Chris Matthews, War Hero

Last night, Chris Matthews greeted the new White House spokesman, Dan Bartlett, with a barrage of angry questions. Why did the Administration say that oil revenues would pay for the reconstruction of Iraq? Why did the Administration say that the war would bring oil prices down? Bartlett tried to smile when he wasn’t spluttering.

This is now the Matthews’ treatment: angry questions about the lies told to take the United States to war.

He did it with Torie Clark: a couple months back:

All the arguments about W.M.D. have been shot down. No evidence of an African deal, no evidence involving aluminum tubes. All the arguments that your side put up to get us into this war have been shot down, especially the argument that we were going to be received by people who are going to be happy to see us. They are fighting us. They are not happy to see us. That the oil in America was going to be cheaper. That the oil was going to pay for the war itself.

Your crowd made every argument in the world to get us in that war, and then they all quit. What I can’t understand is how an administration packed with hawks, they are all gone. Scooter is facing jail. Wolfowitz is gone. I don’t know what else is gone, but all the hawks seem to be gone now.

And here he is, incisively cutting a new one for Vin Weber ten days ago:

MATTHEWS: What was the reason we went to war. I’ve never gotten that straight from anybody, why did we go to war with Iraq?

WEBER: Because we had a dangerous dictator who’d made war on three of his neighbors and who hated the United States of America and had used weapons of mass destruction in the past.

MATTHEWS: What had he done against us?

WEBER: He invaded Kuwait. He attack Israel. They’re our friends, our allies.

MATTHEWS: So we go with countries in the Middle East because they fight with each other. We’ll have war forever. We will never be out of fighting wars.

Something important is happening here. Matthews is plainly frightened by the deepening crisis of leadership. He believes that Bush hasn’t got a clue and is stubbornly, stupidly holding on, putting the whole republic at risk. And he’s hardly alone. Others are also afraid. Like Col. Larry Wilkerson, in a dramatic appearance at the Middle East Institute last week where he predicted all the generals coming out to sandbag Rumsfeld. “You haven’t seen anything yet,” he said.

No, we haven’t seen anything like this before, a revolution by insiders afraid for the Republic. Throwing their bodies down out of a sense of service, as Matthews, a former Peace Corps volunteer, is doing. It’s heroic. But when are the people and politicians going to catch up? Hurry—please.