The debate last night was just creepy. Matthews looked high, and his giddy schoolgirl act around the Republicans has really reached a new low.
Charles Pierce, writing at Eric Alterman's place, has the ultimate analysis of last night's Republican debate:
Say what you will about Reagan -- Let me know when you're done. OK? Good. We continue. -- but he was never as gloomy as John McCain, as transparently phony as Mitt Romney, as feral as Rudy Giuliani, as earnest as Mike Huckabee, as pious as Sam Brownback, as futile as Tommy Thompson, as Out There as Ron Paul, or as monomaniacal as Tom Tancredo. Put all of these guys together on a stage and they don't add up to Jack Kemp, for pity's sake, let alone the Gipper. Was there a legitimate smile among them all night? Did any one of them grin a grin that didn't look like it was purchased, wholesale, at someone's garage sale? (Let's not even get into the fact that this bunch was whiter than the '47 Yankees.)Nothing more needs be said.
This is a field with the gallows in its eyes. They all know full well that, for six full years, they had the chance that Reagan never really had. They controlled all three branches of the government, and they cowed the elite press far more thoroughly than did Mike Deaver and that bunch. And now they realize to whom they handed the keys of the kingdom, and they're all standing there surrounded by bills that are coming due almost by the day. "Movement conservatism" -- which takes Reagan as a secular icon even though he largely saved it from many of its own excesses -- is an empty shell. It always was a bunch of resentments pretending to be an ideology, and it always contained within itself the poisons that would leach out and kill it. (McCain, poor lost soul, saw this more clearly than anyone in 2000.) It ran the country for six years and it stuck us in a war than none of these 10 men could find it in himself -- no Herselves this time around -- to simply denounce. Ten experienced politicians, and not one of them save Ron Paul could align himself with two-thirds of the country. It lost a great American city through criminal neglect. It cored the economy. It bulled its way into a private family medical decision in Florida and turned it into an international embarrassment. It did more damage to the Constitution than we know, and it hung Donald Segretti's picture in the Department of Justice. Where was the one of these guys calling out all this wreckage and stupidity? Not piecemeal, but systematically. Calling for a completely new direction in his party? They can't do it. None of them can. It probably wouldn't even matter at this point. They're all fighting over the tiller of a plague ship at this point. (Which, and I'm guessing here now, is probably why Chuck Hagel, Fred Thompson, and Newt Gingrich have been so coy about running. As soon as you announce, somebody asks you about the Avignon Presidency, and all the air goes out of the room.) No wonder these guys were so glum. A couple more minutes, and I expected Matthews to start handing out blindfolds.