Matthews Speaks at Kirkland

Hardball with Kirkland
Grace Sun

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews, speaks at Kirkland House yesterday. Matthews discussed the economic stimulus and the war in Afghanistan among other topics with students in the Kirkland Junior Common Room.

The host of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” voiced his opposition to President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan and decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan in a talk yesterday in the Kirkland Common Room.

In the discussion that was part of Kirkland House’s “Conversations with Kirkland,” Matthews said that the economic stimulus package should have been focused on jobs because they are more tangible and visible to the American public, which is in the midst of a down economy.

“You have to replace the smell of decay with the smell of construction,” Matthews said.

Matthews also expressed criticism for Obama’s decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think the Afghanistan thing will work,” Matthews said. “If we had a draft, we wouldn’t be in Afghanistan.”

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Chris Matthews at Harvard

Chris Matthews at Harvard

The political pundit’s discussion touched on several other national issues.

The Holy Cross College graduate and bestselling author expressed his support for the national health plan, and also commented on the implications of the “Stupak Amendment” to the national healthcare bill, which prohibits the use of Federal funds “to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.”

Matthews, who was previously a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics, said that he is pro-choice, but that he believes government involvement should be limited in this case.

“I don’t think that the government should fund abortion, it should be a totally personal decision,” Matthews said.

Matthews commented on Obama’s choices of Cabinet members and political strategies.

On the former, Matthews said “picking Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State was really majestic,” adding that the “most profound thing Obama did was unite the Democratic party to win by taking Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

The political commentator also shared some choice words about opposition to President Obama, including the “birther” movement, which questions the legitimacy of the President Obama’s U.S. birth certificate.

Matthews said that there was “a lot of white tribalism in the birther stuff” and labeled some of the rabble-rousing associated with such movements as “nativist.”

Matthews, who describes his politics as “center-left,” also offered some general advice for college students, urging young people to vote in order to push forward a progressive agenda.

“You wanna run the country once in a while? Vote once in a while,” he said. “If you don’t vote, you don’t count”

Other speakers in Kirkland’s series have included Reverend Al Sharpton, Mass. Senator John Kerry, and former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean.

—Staff writer Derrick Asiedu can be reached at dasiedu@fas.harvard.edu.

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