North by Northeast

Hillary’s New Hampshire
9 January, 2008, 5:30 pm
Filed under: politics, Politics 2008

Today’s political reading: The witch ain’t dead, and Chris Matthews is a ding-dong with the subtitle, “The glee with which Matthews and other angry male pundits prematurely danced on Hillary’s grave made me—for one night only—a Clinton supporter.” By Rebecca Traister, published on today.

My wife and I have been watching MSNBC’s coverage pretty much every night since before the Iowa caucus. We think it had been, in general, above average for TV news. We are nightly viewers of Hardball and Countdown. Here’s my take.

These guys were out of control when the Iowa count came in. Matthews couldn’t praise Obama enough. The networks got overly swept up in the polls and the excitement. We’ve been watching Matthews and Olbermann since Olbermann started standing up to the administration, switching from analyst to pundit a few years back. Shortly after, as MSNBC was in the midst of discovering that someone could be very successful at professionally calling “Bullshit” on FOX News, Matthews snapped out of the newsman-trance that the Bush administration had used patriotism, et al, to inflict on the country. He began trying to make up for not asking the hard questions leading up to Iraq, or hard-enough questions during the plethora of scandals which have become the hallmark of these last seven years.

During this spinal-repair, Matthews aimed at anyone who as a politician was wishy-washy on anything, but especially those who supported the war blindly. Hillary Clinton was someone who theoretically should have called “Bullshit” on the President. Instead, she fell in line. In fact, she pushed her way to the front of the line. Matthews noted this and her days of free passes were over. He was going to expose her as a wishy-washy, so-called liberal, who in reality is way to the right of her party.

Thus, when the chance came to tear down a leading Democrat who gave up the liberal line when this country needed it most, Matthews jumped. It has been clear in the last two months or so that Matthews, although friendly with all of the Washington elite, himself realized that the old guard of Washington had to go if this country was going to get back on track. Ms. Clinton was the leading example of a pro-Washington Democrat that is part of the partisan problem. Thus, she is the leading target. It has nothing to do with her being a woman.

Any progressive or liberal who is true to themselves would positively jump at the chance of a woman, or a black man, or a black woman, or an atheist or a Jew or a Buddhist for President. Matthews would be downright giddy. For two reasons: he’s liberal, and it would be “history” to report upon (see Obama praise).

Matthews sees that Clinton is a symbol: a symbol of the DLC, a symbol of Democrats past, and of angry, divisive partisanship. A politician first, since she believes the best way to serve her country is to to advance her beliefs by winning at politics, at any cost.

I believe Clinton truly is a patriot and wants to see major changes, that I would generally agree with, in this country. I don’t approve of how she goes about that change. I agree just enough with her that should she be the candidate in November that I would vote for her. Gulp. But she’s not my first (or 7th) choice. Being a woman actually pushes her ahead on my list, and as I said, like most progressives and liberals I know.

I see, and I believe Chris and Keith see, that America’s best chance at going Democratic once again in November is by not having the number one lightning rod in the Democratic party running for president.

They are letting that cloud their duties as journalists (which I use here, probably improperly). They should stick more to “report” and less to “interpret.” Clearly, their focus on the crying incident was overkill. Much like the focus on the “Dean Scream” it very well could have taken down a candidate. But in 2008, the stupidity of the media was answered by the electorate of New Hampshire the same way Rebecca Traister answered:

I really am not a Hillary Clinton supporter. A feminist by trade, I have wished that I could get behind Clinton, a woman I admired when she first arrived in the White House 15 years ago. But there has been nothing in her steady, ineluctable move to the center that I could embrace; I understood why she did it, but it cost her my support.[…] I can’t believe I’m saying this, but had I been a New Hampshire voter on Tuesday, I would have pulled a lever for the former first lady with a song in my heart and a bird flipped at MSNBC’s Chris Matthews


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