Green Room

Pigs fly, hell freezes: I agree with Chris Matthews

posted at 10:48 am on August 31, 2012 by

MSNBC’s “Hardball” host, Chris Matthews, came to the defense of school choice policies this week, arguing with his fellow commentators Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton on the subject. Real Clear Politics has posted the video, which has already shown up on the Hot Air home page. But here’s the Cliff Notes version:

The moment occurred after former Florida Governor Jeb Bush spoke at the Republican National Convention Thursday night. When cameras shifted back to the MSNBC panel, Matthews began praising Jeb Bush and what he’s done for education in the Sunshine State, calling it an “amazing challenge.” Granted, Matthews had to throw in a jab at Jeb’s sibling, George W., saying that Jeb is “not like his brother; he’s humble,” but then the liberal talk show host went on to admit that how liberals deal with the teachers union is “a problem.”

 CHRIS MATTHEWS: It’s (education) the one thing the two parties could agree on in principle. How we deal with the teachers union is a problem. Especially a problem for the Democratic party. I live in Washington, DC. I have to say, Randi Weingarten has not done a great job for our city. We’ve lost the best superintendent we ever had in education and the school teachers have to explain that.

Matthews was probably referring to former DC Superintendent Michelle Rhee, a passionate education reformer and voucher advocate, who resigned as DC education chief after a new mayor was elected in 2010. Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, a sister union to the NEA.

After Matthews’s surprising support of school choice and reforms embraced by Republicans, his colleague Ed Schultz began talking about GOP cuts to education, especially teachers’ pay and benefits. But Matthews responded to him the same way he responds to conservatives with whom he disagrees: with dogged persistence.

ED SCHULTZ: Attacking teachers is the philosophy of how to make things better in America when it comes to the Republicans.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Ed, nobody attacked teachers. No one attacked teachers…Who attacked teachers? Who did that? Jeb Bush, if you listened, just came out for higher pay for teachers.

Then, the Rev. Al Sharpton chimed in to decry “those who want to privatize education for personal gain but who are not concerned about the students…some who have taken it way over the line to privatization and union busting…”  Still, Matthews would have none of that cliched opposition to school choice and vouchers.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: There are a lot of people out there who live in tough neighborhoods, mothers especially, who will jump at any chance for an opportunity scholarship, any chance for a better education for their children…

And then Matthews offered the best argument for school choice and how to improve schools while improving the lives of poor children:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The way you do that is through opportunity and competition, not by stifling the hopes of kids in terrible neighborhoods.

Sharpton then tried talking about the kids left behind, saying that it’s only a “certain pool” of students who get to choose:

AL SHARPTON: That is saying we’re going to take some tokens and not deal with the real education problem.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I don’t think you’d call a kid who applied for a scholarship a token. I’d call that a merit, a kid who won a merit, an opportunity for better education.

Matthews would not back down from his position, even though no other liberal on the panel agreed with him. He concluded with these strong words:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I’m not with the teachers union on this. I have to say, this is one time I break with labor, Ed, and with you. I’m sorry.

Say what you will about Matthews on other issues, he stuck with principle on this, even when his colleagues were clearly, strongly aligned against him.

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Well color me surprised

Well done tingles

cmsinaz on August 31, 2012 at 11:17 AM

OK, Libby, I agree, Matthews was solid here. But the clincher: did he accuse Sharpton of being racist? That would have been funny. 🙂

jwolf on August 31, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Sixteen years ago at the RNC Convention in San Diego, people actually were welcoming Matthews as, if not a friend, at least someone on TV who would call out the Clinton Administration and other Democrats on some of their spin, because he didn’t robotically spout the DNC lines.

A lot has changed since then, and Matthews has bought into being a good little team player for MSNBC as much as any of their show hosts. But this on-air school choice kerfuffle with Chis defying the standard liberal talking points is kind of like a low-rent version of Darth Vader regaining some of his humanity and turning on the Emperor to save Luke at the end of “Return of the Jedi” (even though it’s hard to picture either Ed Schultz or Al Sharpton as a credible substitute for Palpatine. Crazy Larry, maybe, but not them).

jon1979 on August 31, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Reading Matthews opinions on teachers and school choice, I suspected that he had first-hand experience.

Per Wikipedia, Matthews went to a Catholic High School, La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania. I would imagine that he also attended a Catholic grade school.

It would surprise me if his three children didn’t also attend Catholic schools.

Reno_Dave on August 31, 2012 at 11:40 AM


I just saw winged-pigs flying in formation.

Bitter Clinger on August 31, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Some people ( Chris Matthews being one) would like to still have a career AFTER January 20th, 2013.

I’ve been noticing a lot of markers going down so that after Romney is in the White House, they can point back at these moments and try to claim that they were reasonable and balanced in their criticism.

The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, Chris Matthews. I also note that NONE of it happened… until the last 3 weeks.

thatsafactjack on August 31, 2012 at 12:22 PM


I just saw winged-pigs flying in formation.

Bitter Clinger on August 31, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Same here. I do believe they were going to land on the sheet of ice formerly known as he11. 🙂

AndStatistics on August 31, 2012 at 12:33 PM

He’s still a racist.

J.E. Dyer on August 31, 2012 at 1:21 PM

The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, Chris Matthews. I also note that NONE of it happened… until the last 3 weeks.

Newsweek, Anderson Cooper…

I consider this just posturing during a time when the audiences and consumers for these products traditionally increase. It is a once in a four year opportunity and even most liberal pillars are savvy enough businessmen to seize the moment for monetary gain.

Do not worry though, they will lose all that cred the minute 0bama sets foot on stage and the tingles start in earnest.

StubbleSpark on August 31, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Chrissie Tingles is lookin’ a little grainy, tired and puffy-faced from all the bloviating and freaking out he did this week.

stukinIL4now on August 31, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Libby, take heart… you don’t agree with Tingles. Tingles agrees with you!

princetrumpet on August 31, 2012 at 2:22 PM

A blind squirrel finding the random nut?

krome on August 31, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Matthews had to throw in a jab at Jeb’s sibling, George W., saying that Jeb is “not like his brother; he’s humble,”

So we’re supposed to believe that W.’s proud? What’s the evidence for that?

Olo_Burrows on August 31, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Its a head-fake.

Chrissy knows Obama is out, and he’s setting up his “hey, I’m not a loonytoon liberal” excuse.

In two years time, he and Juan will have their own show on Fox.

BobMbx on August 31, 2012 at 9:08 PM