I stopped paying attention to Chris Matthews years ago. However, the following report about the insufferable one deserves mention because it epitomizes a broader phenomenon — the dishonesty of attempts (including by President Obama) to brand criticism of the president as vitriolic to an unprecedented degree.
Last week, Rush Limbaugh responded to Obama’s description of him as “troublesome” and vitriolic by stating, “Never in my life have I seen a regime like this, governing against the will of the people, purposely.” Matthews, in turn, took great offense to the term “regime.” Here is what Matthews said:
“I’ve never seen language like this in the American press,” he said, “referring to an elected representative government, elected in a totally fair, democratic, American election. . . .We know that word, ‘regime.’ It was used by George Bush, ‘regime change.’ You go to war with regimes. Regimes are tyrannies. They’re juntas. They’re military coups. The use of the word ‘regime’ in American political parlance is unacceptable, and someone should tell the walrus [Limbaugh] to stop using it. I never heard the word ‘regime,’ before, have you? I don’t even think Joe McCarthy ever called this government a ‘regime.’
As Byron York demonstrates, however, there are few in the mainstream media, or (to cover Matthews’ case) its fringe, who have standing to so instruct Rush. According to York, the New York Times used the word “regime” 16 times with respect to the Bush administration, spanning both of its terms. The Washington Post topped that with 24 such references. In one instance, Post-man Howard Kurtz also applied the term “regime” to the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
York tops off his findings by pointing out that Chris Matthews himself called the Bush administration a regime. On June 14, 2002, he introduced a panel discussion about a letter signed by many prominent leftists condemning the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror. “Let’s go to the Reverend Al Sharpton,” Matthews said. “Reverend Sharpton, what do you make of this letter and this panoply of the left condemning the Bush regime?”
Matthews is (or was when I tuned him out) part partisan hack and part over-the-top entertainer. But even by the low standards that apply to such buffoons, his dishonest effort at feigning disgust over the use of the word “regime” is itself disgusting.