Thirty-six minutes into tonight's Hardball, host Chris Matthews finally permitted a Cheney defender, former Cheney aide Ron Christie, to grace his program. Even then, Christie was denied an unobstructed opportunity to make his case, having to share the segment with hyper-partisan Dem consultant Bob Shrum - he of the record-breaking number of losing presidential campaigns - who tried to drag in everything from Iraq to Hurricane Katrina.
Until Christie's belated appearance, Hardball was an absolutely ceaseless cavalcade of criticism heaped on the Veep and his handling of the shooting incident that included:
- clips of NBC reporter David Gregory haranguing Scott McClellan;
- file footage of Gloria Borger supposedly tripping up Cheney over the Saddam/Al-Qaeda connection;
- MSNBC reporter David Shuster's decidedly downbeat portrayal of events;
- a grim assessment from Washington Post reporter Jim Vandehei;
- a pessimistic view of Whittington's medical situation by former NIH director Bernadine Healy; and finally
- a panel discussion with former Clinton Press Secretary Dede Myers and DC factotum David Gergen
The negative portrayal of the Vice-President and of the administration's handling of the matter was absolutely unrelenting.
And as soon as Christie exited stage right, he was replaced by the puerile Bill Maher, who in 2000 didn't find even Al Gore sufficiently left to suit his tastes, opting instead to support Ralph Nader. Maher claimed that the handling of the incident was emblematic of the Bush administration's approach to every issue: "screw something up, lie about it and blame the victim." So eager was Matthews to join the bash fest that eventually Maher himself had to rein him in
"Chris, you don't have to convince me that Cheney is a bad guy."
The apotheosis of vitriol came from Matthews himself when, in discussing Cheney's alleged disdain for the press with Myers and Gergen, asked:
"Does he hate the President too?"
With no positive agenda or constructive proposals to offer the American people on anything from Iraq to Social Security, Democrats and their MSM echo chamber have fastened on the shooting incident like a starving dog on a bone.
Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts the local TV program "Right Angle." Email him at: email@example.com