MSNBC's Chris Matthews falsely claimed that President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, his reported pick for secretary of state, disagreed on whether “we should make the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group” and on whether “we should have permanent bases in Iraq.”
On the November 21 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, discussing President-elect Barack Obama's reported selection of Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, host Chris Matthews falsely claimed that during the campaign, Obama and Clinton disagreed on whether “we should make the Iranian Revolutionary Guard [IRGC] a terrorist group” and on whether “we should have permanent bases in Iraq.” In fact, Obama co-sponsored legislation designating the IRGC a terrorist organization, and Clinton has previously opposed permanent bases in Iraq.
During a discussion with Philadelphia Daily News columnist and radio host Michael Smerconish and MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard, Matthews stated:
MATTHEWS: We elected a candidate for president who thought the war in Iraq was wrong, who didn't think we should make the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, who didn't think we should have permanent bases in Iraq. On point after point, they've disagreed, and Barack Obama won on points, won on the arguments. Now, you're suggesting, Michael, that foreign policy should be written and led by someone who disagreed with the public opinion of this country.
In fact, as Media Matters for America previously noted, Obama co-sponsored a 2007 bill that would have designated the IRGC a terrorist organization. Obama opposed another proposal, the Kyl-Lieberman resolution -- which contained the IRGC provision and which Clinton supported -- because he said he disagreed with what the resolution said about the purpose of U.S. troops in Iraq, and not because the resolution expressed the sense of the Senate that “the United States should designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.”
In addition, Media Matters has repeatedly noted Matthews' false claims regarding Clinton's position on “permanent bases in Iraq.” During the January 21 Democratic presidential debate at the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Clinton stated:
CLINTON: What I have said is that I will move as quickly as possible. I hope to have nearly all out within a year. We don't know what we're going to inherit from President Bush. But there is a big problem looming on the horizon that we had better pay attention to, and that is President Bush is intent upon negotiating a long-term agreement with Iraq, which would have permanent bases, permanent troop presence. And, he claims he does not need to come to the United States Congress to get permission, he only needs to go to the Iraqi parliament.
That is his stated public position. He was recently in the region, and it is clear that he intends to push forward on this to try to bind the United States government and his successor to his failed policy. I have been strongly opposed to that. We should not be planning permanent bases and long-term troop commitments.
Furthermore, on the May 4 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Clinton said:
CLINTON: I do not believe Iran will go into Iraq. If Iran were to go into Iraq, there would have to be a determination made at that time. But it is something that I am not anticipating, and we are not going to have permanent bases and permanently occupy Iraq because of some contingent that may or may not happen.
From the November 21 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
BERNARD: I can't imagine Joe Biden or the national security adviser or anybody else calling up Senator Clinton, who would then be secretary of state, and saying, here's your job, you know. She's not leaving the Senate as we've just discussed to take orders from anybody. This is a woman who will always be a leader. It's a great attribute, but not if you're supposed to be working for the president-elect. It's a great attribute if you are the president-elect, and she's not.
MATTHEWS: Michael, your thoughts on those big points?
SMERCONISH: Maybe we're all overthinking this. I mean, what I've heard from Michelle is typical of what I heard all day long today from folks who are looking for the Machiavellian instinct in these political officials. And maybe it's much more simplistic. She's a gifted leader. You know, you may disagree with her politics, but she's a person who can play on the world stage. She's going to get the respect of all of those foreign leaders. He's looking at her as competence, and for that reason alone, he's selecting her.
MATTHEWS: We elected a candidate for president who thought the war in Iraq was wrong, who didn't think we should make the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, who didn't think we should have permanent bases in Iraq. On point after point, they've disagreed, and Barack Obama won on points, won on the arguments. Now, you're suggesting, Michael, that foreign policy should be written and led by someone who disagreed with the public opinion of this country. Right?
SMERCONISH: Chris, if the litmus test is, I can only put people in the Cabinet who agreed with me every step of the way, then we should start to question each of these individuals, I guess, starting with Bill Richardson, because he shared the stage with Barack Obama and disagreed on all sorts of things. So did Joe Biden.
MATTHEWS: OK, well said, even though I disagree with you. Michael Smerconish and Michelle Bernard. Thank you -- thank you, Michael. Have a nice Thanksgiving. Right now, it's time for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.