As the Texan senator was well into hour five of his ‘filibuster’ on the Senate floor Tuesday, Chris Matthews unloaded on Cruz in a nearly 13-minute segment to open his nightly program, breaking out the greatest hits of McCarthyism and demagoguery, and spinning some pretty explosive B-sides.
“I think of Joe McCarthy. Ted Cruz reminds me of this guy. The sneer or smirk or whatever you call that thing. That insolent look of moral condescension of contempt for all around him. The obvious hostility toward those whose attention he is so desperate to attract,” Matthews pontificated. “He gets it alright. People pay attention when you strut around with a band of explosives strapped to your chest. The demagogues’ mistake is in thinking they’re looking at you, not the dynamite.”
Later in that portion of the broadcast, Matthews built off of the dynamite metaphor — and just barely stopped himself short of an even more extreme comparison.
“I used the reference about strapping dynamite to yourself — he is offering a real threat to our polity, to our American political system,” Matthews said. “He is threatening basically to stop the United States government in its tracks until he gets what he wants, the destruction of the President’s landmark bill. He then wants to be able to stop the United States government from paying its bills — he wants it to default — so he can get what he wants. I mean, that is pretty close to … destructive — I don’t want to use the word ‘terrorism’, because it doesn’t mean killing people as such, but look what he’s doing!”
The MSNBC host has called Cruz and two of his Senate allies, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), ‘political terrorists’ in the past.
Matthews’ takeaway from Cruz today: he’s a snide, fanatical hack who calls to mind practitioners of anti-communist paranoia, but not quite practitioners of terrorism, because he’s not ‘killing people as such.’ Got it.
Watch a major chunk of the segment below (go to 9:08 for the key bit), and stay tuned for “Unhinged: The Awakening” sometime around debt ceiling Christmas.
Update: 11:00 a.m., Sept. 25
Have you seen that trailer for the new movie Rush? “I can’t stop!” the lyrics blare. Must be Chris Matthews’ mantra.
The Hardball host appeared on Morning Joe Wednesday morning, saying that Ted Cruz was having his Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment during his filibuster, and oh by the way, that film had a particularly awful person as a fan.
“Everybody wants to be Jimmy Stewart. I think it’s that, it’s Jimmy Stewart. It’s Jimmy Stewart,” Matthews began. “Hitler even liked Jimmy Stewart — he loved that movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Everybody wants to be Jimmy Stewart, the man against the millions, the man against the establishment.”
Check out the clip: