Responding to Sen. John McCain's questioning of Chuck Hagel, MSNBC's Chris Matthews said Friday that the Arizona Republican is an angry Vietnam veteran suffering from "flashbacks," The Blaze reported.
“Why is John McCain so angry? Forty years after the Vietnam POWs came home, the most famous of them is angrier than ever,” Matthews said.
On Thursday, McCain had what Madeleine Morgenstern described as a "particularly tough exchange" with Hagel over his criticism of the Iraq War surge, which he once described as the “most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”
McCain asked Hagel if he felt that he was correct about that characterization and demanded a yes or no answer to his question.
Hagel refused to answer, saying he would “defer to the judgement of history.”
On Friday, Matthews promised to "dig into the deep well of resentment burning in John McCain's patriotic heart."
"A resentment not against the North Vietnamese who imprisoned and toured him all those years, not against George W. Bush and his political henchmen who tried to stain McCain's reputation back in 2000, but against a guy who fought against fear and rallied against wounds just like he did in the same army of America's long nightmare in Vietnam, Chuck Hagel," he added.
"A nightmare by the way whose flashbacks must haunt still the mind and heart of John Sidney McCain," Matthews said.
Matthews went on to say that he was "absolutely convinced" McCain was suffering from a flashback, and repeated the allegation later in the program.
Newsbusters' Scott Whitlock took Matthews to task for his comments.
"Considering how Matthews rails against the birther movement, it's shocking that he would turn around and engage in such cheap, paranoid attacks on a Vietnam veteran," Whitlock wrote.
Hagel, who is President Obama's pick to be Secretary of Defense, faced off against Senators this week in a fiery confirmation hearing that focused on several controversial statements made by the nominee.
Despite the controversy, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday he would be "stunned" if Republican senators blocked his nomination, Fox News said.