Chris Matthews revisited the decision to go to war with Iraq Tuesday night on "Hardball," hosting neocon hawk Frank Gaffney and Mother Jones' David Corn in a discussion of weapons of mass destruction and Dick Cheney's admission that the US would have invaded Iraq even without the pretense of WMD.
"Was there anything Saddam Hussein could have stopped that war?" Matthews asked Gaffney, and when Gaffney attempted to justify the case for war based on the first Gulf War, and not the presence of weapons of mass destruction, Matthews pounced.
"Why the long inspections debate if they didn't matter?" he asked.
"Do you believe that the war had anything to do with [Cheney's] belief that [Iraq] had weapons of mass destruction stockpiled?" Matthews asked Gaffney. "Because he's admitting that they didn't have to have stockpiles for him to believe the war was justified. That's what's astounding."
An exasperated Matthews cut to Corn as Gaffney attempted to make the case that the cost of inaction would have been greater than the cost of the war, and when Gaffney said Hussein presented a "mortal threat" to the American people, Matthews attacked him for "still [using] the strategic language" of the Bush administration.
"Where do you get this from?" Matthews screamed. "We can't find the weapons, we can't find the rationale, what kind of mortal threat? Where do you get these words from? Mortal means you die.
"You guys sold the war as a nuclear threat to the United States...you sold every trick you could to get us into this war," he continued. "And now you're backpedaling. And I do find it astounding....Four thousand people are dead because of the way you feel. And Frank Gaffney, you're wrong about this."
"It is regrettable that they had to die," Gaffney said, "but I believe they did have to die," citing Hussein's chemical, biological, and nuclear capabilities. "The danger was inaction could have resulted in the death of a great many more Americans than 4,000. And that's the reason I'm still delighted that we did what we did."
"The American people don't buy it, Frank," Matthews said.