WATCH: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Bemoans US’s Lack of ‘Loyalty’ to Egypt’s Brutal Dictator
Last Friday, Chris Matthews appeared on Morning Joe where he questioned the Obama Administration’s character for not showing proper loyalty to one of the Middle East’s most brutal dictators, Hosni Mubarak. He tells Joe Scarborogh and Mika Brzezinski:
Americans think upon ourselves as the good guys, and being good friends, and loyal. And these are values that mean a lot to us as people … Was he our friend for 30 years? Are we denying that? […]
And we’ve been with him for 30 years and now we say “It’s time for the gate”. […]
I feel ashamed about this. I feel ashamed as an American the way we’re doing this. I know he has to change. I know we’re for democracy, but the way we’ve handled it is not the way a friend handles a matter. We’re not handling it as Americans should handle a matter like this. I don’t feel right about it.
And Barack Obama — as much as I support him in many ways — there is a transactional quality to the guy that is chilling.
I believe in relationships. I think we all do. Relationship politics is what we were brought up with in this country. You treat your friends a certain way, you’re loyal to them, and when they’re wrong you try to be with them, you try to stick with them. As the great old line was “I don’t need you when I’m right”. You gotta help out people when they’re in trouble. […]
You’d think Matthews was defending a law-abiding respectable statesman — someone whom he merely opposed on ideological grounds — who has now fallen on tough times. You wouldn’t expect this sort of sappy loyalty babble with regards to a ruthless tyrant who has terrorized the citizens of his country for upwards of thirty years.
Either Matthews is ignorant about Mubarak’s brutal reign, or his notion of loyalty is royally fucked up. Obviously, loyalty is an admirable trait, but what if the person in question has imprisoned people indefinitely without trial? Tortured them? Murdered them? Robbed a poverty-stricken country blind of its national treasures?
Sounds as if Matthews believes that a country’s political elites — regardless of their crimes — should be accorded immunity merely for being an ally of the US and Israel.
He’s a leader too … I think we have to think about America here and our character. And I go back to the question of shame. Do the American people like the image of this guy being hauled out of that country?
When I heard the other day that some clown, and I mean clown, living in Italy somewhere in the Alps — Alpine, Italy — said he wants a trial for Mubarak. Now here’s a guy who’s an expatriate to begin with, and I don’t think much of expatriates, but what is this guy saying they’re going to bring out at trial? … You start talking about trials it’s like unconditional surrender. You want the war to last longer? Do you want to have this guy fight to his death?
Talk about a trial. What … we should get the army over there and immediately start negotiating with the fact a … one: this guy will not stand charges for anything. If he wants to leave he can leave. If he wants to live peacefully in his country we’re going to do what we can to make that possible. But the idea of trying the guy before he’s even out of office is exactly the way third world countries behave. You lose an election, you’re hanged. If that’s the way it works, these guys are never going to give up power. Would you give up power if you knew the next step was “Oh it’s not a peaceful retirement. It’s not teaching at some college. Oh, you’re trial is next, and guess what? — the Islamic Brotherhood is your judges.”
To fully appreciate how anti-democratic Matthews’ line of thinking is, you need to consider the degree of Mubarak’s despotism.
For the entirety of Mubarak’s reign, Egypt has remained under martial law — a police state. From suspending all constitutional rights, to censoring all media; from outlawing all political expression and organization (unless expressly approved by Mubarak himself), to indefinitely detaining and torturing political dissidents without trial, one could reasonably conclude that Mubarak is nothing more than a brutal thug.
Knowing full well how Mubarak engaged in torture, the United States eventually began to outsource the torturing of its own apprehended suspects to Egypt, which housed some of the CIA’s infamous black sites.
Additionally, Mubarak pillaged the country’s wealth for himself, amassing a fortune reported to be upwards of $70 billion (exceeding that of both Bill Gates & Warren Buffet) making him a likely candidate for the wealthiest individual on the entire planet. He’s reported to have stashed his swindled fortune in Swiss and British banks, plus UK and US properties. He did all this while the Egyptian people suffered massive unemployment, and dire living conditions. Forty percent of Egypt’s population (or 33 million people) live below the poverty level.
The Corruption Perception Index rates the corruption level of 178 countries around the globe, from least corrupt (1) to most corrupt (178), and Egypt placed 98th.
Matthews’ remarks exemplify the conventional inner beltway mentality, where egregious crimes of the ruling class are never to be tried in a court of law. Political elites are supposed to be loyal to one another. After all, loyalty, he contends, is the important quality that Americans value most.
Their punishment should simply be getting rebuffed at the ballot box, and then they should be allowed to enjoy their post-Presidency days teaching at a prestigious university in the country of their choice. Because, according to Chris Matthews, the rule of law is something only a Third Word Country would try to impose upon their political class. It’s so “transactional”.
Ann Coulter’s Favorite Democrat, Harold Ford, For New York Senate?
I’ve been watching former Tennessee Congressman and bank executive Harold Ford Jr. as a contributor on MSNBC for some time, and this guy has always struck me as the typical finger-to-the-wind beltway insider. You know, the status-quo politician — always looking to spew the beltway establishment talking points, proud to be far to the right of his most Conservative colleagues; puts entrenched interests above those of the electorate.
He recently announced that he intends to make a run in the NY Democratic primary for US Senator. He moved to New York City a year ago.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said to Politico’s Jonathan Martin of Ford’s intentions:
“If he thinks that its an appealing argument to position yourself as being somebody who will stand up to Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, well I don’t think we need another Joe Lieberman.”
Ouch! I suspect that sort of sentiment will be a favorite talking point of his opponent, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Brave New Films has put together a scathing new compilation of video clips showing Harold Ford, in his own words, stating he’s pro-gun, anti-choice (here he advocates outlawing abortions); boasting that he supported Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, is in favor of NSA warrantless wiretapping, wants the 10 Commandments posted in courtrooms across the state, favors school prayer, wants an anti-flag burning constitutional amendment, and opposes same-sex marriage. Ann Coulter states that Harold Ford is her favorite Democrat, which speaks volumes.
Here’s Harold Ford on Chris Matthews parroting Dick Cheney talking points, while trying to make the case that torture should not be investigated:
FORD: … So in this sense I think having the conversation about what happened and whether or not at Guantanamo Bay, and I’m not as outraged as some are about it because as much as I think some of those techniques were enhanced and might have risen to a level of torture you have to remember when this was occurring.
This is 2002, 2003. The country was in a different place, in a different space. And if you were to say to me, as an American, put aside my partisanship, that we have an opportunity to gain information that would prevent the destruction of an American city, to prevent killings in American cities, and we have to use certain techniques, I’m one of those Americans that would have voted a certain way, Chris. And that polling said it might have been torture, but I’m not as outraged.
MATTHEWS: You are veering into Cheney country here. The destruction of an American city. What evidence did you ever have that the enemy had a nuclear weapon that could blow up an American city? Where’d that..that’s Cheney talk. That is..that’s what he uses to justify torture. We have no evidence that any enemy of ours had a nuclear weapon.
And this guy’s running for the Senate seat in the liberal state of New York?
My guess is he’s hoping NY Republicans and conservative Democrats, alike, will fully back him since the GOP has been unable to find a contender of their own to face off against Gillibrand.
Republicans have had plenty of help from Blue Dogs over this last year in obstructing all progressive initiatives. After the recent health care debacle (courtesy of Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, and the other Blue Dogs), it appears to be a promising ‘Trojan Horse’ strategy for a failed GOP.
Obama’s Biggest Broken Promise: The One On Special Interests
Barack Obama told the Washington Post that he never campaigned on the public option. I recently provided resounding proof — as aggregated by Think Progress — and also included a new scathing ad being run by The Progressive Change Campaign Committee SHOWING Obama telling his supporters that he would only sign a plan that contained a public option.
Obama had in fact made the public option a major part of his health care reform promise during his campaign. Anyone who supported him knows this, and so his lying about it is only going to polarize him even further from his base — or should I say, whatever remains of it.
Chris Matthews, last night, feebly attempted to spin Obama’s Washington Post lie, when dueling with Joan Walsh of Salon. Matthews tried to make a distinction between Obama’s having promised he would provide a public option, and his having ‘campaigned’ on a public option — which is what Obama was quoted as having told the Post:
All that inner-beltway selective-nuance crap feels a bit like ‘grabbing at straws’ to me. You can slice and dice it all you’d like Chris, but Obama ran on it. Again, check HERE for the proof (and keep in mind ALL this information was available online at least 10 hours before Hardball aired last night).
Leave it to Uber-Blogger, Digby, to masterfully capture the real essence of Obama-supporter angst:
There is a lot of back and forth about what Obama promised about a public option and what he didn’t. The PCCC is running ads today pointing out that just a few months ago he promised that he wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t have one. Whether or not what he called a “public plan” during the presidential campaign is up for grabs.
But when I went back and looked at Obama’s speeches during the campaign to get an idea of how he talked about it and health care in general, I was struck by something else: how much his rhetoric revolved around changing the culture of special interest dominated Washington. In fact, virtually all of his domestic program was wrapped in that promise:
This election is about them. It’s about you. It’s about every one of the 47 million Americans in Virginia, in Tennessee and across this country, who are going without the health care they need and the millions more who are struggling to pay rising costs.
But let’s be honest – we’ve been talking about this for a long time. Year after year, election after election, candidates make promises about fixing health care and cutting costs. And then they go back to Washington, and nothing changes – because the big drug and insurance companies write another check or because lobbyists use their clout to block reform. And when the next election rolls around, even more Americans are uninsured, and even more families are struggling to pay their medical bills.
If Obama had come out of the gate last January, forcefully projecting his campaign imperatives upon both Democratically controlled houses — after all, we ushered him in with a clear, indisputable mandate — and he came back with this lousy, crappy health insurance giveaway, the Left would have been just as grief-stricken, but likely would have given the President the benefit of the doubt.
The thing is, anyone who watched knows with certainty, that with Obama’s popularity at the time, with control of both houses, with this being his single-biggest policy initiative, and with reconciliation at his disposal, he had everything he needed to run roughshod over the Republicans and Blue Dogs, and could have delivered nearly everything he promised us. We made the mistake of believing he was working for us — the people. That’s what this fury on the Left is all about.
Obama’s biggest campaign promise, as Digby reminded us all, was that he would not be beholden to special interest groups — the ones who always manage to thwart all efforts of meaningful reform (as Obama eloquently described above). And, yet, before the health care initiative was even launched, Obama essentially smothered ‘Change’ in its crib, by doing EXACTLY what he said he wouldn’t — he struck backdoor deals with the entrenched interest groups.
And the President now pretends that he fought hard — though we all saw he didn’t. In fact, not only was he MIA — refusing to outline any priorities for a health care reform bill — his own White House was undermining his campaign promises at every turn, insisting they weren’t essential for Obama’s signature. He now pretends the opposition was just too fierce, too dug in — though we’ve heard from the Senators themselves that he never once pressured anyone on the public option. And, of course, he clearly didn’t want Reid using reconciliation.
Obama wanted the bill he got — the one cooked up by the entrenched interests in his back door deal. By not using reconciliation, he believed the Blue Dogs would give him the cover he needed to emerge from this industry giveaway unscathed.
And now Obama appears frustrated; frustrated that the Left won’t give him HIS due victory, and applaud him for this bill — this trillion dollar wealth redistribution from the middle class to special interests. He clearly believed the Left would allow him to white-wash this bill as ‘meaningful reform,’ but no one is buying. Obama’s brand is now the embodiment of everything the public detests about Washington.
In the past — before the net roots — this kind of corporate capitulation routinely flied like a stealth aircraft over the electorate. Bill Clinton could have pulled it off in the 90s — in fact, he did.
WAKE UP! We’re not in the 90s anymore.