Monday, August 27, 2012


Well, the partisan reaction is predictably split:

But I think Chris Matthews lost this battle. He wouldn't have been the loser if this were a wiser, more thoughtful political culture. But we're stuck with the political culture we have.

This reminds me of office arguments I've witnessed (and participated in): if you raise your voice past a certain decibel level, the validity of what you're saying is utterly ignored. You're required to make nice, even if you have a legitimate reason for outrage. You're supposed to tug a forelock and pretend that the sleaziest person in the room is, perhaps, no disrespect intended, inadvertently a tiny bit off base on one or two points. That's the only way you're allowed to argue.

It's unfair, but Matthews needed to seem half as outraged as he was, and make his point twice as effectively as Priebus, in order to be taken seriously at all by Mika and Tom and the other civility cops on the panel. When Priebus said,
And you know what, have we really gotten to the point where we can't have any levity at all in politics? I mean, we have gotten to a place in politics that is ridiculous, and no one can say anything that is remotely humorous.
Matthews should have asked: So if Barack Obama makes a joke about Mormon underwear, you're just going to shrug it off? You're going to say it's just a joke and it's OK, and you're going to go after anyone in your party who's outraged?

Near the end of clip, Matthews has a second wave of high-decibel outrage -- justifiable outrage, given the fact that Priebus played the "un-American" card himself. But under the civility rules imposed upon him, Matthews needed to give us less volume and a more effective counterargument:
PRIEBUS: But I think Obama's policies have created a sense that, for whatever reason, he's looking to guidance -- as far as health care is concerned, as far as our spending is concerned, as far as the stimulus packages are concerned, he's looking to Europe for guidance.
Matthews lost it there. I don't blame him. He asked whether every president who ever followed Keynesianism was European, or every president (both Roosevelts, Truman) who ever wanted universal health coverage was European.

Good as far as it goes. But I wish he'd asked: So what about Romneycare? Did Governor Romney look to Europe for guidance?

Matthews lost this one. Alas, it wasn't a fair fight.


B said...

Or Matthews could have pointed out that Europe has embraced austerity, and it's pulling their economy down like a pair of concrete galoshes -- so how is it that Obama is "looking to Europe" for stimulus-package guidance?

Victor said...

This WILL get play, precisely because it's NOT something you normally see on TV.

And you know what I think?

FECK the civility police!

I'm tired of feckin' twits like Tom Brokaw, sitting in his chair like he's officiating a tennis match - and one side comes with tennis attire, carrying a racket, and the other side comes with cammo, lugging a howitzer.
And we're all supposed to be civil to the people with the howitzer?
And everyone gets their tit's in an uproar if the other side throws the racket, after being served shells at faster than the speed of sound.

And yeah, I realize Chris didn't come off the winner in this - but I also don't think that smarmy prick Rinsus Anrepeatus did either.

In these dangeroust times, we need some rightious rage that doesn't come from some grifting religious freak.

So I say, good for Chris!

Pete said...

I frequently agree with you, but in this case I think you are looking at the wrong win/loss metric. This is the thrill-up-the-leg Matthews, and the fact that he unloaded will have ramifications beyond the immediate. If Priebus "won" in the moment, of which I am not totally convinced, it may well be Pyrrhic. Rude-but-right can take a while to sink in among the villagers, but Matthews is an excellent messenger for it.

Lit3Bolt said...

Civility, decency, and seriousness are weapons used by PR flacks to determine argument and discourse. Anything you disagree with is unserious, indecent, and uncivil for even addressing such a horrid issue.

Thus every fact and counter in opposition to your argument is really a strawman and an ad hominem and any other logical fallacy you can think of, because it is already out of bounds to begin with. Thus, someone being outraged by racism, misogyny, or rape is getting "angry" and "upsetting" for the cool, calm PR flacks advocating the demolition of the safety net and zero taxes for capital.

Lit3Bolt said...

Also, too.

Liberals are outraged by rape and racism, and conservatives are outraged that the President is a Muslim Kenyan Socialist, ergo, both are passionate about the issue, ergo, both are ideologically blinded by their equally valid and equally legitimate viewpoints, therefore both sides do it, but liberals do it more.

Jack said...

Jesus. If Matthews had said anything about "Mormon underwear," he would have been blown out of the water within an hour of broadcast. The shit storm would have started instantly, and would rage for days on memeorandum, Twitter, cable news, and throughout the blogosphere. Matthews would have been forced to issue an apology to Romney, and would probably have been fired from MSNBC for "religious intolerance." Conservatives would call it "hate speech" and say it's "typical of the liberal media." MSNBC would have issued a somber statement stating that they respect all Americans' religious freedom, blah blah blah.

As it happens, I'm just glad Matthews spoke up, regardless of who "won" or "lost" the exchange. I've given up on winning. We've already lost; we lost years ago. We're just going through the motions, now. And as we go down in flames, I'd just as soon have a few people stick their necks out and describe what's happening honestly. Matthews can't do anything to cure our diseased political culture. But he can at least tell the truth about what's going on for posterity's sake.

Steve M. said...

Are you a robo-troll? Or just a really stupid wingnut?

(You juxtaposes Obama's picture with a picture of the two guys from the New Black Panthers. You have instantly forfeited any chance of being taken seriously by anyone who knows anything about the NBP or Obama. There is no connection between the two, except in your racist wet dreams.)

Never Ben Better said...

Same exact post under the name "Dave Jones" got excreted at P.M. Carpenter's blog:

I haven't checked, say, Booman Tribune to see if the troll's left his tracks there too, but I think it's safe to say this is a robo-troll all right.