We at Bipartisan Rules are simultaneously fascinated, educated and amused by Matthews, the host of MSNBC's "Hardball" since 1997, in spite of the leg thrills he receives from President-Elect Obama's rousing oratory, and his February 12, 2008 proclamation that the Changemaker was "the new testament."
Though overtly bombastic, Matthews is a comparatively moderate Democrat, as well as one of the most astute political observers on the planet.
Now, per our friends over at Politico, it appears that Matthews is planning to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter in 2010. Some believe that Matthews' interest in Specter's seat is a ploy to force MSNBC to re-up his contract, which expires next year. Matthews currently makes about $5 million a year, but with Keith Olbermann slated to make around $8 million annually, it's possible that the network might tell Matthews to hit the road. Matthews has also been mentioned as a possible replacement for Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation," and odds are good that, even if he doesn't pursue elected office, Matthews will no longer be working at MSNBC in 2010.
I like Matthews. I can't help it. He's a refreshingly straight shooter and the type of moderate Democrat -- like the pro-life Sen. Bob Casey, who unseated Rick Santorum in 2006 -- that could make serious headway in a state-wide race in Pennsylvania.
MSNBC would be making a grievous mistake by letting Matthews walk. I believe that if they offered him a multi-year contract at $3-4 million per year, he'd stay put. If the network managed to lose both Tim Russert and Chris Matthews -- its two most valuable, insightful journalists -- in a 12-month span, while elevating Keith Olberman (in salary) and Air America graduate Rachel Maddow (with a prime-time slot), it would cement even further their status as the official channel of the Obama administration, and in my view, render the entire crew nothing more than lapdogs.
In the event that Matthews in fact left journalism entirely and challenged Sen. Specter, it would be a fascinating race. Specter is from the John McCain wing of the Republican Party, seethingly derided as a "RINO" by the likes of Hannity and Ingraham. To put it nicely, Specter doesn't "energize the base." But he's an independent-minded straight shooter who has been a bastion of integrity as the corrupt Republican house of cards has collapsed around him in the twilight of the Bush administration's tenure.
As much as I hope to continue to be entertained by Matthews' presence on MSBNC, he'd be a tremendous public servant and a refreshing blast of honesty -- not to mention bombastic, unabashed opining -- in Washington.
Can you imagine Matthews trying to behave himself as the stodgy, impotent Democratic "leadership" -- Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin -- takes to the floor in weekly Party meetings?