Another Hardball, another opportunity for Chris Matthews, his eyes on a Senate run, to ingratiate himself with his party's powers-that-be. No one is more powerful than Barack Obama, of course, and Matthews found numerous ways this evening to praise the president-elect, even lauding, as NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens has noted, his dud of an attempt at humor when it came to Bill Richardson's erstwhile beard.
Richardson, too, came in for some Matthews fawning.
Matthews wasted no time in firing up the flattery. His very first words in opening this evening's show: "The gang's all here: Richardson at Commerce, Clinton at State. Obama leads the band." And a bit later, discussing Obama's cabinet appointments with WaPo's Chris Cillizza and Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune . . .
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I'm just looking at the clever way he's done this stuff. It seems to be artistry. You talk about an elegant man, in his manner not just in his language.
Next, discussing the Richardson appointment, Matthews hit a two-bagger, returning to his Obama-the-elegant theme while throwing in some Everybody Likes Bill praise .
MATTHEWS: Well it's elegance of manner again, as well as word. Let's take a look now at the selection of Bill Richardson—by the way, Bill Richardson to be honest is one of the most popular people in politics. Everybody likes him, he's just a real fun, good guy in so many human ways.
And finally, have a look at the video and Obama's answer to FNC's Wendell Goler's question about the disappearance of Bill Richardson's beard. Obama's attempt at humor fell flat, but Matthews, like a pushover professor who gives all A's . . .
MATTHEWS: A brilliant pollster friend of mine [someone Matthews is recruiting for his run?] once said that every great politician has three characteristics: motive—you know why he or she is there—passion, and spontaneity. Well Barack Obama certainly has that third characteristic. Talk about being quick on your feet! Here he is today giving Bill Richardson, his new Commerce Secretary, a ribbing.
After rolling the tape of Obama's failed effort at humor, an undeterred Matthews enthused.
MATTHEWS: Wow-w-w-w! Reminds me of that same mock-serious way that Barack Obama went about describing his dog-buying decision. The less important the issue, the more intellectual he gets.
Hardball? How about Senatorial Spring Training?