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MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and panel blast Obama’s treatment of Sebelius

Chris Matthews strangely found himself criticizing President Obama Friday night over his firing of Kathleen Sebelius, decrying the “negative comments” the White House lobbed at the departing HHS secretary while his panelists called the forced resignation “lame” and “self-serving.”

Matthews was reacting to a Washington Post story which ran Friday morning and quoted a number of anonymous senior officials in the Obama administration. Struck by the nasty tone many adopted against Sebelius, whose department presided over the disastrous rollout of Obamacare last fall, Matthews brought in New York Magazine’s John Heilemann and MSNBC’s Beth Fouhy to discuss.

“[Obama] timed it so it came after the 7 million victory mark, so they’d have something to brag about,” Matthews said. “But nonetheless, so many negative comments in that lede piece today in the Washington Post.”

“I think those comments are incredibly self-serving,” Fouhy replied. “This White House has always been all about itself, and saying they can do everything better than their cabinet and sort of shoving the cabinet aside and sort of taking credit when they can, and then blaming the cabinet when things don’t go so well.”

“Look, this is the president’s signature achievement,” she continued. “If he wanted to make sure that the rollout was perfect, he and his team should have been on top of that. They weren’t. They were very passive about it. They left it to a very large bureaucracy they know very little about. And then they laid the blame on Kathleen Sebelius for not doing it right.”

“To do that kind of sniping about her performance after what she’s done for this president . . . was pretty lame,” Fouhy said, later calling it “very convenient for them.”

“You know, what Beth said just rings so true about what I’ve heard about the White House operation,” Matthews replied, saying “they don’t trust [their cabinet secretaries] to get the message out. They don’t even have a clear line of talk, even, with them . . . They don’t trust their people, they don’t connect with them. They do it themselves. I don’t think staff people should be on national television every Sunday.”

Heilemann agreed, claiming that “the president’s attitude, and the attitude of the people around them, are that cabinet secretaries — you know, many of them could not pick those cabinet secretaries out of a lineup in many cases.”

He explained it wasn’t only that the Obama administration didn’t trust cabinet secretaries, but that they didn’t trust anyone not in “the tightest inner circle around the president and the president himself. And it’s been that way in the White House since Day 1.”

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