I admit readily — and I have done so many times — that I am not the most intuitive guy in the world.
People say things that zoom straight over my noggin and I barely take note of how offensive their statements might seem to others, such as, oh, women or minorities.
When I heard last night from Chris Matthews himself on TV say that he was leaving MSNBC immediately and ending his two-decade run of “Hardball,” I was flummoxed initially. What the hell just happened? I wondered.
Then I heard about the things he said to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, questioning whether a woman she quoted in a Democratic presidential debate could have been lying about something Michael Bloomberg allegedly told her. It didn’t dawn on me in the moment, when Matthews and Warren sparred over that exchange, that women took serious offense to the questioning that Matthews was leveling at Warren.
Then came reports about Matthews hitting on women on his show, telling one of them how he had failed to “fall in love” with her. She reportedly took offense at the seeming come-on.
Matthews quit suddenly while admitting that times have changed from when the now 74-year-old was coming of age. Things that men said back then are no longer acceptable, he said. He apologized for what he had said.
I have commented already how I will miss his commentary. Yes, I have enjoyed watching him spar and joust with politicians. I have admired his ability to challenge those with whom agrees politically as readily as he does with those on the other side of the fence. To be candid, I didn’t pick up on the issues that others have identified as offensive.
When he wondered aloud about Bernie Sanders’ win in Nevada was akin to the Nazi conquest of France during World War II, I thought: Oh, that’s an interesting analogy. I didn’t cringe as others have done.
So now he’s gone from the air. Matthews could be abrasive, brash and loud. I heard all of that. It didn’t phase me.
I don’t know if any of this will sharpen my intuitive instincts. Maybe it will. If it doesn’t, I want to apologize in advance for any offense that I won’t take when someone pops off.