Home Sweet Home: Philadelphia Native Matthews Speaks at YLD Annual Meeting
By Michael Petitti
Chris Matthews has seen many places and met many people. On Feb. 23, he brought the political knowledge he accumulated back to his hometown of Philadelphia, where he spoke to attendees of the Young Lawyers Division’s Annual Meeting at the Westin Philadelphia Hotel. (Click here to listen to the podcast from the event.)
"My accent always comes through here," Matthews said, "The bad news is when you leave town they say, 'Hey, you talk different.' Not that there’s anything wrong with it."
Using his signature charm and experience, Matthews discussed his wide-ranging views on politics in America. He recalled past presidents and trends in political history and analyzed the hardships faced today. He balanced topics like the state of the economy, foreign affairs, the difficult job ahead for President Obama, and the prospect that things will get worse before they get better with wit and honesty.
"The American people will not live with the status quo," Matthews said, "What separates this country from most countries of the world is our inability to accept mediocrity. I always compare [presidential elections] to the pitcher on the mound. When you see that the pitcher can't get the other side out, the manager goes out and takes the ball from the guy. They never look and see how they're throwing in the bullpen. They don’t care how they’re throwing in the bullpen! This is so Philly, by the way. Get the bum out of there! Nobody asked if Obama’s got a fastball or what kind of stuff he's got. He's better than what we got because he's got to be better than this."
President Obama and the economy came up often in Matthews' speech.
"We have the most amazing president now in this sense: very pragmatic. I don’t think he’s an ideologue," Matthews said, "I think he’s a Democrat. He's Chicago - very smart and very pragmatic. Very Rahm Emanuel. David Axelrod. They think in terms of coalition building and dividing the spoils along ethnic lines so that everybody gets a piece.
"The problems this president faces are so deep that he's going to need a lot of professionalism, a lot of luck and he's going to have to get to some extent the goodwill of the American people and the media. Financial institutions that we grew up with that we thought would be there like rocks our whole lives, all of them in despair right now. It's stunning the challenges [Obama] faces."
He also touched on a matter requiring the expertise of those in attendance.
"You're all attorneys and you have to think about this rights issue but what do we do about people who are dangerous but haven't committed any crimes? What do you with people who are dangerous and have said so and want to kill us but they haven't committed a crime? I don't know the answer to that question. Morally, if a person hasn’t done any wrong we accept in this country we got to let them go. But if you know they're the enemy, if you pick them up in a combat situation when you know they’re with the bad guys, what do you do about it? I have never gotten an answer on this from anybody."
Matthews covered many other topics but always found his way back to a hard but unfortunate truth.
"The times are going to really suck for the next couple years,” Matthews said, "They're going to be terrible. This economy is going to be bad for the next couple years. You think it's tough now? When this honeymoon's over a year from now and we have 8 or 9 percent unemployment and people's 401Ks are still 101Ks and people can't retire and young people can’t find jobs, you think it's going to be nice?”
Leave it to a Philadelphia-native to tell it like it is, accent and all.
Michael Petitti is the Communications Manager for the Philadelphia Bar Association Click here to listen to the podcast from the event.