Matthews Sees “A Campaign”

On MSNBC Chris Matthews has been excitedly characterizing this morning’s official Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination announcement as the start of “a campaign” (whee! roll out all the old Election 2008 logos and promos and Hardball guests and… ratings?), trying that characterization out on various guests.

To wit (emphasis mine):

MATTHEWS: Mark [Whitaker, NBC News’s Washington bureau chief], your thoughts on that [announcement/event]. You got to look at it as a campaign kickoff. That was quite political, that event.

WHITAKER: That was what I would call an Only in America moment. And I think we are going to hear over the coming months a lot of discussions about Sonia Sotomayor, what her judicial philosophy is, what we can learn from her very long record on the bench. But her life story is extraordinary and the fact that somebody who grew up in the projects in the Bronx, whose father died at a young age, whose mother worked two jobs to support her kids is now a nominee to the Supreme Court I think is really extraordinary…


MATTHEWS: Thanks for watching an extraordinary morning here with our special coverage of President Obama’s nomination. It was almost a campaign kickoff for Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court justice.


MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Pete Williams, Justice Correspondent, the real expert on this confirmation process. It struck me more than any I can remember an opening to a campaign here. That the president gave the biography, he dramatizes this candidate’s background, her experience, her American story if you will… This was a campaign kickoff. Is this going to matter when they get down and sit there with people like Arlen Specter on that Committee and the others, Democrat and Republican, when they have to judge the candidates’ qualifications?

WILLIAMS: You know, surprisingly, I think the Judiciary Committee will probably be where that matters the least because they will be the ones most focused on the finer points of her court decisions. I think when you get to the full Senate, that will be a much more compelling narrative and you’ll hear a lot more about it when the full Senate votes on her confirmation. The Judiciary Committee tends to be the legal nerds of the Senate. They’ll go in for more specifics.

“Specifics” about “the finer points of her court decisions?” “Nerds”…

…MATTHEWS: Hold on. Let’s go to Senator Amy Klobachur, a majority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, you can’t vote today. If you could, would you vote for or against this nominee?

KLOBUCHAR: …. I will say this. I think, like the other members of the Judiciary Committee, I want to meet her and ask questions…

“Meet her” and “ask questions” before voting on her nomination— on MSNBC? Knock Klobuchar off Hardball’s “must-book” list.

(And: Look for a CJR colleague’s piece later today analyzing early Sotomayor-as-Nominee press coverage.)

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.