On Tuesday's Hardball, while praising President Obama's handling of the killing of Osama bin Laden, MSNBC's Chris Matthews excoriated Dick Cheney as a "sadist."
Former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman contrasted the Bush/Cheney administration's dropping of bombs in Iraq with Obama's actions. Matthews responded by mocking, "There's a difference between being cold blooded- I think presidents have to be cold blooded- and being a sadist."
As if his point wasn't clear, the liberal anchor interrupted Fineman to add, " I was referring to Cheney, of course."
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Earlier, Matthews mocked Republicans, proclaiming that if Bush had killed bin Laden, conservatives would be calling for "secular canonization." The host dismissed, "The guy would be on Mount Rushmore if W. had done this. They'd be carving the stone tonight, right?"
A transcript of the May 3 exchanges, which began at 5:17pm EDT, follow:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: The President's personal approval, however, has gone way up in this poll. He is up at plus 18 points now, and was at minus three last month. Other polls out today show a smaller bump. See him there at 56 percent approval. But, while the country is positive on the handling of terrorism, his handling of Afghanistan. Still just 40 percent approve his handling of the economy. Duh. It has something to do with reality. Will killing Osama bin Laden prove to be a defining moment for this President? And Would Republican attitudes be different if this had happened while George W Bush was still- well, you don't have to ask that one. Howard Fineman is the editorial director [sic] for the Huffington Post and MSNBC political analyst and Todd Purdham is the national editor for Vanity Fair. Gentlemen, do I have to ask what Republicans- secular canonization. The guy would be on Mount Rushmore if W. had done this. They'd be carving the stone tonight, right?
HOWARD FINEMAN: Oh, there's no question.
MATTHEWS: They'd be dancing. The spiking of the football would be unbelievable.
TODD PURDHAM: I think it resonates with the notion that we are not going to mess around. And the White House was quite successful, I thought, in putting out those speeches from 2007 and 2008 in which at the time you'll recall people sort of mocked him. "Oh, yeah, if you saw bin Laden you'd take him out." And "you shouldn't say that out loud because it will hurt our relationship with Pakistan. It's not how it's done."
FINEMAN: By the way, he's put a lot more- he did put a lot more troops in Afghanistan, okay? He didn't put as many as some of the conservatives wanted.
PURDHAM: Stepped up the Predator attacks.
FINEMAN: Stepped up the present attacks with the drones. And here are the differences between President Bush and Dick Cheney almost literally pushing the 500 pound daisy cutter bombs down onto Iraq and not getting what they were targeting. And the President getting the person that he was targeting.
MATTHEWS: There's a difference between being cold blooded- I think presidents have to be cold blooded- and being a sadist.
FINEMAN: Yeah, but all the debate now-
MATTHEWS: I was referring to Cheney, of course.
FINEMAN: All the debate about whether Osama bin Laden was defending himself, whether he had a weapon or didn't have a weapon, let's face it, I mean, based on what we're thinking Obama- the President's orders were to shoot and kill.