Fast Chat: Close Listener

Chris Matthews tends to show little patience for politicians on TV, but as he writes in his new book, "Life's a Campaign," he's learned a lot from them. One of the big lessons? The power of listening. NEWSWEEK's Susannah Meadows took note.

I would not have expected you, the hostus interruptus of " Hardball, " to have an appreciation for listening.
It was the way Bill Clinton got girls, and he taught it to his wife as a way to get votes. Another one of these rich ironies. My mistake in the old days was drinking with girls and saying how great I was.

You write about your failed run for Congress when you were 28. Might you give it another go someday?
I would admire myself if I did.

That doesn ' t sound like a no.
Old dreams die hard. But I like doing what I do. I'm able to express myself without constituency worries, which make you boring.

Speaking of which, are there still heroes in politics?
I see a lot of confection. I watch a real pro, for example, Hillary Clinton. I watch how well she puts together political calculation. She leaves me impressed but not inspired.

Machiavelli is another person you ' ve learned from.
Lee Atwater told me to go read the Cliffs Notes of "The Prince." He says to inflict pain quickly. And inflict pleasure slowly.

So do you try to inflict pain quickly?
No, but I do give pleasure slowly.