Matthews: Hillary Is Impressive, Not Inspirational

It was standing room only at Politics and Prose on Friday when Chris Matthews made an appearance to discuss his new book and the current state of American politics.

He expressed a desire to see a sense of optimism in the next president, citing the current lack among the presidential frontrunners. “Rudy [Giuliani] trying to scare the bejesus out of you has a certain appeal, I suppose…” Matthews said, adding later “Hillary [Clinton] has run an impressive campaign, but not an inspirational one.”

He then turned to the subject of presidential campaign strategy, saying that if Sen. Clinton won the Iowa caucus, she would have a substantial chance of ‘running the table’ in the primaries and easily becoming the Democrat presidential nominee. If Illinois Senator Barack Obama could muster a victory in Iowa, however, “all bets are off” Matthews conceded. He also concluded that John Edwards wouldn’t have the same prospects if he were to pull of a victory in Iowa. When talking about Obama’s perpetual lag behind Clinton in opinion polls, Matthews said “I’d like to see him take off.”

Matthews’ analysis of Republicans was much less friendly and constructive. When discussing Rudy Giuliani portraying himself as strong on national security, Matthews said “There’s a big piece of Nixon in Rudy.” He also found it “too hilarious” that the Republican National Convention is slated to be held in Minneapolis — “where the bridge fell and the feet touched.”

Matthews also blasted former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as being from “Hickland” and trying to solve “big city problems” for suggesting that right-to-carry laws would reduce inner city violence.

After such biting criticisms of Republicans, Matthews apparently sought to temper his remarks by saying “I’m just pandering because I know you’re all from around here,” drawing laughter and applause from the predominantly, if not exclusively, liberal audience.

It would seem that he wasn’t yet done pandering, because he went on to say that the GOP wanted a leader as their president, adding “I won’t use the German term for leader, or the Italian word for leader, but a leader.” He later stated that Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson belonged in a Lay-Z-Boy chair.

Matthews also commented on his appearance on the Daily Show, calling it “an experience.” After saying that he and Jon Stewart were “competitors,” Matthews added “If I wanted to be snaky, I would say that [Stewart] was doing what my book says — fighting up.”

During the Q and A session, a young girl asked the Hardball host who his inspiration was, to which he answered “It depends.” After lauding Ernest Hemmingway and his literary works, he claimed that his hero was former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

His parting comments were again directed at Hillary Clinton, saying that he “liked the cackle,” referring to her now-infamous laugh on her recent rounds to the Sunday talk shows. “She’s a reasonable facsimile of an easy-going person,” Matthews said, “and that’s good enough for me.”