On Sunday's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, as host Matthews asked the panel to predict the outcome of the Pennsylvania Senate election, he described Republican candidate Pat Toomey as "right-leaning," but assigned no ideological label to Democratic candidate Joe Sestak. Panel member John Heilemann of New York magazine asserted that Toomey is "not just right-leaning, he's a pretty conservative guy," while also giving no label to Sestak. Ironically, it was Helene Cooper of the New York Times who finally described the Pennsylvania Democrat as "so far to the left" as she predicted a win for Sestak.
Later in the show, as the group discussed what Republican control of Congress would mean for President Obama, Heilemann continued to see Republicans being as extreme without noting any liberal extremism as he recounted President Clinton's battle in the 1990s with Republican Speaker New Gingrich and how President Obama could play a similar role with a Republican Congress. Heilemann: "He (President Clinton) took advantage of Newt Gingrich's extremism to make Republicans look bad. Obama can play that part of the game possibly very effectively."
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Sunday, October 31, syndicated Chris Matthews Show:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: John, I want you to start with Pennslyvania, where you have the right-leaning Pat Toomey versus Congressman Joe Sestak. Your call on that race?
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, I think Toomey's going to win that race, and he's not just right-leaning. He's a pretty conservative guy and a Club for Growth guy.
HELENE COOPER, NEW YORK TIMES: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's still possible for Sestak. He's so far to the left, but he's been trying to come to the center. Toomey is pretty far to the right, and, you know, you've got to realize that most Pennsylvania voters are right in the middle.
JOHN HEILEMANN: People forget that there was this other part of the Clinton strategy. Yes, he cooperated with Republicans on certain very big things, but the other part was he demonized them like crazy. ... He took advantage of Newt Gingrich's extremism to make Republicans look bad. Obama can play that part of the game possibly very effectively.
- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.