate whose Republican notion of a simple majority is sixty out of a hundred. Does he really hold Elizabeth Warren responsible for not achieving national job creation and infrastructure repair? Why stop there? Why hasn't she straightened out gun control, voting rights, and immigration?
The point is that Matthews picked a spurious fight, and did so with an egregious enthusiasm. "Give me a date, give me a date," he trumpeted while abusing his pundit's prerogative of control of the microphone and volume to prevent a response. What's going on here? Does Chris think he needs to head off any suspicion that he is a lapdog of the progressive wing of the party? Was this a dog whistle to the Clinton machine that he was still available to be a friend of Hillary? Perhaps it was personal. Maybe he just doesn't like Warren, or sees in her something he doesn't see in himself. In any case, his de minimis "You're a fine Senator, but . . ." doesn't change the reality that he, not she, was the loser in this confrontation.
(Article changed on June 21, 2014 at 19:15)
(Article changed on June 21, 2014 at 19:20)