Friday, January 18, 2008

Chris Matthews in the Woodshed

Back to school, eh Chris?

Last night, Chris Matthews opened his "Hardball" show with an apology for his recent comments about Hillary Clinton to the effect that the only reason she was a senator and candidate for president was the fact that her husband "messed around". The remark raised eyebrows both on the left and on the right (and the center for that matter). Of course, there are probably those who agreed with Matthews' assessment; nevertheless, in my view, the remark was totally inappropriate.

Had Matthews said merely that the only reason that Mrs Clinton was a senator and presidential candidate was because she was married to an ex-president, the observation would have been appropriate and fair game. The part about her husband "messing around" was the bad part. True, Mrs Clinton's "vast, right-wing conspiracy" explanation was absurd and deserving of criticism and ridicule. However, I really don't see how the philandering of Bill Clinton has contributed to her political success-unless you think the sympathy vote is significant.

During his career, Matthews, a fast-talking easterner, has made many comments that have drawn listeners' ire. To be fair, he has often criticized Democrats even though he himself is a liberal Democrat. We also should remember that commentators have more leeway in expressing opinions than traditional reporters. (You wouldn't expect a TV news anchor to make that statement on the 6 o'clock news.) Matthews, a commentator, has pretty much implied that Hillary Clinton is not his preferred candidate.

Should he have apologized? In my opinion, yes, even though it would be fair to argue that Bill and Hillary Clinton are public figures who aspire to run the country, plus the fact that Bill brought all of this on with his behavior. Nevertheless, an apology was the gentlemanly thing to do. Of course, it is nice to know how much pressure was brought upon him to make his apology. We know that well-known feminists, such as Gloria Steinem and Kim Gandy went berzerk over the comment and complained to Matthews' bosses. Was Matthews' job in jeopardy? Who knows? If Matthews had been fired for his comments due to pressure from the feminists, I would take his side as a victim of political correctness.

So,in my opinion, it was correct for Matthews to be a gentleman and apologize. It would also be appropriate for Bill Clinton to apologize for the fact that his long-standing behavior has led to comments of this nature and will continue to do so.

Oh, one more thing: I will not apologize to Hillary for portraying her as the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Besides, she doesn't even know about it.

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