Chris Matthews: Rick Perry Is a Phony and a 'Puppet' Because Of His Hand Gestures

MSNBC's Chris Matthews has for months been bashing potential GOP presidential candidates for not getting into the race to challenge Barack Obama for the White House.

Now that people are throwing their hats into the ring, the "Hardball" host has ripped virtually all of them including the not-yet-announced Texas governor Rick Perry who Matthews vociferously attacked as a phony and a puppet Monday because of hand gestures he made during his speech to the Republican Leadership Conference (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: But first of all, let`s look at Rick Perry this weekend exciting the crowds in New Orleans, the governor of Texas. Let`s listen.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: That mix of arrogance and audacity that guides the Obama administration is an affront to every freedom-loving American and a threat to every private sector job in this country!


PERRY: There is no greater goal, no more crucial time than right now to take and make our stand to restore our economy, our families, our countries (SIC). And I happen to know that we can and I know that you will! God bless you. And thank you all for being out here today, and God bless the United States of America!



MATTHEWS: Well, those jerky motions of his gestures suggest to me a person who`s pretending something.

Those jerky motions suggest a person who's pretending something? Now Matthews has become a body language expert?

Apparently so, for the gesticulation analysis continued:

MATTHEWS: There`s a couple people running who are what they seem to be.


MATTHEWS: He`s another that isn`t what he seems to be. Pawlenty doesn`t know what he is. Romney doesn`t know what he is. Here`s a third guy pretending -- you say performer. I take you at your word. Performance. At what point are the people who really believe in their passionate right-wing politics going to look through these guys and say, These guys are auditioning for my support, they`re not one of us?

These guys are auditioning for support? Exactly how long has Matthews been covering politics that he could possibly not understand when people involved in it are on the stoop, they're playing a role?

Does he really believe that all the hand gestures and facial expressions of Bill Clinton were 100 percent genuine and not at all planned, rehearsed, and even scripted?

Or what about the persona of Barack Obama when he's in front of an audience versus a press conference or speaking from the Oval Office? Observers have noted a huge disparity in the mannerisms and delivery of this President depending on the venue.

Is that not "phony" to a certain extent? Or is it completely acceptable when the actor has a "D" next to his name - especially if he gives Matthews a thrill up his leg?

Potentially more absurd, Matthews next went after Perry for -- wait for it! - reading notes:

MATTHEWS: Look at the way he`s looking at the notes. Look at the gestures, the way he`s like...


MATTHEWS: He`s got them written -- a puppet, like he`s got them written on a screen...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pastor (ph) Perry.

MATTHEWS: You got it. I was thinking Marjoe. Here he is, Governor Perry again. Let`s listen.

Horrors! The man actually had notes for the speech he was giving.

This of course goes quite counter to the man that gives Matthews a thrill up his leg who always has every presentation 100 percent memorized and NEVER needs a teleprompter.


PERRY: When it comes to conservative social issues, it saddens me when sometimes my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left.

And our loudest opponents on the left are never going to like us, so let`s quit trying to curry favor with them!


MATTHEWS: You know, I`m looking at the gestures. I`m trying to learn. Here`s -- there out there on the left, Mark. My hand`s waving out here. I mean, actually, it`s the right. He`s got the wrong hand out there.

Actually, no. As Perry was saying "our loudest opponents on the left," he was waving his left hand.

Matthews at this point has so lost touch with reality that he doesn't understand that when you're looking at a television screen, the speaker's left is your right.

MATTHEWS: And then you got this steeple, this steeple -- the old thing about the church steeple when you`re morally superior to the person. This is body language that he picked up in some sort of paint-by-numbers kit somewhere. This steeple -- Oh, it really bothers me -- that sort of -- you know, that very serious church-like voice and -- what is this, for real? Do people buy this stuff?

Do people buy this stuff? Well, they - including Matthews - certainly did when Bill Clinton did it AND when Barack Obama did it.

But now that a highly-respected, three-term governor with a fabulous track record for creating jobs is doing it, Matthews finds it phony and pretentious.

Sadly, it's the "Hardball" host that's behaving like a puppet whose strings are controlled by the political party he serves.

As I've said on numerous occasions in the past few months, the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln could throw his hat into the GOP presidential field, and Matthews would attack him much as he did Perry Monday evening.

Exactly what qualifies this kind of advocacy as journalism, even on MSNBC where honest reporting is frowned upon?

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Noel Sheppard's picture