Last night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews rationalized and explained and excused but never apologized for one of his his sexist attacks on Hilary Clinton while never mentioning what an oinker he has been for months. (Transcript here.)
Some people whom I respect, politically concerned people like you who watch this show so faithfully every night, people like me who care about this country, think I've been disrespectful to Hillary Clinton, not as a candidate, but as a woman. They point to something I said on MSNBC's Morning Joe the morning after the New Hampshire primary, that her election to the U.S. Senate, and all that's come since, was a result of her toughness, but also the sympathy for her because her husband embarrassed her by the conduct that led to his impeachment, because he, in the words I used, "messed around."
The truth of course is finer, smarter, larger than that. Yes, Hillary Clinton won tremendous respect from the country for the way she handled those difficult months in 1998. Her public approval numbers spiked from the mid-40s up to the 70s in one poll I looked at.
Why? Because she stuck to her duty; she performed strongly as first lady. She did such a wow of a job campaigning for Senate candidates, especially Chuck Schumer of New York, that she was urged to run for a Senate seat there herself. She might have well gotten that far by another route and through different circumstances, but this is how it happened.
The rest is history: how Hillary went up to New York, listened to peoples' concerns, and beat the odds, as well as the Republicans, to become a respected member of the U.S. Senate. So, did I say it right? Was it fair to say that Hillary Clinton, like any great politician, took advantage of a crisis to prove herself? Was her conduct in 1998 a key to starting her independent electoral career the following year? Yes.
Meanwhile, these comments stand:
Using overtly sexist language, he has referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as a "she devil" and compared her to a "strip-teaser." He has called her "witchy" and likened her voice to "fingernails on a blackboard." He has referred to men who support her as "castratos in the eunuch chorus." He has suggested Clinton is not "a convincing mom" and said "modern women" like Clinton are unacceptable to "Midwest guys." He has called her "Madame Defarge" and "Nurse Ratched."