It has been said that temperament wise the hard left and the hard right are much more soul mates than either is with the pragmatic political center, and that it is not uncommon for these extremes to switch camps — a biblical Saul to Paul transition. A prominent modern version of this radical switching of sides is Arianna Huffington.
When Arianna was married to Republican Michael Huffington she was a well-known conservative commentator, but upon her divorce from the former Congressman she moved to the hard left in her political outlook, creating the Huffington Post, though she did manage to retain many of her conservative friends, the most notable, before his death, being Andrew Breitbart. And this brings us to the strange mixed messaging of the very liberal Chris Mathews as it relates to President Trump and his battle with the American judiciary.
Though Chris springs from a middle class Republican leaning family, he has always been noted for being on the Democratic left. This may account for his occasional confused messaging. When it comes to President Trump, Chris clearly does not like him, does not trust him, thinks he exhibits a lying dictatorial personality, and yet seems to want to take his side in his battles with the courts — a kind of idealistic overkill.
Even though Chris and the Democratic left see Trump as an existential threat to American democracy, when it comes to issues of national security and the separation of powers Chris seems to come down on the side of a ruthless would be dictator vs. the judiciary, saying that he believes that the Judges are getting into matters of executive policy. And since it is the President who is the one who is responsible for the safety of the nation, the Judges should butt out — a thoroughly conservative notion.
On this point Chris is showing his left right, all or nothing side. In some ways Chris may be technically correct; the judiciary probably is pushing close to the edge of its authority and maybe even over it. But as a pragmatic matter when one coequal branch of government, the judiciary, sees another branch of government, the executive, unmistakably aiming to subsume all branches of government to its own personal will, such dangerous aggression calls for extraordinary pushback.
Those of us well steeped in political history understand just how vulnerable are democracies to the siren call of the strongman’s major theme. Believe me folks I will solve all your problems, they always claim. There is no mistaking Trump’s strongman fear and division tactics employed to wrestle away total control of the government to his own personal determination. So while Mathews mumbles nonsense about “you can’t read what’s in someone’s mind” and fails to stand alongside the judiciary in its valiant effort to resist an authoritarian takeover, based on what likely could turn out to be Mathews’ very hazardous technical reasoning, he is helping to grease the skids for a democratic catastrophe.