I’m delighted to be able to continue my series of interviews with top journalists, with Chris Matthews up next. Chris Matthews is the highly evolved and centered MSNBC genius that everyone loves! While we haven’t been able to schedule an on-camera interview, I am using this exciting new technology to bring the actual words of Chris Matthews to you! That’s right—all the answers in this interview are things that Matthews has actually said!
Blitzer: I’m so pleased to be talking to you!
Matthews: You are -- I'm not allowed to say this, but I'll say it -- you're beautiful and you're smart.
Blitzer: Oh. Thank you! You’re not so bad yourself!
Matthews: I get in trouble for this, but you're great looking, obviously. You're one of the gods' gifts to men in this country. But also, you are a hell of a writer.
Blitzer: Nice of you to say. I’d like to ask . . .
Matthews: No, you're beautiful! I'm just kidding! I'm just kidding! You're a knockout!
Blitzer: If you don’t mind, why don’t we discuss . . .
Matthews: You're a very beautiful woman. And I have to tell you—he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that! . . . It's an objective statement, Gennifer. I'm not flirting. So let's go on.
Blitzer: What? Woman? Gennifer?
Matthews: I love confusing people.
Blitzer: Okay. Ha ha. Let’s talk about some issues! What do you think about the Social Security program.
Matthews: It’s a bad Ponzi scheme, at this point.
Blitzer: So true! A bad one! What about health care?
Matthews: What you have to be is really creative, with Inchon landings like in the Korean War, like MacArthur did. Like Nixon did with China. Like de Gaulle did with Algeria. You gotta do the surprising move that grabs the center. Right?
Blitzer: Um . . .
Matthews: [What I said back during the 2008 Democratic primary was]: “Now, if a Democrat were smart, who gets elected president, they wouldn't go back to the old Canadian model, where they're all—you know, single-payer model. They'd say, “Wait a minute. Why don't I take something that looks practical out of Massachusetts with Mitt Romney, something practical that Schwarzenegger's trying to do, and put my name on it and say, 'Let's try that. Let's try some kind of mandated benefit. Let's try some kind of effort where businesses and young people have to pay their way. Let's do something that sounds vaguely Republican and self-reliant' "—if you're a Democrat. You know why? Because it would pass! And you'd have national health insurance! But if you keep pushing from your ideological end, you never get there.”
Blitzer: But every major Democratic candidate in 2008 said more or less exactly that! Both Obama and Clinton proposed a “Romney-style” system! None of the candidates except Dennis Kucinich was proposing a single-payer “Canadian-style” healthcare system!
Matthews: I love confusing people.
Blitzer: Right. You’ve been very critical lately of President Obama’s critics, accusing them of racism. Do you think that might be painting with too broad a brush?
Matthews: A dog whistle is a dog whistle. A trumpet call is another.
Blitzer: I’m not sure I understand.
Matthews: As a white person, I think it’s a statement against the white people to talk like this. It’s a sickness by the white people. Anyway, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Blitzer: We’re all against racism, certainly! But should all “white people” be ashamed because of things that a few white people say?
Matthews: Anybody out there, by the way, thinks we’re saying things, it’s over and over again. And if you think we’re saying things, you’re dead wrong and you’re dangerous.
Blitzer: I never thought that you were saying things! Let’s talk about something else. What did you think of the President’s latest speech?
Matthews: I forgot he was black . . . for an hour.
Blitzer: Interesting compliment! So you like this president a lot!
Matthews: My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often.
Blitzer: Gracious! Well how did you feel about the previous president, George W. Bush?
Matthews: Sometimes it glimmer[ed] with this man, our president, that kind of sunny nobility. . . . Everybody sort of like[d] the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left.
Blitzer: And what do you think of the possible future president, Hillary Clinton?
Matthews: [She’s] sort of a Madame Defarge of the left . . . she-devil . . . Nurse Ratched . . . witchy . . . the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit. She won because everybody felt, “My God, this woman stood up under humiliation,” right? That's what happened.
Blitzer: Gosh, it seems like you have almost a visceral reaction against her! What’s that about?
Matthews: What’s with her clapping? Why is she always clapping? . . . [I]s this a Chinese thing? What is this clapping? She doesn’t clap like you do at a movie you like or something. She claps when she meets people . . . I mean, she claps when she stands at a luncheon. What is all the clapping about?
Blitzer: Do you worry that your hostility towards Clinton could be a problem for you in the 2016 campaign, given that you’re on an ostensibly liberal network?
Matthews: I just think she is great as a person. And we giggle, everything, laugh, she is very -- I hope this doesn't offend anybody. There is a part of her that is very girlish. She's still very youthful.
Blitzer: I see . . . Let’s talk about another politician that you have strong feelings about—Al Gore.
Matthews: When voters were asked if they thought Al Gore will say or do anything to get elected—I’ve said this many times on this show and, and have been accused of being too rough on him—60 percent of the American people say that Al Gore [would have said or done] anything—“lick the floor” is a phrase I’ve, unfortunately, used over time—to win the election.
Blitzer: Isn’t that a little . . .
Matthews: [He’s] Bill Clinton’s bathtub ring.
Blitzer: Well that’s . . .
Matthews: You know, he used to wear blue suits like I do, or gray suits. Now he’s wearing these new olive suits. He’s taking up something rather unconventional, the three-button male suit jacket. I always—my joke is, “I’m Albert, I’ll—I’ll be your waiter tonight.” I mean, I don’t know anybody who buttons all three buttons, even if they have them. What could that possibly be saying to women voters, three buttons?
Blitzer: Three buttons doesn’t seem particularly unusual . . .
Matthews: Is there some hidden Freudian deal here or what? I don’t know, I mean, Navy guys used to have buttons on their pants. I don’t know what it means.
Blitzer: It’s meaning is mysterious, like you Chris! Thank you for joining us!