MSNBC host Chris Matthews weighed in on the filibuster debate on the May 18 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews when he declared: "I think the Democrats started this fight. I think they did. ... You know, I think Democrats should win more elections. That will solve their problem." Days later, in discussing the compromise agreement to avert the "nuclear option" to ban judicial filibusters, Matthews continued to echo conservative and Republican talking points.
Among the talking points Matthews has recently advanced are that progressive advocacy groups opposing the compromise are "fanatical" and "militant"; that now that a compromise has occurred, Democrats can stop "pouting and bitching ... [and] actually participate in legislation now"; that Republicans might "get double-crossed or screwed by the Democrats" who will filibuster future nominees notwithstanding the compromise; and that the Republican position that every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote "sounds great to me."
Conservatives & Matthews on progressive advocacy groups
- SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): So I think this shows that extremism in leadership is not rewarded in a place like the United States Senate, and Sen. [Harry] Reid [D-NV] was without question carrying an extreme agenda of the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] and the People for the American Way and the very left-wing organizations that were behind this movement in the first place. [Press availability, 5/24]
- SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS): You know, some of these Democrats are from red states, Louisiana or Arkansas, Nebraska. So, they aren't -- they don't answer to NARAL or People for the American Way, these left-wing extremist groups. They've got a different constituency that they're thinking about. [Hardball, 5/24]
- MATTHEWS: [I]sn't this a defeat of the leaders? I mean, you had Harry Reid working in league with the People for the American Way, the most pro-choice, most fanatical liberal groups in the country, who are pestering all members like yourself [Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)] with this absolutism. [Hardball, 5/23]
- MATTHEWS: Well, you're [Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)] going to hear from two different groups, it seems to me, senator. You're going to be hearing from the conservative Christian groups. You're going to be hearing from the pro-choice militants. Don't they want a clear-cut victory here for either side? [Hardball, 5/23]
- MATTHEWS: People like Ralph Neas of People For the American Way, they're going to come out and say every nominee the president puts forward, because it's a Bush nominee, is an extraordinarily bad case. People on the left, perhaps [Democratic Sen.] Chuck Schumer of New York, perhaps [Sen.] Barbara Boxer [D-CA] and others, will jump and say yes, will agree with him. [Hardball, 5/23]
Conservatives & Matthews on Democratic obstructionism during filibuster debate
- BOB STEVENSON (communication director for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN)): Less than 24 hours after he complained the Senate is ignoring issues important to Americans, Democrat Leader Harry Reid today threatened progress on an energy bill, a jobs bill, disaster relief, and a closed intelligence meeting. ... Despite any differences over the judges, the American people want their government to continue working on issues important to them. They want the Senate to do its job. [press release, 5/18]
- MATTHEWS: So, instead of the Democrats just sort of pouting and bitching up there, they're going to actually participate in legislation now? [Hardball, 5/24].
Conservatives & Matthews on the possibility of Democrats breaking the deal
- LOTT: [L]et me just make it clear. Even though Harry Reid has been talking to the contrary, if there's not good faith here, and if these filibusters begin to reoccur in such a way that is not extraordinary circumstances -- and I can define that for you -- then I believe that [Sens.] John McCain [R-AZ] and Lindsey Graham [R-SC] and the rest of them will vote with the leadership to put this [the "nuclear option"] into the rules that it only takes 51 votes [Hardball, 5/24].
- MATTHEWS: If you guys get double-crossed or screwed by the Democrats, and they vote to -- they say it's an extraordinary circumstance and use the filibuster against the president's nominee for the Supreme Court this summer, or later, do you think that your party is ready, geared up, to pass the constitutional option? [Hardball, 5/24].
Conservatives & Matthews on reasonableness of Republicans asking for up-or-down votes on all nominees
- FRIST: Republicans believe in the regular order of fair up-and-down votes and letting the Senate decide yes or no on judicial confirmations free from procedural gimmicks like the filibuster. [The Washington Post, 5/17]
- PAT BUCHANAN (former presidential candidate and MSNBC analyst): For 45 people to use a filibuster veto and dictate who is on the court when they cannot win a presidential election and cannot win the Senate, cannot win the House.
MATTHEWS: You're good, Pat. You ought to run for president. ... That was a persuasive argument about making these all democratic decisions. Vote on every one of these issues.
BUCHANAN: That's all we have asked.
MATTHEWS: It sounds great to me. [Hardball, 5/24]
Conservatives & Matthews on unreasonableness of Democrats demanding to filibuster because nominees are "extraordinary"
- JAMES C. DOBSON (Focus on the Family founder): These people are not extreme. They're right in the mainstream. ... And then, you know, they come up to the Senate, and they're put through this horrible experience. I'm surprised anybody would want to even allow their name to come up. [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 5/24]
- MATTHEWS: If there's a chance that 55 Republicans would vote for somebody, or 51 of them would, or 50 plus the vice president, why would it be so extraordinarily bad appointment? In other words, if the person could get confirmed by a majority of the senators, why does the minority have to withhold the possible use, or hold on to the possible use of the filibuster? If it's extraordinary, both parties would oppose the nomination, wouldn't it?
Conservatives & Matthews on whether Republicans had the votes for the "nuclear option"
- MATTHEWS: Did you have the votes?
TONY PERKINS (Family Research Council president): I think -- yes, I think we did.
MATTHEWS: "Think we did"?
PERKINS: From every indication. I'm not there to count.
MATTHEWS: I think you did, too. I'm just trying -- I'm trying to squeeze you here, because I think you did, too. I think you had --
PERKINS: Yes. I mean, an hour before the compromise was announced, reports we had from the leader's office was, they had the votes.
MATTHEWS: In other words, McCain walked into what looked like a Republican victory and stole -- stole defeat from the jaws of victory, as far as you're concerned.
PERKINS: They absolutely -- they stole defeat out of the mouth of victory.
MATTHEWS: So, you could have had a -- we could go to bed tonight knowing there's no more -- no more filibusters of court nominees ever.
PERKINS: This could have assured up-or-down votes for the president's judicial nominees. And we could move on to the business of the American people. [Hardball, 5/24]