Chris Matthews Rants: GOP 'Doesn't Have the Moral Credibility' to 'Mock' ObamaCare Failure

Appearing on Saturday's NBC Today, MSNBC host Chris Matthews launched into a rant denouncing Republicans for daring to be critical of the disastrous ObamaCare rollout: "...one party has a health care plan, the other party does not have one. And the one that does not have a health care plan is least able to be critical....It doesn't have the moral credibility to mock the one party and the one president who has succeeded." [Listen to the audio]

Matthews implored President Obama: "He has to return it to the issue of morality and the fact that we owe our brothers and sisters health care...He can't get involved in letting this be judged on whether it's successfully rolled out or not, he has to make it back to the question, should we try to bring health care to people who don't have it or not? And put his enemies on the defensive."

Earlier in the segment, co-host Erica Hill challenged White House attempts to dismiss problems with the ObamaCare website: "Yesterday, Jay Carney said this is more of a dog-bites-man story, as we talk about health care. But yet, this is a big deal, and we're learning more and more. Is it accurate, or is it wise, I should say, for the White House to try to downplay this as dog-bites-man?"

Prior to his tirade, Matthews managed some more sober analysis: "No, I think that's a mistake. I think they've got to accept the fact that this was a big screw up."

He then proclaimed: "This is something that the President cares more about than anything else in his legacy, it's the major contribution he's made to the social safety net."

Here is a transcript of the November 2 exchange:

7:16AM ET

(...)

ERICA HILL: In terms of what's happening right now in Washington with the President, another day, more revelations about the health care rollout. We're learning that just six people were able to sign up on day one. Yesterday, Jay Carney said this is more of a dog-bites-man story, as we talk about health care. But yet, this is a big deal, and we're learning more and more. Is it accurate, or is it wise, I should say, for the White House to try to downplay this as dog-bites-man?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: ObamaCare Fallout; Impact of HealthCare Snags on President's 2nd Term]

CHRIS MATTHEWS: No, I think that's a mistake. I think they've got to accept the fact that this was a big screw up. And I think New York Mayor LaGuardia once said, "When I make a mistake, it's a beaut." And this is a beaut. This is something that the President cares more about than anything else in his legacy, it's the major contribution he's made to the social safety net.

It will ultimately succeed, but it will only succeed if he keeps his credibility. And I think it's very important, as we go through this rocky period, that he's always seen as the man you go to for what's going on. And I agree with any suggestion that he always has to tell the whole truth. Bobby Kennedy used to say, "Hang a lantern on your problem," let people know that you know what your problem is so they'll then begin to trust you more.

HILL: So real quickly, just give me a yes or no, do you think then the President needs to come out and talk more about this?

MATTHEWS: No, I think he needs to be simply candid about the fact that the issue still is this one, does this country take moral responsibility for the 40 million people waiting in emergency rooms or not? Focus back on the central question – one party has a health care plan, the other party does not have one. And the one that does not have a health care plan is least able to be critical. It doesn't have a dog in this race. It hasn't tried to deal with the health care problem. It doesn't have the moral credibility to mock the one party and the one president who has succeeded.

He has to return it to the issue of morality and the fact that we owe our brothers and sisters health care, we've got to make sure they take responsibility for it. It is, in fact, a political question, not an efficiency question. He can't get involved in letting this be judged on whether it's successfully rolled out or not, he has to make back to the question, should we try to bring health care to people who don't have it or not? And put his enemies on the defensive, I think.

HILL: It is a discussion that will continue both here on the Today show and also, Chris, we know, on your show Hardball, weeknights at 7 Eastern on MSNBC. Thanks again.

MATTHEWS: Thanks, Erica.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.