In an appearance Tuesday at Washington, D.C.’s Politics & Prose bookstore, MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews told a standing room-only audience that his new book “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero” was important because it taught “leadership,” and that’s something many people today don’t know about — especially under President Barack Obama.
“You got to teach kids about leadership,” Matthews said. “I don’t think they know what a great president was like. I think they need to know what a liberal president was like on so many issues and they don’t know what a liberal — you know, President Obama needs to know that part of being a successful president is getting most people to follow you. It’s called ‘majority rule.’ You got to convince the middle to move in your direction or you lose.”
Matthews’ win-the-middle philosophy is what not just Obama has to do, he said, but “liberalism” as a whole.
“To win, liberalism needs to get the middle,” he said. “The right has no right to the middle. They got to win the argument and if that means the economy is bad, you got to fight harder to make your case. That’s his job, that’s the job description. And so I hope he pulls it off. He hasn’t done it yet.”
Matthews did suggest that if the next Republican nominee was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, “Obama luck” would prevail, after achieving 55 percent of the vote under conditions of 9 percent unemployment.
Matthews also blamed the tea party for the current gridlock in Washington, D.C., saying that in his days working under Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, things got done because the losing side of a previous election would concede to the winning side and vice-versa, as was the case with O’Neill and former President Ronald Reagan.
“After this past election, when the Republicans won because the tea partiers gave them all those votes,” Matthews said, “they should have come in and said it’s our win so we’re going to cut a deal favoring the Republican side — more spending cuts than tax increases. It should have been some ratio but it should have existed.”
That didn’t happen, he insisted, because of a congressional tea-party contingent that followed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor instead of Speaker John Boehner.
“This crowd doesn’t want to deal because they believe the word ‘deal’ is bad,” Matthews said. “Think about that — they come to Washington with the idea that deals are bad. Compromise is bad. That is un-American. This whole reason we live here is you don’t mail it in, you don’t e-mail it. You come here, meet the other side, listen to their arguments and try to find common ground. That’s why we have a Congress, coming together. That’s what it’s called a Congress – it comes together. And they don’t want to do that, so the American people have to decide if they want this crowd to run the country because they’re running it right now. The tea party is basically enforcing George W. Bush economic policies, or worse.”