Chris Matthews this weekend made a somewhat self-deprecating comment about presidential candidate Mitt Romney telling the guests on the syndicated program bearing his name that Republicans "don't have a thrill up their leg about this guy."
After some laughter, they agreed (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST. This week's Associated Press poll has Romney at his highest so far: thirty percent. But you see there Herman Cain and Rick Perry still have a total 39 percent. Mike, it looks like they don't have a thrill up their leg about this guy. They're not excited about this guy, nobody is on the Right. But he looks like he's creeping up to it seems inevitability.
MIKE DUFFY, TIME: This may be the one year when likability just doesn't matter. With housing starts slowing down, with unemployment still above 9 percent and likely to remain there. Consumer confidence is worse than it was when Reagan took on Carter in 1980. With those kind of forces in place, likability really doesn’t have anything to do with how the Republican Party is feeling. They'll just, they’re going to go with the guy, the guy they got.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN: You know, I compare him to the guy your parents always tried to fix you up with, and at first you said, “No, no, no, no,” but then after you dated for a while, you're, like, “That guy looks pretty good." So, I think that’s the way Republicans are feeling.
MATTHEWS: So it's more about his prospects than your love affair with him?
BORGER: Well, probably in the case of Romney.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is very dull. This is dull politics.
For those possibly missing the joke, Matthews in February 2008 talked about how then candidate Barack Obama's speeches gave him a thrill up his leg.
Wouldn't it be interesting if this becomes a common way for pundits to quantify support for a candidate?
As for this being "dull politics," maybe emotions like being thrilled were indeed part of the problem in 2008 and that's why the nation ended up with a totally unqualified president way over his head.
If folks would use their brains rather than their hearts to gauge competence in their candidates, we might have a more respected Congress and executive branch.
I'm just saying.
As for Matthews et al's views on Romney, this is still only October with the first primaries and caucuses still ahead of us. It therefore could be far too soon to assess what Republicans do or don't love.
Unfortunately, this "no thrill" meme is likely going to be the order of the day with the media no matter who wins the nomination.
For people like Matthews, the goal will be to characterize Obama's opponent whoever it ends up being as not the Republicans' first choice thereby diminishing his candidacy.
This kind of talk merely lays the groundwork.