I don’t think it’s necessary to give Matthews any benefit of the doubt here. I wondered about the same issue the anonymous e-mailer raised (1:56 pm posting), but it’s clear from your link that Matthews was talking about foreign enemies, not domestic rivals.
“The period between 9-11 and (invading) Iraq was not a good time for America. There wasn’t a robust discussion of what we were doing,” Matthews said.”If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we’ve given up. The person on the other side is not evil. They just have a different perspective.
“The smartest people understand the enemy’s point of view, because they understand what’s driving them.”
He said Bush squandered an opportunity to unite the world against terrorism and instead made decisions that built up worldwide animosity for his administration.
If the article accurately quotes Matthews, it is clear that he said “The smartest people . . .” immediately after “They just have a different perspective.” (There is no end-quote at the end of the first paragraph shown above, indicating that the same quotation continues into the second paragraph.) It seems clear that “the enemy” does not refer to domestic rivals, and thus, “The person on the other side is not evil” is a statement about our foreign enemies (i.e., the Jihadists).