Gross: Matthews Cozies Up to Former Obama Officials Brennan, Rhodes

Thursday’s Hardball featured MSNBC host Chris Matthews spending two separate segments sucking up to former Obama foreign policy and intelligence officials John Brennan and Ben Rhodes, complimenting the former for “know[ing] so much” and the latter for his “beautiful” new book defending his role in the far-left Obama legacy.

Rhodes went first just past 7:20 p.m. Eastern when Matthews teed him up to blast Trump over the impending North Korea summit by observing: “Trump is sort of looking at this like a night of karaoke, like, I will do my best out there, if — whatever, and not that you’re ought to deal with the high stakes on a nuclear question.”

 

 

Matthews allowed Ben Rhodes to filibuster and brag about his love for Ben Rhodes, such as flaunting his role in doing “the prep work for the opening to Cuba and I must have met 20 times with the Cubans before we brought President Obama into that.”

For an administration that embraced meetings with leaders from Cuba and Iran, Rhodes sure seemed to be taking a different tone now that an administration of the other party is doing something similar with North Korea.

Later, Matthews fretted over an excerpt from Rhodes’s book in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel supposedly shed a tear during her last meet with Barack Obama. The pair opined that Merkel symbolizes the type of person America used to be and someone Americans would be proud to have as their own president (click “expand” for more):

MATTHEWS: In your new book — I, of course, want to talk about the book — you write about the last meeting between President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Obama told us that Merkel had talked to him about her looming decision on whether to seek another term, something that she now felt more obliged to do because of Brexit and Trump. At the end of our time in Germany, when Obama bade her farewell....a single tear appeared in her eye, something that none of us had ever seen before.” You quote Obama telling you, “Angela....she’s all alone.” Tell us about it. Does the world feel alone when Trump’s here?

RHODES: Well, you know, I think she is someone who stands for the same values that we have stood for, for so many years and the feeling that she had after Brexit and the Trump election was, she would no longer have America to —

MATTHEWS: Why does Trump hate her, or seem to not like her so much? She’s so successful.

RHODES: Well, you know, she’s — she’s a tough woman. She is a pragmatist. She stands up for what she believes. She’s not going to play games. You know, she’s not going to flatter Trump. You know, Angela Merkel is all business and she doesn’t put up with a lot of B.S.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

RHODES: And, frankly, I think that’s why you haven’t seen her kind of chase him in any way in the same way that —

MATTHEWS: I think Americans would love to get a leader like her.

RHODES: Yeah, she’s as tough as they come.

MATTHEWS: A strong leader that looks out for the country, German first, perhaps, in a sense, but very pro-European and very much world order.

RHODES: Yeah and no, and took steps with us to save the global economy after the crisis.

“You know what she is? She’s competent. Anyway, thank you, Ben Rhodes. Good luck with the book The World as It Is. A beautiful book — I’ve been reading it. It’s a beautiful book,” Matthews swooned.

The nauseous, syrupy worship bled over into the next block as Matthews read from a recent Brennan column in The Washington Post and gushed: “You know so much, I don’t know where to begin, except you’ve studied dictatorships all around the world. What does this President have in common with them?”

The man who’s voted for the Communist Party’s presidential candidate replied that Trump’s similar “in terms of wanting to make sure that he alone makes all the decisions, that he suppresses any type of opposition, that he pursues policies that are going to ensure his continuation in power.”

Matthews also pontificated to Brennan about the need to search for the truth and how the U.S. could no longer be considered one of the “good guys” (instead a villain) in the world (click “expand”):

Let’s talk about truth, because that is how he doesn’t want this judged. He wants — are you with me or against me is his question. He doesn’t want to be, do you believe me or not? It’s, are you with me? I’ve never seen a leader in this country who tells untruths all the time like him....It’s all lies....We were the good guys. We’re the country with — we’re the most generous country in the world. We generally wanted peace. We wanted allies. We had a lot of wonderful allies around the world....we’re a country and alliance of countries of democracies and we believed, all of us, in limited government....Since Trump’s come in, I think he’s begun somehow, in some awful way, to grow toward being like Putin, to being the kind of person Putin wants on his sleazy low level of world view, where — where they no longer have a moral advantage as the good guys.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on June 7, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
June 7, 2018
7:19 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Facing one of the most challenging international negotiations in recent history, the commander-in-chief there is largely winging, he says, on his own. Today, he told reporters, as you seeing there, he doesn’t think he needs to prepare much because it’s all about attitude.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What are you doing to prepare for the summit with North Korea?

TRUMP: I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done, but I think I have been preparing for the summit for a long time as has the other side. I think they have been preparing for a long time also. So this isn’t a question of preparation. It’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen. And we will know that very quickly.

MATTHEWS: Well, that’s not all. According to Politico: “National security adviser John Bolton has yet to convene even a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss [the upcoming summit which is coming next week]....the White House’s summit planning has been unstructured, according to a half-dozen administration officials. Trump himself has driven the preparation almost exclusively on his own, consulting little with his security team at all, outside of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.” Joining me right now is Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama. He is an MSNBC contributor now and author of big book — there it is — The World As It Is. And Phil Rucker is White House bureau chief for The Washington Post and an MSNBC — there you are — an MSNBC political analyst. Look, both of you, go at this. I’m trying to figure this out, what even to think about. But Trump is sort of looking at this like a night of karaoke, like, I will do my best out there, if — whatever, and not that you’re ought to deal with the high stakes on a nuclear question about which probably he’s right, Kim Jong-un, and his people have been thinking about for years exactly what they’re willing to give and not give.

BEN RHODES: Yeah and I think what they have been thinking is that they want to consolidate their nuclear deterrent and they want to get sanctions relief and I got to tell you, Chris, you know, I did the prep work for the opening to Cuba. And I must have met 20 times with the Cubans before we brought President Obama into that. The whole first meeting, I think we barely got through the Bay of Pigs invasion and the fact is, you have got to prepare for these things, especially with a country who you have had no contact with, because you’re coming in cold and my concern here is, they haven’t articulated what they’re trying to achieve, on what the timeline and he doesn’t seem to want to do the preparation that needs Treasury people in the room for sanctions. They need technical people in to talk about the nuclear program. It’s not clear to me that he has an understanding of even what he’s trying to get out of this summit.

MATTHEWS: Well, as an American, I worry about the quicksand of these meetings. Once you sit down at the chair, you got to get up and somebody’s got to say, nice try, buddy, but I’m out of here.

RHODES: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: And last time about we went to Panmunjom, in 1951, we sat there for two years, two full years of blah, blah, blah.

RHODES: Yeah

MATTHEWS: How does the President — do you think he even has figured out what the time schedule is? We are going to try to get something on the table before we get in there and know what we’re even aiming after? Don’t you have to do that?

RHODES: Yeah. Well, if I’m Kim Jong-un, here’s what I’m thinking, which is that Trump wants this to be a success, right? He’s already trying to award himself the Nobel Prize, right?

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

RHODES: And he could make some kind of empty commitment, and I will give up my nuclear weapons someday, you know, and there’s no clear timeline. There’s no clear inspections regime and Trump will want to declare some type of victory here and you could have a situation where really the status quo is, you know, codified by the fact that North Korea keeps its nuclear weapons, makes some empty gestures, you know, and that’s not the case.

(....)

MATTHEWS: In your new book — I, of course, want to talk about the book — you write about the last meeting between President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Obama told us that Merkel had talked to him about her looming decision on whether to seek another term, something that she now felt more obliged to do because of Brexit and Trump. At the end of our time in Germany, when Obama bade her farewell....a single tear appeared in her eye, something that none of us had ever seen before.” You quote Obama telling you, “Angela....she’s all alone.” Tell us about it. Does the world feel alone when Trump’s here?

RHODES: Well, you know, I think she is someone who stands for the same values that we have stood for, for so many years and the feeling that she had after Brexit and the Trump election was, she would no longer have America to —

MATTHEWS: Why does Trump hate her, or seem to not like her so much? She’s so successful.

RHODES: Well, you know, she’s — she’s a tough woman. She is a pragmatist. She stands up for what she believes. She’s not going to play games. You know, she’s not going to flatter Trump. You know, Angela Merkel is all business and she doesn’t put up with a lot of B.S.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

RHODES: And, frankly, I think that’s why you haven’t seen her kind of chase him in any way in the same way that —

MATTHEWS: I think Americans would love to get a leader like her.

RHODES: Yeah, she’s as tough as they come.

MATTHEWS: A strong leader that looks out for the country, German first, perhaps, in a sense, but very pro-European and very much world order.

RHODES: Yeah and no, and took steps with us to save the global economy after the crisis.

MATTHEWS: You know what she is? She’s competent. Anyway, thank you, Ben Rhodes. Good luck with the book The World as It Is. A beautiful book — I’ve been reading it. It’s a beautiful book.

(....)

MATTHEWS: You know so much, I don’t know where to begin, except you’ve studied dictatorships all around the world. What does this President have in common with them?

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, a lot in terms of wanting to make sure that he alone makes all the decisions, that he suppresses any type of opposition, that he pursues policies that are going to ensure his continuation in power. There are so many similarities between what I saw in authoritarian, autocratic leaders overseas and Mr. Trump that I never thought I would see it here in the United States and that’s why I decided to write the op-ed and I’m going to continue to speak out.

MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about truth, because that is how he doesn’t want this judged. He wants — are you with me or against me is his question. He doesn’t want to be, do you believe me or not? It’s, are you with me? I’ve never seen a leader in this country who tells untruths all the time like him. Most of them do it to protect themselves when they’re in a pinch, but this seems to be the language of this President, saying things that aren’t true, like none of these women had anything to do with me, none of them. It’s all lies. Everything is lies and his people go, oh, okay, alright, okay. Everything’s a lie but me.

BRENNAN: Yeah, well, unfortunately, I think our politicians have been used to hyperbole a bit too much, but he just totally deceives the American public in terms of his falsehoods and lies. So, it’s not a question of embellishment. It’s a question of saying something that clearly had happened did not and that’s — that’s his mantra. That’s always been his way of doing things, which is trying to say things over and over again to convince people of, you know, the — the perception is really the reality, while it’s not.

(....)

MATTHEWS: Okay, let’s talk big picture and this is — before Putin came long along and for a long time, the United States had one tremendous advantage in the world, beyond their military power. We were the good guys. We’re the country with — we’re the most generous country in the world. We generally wanted peace. We wanted allies. We had a lot of wonderful allies around the world, Europe and all kinds of allies, Australia and Canada and we have all kinds of — and Latin America. Good — we are part of a really good guys allowance [sic] and we’re a country and alliance of countries of democracies and we believed, all of us, in limited government. All the countries I mentioned believed in the limited government and the rights of man and women against the power of government. Since Trump’s come in, I think he’s begun somehow, in some awful way, to grow toward being like Putin, to being the kind of person Putin wants on his sleazy low level of world view, where — where they no longer have a moral advantage as the good guys. It seems like that’s what he wanted, was this guy we’re looking at.

BRENNAN: Mm-hmm. Yes, he relates to strongmen. He relates to authoritarian leaders, whether it be the Dutertes in Philippines or Erdogan —

MATTHEWS: Is this what they wanted when they messed with our elections, to get a guy like Trump in and then make Trump more like Putin?

BRENNAN: — well, I think they see that he is somebody who is going to be very transactional, they will be able to deal with him, that he’s not going to be driven by principles and the moral compass that the United States has basically led the free world for the last [INAUDIBLE] —

MATTHEWS: Just be another bully, a world of bullies.

BRENNAN: Yeah and that he’s not going to pay attention to the things like human rights and other things in terms of spreading democracy around the world.

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