Friday on Hardball, just after the announcement by Eric Holder that the Justice Department would bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 terrorists to New York for a criminal trial, Chris Matthews was the only MSNBC host to express any common sense doubt about the plan.
MATTHEWS (Friday): a show trial opportunity. Human rights matters, even in cases of the worst people in the world, but sometimes I think we got to treat them a little tougher than we treat your average criminal.
Over the weekend, Matthews was suddenly transformed (by a trip to the woodshed?) into just another MSNBC ideologue spouting the party line that those who objected to this political show trial were “spreading fear,” and enemies of the Constitution.
While trying to prove how smart he is, (and asking paragraph-long questions which he mostly answered himself) Chris Matthews instead embarrassed himself as he, in effect, compared 9/11 to an incident of riot control getting out of hand.
Incredibly bringing up the Boston Massacre, Matthew blathered on about the American system of justice trying the redcoats who “fired on our civilians.” That’s right, according to Chris, the American legal system applied SIX YEARS BEFORE THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
So, I guess that would make expanding the Constitution to include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed no big stretch. Conservatives say that liberals have a 9/10 mentality. Matthews apparently is stuck in 1770.
Chris started off his interview with class.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is a Democrat from Chicago. And U.S.Congresswoman Judy Biggert is a Republican from somewhere else.
After Schakowsky parroted the Administration line that there was only â€œirrational fearsâ€ in the objection to the trials, and Biggert raised security concerns, Chris went off on what he clearly thought was a clever prosecutorial trap:
MATTHEWS: You know, back in the early part of our country-I want to go back to-stick with Congresswoman Biggert for a second and see if she is consistent here. Back in the beginnings of our country, we had a trial for the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, and we gave those British soldiers a real trial. And John Adams was their defense attorney. And a lot of them got off.Â Do you think that was a mistake, to give them a real trial, or should we just have executed them? What should we have done?
BIGGERT: Well, I’m talking about having a real trial.
MATTHEWS: I mean, was it wrong to give-was it wrong to give a real trial to people who shot down our people in the Boston Massacre? Or was that a good emblem of the kind of country we were going to be, a country of laws? What was…
BIGGERT: I-I think…
MATTHEWS: John Adams was their defense lawyer. Should he not have taken that job? Should he have not defended the enemies of our country and shown that we have a good system of law in this country? Was that a mistake, historically?
“We” who, paleface? First, in 1770 John Adams was essentially still a British lawyer defending British soldiers in a British court.
Two, there was doubt both of guilt and motive when it came to the soldiers.Â The crowd was threatening and pelting the redcoats with sticks.Â Some frightened soldiers opened fire.
The closest comparison in modern history would be Kent State (though I hate to mention it, since the 60s radicals in charge of our government now is apt to drag those people out of the old folks home and conduct a show trial on them, too.)
The Boston Massacre was tragic, and it was an example of the heavy handedness of King George, but it was not terroristic murder, nor were those who fired the shots un-uniformed Â foreign combatants captured on the battlefield. Â Otherwise, great parallel, Chris.
And even if you thought Paul Revere’s famous engraving was an accurate depiction, rather than an attempt at fanning revolutionary flames, comparing 5 civilians killed in a riot control situation to the deliberate murder of 3000 innocents who were going to work that day is morally bankrupt.
This is the kind of silliness that the more thoughtful Chris Matthews of times past used to rightfully skewer hapless politicians and commentators for engaging in. It’s sad, really.