During an appearance on Friday's "Morning Joe," MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews certainly didn't parrot the liberal line while discussing Fidel Castro and Cuban policy. In the midst of a an interview with host Joe Scarborough about the relaxing of certain rules towards the communist country, Matthews growled, "...I just am not a Castro fan. You know, he bought the wrong ticket. He bet on communism. He bet on the Soviet Union." Just getting warmed up, the "Hardball" host derided, "He made the wrong decision, morally, historically, whatever. He's on the wrong side of history. He ought to pay for it." [Audio available here.]
Making himself very clear, Matthews summed up, "I hope he dies a communist, ends up that way. I don't want to lift a finger to help that guy or his brother." In perhaps a sad commentary on the state of the left, both Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski seemed surprised at their colleague's fervent anti-communism. Responding to the whole riff, Scarborough joked about a conservative analyst for the network: "Have you been talking to [Pat] Buchanan this morning?" Brzezinski retorted, "I know. Is Pat in the Washington bureau?"
Matthews even speculated about Cuba's possible role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, saying, "And also, we don't know what role he [Castro] played with Lee Harvey Oswald. Harvey Oswald went down to the Mexican embassy down there." After saying he was unsure who in "Castro's crowd" Oswald may have talked to, Matthews added, "But, you know, I still hold it against them. They had something to do, perhaps, in knocking our guy off." (It must be pointed out, however, that Matthews has debunked many JFK assassination theories on his show. So, it's possible he just blames Castro for inspiring, so to speak, Oswald.)
Asked by Brzezinski whether he would prefer to wait for Castro to die before trying for new relations with Cuba, Matthews quipped, "I would rather get the victory lap in." Brzezinski responded only with a perplexed look, which prompted Scarborough to translate, "Let him die. He's saying let him die."
A transcript of the April 17 segment, which aired at 8:09 am, follows:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let's talk about Cuba. The President making historic overtures to that island. What do you think about that, Chris?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, I just am not a Castro fan. You know, he bought the wrong ticket. He bet on communism. He bet on the Soviet Union. If that side had won, he would be marching through Fifth Avenue, overseeing the executions in Central Park. He made the wrong decision, morally, historically, whatever. He's on the wrong side of history. He ought to pay for it. And I'm with that. And also, we don't know what role he played with Lee Harvey Oswald. Harvey Oswald went down to the Mexican embassy down there. I don't know who he talked to with Castro's crowd, how much they knew before that happened. Now, we tried to knock him off, too. But, you know, I still hold it against them. They had something to do, perhaps, in knocking our guy off. So, I don't really want to help Castro. I hope he dies a communist, ends up that way. I don't want to lift a finger to help that guy or his brother. So, I'm not on the side of the people that say let's just be friends together. Eventually, this guy will play out his hand. He'll be dead. And Raul Castro, hopefully, will be dead, too. I mean, I don't believe want- I don't want to engage in any way that salutes the Cuban revolution at all. They were the other side of history.
SCARBOROUGH: Have you been talking to Buchanan this morning? I'm just curious.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I know. Is Pat in the Washington bureau? Chris-
SCARBOROUGH: I'm just joking with you.
MATTHEWS: That's on my side [sic]. I think the Cold War was a good war. I think we are on the right side. I think the captive nations were truly captive. The people that captured them were the bad guys. Castro took office down there. How many people got the firing squad right after he got in? What, 600 people? He's the bad guy!
BRZEZINSKI: Look, I don't deny that. And I don't think any of us do. But, are you going to-
MATTHEWS: Some do.
SCARBOROUGH: Willie wants to go to some casinos down there.
BRZEZINSKI: I guess my question is, do we wait for him to die in order to move on or is it promising, some of the dialogue we're seeing now?
MATTHEWS: I would rather- I would rather- I would rather get the victory lap in.
SCARBOROUGH: Let him die. He's saying let him die.
MATTHEWS: I think Castro is a bad guy, okay? I think Castro is a bad guy who doesn't like Americans. He may like baseball. He doesn't like us. And just remember. Think it through. I always like to think the opportunity trail that we didn't go. If we had lost the Cold War, who would have been there? Triumphantly over us? Do you think he would have given you a break, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: No, I actually would have been dead in 1989.
MATTHEWS: You might have been one of the people- just guessing, Joe- but, you might have been on the list.