Ed Rendell likes him some Chris Matthews for Senate in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell gave Chris Matthews a glowing endorsement for his potential Senate candidacy today, calling the MSNBC host the “strongest Democratic candidate without any doubt” in an interview on Bloomberg TV.
Rendell added that he doesn’t “really know” if Matthews has made a decision to run yet. And he cautioned that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) would be a formidable opponent because of his strong ties to independents and moderate Democrats.
Rendell's longtime political consultant, Neil Oxman, has been talking with Matthews about running for Specter's seat and is encouraging him to jump in the race.
Not surprising. Tweety has been fellating Rendell for the past year, giving him all kinds of face time, particularly throughout the run-up to the Pennsylvania primary, when he was practically on every day. It's been the most gruesome and blatant suck-up session I've ever seen in public. Here's some of it:
* During the 6 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC's November 4 presidential election coverage, during an interview with Rendell in which Rendell said, "We're doing especially well in the Philadelphia suburbs, which you know have always been a swing area," Matthews replied: "Well, that's the Rendell strength you've just described. That's where you've always done incredibly well: the suburbs of Philly, the city itself, of course, where you were mayor." Matthews later said, "Well, you're the best political analyst in Pennsylvania, Governor."
* During an interview with Rendell on the October 23 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, Matthews prefaced a question by saying, "I want to run this by you because you're the best pol in the state."
* During the April 2 edition of MSNBC's Race for the White House with David Gregory, Matthews said of the Pennsylvania governor: "I think Eddie Rendell is the smartest politician in this state, as we know."
* During an interview with Rendell on the March 31 edition of Hardball, Matthews asked Rendell: "Would you be available ... to be a running mate with [then-Democratic primary rivals Sens.] Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?" Matthews later went on to say, "I think you'd be a great running -- I understand the situation at home and your responsibilities to the commonwealth. Anyway, I'm here to build you up because I do think you're the best pol around." He added: "[Y]ou're running a hell of a campaign for Hillary Clinton."
* During the opening of the February 13 edition of Hardball, during which he teased an upcoming interview with Rendell, Matthews said: "We'll ask one of the smartest people in politics, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who's on Senator Clinton's side in this fight."
* During the 8 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC's January 8 presidential primary election coverage and during an interview with Rendell in which Rendell and Matthews discussed potential vice-presidential choices for the Democratic ticket, Rendell said: "[T]here are a wealth of good candidates. I mean, if Barack Obama was our candidate for president, I think Joe Biden with his foreign policy and terrorism experience would be perfect. I mean, we've got a whole host of good candidates." Matthews replied: "No, you'd be actually better, because you're very good at slicing up the opposition." He went on to say, "You'd be a great VP running mate."
I don't think Rendell's vain enough to be swayed by simple flattery. But he has a history of playing kingmaker in Pennsylvania since he was mayor of Philadelphia when I lived there, and all the time on the teevee feted as the grand poohbah of politics in one of the most important swing states in the country certainly has a salutary effect for his public profile. And it's rubbed off on him. This week he pontificated on Obama's "mishandling" of the Blagojevich scandal like a good little Villager.
Rendell's got some candid observations here too about President-elect Barack Obama and his mishandling of the state scandal now surrounding his former political ally, Blagojevich.
Rendell's pointed criticism of Obama: Perhaps because the new president has never had any executive-level experience, as with a governorship, he's let the issue of any Blagojevich connection or non-connection with his team hang around way too long.
Could have made it a one-day story by saying: "I never talked to the governor, but, of course, my staff did on this day, this day and that day. But as you can tell from the governor's swearing about me, we were never a part of any dealmaking. Period."
Thanks so much for perpetuating the non-story and demanding the answering of more meaningless "questions," Eddie! You're the best pol in the state!
The Matthews thing is just one Villager paying off another.
P.S. Rendell's such a paragon of honesty himself, and so smooth with the press, he's perfectly qualified on this issue.
Back in the day, when Eddie was America's Mayor, his temper and passion for Philadelphia were spicy hot. Once, after a particularly stressful day, the Mayor encountered Amy Rosenberg, a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer who was brazen enough to ask a question his Honor didn't like. What was she thinking?
Buzz Bissinger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who chronicled Rendell's first mayoral term in his book, A Prayer for the City, described the scene. "Suddenly and impulsively, he threw out his arm and grabbed the reporter by her neck and shoulders as they continued to walk, almost as if he was putting her in a vise. The look on his face, inches from hers, was a lock-jawed grimace, and he spit out his words as he muttered at least one obscenity. He looked frightening."
Yet, here comes the strange part of the story. Ed Rendell, our former D.A., never was charged, never hired an expensive attorney and never endured bad press. He apologized to Amy and later Amy's boss sent Rendell a letter thanking him for the apology but reminding him that the Inquirer still felt it was "inappropriate behavior" to manhandle reporters. Ouch, that must have hurt. "The paper was mercifully kind the next day in its reporting of what had taken place," Bissinger wrote.
Maybe that happened when Rendell didn't have any executive-level experience.
What a jerk.