Tonight on MSNBC, Chris Matthews aggressively questioned White House Press Secretary Tony Snow about whether President Bush’s rhetoric last night was a “precursor for a rationale for an attack” on Iran.
Matthews said he feared the Bush administration would use a skirmish with Iranian fighters in Iraq as a reason to “bomb the hell out of them and hit their nuclear installations without any without any action by Congress. That’s the scenario I fear, an extra-constitutional war is what I’m worried about.” Snow told Matthews “you have been watching too many old movies,” but Matthews interrupted. “No, I’ve been watching the war in Iraq, is what I’ve been watching.” Watch it:
MATTHEWS: Well, he did say we’re gonna disrupt the attacks on our forces. “We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran.” Does that mean stopping at the Iranian border or going into Iran?
SNOW: Well, again, I think what the president’s talking about is the war in Iraq, Chris.
MATTHEWS: So he will seek congressional approval before any action against Iran?
SNOW: You are talking about something we are not even discussing.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, but you are, Tony, because look at this. “I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.” Isn’t that about Iran?
SNOW: It, it — yeah, it is, in part, and what it is is it’s saying, look, we are going to make sure that anybody who tries to take aggressive action — but when Bill Clinton sent a carrier task force into the South China Sea after the North Koreans fired a missile over Japan, that was not as a prelude to war against North Korea. You know how it works.
MATTHEWS: No, I’m just concerned because, very much in the years, in the months building up to this war in Iraq, we heard a kind of a drumbeat of the dangers from Iraq and the nuclear weaponry and what we’re going to do about it, and then gradually we went to war. And I’m just wondering we’re looking here at the precursor for a rationale for an attack of some kind on — you say — I’ll take it at your word. If the president is not going to attack Iran, we’ll move on.
SNOW: Ok, but, let me just do a couple of things here. I think you understand and most Americans understand Iran is the foremost financier of global terror. It’s a problem. But you don’t deal with everything militarily, as you know. The United States exhausted all diplomatic options before going into Iraq, and I think what you’re doing if you’re trying to go down the road of speculation that is just way ahead of events. Right now, we’re working on making Iraq a success. One other thing about Iran, Chris. The Iranian public, most which of is young, is very pro-American. We got a lot of people —
MATTHEWS: Boy, do I agree with you on that. Completely agree with you. My concern is we’re gonna see a ginning up situation whereby we fall in hot pursuit any effort by the Iranians to interfere with Iraq. We take a couple shots at them, they react, then we bomb the hell out of them and hit their nuclear installations without any without any action by Congress. That’s the scenario I fear, an extra-constitutional war is what I’m worried about.
SNOW: Well, you have been watching too many old movies —
MATTHEWS: No, I’ve been watching the war in Iraq, is what I’ve been watching. As long as you say to me before we leave tonight that the president has to get approval from Congress before making war on Iran.
SNOW: Let me put it this way. The president understands you got to have public support for whatever you do. The reason we are talking to the American public about the high takes in Iraq and why it is absolutely vital to succeed is you’ve got to have public support, and the president certainly, whenever he’s taken major actions, he has gone before Congress.