Chris Matthews sucks up to Tom Delay

Now I know why Tom Delay wanted to go on Hardball tonight. Chris Matthews treated Delay as if he were one of our greatest statesmen who was retiring after a long and distinguished career. Of course Delay, like any guest, deserves civility, but Matthews should be embarrassed by his “softball” interview. Delay is under indictment in Texas, and now federal prosecutors may be closing in on him as well. Matthews mentioned this, but he certainly didn’t ask any tough questions about it.

Matthews kept harping on the very talking points that Delay and the Republicans are trying to promote – that somehow the Democrats will act irresponsibly with the subpoena power (and possible impeachment) if they regain the House. It took Bob Schrum to point out to clueless Chris that the Democrats would be foolish to impeach Bush and elevate Cheney to the Presidency. Absent a significant smoking gun uncovered by real investigations, impeachment is not on the table for most Democrats.

Matthews let Delay get away with claims that the GOP changed the culture in Washington, without pointing out that the new culture was one of corruption that went far beyond what the Democrats had done. No mention of the abuse of earmarks, the explosion of spending or the complete abandonment by Republicans of many of the principles they ran on in 1994 when the took over the House.

Larry King could have done a tougher interview. Chris Matthews has his moments – he has been all over the Plame and Abramoff stories and he’s been very tough on Bush and Cheney (at least lately) on the pre-war deceptions. But interviews like this make him look like a fool.

Delay takes one for the team

The noose is tightening around Tom Delay, as the Justice Department starts flipping his aides. He can make references to God and prayer all he wants, but soon he will have to answer for the corruption he fueled in Congress.

Now he’s resigning from his seat in an attempt to save it for the Republicans. He’s desperate to keep the majority he helped create, and Delay told Chris Matthews that any Republican, other than him, can hold that seat. We’ll see about that.

It will be interesting to see if this hurts or helps the Democrats in their attempt to retake the House. It might be tougher to win Delay’s seat, but Delay’s resignation adds more amunition to the charges that the GOP is corrupt.

The big question now is whether guys like Bob Ney and Conrad Burns will follow Delay’s lead and give up their seats in the hope that another Republican can hold it. This would be a bad development for the Democrats, unless the whole corruption narrative helps create a tidal wave of resentment against the GOP. It’s going to be an interesting election year.

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