Despite unemployment at 9.5 percent and millions of people having lost their jobs since Barack Obama was elected, Chris Matthews just doesn't understand why anyone would miss George W. Bush.
Without naming this week's PPP poll finding Ohioans would vote for Bush over Obama by the tally of 50 to 42 percent if a presidential election was held today, Matthews in the first segment of "Hardball" asked his guests, "Why would you want that back?"
When Time's Michael Scherer tried to explain logically why voters are disappointed with what Obama has done since Inauguration Day, Matthews wasn't having any of it (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Here`s the point. Why are the voters now in these polls -- now, some of the polls are robocall polls. They`re not the most reliable polls. But I`m seeing enough evidence to think there`s something going on. When people say -- independent voters say they`d rather have Bush back --
MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: -- after Iraq and taking this economy -- doubling the national debt, bringing the deficit out of nowhere, when Clinton left it with a big, fat surplus, why would you want that back?
SCHERER: Take --
MATTHEWS: What`s your reporting tell you?
SCHERER: What a lot of these voters are voting for -- these are independent voters. You know, the miracle of Obama in 2008 wasn`t that he got elected, it was that he got elected in a lot of states like Indiana and North Carolina that didn`t go Democrat very often. He did that by grabbing independent voters who were sick of President Bush, who thought the country was going in the wrong direction, and he offered a broad promise of hope and change that hasn`t been delivered. That`s what he`s suffering for.
And I think in a place like Ohio, where you`re talking about that poll, what people are saying is, "Look, you know, we weren`t being treated well with the last guy. We`re not treated being well with this guy. We`ll take whatever we can get."
Exactly. Matthews either forgot or was dishonestly ignoring that this is why the Democrats won in 2006 and 2008: the country was unhappy with Republicans and just wanted to vote "D".
Now, the country is unhappy with the Ds:
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: There has been a message problem out of the White House. When you have polls showing that people don`t believe the stimulus has created jobs or saved jobs and you have Republicans echoing and -- and reemphasizing that particular lie, and it sets in, well, that`s something that actually, I think, is within the realm of control for the White House.
MATTHEWS: There are two choices when you vote, D or R. If the people push R, does your reporting tell that they know they`re voting for more lackadaisical administration, like Katrina, more hawkishness and neo- conservative fighting of wars that are wars of choice, not necessity? Do they know they`re voting for that kind of thing? And they`re voting for a guy who was so sloppy on fiscal policy, refused to veto a single spending bill, that we doubled the national debt? Do they know that that`s what R means when they vote R this November?
SCHERER: When I was in Indiana -- I was in South Bend, Elkhart, Joe Donnelly, very tough reelecting, won with 67 percent --
SCHERER: -- of the vote --
MATTHEWS: I liked that part.
SCHERER: -- a couple years ago -- he is dealing with voters who were telling me Barack Obama`s not the guy I voted for. I thought he was going to turn the economy around. He didn`t turn the economy around. I didn`t know he was going to do this health care thing. I thought he was going to change Washington (INAUDIBLE) Washington change. That`s what they were voting for. It has nothing to do with the wars, the other --
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the reelection talk, right.
SCHERER: No, but these are independent voters. These are people -- you know, they`re not high-information voters --
MATTHEWS: When Obama was running for reelection or running for election, the economy wasn`t in the tank. It went in the tank during the transition. Doesn`t anybody remember that? It was the last quarter of the Bush administration that everything went to hell.
Once again, it's tough to determine whether Matthews' memory is suffering or he's just dishonest. The recession officially began in December 2007, and the financial crisis started in September 2008 - the THIRD quarter almost two full months BEFORE Election Day:
SCHERER: Obama went to Elkhart, Indiana, in February of 2009, couple weeks after he gets in office, he says, I`m going to pass the stimulus. It`s going to help you. I`m going to keep my promise --
SCHERER: -- to Elkhart. Elkhart`s unemployment now is over 13 percent and it`s been rising again this summer.
MATTHEWS: Because it was rising when he came in.
SCHERER: It was rising --
CORN: -- probably would be higher now if Obama hadn`t --
CORN: And you know, this is -- this is the administration`s obligation, and Democrats on the Hill are livid because they don`t think the White House is living up to this obligation of making a stronger case - -
MATTHEWS: There`s so much --
CORN: -- making the case that you just made!
MATTHEWS: Let`s make the points through the numbers. Unemployment when Bush came in was 4.2 percent. When he left office, it was up to 7.6 percent, way up from where he came in. When Bush came into office, we had a $281 billion Clinton-led surplus. When he left, we had a $1.2 trillion deficit. And he doubled the national debt. Those are the facts on the table.
Yes, but unemployment is now at 9.5 percent and likely climbing. There are currently 3.3 million fewer people on non-farm payrolls than in January 2009 making today's labor markets FAR WORSE than they were when Obama took office.
But that's only half the story, for the Democrats have controlled Congress since January 2007. As this is a Congressional election, it is a referendum on what the Party controlling the House and the Senate have done since they took over.
Here, the numbers are even more glaring, as the unemployment rate that month was 4.6 percent. Over 7 million people have lost their jobs since the Democrats took over Congress.
As for fiscal policy, the last budget created by the Republican-controlled Congress had a deficit of $160 billion. This year, with Obama and Democrats controlling everything, we're on pace for close to a $1.6 trillion deficit, or TEN TIMES 2007's shortfall.
But Matthews doesn't want to share those numbers with his viewers:
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to the politics again. The voter out there, he can only choose between what he had and what he has. You`re saying he`s going to choose what he had in Elkhart, Indiana.
SCHERER: They`re not voting for Bush in Elkhart. They`re voting -- they`re voting because they`re --
MATTHEWS: Their memory of what?
SCHERER: No, they`re disappointed with what they have.
Indeed, because no matter how you slice it, in most parts of the country, things are worse today than they were when Obama was inaugurated and FAR WORSE than when the Democrats took over Congress.
But don't expect a shill like Chris Matthews to report that in an election year.