Thursday, November 08, 2012

Matthews Finds Best, Yet Again


Scratching my old bald head, I have to wonder how an often astute Chris Matthews came to call Mitt Romney's belated concession speech as perfect and the best he's ever heard. The MSNBC Harball host does suffer from touches of drama-queen superlative disease, wherein this or that is the worst, best, most this or that. However, I struggled through election night after nearly 16 hours running my Boston polling place, and then heard that same speech-ette.

Call Your Own: The speech is available on several sites, including as a transcript at the NYT. His smarmy, not-quite-human delivery is also on video, but his mannerisms detract from the words.

I confess that while our politics are quite similar, I have problems with Matthews' mannerisms and manners.  His mommy didn't teach him right; he and Fox' Bill O'Reilley share the awful habit of constantly talking over and interrupting guests. They rob us of analysis and insight from sometimes smarter folk. Boo.

However, this thing about Romney's speech was a slow, solo delivery. He had problems with President Obama not building up his party and staff enough in his victory speech, but the plaudits for Romney were even more peculiar.

The concession was at best OK. In fact, its substance was almost entirely in two sentences up top:
I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters. This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.
He went on and on self-centeredly and sanctimoniously, before tucking in near the end:
The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.
He qualified even that, suggesting that an equal parallel was teachers leading kids to understand the process. Eh?

The speech though was almost entirely about how hard his staff and family had worked. It overlaid piety about his strong religious perspective (odd for someone who repeatedly viciously attacked his opponent and was incapable of telling the truth).

Playing through some more, older Matthews clips, I finally got it. He has a strong emotional need to be part of historic moments. It's good to research old speeches, even before he was born, but it's great for him to be the first to call and describe the new that are certain to become classics.

He is deeply involved in Kennedy lore, all the previous generation's Kennedy's. He seems to think and feel he gets greatness by osmosis by citing deeds, legislation or speeches by Jack or Bobby or Ted.

So there it is. He really liked John McCain's concession four years ago. He absolutely loved Romney's two days ago.

You can easily make an argument that McCain's was brilliant, well-delivered, and of content bound to become classic. Romney's was so-so. Matthews is driven to ID and name superlatives. He could use some objectivity here.

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