If Tim Russert of NBC News is the New Hampshire primary of political pundits — crucial, serious and august — then his colleague Chris Matthews, intense, voluble and unavoidable, is the Iowa caucuses. And it takes one to cover one, as Mr. Matthews demonstrated with his coverage Thursday night on MSNBC.Slightly manic becomes, "pushily, happily obsessed with the art and science of politics and political drama."
Imprudence and wacky, after-action questions posed an hour before voting starts are mere illustrations of Mr. Matthews' "enthusiasm:"
He is not afraid to make predictions, even wrong ones. Before the voting began, he announced that John McCain would win 18 percent of the vote in Iowa. And he summarily, if correctly, ruled Mitt Romney out. “Are these guys, these hotshot professionals with their Harvard M.B.A.’s, do they feel their business plan didn’t work out tonight, or what?” he said of Romney advisers. The question was posed, more than an hour before the voting started, to Ron Allen of NBC News, who had little choice but to agree.Here's my favorite line, about Matthews' special charm:
Mr. Matthews has a way of haranguing guests.Ya don't say?
And, a little more mania:
Throughout the night, Mr. Matthews blurted on about the Roosevelt election in 1932 and 19th-century races. He mixed some metaphors and made up terms like “victory projectile.”I do appreciate his excitement for the process, which is ever-present and self-evident. He's undoubtedly entertaining at times, but I think I'll stick with Brit Hume, who very rarely makes up words or asks someone how he feels about his loss two hours before he actually loses. I won't hold my breath for a glowing profile of his reporting in the NYT, though. That's reserved for newsmen with "enthusiasm."