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THE HEART OF THE CLAN! Matthews and Barnicle quickly saw that Biden was part of the clan: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2007

THE HEART OF THE CLAN: We wish he weren’t, but it’s clear that he is—Joe Biden’s a one man Gaffe Machine. You can hear what he said to the New York Observer (click here). If we had to transcribe the exchange—it’s a bit hard to do—this is how we’d do it:
BIDEN: I mean, you’ve got the first, sort of, mainstream African-American—

INTERVIEWER: Yeah.

BIDEN: Who is articulate and bright and, and, and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.

Even interpreted in a fair way, Biden’s comment is amazingly clumsy. It implies that Jesse Jackson wasn’t a “mainstream” candidate in 1988; that claim is weird on the merits, and crazy as a matter of politics. (Jackson finished second in the 1988 nomination race.) And, in the context of a discussion about Obama’s ancestry, the comments about him being “clean” and “nice-looking” go well past dumb, to the point of cultural tragedy.

More on the way our big news orgs have transcribed Biden’s comment tomorrow. In light of our prior discussions this week, we thought we’d show you how NBC’s “boy’s club” treated Biden’s statement last night. More specifically, we thought we’d show you how Chris Matthews treated the statement on Hardball.

On Monday and Tuesday, Matthews had spent considerable time bashing Dem hopeful Hillary Clinton for telling a meaningless joke. As usual, he had directed gender-based insults at her, endlessly calling her a “girl” and complaining about all her “giggling.” Nothing new—last Thursday and Friday, he had referred to her as an “uppity women,” implying that her husband refers to her the same way. But then, Matthews has long had a jones about Clinton that won’t let his tortured soul go. Indeed, his hair-trigger reactions to liberal women have been an embarrassment on Hardball for years, going back (let’s say) to his rough-and-rude session with Liz Hotzman back in January 1999. Holtzman was right—and Matthews was wrong. So Chris let the woman pay for it.

Yep! Matthews spent Monday and Tuesday nights battering Clinton around. But Biden’s comment was treated quite differently. All of a sudden, Matthews was supremely hip—and magnanimous, deeply understanding. Here was his first assessment of Biden’s gaffe, offered to Time’s Jay Carney:
MATTHEWS (1/31/07): I want to ask you, what do you think? Before I’ll give you my view, which is Chris Rock—let me give you Chris Rock`s view. He has this wonderful riff he did in his act where he would say, every time an African-American guy comes out of college or makes it and has very good standard English and all and speaks well, isn`t it great, he is so “articulate.”

He says like, well, what do you he is? He went to college, of course he is articulate. So it is seen as kind of a patronizing term for a white guy to use about a black guy.

But, hey, I measure people by their heart. I don’t think Biden was saying anything more than somebody of his generation would say. But what do you think?
We don’t think Biden’s a bad person either. But then, we didn’t spend Monday and Tuesday nights trashing an “uppity woman”—a “girl”—for making a joke. Suddenly, though, after trashing Clinton, Matthews wanted to measure Biden’s heart. Soon, he played the consummate clown, issuing a heartfelt plea to the masses—a plea drawn from his religion:
MATTHEWS: OK. I ask everybody out there to do what I’m trying to do, is look at this reasonably. In my religion I call it a venial sin. I’m not sure it is even that. I’m waiting on this. And by the way, he comes on this show a lot. And we like him to do that. And want him to keep coming back.
Suddenly, a plea to be “reasonable!” It’s a plea that doesn’t seem to obtain when “uppity women” who remind Matthews of “strip-teasers” tell jokes and then “giggle like girls.”

Later, Matthews brought on another club member. And wouldn’t you know it? Mike Barnicle spilled with mercy for Joe Biden too! Note how these primal losers react when trouble hits one of their own:
MATTHEWS: Mike Barnicle, you first. Joe Biden said today something that could be taken, if not in context, out of context, as positive about his opponent—about his leading opponent [sic], I should say.

"I mean"—he is talking about Barack Obama—and he says, quote: "I mean, you got the, you got the first sort of mainstream African-American presidential candidate who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that`s a storybook, man."

And apparently, Barack Obama felt that that was somewhat offensive to, to his background. And what do you make of it?

BARNICLE: Well, knowing Joe Biden a bit, Chris, you know, not much. I think he is pure of heart. I think it’s just Joe Biden being Joe Biden, talking a little bit too much, talking a little bit too glibly. That’s who Joe is. I would hope that it wouldn’t damage him in the long run, having nothing to do with his view on the issues. It’s just that he is a good human being. And I don’t think there is any dark motive—no pun intended there.
“Apparently, Obama felt” that Biden’s remark was “somewhat offensive!” Here at THE HOWLER, we laughed out loud—and Barnicle explained that Biden is most likely “pure of heart.” For the record, we assume that Biden’s “a good human being” too. But then, we hadn’t spent the past two days trashing Hillary Clinton. For the record, we assume that Clinton’s a good person too.

But then, it’s the oldest tale in the world; it’s the tale of the race, of the club, of the clan. Why is Biden treated this way while Clinton isn’t? Duh! He’s treated that way because he’s a man—and because he’s Irish Catholic! Anyone who doesn’t grasp that fact still doesn’t understand our recent politics, in which NBC’s peculiar Irish-Catholic boys’ club has behaved so egregiously toward major Dem pols—except for the ones who are Irish Catholic men, just as this club’s members are.

No, there’s nothing wrong with being Irish Catholic; we grew up Irish Catholic ourselves. But it’s odd when one of our handful of major news networks operates like an Irish-Catholic boys’ club. And the trashing this group has dished to Clinton/Gore/Clinton helps show why it’s a gruesome idea to stock a major news org so narrowly. By the way, we’ve left out Kerry, who this boys’ club supported. Why were they so kind to John? Because Kerry is (semi) Irish Catholic too—just as these wild boys are!

Yes, the boys turned out in force last night to let us see how fair they can be. But let’s correct one statement by Matthews, who really does belong under doctors’ care. Drawing on his religious insights, the crackpot throwback said this:
MATTHEWS: But, hey, I measure people by their heart. I don’t think Biden was saying anything more than somebody of his generation would say.
But we know someone who’s roughly “of Biden’s generation” who hasn’t been uttering dumb racial gaffes. Her name, of course, is Hillary Clinton—and no, she hasn’t issued cringe-making remarks about Obama’s cleanliness. She hasn’t done so for an obvious reason—she’s smarter than Biden about such matters. She has cared more about matters of race; she has paid much better attention. But inside the club, inside the clan, the boys aren’t going to think about that. In the reptilian part of the brain, it’s been this way since we crawled on the land. Matthews—one of Jack Welch’s Lost Boys—continued to work for the clan.

GIULIANI AND THE CLAN: To a remarkable degree, Matthews speaks from the hearth, for the club, for the clan. And yes, as we explained last summer, this helps explain why he’s now shilling for the virile saint, Saint Rudy. Here he was last July, on the Chris Matthews Show, speaking with David Brooks about the virile mayor’s appeal:
BROOKS (7/9/06): There is a difference in their [McCain and Giuliani’s] constituencies. When you look at who’s backing Giuliani, oddly, it's the people to the right of the people who back McCain because they like the tough guy...

MATTHEWS: I'm not so sure that the people on the Catholic side who are usually pretty cautious about issues or negative about issues, like gay marriage, abortion rights, don't find a kinship with this guy that may trump all that. A familiarity coming up in ethnic neighbors in the big city. Being a big city mayor, that grittiness. That Catholic school education may trump all that. People say, “I know he's had some mistakes in his life, but he seems like us.”
Matthews was describing what voters may think—but trust us, he was tracking his own feelings too. “He seems like us,” Matthews said—as he began to slide away from McCain and over toward Giuliani. And other big pols don’t “seem like us” inside this throwback’s reptilian brain. Here’s the appalling remark Matthews made to Imus shortly after 9/11. Sounding much like Joe McCarthy (Irish Catholic), he spoke repulsively about Gore:
MATTHEWS (11/2/01): He doesn’t look like one of us. He doesn’t seem very American, even.
Astonishing. Yes, and disgraceful. But Matthews is a perfect nut. He draws on the worst parts of our Irish Catholic culture—the mossback portion that gave us Tailgunner Joe—as he makes that astounding remark about the looks of Gore.

But then, Matthews trashed Gore for twenty straight months when he staged his run for the White House. He lied—and insulted him nightly. Now, he’s starting to do this to Clinton. But Biden? Now there’s a good man!

MATTHEWS PICTURES THE JURY: On January 21, with Jimmy Carter present, Matthews described the Democratic Party (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/22/07). It’s amazing that pundits can say such things without liberal “leaders” risking one word of comment:
MATTHEWS (1/21/07): You know, I thought one of the smart things President Carter did as a candidate...was, every time President Carter won a primary, instead of standing on a platform with a bunch of sweaty, yelling people—you know, the scene with the Democratic Party usually, a bunch of crazy people yelling—and you had to have the full potpourri of Democrats present on that stage or someone would be ticked at you—you would meet in a hotel room and it was amazing. You’d sit down one-on-one, it was a unilateral, with some anchor or reporter, a serious reporter. And every time you saw a primary, you’d stay up till 11:30 to see who won, and you’d see the president, the candidate, sitting there very calmly talking about the future of the country.
As we told you, let’s not be stupid; Matthews was talking about blacks and working people when he described the Democratic Party as a bunch of sweaty, yelling people...a bunch of crazy people yelling.” But then, that’s the ways Dems are seen by the NBC clan—by the angry Archie Bunkers from whom Matthews has emerged. And then, last night, Matthews did it again! Running his mouth as he so often does, he described the Libby jury. He spoke with Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff:
MATTHEWS (1/31/07): Let me try this again, as a non-lawyer. They got a D.C. jury. They made a point of impaneling a jury that is not that highly educated, not that there`s anything wrong with that. But they are not advanced-degree people. They’re not college people. The idea being they are suspicious of power, reasonably suspicious of big shots. So—and they’re all, probably all Democrats.
Let’s be clear. This is Matthews’ picture of black people—of people who live in DC. But as is so often the case on this program, Matthews pretty much didn’t know what he was talking about. Isikoff quickly rejected his portrait. “I’m not sure I agree with your characterization of this jury,” he quickly said. “There may be some very well-educated people on that jury. And they seem to be alert. They seem to be taking notes. They’re asking good questions. My sense is, this is a very sophisticated jury.”

Isikoff, pedaling away from Matthews, reported his “sense” of the jury. This morning, though, the Post’s Carol Leonnig reported some facts about that jury—about the under-educated DC Dems Matthews had pictured for viewers:
LEONNIG (2/1/07): It is very unusual for jurors to be able to ask questions during court proceedings, but U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton is allowing it as Libby stands trial...The 12 jurors and three alternates get to write questions down and pass them to Walton, who reviews them with the attorneys and decides which ones he will ask on their behalf.

Some of the questions have been dead on, showing that the highly educated jurors—who include an art curator, a retired math teacher and an international health policy adviser—seem to home in on key evidence or testimony. Other questions have elicited new insights into witnesses' thinking, and still others have evoked a few laughs.
For the record, this jury had been described in the press before. On January 23, Neil Lewis took a crack in the New York Times, noting that “[t]he jury includes a former reporter for The Washington Post who said his editor was Bob Woodward.” But the most detailed description came from the AP. With apologies for the length of the excerpt, we thought you should see how disconnected from reality Matthew often is. Michael Sniffen did the reporting:
SNIFFEN (1/23/07): In a city where blacks outnumber whites more than 2-to-1, the jury has 10 whites and two blacks. Two of the alternates are black.

The critics chosen to serve include a woman who works for a senior citizens agency and said, "I think Bush was not candid" about why he began the war. There is also a retired woman who worked for the Air Force, Navy and nonprofit groups and said the administration was not "forthright about the reasons for engaging in" the war.

The other two were a retired math teacher who said he would have sent 500,000 troops to Iraq about four times the number Bush sent and a Web architect who said he questions administration credibility at times.

The jury includes a retired Washington Post reporter who once worked for Post editor Bob Woodward and was a neighbor of NBC reporter Tim Russert, both of whom are to be witnesses in the case.

Other jurors include a retired postal worker; a travel agent who only looks at newspapers for the sudoku puzzles; and a hotel sales agent who described herself a "master of all things pop culture, but nothing related to current events."

Two female jurors had voiced personal critiques of Cheney, a likely defense witness. The hotel sales agent said Cheney seemed like "a responsible but slightly cold man." A woman who works for the Health and Human Service Department said, "I'm not particularly impressed with a lot of his manners of being." But neither of them criticized administration policy.
Does that sound like the uneducated, Democratic DC jury Matthews described on Hardball last night? Question: Where did Matthews get his picture—the picture Isikoff quickly rejected? We’ll take a guess! He got it where he gets a lot of his notions. He got it inside his own head.

But then, Matthews has always carried such pictures around—and he’s always been willing to insult Dems in the rudest possible ways. In November 1999, for example, he played tape of Gore at a Democratic Party dinner, then offered language remarkably like what he said before Carter last month:
GORE (videotape): I'm proud that I have the—the highest COPE rating of any candidate in this race, even though I have represented a right-to-work state. I am pro-labor, pro-union, pro-working collective bargaining. I am pro-working family, and I always will be. You can write it down and count on it. And if you elect me president, I will be veto any anti-union bill that comes across my desk. I guaran-damn-tee it!

MATTHEWS (11/12/99): You got to go pretty far into the Third World to find tribal rituals like that one. All those ringers jumping up and down and clapping their hands, him doing those incredible Clutch Cargo gestures.
Gore expressed his support for working people—and Matthews, looking at all the “ringers,” could only think of the Third World. (Clutch Cargo is a cartoon character to whom Matthews often compared Gore.)

This was the same night, by the way, when Matthews said that Gore’s three-button suits were some sort of signal to female voters. (He spoke with jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitius.) This man should be in a doctor’s care. He’s been crazy for a very long time:
MATTHEWS (11/12/99) Quickly, you know, there's been a lot of talk about the new costuming of Al Gore. 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?

DIMITRIUS: Well, I—I think that—

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. Go ahead.

DIMITRIUS: No, I—I—I think actually that Al's probably read the—our second book that's about to come out that talks about the different colors, that, particularly males can wear in their suits. We talk about how olive green, dark green is—is much more approachable, whereas, your dark blue and your black—

MATTHEWS: Right. Is that why Peter Pan wore green?

DIMITRIUS: Could be. Could be.

MATTHEWS: How does my mind work that way?
“How does my mind work that way?” Matthews asked. The question is well worth asking.

(Note: In 1999, men’s three-button suits had been in fashion for years. But so what? On Hardball, Matthews told his “Albert the waiter” joke on November 2, 4, 10, 12 and 24. Such studied insults went on for two years. It’s why we are now in Iraq.)

Matthews has insulted your candidates for the past dozen years. The man is visibly out of his mind, but his high-priced employment persists—as does his service to those who have hired him. He thinks that Democrats are “a bunch of sweaty, yelling people...a bunch of crazy people yelling.” And yet, we libs and Dems rarely complain. Once in a while, we call him “Tweety.” Otherwise, we sit there and take it.

Let’s face it; Jack Welch knew a live one when he saw Matthews! Years back, he went out and hired this visible crackpot, this guy who can make Archie Bunker seem mainstream. And Matthews plans to savage your hopefuls again. This time, do we plan to resist it?

BARNICLE, APTLY NAMED: But then, Jack Welch’s Lost Boys of the Siasconset had quite a day this past Tuesday. That evening, Matthews continued to batter Clinton for all her “girl humor,” for the way she’d been “giggling like a girl.” And that morning, Barnicle had turned up angry on Imus—angry at the loss of his party. He spoke in praise of the virile Jim Webb. No, this isn’t Webb’s fault:

BARNICLE (1/30/07): You know what Webb is, Don? Webb is the antidote to 25 years of liberals in the Democratic Party taking the party of my parents and my party, when I was growing up, before I became an independent newspaper columnist, taking the Democratic Party so far left that the people who need it don’t recognize it and have come to despise it. Most Democrats, over the last 10-15 years on the national stage, you stand up and you put a gun to their heads and you say, “What are the top two or three issues that concern you as an activist, as a partisan, as an official in the Democratic Party and they say, “Oh, gay marriage—uh uh uh uh—choice, uh—stuff like that. But it’s not! But that’s not the Democratic Party! The Democratic Party is war and peace. The Democratic Party is how to provide people with health care, how to provide people with college education, how to help people and not how to piss people off!
The boys went on to trash Hillary Clinton—who had recently proposed expanding health care to all children. Clinton is “disgraceful. Beyond disgraceful. Repugnant. Repugnant. Repulsive. Disgraceful,” Imus stupidly said.

We know—we know. It doesn’t make sense. According to Barnicle, “most Democrats” will tell you that their first concern is gay marriage—something few major Dems have ever endorsed at all. But Welch knew who the Bunkers were—the angriest Catholic boys on the block—and he handed big piles of money and gave them big piles of fame. Like a gang of wild, lost boys, they’ve been trashing your interests ever since. They’re the angriest, stupidest boys on the block. And our “leaders” just sit there and take it.

Oh yes—one more thing. They knew that Biden was a good human being. Measuring Biden by his heart, they could see that he hailed from the clan.