MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Friday declared Sen. John McCain just an “angry” Vietnam veteran who’s having a “flashback” for his sharp questioning of defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel.

“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 to kicked off his show “Hardball.”

The Arizona Republican had a particularly tough exchange with Hagel during his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday over Hagel’s past criticism of the Iraq War surge, including once calling it the “most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.” McCain repeatedly demanded Hagel give a direct yes-or-no answer on whether he was correct in that characterization, which Hagel refused to do, saying he would “defer to the judgement of history.”

Matthews said Friday McCain harbored “a resentment not against the North Vietnamese who imprisoned and tortured 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 Hagel, a man who also fought in America’s “long nightmare in Vietnam.”

“A nightmare whose flashbacks must haunt still the mind and heart of John Sidney McCain,” Matthews said.

NewsBusters has a portion of Matthews’ remarks:

(h/t NewsBusters)