Matthews: "I'm looking at myself in the camera and I'm saying, 'I don't understand what I'm talking about here.'"

"It's fascinating. It Just Is"

by digby

Oh dear god, how much I loathe and despise the Villagers at times like this. Here's the back and forth on Hardball today about Al and Tipper breaking up:

Matthews: Lois [Romano, Washington Post] did this surprise you? Was this something out of nowhere?

Romano: It totally surprised me because they bought a nine million dollar house just last month for a winter vacation home. It shocked even their closest friends ...

Matthews: Where did they buy the house?

Romano: California Montecito. It's a five bedroom ocean front house. So ...

Matthews: wow. Well they're loaded right now, they're doing very well.

Romano: And they celebrated their 40th anniversary two weeks ago so no one knows where this came from.

Yes. Who knows where it came from. It could be anything. Why I didn't know a thing about it.

Matthews: Let me go now to John Harris, you're an expert on the Clintons. [yep ...]

There's a certain irony here well, that's obvious, but let's go on. Your thoughts.

Harris: The Clintons, well everyone was fascinated by their marital problems, but they seemed like something out of a tabloid, remote from the circumstances or even the understanding of a lot of people.

But the Gores always seemed very human. I think that their lives and the difficulties they faced were very familiar and very accessible and I think that's why people are going to be very struck by this news and upset by it.

Yes, nobody in the country could relate to a marriage in which the husband had affairs and yet they ended up staying together. Shocking stuff! Bizarre and freakish even. Why no one in the Village has ever heard of such a thing. (My god, what's happened to the morals in this country?)

Meanwhile, let's just make up some stuff up out of whole cloth about Al and Tipper since we really have nothing juicy on them (yet.)

Romano: You know one thing Chris to think about is that there have been two distinct phases in Al Gore's life. The first 30 years with Tipper they had a common goal, it might not have been her goal, but it was a common goal nonetheless and it was fight for the presidency. Once that was over they had to kind of pivot and maybe they just didn't pivot together. Maybe she had to find some interests too.

Matthews: When he did that thing with Inconvenient Truth, did she get into that whole thing about climate change with him?

Romano: No she didn't. She does her own stuff. She does music and she does her photography. She sees friends. She has an active life, but she's under the radar.

Mattthews: This could be just a question of different personalities. I mean I know them but I don't really know them. I know them like a lot of people know them. Tipper's very likable, she's fun. Al's deadly serious. He can be fun.

John this thing about this ... I don't even know why we're talking about this except it's fascinating, it just is. This was the stable old girlfriend, met her in school, the sweetheart, the obvious connection between the two of them, they seem very regular, in love and this thing ends and other more complicated relations survive.

Oh goody the Clenis!

There it is, a sort of ironic picture. [Bill and Hill, Al and Tipper, of course] Who would have predicted which marriage would survive all these years and there it is, the Clintons beating out the competition, if you will. I don't want to be lighthearted about this, but who knows what's going on?

Harris: Well, Chris all the relationships are complicated, the Clintons and the Gores. But just to echo one point that Lois made. Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton always did have a shared project, which was the Clinton brand and their ambition on the national stage. Even at the most difficult period they have that shared bond. I think in the Gores's case, both of them had some degree of ambivalence about public life and I think that was especially true of Tipper who sometimes seemed to wilt under the public spotlight.

Matthews: You're so smart Harris! That is so smart! Bill and Hillary are committed to public policy as their primary aim in life, they are good at it, they are good at the politics, they are good at the policy, they are wonks to the core and they're committed to the core, not to making money but to public life itself. Whereas the Gores I think you do see, even with Al, the way he accepted defeat in 2000, there's something wistful about that guy.

That really is brilliant. The fact that it's been a cliche since sometime around March of 1992 doesn't make it any less brilliant, either. It never gets old.

But there is something wrong with Al. We've always known that. And the equally brilliant Romano then gave us a recitation of conventional wisdom so stale that even Matthews forgot why he's supposed to care:

Romano: Well he was on a track put there by his father, everything was one step closer to that. And privately he was a different man. He was a funny, engaging man private but kind of rigid and I think he just became the person he was going to become after he lost the presidency in 2000 and she developed her interests. You know he said once that he was very lucky that at every stage of their life they found each other and maybe this time they just couldn't.

Matthews: I'm looking at myself in the camera and I'm saying, "I don't understand what I'm talking about here." I am so far beyond what I know anything about here. I'm a political watcher.

Luckily his producer runs the infamous kiss at that moment and Chris gets a little tingle up the leg:

It's only fascinating because that kiss I guess. Let's be honest that was the iconic event of the 2000 election in many ways.

Romano: Well it was his lesson to the world that "I have a good marriage" and almost a counter to what the Clintons had going on.

Matthews: (video of kiss playing) Look at that, it's wolverine stuff, I mean what is this thing? What was that about? And it did go on much longer than what we're showing here, by the way. [no it didn't]

Can someone explain what "wolverine stuff" is? Is this a porno reference that I'm too old and out of it to know about? (The thought that Matthews does know about it makes me slightly nauseous.)

Harris: Well, they uh, obviously didn't get any points for subtlety about that lengthy PDA at the Democratic convention in LA, and it was a very scripted moment I believe. But I do think it was genuine and unscripted that she humanized Al Gore who was, as he would joke, wooden and ...

Matthews: I've got to break in here with the big news for people that can talk about this show tonight, Brook Bowers [sp?], one of our top producers just said in my ear that there has never been a recorded case of a divorce by a president or a vice president after they left office.

I'm sorry, Aaron Burr, well that's the Gore Vidal situation.

Romano: Wow. That's very interesting.

Matthews: I don't know what that meant ...

Neither does anyone else, believe me.

I did not make any of that up. He concluded the show with a final Deep Thought in which he related a quote from his old boss Tip O'Neill who told him "no one knows what's in a man's heart," after which he babbled some more about the Gores.

Once again,in case you forgot, this man makes five million dollars a year.

Update: Here's a little reminder of Chris "no one knows what's in a man's heart" Matthews from a couple years ago:

MATTHEWS: Let's talk about the front page of The New York Times today, at the very top of the fold. I mean, it's right up there at the banner, the Clinton marriage, "For the Clintons, delicate dance of married and public lives." This is the most teasing story I've come across in The New York Times in a long time, the paper of record...

It was very carefully reported. Let me read you a quote from the Clintons -- the two, the senator and the former president. It's quite an interesting quote here: "She is an active senator who, like most members of Congress, has to be in Washington for part of most weeks. He is a former president running a multimillion-dollar global foundation. But their home is in New York, and they do everything they can to be together there or at their house in D.C. as often as possible -- often going to great lengths to do so. When their work schedules require that they be apart, they talk all the time." That's a very defensive, formalized statement, isn't it, Bob?

HERBERT: I mean, I really don't know. It sounds to me -- I read it, and I didn't look for a hidden agenda, honestly. I read that as --

MATTHEWS: OK. You don't think it's setting them up for a different lifestyle? I thought it was saying --

HERBERT: I read that as --


HERBERT: -- a reasonable, accurate depiction of what's going on.

MATTHEWS: Could it be -- to avoid all this kind of speculation that we're already involved in, and I take responsibility -- well, I share it with The New York Times here -- Michael, that what they're really saying, the official spokespeople for these two impressive people, is that they're saying, "Don't count on Bill Clinton living in the White House if Hillary gets elected. He's got to run a big, multimillion dollars -- they say, the spokesmen say -- foundation. He's got a lot of responsibilities up in New York City at his office up there, so don't count on him being like a househusband or a first gentleman."


MATTHEWS: Is that what they're setting up here?

SMERCONISH: No, what they were saying is that most guys escape to the golf course to get away from their wives, and in his case, she's in the United States Senate, and that's his excuse.

HERBERT: Well, I don't think they're saying that he won't be, you know, the first husband. I mean, I think that Bill Clinton is such a political junkie that he won't be able to stay away if Hillary is president.

MATTHEWS: Well, I hate being away from my wife more than a day or two, but thank you, Michael. You obviously don't mind that at all. Anyway, Bob Herbert, you go home and face her now.

There was much more of course. Years and years more of this nonsensical gossip about the Clinton marriage and the "meaning" of Al and Tipper's smooch and all the rest. It's just how they roll.

And it's so mind numbingly stupid I have to go and wash my brain out with a strong mojito after transcribing that whole idiotic segment.