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A Sublime Moment For Cable TV -- Chris Matthews interviewing Kevin James On Appeasement

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Well, this might have been his finest hour. Chris Matthews I mean, confronting Kevin James in the presence of Mark Green on tonight's Hardball. The topic: what it means to compare appeasement, meaning Nazis and Neville Chamberlain in 1938-39 -- that exhausted neo-con trope -- to our current situation vis-à-vis Iran and etc. The exchange was pegged to Bush's political exploitation of Israel's 60th anniversary.

This moment was not sublime just because of what Chris said -- though that was plenty good. It was sublime because of the spur of the moment directorial judgment he made as Kevin began to rant. He decided to give this moron a great sweep of precious air time, not just seconds -- he gave him minutes. Unprecedented media roominess descended on this sound-bite fool as he tried to bluster his way out his self-constructed trap. Chris just kept repeating a simple question -- what did Neville Chamberlain actually do that constituted appeasement back in 1938-39? He just kept repeating that question.

Desperate Kevin huffed and puffed about Iran and terrorism and Obama until at last it became obvious: he had no idea. He knew nothing of history, nothing at all about the run up to WWII, the sequence of concessions, the Czechoslovakia deal -- he literally didn't know what he was talking about. The silent space hung 'round him as he shrank.

Let's give the cable hosts a break for a minute It can't be easy. Five nights a week for an hour -- and that's just the time you are on the air. You rush through whatever is in front of you, batting comments back and forth with guests like ping-pong balls -- it can't be easy to pick a revealing moment out of the flood and give it the attention it deserves. But Chris did it tonight. He transcended his medium. You have to see this exchange. It isn't just an insight into Kevin James personally -- it's the whole know-nothing culture of jingoistic absolute conviction he represents.

Click here for the clip.