Among all the tributes offered Friday night on the various cable networks to Tim Russert, only one that I saw managed to use the opportunity to crassly advance a political perspective and advance a personal political ambition. Chris Matthews is salivating at the chance to run for US Senator in 2010 against Arlen Spector in Pennsylvania. He has made no secret of this.
Friday night, MSNBC caught up with Matthews in Paris, where he was vacationing. Asked about his memories of Russert, Matthews had only one story to tell -- about how on the eve of the Iraq war, he ran into Russert and asked him why he was supporting the war, which Matthews opposed. Matthews stated that Russert told him that the possibility Iraq had a nuclear bomb program was enough reason.
As Matthews described it, Tim Russert was the representative for many average Americans, and if "they" could fool him (Russert), "they" could fool a nation. Obviously, Matthews was too sophisticated to be in the "everyman" category like Russert, and so harbored no fears about Iraq and WMD. Matthews went on to throw in that "they" meant the neocons, of course, once more smearing those Jewish advisors to President Bush (Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and company), who Matthews has been blaming for the war for six years.
Mathews has been an ardent supporter of Barack Obama, who "sent a thrill up [Mathews'] leg" this year with his speaking prowess. Mathews seems to think that, like Obama, his early opposition to the Iraq war is an issue that may have the legs to take him to the US Senate.
It is regrettable, and pitiful, really, to see Matthews use the sudden death of an obviously likable, warm, and generous man, and one far more capable and successful than Matthews at his job, to create a sound bite on a big audience night for cable news networks. Rather than pay tribute to Russert, Matthews' comments were designed primarily to push his own political ambitions forward. But then again, this is Chris Matthews, so why should we expect more?
The Democrats already have one clown (Al Franken) running for the Senate in Minnesota this year. It looks like they may have another in 2010 in Pennsylvania.