MSNBC political yakker and “Hardball” host Chris Matthews captivated a crowd last night at the Boston Harbor Hotel, where he signed copies of his latest book, “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit.”
“At all these events, I look out and I see me,” Matthews, 71, said jokingly about the gathering, adding that everyone in the crowd seemed to fall within the 68 to 72 age range.
Looking around the hotel’s Atlantic Room, you could surely spot a fair share of gray hairs, as well as boldfacers like U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, former WCVB anchor Kelley Tuthill, Matthews’ wife, Kathleen, and former Lt. Gov. Tom O’Neill — son of Matthews’ old boss, the late Tip O’Neill.
Matthews previously has penned biographical books about John F. Kennedy, Tip O’Neill and his rapport with President Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon. But he says Bobby Kennedy’s particular disposition drew him to the subject matter of his latest work, which is currently in the top three of the New York Times’ best-seller list for nonfiction hardcovers.
“He was the scrapper. He was the one like us,” Matthews said of the former attorney general and New York senator, compared to the rest of the elegant Kennedy clan. “He was awkward. He always got it right the second time.”
“He was the overlooked kid,” he continued. “That’s where he got his empathy for people.”
Matthews said that it was that, as well as Bobby’s fine-tuned moral compass and desire for unity, that made him not only a unique politician, but also an appealing person.
“He was the only one of the liberal Democrats who always made a point to say hello to the cops,” Matthews said. “That taught me a lot about him. Unlike his brother, who was a bitter aristocratic, he was down to earth. Ethel (Kennedy) said he was born a democrat — and not capital ‘D.’ ”
And if you ask Matthews, Bobby, who was assassinated during his campaign for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination, would make a contending candidate in today’s political landscape.
“He was pro law and order, but at the same time, for the little guy,” Matthews said. “He really is what they need today. He wouldn’t be taking sides between black lives and the police. He would have said, ‘Look, law and order should be just.’
“I think he would win the next election.”...Read more