Behold, Mark Leibovich's profile of Chris Matthews: an epic that simply refuses to end, that you do not want to end, that illuminates the most oddball fixture in cable television's Mount Rushmore better with the light of a hundred H-bombs. Again and again, Matthews morphs into a character from a Norman Spinrad novel.
At one point, Matthews suddenly became hypnotized by a TV over the bar set to a rebroadcast of "Hardball." "Hey, there I am — it's me," he said, staring at himself on the screen. "It's me."
On his idols:
He loved Johnny Carson, particularly his persona as a wide-eyed Nebraskan, awed that movie stars were actually talking to him. "Carson was great company," Matthews says. "He was big company. Best company in the world." He identifies with this. "Now, I am people's company," he told me. "Do you know that women come up to me all the time and say, 'My husband watched you until the end, until he died'?" (Also, Matthews added, Carson "had babes on the show.")
On his historical imperative:
Matthews envisions his role in this presidential campaign to that of Eric Sevareid and Walter Cronkite in 1968. "Your job is to illuminate, illuminate the game," Matthews says. He faces a nightly challenge to "bring to life" the unfurling of history. Matthews says he wants to be synonymous with this campaign, like Howard Cosell was with Muhammad Ali.
"Imagine bullfighting without Hemingway," he says. "I can't."
Is Matthews comparing himself to Hemingway?
"No way," he says. "Don't you, don't you [expletive] do that."
On his head:
Staring at the screen, Matthews squinted, cocked his head and leaned forward. "Have you noticed," he said to no one in particular, "that my head looks about four times as big as Obama's?"
At the end of the piece we learn that he is possibly running for the Senate in 2010.