There's been a lot of chatter these last few weeks about Chris Matthews, of MSNBC's ironically named Hardball, running for senate here in PA, and though I haven't said anything about it on this blog, I have been discussed it with some people. On that note, let me just say that I was ahead of the bandwagon (Digby, Atrios, Booman), despite the lack of evidence.
My thoughts on this are obviously not set in stone, and intervening events in the next two years will certainly be very important, but if the election were held tomorrow instead of 2010, I would probably vote for Arlen Specter over Chris Matthews.
I'm not even a fan of Specter. He's long on bipartisan wind, but short on substance. Despite some of his more moderate views, he has done next to nothing in stopping or moderating his party as they dismantled what they could of our government. When it really mattered, he was soft on torture, civil liberties, and renewable energy, despite his expressed positions. I'm just saying that I'm not particularly persuaded so much by Specter's "bipartisanship" as I much as I am repelled by the idea of Senator Matthews.
With Specter, he has the seat for surely only one more term. He is ill, and I wish him well, but realistically he won't be holding the seat for the next thirty years. Chris Matthews, OTOH, would. I can live with a mildly obstructionist Specter more than a wildly erratic Matthews.
That's the real crux of the matter. In all the years I've seen Chris Matthews on TV, I've never seen him take a substantive position, or even demonstrate a clear understanding, of the policies or issues that would confront him as a Senator. He had two hours a night on prime time TV cable news for the entirety of the presidential primaries and general election, plus a sunday talk show and various guest spots, and never did I see him demonstrate the kind of policy familiarity that I value in a senator. Never did I see him take the opportunity to bring on experts and explore in any detail substantive differences between candidates positions. Fine, fine, it's Hardball, not Frontline; not his job. But in all the discussions and conversations I've seen him engaged in on TV, the pattern continues. He focuses and obsesses over real or perceived personality conflicts and quirks, and has little patience for discussing what the candidates are actually advocating for, and on behalf of. If he really wants to run, it strikes me that he's just grown tired of his platform and wants to be taken more seriously; have his own seat at the grown-ups table.