Chris Matthews, host of Hardball on MSNBC, is not what you would call a noted supporter of gun rights. But he doesn’t often go quite so far as he did on a segment from May 21 (“The twisting of the Second Amendment”). The bit started off with an out-of-context quote from Justice Warren Burger in 1991 about the Second Amendment having “been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public.”
The point of this segment, centered on an interview with former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman, is to argue that we’ve been getting the Second Amendment wrong this whole time. That it was intended to allow states to arm themselves against federal oppression, and it never intended to establish an individual right to bear arms. He, and like-minded Second Amendment “truthers,” say the individual rights part is merely a PR campaign by the NRA that has blinded us to reality.
Video courtesy of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews – May 21, 2014
Matthews and Waldman talk about how the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t rule that there was an individual right to bear arms until 2008 (in D.C. v. Heller) … overlooking that Americans have been living, and legislating, under the assumption that the Second Amendment established an individual right throughout the nation’s history.
But the funny thing about this interview isn’t so much Waldman’s flimsy argument. It’s the fact that Chris Matthews keeps trying to get him to quit being so damn academic and just make blanket statements about the Second Amendment and/or the NRA. It gets to the point where Matthews just starts cutting him off and feeding him arguments.
Well, says Waldman, not really, since the belief in an individual right to bear arms is a mainstream opinion. (It apparently was back in 1991, too, or Justice Burger wouldn’t have had anything to complain about.) Waldman starts to make a shaky point about some justices who ruled on D.C. v. Heller having been appointed by pro-NRA presidents, when suddenly Matthews ends the interview with a fascinatingly bizarre non sequitur:
Well, A+ for honesty, Chris Matthews, even if your vision doesn’t have any internal logic or connection to the conversation. We look forward to the future evolution of your career, where you start asking guests whether they would eat the moon if it were made of ribs.