Somebody give David Shuster a bib, because with the way he's fluffing Matthews right now he's going to need it.
Shuster: I love listening to you analyze politics, Chris...
Here's a little sample of their fascinating conversation. (I couldn't transrcibe the first part because I had to go find my gibberish decoder.)
Shuster: I thought it was just brilliant the way that the Clintons took advantage of a trap that maybe Barack Obama set for himself when he mentioned Ronald Reagan and talked about the Democrats not having relatively new ideas the last 15 years, which of course covers the Clinton administration. How do you rate the way the Clintons jumped down his throat on that.
Matthews (smirking, laughing) Well again. You don't have to like it, but you have to observe it. We're not talking about what is good and what is bad here, but of course we all have our observations about this kind of politics.
Inevitably the Clintons find themselves running against a kind of an outsider politician, someone trying something new. In 92 it was Paul Tsongas who talked about modifying the entitlement programs, doing some things with social security that may be sacrificing some benefits but basically saving the system
They just wait for the other side to do that and then they jump on them. They play the safety, they play in the pocket they let the other guy scramble. Or in the middle east they talk about an even handed policy and they jump on them.
They're very effective at letting the other guy do something that exposes him and then jumping on him.
Now we saw that in that debate out in Las Vegas where the moderators asked them to list areas where they're weak. In other words something to do with themselves. And Barack went out there and said, yeah I'm sort of disorganized and I need to have my staff give me the paper I need, the speech I need right before the event or I'll misplace it...well that was, let's face it, a sort of a minimal admission of weakness. But Then when it came time for John Edwards and Senator Clinton, to offer their weaknesses they didn't do so they basically used it as an admission that it was a powerful emotion to do good on their part. Last week Barack tried to be witty and came back almost like Adlai Stevenson in the old days and said, I should have said that my weakness was that I like to help old ladies crossing streets. Because they were all using it that way. There again the Clintons go obvious, the opponent tries to be novel.
It reminds me of the great exchange between F Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway where F. Scottsaid "the rich are different from us" and Hemingway said "yeah they have more money." Well the Clintons are Hemingway.They would say the obvious as a topper, a trumper, not particularly original, but it would work. Especially in American culture the Clintons are very good at hitting that middle, the people who are not living on irony and surprise and novelty but those basic bread and butter Democratic values.
David, I obviously give a lot of thought to this stuff.
Shuster: Chris you are brilliant, and thanks for coming on
How much do they pay these guys?