One of the things candidates cannot afford to be seen as is vicious. Nevertheless, especially in unstable, dangerous times, we want our candidates to be strong. Writing at Red State, Erick believes that the Republican candidates would do well to show a little strength in dealing with Chris Matthews, who is currently slated to “host” the upcoming Republican debate. Here’s Erick’s take on the matter:
The Democrats will not participate in a debate with Fox News hosts, lest they be asked difficult questions. Nonetheless, the GOP will have yet another MSNBC debate on Tuesday with Chris Matthews, who offered these choice words last night:
“[The Bush Administration has] finally been caught in their criminality,” Matthews continued, although he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred. He then drew an obvious Bush-Nixon parallel by saying, “Spiro Agnew was not an American hero.”
Matthews left the throng of Washington A-listers with a parting shot at Cheney: “God help us if we had Cheney during the Cuban missile crisis. We’d all be under a parking lot.”
You know, I will be gravely disappointed if the GOP candidates do not make an issue of this at the debate.
If the GOP candidates are too chicken to take on Chris Matthews before a live television audience on Matthew’s gross bias, they will have disgraced us all.
Read the rest here.
Note that Erick is not suggesting that they stage a walkout, a la the ever so passive aggressive Democrats, who can’t bear to face people who hurt their feelings. Nor is he saying that they should engage in some vicious, squealing, unfair attack against Matthews. Instead, as I read it, he’s simply saying that they should call Matthews to account for his words and his attitude.
I would love to see that. I think I’ve commented before on the fact that candidates are so tightly packaged by their handlers that there’s very little sense of any person at all lurking underneath those wrappings. I’ve come to some rather reluctant admiration for John McCain simply because he actually seems to have an independent mind. (That, and the fact that he’s a true and honorable hawk about the War, of course.) For real human beings, if someone is absolutely awful, you call them on it, although you can and should do it politely and with dignity (assuming that’s possible). And if you’re too scared to call a newscaster on his heinous remarks, how in the Hell are you going to deal with Ahmadinejad or whatever madman of the moment pops up on the horizon?
The thing is, I think average Americans would also like to see their candidates behave like real human beings, with real emotions, and real dignity and normal reactions, rather than these rigid automatons. In that vein, it seems to me that the candidates are playing to the media, which works if you’re a Democrat, but will never work if you’re a Republican. And since you’re never going to please those PC gatekeepers, just storm the gates and talk to the people, not in tones of demagoguery (that’s not what I’m asking for), but in real terms, like a real person.