Interview with Chris Matthews

By Max Stendahl

On McCain’s plan of 100 years in Iraq:

“What does he mean by that? And when does it cease to be violent? When does he begin this no-casualty presence in Iraq? How to we get from here to there? And then from there on, what does that look like?”

On arguing with McCain about the war:

“I’m not going to argue – there’s no sense in arguing. The open-ended question is sometimes the best question. Who are we fighting in Iraq? Do we have to defeat them all before we leave? If they’re still shooting at, us do we stay? Do they have to stop shooting at us for us to leave, and if so, aren’t they calling the shots? They just keep shooting and we keep staying.”

On Stewart and Colbert:

“If you make fun of the system, if you make fun of democracy, what are you left with? Monarchy? Dictatorship? Why make fun of the system? You can make fun of individual politicians, but all we have is democracy. I believe in it. And I believe in elected officials. And I respect senators and people who run for office and stick their necks out. I don’t look down on politicians, I look up to them. That maybe separates me from those guys. You have to listen to these guys. They’re much tougher than I am – I’m tougher on individuals but not on politics itself. I’ve written five books on politics. I obviously have devoted my life to studying it. How could I devote myself to studying something I don’t believe in? And I wonder why people do pay attention to politics and don’t think it’s important.”

On his approach to the news:

“I try to read all that’s going on up until five o’clock and try to react, and try to move the story a little bit further, try to jump into it. I have my point of view, I have my take. I call ‘em as I see ‘em. I stir things up. I don’t just read out what’s happening that day. I try to get people excited about the conversation and let them know where the fight is, let them know what the arguments are. American democracy is based on a continuing argument about how big government should be, how big of a role we should play in the world, how isolationist we should be, and those are questions that are never going to go away. So we have to keep arguing. Argument is what makes democracy work.”

On biased news:

“You’ve got to distill it yourself. There’s no one that’s going to tell you, ‘this is the truth.’ If there’s a truth, then which party should run the country? What truth is there? And where’s that truth? If there’s such a thing as objective truth then there should be something that’s discernible. ‘This person is better for the country.’ Well, that’s not discernible. You find it through argument. Through voting. It’s not like saying, ‘What time is the movie tonight?’ That’s an objective fact. ‘Is the movie any good?’ That’s to be argued. But you need a mix of facts and argument. I want to know what time the movie starts – that’s a fact – and I want to know what you think of the movie. Now, that’s just a metaphor for what we’re talking about, politics. [Aid: One more question here and then we’re -] How many people are getting killed in Iraq today? What’s the war costing us? What’s the GNP? What’s the inflation rate? What’s the stock market – these are facts. But then what do you do with them? It’s an argument. [Sighs] You guys can figure this out.”

On media criticism for his seeming anti-Hillary comments:

Well they can keep it up. They can do it all they want. I wish them well. They’re entitled, that’s their right. Pro-Hillary people have a right to criticize me. They’re advocates. Fair enough! They have a right to an advocacy. They have a right to criticize me or anyone else, for not taking their position. Obviously they don’t think I share their position, and they’re right. Why should I be a cheerleader for someone?

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