Matthews: Bannon Is ‘Like Darth Vader’; Pence Won’t Be a ‘Manipulative’ VP Like Cheney

MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews compared White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Thursday to Star Wars villain Darth Vader, even though “he’s a good speaker” albeit “a little strong but, you know, that’s part of the deal he’s got.”

Also, Matthews couldn’t help but invoke former Vice President and Matthews boogeyman Dick Cheney to suggest Vice President Mike Pence won’t be “manipulative” like Cheney was in deceiving the “lesser mind” of George W. Bush.

The topic of Bannon came up when liberal panelist Mark Penn discussed a new poll that found Pence to have a high favorable rating than President Donald Trump. However, both men remained more popular than administration leaders Bannon and counselor Kellyanne Conway.

“You look at Bannon, he is down at 20 percent. So, the people he sent out in the campaign and Kellyanne Conway is negative 2 or 3-to-1. So, those folks really have trouble going out and speaking for Trump now,” argued Penn.

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Matthews then swooped in, telling panelist Michelle Bernard:

Michelle, this is pretty true. I mean, you talk about bad publicity. Bannon gets it all the time. He’s like Darth Vader, you know? And he — but he’s a good speaker. I saw him today. He knows how to talk, but he’s a little strong but, you know, that’s part of the deal he’s got. He’s the — he’s sort of the tough guy in the White House.

The far-left Bernard lamented how conservative Pence is on social issues, but credited him for being “calm,” “stable,” and someone who operates with a tone of voice that doesn’t give credence to instability. 

Matthews seized this opportunity to invoke Cheney and take another swipe at Bush’s intelligence:

MATTHEWS: Yeah, I mean, that's what's really bizarre because he’s not — I don’t think as manipulative as Dick Cheney was, but I think Cheney was manipulative of a lesser mind called the President then at the time and he knew how to manipulate the guy. 

BERNARD: Well, Pence comes off as sincere. 

MATTHEWS: Well, Pence has a hard, traditional Christian — I must say Christian, conservative view of the world which is pretty consistent and predictable. Trump is a amalgam of stuff that works with the polling.

As for Pence’s calm demeanor, Politico’s Ken Vogel added: “I mean, he has an understanding of the way that politics works innately in the way Trump doesn’t, so he kinda translates Trump.”

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on February 23:

MSNBC’s Hardball
February 23, 2017
7:39 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You’ve got an new poll out today and I got this poll which shows that Mike Pence is — gets favorable with 47 percent. Trump gets a favorable of 45 percent. So, does Trump now know that Pence is better surrogate for him than he is himself? 

MARK PENN: Oh, I think there’s no question. I mean, we’re starting a monthly poll — a Harvard/Harris poll — in this poll, Trump is most popular person from the administration. Actually, Bernie Sanders was most of the country, but what does Trump do when his Vice President’s more popular — 

MATTHEWS: Pence is most popular. 

PENN: Pence is most popular in the administration. You look at Bannon, he is down at 20 percent. So, the people he sent out in the campaign and Kellyanne Conway is negative 2 or 3-to-1. So, those folks really have trouble going out and speaking for Trump now. Pence is the man that, by the time he gets to Europe, there’s probably a 40-point gap between Trump and Pence. 

MATTHEWS: Michelle, this is pretty true. I mean, you talk about bad publicity. Bannon gets it all the time.

MICHELLE BERNARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: He’s like Darth Vader, you know? And he —

BERNARD: Right, he probably likes it. 

MATTHEWS: — but he’s a good speaker. I saw him today. He knows how to talk, but he’s a little strong but, you know, that’s part of the deal he’s got. He’s the — he’s sort of the tough guy in the White House. But yet, Kellyanne has had her problems. Let’s be honest. But Pence comes off as the guy that says: “Yes, I believe in NATO.” And Tillerson says we’re not going to fight wars with our GIs — men and women to get killed in and mutilated sometimes in war, horribly, so that we get more gas. You know, these are the — they’re smart things to say. Why isn't the President saying the smart stuff? Because his base doesn't want to hear from him?

BERNARD: Cause his base doesn't want to hear from him and that's not what he got elected for. You know, I think he made a calm, very-pointed when he brought on Mike Pence. He is calm. He is stable. When everybody else in the administration is operating, you know, up here, just hearing his — even his tone of voice, can be very calming which is so surprising because prior to the election, one would have thought, given Pence's ideas on so many social issues, people would not find calm in Mike Pence. But that's what he has given them. 

MATTHEWS: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Yeah, I mean, that's what's really bizarre because he’s not — I don’t think as manipulative as Dick Cheney was, but I think Cheney was manipulative of a lesser mind called the President then at the time and he knew how to manipulate the guy. 

BERNARD: Well, Pence comes off as sincere. 

MATTHEWS: Well, Pence has a hard, traditional Christian — I must say Christian, conservative view of the world which is pretty consistent and predictable. Trump is a amalgam of stuff that works with the polling.

KEN VOGEL: Yeah and I mean, he has an understanding of the way that politics works innately in the way Trump doesn’t, so he kinda translates Trump.


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NBDaily Trump transition Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Hardball Video Government & Press Steve Bannon Dick Cheney Darth Vader George W. Bush Chris Matthews Mike Pence Donald Trump Michelle Bernard George W. Bush
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