For weeks MSNBC's Chris Matthews has been complaining about the lack of declared GOP presidential candidates.
On Tuesday's "Hardball," former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele exposed Matthews' hypocrisy concerning this matter marvelously demonstrating that once any of the possible candidates formally enters the race, the avowed liberal commentator is just going to trash him or her (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: This is the strangest thing in the world. The Reagan library debate was supposed to be,. like, now. That`s gone until next September.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Right.
MATTHEWS: The Fox thing is supposed to be in, what is it, South Carolina? It`s supposed to be --
STEELE: May 4th, right.
MATTHEWS: -- in a week or two.
MATTHEWS: There`s no real front-running group of candidates like we`ve always had before. Why are these big names pulling out, first of all?
STEELE: Well, I --
MATTHEWS: Why`d Barbour pull out yesterday?
STEELE: Well, I --
MATTHEWS: Why`s Pence thinking about something else?
STEELE: Well, I --
MATTHEWS: Thune everybody thought would be the dark horse. Your thoughts.
The above came early in the lengthy opening segment of Tuesday's "Hardball" with the following coming a few minutes later:
MATTHEWS: Well, Steve, the big difference between -- that`s a fair comparison except for one thing. Back when Bill Clinton was smart to run early, running in `92 and winning, George Herbert Walker Bush was about 91 percent in the polls. He had just won the Iraq war. He looked like Winston Churchill -- though he ended up getting beaten in `45. He couldn`t be beaten.
This president is running, when he bounces to the top of his bounce, around 50. Sometimes he gets above it. This is a winnable race, depending on conditions. Why do you think, as an analyst watching the Republican side, these guys are all Chicken Littles? They`re all bopping across -- yes, they can`t -- it`s not my year, I don`t know, I don`t think I got the ID. When`s going on here?
For the most part, this is what Matthews has been saying for months. Minutes later, Steele attempted to address Matthews' concerns:
STEELE: Look, you`ve got a very strong conservative base that`s active in the GOP nominating process, and I think that a number of those who are announced already, like a Tim Pawlenty and certainly a Newt Gingrich, can galvanize that base --
MATTHEWS: Oh, geez!
STEELE: -- around a set of ideas.
STEELE: Look -- no, you --
MATTHEWS: You think Newt Gingrich is fit to be president of United States?
STEELE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. See, you`re assuming --
MATTHEWS: Give me a break!
STEELE: You are assuming --
MATTHEWS: Newt Gingrich president of the United States?
STEELE: Wait a minute. This is not about your personal peeve with Newt Gingrich --
MATTHEWS: No, it`s not about my peeve.
STEELE: -- or your views about Newt Gingrich.
MATTHEWS: Look at the rap sheet --
STEELE: This is about --
MATTHEWS: -- on the guy.
STEELE: Wait a minute. Hold up. This is about a Republican nominating process. Now, if you want to talk about a general election campaign or strategy, that`s something else.
STEELE: But you`re talking about a Republican -- you asked me about a Republican nominating process, and I`m giving you the square deal here.
Plainly evident, Steele was beginning to see the hypocrisy. Matthews was expressing what is obviously a bogus concern about why more Republicans haven't tossed their names into the presidential ring because he's trashing those that either have or appear destined to do so.
This became even clearer moments later:
MATTHEWS: Michael, do you think America`s in peacetime right now?
MATTHEWS: Are we in peace? Just an objective -- we`re all objective people here now. Are we in peacetime right now? When you look around the world --
STEELE: No, no. No, Chris.
STEELE: To answer the question --
MATTHEWS: I know somebody who believes --
STEELE: -- we are not in peacetime.
MATTHEWS: -- that we`re in peacetime. He wrote an op-ed, which you re-edit a couple of times and (INAUDIBLE) people help you with them and you get them right. But after a lot of deliberation and editing, here`s what Mitt Romney wrote in an op-ed in "The Manchester Union-Leader" up in New Hampshire. Quote, "Barack Obama`s facing a financial emergency on a grander scale, yet his approach has been to engage in one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history." And when questioned on the use of the word "peacetime," his spokeswoman said he meant to say -- well, he didn`t say it, it was written down -- since World War II.
Is this up there with Jerry Ford and Poland has been liberated? I mean, is this one of those delusional statements that really disqualifies a guy from even thinking about running the country?
STEELE: No, it does -- no, no, it does not. And you know, Mitt Romney is one of those serious individuals who`s looking to run for the nomination --
MATTHEWS: Well, explain.
STEELE: -- who I think will put on a good race and you cannot -- you cannot hold him -- you cannot hold him to that. I mean, that`s just an editorial mishap and you move on.
MATTHEWS: So if he were president of the United States and he said, We`re enjoying peacetime in his inaugural address, you wouldn`t take that as a problem.
STEELE: Pardon me?
MATTHEWS: If he said this during his inaugural address or his acceptance speech, would it be a problem then? At what point does missing the reality of our time -- we`re on four war fronts right now. We`re fighting in Pakistan. We`re fighting in Libya --
MATTHEWS: Everybody knows this. We`re fighting in -- we got 100,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan.
STEELE: Chris, it has --
MATTHEWS: We got half that many fighting in Iraq, and this guy thinks we`re living in peacetime. That`s a problem.
STEELE: Right. And President Obama thinks there are 57 states. What`s your point?
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRAT STRATEGIST: Listen, this is just --
STEELE: What`s your point?
MATTHEWS: One is a misstatement. The other one --
STEELE: OK, so give me a break.
MATTHEWS: -- is a misreality. Go back to Steve McMahon --
STEELE: Oh, yes. Oh, I -- oh, is that how this works, one`s a misstatement and the other`s a misreality?
MATTHEWS: I just think one guy --
So, moments after bashing Gingrich, Matthews went after the GOP candidate many believe to be the presumptive favorite. With this in mind, when Matthews presented some candidates that he thinks would be viable, Steele was having none of it:
MATTHEWS: OK, let me run through a couple of names just to run this because I don`t -- think there`s a point here. And my point is that people that could be president aren`t running. I think in a different year, Jeb Bush could have a great run for president. I don`t think this is his year, necessarily. I think Chris Christie`s got something. I think he`s a hotshot. I think he`s verbal. He knows how to talk like East Coast guy, quick and smart, and he`s interesting.
MATTHEWS: And that separates him from Pawlenty --
MATTHEWS: -- and it separates him from Romney. He`s interesting. Thune I think has the look of a rangy Westerner.
MATTHEWS: He`s got sort of the cowboy manner, and he`s clean as a whistle and he`s the new kid on the block and he might just knock the president off. Pence --
STEELE: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: -- is not exactly the happiest guy I ever met in my life, but he seems to approving -- he seems to fit with the sensibility of the party, which is not having a good time anyway. The guys who are not running look like good candidates, Michael. I tell you this --
STEELE: Of course they do, Chris --
MATTHEWS: -- New Gingrich is never going to --
STEELE: -- because they`re not running!
MATTHEWS: -- be president of the United States. These guys you have on your list -- Tim Pawlenty`s not going to be president. I don`t think Mitt Romney`s going to be president.
MATTHEWS: Do you?
MCMAHON: I like -- I like the field. I like the field that they`re running right now.
STEELE: I -- I -- look, I --
MATTHEWS: Michael, do you think any of these guys running --
MATTHEWS: You said when we started tonight --
MATTHEWS: -- when your IQ was popping about 10 minutes ago before you got beaten down by me, you had a smart thought. Somebody`s going to come in this race like Bill Clinton came into the Democratic side --
STEELE: I do. I believe that.
MATTHEWS: -- back in `92. So who do you think`s going to be your Wendell Wilkie, the guy that comes in and wows you?
STEELE: I don`t -- I don`t -- I don`t know who that person -- in all honesty, I don`t know who that person is just yet, but I do believe that that is something that`s very true. I was saying going back to my days as chairman that I think the dynamics of this time and this race will allow someone to come in that will surprise people. At one time, I thought it was Mitch Daniels. It still may be. We`ll see if he gets in. I don`t know.
But this is the point. You guys are sitting there in your comfort zone with this race right now and because of the people who aren`t running you think should be running. I guarantee you that if any on that list were running, you`d be eating them alive --
MATTHEWS: OK --
STEELE: -- just like you`re going after Tim Pawlenty and Gingrich now.
MATTHEWS: Well, Michael --
STEELE: So let`s -- let`s call it what it is, all right?
Bingo. All this carping and whining by folks like Matthews about why more Republicans haven't entered the race is total nonsense for the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln could appear tomorrow and everyone on MSNBC as well as the rest of the liberal media would attack him just as they are Bachmann, Gingrich, Palin, Pawlenty, Romney, and Trump.
So, let's do call it what it is: getting Barack Obama reelected.