President Obama’s inauguration speech wasn’t exactly a hardcore argument for liberalism and Big Government, Chris Matthews said Monday.
The Hardball host argued that it was “totally non-partisan.” “I thought when [Obama] talked about people who are really skeptical about government, the Tea Party people, he reached out to them and said to them that people have a reasonable skepticism about what government can do,” said Matthews.
He also said the president’s remarks about Tehran seemed non-partisan. In his speech, Obama–apparently referring to Iran–said “We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully — not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”
Matthews’ panel disagreed with the Hardball host. When he asked them to grade Obama’s speech on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being very partisan and one being non-partisan, they all offered high figures.
Fellow MSNBC host Alex Wagner said seven. “You had a strong defense of the role of government.”
The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson also said seven, while The Grio’s Joy Ann-Reid said eight. Former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele’s take? A perfect 10 and “collectivist agenda.”
In his speech Obama said Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security were programs that “do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.” He also resolved to “respond to the threat of climate change” and said “our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else.”
The Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, who gave the speech an 8.1, said he disagreed with Matthews’ assessment.
There was “very little reaching out,” Fineman said. Instead, Obama stressed that he honored the “individualism in America–that we have a yin and yang thing in this country, that will go on forever…but he also said at this moment, in this time, we need to stress one side of that equation.”
Get the entire speech’s transcript here.