Wow: Matthews Presses NYT’s Goldberg for Defending Pelosi Questioning Trump’s Mental State

MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews took an interesting tact during a discussion Thursday night regarding impeachment and the feud between President Trump and Speaker Pelosi, challenging New York Times columnist and fellow lefty Michelle Goldberg over whether Pelosi’s actually praying for the welfare of the President considering how she’s “gaslighting” him with questions about his mental state. 

Everything seemed fine when Matthews went to Goldberg because “you’re a deep person,” telling her that “I don’t know what we say because I mean, I’ve never covered anything like this” that’s more akin to a “kindergarten class.”

 

 

He elaborated:

I mean, one person calling the other in need — in need of an intervention and maybe she’s trying to gaslight him, make him confused about his own mentality and emotional stability and he calls going to resorting to all the name calling he used to reserve for people well below him in ability and statues but he’s now the top leader of the congress is crazy and she’s calling him in need of intervention and she’s praying for him. Explain. 

Goldberg replied that Matthews was wrong to suggest both sides were playing politics “throwing schoolyard insults” because “[w]hat you have is an unhinged President” throwing “a temper tantrum” and that “everyone who watches this should be so ashamed, you know, and particularly the people who worship Donald Trump because they think he's some sort of an embodiment of manliness as opposed to this whining, simpering baby.”

“Yeah, okay, Michelle. Let me challenge you. Do you really think — I mean, she’s a Roman Catholic. She is a religious woman, certainly in her private life. Do you honestly believe she is praying for the welfare of Donald Trump? Praying,” Matthews wondered.

Goldberg then dug in (click “expand”):

GOLDBERG: My sense is she is praying for the country that is at his mercy. 

MATTHEWS: No, what's not what she is saying. She says I’m praying for Donald Trump because he’s in need of intervention from his family. You’re letting her off the hook here. These are clinical claims.

GOLDBERG: I’m not letting her off the hook. These are —

MATTHEWS: She means an intervention.

GOLDBERG: — I think the problem with Nancy Pelosi’s approach is and I wrote this in my — in the column I just published is that she’s far too gentle with Donald Trump, right? I mean, he does need intervention. The problem is she’s the person who’s constitutionally mandated to perform this intervention. But the fact that he is unstable and unwell is just manifestly true. 

MATTHEWS: Okay, there is a bottom line as Michelle just mentioned.

Later asked for his thoughts on the White House acting like the cast of Downton Abbey at an event with the President, former Republican-turned-cable news lefty David Jolly channeled Goldberg (click “expand”):

I don't know who should be more embarrassed. The President or the staff for that moment, but look, embarrassment is probably the right word because I think the nation saw the president as unstable in the last 24-hours and he is trying to clean up that image. Nancy Pelosi to use a boxing metaphor, kinda got a cut and it's showing which is why I find it curious that naps is suggesting that the president wants impeachment. I think the last 24 hours shows he does not want impeachment. I think he’s terrified of it because of what that means for his brand. He tries to suggest he's the best ever, the most transparent, the honest like George Washington when he is afraid of what is found out as being as crooked as Richard Nixon.

Later, Goldberg told Matthews to “stop saying gaslighting him” because Pelosi’s “describing him accurately” and even though she has “a lot of admiration” for Pelosi, she expressed frustration for the party not having moved toward impeachment yet (click “expand”):

I do think that this posture she has of constantly saying that the President as she said at the Center for American Progress on Wednesday, you know, the President has obstructed justice in plain sight. That itself is probably impeachable. She talked about how his refusal to cooperate with congressional subpoenas is the same thing as in article three of — or article three of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. She says all this. She says he’s an existential danger to our democracy and then she says, ‘but we’re not ready to impeach yet.’ I think that's incoherent. I don't think — I don’t understand how she expects that to make sense to most of the American people...I don't think it's a sustainable posture. 

At the onset of the panel discussion, Matthews kvetched to the Los Angeles Times’s Eli Stokols that “[t]his is hot and it’s embarrassing” with the President calling Pelosi “crazy” while Pelosi alludes to the President’s mental capacity, the 25th Amendment, and that she’s praying for him.

“[H]e’s showing that she’s living inside his head rent-free. He is giving her credence to say, ‘look, we’re already getting to him. Let's go slowly’....[Y]ou can tell when he gets agitated like this, it was reminiscent today of...this in cabinet meetings where the President goes around and has staffers sort sing for their supper....and he’s fixated on media narratives and he’s just kind of all over the place,” Stokols replied like a good member of the cause.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on May 23, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
May 23, 2019
7:02 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Eli, this is hot and it’s embarrassing. The President of the united States, well, let's talk. Nancy Pelosi said he’s almost subject to the 23rd amendment [sic], there’s actually something wrong with the guy and needs an intervention.’ She’s praying for him. He shoots back that she’s crazy.

ELI STOKOLS: She has been trying to keep her caucus in line before going full bore into impeachment and what Trump is doing — he’s showing that she’s living inside his head rent-free. He is giving her credence to say, ‘look, we’re already getting to him. Let's go slowly. Let’s lay out this public case.’ And you can tell when he gets agitated like this, it was reminiscent today of some of the — there’s been so many scenes like this in cabinet meetings where the President goes around and has staffer sort sing for their supper — sing his praises and he’s fixated on media narratives and he’s just kind of all over the place. It was sorta similar to a scene like that you saw after the President fired Jim Comey a couple of years ago. 

(....)

7:04 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Speaker Pelosi referred to the President's behavior as a temper tantrum in a letter to colleagues last night. In tweets last night and this morning she fired back [sic], writing that he “was purposely....polite and calm” and this morning he insisted he “was extremely calm.”

[TRUMP CLIP]

MATTHEWS: Michelle, you’re a deep person. Let’s go. I don’t know what we say because I mean, I’ve never covered anything like this. It's like the kindergarten class. I mean, one person calling the other in need — in need of an intervention and maybe she’s trying to gaslight him, make him confused about his own mentality and emotional stability and he calls going to resorting to all the name calling he used to reserve for people well below him in ability and statues but he’s now the top leader of the congress is crazy and she’s calling him in need of intervention and she’s praying for him. Explain. 

MICHELLE GOLDBERG: Well, look, I don’t — I think that it's really wrong to treat this as if it's just sort of two people throwing schoolyard insults. What you have is an unhinged President given to these — I mean, it was a temper tantrum and then today there was increasingly embarrassing display of “I'm not mad, I’m not mad, she's mad.” I mean, it's pathetic, you know? And then having him kind of get all of his lackeys to affirm how not mad he was. I mean, everyone who watches this should be so ashamed, you know, and particularly the people who worship Donald Trump because they think he's some sort of an embodiment of manliness as opposed to this whining, simpering baby.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, okay, Michelle. Let me challenge you. Do you really think — I mean, she’s a Roman Catholic. She is a religious woman, certainly in her private life. Do you honestly believe she is praying for the welfare of Donald Trump? Praying?

GOLDBERG: My sense is she is praying for the country that is at his mercy. 

MATTHEWS: No, what's not what she is saying. She says I’m praying for Donald Trump because he’s in need of intervention from his family. You’re letting her off the hook here. These are clinical claims.

GOLDBERG: I’m not letting her off the hook. These are —

MATTHEWS: She means an intervention.

GOLDBERG: — I think the problem with Nancy Pelosi’s approach is and I wrote this in my — in the column I just published is that she’s far too gentle with Donald Trump, right? I mean, he does need intervention. The problem is she’s the person who’s constitutionally mandated to perform this intervention. But the fact that he is unstable and unwell is just manifestly true. 

MATTHEWS: Okay, There is a bottom line as Michelle just mentioned. President Trump had several of his aides at the White House lined up to testify to his demeanor at yesterday’s White House meeting. Here it goes. 

[CLIPS OF WHITE HOUSE AIDES]

MATTHEWS: David, what did you make that was scene from Downton Abbey with all the staff lined up here. I mean, that's what it looked like. Your thoughts. 

DAVID JOLLY: Yeah, I don't know who should be more embarrassed. The President or the staff for that moment, but look, embarrassment is probably the right word because I think the nation saw the president as unstable in the last 24-hours and he is trying to clean up that image. Nancy Pelosi to use a boxing metaphor, kinda got a cut and it's showing which is why I find it curious that naps is suggesting that the president wants impeachment. I think the last 24 hours shows he does not want impeachment. I think he’s terrified of it because of what that means for his brand. He tries to suggest he's the best ever, the most transparent, the honest like George Washington when he is afraid of what is found out as being as crooked as Richard Nixon. 

MATTHEWS: Well, let’s go around that. First to Eli and then Michelle, do you think both sides — what’s being contradictory to me is Nancy Pelosi does not want to go the impeachment route. I think we agree on that. Certainly not now. Maybe things will change. Not now. Perhaps it will change after testimony by Mueller. Perhaps, but not now. Trump doesn't want it either, but she is saying he wants it.

(....)

7:10 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Well, Speaker Pelosi quickly responding on Twitter, writing: “When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work on infrastructure, trade and other issues.” Michelle, let's go back to this. What do you think? I mean, I think we’ve all been impressed deeply by Nancy Pelosi's ability to lead the House and keep them together and discipline them. Is part of the disciplining effort — is it to convince them she is fighting as hard as she can to gaslight the President and make him look a little nuts, so they don't have to go to the impeachment route with the AOC people and others who really want to go that route? 

GOLDBERG: I think you should stop saying gaslighting. She’s not gaslighting him. She’s describing him accurately, but I would say, you know, I have a lot of admiration for the way that Nancy Pelosi has led the caucus, for the way that she has been able to get under Trump's skin. I do think that this posture she has of constantly saying that the President as she said at the Center for American Progress on Wednesday, you know, the President has obstructed justice in plain sight. That itself is probably impeachable. She talked about how his refusal to cooperate with congressional subpoenas is the same thing as in article three of — or article three of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. She says all this. She says he’s an existential danger to our democracy and then she says, ‘but we’re not ready to impeach yet.’ I think that's incoherent. I don't think — I don’t understand how she expects that to make sense to most of the American people and it does seem sort of slickly political to just say, ‘well, obviously, he deserves to be impeached, but it's politically bad for us so we’re not going to kind of do our constitutional duty and pull the trigger.’ I don't think it's a sustainable posture. 

MATTHEWS: So smart. Let me go to David on the last thought here. Do you think Nancy Pelosi will change? Here’s the prediction time. Do you think she’ll change her mind? I don’t think so. I’ll say that right up front. I think she decided deeply that impeachment is the wrong route for a party trying to get back to the White House. 

JOLLY: Yeah. She doesn’t want to impeach. She’s trying to thread a needle here. It’s very dangerous, but she has to be careful of is instead of it looking like her strategy played out, it may look like she got dragged into her rank and file member strategy and she — she gets there kicking and screaming, if you will. I think what she needs to be very cautious though is if she thinks the method to the President's madness is he wants to get impeached so he can run on that, I don't think that's it. If there is method to the madness, the President wants to make this a duel between him and Nancy Pelosi, not him and the Mueller report. He's happy to have the fight with Speaker Pelosi because the only person who has higher negatives among Republican-leaning votes than Bob Mueller is Nancy Pelosi. He would rather have the political fight with her than the legal fight over impeachment. 

MATTHEWS: It’s the strangest thing I’ve seen. 

NB Daily Congress Push to Impeach Trump Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Hardball Video Government & Press David Jolly Chris Matthews Michelle Goldberg Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi
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