Matthews Attacks Palin for 12 Minutes: 'Can a Palm Reader be President?' 'Is She a Balloon Head?'

Chris Matthews Monday went on a twelve minute attack on former Alaska governor Sarah Palin that should make his fellow MSNBCers and the liberal blogosphere quite happy.

Here's how Monday's "Hardball" began:

Can a palm reader be president? What do we think of kids in school who write stuff on their hands to get through a test? What do we think of a would-be political leader who does it to look like she`s speaking without notes? What do we think of Sarah Palin this weekend answering pre-screened questions from a like-minded audience in Nashville, a tea party convention, and still having to put a cheat sheet on her palm to answer what she calls the basics of her beliefs? How can someone presume to be auditioning for president when they can`t even answer questions they know are coming?

And that was just the teaser! Readers are strongly cautioned to prepare themselves for a level of vitriol and invective normally only spewed on television by Matthews' colleague Keith Olbermann (video embedded below the fold with full transcript, h/t The Right Scoop):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in New York. Leading off tonight: Can a palm reader be president? What do we think of kids in school who write stuff on their hands to get through a test? What do we think of a would-be political leader who does it to look like she`s speaking without notes? What do we think of Sarah Palin this weekend answering pre-screened questions from a like-minded audience in Nashville, a tea party convention, and still having to put a cheat sheet on her palm to answer what she calls the basics of her beliefs? How can someone presume to be auditioning for president when they can`t even answer questions they know are coming? [...]

Let`s start with Sarah Palin`s speech at the tea party convention down in Nashville. Mark McKinnon`s a former McCain adviser and a contributor to And Richard Wolffe is an MSNBC political analyst.

Mark, let`s all take a look at this statement by the former governor of Alaska. Here`s Palin`s zinger at President Obama for using a teleprompter. Let`s listen.


SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FOX CONTRIBUTOR: This is about the people and it`s bigger than any king or queen of a tea party, and it`s a lot bigger than in any charismatic guy with a teleprompter!


MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Mark McKinnon? I remember during the speech, she paid great tribute to Ronald Reagan subsequently, a man -- probably the best teleprompter reader in American history. Nothing wrong with that. But there is if a Democrat does it.

MARK MCKINNON, THEDAILYBEAST.COM, FMR. MCCAIN/PALIN ADVISER: Well, Sarah Palin is catnip laced with crack for all of us, Chris.


MCKINNON: What would we do without Sarah Palin to entertain us? You know, listen, she saved that convention. Remember what all the press was before her speech about the tickets and the prices and the for-profit things going on? She rallied that group, and everybody`s talking about her speech now, not about...

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let`s look...

MCKINNON: ... not about the convention.

MATTHEWS: ... at this hand we`re looking at right here. Here`s Sarah Palin checking out the crib notes written on her hand just after she waxed the president for using a teleprompter. She`s a little more old school. Let`s listen.


PALIN: We`ve got to start reining in the spending. We have got to jump-start these energy projects that, again, we`ve heard so much about.


MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know. I just don`t know what to make of this, Richard Wolffe. This is like something that every kid in school can understand, crib notes.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Crib notes. Teleprompter no good, but crib notes OK.


WOLFFE: And there were only six words on it.


WOLFFE: There were six words on her crib notes, and they`re all the same words she`s been saying for the last 18 months -- I mean, taxes, lifting the American spirit, energy. OK, why do you need to write those down? It`s deeply troubling for anyone who puts any credibility in her as a presidential candidate. And for the rest of us, please bring it on. It`s wonderful entertainment. But it`s not serious politics. It`s not serious policy.

MATTHEWS: Well, so you`re not saying there`s -- well, let me go to you, Mark. It seems to me the issue here isn`t that she took notes. I`m looking at notes now. We all look at notes. It`s when you sneak them on your hand! She could have put that on an index card and nobody would have made a big issue, but she had to look like she was just pulling it out of the air, so she pulled it off her hand like a palm reader!

MCKINNON: I think it`s kind of charming. I`m glad that she...

MATTHEWS: Oh, good.

MCKINNON: ... she had notes to read and she had some ideas to express. You know, this is Sarah Palin 2.0, the new version. She was Elvis in the campaign, now she`s Frank Sinatra. She`s doing it her way.

MATTHEWS: Well, here we go. This is -- (INAUDIBLE) substance scares the heck out of me. Here she is talking about the possibility of running for president, and it gets worse. Let`s listen.


PALIN: I would, if I believed that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family. Certainly, I would do so. I think that it would be absurd to not consider what it is that I can potentially do to help our country. I won`t close the door that perhaps could be open for me in the future.


MATTHEWS: I don`t know what to make of it. It gets worse, Richard. Let`s look at this. Here she -- asked her about what -- well, should Obama would be -- would it take to defeat Obama in 2012? And here`s what Palin said. This is getting truly scary. This isn`t just not knowing what you`re talking about, or pretending you know what you`re talking about. Here is scary thinking you know what you`re talking about. Let`s listen.


PALIN: Say he played the war card. Say he decided to declare war on Iran or decided really come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do. But that changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years because I think if the election were today, I do not think Obama would be reelected.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: You`re not suggesting that he would cynically play the war card?

MATTHEWS: I`m not suggesting that. I`m saying if he did, things would dramatically change, if decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies.


MATTHEWS: Is she a balloon head? I mean, Richard, listen to this. I`m asking the question. She said it would be popular in this country to go to war, to declare war on yet another country with 77 million people and a pretty darn modern air force to fight with. To declare war on Iran would be popular in this country. What world does she -- and then she puts the oath up, like to Israel. What was that putting the hand up, kind of an oath there, and bringing in Israel into this? What did that have to do with anything that`s reasonable?

WOLFFE: Well, number one, I think she suffers from living in a pre- Iraq war mentality, which is that, you know, you can go out and prove you`re tough by invading another country. Two problems with that. First of all, it ignores the fact...

MATTHEWS: Declaring war on Iran, she`s talking about.

WOLFFE: First of all -- right. First of all, it ignores the experience that we had in Iraq. Secondly, her brand is that she`s an authentic politician, that she is somehow bringing a sense of reality to the Washington dynamic. And here in this question, she`s engaging in some nakedly political scenario, role playing, as if it`s acceptable. It isn`t! It isn`t to regular voters. It`s not acceptable to foreign policy folks. I -- I -- you know, what can you say except she`s ripping off Pat Buchanan`s column, apparently.

MATTHEWS: Mark, I don`t get it, declaring war on Iran. I mean, everyone knows that Iran is a hell of a lot more sophisticated country than Iraq, a hell of a lot more fierce a war to take on. To go into a ground war of any kind, even -- I would think the most far-right hawk in the country would say drop a few bombs on them, knock out their plant, their nuclear plant. But the idea of declaring war and going to all-out war with -- well, I don`t know what to make of why she`s doing it and saying that would be popular in this country. Where?

MCKINNON: Well, first of all, to Richard`s point, I think there`s a lot of Pat Buchanan in...

MATTHEWS: But he`s against...

MCKINNON: ... Sarah Palin.

MATTHEWS: ... this crazy adventurism.

MCKINNON: Well, yes, but I still think that the whole notion of the populist sort of pitchfork mentality that Sarah Palin is pitching...

MATTHEWS: And that is this neoconservative "We`ve got to go to war everywhere in the Middle East at once"?

MCKINNON: Well, I didn`t hear exactly that, but I take your point...

MATTHEWS: Well, declare war on Iran, in addition to having a war in Iraq and a war in Afghanistan.

MCKINNON: I think the refreshing thing is...

MATTHEWS: Who`s writing her material, Michael Ledeen?

MCKINNON: Yes, the...

MATTHEWS: I mean, this is the -- this is far-out stuff.

MCKINNON: The question is whether she`s smart or ambitious. And if she`s truly smart, I don`t think she`s going to run. I think she`s got a great platform here. She`s going to make a ton of money...

MATTHEWS: Who`s writing this stuff?

MCKINNON: ... no accountability...

MATTHEWS: Randy Scheunemann? Who`s putting this stuff in her mouth?

MCKINNON: I don`t know, but it`s not...

MATTHEWS: You know, Richard, I think we`ve got people out there who are available. Dan Quayle was the first. George W. Bush was the second. These people are sort of hermit crabs. They`re willing to sort of adapt a new personality. And they`re people with ideas who want to force them -- put them in these people`s heads.

WOLFFE: I don`t even think she`s being consistent with those folks because Chris Wallace at Fox asked some great questions, and one of them was, Look, Bill Kristol isn`t happy with you, you supporting Rand Paul, and he doesn`t like any of this foreign war stuff.


WOLFFE: He doesn`t like the Patriot Act. You know, there are such massive inconsistencies in her position, I think...

MATTHEWS: Does she know what she`s saying?

WOLFFE: I think she`s just saying stuff that sounds right to her because other people have said them. She is not George W. Bush. And look, Mark...

MCKINNON: I`ll second that notion.

WOLFFE: ... knows this as well as I do -- you know, she has not got a consistent ideology. That`s going to terrify...


WOLFFE: ... whatever movement she`s supposed to be leading.


MATTHEWS: I think you`re really smart, Richard, to pick up this mix and match thing she`s doing here, a little bit of neocon, a little bit of libertarianism, throwing it all together, anything that works with the crowd. Here she -- I don`t think going to war with Iran would work with any crowd. But here she is saying something that scared me because it did work with the crowd. She`s chuckling here about secession. Here she is in that speech, talking about Rick Perry. Let`s listen.


PALIN: And then I started hearing up there in Alaska, I started to hear all this news coverage about, Oh, Texas is seceding from the union, the governor --


PALIN: And I said -- I said, I think they got that wrong. Texas today? I don`t think they`re seceding, they are succeeding.



MATTHEWS: Did you hear the applause she got on secession? What is this, the opening scene to "Gone With the Wind"?

MCKINNON: Well, listen, I...

MATTHEWS: Or "Birth of a Nation"? What is this with these people?

MCKINNON: I heard it in Texas when Rick Perry talked about it and...

MATTHEWS: What do they want to secede from, the union?

MCKINNON: I think it`s more metaphorical than anything else.

MATTHEWS: OK, what`s the metaphor stand for?

MCKINNON: Anti-government, anti-Washington sentiment, not wanting to be part of what`s going on in Washington, and that`s all.

MATTHEWS: And they love talking about traitors on the left.


MATTHEWS: I don`t get it.

MCKINNON: Well, here`s the problem for Sarah Palin and the tea party...

MATTHEWS: Is this the war they want?

MCKINNON: You know, ultimately, they`ve got to be more than just angry and against everything. They have to start putting out policies. And as they`re starting to do that, as you`re pointing out, it becomes more problematic.

MATTHEWS: You know, there`s some people, Richard, who believe that the further right you are, the more American you are. You can talk about another revolution in this country, you can talk about secession, and somehow, that positions you as more patriotic. The further right you go, the more patriotic you are. I heard that in that crowd, and that was pretty ugly. She`s talking to people that like to hear what she has to say, apparently.

WOLFFE: Well, look, patriotism has worked pretty well...

MATTHEWS: No, far-right ideology. That`s not patriotism.

WOLFFE: Well, no, it isn`t, but playing the patriotic card worked well in 2004. I just think this is a different time. Playing the anti- Washington card is clearly a winning thing. Mark is right there. But it`s secession and anti-Washington card, or is it two steps, three steps beyond that? I think what you`re picking up here is -- may work regionally in a place like Texas, maybe even in Alaska. But elsewhere, as a national platform? I can`t see how it resonates.

MATTHEWS: You know, Budd Schulberg couldn`t write better than this. This -- you know what I mean, "Face in the Crowd"? You know...

MCKINNON: Oh, yes, no...

MATTHEWS: ... coming out with somebody who has little hand things written on their palm, calling for revolution, calling for secession, calling for declaring war on third-world countries. And people are cheering!

MCKINNON: Yes. No, I was actually thinking as we were coming on the program about this would make a screenplay and people would probably reject it as being too...

MATTHEWS: You know, Huey Long wasn`t the most sane guy in the world, Richard, but he said that when fascism comes to America, it will call itself anti-fascism.

WOLFFE: Well, that`s an interesting mix here, what we`re seeing about being anti-government and yet also asking for a strong military, as if having a strong military has nothing to do with government. It`s an interesting mix.

MATTHEWS: Or maybe a replacement. This may be "Seven Days in May," Richard. Here`s another thought. Here`s Palin mocking those who believed in President Obama`s message of hope, making fun of the people who believed in the possibilities of this country to be more democratic! Let`s listen.


PALIN: This was all part of that hope and change and transparency. And now a year later, I got to ask the supporters of all that, how`s that hopey-changey stuff working out for you?



MATTHEWS: And how are those private e-mail accounts doing, Governor? Richard?


MATTHEWS: She likes transparency on the other side.


WOLFFE: I actually thought that was the best line of her entire weekend. Yes, it`s annoying she`s playing the sort of Spiro Agnew, Let`s rile them up, the Dick Cheney lines. The attack dog persona actually works pretty well for her. Does it reach out to independent voters? I`m not so sure. It`s playing to the crowd. It`s the red meat.

But as you point out, her Alaska position -- even on the political correctness question, whether she`s talking about Rahm`s language or calling other folks kooky, I -- I -- you know, again, the inconsistencies are enough to put a Hummer through it.

MCKINNON: Yes, well, listen, this is early theater. Barack Obama made a lot of mileage out of saying, I`m not George Bush. She`s getting a lot of mileage out of saying, I`m not Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: Aren`t you an even-handed bloke!


MATTHEWS: Thanks, Mark...


MATTHEWS: ... straighten things out. Mark McKinnon and Richard Wolffe, it`s a strange day in America in politics, but people ought to pay attention to what politicians say because what they say may well end up being what they do.


You think Matthews got a high-five from Olbermann, Maddow, and Shuster after that performance?

To be sure, any sane person would have expected the Obama-loving media to attack Palin after her highly-publicized keynote speech at Saturday's National Tea Party convention.

But I'm not sure any of us were prepared for what we've witnessed in the past 48 hours.

Virtually any channel American's turned to since Palin got off the stage in Nashville, Tennessee, with the obvious exception of Fox News has been an almost unimaginable hatefest towards the former vice presidential candidate. 

It makes you wonder what country you're living in, doesn't it?

MSNBC Hardball Richard Wolffe Mark McKinnon Sarah Palin
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