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On the December 13 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews described Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as "a firm man" in a discussion with Chris Cillizza, editor of washingtonpost.com's political weblog The Fix, who characterized McCain's position on Iraq as saying "we need more troops" in the country because that is "the only way that we can win there." However, as Media Matters for America has pointed out, McCain has been anything but firm on any number of issues, including tax cuts for the wealthy, abortion, intelligent design, the Confederate flag, Iraq policy, and other issues.
Media Matters has documented instances of Matthews' praising McCain here and here, in addition to noting a November 19 broadcast of The Chris Matthews Show in which Matthews gushed over McCain, calling him "kind of like a Martin Luther."
From the December 13 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews at 7 p.m. ET:
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you the question that came up during Lebanon back in the '80s. How many -- what justifies continuing to have Americans killed? What justifies another day in Iraq, another month in Iraq, another year in Iraq? Chris, you're -- you have -- the Democrats -- this is a political question. The Democratic leadership believes they can sit and not answer that question. They'd rather wait for the president to offer some sort of deal and they'll go along with it vaguely, meanwhile criticizing him, which is a very safe position. Who is out there willing to say, "I think, from this day forward -- forget all the mistakes of the past -- from this day forward, it's worth 2,000 more Americans to be killed in Iraq to justify what we're going to get done in there from this day forward." Who's willing to make that kind of hard calculation?
CILLIZZA: The only person who has said anything like that, and I'm not putting words in his mouth, but it's Arizona Senator John McCain. He has said, "I think we need more troops. That's the only way that we can win there."
MATTHEWS: Does he mean more KIAs, more people without families?
CILLIZZA: Does he say that outright? No. But I think that's implicit in it.
MATTHEWS: Is it? You think that's fair? That McCain agrees that we're going to take a lot more casualties in the next year or two if we stay there, but it's worth it?
ROGER SIMON (chief political columnist for The Politico): Yes. He's a soldier. He doesn't see that as a terrible choice. He sees death of anyone as a terrible thing, and he doesn't want U.S. soldiers to die. But as a soldier, he knows when you go into a war, soldiers die.
MATTHEWS: But this day forward, knowing the situation over there, knowing it's a civil war, knowing we may not be able to end that civil war for a thousand years because those people have been fighting for a thousand years, you still say it's justified to see Americans killed?
SIMON: He does. He says it is worth it to win this war, it is critical to the stability of the Mideast and to the protection of the United States.
MATTHEWS: He is a firm man.