Last night’s edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews provided more than its fair share of strange moments. There was an amusing exchange between Christopher Hitchens and Catholic League president Bill Donohue regarding the current Time magazine cover story about Mother Teresa’s religious doubts. But since I only have about ten minutes until my next class, I’ll save that for another post.
Instead I thought I’d bring you the following moment, from the round table discussion at the end of the show. The topic was Idaho Senator Larry Craig. I trust you’ve heard about it? Matthews’ guest was Naomi Wolfe. In reading this it will help to know that Larry Craig was a high-level operative in Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign. Here’s the exchange:
NAOMI WOLF, AMERICAN FREEDOM CAMPAIGN: It seems to me that the scandal will come and go the way the Mark Foley scandal seemed so outrageous, but it came and went. I do not think it will have a lasting impact.
MATTHEWS: You think that Larry Craig is going to survive this?
WOLF: No, I don’t. But I think Romney is not going to be stopped. I don’t think any of the Republican candidates are going to be tarred with the brush of all these peccadilloes and scandals, because I think the American people realize there are much more serious issues at stake in this election. I think it’s much more of a scandal and people are much more focused on it when they realize that Mitt Romney, for instance, refused, according to a Boston newspaper, of signing the American Freedom Agenda’s request that he commit to restoring the constitution.
MATTHEWS: Don’t come on this show and change the subject. I’m asking you about Larry Craig. If you don’t want to talk about Larry Craig, stop talking. What do you think is the political significance of this? If you say it’s none, that’s a good answer. But you can’t just change the subject.
As always, the transcript doesn’t really do justice to what happened. Matthews was really annoyed with Wolfe. Wolfe was trying to change the subject from the triviality of Craig’s scandal to something important. Matthews was having none of it. How dare she try to divert attention from the salacious sex scandal! Someone classier than he would have made a joke about it. But then, class has never been part of Matthews’ resume.