During Tuesday morning’s inaugural coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews twice compared the Bush family to the Romanovs as he contended that the Bushes are now likely to go into hiding because of President Bush’s unpopularity: "It’s going to be like the Romanovs, too, and I mean that. There’s a sense here that they are fallen from grace, that they’re not popular, that the whole family will now go into retreat." Even liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson had to call him out on the exaggeration as it sounds like he says in the background that "it didn’t happen exactly like the Romanovs," referring to the overthrow and execution of the Russian royal family after the Bolshevik communists seized power in 1917.
A few minutes earlier, claiming "this isn’t a partisan statement," Matthews raised the possibility that Obama could give such a good speech that he would join the "oratorical Mount Rushmore" of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy in making memorable inauguration speeches. Matthews: "And it seems like there’s a third opening there for Barack Obama. It’s almost the oratorical Mount Rushmore, that there’s so much open space among those Presidents. And only two stand out. And this isn’t a partisan statement. This is a fact. There’s FDR. There’s JFK. And there may be Barack Obama."
Far be it from me to sow discord in MSNBC ranks, to stir up old animosities between colleagues there. But if Joe Scarborough is going to do a mocking imitation of Keith Olbermann in full Special Comment rant, well then, blogging ethics compel me to report it.
The jumping-off point on Morning Joe today was Eugene Robinson's current WaPo column. After claiming that he didn't want to kick the president on his way out the door, Robinson proceeded to do just that. The columnist described a variety of measures adopted by the president in prosecution of the war against terror as "departures from American values and traditions." Robinson recommended an investigation if not a criminal prosecution. That led Pat Buchanan and Scarborough to cite, chapter and verse, the ways in which Bush's supposed abrogation of "American values and traditions" were small potatoes compared to the actions of predecessors including Lincoln, Wilson and FDR.
Without mentioning the Countdown host by name, Scarborough closed with an unmistakable impression of Keith Olbermann in pompous Special Comment peroration of the sort that can be seen here.
Though given a perfect opportunity to do so, Tom Brokaw on Sunday chose not to discuss the similarities between Franklin D. Roosevelt's refusal to work with President Herbert Hoover on solving the Depression before he was inaugurated in March 1933 and president-elect Barack Obama doing the same thing today with George W. Bush.
For those not familiar with the historical reference, the financial crisis at the time of the 1932 elections was so bad that banks were failing on almost a daily basis. As a result, Hoover felt the country couldn't wait until March when inaugurations used to take place to hear what Roosevelt's plan was to solve these problems, and wanted FDR and his economic team to come to the White House in order to work some things out together.
Sadly, Roosevelt refused, and although he claimed it was so that his hands wouldn't be tied once he officially became president, some historians feel FDR's delay was designed to allow the crisis to deepen so that it would become easier for him to get his policy proposals passed.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," the fact that President Bush wants to work with Obama and his team concerning the financial crisis surfaced in discussion with former Reagan treasury secretary James Baker and former Clinton commerce secretary Bill Daley. Unfortunately, Brokaw chose not to address this seemingly-important historical comparison and precedent (video embedded below the fold, relevant section begins at 6:15, file photo):
In a segment headlined, "The Politics of Distraction," Chris Matthews, on Monday night's "Hardball," dismissed the McCain/Palin campaign's linking of Bill Ayers to Barack Obama. Matthews conjured a scenario where the GOP was trying to use Obama's tie to Ayers, his middle name of "Hussein," and his donor list to turn Obama into "a man of dangerous mystery."
I see an attempt, over the last seven days, to tie three points together in the thinking of older voters, especially, so that they can have a mystery about Barack Obama they hadn't had last week. One, this question of Bill Ayers, the Weathermen, back 10 years or so in Chicago politics or Chicago organizing politics. Two, his middle name Hussein. And three, the question of who his donor list includes? I think they're putting this together by demanding that donor list. They're trying to build the case that he's a man of mystery. That, not that he's a street corner guy from the ghetto but that he's somehow maybe connected to terrorism because of this past association with a terrorist. With his middle name being Hussein, which I predicted last week, everybody it's, everybody I talked to, it was coming out. And third this donor list game. They are trying to make him a man of dangerous mystery because they can't beat him on the standard issues of this election.
During late night coverage of Friday's presidential debate between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, “Hardball” host Chris Matthews attacked the Republican for showing both “contempt” and an “inferiority complex” towards his Democratic opponent. The MSNBC host asked liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, “What do you make of what I take as contempt? And I’m not sure contempt is an admirable trait when you’re up against an opponent who has every right to be there against you, in fact has equal footing.”
Before Robinson could answer, Matthews revised the question, asking if this indicated some sort of “inferiority complex” on McCain’s part: “He never looked at his opponent. What is that about? Is that an inferiority complex? Is that embarrassment? Is that guilt? Or is it contempt? What is it? It’s something.” Robinson eagerly agreed, asserting that “this is part of John McCain’s style that he, he has to make an opponent into an enemy” and adding that the GOP candidate “almost has to demonize the enemy in order to get into that, that, that fighting stance.”
During MSNBC's Wednesday night live coverage of the Republican National Convention Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Tom Brokaw and others scoffed at the idea they had an anti-Sarah Palin agenda. Brokaw depicted the charge of liberal bias as a mere "tactic," by the GOP, Matthews played it off as just "an old, old conflict," and even tried to write off the media's fascination of Obama, as just a mere fondness of "the new."
This is a political tactic on their part. And the shorthand is, "Let's go after the media." And are they sorting out, for example, Fox or conservative blogs or others who have, in fact, been defending all of this? No what they want to do is just raise the specter that everything that America sees is controlled by a tiny band of Eastern liberal elites.
And for her part Norah O'Donnell insisted:
There is one important thing to point out. The media is not attacking Sarah Palin. The media has done investigative pieces, in their job, about the way Sarah Palin was chosen.
The following are just some of the anxious rebuttals from the MSNBC crew to Palin's charge that the media was biased against her, as they occurred on MSNBC’s September 3, coverage of the Republican Convention:
CBS's Bob Schieffer rued to keynoter Mark Warner that “normally keynote speeches” deliver “a lot of red meat,” but “I didn't hear a lot of that.” Over on NBC, Brian Williams pushed Warner: “You know there's some in the party who feel that this gathering isn't tough enough against a John McCain who, after all, hasn't let up for a day against this party.” Back to CBS, Jeff Greenfield asserted Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton “to wake up this hall after a speech that was not only not red meat by former Governor Warner, but more like tofu with sprouts.” Couric even asked Michael Dukakis “if he thought the Democrats were hitting John McCain hard enough?” Clinton's speech left Couric unfulfilled: “We expected a lot of red meat from Senator Clinton tonight...Are you surprised she didn't sort of attack him more vociferously?”
Previewing Ed Rendell early in the evening, CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered: “Let's see if he has some red meat.” On MSNBC, Chris Matthews was “amazed why they don’t have more fun with the man who calls himself Dick Cheney,” as he lamented: “It seems like they’re pulling their punches.” Analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post yearned:
I am waiting for someone to take the podium and say the word “torture.” I'm waiting for someone to take the podium, say the word “Iraq.” I'm waiting for someone to take, to take the podium and talk about domestic surveillance...
On Sunday's The Chris Matthews Show on NBC, during a discussion of how well a President McCain might work with a Democratic Congress, host Matthews seemed to generalize about the political opinions of women as he contended that "one of the biggest fears women especially have" is that McCain would appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices, whom Matthews branded as "hawkish" on abortion: "One of the biggest fears women especially have is that we
Robinson trotted out his theory on last evening's "Race for the White House" on MSNBC in reaction to Obama's announcement, mirabile dictu, that far from junking Pres. Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives—long a target of the secular left—a President Obama would actually expand the program! Sounds like a cynical ploy to some. But not to Robinson . . .
View video here.
Blankley, also the former editorial page editor of the Washington Times and who continues to write a column there, made his remarks on MSNBC's "Race for the White House" this evening as part of a panel reacting to the news that McCain has invited the three governors—past and present—to meet with him over the Memorial Day weekend.
DAVID GREGORY: What would Governor Crist bring to McCain's ticket?
TONY BLANKLEY: I don't think he brings much. I think if McCain can't carry Florida on his own, he's not going to carry it. He needs to carry something else. I doubt, I don't think he brings much to the ticket.
View video here.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Chuck, I didn’t expect this guy. He’s a very cautious U.S. senator in his first year, his first term, and what did he do? Almost a spiritual announcement he made today: I’ve got to be for Barack.
View video here.
I count Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace among the fairest and most incisive interviewers in the business, and hope his tenure at Fox News is a long one. Anyone who can relentlessly cross-exam Mitt Romney on his changed position on abortion the way Wallace did a while back, then turn around and have Bill Clinton near the point of taking a poke at him, is doing his job and playing no favorites. But should Wallace ever wish a change of venue, never fear: MSNBC apparently can find a place for him.
Wallace made some news when, appearing on this past Friday's Fox & Friends, he criticized the hosts for dwelling longer than Chris thought appropriate on Obama's comment that his grandmother was a "typical white person."
On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews devoted a segment to the exchange. Eugene Robinson, the affable WaPo columnist and MSNBC political analyst, suggested that refuge awaited Wallace should he need it.