In a way, I feel sorry for Chris Matthews. From that brief, shining moment on election night when he was all but certain Hillary Clinton would win, he’s tumbled all the way down to crooning “The Thrill (Up My Leg) Is Gone” with the house band down at the Blue Note. Still, you have to admire him for trying to keep spirits up over at MSNBC, where on Monday he bantered with POLITICO’s Annie Karni over the new power couple at the White House:
“You know, we kid,” he said, “I kid about everything, but Uday and Qusay working for Saddam Hussein – you couldn’t go to a restaurant and have eye contact with those guys without getting killed.”
“These people are really powerful,” he explained, “imagine getting into a fight in the office with Jared [Kushner] or Ivanka [Trump], they have enormous power, and they’re always gonna be there.”
“This is what I worry about for other people in the White House,” Karni responded. “Ivanka Trump has been described as her father’s eyes and ears on the ground. That’s a little scary if you’re just a regular White House staffer.”
Yep, he just compared Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law to the Hussein brothers. You know, Uday–who once beat a bodyguard to death at a party with a baseball bat–and Qusay, who instigated the genocide of the Marsh Arabs after the first Gulf War. With that kind of gift of metaphor, it’s easy to see how Matthews once landed a job as a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter.
Ivanka, meanwhile, recently posted this on Instagram:
Yeah, that really must have the White House staffers quaking in their boots.
Ham-handed comparisons aside, the concern that President Trump is handing too much influence over to family members is actually a legitimate one. The problem is that Matthews and Karni have buried that point in a heapin’ helpin’ of partisanship with a side of hypocrisy. Whatever fears White House staffers might have of crossing Jared or Ivanka pale in comparison to the kind of terror Hillary Clinton inflicted as she prowled the halls of the West Wing as First Lady–and yet we don’t hear anything about that, even though Hillary for all intents and purposes served as an unelected co-president. And if nepotism is such a concern, why didn’t Matthews raise an objection when NBC hired Chelsea Clinton as a part-time fluff reporter for $600 grand a year? Or are patronage jobs are just the norm at his network?
From the looks of things, Donald Trump is running his White House the same way he ran his private business–and that includes giving jobs to the people closest to him, some of whom are members of his family. He wouldn’t be the first person in politics to do this, nor will he be the last, so Matthews and his ilk can stop pretending that this is anything unusual (unless they’d like to start beating up on Jack Kennedy for hiring brother Bobby as his attorney general). Instead, might I suggest they concentrate on making sure that all of those hires are above board and keeping tabs on the work they’re doing? Not only would this be a public service, it would be incentive for the administration to keep everything on the up-and-up.
That sounds an awful lot like what reporters are supposed to do.