Chris Matthews: Voters May Punish Overly Smart Dems for Their 'Complexity'
Chris Matthews on Thursday morning conceded Republicans likely would win the Senate in November. On Wednesday's Hardball, the host lashed out at voters. Speaking of a House special election won by the Republicans on Tuesday, he fumed, "Well, this election in Florida yesterday was about one word: 'No.' Because no worked, it will be worked again from now until November. By all means, no. That's the Republican message this year." [MP3 audio here.]
Grappling with the reason why it is so "hard" for Democrats to fight in this midterm election, Matthews lectured, "Well, for one thing, Democrats generally can see the complexity of our times." He added, "They don't think they have all the answers. They'd like to see some deal making between the parties and across the aisles."
Matthews's complaints about the voters sound reminiscent of the late Peter Jennings. After Americans swept in the Republican revolution of 1994, he famously blasted this as a "temper tantrum" from "two-year olds":
"Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It's clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It's the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week....Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old."
-- ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings in his daily ABC Radio commentary, November 14, 1994.
As for the advice Matthews had for Democrats: "They could focus on their attitude toward women and the choices they believe women should be allowed to make in this society."
Regarding the Democrat loss on Tuesday, guest Howard Fineman mocked the Democratic base as stupid: "Those are low-information -- low-information voters, detached voters. They don't take their civic duties as seriously."
On Thursday, Matthews appeared on Morning Joe to rant that Abraham Lincoln wouldn't have appeared on Fox News.
A partial transcript of the March 12 segment is below:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: "Let Me Start" tonight with this. Whose side are you on? Because this is a nasty business, politically. It's no joke going out there as a Democrat this year, no joke at all. People are angry. They're looking for places to show they're angry, looking for somewhere to blast away at the way things are.
Well, this election in Florida yesterday was about one word: "No." Because no worked, it will be worked again from now until November. By all means, no. That's the Republican message this year.
And why is it hard for Democrats to fight that? Well, for one thing, Democrats generally can see the complexity of our times. The polls show this. They don't think they have all the answers. They'd like to see some deal making between the parties and across the aisles.
Two, the Democrats know that the health care program, as it's been put there, could be improved. They're thinking about it. They're watching it. The Republicans -- well, you don't really have to think much if you're just ticked off, do you? All you have to do is go to your base and go back to cutting government spending, attacking health care, hating the President and guarding your values.
Well, the Democrats -- what are they to do to win this November? Well, they could do one thing. They could focus from now until this year's election on the differences between the two parties, how they're going to help the working stiff, the Democrats would, to break-in with a higher minimum wage hike, which the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail.
They could focus on their attitude toward women and the choices they believe women should be allowed to make in this society. They could focus on improving things for Americans, not just banging on the pipes and yelling, No. They could give themselves a reason for a better life in America while Republicans are only being given a reason for knocking off Democrats.
HOWARD FINEMAN: Well, I think it's up to the Democrats to carefully study those results in, as Chuck said, the swingiest district in the swingiest state. That's a perfect laboratory for them. And I would guess that a lot of different kinds of Democrats -- two types who didn't up, a lot of working- class Democrats, blue-collar Democrats for whom the off-year election -- and this was sort of an off of an off --
FINEMAN: -- a special election leading up to the off-year -- they don't turn out. They come out in presidential elections.
HOWARD FINEMAN: Those are low-information -- low-information voters, detached voters. They don't take their civic duties as seriously. They don't show up in midterms.
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.