Matthews slams radio host defending Bush 'appeasement' jab
Radio talk host Kevin James got a brutal, on-the-spot history lesson from Hardball's Chris Matthews after James was unable to back up, with historical fact, his support of President Bush in what could be construed as a jab at presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama for his stance on diplomacy. Bush, as part of a speech to members of Israel's Knesset this morning, compared such a stance to the appeasement of Hitler.
"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," the President said. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
James had no doubt that Bush was personally targeting Obama: "I don't know who he was talking about for sure, Chris, but if he wasn't talking about Barack Obama, he should have been talking about Barack Obama." Obama, as the candidate "endorsed by Hamas" and with "questionable Israel policies" should be the one speaking in Israel, but to make amends, James insisted.
Matthews asked: "Why is Israel now the center of the Republican campaign--what is Israel about here in this presidential campaign?"
He pressed on: "Why is Israel becoming the new podium for political activity?"
"We're talking about Israel," James responded, "because it's the 60th anniversary of their independence and it's where President Bush happened to be today, talking about the Knesset, when he launched this...blurb against Obama.
"I'm glad he did it," James went on. "I wish the White House had been a little more forthcoming in saying 'You'd better believe this is against Obama,' because his policies are dangerous for this country, and they're dangerous for Israel as well."
"Since they've run out of arguments," said Air America's Mark Green, "they engage in analogies. It was bad enough when John McCain used this sleazy guilt-by-association of Obama and Hamas. Now comes President Bush using guilt-by-analogy--that somehow Obama is Chamberlain, and anybody who the Bush people don't like is Hitler."
Matthews put James on the defensive when he refused to let his question go unanswered:
"What did Neville Chamberlain do wrong in 1939?" (This was later corrected to 1938.)
"It all goes back to appeasement," James said.
"You have to answer this question," Matthews insisted, losing patience. "What did he do?"
James was unable to explain.
"You're making a reference to the days before our involvement in World War II when the war in Europe began," Matthews explained, before continuing his demand for an answer: "I want you to tell me now, as an expert: What did Chamberlain do wrong?"
James continued to dodge the question, simply calling Chamberlain an "appeaser."
Matthews charged: "Your problem, Kevin, is--you don't know what you're talking about. And you don't understand that there's a difference between talking to the enemy and appeasing."
"He's as bad as the White House Press Secretary that doesn't even know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was," he said to Green.
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in 1938, appeased Adolf Hitler by helping cede part of then-named Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany with his signing of the Munich Agreement, called the Munich Dictate by Czechs and Slovaks due to the fact that Czechoslovakia was not involved in the decision-making process. Chamberlain would also give up Ireland's Royal Navy ports. He was forced to resign after Hitler's invasion of Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
This video is from MSNBC's Hardball, broadcast May 15, 2008.