Archive - Sep 9, 2010

Potatoes Stretch Out A Meal

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Memo to Chris Matthews: YOU ARE SPUD.

This is a stunt column. I'll warn you of that right off the bat. I'm in a brutal drought of column-worthy material that is at least mildly interesting and, more importantly, not redundant. Now, the other day, as you would have seen if you were following me on Twitter, I noticed Chris Matthews say something that sounded like it came out of a game of Pundit Magnetic Poetry - that Obama should make Hillary Clinton his Secretary of Defense.

There are three reasons why I call Chris Matthews "Mr. Potato Head". First, as a slur on his Irish heritage, because we're just far enough removed from the widespread hatred of the Irish for that to be quaintly funny. Two, because he's stupid. And three, because he's stupid in a certain specific way - the inside of his head is bland, undifferentiated whiteness. So I thought I'd see if I could sit through an entire hour of yesterday's 4pm Hardball, DVR and iPad at the ready, and see how many stupid things he would say in an hour.

Keep in mind, by the way, that throughout this entire episode, he was largely and maddeningly batting for what the tribalist in me would call My Team. He was thrilled with Obama's economy speech, he was talking about this weekend's Bar-B-Quran, and he was mocking Haley Barbour's proto-birtherism. And I still found more than enough quotes to hang him with. So let's get started.

"Good evening, I'm Chris Matthews."

Cheap shot? Yes. Beneath me? Fuck no. Those five words are a warning. Ignore it at your peril.

"KO-rans"

Spudley McMashterson pronounced it that way, with the accent on the first syllable and the second part like the Flock of Seagulls song, for the entire fucking hour. And that really encapsulates everything I can't stand about Chris Matthews. He works for a 24-hour news station. He allegedly reads. The word has come up often enough that he knows how it's pronounced, but fuck it, he's pretending to be a working-class everyman from Philly, so he'll pronounce it his way.

"None of this Chicago tactic from the old days, pretending you don't have opponents out there."

OK, I'm going out on a limb here, because I don't know jack shit about Chicago-style political tactics. But let me put it this way. I would be deeply, deeply fucking shocked if the rough, tumble, and occasionally corrupt Chicago politics we've heard so much about all these years boils down to an extended variation on "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU". And speaking of Chicago...

Played a clip of "The Untouchables" in an attempt to illustrate "The Chicago Way".

OK. Let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that you actually can draw a political analogy using the most famous line from an 80s movie about a 50s TV show about 20s mobsters. Let's pretend that three separate and distinct 30-year removes, plus the whole being fictional thing, don't actually blow giant holes in whatever you're trying to accomplish. Even with all that out of the way, is there a more trite, pedestrian way to make that point than Sean Connery sending "one of theirs to the morgue"? Slap a toe-tag on that analogy.

On Republican obstructionism: "It forced them to build a health care bill entirely on the left."

Um, what the fuck? Even by Baby Red's usual standards of delusional cluelessness, this is a thing of malformed beauty. Which parts of the health care bill were built entirely on the left again? The public option? Oh, wait, that part got left on the shelf at Ikea. Mitt Romney's individual mandate? I'm sure the editors of the Utne Reader had a party when that made it in. Oh, and let's not forget the wrangling with Bart Stupak over abortion, which was built on a lot of things, but "entirely on the left" wasn't one of them.

The closest I can come to an explanation for this absurd claim is that since the Republicans didn't support it, ever, and are running on repealing it, all of the concessions made to Republicans that stayed in the bill don't count. All of the concessions to right-wing Blue Dogs don't count, and all the things the real left wanted and didn't get don't count either. The right hates it, therefore it must be entirely of the left.

If MSNBC is "The Place For Politics", then the place has at least one septic tank. The rest of the hour tomorrow! Potatoes really do stretch a meal.