Matthews Links 2016 to 1964, Shocked ‘Intervention’ Can Be for Problems Besides ‘Dope’ or ‘Booze’

MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews was in rare from on Thursday night as he both factually tried to link the 1964 and 2016 presidential elections and appeared astonished that there could be an “intervention” (as has been reported for Donald Trump) for something other than “a dope problem or a booze problem.”

Taking the latter and more head-scratching moment first, Matthews turned to former RNC chair/MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele and USA Today’s Paul Singer to not discuss the substance of the reported intervention by Trump allies to the billionaire candidate to become a more focused candidate but of his personal experiences with when interventions usually happen.

“Now, the word intervention in my experience is when somebody's got a dope problem or booze problem, to be blunt about it. They’ve got an addiction problem. They are using something they shouldn’t be using and it’s changed life, their marriage, their job and so somebody has what's called intervention,” Matthews explained as his panelists laughed.

With Matthews confused that “Newt Gingrich has been using that word” to emphasize the need for Trump to change, Steele explained that it’s been a distraction to not only Trump allies but Republicans in general because it’s become another issue the Trump campaign has had to address. 

Matthews wandered again when he rummaged through presidential history when the mental capacity of candidates were called into question:

[R]emember when Reagan was so kind to go after Mike Dukakis saying I understand he had some counseling and that 20, 30 years ago you couldn't even talk about mental illness. You still can’t in many circles. Most people are sophisticated about it...there's this old theory that the Kennedys had this on Nixon, you know, he had gotten counseling in the '50s, which is what Nixon went through, I can understand it, but this idea that he counseling, he needs best friends to come in and put him down, get his head straightened out.

To round out the bizarre with some more traditional liberal spin, Matthews turned later in the program to Daily Beast writer Michael Tomasky to perpetuate the spin that many in the media have offered that the 1964 election with Republican Barry Goldwater was strikingly similar to 2016 with Trump leading the GOP:

I'm going back and studying the ‘64 campaign and watching it being replayed. The candidate didn't know what, you had to — the Democratic keynote of that said we shouldn't have to wait until Saturday to know what the Republican meant on Monday. Everybody in the Republican Party voted for the Civil Rights [Act] except Goldwater, except John Tower so they’re to do the same thing. You can't read the guy correctly, he's not articulate, not clear, he makes stupid comments he has to cover up and secondly, he's not a typical Republican. They are doing the same thing against Trump now, the Democrats. 

As both I have outlined on numerous occasions (for two examples, go here and here), the idea that Goldwater and Trump are mirror candidates is misleading at best and preposterous at worst. Not only was Goldwater a stalwart member of not only the House and Senate for many years, but he first ran for public office in 1949 (so 15 years before his presidential bid) compared to Trump’s zero previous attempts to run for office or officially act as a public servant. 

Further, his beliefs in more traditional conservatism and authorship of The Conscience of a Conservative set the Republican Party on the path away from moderates like the Rockefellers to the rise of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and fusionism.

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on August 4 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Hardball
August 4, 2016
7:05 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: And what do you make of this latest? We’ll get too back with Katy — we’ll be back with you on this point, this word intervention. Now, the word intervention in my experience is when somebody's got a dope problem or booze problem, to be blunt about it. They’ve got an addiction problem. They are using something they shouldn’t be using and it’s changed life, their marriage, their job and so somebody has what's called intervention. 

MICHAEL STEELE: Right. 

MATTHEWS: They’re friends.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: Newt Gingrich has been using that word. 

STEELE: Yeah. I think —

MATTHEWS: It's a killer word. 

STEELE: I think because Newt sees this as that serious where he sees someone —

MATTHEWS: Why is he telling the press he's doing an intervention?

STEELE: Well, that's what's irritated — that’s what’s irritated the Trump campaign and quite frankly, some other folks around town was getting that out in front because now, that’s just one more layer that they’ve got to deal with in trying to right this ship and of course, you know Donald Trump well enough to know that when you start talking about him that way, he gets defensive. 

MATTHEWS: Who wouldn't? 

STEELE: Right and it’s like intervention? I don’t want an intervention. You knjow, we don’t do no stinking intervention.

MATTHEWS: Or remember, if you remember Paul, remember when Reagan was so kind to go after Mike Dukakis saying I understand he had some counseling and that 20, 30 years ago you couldn't even talk about mental illness. You still can’t in many circles. Most people are sophisticated about it, understanding, but they say if you had counseling, there’s wrong with it and there's this old theory that the Kennedys had this on Nixon, you know, he had gotten counseling in the '50s, which is what Nixon went through, I can understand it, but this idea that he counseling, he needs best friends to come in and put him down, get his head straightened out.

(....)

7:45 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: I'm going back and studying the ‘64 campaign and watching it being replayed. The candidate didn't know what, you had to — the Democratic keynote of that said we shouldn't have to wait until Saturday to know what the Republican meant on Monday. Everybody in the Republican Party voted for the Civil Rights [Act] except Goldwater, except John Tower so they’re to do the same thing. You can't read the guy correctly, he's not articulate, not clear, he makes stupid comments he has to cover up and secondly, he's not a typical Republican. They are doing the same thing against Trump now, the Democrats. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center