"Pennsylvania prefers a beefier sort than either of these people"

On MSNBC, Chris Matthews explains why the continuation of the Democratic race into Pennsylvania is good news for Republicans.

By Alex Koppelman
Published March 5, 2008 4:21PM (EST)

Tuesday night, we kept our DVR working hard, because we wanted to make sure not to miss a moment of what we were sure would be some fireworks on MSNBC, which is by now notorious for the level of Clinton hatred many of its hosts and analysts tend to display. We weren't disappointed.

One of our favorite moments was from relatively early in the night; Chris Matthews was analyzing why Hillary Clinton's continued presence in the Democratic race could be bad news for her party, especially in the next big primary state, Pennsylvania. He had a good underlying point -- seven weeks of intense battles might bloody both candidates, setting up an improbable victory for John McCain in the state. But then Matthews, as is his wont, went to an analysis based more on physical appearance than on any actual facts. "Pennsylvania prefers a beefier sort than either [Clinton or Barack Obama], a more rustic, tougher sort than either of them -- and yet both of them will be showing off each other's weaknesses, for seven straight weeks, which is great news for the people in that state like Tom Ridge ... and all the other big Republicans," Matthews said. (Video of the discussion is below.)

This, naturally, got us thinking of all the people who've won statewide contests in Pennsylvania recently and the beefy ethos they embody. Take, for instance, renowned woodsman Rick Santorum and legendary tough man Arlen Specter. Don't even get us started on the ruggedness of Santorum's successor in the Senate, Bob Casey Jr. -- or his father, former Gov. Bob Casey Sr. And surely Matthews has always considered the last four men who won Pennsylvania's Electoral College votes the manliest of men. There's George H.W. Bush, who had a great deal of difficulty evading his image as a wimp in 1988, and then Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry -- and we can't imagine that Matthews would have ever cast aspersions about the manliness of Gore or Kerry.

Yeah, right. Better luck next time, Chris.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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