Chris Matthews fancies himself a tough interrogator. A throwback newsman who asks the difficult questions in order to get to the truth. This of course is the delusional world Matthews lives in, but it makes for great copy. I have written many an article pointing out the clear double standard Matthews works by; asking the tough questions to those on the left while excusing those on the right. During the Jack Abramoff scandal, it was even revealed that Matthews had ties to the disgraced lobbyist. Nonetheless, Matthews goes out each night and pretends to play hardball and tonight he showed us a vision into the possible talking points that will be used against Democrats between now and 2008 to help the GOP continue to occupy the White House.
On the first day of the new Congress Matthews was on a tear with every guest about whether the Democrats will keep their campaign promise and end the war in Iraq. When asking those on the left, the response was about how Congress will now provide the oversight for the war that has been sorely lacking; how hearings will be held and how the president will have to be accountable for what he wants to do. At every turn Matthews derided the Democrats for not being willing to "end the war." Toward the end, Matthews summed it up brilliantly, "why would anyone trust the Democrats with the White House in 2008, if they did nothing after being trusted with Congress in 2006?"
Say what??? First of all, where exactly was Chris Matthews for the past four years? Where was he when the GOP ran this war down the throats of Americans? Where was he when it was proved to be lies that led us into war? Where is the accountability for the do-nothing-rubber-stamp Congress? The GOP screws up the country for six years and because the Democrats will not commit to ending the war before even holding a hearing to discuss it, Matthews thinks it is responsible journalism to speculate that it is the Dems that must be to blame? What planet does his dementia come from? Let's try and keep in mind that this was the FIRST day of the new Congress.
That aside, there is very little the Democrats can actually do to end the war. They could shut off the money, but then the media onslaught that would follow is that the Democratic Party cut off funding for the troops, not the war. History would judge the Dems as had done the right thing, but the media blitz over the next two years could almost guarantee a GOP victory in 2008. Outside of that, it has been proffered that they could rescind the authorization for war, but that is far more complicated than merely walking into Congress and doing it. The majority the Dems have is so tenuous, there is no doubt the resolution to rescind the war powers, in the middle of a war, would not be greeted well. Once again, the ensuing media blitz will paint the Dems as having neutered the Commander in Chief, in a time of war, for political payback.
The facts are these. The GOP had complete control for over five years. The mess in Iraq is solely liable to them. The Dems have two years to figure out how to get us out of the mess the GOP got us into but no matter how effective they are, it is still the fault of the GOP that we are in the mess to begin with. In order to begin the process of figuring out how to get us out of Iraq, the Dems need to first restore accountability to the process. They need to restore oversight to the process. When the administration asks for money, they need to answer where it is going and war profiteering needs to end now. They need to explore how we got into the mess, as well as how we get out of it. They need to present a plan that is reasonable for reducing troop levels, not increasing them. The Dems will be judged on what they tried to do, not for what they had no control over for the past five years. If the Dems play politics as usual and continue to feed the war machine, they will lose in 2008. If they do nothing about the war they will lose in 2008. That is because they have received a mandate from the American people this past November. That however, is not what Matthews was propagating tonight.
What Matthews was trying skillfully to do, was to take the blame which sits upon the GOP, set the bar at an unreachable level for the Dems, and then try to transfer that blame to the Dems for not reaching the prescribed levels. All the while, paying no attention to what the president does to muck up the processes. The notion that if the Dems do not "stop the war" means they do not deserve the White House in 2008 is laughable. They have only two years to undo five years of utter neglect and corruption. If they were smart they would hold hearings quickly on Iraq and demand that Bush comes up with a way out. While they do that, they need to overhaul the HAVA so that the 2008 elections can be fair. At the same time they need to get back into the media regulation business so that shills like Matthews can be properly labeled and that media coverage can be fair again.
While they are doing that they can concentrate on raising the minimum wage, making healthcare affordable, and correcting the abuses of the last five years. Matthews treated these as excuses for the Dems tonight. In doing so, he lied on two fronts. First of all, no Democrat I am aware of ran on a promise of "ending the war." They ran on restoring Congressional oversight. Not content with that lie, Matthews then compounds it by minimizing what they actually did run on. They did run on raising the minimum wage. They did run on making healthcare affordable. The fact that they want to push these items in their first 100 hours plan, while organizing committees and hearings on Iraq to decide how to get us out of that mess, seems like a wise plan. Unfortunately to shills like Matthews it becomes a venal opportunity to deride the party that has been in power ONE day, and provide no criticism for the party that used the past five years to get us into the mess to begin with. That is not journalism. It's whiffle ball.