Every once in a while Chris Matthews does a good deed. On last night’s edition of Hardball he had conservative radio talk show host Kevin James on his show. James was keen to pontificate on the nature of appeasement. Matthews’ other guest was Mark Green. What happened next was priceless:

MATTHEWS: I want to do a little history check on you because the president’s referring to history. He attacked those who would imitate Senator William Boar of Idaho, who was a Republican isolationist back in the late ’30s, who supported whatever, some notion of getting along with Hitler better. Let me ask you, what did Chamberlain do wrong, Neville Chamberlain do wrong in 1939? What did he do wrong?

JAMES: Oh, come on. It all goes–it all goes back to appeasement.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, what did he do? Tell me what he did.

JAMES: It’s the key term. It’s the key term.

MATTHEWS: You have to answer this question. What did he do?

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: It’s the same thing. It puts it all–we’re talking about appeasement.

MATTHEWS: Well, tell me what he did. What did Chamberlain do wrong?

JAMES: His actions–his actions enabled…

MATTHEWS: What did Chamberlain do?

JAMES: … energized, legitimated. It’s the exact same–it’s the exactly same thing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I’m not going to continue with this interview unless you answer what that thing is. What did Chamberlain do in ’39? Tell me, in ’38. What did he do? What did he do?

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: Well, ’38, ’39, Chris. What year do you want? It doesn’t…

MATTHEWS: What did he do?

JAMES: It doesn’t–it’s the exact same thing that happened, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What did Chamberlain…

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: He’s talking–he’s talking–he’s talking about appeasement.

MATTHEWS: What did Chamberlain do?

GREEN: Chris…

MATTHEWS: Just tell me what he did, Kevin. What did Chamberlain do you didn’t like?

JAMES: Look…

MATTHEWS: What did he do?

JAMES: What Chamberlain did–what Chamberlain did that I–what the president was talking about? You just said the president was talking about–you just said the president was talking about Barack. Look…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, no. I want you to tell me, Mister. You’re making a

reference to the days before our involvement in World War II, when the war

in Europe began. I want you to tell me now, as an expert, what did Chamberlain do wrong?

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: Look, you’re not going to box me in here, Chris. President Bush was making that. I’m glad–I’m glad the president…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You don’t know, do you? You don’t know what Neville Chamberlain did in Munich, do you?

JAMES: Of course. What Neville Chamberlain–yes, he was an appeaser, Chris. He was an appeaser.

MATTHEWS: What did he do?

JAMES: And it energized and it legitimatized…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Kevin, Kevin James, Kevin James, what did Neville Chamberlain do?

GREEN: Chris, may I try to answer?

MATTHEWS: He doesn’t know. You are B.S.ing me.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You are talking about a critical point in American history, in European history, and you can’t tell me what Neville Chamberlain did in Munich. What did he do in ’39, ’38?

JAMES: Chris, Chris, Chris, I wasn’t the one that raised the Hitler comment. My point is–my point is, what President Bush has done is, he has taken this shot across the bow, all right?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You don’t know what you’re talking about, Kevin.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You don’t know what you’re talking about.

JAMES: … know what I’m talking about.

MATTHEWS: Tell me what Chamberlain did wrong.

JAMES: Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, Chris. Neville Chamberlain…

MATTHEWS: What did he do?

JAMES: Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, all right?

MATTHEWS: What did he do?

JAMES: Neville Chamberlain, his–but his policies, the things that Neville Chamberlain supported, all right energized, legitimized…

MATTHEWS: Just tell me what he did.

JAMES: … energized, legitimized, and made it easier for Hitler to advance in the ways that he advanced.

MATTHEWS: What…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I have been sitting here five minutes asking you to say what the president was referring to in 1938 at Munich.

JAMES: I don’t know what the–Chris.

MATTHEWS: You don’t know. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: Chris, I don’t know what the president was referring to when he talked about what was being said in 1930 — in 1939.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You don’t know what you’re talking about. Your problem, Kevin, is, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

And the problem is, you don’t understand there’s a difference between talking to the enemy and appeasing. What Neville Chamberlain did wrong, most people would say, is not talking to Hitler, but giving him half of Czechoslovakia in ’38. That’s what he did wrong, not talking to somebody.

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: Chris, but there’s a difference.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Appeasement is giving away things to the enemy.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You don’t know what you’re…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We have got to go.

I got to go to somebody who knows some history.

Mark Green, help him out with some history here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This is pathetic.

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN: Kevin, please…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This is pathetic.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He doesn’t even know what Chamberlain did in Munich.

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: … talking about appeasement.

GREEN: Kevin, when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Chris, the reason that you exposed him…

MATTHEWS: I mean, he’s as bad as the White House press secretary, that doesn’t even know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We’re talking with people with blank slates in terms of history here.

You should go watch the video to get the full effect. James’ pathetic, shrieking death-wails get lost in the transcript.

This is right-wingerism laid bare. It’s all about parroting mindless venom. James doesn’t have the faintest idea what Neville Chamerlain actually did to earn his reputation, but he knows that appeasement is a bad thing and that it’s something he can use to tar Barack Obama. Calling someone an appeaser is something he’s learned how to say, in precisely the same way that your average dog can be taught to respond to basic commands. It probably never even occurred to him that he would ever be called on his ignorance of basic history.

Comments

  1. #1 chris
    May 16, 2008

    That was awesome. The look of exasperation on Matthews’ face (or is it Matthews’s?) as he realizes his assumption about James has been confirmed was priceless. But it won’t matter. The knuckle-dragging, mouth-breating half-wits who listened to James’ (James’s) show before will still listen, and will still prattle on about appeasement as if they understand what it means.

    As an aside, until I watched the video I thought we were talking about the actor who played Doug Heffernan opposite the crazy Scientologist lady with the nice rack. I’ve never heard of Kevin James the radio host.

  2. #2 tincture
    May 16, 2008

    Wow. Chris Matthews said that? It’s funny when people get called on their shit but I’m honestly too surprised by Matthews’ behaviour to laugh.
    But I agree, if only he was always like that. He might even become a journalist one day.

    It’s already on wikipedia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_James_%28broadcaster%29#Hardball_appearance

  3. #3 Philip H.
    May 16, 2008

    This is another example (if we really need one) of how we are failing our citizenry by what we educate them in. First, if we teach people what Chamberlin actually did, then they can have a discussion of why it wasn’t the “right” thing to do. We don’t do that. Instead we teach what he has been labeled by history. The sad irony is that in 50 years, Pres. Bush will not be remembered for what hed did, but fo rthe label he is assigned by history.

    Second, we don’t teach people to think critically. If we did, there would be lots more Chris Matthews in the world, hitting harder on what the President said.

  4. #4 tincture
    May 16, 2008

    @chris, she does indeed have a nice rack.

    …Wishing for an edit button.

  5. #5 gwangung
    May 16, 2008

    Yeah, well James, the lackwit, will probably be lionized by the wingnuts for being persecuted in the “mass media.”

  6. #6 JimCH
    May 16, 2008

    Calling someone an appeaser is something he’s learned how to say, in precisely the same way that your average dog can be taught to respond to basic commands.

    Wow. So at least when it comes to the far-right Skinner’s behaviorism is correct. Sounds about right.

  7. #7 Timcol
    May 16, 2008

    Jason is right – you really have to watch this to get the full effect.

    I looked up Kevin James bio on Wikipedia. Apparently he is trained as a lawyer and was a prosecutor for 3 years. Yet he is utterly inept at debating (and what an annoying whiny voice too…). Can you imagine him in court trying this shtick? I can hear that judge from Boston Legal now – enough with the jibber-jabber!!! They don’t get more clueless than this.

  8. #8 Kawlinz
    May 16, 2008

    @Philip H

    Critical thinking classes do have to start early, tho. The critical thinking class I took in college, I’d say a good 80% of people didn’t have a clue what was going on, and the other 20% already knew how to think critically.

  9. #9 SLC
    May 16, 2008

    As I stated on another blog, what Chamberlain did was to cede the Sudetenland part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler for a piece of paper. That was the appeasement, not the fact that he met with Hitler in Munich.

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    May 17, 2008

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    May 19, 2008

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  12. #12 Sam B
    May 19, 2008

    Crap how many of us (me being 30) were raised on
    PBS and Dr. Who? I mean he should at least know what
    Chamberlain did even if he didn’t know what the treaty
    was called. I mean it was one of the reasons Churchill
    took power in the first place. But on a sad note this works
    on conservatives a lot. Like Article 11 of the treaty of Tripoli. Just throw that at any conservative saying were a Christian nation. It is really quite funny.

  13. #13 Allen
    May 24, 2008

    When bush makes Nazi comparisons he should tread lightly.

    After all his grandfather Prescott Bush was a Nazi supporter before and during the war. In fact according to some sources his grandfather was still doing business with the Nazi regime during the war, against wartime restrictions.

    And let us not forget that Skull and Bones is and oofshoot of an occultist German secret society.

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