On Wednesday night, during a segment analyzing Mitt Romney’s debate performance, Hardball host Chris Matthews zeroed in on the exchange between President Obama and Romney that dealt with oil and gas permits. Matthews said that Romney’s treatment of the President shows that he doesn’t understand the Constitution.
Romney: In the last four years you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.
Obama: Not true Governor Romney.
Romney: So how much did you cut them by?
Obama: Not true.
Romney: By how much did you cut them by then?
Obama: Governor, we have actually produced more oil on…
Romney: No. no, how much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?
Obama: Governor Romney, here’s what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies…
Romney: I had a question, and the question was–how much did you cut them by?
Obama: You want me to answer a question–I’m happy to answer the question.
Romney: And it is?
As Romney was addressing the President, telling him that he didn’t think anyone believes that he is a person who would be pushing for oil, gas and coal, Obama rose out of his chair and started to approach Romney. Romney then told the President that he was still speaking and that he would get his chance.
Romney’s treatment of the President bothered Matthews, who said that he didn’t think that Romney “understood the Constitution of the United States,” adding that he [Obama] is President of the United States, and you don’t say, “you’ll get your chance.”
How Romney treated the President is subject to interpretation. Conservatives mostly viewed Romney as being aggressive, while liberals like Matthews felt he wasn’t being deferential enough, or even that he was “petulant,” as former Senator John Kerry said yesterday.
What is not subject to interpretation, however, is Matthews claim that the Constitution bars one from challenging the president, in the manner Romney did.
Looks like Chris needs a remedial lesson on the Constitution. We still live in a constitutional republic, not a royal monarchy.