by Chris Matthews
Sometimes I see the appeal of the parliamentary system where a government that has failed is no longer the government. We have a presidential system is which is on the clock. The president serves out his tour of duty regardless of his political effectiveness.
And there, on Wednesday night, we saw the president almost like a flashback. It was like, “Is this the present? Is he still president? Is he somebody playing him on 'Saturday Night Live' that we‘re watching?”It didn‘t seem right, the president’s speech. I don‘t know if it's the words he used during his speech - they jumped out at you, but look at the scare words: “serious financial crisis," "panic," "rescue," "serious recession.” Presidents don‘t usually use words like that because they rattle people, especially older voters. You wonder if people are running to their ATM machines right now and making plans to go to the bank and withdraw the cash tomorrow. It’s a very kind of difficult speech for people to hear.
We are talking about $700 billion on the proposed bail out. The only other thing in our budget that reaches that level is the bill for the war in Iraq. And this will be approved as quickly. It will be approved under the gun and it will be approved under the threat, “If you don‘t do this now you‘re bringing our country down.”
By the way, they‘re voting on it right as they go away for a recess before an election. Sound familiar? The same thing happened in 2002. Congress is being asked to vote without thinking. They‘re going to look at a package (and it was a paragraph long when we got a first look at this thing), giving the Secretary of the Treasury unlimited powers to spend $700 billion. “And you‘ll get some of it back, we can‘t tell you how much.”
It's again a check without limit and again a Congress running a check and it‘s not telling you where the money is going to.
It is a tricky time, with the war and especially with the economy. People usually look at current conditions when they decide how to vote. Every time we do that these days, people reach for that default button and they say, “We‘re changing parties.”
John McCain is in trouble every time conditions prevail. And that‘s when he pulls a razzle-dazzle. McCain calls this move when he sees the voter going back to the default button.
“Fire Chris Cox!” “Bring in Gov. Palin!" “Call off the first night of the Republican convention!” Anything that changes the situation away from that default button where people naturally say, “When one administration fails, when one party fails, you try the other one.”
We saw it again when he called Wednesday night calling for a delay of the debates, “I‘m not going to the debates.”
That‘s true north politically and every time McCain sees our compass going to that, he goes, “Shake the compass up. Don‘t let them see that. That arrow points to the Democrats.”
How would you like eight years of razzle-dazzle?
I think people like predictability and pattern and they like to see a philosophy carried out. They like to see some sort of, well, he used the word himself, “mission.” Are we going to extend the role or expand the role of the public sector? Are we going to reclaim the balance this country once had between public and private enterprise? Will we bring back the role that government has always played in energy development, in transportation, in education, in regulation? Are we going to regain the balance we had before the ‘80s? That is a pattern and that is, in fact, a mission. I think that‘s Barack Obama's mission.
What‘s McCain's? So far, razzle-dazzle.
Chris Matthews offered this analysis on msnbc, following coverage of the president's primetime speech. Watch the complete video.