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But then Beck is on some seasonal jihad and a substitute is filling in, and Bill-O is on Foxaganda, which I'm boycotting until his war on the war on Christmas is over for the year, so, I'm stuck ...

Of all the exasperating talking heads, Chris Matthews frustrates me the most. Besides the motormouth chatter and constant interrupting so he can frame and reframe and frame again before his guest can get a single word in edgewise, Matthews seems to be a compass in a demagnetized zone. That needle just spins 'round and 'round, where it'll stop nobody knows. 180º switcharounds are his stock-in-trade. If he has any core beliefs whatsoever, other than avarice for a contract renewal, I'd sure like to know what they are.

This nomadic approach to firm belief is reflected almost daily in his "analysis," as well. Bob Somerby has the latest installment of Matthews at work over at The Daily Howler.

Matthews interviewed Frank Rich of The New York Times  on Tuesday. As Somerby writes:

Even by Hardball’s oddball standards, last night’s conversation helps define the crackpot journalistic culture surrounding our national politics. ...

MATTHEWS: I’m concerned a bit about liberal journalists being very nice to Huckabee, almost treating him like a mascot. A lot of people are writing good stuff about him and they haven’t really looked at his position papers.

Yes. Too many journalists don't look into anything very deeply before writing about it, which is one reason political blogs went from just above zero in 2001 to somewhere around a zillion today. But most journalists at least know what they themselves have said. Here's Matthews on November 8:

MATTHEWS: But it's an honor to have you on the show. Everybody likes you, Governor Huckabee. We're waiting for those poll numbers to reflect it. Everybody around here seems to like you, and we'll see what that's worth. Anyway, good luck in Iowa. That's where everybody expects you to pull the big upset and come in a strong second to, or maybe first, to Romney. Anyway, thank you, Governor Huckabee, for coming on, former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee.

Not a mascot, more like a teddy bear. Why not just ask on-screen for an autograph and permission to lick?

Somerby goes on for a couple thousand words to deliver a dozen more kicks to Matthews and a fair number to Rich for their psychobabbling, amnesiac analysis of Hillary Clinton (with a phrase or two about Barack Obama). But Somerby sums it up with:

Last night, he shared these borderline musings again—and said that everyone for Romney is rich. And how does he know this improbable "fact" about Romney’s supporters? Again, because everyone he knows for Romney is rich. And there you see the dysfunction again—the three-year-old’s view of the shape of the world. "I don’t know anybody who is for him who’s not rich," Matthews says. Therefore: "It just seems to be the fact out there."

There’s a term for this, and we don’t mean to invoke it lightly: Chris Matthews is mentally ill. But our public discourse has been defined by this lunacy over at least the past dozen years. And like the denizens of a famous empire who once thought they saw their emperor’s clothes, the people who run the liberal world still can’t bring themselves to see—or describe—what is right there before them. We still refuse to tell the world that the people in charge of our discourse are ill. We still pretend that Matthews’ private parts aren’t hanging right out in our faces. ...

So who's worse? The lunatics or the enablers of lunatics?

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Dec 13, 2007 at 12:12 AM PST.

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