As Digby pointed out yesterday in her Moving Goalpost Alert, Chris Matthews has a problem if he thinks that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell represent the "center" of anything. And why does someone like Chris Matthews who's been either involved in or covering politics for decades now constantly need to be reminded that Newt Gingrich has been throwing flames for ages now and is nothing but a class-A hypocrite that should not be taken seriously?
This is not the first time in recent months that his guests have had to remind him of Newt's background.
MATTHEWS: We’re back now.
That’s former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday. As the Tea Party ramps up the red hot rhetoric on the right, Newt spewing out the molten lava. Here’s more of him on Saturday. Lets listen if we can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I have no problem with the mosques that exist in New York City that are peaceful and that obey American law. But I am opposed to any effort to impose Sharia on the United States and we should have a ...we should have a federal law that says, under no circumstances in any jurisdiction in the United States will Sharia used by any court to apply to any judgment made about American law.
And we should make clear to Justice Breyer and Justice Kagan, who both seem confused on this topic, that no judge will remain in office who tries to use Sharia law to interpret the American Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do we make of this? Its sort of like Professor Henry Hill from hell.
Joe Conason writes for Salon.com and the "New York Observer." And Eric Boehlert is a senior fellow at "Media Matters."
Eric, how do you decide with what to do with stuff that’s so outlandishly awful, there’s nobody imposing Sharia law or Islamic law, cutting off hands and stoning in the United States. No judge is pushing it. And yet, the yahoos are buying it from a guy whops not a yahoo. Hess worse than a yahoo -- a guy who knows better and hes playing to them. Your thoughts.
ERIC BOEHLERT: Well --
MATTHEWS: This isn’t a lie. This is an absurd statement aimed at rousing up the crazy people to be even crazier.
BOEHLERT: Yes, I mean, its behind straw man. Its just pure idiocy. No one in American politics is talking about implementing Sharia and no one in the Supreme Court obviously. Its just -- its again beyond offensive and its just idiotic, you know?
Hopefully, the days of Newt Gingrich sort of being taken seriously by, you know, the establishment press are over. You know, earlier in the debate about the mosque, he equated supporters with Nazis. Last year, he called Judge Sotomayor a racist. Now, hes running around, talking -- you know, trying to connect Obama to being a Muslim and talking about Sharia law.
MATTHEWS: Well, Eric, why do you think this goes on? Why? Because the previous office, hes given the status of a --
MATTHEWS: -- regular political figure than a yahoo, a crazy person?
BOEHLERT: Yes, absolutely. I mean, hes a failed speaker of the House from a decade ago. Why he had this ongoing platform baffled me for a long time.
And right after Obama was inaugurated, Newt Gingrich was everywhere. He was -- he was the official spokesperson for the Obama critics. He has no base. He has no, you know, real responsibility.
Joe, is this in a style book. You know how you’re not supposed to refer to Hitler. Everybody is a mister or a missus in this public. But Hitler, you don’t call mister. Is there some weird, kind of public thing about New Gingrich where hes given the status of a regular political figure even though he says these horrible things because of an office he once held?
JOE CONASON: Well, Chris, you know, on some level, hes regarded as a potential presidential candidate. That’s how --
MATTHEWS: Where is that? Where is that?
CONASON: Well, I mean, you see that mentioned all the time. Hess getting ready for 2012. Hess positioning himself on the right. You know, hes taking up this right wing territory.
But, you know, I think -- look, hes raising money all the time. You get e-mails from "Human Events" and other places, you know, featuring Newt Gingrich and he knows this stuff sells. There’s a -- there’s a minority of people who buy into this kind of outlandish rhetoric and hate speech that he indulges in.
And its always worked for him, Chris. Go back to GOPAC when he had a list of horrible names that he said, you know, every Republican should use about Democrats. This is -- this is his -- this is the -- this is the essential Newt Gingrich.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but a good opportunity --
CONASON: A bully.
MATTHEWS: -- because hes is supposed to look like an opportunist.
MATTHEWS: Here’s Gingrich talking to the "National Review," quote, "What if Obama is so outside of our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together his actions. That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior. This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con on us, a result of which he is now president."
Here’s a person arguing, Eric --
MATTHEWS: -- that the president of the United States, who gave us his entire autobiography, wrote it for himself which separates him from most politicians, wrote it by hand, told us everything about his life. And now, they’re trying to take him back, almost taking him back to Ellis Island and pushing him back where his parents came from and sending him off to Africa again, saying, "That’s who are."
Its an incredibly un-American thing to do, I think.
BOEHLERT: It is disgusting and this idea that they’re going to smear Obama because he was born to his father. I mean, this is just off the charts. But again, the conservative movement and particularly on the media side there’s no adult supervision. So, this is what happens when you hand things off to sort of these media carnival barkers like Limbaugh, like Glenn Beck. And Newt Gingrich, clearly, is a media figure. You know they have tacked so far to the right no one wants to be left off of the crazy train.
MATTHEWS: No adult supervision.
What if people like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, who have made their living in the center who draw federal paychecks from a majority of people in their district who vote for `em, who do not include a major of nuts obviously -- I don’t know what they make. Don’t they ever -- isn’t there a whistle in this playground? To make your point, no adult supervision, a great line.
Here he is, former Secretary Colin Powell, the very opposite in being of Newt Gingrich on "Meet the Press" yesterday. Lets listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: Mr. Gingrich does this from time to time with a big bold statement and he does it occasionally to make news and also stir up dust. It may appeal to the fringe elements of the party, but I don’t think it appeals to all Republicans. And I don’t think it appeals to the whole country.
This kind of chatter, "Hess a Kenyan channeler," and all of this sort of stuff makes a lot of news. And you will find that Governor Palin and people on the right side of the political spectrum and along with the Tea Party movement really are getting a lot of attention, a lot of news and a lot -- they’re making a lot of noise and they’re making a lot of -- a lot of chatter throughout our political system.
And that’s fine. That’s good. But I don’t think anybody should grab that and think that’s the entire country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, when I hear him speak, guys, it reminds me of the old days growing up and good King Richard comes back from the Crusades and saves the day with Robin Hood. And finally, a grown up has come back. The good guys come home and there’s Colin Powell, as good as ever, getting better all of the time.
I’m stunned by him, Joe. I mean, the guy is the only adult in the playground, my -- your thoughts.
CONASON: Well, certainly, in the Republican side, insofar as General Powell still identifies as a Republican, he sounds reasonable compared to everything else that’s coming from that side of the aisle these days. I think he could have been a little tougher on Newt Gingrich.
I mean, look, Newt Gingrich lived a lie. He imposed a lie on this country when he poses the moral scourge of the Congress when he was speaker going after Clinton. And now, we know this guy, you know, was not an avatar of morality. He had treated you know, two out of three wives incredibly badly. He was carrying on an affair with a staff member while he was going after Clinton.
I mean, why would anybody listen to him criticize the background of Barack Obama? It shows how gullible a lot of people in the right would be that they would stand there and they applaud this character.
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess Christine O’Donnell is not the only Republican messing around with witchcraft these days. When you look at this guy, I think that you are looking at Mephistopheles. Eric Boehlert, do you agree?
BOEHLERT: Well, yes --
MATTHEWS: Is this the Mephistopheles and figure of our time?
BOEHLERT: Well, and as Colin Powell said, he makes these statements time to time. Its not every week. Again, you know, he equated mosque supporters as Nazis. Now, hes talking about Obama’s Kenyan world view and things like that. It is consistent. Its constant. Look --
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. We have to go.
MATTHEWS: Hey, Eric, keep posting the information. We rely on "Media Matters."
Thank you, Joe Conason, as ever. I love the "New York Observer."