In October of 1976 I bet my mother a banana split that Jimmy Carter would beat Gerald Ford in the Presidential race. I won, and thus started my passionate love affair with politics.
I went back and forth over the years from rabid Reaganesque conservative to wacky Humphrey-like liberal, slowly learning the issues, and the facts, and refining my political beliefs.
Along the way I loved listening to those people who were the insiders in these real-life chess matches and one of the best was Chris Matthews.
Matthews lived and breathed the political process, and was witness to some of the most interesting rivalries in the Washington, most notably the one between his then boss, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil, and President Reagan.
I loved reading his book “Hardball: How Politics Is Played Told By One Who Knows The Game” which gives one of the best and most straightforward looks into how the “game” is played.
This is why it pains me to see that Matthews has turned into a political shill for the left. And not any type of shill, but an ANGRY shill…the worst kind.
Let me be crystal clear here….everybody knows Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are shills for the right, and Keith Olbermann is one for the left. I don’t care about them or the thousands of others on each side who make their living as the political equivalent of a street-walker.
I just hate to see someone so smart and insightful, who although you knew his personal leanings, usually played it straight with his guests, go the “hack” route. It’s a process that has been getting worse and worse over the last decade, finally getting to the point where I stopped watching his show about five years ago.
Yesterday I tuned in just to see what his reaction would be to the Paul Ryan VP announcement and it was diappointing to see how he now only plays “Hardball” with his Republican guests, and lobs “softballs” to the Democrats as these two clips illustrate.
Matthews with John Sununu
Matthews with Elizabeth Warren
What a contrast. Matthews continuously interrupts, badgers, and uses condescending language with Sununu, but looks like he wants to climb right through the screen and give Warren a back rub.
It’s hard to remember that Matthews was once “fair and balanced” and was the guy that slapped Paul Begala down live on national TV when he criticized George Bush for not conceding to Al Gore after he was initially awarded Florida.
Man I loved that guy. Not because of the side of the issues he fell on, but because he wasn’t afraid to think independently and objectively and wasn’t the mouthpiece for any candidate or party.
I don’t like politics now. It’s not fun. It’s not interesting. There is no thought-provoking, independent minded, and spirited debate available anymore. Everybody knows their dogmatic positions and if you don’t believe like they do you are either stupid or evil. This goes for the right and the left.
But I am sure I will continue to get tempted to come back to it from time to time.
Politics is like a chili dog from Der Weinerschnitzel; it looks good and seems like a good idea in theory, however when you actually eat one it sits in your stomach like a lead weight. You then swear that you will never eat one again. But then time goes by and one day when you are cruising by the store again and think to yourself, “hmmmm…..that chili dog looks good, maybe I will try it again….