Guests: John Murtha, Stansfield Turner, Bob Shrum, Christopher Hitchens, Maureen Dowd
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: The battle for the hearts and minds of America. Who cares more about the troops, the combat vet on Capitol Hill calling for them to come home, or the vice president who want to keep them in Iraq?
Tonight, the man who might just have pushed the country past the tipping point on the war, Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha.
Plus, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald signals that his investigation is not over yet. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews.
Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush led the administration‘s fight last week, when he attacked critics of the Iraq war and its intelligence. Vice President Dick Cheney this week called charges that the administration misled Americans into war quote, “the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city,” close quote.
But the big bomb dropped Thursday, when Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha shook the Capitol when called for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Republicans went on the attack; the Democrats ran for cover. We‘ll talk to Congressman Murtha in just a minute, and later talk to “New York Times” columnist Maureen Dowd.
But first the latest on the warfare in Washington over Iraq from HARDBALL‘s David Shuster.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vietnam combat veteran and a huge Pentagon supporter who voted to authorize the war in Iraq, he also rarely rocks the political boat. But after a week of the Bush administration‘s campaign against war opponents and their alleged motives ...
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war.
SHUSTER: Murtha, in an emotional news conference, not only called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, but he referred to the president‘s politicking on Veterans Day and the vice president‘s five military deferments.
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I like guys who have never been there to criticize us who have been there, I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don‘t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.
I resent the fact on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them. This is a flawed policy, wrapped in an illusion. The American public knows it.
SHUSTER: The White House immediately pounced on Murtha, with the presidential press secretary comparing the lawmaker to left-wing activist Michael Moore. One Republican suggested Murtha and other Democrats are siding with terrorists.
REP. GEOFF DAVID ®, KENTUCKY: And what they have done is cooperated with our enemies and are emboldening our enemies.
SHUSTER: And House Speaker Dennis Hastert accused Murtha of delivering quote, “the highest insult to the American troops.”
Today, Senator John Kerry took the Senate floor and pointed to the Murtha attacks.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It‘s wrong. He served heroically in uniform. He served heroically for our country. And have we lost all civility and all common sense here?
SHUSTER: Meanwhile, at the Pentagon today, the Department of Defense tried to argue against the substance of Murtha‘s proposal, by delivering via satellite a commander from Iraq who said the mission is not over. But the colonel seemed at first blissfully unaware about insurgent bombs in Iraq that today killed nearly 100 people.
COL. JAMES BROWN, COMMANDER, 56th BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, it‘s a beautiful day in the free nation of Iraq.
Against all of this, the argument over what to do now in Iraq continues to mix in with the debate over bogus intelligence claims made before the war.
GEORGE W, BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Democrats say that I deliberately misled the Congress and the people, that‘s irresponsible. They looked at the same intelligence I did.
SHUSTER: Democrats said the White House repeatedly publicly exaggerated those claims, including when Vice President Cheney alleged that an Iraqi intelligence officer had met with a 9/11 hijacker.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: So the intelligence provided to the
administration said that the most reliable reporting cast doubt on the
meeting that the vice president was consistently saying we have a report
of. Of course there was a report. The report was not believed by the CIA
SHUSTER: On Monday, Vice President Cheney is scheduled to give a speech here in Washington at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. And, Chris, the topic is scheduled to be the war on Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Cheney‘s role here. Why is he attacking people across the board? I‘ve never seen him so obviously partisan, going after Democrats.
SHUSTER: Well, clearly, Chris the heat is on the administration because of the CIA leak case and vice president believes that at least as far as the charge that the administration deliberately misled the country, this is part of the effort to strike back.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s talk about the CIA leak story itself. The vice president‘s chief of staff is facing 30 years right now. What‘s the latest?
SHUSTER: Well, Chris, today prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was actually in court arguing with the media about what documents they would get—pretrial documents related to the Libby case. And in the course of filing some documents, the prosecutor indicated that in fact the investigation continues and it will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury that indicted Libby.
So there‘s a new grand jury. And for any indication, a window, into how the prosecutor Fitzgerald operates, Chris, I would point you to the fact that he indicted Conrad Black, the British media tycoon yesterday. That was an investigation that started three months ago with Black‘s righthand man being indicted. A month later the righthand man, David Radler, pled guilty. Two months after that you get the indictment yesterday in Chicago.
MATTHEWS: So we see the two-step. He hits the number two guy, he squeezes him and gets the top guy?
SHUSTER: That‘s absolutely right.
MATTHEWS: So the vice president may well be in the crosshairs here?
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, David Shuster.
Now to the Vietnam combat vet from Pennsylvania, the U.S. Congressman who started the political firestorm over the Iraq war—U.S. Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Murtha, I‘ve known you for years, I really like you, but you‘ve always been a hawk. You‘ve always been a defense defender, big defense spending, big support for the Pentagon, known as the soldiers‘ friend.
Why are you against the war in Iraq now?
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I‘ve come to the conclusion, Chris, after visiting Iraq two months ago and listening to the commanders who say obviously what the White House wants them to say—but they don‘t say it with the enthusiasm.
And they talk about the problems they have—for instance, they told me that every convoy is attacked that goes to Haditha. And I was in Anbar province, which has Fallujah and Ramadi and the areas where they‘re highly contested.
He doesn‘t have enough troops to protect the border, so he can‘t complete his mission because he doesn‘t have enough people.
He told me none of the Iraqis were up to where they should be. All of them were C-3, which is the lowest state of readiness for the Iraqi units. And he says they only work three weeks out of the month and they go home for a week.
Then I came home and I looked at the report which we required in the Appropriations Committee, and that showed no significant progress at all. For instance, unemployment is 60 percent. Energy is below prewar level.
Oil production is below prewar level. And we‘ve become the enemy.
I saw a British poll reported in the Washington Times that said 80 percent of the Iraqis want us out of there. Then I saw a poll, which was confirmed by the Defense Department, 45 percent think it‘s justified to attack Americans.
Now I‘m convinced, until we turn this over to the Iraqis, we‘re not going to have the success we need. I‘m convinced since we‘ve become the enemy, I‘m convinced since the U.S. is doing all the fighting or doing most of the fighting, that we‘re not going to be successful.
The Iraqis are not going to tell the U.S. people where the insurgents are. There‘s not a great number of insurgents there. There was no terrorism before we went there. And I‘m convinced terrorism will be reduced if we redeploy our forces.
Now, a lot of people are saying, “Pull out.” They‘ve got a resolution on the floor today—a ridiculous resolution—which calls for an immediate pullout.
No Democrat is going to vote for that. That‘s not what we‘re saying. We have what I feel is a very constructive resolution which gives a good proposal about how this war can be ended in a favorable way.
These troops have done a hell of a job. Chris, I go out to the hospital almost every week and I see these young men and women who suffer. I see them asking for nothing. I see them not complaining. I see them actually bearing up very well under the burden.
One young woman from Notre Dame, a basketball player, lost her right hand. She is worried about her husband, because her husband was losing weight worrying about her.
Another young fellow that lost both his hands and was blinded, and the only thing the family asked for that he get a Purple Heart. And the reason he wasn‘t getting a Purple Heart, because this happened with friendly ammunition.
He got his Purple Heart.
But I find out a lot from the troops that are in the hospitals. I find out what‘s need. They don‘t complain.
Only the Congress of the United States can speak for the soldiers. I think we need to change direction in Iraq. I think we need to redeploy our troops beyond the horizon.
This resolution they‘re going to introduce today calls for immediate withdrawal. That‘s not what anybody is saying. We need a thoughtful suggestion, a thoughtful resolution, which concludes this war as quickly as possible.
I see no progress at all that‘s being made. So I came to the conclusion, after almost a year of thought, that it had to be changed.
Now, we provide everything the troops needed. We‘ve made sure they had all the equipment they needed.
When though they went into this war with not enough people for the transition to peace, they come into it with less than the number of people they needed, and also they came in without the body armor they needed, the up-armored Humvee.
They completely miscalculated the degree of resistance they would run into. State Department told them, CIA told them—they ignored that.
The former plan called for a lot more troops and they whittled it down because they thought they could win this thing on the cheap. They said oil would pay for this.
Now let‘s compare this with his father. His father had a legitimate coalition. He had 500,000 with 100,000 coalition troops. $60 billion—and I was chairman of the committee at the time—went through our committee, was paid for by the international community. Japan, Germany, France—all of these other countries helped pay for it.
He decided not to go into Iraq. He liberated Kuwait with the U.N. resolution and he decided, “I‘m not going to go into Iraq.” Why? He didn‘t want to rebuild it. He didn‘t want it reconstruct it and he didn‘t want to occupy it. He had an exit strategy.
There is no exit strategy. The path to victory—victory is not a strategy.
I sent a letter to the White House, Chris, in September of last year and I got an answer in May, saying what I suggested they ought to do.
They don‘t reach out. His dad reached out to everybody, reached out to Republicans and Democrats.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve only got a minute, Congressman. I‘ve got to ask you one last question. When you say “redeploy beyond the horizon” rather than pull out, does that mean pull our troops back from the cities into camps, into barracks? What does it mean, actually?
MURTHA: No, Chris, what I‘m saying is redeploy them outside Iraq.
Let the Iraqis take over. Give them the incentive to run their own country
because they‘re not going to run their own country as long as we‘re doing it for them.
You notice that every person that was elected to the United States was for lost. And so I‘m convinced we need to redeploy outside the country as quickly as practicable and safe for the troops.
MATTHEWS: How is that different than what the Republicans are pushing as this kind of bogus resolution they‘re pushing today?
MURTHA: It‘s ridiculous. It‘s an immediate withdrawal without any kind of a plan at all. All they‘re trying to do is prove to the American people a political message.
MATTHEWS: Is this some Mickey Mouse trick? How would you describe that resolution?
MURTHA: This is exactly what it is. And it‘s infuriating to me that after a year of study, after almost 25 years on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, with a really thoughtful resolution, they‘re not willing to have hearings, they‘re not willing to think about this or talk.
I‘ve had members come to me all day long and say, “I like your resolution, I‘m not there yet,” “I‘m not sure what I want to do”—
Republicans and Democrats.
I‘ve got overwhelming support. The public‘s way ahead off us on this, Chris. The public is saying to me, “I agree with you.” But the members want to think about it.
And for them to bring up a resolution today just to discredit what I‘ve done is really reprehensible.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, have a nice weekend, sir. Thank you for coming on.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, former CIA Director Stansfield Turner says he‘s embarrassed the United States, has what he calls, a vice president for torture. We‘ll talk to Admiral Turner after the break.
And later on the program, “New York Times” columnist Maureen Dowd will be here. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, President Bush says this country does not torture prisoners.
A former director of the CIA thinks otherwise. Stansfield Turner ran the Central Intelligence Agency from 1977 to 1981, and not only says he doesn‘t believe the president, he‘s calling Dick Cheney, the vice president for torture.
Admiral Turner‘s new book is called “Burn Before Reading.” Admiral Turner is with us this evening to tell us why.
Burn before reading that‘s what you say when you give a document to somebody. Actually, you wouldn‘t say that. They wouldn‘t have value. What does burn before reading mean? Don‘t do it?
STANSFIELD TURNER, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: It just means you‘re so sensitive, you just can‘t afford to read it. You‘ve got to burn it first. It‘s a joke.
MATTHEWS: When you were CIA director, when you were DCI, as they say, did you know of any torture going on?
TURNER: No, I did not.
MATTHEWS: What do we do when we catch a guy—Alan Dershowitz, the professor at Harvard talks about, OK, you catch a guy like Moussaoui, the guy, who is out in Minnesota. The FBI picks him up. He is trying to learn how to fly a 747, but he doesn‘t want to land it. So you know something‘s up.
If you know that information and something‘s coming horrible, what do you do to the guy?
TURNER: Well, you interrogate him through all the legal means that you can where they are short of torture. You don‘t want to torture him. Because, first of all, you may not get the right answer, anyway. You‘re likely to get what the tortured person thinks you want to hear.
But beyond that, we‘ve got to remember that our basic moral values are important to the country. Our standing in the world is important.
And as a military person, I agree with Senator McCain of military person, that you don‘t want to expose future military people, who may become captives to being tortured on the grounds that the United States does it, why shouldn‘t we torture?
MATTHEWS: But, we know that over in the Mideast there are people who have been beheading journalists. Beheading people just for show because it‘s graphic, and it‘s horrible to us. And they do it already.
TURNER: Well, of course lots of people are inhumane. But that doesn‘t mean that we should be inhumane. And it doesn‘t mean that if we‘re inhumane, it won‘t encourage others to be inhumane to our prisoners.
MATTHEWS: Let me get back to this thing, you said you don‘t count on the credibility of a tortured person‘s testimony. But it seems to me if they know they‘re going to get three squares as day and a warm bed that night, they‘re not going to tell you nothing.
MATTHEWS: And why would you tell somebody anything, if you knew they couldn‘t hurt you?
TURNER: There are wonderful psychological approaches to inducing people to say things that they even don‘t want to say. And I think that‘s the way we‘ve got to go. And we‘ve got to limit ourselves to that, rather than to torture.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think Vice President Dick Cheney is out there campaigning against Senator John McCain‘s measure?
Senator McCain‘s measure would say the United States cannot use cruel or inhumane, I think is the term, or degrading treatments of people. Why is the vice president want the option of doing those things?
TURNER: I think the vice president is catering to this idea that there‘s a hypothetical possibility that this is some person has great information that we want. And you‘ll get it by torture.
MATTHEWS: Is he catering Porter, his guy over at the CIA, Porter Goss, the guy they put over there?
TURNER: I don‘t know that. I have no indication of that.
MATTHEWS: Like is he carrying water for the CIA? Who else is he carrying water for...
TURNER: Well, I think...
MATTHEWS: ...for himself?
I mean, what‘s going on here? When a vice president takes on a legislative track here, and he‘s says, I‘m going to go out and fight for something. He must have somebody in that agency saying we need this authority. Doesn‘t he?
TURNER: Very possible that it may be his own personal idea of the situation. I think that the vice president has added a lot of confusion to the picture.
You have a president saying we don‘t torture. You have a Senator saying we want to pass a law that we won‘t torture. And you have a vice president saying let‘s not do that, we want to retain the option of torture.
It puts us in a terrible spot in the world.
MATTHEWS: What do we do in war? I mean, we catch a guy in Vietnam, a north Vietnamese or a V.C. guy, and you‘re in battlefield conditions and you don‘t know where the enemy‘s deployed in the jungle. They could be around the corner.
We‘ve all, you know, I think we‘ve seen these pictures of guys putting, you know, garden hoses in somebody‘s mouth. Practically drowning, if not drowning them. You hear stories of people being thrown out of helicopters that don‘t talk. Did that go on?
TURNER: Oh, I think a lot of that went on. Just look at Senator McCain. He was tortured.
MATTHEWS: I mean by our side. I‘m talking about the good guys doing this.
TURNER: Oh, our people doing that? I don‘t know for a fact that that went on. But I suspect that it did.
And that‘s one reason that we can‘t equivocate on this. We can‘t have a vice president saying, maybe we should use torture. Because that encourages somebody in the field to go ahead and put that hose in somebody‘s mouth.
MATTHEWS: What is torture? I was here and I‘m just a civilian. Luckily, I‘ve never been exposed to this at either end of this torture game. But, it seems to me, torture means it hurts real bad. It ain‘t complicated. It hurts real bad.
Now there‘s other terms for torture. Apparently, there‘s medicines that, you can use sodium pentathol. You can completely confuse a person about their situation. You know, put up phony backdrops around them, make them think it‘s three years later. All those tricks. Those are all about that, right?
MATTHEWS: Those mental tricks?
TURNER: Yes, there are very fine lines here that are drawn out in legal statutes.
MATTHEWS: What about sleep deprivation?
TURNER: I think that‘s not torture in itself.
MATTHEWS: How about the lights never go off?
TURNER: Well, I think that‘s...
MATTHEWS: ... how about you don‘t have any clothes for weeks at a time? I‘m serious, what is torture?
TURNER: It is not torture to deprive somebody of sleep, in my opinion.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much. It‘s great to, it‘s an honor to have you on. It‘s former DCI, former director of the central intelligence agency, Admiral Stansfield Turner. When we return—what‘s the name of your book?
TURNER: Burn before reading.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a great book.
When we return, the House debate over whether troops should be pulled out of Iraq or not. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JEAN SCHMIDT ®, OHIO: A few minutes ago, I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message. Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message—that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body, that we will see this through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was the fiery debate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives late this afternoon, as the fallout over Congressman Jack Murtha‘s comments to redeploy troops in Iraq heats up.
NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell is with us now.
Cowards run? That sounds like interesting material.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You‘re talking about a decorated Marine. He served in Vietnam. Bronze star, purple hearts, this is one of the most extraordinary moments in this war debate.
Because John Murtha, coming out against the war, saying that it is time to withdraw, in a proper way, led many people on both sides of the aisle to realize that it could be a turning point.
If the president is going to lose John Murtha, who is one of his best allies on this war, a big defense spender, and long-time Pentagon spokesman, that means that the uniform services, the uniform military, many of the generals who speak to John Murtha all the time—this is a man who goes to Walter Reed as often as anyone—that basically, the uniform guys are saying this to him and are afraid to say it to Don Rumsfeld.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s a lot going on. Last Friday, the president unloaded on the Democrats, saying that their attack on the administration policy and on the credibility of pre-war intel has hurt the fighting effort over there.
You‘ve got the vice president coming out this week, basically doing the same. You‘ve got the Republicans in the U.S. Senate this week, taking sides with the Democrats, more or less, with trying to move the war along a bit.
Now you‘ve got the Congressman from Pennsylvania, Jack Murtha, a long-time hawk, coming out and saying he wants the troops moved out pretty much pronto. What‘s changed in the last week to cause this escalation in the debate?
MITCHELL: Well, first of all, the Republicans believe that the Democrats were beginning to achieve some purchase. And we saw it in our own polls.
When they saw those poll numbers, last week in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll and then some of the polls that followed, they realized that they were losing the political ground, and they wanted the president to regain the initiative to let Karl Rove be Karl Rove.
The president came out last week, then Dick Cheney. And you saw very tough rhetoric. Calling the Democrats irresponsible. They believe the conservative base, wanted to be fed. They wanted that red meat.
And they believed that they could put the Democrats on the defensive. And they‘re doing it with daily blogs, with news releases, with all sorts of alleged...
MATTHEWS: ... does it work? Are they going to shut up the Democratic critics with this—fuse a lot of attack?
MITCHELL: The Democrats believe that they actually have the pulse of the country on their side. John Kerry and others were on the floor today and were defending John Murtha, because here they have as a poster child for their argument. Not some liberal from Massachusetts, but a guy from, you know, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. A rank-and-file labor guy from a working-class area, who has been a lifelong supporter of the military.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the key, isn‘t it? It‘s not Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco or somebody from Cambridge, Mass., one of the elite coastal communities. But it‘s from somebody in the industrial heartland.
MITCHELL: And what they‘re doing now is a pretty meaningless debate. It‘s a debate over whether to withdraw immediately. They‘re sort of, calling his bluff. Everyone knows it will go down.
But they‘re having this very, very passionate debate, basically over nothing. It‘s a real Seinfeld debate. But just to try to put Murtha on the spot.
MATTHEWS: And the question is whether Jean Schmidt‘s going to have her words taken down, right, for making an attack on another member.
MITCHELL: Because the rules say, as you know very well, you‘re not allowed to attack a member by name.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘ll see. My bet is that she‘s going to have her words taken down.
Thank you very much, Andrea Mitchell. Up next, much more on the fighting words in Washington as the death toll in Iraq mounts. War critics and supporters both confront each other over the exit strategy.
And later, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd will join us. Her new book is called, “Are men necessary?”
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
The war in Iraq has now sparked a war in Washington, especially in the house of representatives with Democrats and Republicans at each other‘s throats.
But what does the increasing vitriol mean for the troops in Iraq? And for both political parties, Bob Shrum is a HARDBALL political analyst. Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for “Vanity Fair.”
Let me ask you, Christopher. In the House of Representatives this evening there was a battle royal over Jack Murtha, the congressman from Pennsylvania‘s proposal that we redeploy our troops out of Iraq now.
Where does this debate stand?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, VANITY FAIR: Well, he‘s been accused, I think cheaply of stabbing our boys in the back and all that. I think people should just be very sober about it.
They should know that the enemy says, bin Laden says, Zarqawi says, they‘ve been saying for years, the United States can‘t take it. It won‘t fight. It won‘t stand. It won‘t take casualties, that‘s why we‘ll win in the end.
People can look at that, and they can decide, they don‘t care. Or they can look at it and say, well, we don‘t want to prove them right. Or they can say, that well, we‘re helping them by resisting them, which I think some people actually believe possibly.
MATTHEWS: Helping whom?
HITCHENS: It‘s argued by some people that resisting the bin Ladenism and Zarqawiism makes it stronger. That we make them angry.
MATTHEWS: By going into war?
MATTHEWS: Going into that part of the world?
HITCHENS: I mean, I think it‘s a preposterous belief, but a lot of people seem to hold it. I suspect the congressman does.
I say that because I can‘t make sense of anything he actually said.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Bob Shrum.
Your view, Jack Murtha is a pretty traditional Democrat, a bread-and-butter, working wages Democrat from Western Pennsylvania. He‘s normally seen as a hawk, a pro Pentagon, pro soldier.
He‘s called now for almost immediate withdrawal. He calls it a redeployment, but it‘s definitely get our troops out of Iraq. Where does that take us now, Bob?
BOB SHRUM, HARDBALL POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, of course, General Casey, who is in Iraq, holds what Christopher says is the preposterous belief that our troop presence there and the size of our troop presence actually feeds the insurgency.
I think that‘s what Jack Murtha‘s worried about. I think he‘s talking to generals in the Pentagon, who are telling them that our army is being very badly hurt by this, being depleted and leaving us in a position where we can‘t do the kinds of things we have to do, to go fight Osama bin Laden.
I think those are serious issues. And I think we ought to tell the Iraqis, that whether it‘s six months or a year, a year and a half, we‘re leaving. And they‘re going to have to do the job themselves.
Otherwise, we‘re in an indefinite safety net for them squabbling for political advantage and control of oil.
HITCHENS: When do we ever stop telling them that? When does the president ever stop saying it?
SHRUM: The president has never started...
HITCHENS: And when does the secretary of defense ever stop saying that?
The other day, President Talabani was in town...
SHRUM: Christopher, I‘m actually willing to answer your question, if you want to pause, otherwise you can ask another one.
HITCHENS: I didn‘t quite get that there.
SHRUM: The fact is the president has never told the Iraqis that we‘re leaving. He has said, we will stay as long as it takes. And as long as it takes for them, can be that we are their permanent protection.
They‘ve got to protect themselves. What do you say to General Casey, the American commander there, who says, we are causing and feeding this insurrection?
HITCHENS: Since day one of this, people have been talking about an exit strategy. And the president has not been absent from that discussion.
President Talabani was in Washington, not long ago, the first elected president of Iraq, and appeared to say that he wouldn‘t mind American troops leaving sooner than had been suggested. He just wouldn‘t want to put a date on it.
You don‘t want to tell Mr. Zarqawi when there will be no more Americans.
MATTHEWS: OK. Nothing said here, Bob and Christopher—nothing said here is official. So you can discuss this issue as a policy question. No one‘s going to hear what we say here now, and say, oh, the Americans are bugging out.
When do you think, Christopher, an appropriate time, a rough estimate of how long we should stay there in strength?
HITCHENS: Oh, well...
MATTHEWS: Two years or three years?
HITCHENS: My opinion about the entire thing is different. I don‘t think there‘s any such thing as over there and over here.
MATTHEWS: No, how long should we keep 130,000 troops in Iraq?
HITCHENS: I don‘t accept the ground rules of the question. I think that Afghanistan, Iraq, downtown New York, the London underground, the Parisian suburbs, the Jordanian Capitol, the bombs in Madrid...
MATTHEWS: Right, yes, but how long should we keep troops in Iraq?
HITCHENS: I‘m saying, I don‘t think that‘s the right question.
MATTHEWS: Well I have to ask the question, if you give me the answers.
HITCHENS: I know you do because everybody thinks that. I‘m saying that there‘s no such thing as over there and over here any more.
MATTHEWS: This is what‘s driving regular people in this country I think to distraction.
HITCHENS: You have to understand, it‘s a long war on many fronts.
MATTHEWS: That‘s right. That‘s right. So you go with General Casey, when he said it could be a nine-year on average, counter insurgency?
HITCHENS: Oh, look. I believe this war will be going on until I‘m dead.
MATTHEWS: The war in Iraq?
HITCHENS: The war of fundamentalists Islam against civilization will probably be going on when I‘m dead. I‘m not in favor of surrendering to it. In case you didn‘t ask, but I‘m not.
I don‘t believe one can avoid the fact, because it‘s unavoidable. It‘s been brought to our own cities and our own societies. I don‘t blame the administration for the fact that this war is going on. I‘m unusual in that way too.
And I don‘t think that fighting these people makes them stronger. I think it makes them weaker as Afghanistan has shown, and as Iraq will show if we stay with it.
The insurgency in Iraq are in a militarily impossible position. They cannot possibly win this war.
SHRUM: Christopher, I think you believe...
HITCHENS: Unless, the United States decides it‘s not worth fighting.
SHRUM: Christopher, you believe in the power of convoluted assertion. You have to answer General Casey‘s proposition that our presence there actually feeds the insurgency and makes it more difficult.
And I would remind you, by the way, that it was not Iraq that brought this conflict to the streets of America. It was Osama bin Laden. You‘re making the same mistake George Bush did.
In fact, you moved from being way to the left of me, to being to the right of Dick Cheney, who is not even making an argument now that we need to stay forever.
HITCHENS: It‘s not a matter of staying in Iraq forever. It‘s a matter of recognizing that...
SHRUM: Well, how long would you stay in Iraq? How long would you stay in Iraq?
HITCHENS: Until the insurgency has been definitely humiliatingly crushed.
SHRUM: Do you have any idea how long it will take? Or are you like Bush? We just stay and stay and stay and the Iraqis don‘t have to assume the burden themselves?
HITCHENS: When I say—Mr. Shrum, when I say ...
SHRUM: Mr. Hitchens, OK.
MATTHEWS: We only have a second left. I think we‘re out of time.
HITCHENS: Until this—until a major country has seen ...
MATTHEWS: I think we learned a lot here.
HITCHENS: A major defeat for this kind of insurgency, of course there‘s no giving up.
MATTHEWS: Hey, thank you.
HITCHENS: It only replaces the ...
MATTHEWS: We‘re a live program, and we‘re about to be not live.
Thank you, Bob Shrum.
SHRUM: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you Chris Hitchens of “Vanity Fair.”
Up next, are men necessary? That‘s the title of a new “New York Times” book by columnist Maureen Dowd. It‘s out on the shelves now. Join us in a minute to talk with her. You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Maureen Dowd is a long-time columnist for the “New York Times” and the author of a new book, “Are Men Necessary.” You raise an odd question, Maureen. Well? are they?
MAUREEN DOWD, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, you‘re not necessary in the way you used to be, in terms of reproduction and refinance. But you are going to be necessary as diversion, indulgence, comic relief. It would be much more pleasant.
MATTHEWS: So our gender is now in the entertainment business?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this war that‘s going on in Washington about this leak case. Do you find it odd—I can‘t remember of a case like it, where gender was involved. They didn‘t like this former diplomat who came back from Africa. So somebody or other—we know some of the names already—decide to nail her and ruin her career, apparently, out her, if you will. That‘s out of the mob, that kind of stuff, isn‘t it?
DOWD: Exactly, it‘s disgusting.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll get your family.
DOWD: Yes, it‘s disgusting.
MATTHEWS: And? What‘s it tell us about today?
DOWD: Well, I think that, you know, they shouldn‘t have done it. And but they had to do a little scam to protect their big scam.
MATTHEWS: You know, in the old days we were told—back in the days when I was working for Tip O‘Neill, we were going to do something funny one night about Nancy Reagan, just a funny thing about the China—you‘ve written about that stuff in the old days. And he said, don‘t ever do anything like that. I‘m not funny if it‘s about the family. You‘ve got to be real careful about family members, not even kidding around about it.
DOWD: Right. I agree with him.
MATTHEWS: Those days are over then. Now we go for the family.
MATTHEWS: It‘s like Pentangeli in “Godfather II,” right? We‘ll take care of your family if you commit suicide, that kind of stuff?
DOWD: All of the answers are in “Godfather” and “Seinfeld.”
MATTHEWS: Katherine Hepburn once said—it was in an old Dick Cavett interview, and I thought it was fascinating. She said—was an independent woman, she wore pants. She never really stayed married with anybody. She had a lot of friends like Spencer Tracy and John Force. And she said, “a woman today can have anything she wants, but she can‘t have it all.”
DOWD: Well, I do think young women today are a little bit thinking that the baby boomer women, it was too much of a grind. They tried to have it all, and it was little too hard and I think they‘re sort of stepping back from that, and trying to have more by trying to work a little less hard, or maybe realizing that one partner has to revolve around the other a little more than they might have thought in the beginning.
MATTHEWS: You mean, are they going on what‘s called the mommy track?
DOWD: Well not necessarily. It could be the man revolving around the woman, but that something has to give, that—I think we were all suckered a little bit, by the Hepburn-Tracy movies and this sparring and totally equal careers. And sparring and that that what would be what would fascinate men. And in the end, I think, some men find it a little draining.
I mean, look at—you and I love movies, right? Let‘s just look at it through the prism of how movies shape popular culture. What is the movie now that has the most equal sparing relationship? “Pride and Prejudice.” I mean, they‘re not writing modern movies, you know, in the old Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy way.
Modern movies are more like J. Lo ...
DOWD: ... “Shopgirl,” J. Lo with a maid, “Spanglish” where the maid is the heroine or a maid who doesn‘t speak English. Steve Martin in “Shopgirl” calls it the, you know, “calm cushion of acceptance between unequals.”
MATTHEWS: But men would normally want to have a woman who was easier to take.
DOWD: Well not all men. But maybe more men than the feminists thought, you know, when they started.
MATTHEWS: Do you think if you met a guy socially and you said to him, you know, he doesn‘t know you from being in the “New York Times,” and you said, well, yes, I work at a law firm, I‘m a legal secretary.
And would he find that more appealing than if you said, yes, I‘m a partner. I‘m up for managing partner, in fact? Do you think you would with have a better chance of this guy being nice to you and showing an interest in you?
DOWD: Well, the book isn‘t really about me.
MATTHEWS: Would a person—would a person like—that I just described who had a job that wasn‘t at the top of the food chain, as opposed to a person who did, be less threatening to the male?
DOWD: Well, it depends on the male. But ...
MATTHEWS: The kind of guys you would like? How would they react?
DOWD: It‘s not a memoir, I promise. No one is going to want it if it‘s about me, believe me.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m just quoting it, because I think the theme of your book, from everybody and what I‘ve read, it‘s basically that women who are as competitive as men are in their careers are formidable and that can be a negative.
DOWD: Well that‘s only one—a few paragraphs of the book, actually.
But it can also be a positive. You just have to find the right guys.
MATTHEWS: OK, why are we making movies about a women as president, but the real booming pictures of this year, the one that‘s really catching on is “Commander-in-Chief” with Geena Davis?
MATTHEWS: Is that credible for most people? Or is just a fantasy, the idea of actually having a woman president.
DOWD: Well, Ann Richards ...
MATTHEWS: The former governor.
DOWD: I was in Texas last night—yes—and Ann Richards is thinking that “Commander-in-Chief” actually will help lay the groundwork for a female president. And, of course, everybody is salivating for a Hillary-Condi race because they would be more manly than recent Democratic candidates for president.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Condi Rice would be nominated by the Republican party?
DOWD: I‘ve heard recently that she is interested because when people
you don‘t think so? Because I think when people are told ...
MATTHEWS: She‘s not a politician.
DOWD: But I think when people are told they can be president, it gets in their blood like a virus.
MATTHEWS: I think Hillary‘s got a great chance at the Democratic nomination. I don‘t know if she has a great chance for winning the presidential election. I think it‘s a very uphill battle for her. If we have a depression in the year 2008, anything goes.
But, I think it‘s very tough for her to carry states like Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and Illinois. States where men have guns and attitudes about women. I just don‘t think they‘re open to the idea yet.
DOWD: She got one Southern man, but can she get millions of others?
MATTHEWS: I think if Giuliani runs against Hillary, look out, Hillary. But if McCain runs against her, he‘ll win.
DOWD: That‘s what I think, too.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll be right back with Maureen Dowd.
And a reminder, the political debate is ongoing on Hardblogger, our political blog Web site. And you can now download Pod casts of HARDBALL. Just go to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
We‘re talking to Maureen Dowd, author of “Are men necessary?”
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, author of “Are men necessary?” Maureen is, by the way, a fascinating columnist. Is power an aphrodisiac?
DOWD: For men, yes.
MATTHEWS: They like having it. Women are attracted to it?
DOWD: Although, a lot of men at the Times found Hillary‘s power an aphrodisiac when she‘d come to editorial board lunches.
MATTHEWS: They went for it.
DOWD: Yes, Arthur Sulzberger seem quite fascinated with her.
MATTHEWS: You write for The New York Times and therefore, you know a lot about New York. And I want to ask you this about Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton up close can be very nice, very easy to deal with. She‘s funny, she seems to have a sense of humor. She seems OK.
She gets behind a microphone, however, and you get the stridency and the “I know it all and I‘m lecturing you on everything.”
Why do women politicians tend to be—there are a couple of people like that. She‘s one of them. Why?
DOWD: I agree with you. If you have dinner with her, she has a real sense of humor and James Carville has talked about how funny she is. But she is unable to convey that, in a way. But, it‘s like Al Gore. If you were privately having dinner with him, he had a good sense of humor. But he couldn‘t convey it. They just get very stiff.
MATTHEWS: What does the microphone do to people like that?
DOWD: They just can‘t do it. It‘s the opposite of Clinton, who comes alive with the microphone.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know, I think it‘s a little weird. Because a person who‘s able to be charming and fun in person to actually listen. And then they get behind the microphone. All they can do is lecture. And if I were voting, I‘d vote on the basis of how they behaved behind the microphone, because that‘s the way they look at the country.
“I‘m here to lecture you, to tell you the truth. Here‘s how we deal with health care, big government, big programs. Take it or leave it.” And people left it. I would go by the private charm, would you?
DOWD: Well, did see the quote in my book by Leon Wieseltier where he says Hillary is like the housewife from hell, who is just going to nag you, and nag you, and nag you, until you make her president?
MATTHEWS: But, she‘s only going to get one chance. The book, “How to win friends and influence people,” says that you shouldn‘t criticize.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that?
DOWD: Well, so does the Pope. The Pope says that you shouldn‘t be in an adversarial position to men if you‘re a woman.
MATTHEWS: When men get in that voting booth, in the year 2008, in the primaries. It looks like Hillary will probably run for president. And they get in those booths, New Hampshire, early on, South Carolina. Do you think they‘re going to lie and say, “I‘ll vote for the woman” to the pollster. But they get in that booth and vote for that male?
DOWD: Yes, to a certain extent, because we don‘t even have a female network anchor. So, how are we going to have a female president?
MATTHEWS: Well, why do people keep saying they‘ll vote for her in the primary. She‘s got 47 percent.
DOWD: Well, you know how polls are. It‘s how people like to think of themselves.
MATTHEWS: Is it like African Americans when they say that white people say they‘re going to vote for somebody like Doug Wadden and they get in the booth and they don‘t do it?
Or Bradley, Tom Bradley, the former police chief of Los Angeles?
Twice, led in the polling for governor of California and lost both times. Why do people say the right thing, at least what they think is the right thing, and then do the other thing?
DOWD: I don‘t know. Even David Geffen, who is one of Clinton‘s biggest supporters, says it would be a disaster if Hillary runs for the Democrat.
MATTHEWS: Because he thinks men won‘t vote for her.
DOWD: Well, he just thinks that she‘s all about ambition and that people see that in her and don‘t like it. That can also happen with a man, though.
MATTHEWS: Is there a Democratic party death wish? If you look at the candidates, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry. All these candidates seem to be a little stiffer than most people. A little colder, a little more remote, a little more elite. And the Republicans seem to pick people for better or worse, that seem more regular, like Reagan and Bush.
DOWD: Or they‘re able to pretend they‘re more regular.
MATTHEWS: Well, what is it?
DOWD: I think it‘s a death wish.
MATTHEWS: The Democrats are a death wish. Why do the person that Democrats seem to like be the kind of person that most people won‘t? Why are their taste buds so different?
DOWD: This Democratic congressman came to the Times from the South and he said he knows that Hillary‘s going to get the nomination. It‘s a juggernaut, it can‘t be stopped. But he can‘t even be in a picture with her, or he would lose constituents, if he was even seen with her.
MATTHEWS: Where will Hillary win if she runs for president, wins the nomination of the Democratic party? New York?
DOWD: Upstate New York? New York City, yes.
MATTHEWS: Will she carry California?
DOWD: I don‘t know. It only matters against—you know, the only thing that matters is who you‘re in the field with. Who she‘s running against.
MATTHEWS: That‘s not true.
DOWD: You don‘t think so?
MATTHEWS: No, I think Pee Wee Herman would give her a race. I think Pee Wee Herman and Hillary Clinton—I wouldn‘t bet too big on that one.
DOWD: So you‘re one of those guys that gets in the voting booth and won‘t vote for the woman.
MATTHEWS: No, I just think I know this country better than a lot of pollsters claim to know it. I think that people—I think the problem for women candidates is, it‘s almost a conflict.
Women are used to collegial relationships, getting along. They have a group, they decide when to hold the meetings. They get along. It‘s much more easy to deal with.
But they‘re not used to having a John Wayne at the top, who says here‘s how we‘re going to do it. You know, Margaret Thatcher?
And so a woman who wants to be president, so she goes on listening tours. No male would go on a listening tour. I mean, they don‘t want to listen. They want to talk.
So, she‘s doing all the right things to be a senator, and she could be a great senator for life. And maybe the leader of the Senate and be fabulous at it. But those skills of listening and getting along with your colleagues.
DOWD: Karen Hughes went on a listening tour of the Muslim world.
MATTHEWS: But I don‘t think that makes you look like a president.
What do you think? It‘s your book.
DOWD: Well, you know, we learned with Ferraro that women do not vote for women because they‘re women. And in fact, sometimes, it‘s the reverse. And as one Republican consultant said, if you get 11 guys, you‘ve got a football team. If you get 11 women, you‘ve got a riot, explaining why women did not vote for Ferraro.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Maureen Dowd. You‘re unbelievable.
DOWD: Chris Matthews.
MATTHEWS: You are fabulous. I look up to you. You are the champion of all good people. Twice a week for The New York Times. And there you go again with a best-seller. “Are men necessary?” A provocative title, a provocative title, I must say. I‘m looking at this cover, maybe we‘ll all look at it together. Very provocative.
Is that you? HARDBALL. We‘ll be back again Monday night at five and seven Eastern. Maureen Dowd has been sitting with me. Right now, it‘s time for “The Abrams Report” with Dan.
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