THE OLFACTORY PRIMARY:
Chris Matthews caused some eyes to roll (and some predictable heads to explode) last week when, musing on the "sex appeal" of Fred Thompson, he asked:
Can you smell the English leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man's shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of -- a little bit of cigar smoke?
Last week, in response to Michael Moore's request that Thompson debate him over health care, Thompson -- showing what a tough guy he really is -- filmed a forty-second You Tube video where he smoked a cigar and told Moore to check into a mental hospital. Chris Matthews had Mark Halperin on his show [..] to giggle like sixth-grade boys high-fiving each other [over] the cool kid they are desperate to be near [..]:
MATTHEWS: Wait till you catch this. . . . Mark Halperin, is Thomas' cigar-chomping chide a sign that he's serious about getting in this race? HALPERIN: Chris, I've got to see your, "Ha ha!" MATTHEWS: I have to tell you, Mark, it's for real. I can't fake it. But let me ask you this... HALPERIN: I agree. MATTHEWS: Is this the kind of winning performance that the avuncular Fred Thompson needs to win this thing? HALPERIN: I echo your "Ha ha." Mega "ha ha" to you, Chris. Because that is exactly what this kind of campaign is going to have to be. [..] That kind of video gets the net roots totally in a lather. They hate Michael Moore. They like the jab. They like the cigar. It's a total winner. [..] MATTHEWS: He's also brilliant, because the attack from a defensive position is one of the smartest moves in politics. There you go again. He posed as if he was defending himself against Michael Moore and took his head off.
Chewing on a cigar in front of a camera and telling someone to go to a mental hospital is, to them, what makes someone a "tough guy" -- "aggressive" and "avuncular." And the discussion which Fineman and Matthews had about Giuliani last night, in exactly the same way, was so creepy that it bordered on pornographic:
FINEMAN: I mean, "commanding daddy" is not the phrase I would use because "daddy" implies some generosity of spirit. MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: What's appealing about Rudy Giuliani is not the generous side, what's appealing about him is the tough cop side. MATTHEWS: Right. You just wait until daddy gets home. FINEMAN: Yes, that part... MATTHEWS: That Daddy. FINEMAN: ... of the daddy. It's the tough cop side, so... MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
yesterday I happened to listen to Mike Barnicle interviewing Chris Matthews of Hardball fame. Matthews suffers from a Hillary-fixation, but the Barnicle interview revealed something more deeply awry in his psyche. After all the matey-introductions about being alumni from the same university and so on, Barnicle asked Matthews what he thought about the candidacy of Fred Thompson. Matthews was very excited, pointing out that Thompson was the sort of guy who in the 1950s would have come home and said: "Would somebody get my slippers." A perfect "tonal alternative," Matthews continued, to the "screeching fingers on the blackmail--er--blackboard, Hillary." Tonal alternative? As in, feminist vs. putting women back to their "proper places"?
Matthews went on to bemoan how every hour now is the International Year of the Woman. He also implied that it is the less-educated women who like Hillary. The more educated and neurotic (yes, that's the word he used) people don't care for her as much.
The rest of the Matthews interview is fun, too. He goes on for some time about whether Al Gore has had cosmetic surgery or not, making it very clear that he wouldn't be able to tell himself, what with being a he-man, but that his female producers are experts at spotting Botox and such and could tell. He also mentioned that Gore is fat. I thought that only women are supposed to gossip about looks. Hmmm.
What can even be said about that? And nobody really seems to find this odd or disturbing or objectionable at all -- that night after night, one of the featured "journalists" of a major news network goes on television and, with some of our most prestigious journalists assembled with him, speaks admiringly about the smells and arousing masculinity and the "daddy" qualities of various political officials, and that this metric is, more or less, the full extent of his political analysis.
Scarborough on Obama's "dainty" bowling performance: "Americans want their president, if it's a man, to be a real man"
Summary: On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist repeatedly mocked Sen. Barack Obama's bowling performance -- which Scarborough called "dainty" -- at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania.
Deriding Obama's score, Scarborough said: "You know Willie, the thing is, Americans want their president, if it's a man, to be a real man." He added, "You get 150, you're a man, or a good woman," to which Geist replied, "Out of my president, I want a 150, at least."
After guest Harold Ford Jr. said that Obama's bowling showed a "humble" and "human" side to him, Scarborough replied, "A very human side? A prissy side."
GEIST: If you're the president, you want -- you don't want them to have to put those bumpers in the gutters.
SCARBOROUGH: I've got a feeling he [..] didn't go bowling in Cambridge that much. That's a guy that's been studying a lot of -- reading a lot of books.
FORD: And I'd throw him a pass on you, too. I've seen you. I think he could probably take you down the sideline on a post route. [..]
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait. I'm sorry? You talking football now? [..]
I've got 5 yards. [..]
I've got 5 yards, bump and run. He's not going down the field.
FORD: Oh, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what my nickname was in college?
BRZEZINSKI: Oh, Lord, help me.
SCARBOROUGH: The "Round Mound of Rebound." On the basketball court, you just go low and lean.
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, well, 15 million Big Macs later, I don't think that name applies, honey. [...]
THE BOWLING TEST
Samhita catches Chris Matthews saying, "this gets very ethnic, but the fact that [Obama is] good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder."
I'd sort of love for him to finish that sentence. What does it make you wonder? What could possibly be the implications of Barack Obama's proficiency at bowling?