Chris Matthews stated that Sen. Hillary Clinton "may not want to risk being another Dukakis -- this time in a dress," the third time he has made reference to Michael Dukakis in discussions of Clinton's potential presidential bid. Matthews also declared, "[G]o see Deer Hunter if you think [Clinton] can get elected president," adding that "Midwest guys" whose "idea of heaven is out hunting with the beer cans and shooting a pheasant or a bear" are "not up to modern women as president."
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On the September 19 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews, in a discussion on the prospects of a 2008 presidential bid by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), stated that Clinton "may not want to risk being another Dukakis -- this time in a dress," marking the third time Matthews has referred to the unsuccessful 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in describing Clinton's potential presidential bid, as noted by Media Matters for America (here and here). Matthews speculated that, like Dukakis, Clinton could lose "by eight points and humiliat[e] herself." Later, Matthews declared, "[G]o see Deer Hunter if you think [Clinton] can get elected president," adding that "Midwest guys" whose "idea of heaven is out hunting with the beer cans and shooting a pheasant or a bear" are "not up to modern women as president." The Deer Hunter was released in 1978.
Later in the program, Matthews again discussed the 2008 presidential race, this time with actor Alan Alda. When Matthews brought up the subject, Alda coaxed Matthews to offer an opinion on the matter: "So, tell me what you think. You're the guy who knows." Matthews replied: "I don't know whether there is a strong, serious alternative to the president's philosophy, which is this sort of neoconservative, we're going to go around the world and democratize other countries with force." Matthews added: "I don't know whether there is a strong counter to that at a time of terrorism, and I am waiting to see if there is one, a strong alternative which says, 'We can create peace, create less enemies, and we can have less terrorism if we do a different thing than he [Bush] is doing.' "
In addition to his reference to Clinton as "Dukakis ... in a dress," Matthews has also called Clinton "witchy" and "sort of a Madame Defarge of the left," and pushed Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) to call Clinton a "socialist," as Media Matters has noted. Matthews also devoted a great deal of time to focusing on a May 23 New York Times article that addressed the state of the marriage between Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, asking at least 90 questions on the subject.
From the September 19 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, which also featured Boston Herald and New York Daily News columnist Mike Barnicle and National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne:
MATTHEWS: But I hear again today The Hill, the newspaper, is going to announce tomorrow that not only is Hillary running for president, but [former Democratic National Committee chairman] Terry McAuliffe is going to be her campaign chair. He, of course, says -- he did to me a couple minutes ago, before we went on the air -- saying, oh, that's way ahead of time. My gut check tells me there's still a trap door for her, that she might not want to give up the chance to be majority leader for life, a big life in the Senate, sort of like [Sen.] Teddy Kennedy's [D-MA] been able to put together, that she may not want to risk being another Dukakis, this time in a dress, losing by eight points and humiliating herself. She may choose to be a leader.
BARNICLE: Well, yeah, she should just stay out of tanks if she does decide to run in the fall.
MATTHEWS: Well --
BARNICLE: But, you know, well, first of all, Terry McAuliffe as her chair, that's going to get him back up top of the A-list for parties in the Hamptons, I would assume. You might be right, Chris. I mean, Hillary Clinton, clearly, I would think, would be able to win the Democratic nomination for -- her party's nomination for president. And yet, at a time two years out, when I think many, many people in this country are going be just, just dying for some sense --
BARNICLE: -- of civility in politics, Hillary Clinton on the ballot would just resurrect the partisanship that is dragged, that we've all been dragged through for the past 12 years.
MATTHEWS: I just say, go see Deer Hunter if you think she can get elected president. All those Midwest guys, their idea of heaven is out hunting with the beer cans and shooting a pheasant or a bear, bear, whatever. These kind of guys are not up to modern women as president.
O'BEIRNE: Well, you know what, though? You know what, though, Chris? I think the Hillary team would point out that she appealed to some significant number of such people in upstate New York --
MATTHEWS: After months and months --
O'BEIRNE: -- and will be again.
MATTHEWS: -- and months of retail politics.
O'BEIRNE: Well, she'll be campaigning nationwide. First of all, her alternative is not to be majority leader for life, Chris. [laughs] She might have to settle for minority leader.
BARNICLE: There's another aspect of Hillary Clinton's potential candidacy for presidency nationwide that is very interesting. You alluded to, you know, The Deer Hunter phenomenon of those guys in pickup trucks. Are they ever going to vote for Hillary Clinton? I think there's something going on between professional women like Kate O'Beirne and others of any ilk, Democratic or Republican, who look at Hillary Clinton negatively rather than positively.
BARNICLE: I think that's a big factor.
O'BEIRNE: There's no monolithic women's vote. I'm with you there. There's no monolithic women's vote that can be counted on to support Hillary Clinton. I think that's true, Mike.
MATTHEWS: OK, I want to get back to something that interests me more than anything in the world, which is the next presidential election. Which I think is going to be another direction setter. You know they always say, "This is the most important election in history!"
ALDA: Yeah, right. Right.
MATTHEWS: Well, this one is, maybe, because it's going to be either a confirmation of where we've been going the last six years, five years, or a dramatic change.
ALDA: So, tell me what you think. You're the guy who knows. What do you think is going to happen?
MATTHEWS: What I think?
ALDA: Yeah, among the two -- between the two of us, you're the one who knows. So -- so what do you think?
MATTHEWS: What --
ALDA: What's going to -- who's going to run?
MATTHEWS: I don't know whether there is a strong, serious alternative to the president's philosophy, which is this sort of neoconservative, we're going to go around the world and democratize other countries with force. I don't know whether there's a strong counter to that at a time of terrorism, and I'm waiting to see if there is one, a strong alternative which says, "We can create peace, create less enemies, and we can have less terrorism if we do a different thing than he's doing." And I haven't heard that yet with any kind of --
ALDA: So does that depend on who runs? Whether or not that can be articulated --
MATTHEWS: It depends on somebody having the guts to say what I just said --
MATTHEWS: -- that there is something better.