We’re at Nathans restaurant in Georgetown for Chris Matthews’ fourth turn at the Q&A Cafe interview series.
A bit of news…host Carol Joynt says she’s suspending the Q&A Cafe interview series at the end of this year. “I have to find a job,” she says, noting the fact that Nathans restaurant may be sold soon.
Seated at lunch, he talks to his lunch colleagues about MSNBC’s white lineup, especially on an election night when an African-American could win. “We look like a sportscasters team from ten years ago,” he jokes.
What will he do after the election? “I’ve been doing this for 50 years. I’ll just get ready for the next one.”
He was at Martin’s last night (Georgetown), being interviewed by the New York Times for one of its “Out With…” features.
Joynt: “Would you ever do your show stoned?” Matthews:Joy “I stopped drinking fourteen years ago. I always tell people who ask me ‘When did you stop drinking?’ When did you first hear of me? … It was fun while it lasted but then you have to grow up. … I tried [drugs] but never liked them.”
“What were you like stoned?” Matthews: “This is not a fruitful conversation.”
Matthews talks about how little life there is around the Nebraska Avenue studios, says he prefers doing the show from Capitol Hill.
On Cheney: “Remember when he was told that the American people didn’t support the war in Iraq and he said, ‘So what?’ Yeah, real democrat there…”
“‘The View’ is clearly political. … Whoopi is clearly the grown up in that role. And Barbara plays the grown up.”
“I think other journalists are great to talk to [on Hardball], but it’s a soire at that point.” Says he prefers talking to lawmakers.
“You’ll never catch me doing ‘Capital Gang,’ talking to them with nicknames. … I really try to refer to them with their honorific. They deserve it…I believe in elected officials and I believe in government.”
“What the Republican Party has done in this election is put a lot of points on the board — dots — and let you connect them. ‘Pal around with domestic terrorists’ or ‘Hussein.’ … What they want you to do is to put those dots together and say he’s subversive. …He’s a member of a cell. He’s a sleeper. He’s trouble. This is what they’re trying to do.”
“I sometimes think my memory’s too good.”
“I think I’ve succeeded at what I do. I’ve made a career out of what I love. … I get thrills up my leg and I admit them. … Make fun of me, but it’s the truth.”
“They think this election is about politics, but not it’s about nationhood. … This country is a mixture of people and it is about our unity.”
On McCain’s charges of socialism: “Give me a break.” We’ve had a progressive income system for ages.
On being a potential Pennsylvania senator: “Can we move on? This is a topic I cannot discuss and will not discuss.”
Matthews on Al Franken: “I think he’ll be great” as a senator (and he thinks he’ll pull it off). “Norman Coleman hasn’t struck me as consequential.”
On MSNBC: “We’re doing dynamite!”
Favorite guests: Chris Buckley (“imagine growing up with Bill Buckley at the table for dinner. … He’s become something of a pundit, maybe he will join our world now. … In announcing himself for Obama, he may have announced himself as a pundit, something his dad never did.”), Christopher Hitchens (“a genius, when he’s drinking. I’ve never met him when he’s not drinking”).
Who’s the winner of pundits this year: “I think Peggy Noonan was great this year.” “I think Gene Robinson has been spectacular. … I think his column in the Post is the best thing in the Post.” “I think Hertzberg is great in the New Yorker, I think Jon Alter is great, Howard [Fineman] is great. … Joe Klein is great.” On who’s bad? “I don’t do media criticism.”
“We were taught growing up that aggressors were the bad guys. … You never hear the word ‘aggressor’ any more, because its us.”
“John McCain is not a good surrogate for himself. John McCain is not running a John McCain campaign. … I’m not sure that John McCain ever would have invaded Iraq. … He supports wars once they get started because of his experience in Vietnam. … He will always take the side of the warrior in combat.”
On McCain campaign: “They think they can win by attacking the media. … It’s never worked before.”
“I wouldn’t go to Oliver Stone for history, it’d be scary if you got your history from that guy. Although I thought ‘Platoon’ was good.”
If Obama wins, “it could be an exciting time because there’ a real commitment to unity and the country and public service. And the public sector itself, it won’t be disparaged anymore.” Said that it could be exciting under McCain too. “The real John McCain would emerge.”
Palin’s already looking for “the next time. … This is a try out, this is an opening act. … She’s going big time.”
“[Mitt] Romney is not a gifted politician. He doesn’t have it. … Politics and business call for totally different talents.”
Obama’s “calm presence … is so harmonious with the outer swirl of the economy that it works.”
“Bill [Clinton] is still dying over” Hillary’s loss. “It’s killing him.”
“I’m inspired by this guy” [Obama]
“I have learned a lot this election. One thing I’ve learned is that woman my age and older … have had to come up against the crap that goes on in ‘Mad Men.'”