MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on JFK, HBO’s Game Change and the GOP race
Hardball host on his recently published book on John F. Kennedy
“Poor John. I feel so bad about that. That got to me,” Matthews confesses.
“We celebrated John all though his first run against Bush because he was such a better man. We rooted for him like mad in that first race in 2000 and we got blown away. And then Obama came along and grabbed us all.
“So I’m at the Al Smith dinner in 2008 at the Waldorf and McCain comes out and gives one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard in my life. It was a barnstormer.
“Then he says, ‘Chris Matthews used to like me.’ Then he lists my table number way in the back and he says, “I guess Chris just doesn’t like me anymore. I can do maverick, I just can’t do messiah.’
“It was brutal and so funny. Then I watched that movie and he’s watching MSNBC tear into him and root for Obama and I think he must think he’s been turned on. I think he’s still ticked at us all.
“I could write him a note but I don’t think he’d read it. It’s just the way politics is. He lost the media. He lost us all.”
Asked about Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Palin Matthews replies, “I thought it was a faithful portrait. I’ve gotten to trust Steve Schmidt (the man who suggested Palin as a vice presidential pick).
“You find yourself in a situation and then you have to defend the situation completely. Here he is defending the decision to pick her and also have to win the campaign, make her useful to win the campaign and also just keep her on board.”
Moore nailed the character, he feels. “The windshield wiper wave and the tremendous force on stage. I think 90% of Palin is stage ability. The way she commands a stage is fabulous,” McCain says.
“You can’t do that sitting in a little broadcast booth in Wasilla. Her career has not been helped by that tremendous familiarity with her on Fox. The magic is lost if all she is ever doing is sitting in that booth.”
Despite the seemingly endless political gaffes made by the current GOP presidential field, Matthews believes that everything is still in play.
“My view of politics is honed down to this. It’s binary; it’s one or zero. It’s also baseball,” he says.
“The voter is a baseball manager who watches the field. If the thinks the pitcher on the mound has still got it, if he’s getting them out, then he’ll keep him in. If he doesn’t think he has control of the game he walks out, puts his right hand out and takes the ball from the guy.
“That’s the process. If you understand that you understand politics. It’s, ‘How’s he doing out there?’ Obama has to get control of this game by late summer.”
That’s why the Republicans, with all their primary season ups and downs, have a 50/50 chance of winning in November, Matthews says. In the end it will all come down to Obama’s performance on the economy.
Meanwhile, the enduring Irish fascination with JFK must be shared by African Americans when it comes to Obama, he agrees.
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