As part of a series on assumed presidential candidates, “The Chris Matthews Show” followed a bout of McCain worship by treating Hillary Clinton like the girl who showed up at the prom wearing a burlap sack, criticizing everything from her public speaking style to the supposed unwillingness of the American people to tolerate Bill loafing around the White House.
On the December 3 broadcast of the NBC-syndicated “Chris Matthews Show,” guest host and NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell hosted a discussion on the potential presidential candidacy of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), continuing the show’s “Eight for ‘08” series, in which the likely candidates from both parties are examined. In contrast to the commentators’ discussion of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the November 19 installment—which consisted of host Chris Matthews and his guest panel gushing over McCain, as Media Matters for America noted at the time—this broadcast saw Mitchell and her panel conclude that some of Clinton’s greatest perceived strengths were really weaknesses.
Hillary Clinton’s establishment problem ...
Discussing Clinton, Mitchell noted, “One big plus is that she is an establishment favorite. Flip side of that? She’s so familiar there’s that ‘been there, done that’ factor. ... Nobody’s more establishment than Hillary.” Time columnist Andrew Sullivan also asserted that Clinton is “still radioactive blue. And people don’t want to go back to polarization.” He later added, “[S]he’s also a terrible politician, isn’t she?” Time columnist Joe Klein agreed, “Yeah, she is.”
New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller also said that “one of the biggest—the developing theory now among Democratic activists—is that it’s going to be a lot harder for her to get the nomination than it would be for her to win the general election. ... Democrats have notoriously been very tough on their front-runner establishment candidate since the ‘70’s.”
But on the December 4 edition of “MSNBC News Live,” Cook Political Report editor and publisher Charlie Cook told Mitchell, “I don’t think among Democrats the people are going to be deciding who the nomination goes to. I don’t think that’s an open question anymore. I mean, generally speaking, she runs with favorable ratings among Democrats, between 70 and 80 percent—I think the lowest number I’ve seen was a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that had her running at 66 [percent] positive. She’s got very, very good numbers among Democrats, and they don’t seem to think it’s a problem.”
... vs. McCain’s establishment credentials
Matthews asserted that McCain “has to appeal to the Republican right and yet keep himself positioned so he can win the general,” then asked, “How’s he doing?” New York Times columnist David Brooks responded, “I think he’s doing fine,” and praised McCain’s “super” record on pork-barrel spending. Brooks further asserted that “the Republican party is sick of playing defense,” adding that “his style will be amenable to him.”
Matthews characterized McCain as “kind of like a Martin Luther. He’s going back and reforming and finding the pure conservative movement.”
Later, after syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker described McCain’s stance on troops levels in Iraq as that of “a leader,” Matthews said, “I think there’s a thing he has that people like me like, people—a lot of journalists like, because journalists are supposed to be really independent. They’re supposed to be.”