THE BLOG
01/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Chris Matthews' Insult to Pennsylvania Voters

Having grown up outside of Philadelphia, I just want to say I really hope Chris Matthews runs for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, and is humiliatingly obliterated in a Democratic primary (preferably by a good progressive like, for instance, former Rep. Joe Hoeffel).* The sense of entitlement that this blowhard personifies is truly stunning. He's spent his entire life as a principle-free political gossip in Washington - a human embodiment of all that is sick and wrong with Beltway culture. And yet, he really thinks he can just parachute into one of the largest states in the country, buy a mansion in Philadelphia and be a senator on sheer celebrity alone. I mean, maybe he can - maybe politics is now so devoid of meaning that this is just the way it is. But I really hope not.

The difference between, say, a Chris Matthews moving to Philadelphia and running for the Senate and an Al Franken moving back to Minnesota and running for Senate, of course, is that Franken has clear convictions. Franken has never ever been about just getting Al Franken's mug on television - he was a total die-hard progressive, and at points in his career, that progressivism undoubtedly made his media career harder. His run for the senate, then, was about the principles he's been advocating for decades (personally knowing Al, I think it was mostly about that for him, but even his critics would admit it's at least partially about that - whereas you can't with a straight face make the same case about Matthews).

Matthews, on the other hand, stands for absolutely his own career and by extension Beltway culture (and I don't think being for those things is an "ideology" or a "set of principles" in the same way advocating for a set of issues is). He's a guy so completely out of touch with economic reality that he insisted to the New York Times that he and his $5 million salary are not "part of the winner's circle in American life." As the Politico notes, he wants to "fulfill his boyhood dream of becoming a senator" - that is, he doesn't want to fulfill his boyhood dream of enacting universal health care or ending the war or some other cause, his dream is to simply BE a U.S. Senator - and, indeed, it doesn't even matter from where. It's not even his dream to become PENNSYLVANIA'S U.S. Senator - it's just to BE an officeholder.

In that sense, Matthews really does represent the worst in American politics - the antithesis of a community-organizer-turned-state-senator like Barack Obama taking a longshot run at Illinois' seat, the opposite of longtime state legislators and hometown boys like Jon Tester and Jeff Merkley running for seats in Montana and Oregon. Matthews is a wealthy celebrity who sees absolutely no problem with parachuting into a state to use his cash to try to fulfill his boyhood dream of personal self-aggrandizement - and bragging to reporters that even before he has residency in the state he and his family handed down their decision to run to Pennsylvania voters from the Matthews vacation compound in Nantucket.

I mean, come on - are you really going to argue Matthews will run to, say, help save the working-class parts of Pennsylvania decimated by the corporate-written economic policies he's either cheered on or ignored as a pundit? Are you really going to argue that after expressing such fanboy worship of George W. Bush and his "amazing display of leadership" in the lead-up to the Iraq War that Matthews is really deciding to run for the Senate because, dammit, he's just so adamantly opposed to this war?

Really, the entire concept of Matthews for Senate is the metastasized cancer of presidentialism. We worship the president as a celebrity, and now Matthews wants us to simply worship celebrity - any celebrity - as the foundational reason to be elected to any office. To Matthews, the Senate race clearly has nothing to do with Pennsylvania and everything to do with a convenient vehicle to higher status in the city he really represents: Washington, D.C.

It's a cynical insult to Pennsylvania voters - as if none of the state's 12 million residents are qualified for the Senate, as if those 12 million poor souls need the Great Chris Matthews to swoop in from his mansion in Washington, D.C. to save them. What a joke. Let's hope Matthews does run and the Democratic primary makes him the punchline.

* I mention Joe because he's an old friend and was the first solid progressive from Pennsylvania who came to mind - not because I have any inkling that he's even thinking of doing it. In other words, I just mention him to point out that there are lots of good progressives in Pennsylvania.

UPDATE: For a stroll down Chris Matthews' memory lane - and to show you how inappropriate a candidate this guy really is, see here.