MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews struggled again on Tuesday to understand President Obama’s media strategy in light of the scandals that have engulfed his administration. He said that Obama has spent too much time “playing defense,” instead of doing something more important like focusing on a jobs bill that would reduce unemployment.
You know, the reason he’s been in trouble the last four or five weeks, these kerfuffles – they’re bad, but they’re not awful. He’s been in trouble because it’s very hard to play defense all the time. You’ve got to play offense.
Kerfuffle? No Chris, these are scandals, and they are bad, very bad for the administration. In reality, the administration has no choice but to play defense in each of the three scandals they are currently embroiled in—Benghazi, IRS and the criminalizing of journalism. They have already acknowledged wrongdoing in each case, while claiming incompetence or mismanagement instead of malfeasance or corruption. Not a very good spot to be in when you have to choose between those options. Their fallback position is that it’s Bush’s fault, or that the GOP is politicizing honest, bureaucratic bungling, and is in danger of overreaching. Obama is working hard to be the “Consoler in Chief,” while trying to stay above the fray.
Matthews also said that Obama needs to be for something and should be “pounding the door everyday of Congress,” and pushing for members to support a jobs bill. But at the same time, he realizes that isn’t a priority right now for Obama.
You’ve got all these unemployed engineers out there and all these people. Just make a list of everybody unemployed right now and think of a job for them to do.
Later in the program Matthews returned to the defensiveness of the administration.
What I hate about politics is cleverness. It’s like guys who play tennis. They don’t swing away at the tennis racquet, they do these little dribbles, these flea-flickers. This administration has too many of those flea-flickers. Why don’t they come out on the IRS—on all these stories—and blow it out there? If the President is innocent—act it. Why not?
For Matthews, the “thrill up my leg,” has turned into a pain in the butt.