MSNBC host Chris Matthews indulged in a favorite hobby on Tuesday: making Democratic lawmakers uncomfortable by asking if their party is socialist.
Matthews reserved over a minute of a two-minute interview to question Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on the subject.
“What’s the difference between a socialist and a Democrat?” Matthews asked.
“Oh, it depends how you define each one, doesn’t it?” Schumer said.
“Well, you do it,” Matthews said with a fat grin.
“Well, I’m not going to get into it,” Schumer said with an equally fat—though probably strained—grin.
Matthews didn’t drop the subject without a fight.
“You guys are well-schooled in political language and nomenclature. You’re quite capable of defining the difference between a socialist, self-described and a Democrat self-described. What is it?” Matthews asked.
Schumer responded that he had nothing bad to say about his socialist colleague Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), but did not address the difference between a socialist and a Democrat.
Matthews seemed to think this omission was telling.
“You’ve told me so much. Whenever I hear you not speak, it teaches me a great deal,” Matthews said.
Sanders, a socialist, is polling in first place in the Democratic primary in two crucial early states. Americans as a whole tend to view socialism unfavorably.