In an interview this evening with former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine), Hardball host Chris Matthews offered his conspiracy theory regarding Republican opposition to the nuclear deal President Obama is brokering with Iran.
For his part, Mitchell gently demurred and brushed off Matthews's allegation, as well as his query as to whether his voicing it made him an "extremist."
Here's the relevant transcript from the segment with Mitchell:
May 6, 2015
GEORGE MITCHELL: ...So, the sanctions, which are the reason that Iran is at the table, which are effective because they're universal, not just unilateral U.S. sanctions, we'll go from universal to unilateral and therefore from effective to ineffective.
And what they will accomplish is the exact opposite of what they say they want: Iran then with a clear path to the bomb and the U.S. Congress having sidelined an agreement that was entered into by six major countries in the world.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host: Take it a step further. I know you've done this in your head. I think the enemies of this deal, of this negotiation, want it to go that far. They want us to bomb Iran, kill any chance of rapprochement between our countries for decades to come. Killing it, because their biggest fear, and this includes Putin and the hawks in Israel and the hawks in Saudi Arabia.
Their biggest fear is that somehow Iran will settle down, it will become a regular country, but a powerful country. And it's in their interests that Iran not become a powerful country, even if it's tamed. They don't want it to be powerful. They want us to be at war with Iran and they want to try to destroy Iran. Tell me why that doesn't -- Putin isn't he even more afraid of an Iran-American friendship than he is of a nuclear-armed Iran? Doesn't he fear most that? Don't the Saudis fear that?
They're afraid of an old Iran like the Shah where we did get along with them? Am I being an extremist in my thinking?
MITCHELL, with nervous laughter: Ah, ha ha ha, I don't know.
MATTHEWS: Because I think they're out for real trouble, the enemies of this deal.
MITCHELL: There may be some who believe that, I'm not sure all do.
It's notable, by the way, that Matthews opened tonight's program by spending a 12-minute segment denouncing "The Politics of Paranoia," referring to some Republican elected officials from Texas who have voiced concerns about a U.S. military training exercise in the Southwestern United States codenamed Jade Helm.