As Joe Gandelman says, anyone in the media or politics should know better than to engage in a rant while riding on public transportation. Chris Matthews, rumored to be considering a Senate bid in 2010, lives in both worlds, but apparently still hasn’t learned this lesson. The New York Post’s Page 6 reports that after annoying fellow Acela riders with his snoring, Matthews awoke to give a loud tirade on Barack Obama’s rumored appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State:
An avowed Clinton lover who was sitting next to Matthews reports: “He was in business class wearing a red baseball hat that said Penn on the back, and the fat [bleep] fell asleep on the train and snored with his mouth open.”
During the ride to DC, Matthews awoke from his nap. A fellow passenger asked him, “What’s the news tomorrow?” – to which Matthews loudly started talking about President-elect Barack Obama possibly picking Hillary as his secretary of state.
“I don’t understand it,” Matthews bellowed. “Why would he pick her? I thought we were done with the Clintons. She’ll just use it to build her power base. It’s Machiavellian. And then we’ll have Bill Clinton, too. I thought Obama didn’t want drama. He’s already got [chief of staff Rahm] Emanuel and [transition team leader John] Podesta. He’ll have even more drama with her.
“She’s just a soap opera. If he doesn’t pick her, everyone will say she’s been dissed again, we’ll have to live through that again.”
Matthews got criticized sharply during the primaries for his open contempt for Hillary and Bill Clinton. He once dismissively told audiences that she owed her career to Bill Clinton’s infidelities, and described men who supported her candidacy as “castratos”. He tried, as Page 6 notes, to walk back the hostility after the election, but only in terms of how well Hillary supported Obama.
However hostile and angry Matthews appears here, he does make a couple of good points. It’s difficult to imagine why Obama has insisted on absorbing so many Clintonistas into his administration (or at least the transition), when he ran a campaign explicitly about relegating the Clintons and the Bushes to the past. Obama’s change of direction indicates more pragmatism than we may have expected — which could be better news for us than for the Left that Matthews represents, and hence the frustration.
But why State? Hillary has no personal experience at all in diplomacy, and only eight years in the Senate. Surely she could suffice better at Justice, where she at least has some independent experience in prosecution (the Watergate hearings), or at Health & Human Services, which had been her area of interest before joining the Senate. A State appointment would bring back the Tuzla Dash silliness, and keep more experienced candidates — like Richard Holbrooke or Bill Richardson — from hitting the ground running.
And, of course, a Hillary appointment anywhere brings Bill back as baggage. He can be an asset on the campaign trail, although he seemed determined to prove otherwise in the primaries, but not in the halls of power. How long before Bill embarrasses his wife again, and Barack Obama, with his behavior around young women or with his sudden penchant for blunt talk? If Hillary served at Justice or HHS, that would be a minor concern, but on the international stage, it would be impossible to downplay.
You don’t have to hate Hillary to wonder what Obama was thinking with this trial balloon.