"Do you believe President Obama was born in the United States?
"Here's my litmus test—are you pushing home schooling?"
"Do you or don't you believe in evolution?"
"Are you one of those crazy birthers?"
Those are all questions Chris Matthews has demanded anyone he considers more conservative than normal must answer—no matter how off topic. When the guest pauses, disbelieving the bizarre turn the conversation has taken, Chris pounces and accuses them of "having to think about it," and the word "crazy" makes an appearance more often than not.
But last night, Chris stared genuine crazy right in the face in the person of Dennis Kucinich, and he treated him like a wise sage of foreign policy and Constitutional process. He avoided the obvious question:
"Congressman Kucinich, did you tell Shirley MacLaine that you interacted with a UFO?"
In her 2007 book, Sage-ing While Aging, MacLaine writes that Kucinich:
"…had a close sighting over my home in Graham, Washington, when I lived there. Dennis found his encounter extremely moving. The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent, and observing him. It hovered, soundless, for ten minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn't comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind."
While he gets a pass on MSNBC in his appearances, the late Tim Russert, (rest in peace, you are missed) did ask the question at a Democrat Presidential primary debate:
KUCINICH: "It was an unidentified flying object, OK? It's, like, it's unidentified," Kucinich said during one of the few highlights at the Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia. "I saw something."
Then Dennis decided to dig a little deeper in the hole.
KUCINICH: "You have to keep in mind that more — that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO and also that more people in this country have seen UFOs than I think approve of George Bush's presidency,"
When Russert cited a poll that 14% of Americans claim to have seen a UFO (but not to have communed with it) Kucinich asked Russert to repeat the percentage, and acted satisfied that it proved he was mainstream.
Of course, it is unusual for Dennis Kucinich to be able to claim commonality with 14% the American people, a definite high point in his career.
Of course, it doesn't take Shirley MacLaine to remind us that Dennis is a loon. When he announced for President in October of 2003, Kucinich made this statement:
I am running for President of the United States to enable the Goddess of Peace to encircle within her arms all the children of this country and all the children of the world.
Hilariously, the New York Times dubbed this announcement "populist."
Tuesday night, though, Dennis Kucinich was on Hardball to represent the supposedly respectable Democrat anti-war position on the Afghanistan counter-insurgency plan being endlessly debated by President Obama. Kucinich was there to be the Left side of the argument, to be sure, but besides his otherworldly nuttiness, Matthews also ignored the fact that Kucinich never was a supporter of the war effort in Afghanistan in the first place, stating in early 2002:
"…the blood of innocent people who perished on September 11 [was] avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan."
Matthews prompted Kucinich to tell us why the war effort in Afghanistan is doomed and may even be counterproductive:
KUCINICH: …And it's absolutely true, Chris, that the more troops we send, the more enemies we're creating. People are uniting against the United States. They do not want a foreign occupier. There's been a history of Afghanistan. You know, Russia tried and their effort collapsed. And Queen Victoria found she couldn't do it. You can go back through history. You cannot conquer Afghanistan.
And then the next question is, what are you going to do when you conquer it? I think that there's one other point I want to mention here, Chris, and that is the role of Congress because that's not being discussed at all.
MATTHEWS: Yes, sir. I want to hear that.
KUCINICH: Under Article One, Section Eight, Congress makes the decision as to whether we go to war and Congress makes the decision, as courts have decided, whether they're going to continue—whether we continue or not to fund a war. .. and Congress should say it's time to end the war.
"Yes, sir?" We're doing the same thing in Afghanistan as the Russians? "Yes, sir?"
Let's compare that to how Chris treats Republicans or conservatives whose views are shared by a lot more than 14% of the public—though by no one Chris hangs around with:
When Conservative Republican Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana came on Hardball to talk about why the Republicans voted against the Cap and Trade energy tax plan that will amount to a takeover of the economy that dwarfs the health care bill, Chris started screaming about evolution to a surprised Pence.
Matthews demanded "Do you or don't you believe in evolution?" sarcastically asked Pence, "Did you ever take biology?" And seemed to take Pence's pretty mainstream response that he thought God directed the process as a non-answer before lecturing:
MATTHEWS:"There are people that really are against science in your party who really do question not just the science behind the climate change but the science behind evolutionary fact, that we were taught – you and I – in our biology books. They don't accept the scientific method. They believe in belief itself…. I think you believe in evolution but you're afraid to say so because your conservative constituency might find that offensive."
When Chris Chocola, President of The Club for Growth –which studiously avoids social issues and backs fiscally conservative candidates– appeared on Harball on election night 2009, Chris weirdly changed the topic: (near the end of the clip to see videos click on the NewsReal link above)
MATTHEWS: Last question—here's my litmus test—are you pushing home schooling?
CHOCOLA: We don't—no, we support school choice.
MATTHEWS: No, but home schooling, where you don't go to public school because you don't want to mix with other children. You want to keep the kids at home, so you can teach them about life at home, away from the exposure of other social groups. Are you for that? Because I would consider that culturally conservative — at least.
In another segment last night, after his very respectful treatment of Dennis Kucinich, Chris took this parting cheap shot at Kate Obenshain, Vice President of Young America's Foundation, giving her no chance to respond or defend herself.
MATTHEWS: Let me just tell you at Thanksgiving time, with really a full heart, the reason people on the left sometimes ask me, why do you have so many Republicans on the show, when so many of the other shows on this network don't have as many on like you, I bring you on so that people can see what Republicans are like. Kate, thank you very much for coming on. Kate Obenshain. And it's great to have you on to remind everybody what a Republican looks like.
Thanks a lot. Steve, thank you—I'm being a little sarcastic. You've been great tonight, Kate. You've made the point I wanted to make.
It might be hard to fathom, but could there be a few scenario where Sarah Palin—well, you heard a point of view just now like hers—could win the White House?
What was Kate Obenshain's crime? She was for tough interrogation techniques for terrorists. Like most Americans. The shame! Just think how she'd have been treated if Chris didn't have such a "full heart" of holiday spirit!
But Chris was unintentionally revealing, here, besides being incredibly nasty. By "people on the Left," did he mean Keith Olbermann whose guests are basically restricted to the same 10 hard leftists night after night?
That same night, Olbermann devoted a segment to trying to figure out Sarah Palin's take on the book of Revelation. With a remarkable lack of commentary, he cherry-picked clips from Assemblies of God preachers (though she no longer attends a church in that denomination) and threw in Billy Graham for good measure. Ostensibly, it was to try to discern Palin's policy toward Israel. The subtext? See how crazy this woman is.
So, here's the MSNBC standard. Sarah Palin, Billy Graham and evangelical Christians in general? Nuts. Dennis "UFO" Kucinich? Foreign policy sage. A respected Progressive voice.
Here's a question Chris should ask to weed out the conspiracy loons who want to delegitimize a President despite objective evidence to the contrary:
Do you think George W. Bush won the 2000 Presidential Election?