I’ve had some negative thoughts about Chris Matthews over the years, but I never considered him a fool. After his talk in Canada today, however, I’m starting to wonder. Here’s the comment from Matthews that’s getting all the play:
If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we’ve given up. The person on the other side is not evil. They just have a different perspective. The smartest people understand the enemy’s point of view, because they understand what’s driving them.
By “the person on the other side,” Matthews appears to be referring to al Qaeda.
Beyond Matthews’ claim that bin Laden isn’t evil, just a guy with a different perspective, Matthews is bascially adopting Micheal Scheuer’s line (see below) that the Bush administration needs to understand the enemy better. But Scheuer is more intellectually honest than Matthrews because he at least admits that Bush has a theory, however misguided, about the enemy — that it hates us for what we believe. Matthews, by contrast, smugly claims that Bush hasn’t even tried to figure out the other side. In reality, Bush not only has a theory about why it hates us, he has proposed a long-term solution — to promote the reform of Arab society, and thereby drain the breeding ground of the terrorists. What solution has Matthews and his “smartest people” come up with other than perhaps abandoning Israel?
Matthews also asserts that “the period between 9-11 and [invading] Iraq was not a good time for America.” Well, the aftermath of a deadly attack on the homeland is never going to be a “good time,” but the period had its moments. We liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, killed or captured hundreds if not thousands of terrorists, and passed the Patriot Act which enhanced our ability to combat domestic terrorism. It is quite possible that the actions we took during this period prevented one or more attacks of the scope of 9/11.
During this period, we also decided to go to war in Iraq, and it’s this decision from which Matthews’ bitterness derives. But here again, Matthews argues foolishly. He claims that we went to war because of the Bush father-son relationship, a push from the Israelis, and/or Bush’s desire to do something big. Matthews provides no evidence for any of his theories. (People far more knowledgeable than Matthews about the administration’s decision-making tell me that Israel was not particularly gung-ho about a U.S. war with Iraq). And Matthews fails even to entertain the possibility that the view of our intelligence community, and every other respectable one, that Saddam possessed WMD contributed to decision to remove Saddam.
Matthews’ enemy is the Bush administration, and he clearly doesn’t understand its point of view.