updated 11/23/2005 9:49:16 PM ET 2005-11-24T02:49:16

Guests: Jim Gilmore, Paul Hackett, Amy Goodman, Frank Gaffney, Bob Shrum, Christopher Kennedy Lawford

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt lobbed a grenade when she called Vietnam combat veteran and pro-military Congressman Jack Murtha a coward. 

Now Paul Hackett, the Iraq war veteran who ran against Schmidt, fires back.  That‘s tonight. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.  

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

During the fiery House debate over the war in Iraq, freshman Congresswoman Jean Schmidt rocket propelled a grenade at Representative Jack Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran, calling him a coward for his proposal for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. 

In a moment, we‘ll talk to Paul Hackett, the Iraq war vet who lost that special election to Congresswoman Schmidt in Ohio. 

And later, Christopher Kennedy Lawford (ph) plays hardball with the Kennedy family legacy in his new memoir, “Symptoms of Withdrawal.” 

But first, HARDBALL‘s David Shuster with the inside on how the congressional battle over withdrawing troops from Iraq turned into a war—

David? 

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, it began last Friday night on the House floor. 

Republicans had been stunned by the withdrawal remarks from John Murtha, a Vietnam combat veteran who voted to authorize force against Iraq.  And up to the microphone stepped Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE 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...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The House will....

SCHMIDT:  ... we will see this through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Within minutes, Schmidt withdrew her statement and sent an apology note to Murtha.

But over the weekend, “Saturday Night Live” lampooned Schmidt, the “Cincinnati Inquirer,” which endorsed her during the election, said she was way out of line, and the friend Schmidt claimed to be quoting declared he had said no such thing. 

Daniel Bubp, a Republican legislator and Marine Corps reservist, said, quote, “The comments and concerns shared with Congresswoman Schmidt were never meant as a personal reference to Mr. Murtha.  We never discussed anyone by name and there was no intent to ever disparage the congressman or his distinguished record of service for our nation.” 

Schmidt, who has canceled appearances and stayed largely out of sight, told the “Washington Post” she disagreed with Bubp‘s quote.  “He, Bubp, did ask me to send a message to Congress and he also said send a message to that congressman.  He did not know that congressman‘s name, but I did.  Neither one of us knew he was a Marine.” 

Schmidt remains defiant, saying she did not notice the numerous media references to Murtha‘s military background.  And in addition to pleading ignorance, she added she didn‘t intend to attack Murtha personally.  Quote, “There‘s no way that I remotely tried to impugn his character.” 

Remote or not—and by the way, Schmidt put only three words between Murtha and coward—Murtha says that what‘s important is not the war of words but rather the war itself. 

Still, the hot political war over Jean Schmidt continues. 

Republicans, including Senator Mike DeWine, have been told to apologize, or rather to get Jean Schmidt to publicly apologize for her comments about Murtha. 

DeWine has said that Schmidt‘s comments on the House floor were inappropriate, but he is not commenting further about Jean Schmidt who, by the way, Chris, in her first statement on the House floor back in September, she talked about the honor of the House and pledged to refrain from name calling—Chris? 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David. 

Well, Paul Hackett was the first Iraqi war veteran to run for U.S.  Congress and he narrowly lost a race to Jean Schmidt in a special election back in August. 

Hackett, a Marine reservist who was serving in Iraq at this time last year was known for calling President Bush a chicken hawk. 

He‘s now running for the U.S. Senate to unseat Republican Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio. 

HARDBALL, by the way, invited Congresswoman Jean Schmidt and Senator DeWine to appear on HARDBALL tonight.  We hope to get them both on very soon. 

Let me go to Paul Hackett. 

Paul, let me ask you about this language. 

Do you think this escalation is good for the country, in language? 

PAUL HACKETT (D), OHIO CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE:  Absolutely not. 

I mean, to me it—Chris, it represents what‘s bad about politics. 

It represents the lack of leadership in Washington.

And, you know, here we are, we‘re fighting a war, Americans are dying, and we continue to play politics with the lives of young Americans serving this country abroad.  And more importantly, we aren‘t addressing the pressing issue of how we resolve our intervention in Iraq.  And that‘s what the discussion should be about. 

And unfortunately, there are too many folks who are unable or unwilling to focus on those tough issues. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you what‘s relevant to the debate, because you‘re getting into this big Senate race which will take you all through next year to November and you‘re going to have to be deciding all through the year what to say and what not to say. 

Is it fair game to talk about the vice president who got five deferments during the Vietnam era—point that out in debate, if he‘s going to be a hawk on the war in Iraq? 

HACKETT:  Well, I think what‘s relevant about that is, as we‘re seeing now again, so many politicians who have no experience firsthand in the military, who want to not only disparage those who—those of us who have served in combat but also disregard the sage advice of the war fighting experts. 

And if we look back on our intervention in Iraq, we see that, that is what took place very early on by dismissing General Shinseki‘s cautious remarks, dismissing General Zinni‘s advice and so on and so forth. 

And we can bring it up to last week when Lawrence Wilkerson was, if you will, swift boated as soon as he began to express the concerns that he relayed on to the administration early on in this process. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think President Bush as commander-in-chief would have been a better commander-in-chief had he served in combat in Vietnam? 

HACKETT:  I think probably most importantly what that would have allowed him to do is understand firsthand how the military process works and make him more aware of that. 

I mean, it‘s not as though one simply sets a course without consulting with the war fighting experts.  The war fighting experts are those in the Pentagon with the stars on their collars who consult with the battle experts in the field, who are usually colonels and lieutenant colonels.  And they go through a very in-depth process of planning.  And that took place leading up to Iraq. 

And this administration and, frankly, their elitist outlook on how to use the military disregarded that advice.  I mean, they wanted—you know, they‘re effectively nation building over there despite the president‘s promise not to use the military to nation build. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, a lot of people have noticed the fact that a lot of the people at the top of this administration are not veterans, they‘re what I call pencil necks.  They‘re intellectuals, they have ideals about fighting in the war...

(CROSSTALK)

HACKETT:  Pencil necks.  Come on. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Is that a good phrase?  I like it.  It‘s not derogatory at all. 

But let me ask you, do you think the president displayed a lack of courage when he failed to go into the active combat military during the Vietnam era? 

HACKETT:  Yes, I‘ve said that and I mean it. 

MATTHEWS:  You said he has—in “G.Q.” this month you said, “He didn‘t have the stones to serve in his generation‘s war.  Instead he wanted to drink alcohol and snort cocaine and party.” 

Do you stand by that? 

HACKETT:  Those are the facts.  I stand by it. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you know it‘s the fact that the president snorted cocaine, as you say? 

HACKETT:  Well, I think it‘s been widely reported. 

It was widely reported leading up to his first election.  And there are many who have come forward and documented that and said they saw it happen.  I take that at face value.  I think it‘s probably quite factual.  And given the fact that he worked so hard to avoid service in his generation‘s conflict, it seems consistent to me. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s been widely reported—I guess it‘s been charged and some people have suspected it because of the way he‘s denied it, but you know for a fact that President Bush, the commander-in-chief—because you‘re running for the U.S. Senate...

HACKETT:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  ... was a cocaine user, you know that for a fact? 

HACKETT:  Well, I‘ve read the reports as you have read the reports. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, they‘re not reports; they‘re charges.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I wouldn‘t say I read it in the Associated Press or the “Wall Street Journal” or the “New York Times.”

HACKETT:  Right.  Fair enough. 

MATTHEWS:  I may have heard the arguments made by people who I may not think have got a firm grounding in journalism, but I‘ve never heard a major or a quality newspaper make such a charge like that. 

HACKETT:  I think that‘s a fair criticism. 

I‘m relaying what I‘ve heard and what you‘ve heard and what I‘ve read and you‘ve read.  So...

MATTHEWS:  But that doesn‘t make it a fact, having heard it, does it? 

HACKETT:  Point well taken. 

I think, though, where there‘s smoke there‘s fire. 

MATTHEWS:  Really? 

HACKETT:  Yes. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Always?  Well, why do we bother to check for fire if we know there‘s smoke—that‘s enough. 

Anyway, let me get into your—the war issue, because you‘re right, the issue here is the war. 

Let me ask you about—Jack Murtha has got a pretty strong proposal on the table.  There‘s no B.S. from this guy.  He says get out as soon as practicable.  I mean, in other words, six months, get the troops out of the way and you can defend your rear. 

It‘s a tough thing, as you—you‘re the military guy.  A strategic withdrawal is difficult.  If we can manage that, do it. 

Do you subscribe to that proposal? 

HACKETT:  Yes.

I mean, the only particular issue I might have with that, again, is let‘s set the policy and allow the military and the war fighting experts set the timetable. 

Now, if that timetable is six months, I‘m fine with that, provided that it‘s been reviewed and planned and the courses of action have been developed by the war fighting experts in the Pentagon, in the field in Iraq.

They‘re the ones who are going to best be able to tell us as American citizens, as representatives of Americans, they‘re the ones who are going to be able to best tell us how we safely and expeditiously redeploy our forces.  And if we want to jump in and start setting timetables and dates certain for the military, I would suggest that that puts us back to where we got involved in this war in the first place. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me get a bottom line.  We only have a minute, Mr.  Hackett.  Do you think we should be out of there completely by a year from now? 

HACKETT:  If the Pentagon tells us they can do it safely within a year, I‘m for it. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the fighting ability of the people you served with over there, the Iraqis on our side, the ones who want a new government over there.  If we, the best military fighting force in the world—the Marines and soldiers in the Army and the other military people there, can‘t defeat this insurgency, why would some brand new army be able to do it? 

HACKETT:  I don‘t necessarily think they‘re going to be able to do it to our level of expertise, but how long are we going to stay there?  We‘ve done, with our military, all that can be reasonably expected of our military.  If we want to nation build, why don‘t we nation build at home?  We‘ve got plenty of work that has to be done here.  We have set the groundwork for them.  It‘s time for them to take up the cause and make it on their own. 

MATTHEWS:  Has Ohio turned against the Iraq war? 

HACKETT:  My sense is that they certainly are not in lockstep with the administration, as they were at one point.  But I think it‘s generally representative of the entire country, that we‘re all beginning to question as a nation how we got in here and exactly what the mission is.  Again, what is the mission?  And to that extent, yes, I think they‘re disillusioned and unhappy with what they‘ve bought off on. 

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Hackett versus DeWine, neigh or aye, would you be happy if the voters saw your election to the Senate as a vote to get our troops out? 

HACKETT:  I hope that what they see in my candidacy is a restoration of common sense leadership that we so desperately need in Washington, D.C., today.  And I define leadership as something other than a career politician who puts their career before their country, but somebody who‘s able to go up there and actually work for the people of not only Ohio but America.  And that takes leadership.

And that‘s more than simply casting a vote.  That‘s about talking about the desperate issues that face us as a nation. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Paul Hackett, running for the U.S.

Senate.  We hope to have Senator DeWine on as soon as we can get him on. 

We‘ve invited him to come on tonight.

HACKETT:  Have a good Thanksgiving. 

MATTHEWS:  You too, sir.  Coming up:  was going to war in Iraq good for America?  That‘s still a good question.  That debate straight ahead. 

Later, inside the Kennedy family, what a look.  The first time you get a look inside the Kennedy family, from Christopher Kennedy Lawford, President Kennedy‘s nephew, the son of Peter Lawford, the actor.  What a book.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  As troops overseas prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving away from their families, a “Washington Post” report today says there are tentative plans to greatly reduce the number of troops in Iraq as early as next year.  Is this a reality?

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now, on Pacifica Radio.  And Frank Gaffney is not on Pacifica Radio, he‘s as former Defense Department official who now heads the Center for Security Policy.  His new book, by the way, is called “War Footing: Ten Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World,” and it hits stores tomorrow—pub date tomorrow.

Congratulations I‘ll be reading that with my turkey. 

FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY:  Happy Thanksgiving. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Let me ask you, Frank:  Big report today.  I was kind of stunned by it, because we‘ve been following this every night.  All of a sudden, word comes out, we‘re talking about a reduction below 100,000 troops by next year.  Is it real? 

GAFFNEY:  I don‘t know that it is real.  I think what they‘re doing is a planning exercise against the possibility that we may be able to make that kind of reduction.  I hope, as has been said repeatedly by the administration, they still mean what they have said, which is, it isn‘t going to happen unless the conditions are right for doing that. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the main condition to get our troops reduced? 

GAFFNEY:  I think prevailing is the main condition.  I think clearly getting the Iraqis into a condition to enable them to help stabilize the situation, secure the situation and take charge of the situation is what needs to be done in order to prevail and in order to make that kind of withdrawal. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Amy Goodman.  I wondered what your reaction would be to this staged withdrawal proposal that‘s out there? 

AMY GOODMAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  My reaction is, people in this country are demanding that there be a change.  President Bush is at an all-time low in approval ratings and he has got to do something right now.  So they are responding to public pressure.  The question is, how far up that public pressure will be amped.  I don‘t think people can rely on the Democrats.  In fact, Congressmember Murtha, who has very bravely spoken out -- many of the Democrats—Democratic leadership in the Senate and the House, are really keeping a distance from him.  I think this is coming from grassroots pressure in this country.  And—

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Amy—

GOODMAN:  -- for President Bush, it‘s coming from his Republican allies. 

MATTHEWS:  I just want to check you on this assertion.  You said he has to.  He‘s commander-in-chief.  He‘s got three more years of his constitutional term as president.  He controls the Congress.  What does he have to do he doesn‘t think is right?  If he thinks we need troops in there, as Frank says, for another year or two or five more years or until the end of his term, what‘s to stop him from keeping them there? 

GOODMAN:  Well, Chris, remember when President Bush was in China and he finished speaking and couldn‘t make it outside the door because it was locked?  President Bush‘s problem is he doesn‘t have an exit strategy, whether when he‘s trying to leave the stage or with Iraq. 

But it has been exposed in this country.  And people—Republicans as well as Democrats—and that‘s what‘s key here, it‘s actually Republican allies who are terrified for their own jobs when they run in 2006, whether or not President Bush has a few years longer.  He is getting a lot of pressure from the Republican leadership to come up with some kind of plan.  Now, you have Vice President Cheney saying—and you‘ve got Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld saying they are going to stay the course, if not keep troops there, up the number.  But you see how the American people are responding.  And so they are shifting course.  The question is, of course, will they be forced to pull out now, which is the only answer. 

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Great.  I‘m looking for a period if not a comma here.

Let me go right now to Frank.

GAFFNEY:  Or even a breath. 

GOODMAN:  That‘s an exclamation point, not a question mark.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for that.  It‘s an interruption at least.  Let me ask you about the president. 

GAFFNEY:  Can I respond to at least half of that?

MATTHEWS:  I want you to upgrade this by saying—there‘s obviously some things the president could be saying more effectively than he‘s saying, and the vice president, to maintain this “Stay the course” theme, other than just asking for it. 

GAFFNEY:  Look, I agree with only one thing that Amy just said, and that is, the president does need to do something else.  It‘s not just a case of having to choose between cutting and running—which is surrendering, which weakens our allies, demoralizes them both in Iraq and beyond, emboldens our enemies, both in Iraq and beyond, and results in more Americans killed, both in Iraq and beyond.

The alternative to that is not just muddling along, or staying the course.  The thing that I would argue, and do this book, “War Footing” is that we need to go to the American people and explain that the theater of Iraq is just one part of a truly global war on terror. 

You know, I had a very interesting experience last week.  I was on Larson‘s syndicated radio program, and lo and behold, he interviewed Chris Matthews.  And Chris Matthews is on that program talking, I thought pretty much sensibly, in some points about the need to go after these terrorists. 

The terrorists who are out there are not just in Iraq.  They‘re taking certain sustenance from what happens in Iraq and nothing more than if we surrender, as I think Amy is suggesting we do.  We need to be fighting, what I think are Islam-o-fascists, a political ideology worldwide, staying the course, mobilizing the American people, winning a war for the free world, is the right approach, not cutting and running.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve only got a few minutes, but you‘ve opened up a debate here, and that is how do you deal with terrorism?  How do you deal with the hatred behind the terrorism that leads people to become terrorists?  You track them, I mean, Golda Meir had a great strategy.  Track them down one at a time, kill them, and if you make a few mistakes, that‘s not the end of the world. 

But the other problem you have is, it‘s not an ethnic group, terrorism.  It‘s people who choose at the age of 18 or 19 to become suicidal terrorists.  Aren‘t you impressed by the fact that that woman in Fallujah went to Amman in Jordan and tried to blow up the hotel with her husband?  Because we had gone into her community and she probably felt like a victim from her point of view.  Aren‘t we creating these terrorists? 

GAFFNEY:  There are all kinds of motivations.  What we‘re finding are people who are sending their kids to these Islamist training schools, madrases, at age three, are not doing it because they are getting some sort of grievance. 

MATTHEWS:  But that wasn‘t the particular problem in Iraq. 

GAFFNEY:  In this particular woman‘s case it‘s not the particular problem, but it is the problem worldwide, where we‘re seeing these guys cultivated and rewarded for being terrorists by state sponsors of terrorist. 

MATTHEWS:  How did we, by our idealism, or Wilsonian efforts to try to democratize Iraq, united, those Baathist secular people, who really had not much truck with the Islamists, and now they‘re working together against us. 

GAFFNEY:  I think they were working together before.  They‘re working together now and they will be at each others throats.

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘re going to come back, I‘ll give you more chance, Amy, when we get back.  We‘ll be back with Frank Gaffney and Amy Goodman.

And later, Christopher Kennedy Lawford‘ amazing of life with a “Rat Pack” father and a Kennedy mother.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back with former Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Gaffney, the name of his book is “War Footing: 10 steps America must take to prevail in the war for the free world.”

Now, Amy Goodman, of course, radio talk show host on Pacifica.  Amy, your response, you don‘t think it‘s worth another two or three years if it‘s necessary, at least, to try to build up a strong security force in Iraq that can defend democracy.  You don‘t think that‘s worth the effort?

GOODMAN:  The question is what is fueling the terror, and I think it is white phosphorus in Fallujah, I think it is torture, I think it is the killing of families who drive in a car, as recently happened in Baquba. 

The U.S. is the main irritant in Iraq right now.  You have a whole community, a whole country that is resisting this occupation.  If the U.S.  were to pull out right now, the Iraqis could sort this out. 

It is a terrible mess.  It is horrifying picture right now in Iraq.  And it does go back to the whole issue of the lie that this invasion was based on.  The whole putting forward of the allegations of weapons of mass destruction, when it‘s becoming increasingly clear that this was a clear pretext. 

You have people like Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who‘s now come forward, the former chief of staff of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, talking about a cabal that is running this country.  He was talking about Rumsfeld...

MATTHEWS:  ...  it was a little late, isn‘t it, Amy?  A little late, isn‘t he? 

GOODMAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  A little late.  I mean, I wish these guys had the big mouths they have now, back then when it mattered.  I‘m so tired of these Monday morning quarterbacks who were in the game, and they didn‘t have anything to say.  

GOODMAN:  But right now we‘re still in Iraq and what matters right now is what we‘re going to do. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘d like to see resignations from people, like General Powell.  If he disagreed with this policy, he should have quit and told the world he disagreed with it, instead of slinking off.

GOODMAN:  I absolutely agree with you.

MATTHEWS:  I am so angry about this kind of talk. 

GOODMAN:  And most importantly, what about the Democrats?  Most importantly, what about the people like Kerry, what about Hillary Rodham Clinton?

MATTHEWS:  I‘m going to ask you, Frank.  I want a response from Frank to the suggestion that we leave.  Paint the picture now.  We pull out within the next since months, whatever, we just say we‘re getting out.  What happens in Iraq the day after we leave? 

GAFFNEY:  What starts happening the moment we say we‘re pulling out is the thing comes unraveled.  You have a lot of people right now who are on the fence, trying to figure out how‘s this going to sort out?  Are they going to be at risk if they are continuing to work for democracy?  Or are they going to be at risk if they align themselves with the terrorists?

GOODMAN:  Frank, I‘m...

GAFFNEY:  ... excuse me, Amy, come on.  Let me finish.

Amy‘s got a program about democracy.  I don‘t know how you get democracy in places like Iraq, if you don‘t help these people prevail.  And where we are right now is, we have the opportunity, I think, to put this over the top.  We have the opportunity to assure that it craters.  When people like Amy...

MATTHEWS:  Can you do it in the time that the American people will permit it to happen?  Can you do it in two years or so?

GAFFNEY:  Absolutely.  I think as long as the American people understand what is really at stake here, which is what we‘re talking about in the book, the war for the free world, not just some guys in Baghdad or its outskirts. 

MATTHEWS:  So you say it‘s at least two years.  OK, but we‘ve got a political situation in this country.  We can last through the next presidential election.

GAFFNEY:  I think we can with the proper context and leadership. 

MATTHEWS:  Amy, you say the Democrats will win the next congressional elections if the Republicans keep us in the war. 

GOODMAN:  I didn‘t say Democrats give us any—hold out any great hope.  It‘s about time that some Democrats came forward and actually united as a block and said, “get out now.” But they‘re too afraid.  It‘s hard to tell the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans right now.

GAFFNEY:  That‘s the problem. 

MATTHEWS:  Amy, you have very great wisdom when it comes to critiquing the Democrats.  Thank you very much.  Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio and thank you Frank Gaffney.

Up next, with the Pentagon planning to bring some troops home, at least according to the report in “The Washington Post” today, will the war dominate next year‘s mid-term elections?  And will Republicans manage to keep control of Congress?  That‘s what we‘ve been talking to. 

Let‘s take it to fruition. 

And on Friday, a special edition of HARDBALL with former FBI director Louis Freeh, Bill Maher and you‘ll love this, my interview with the great Jerry Lewis.  One of the great moments around here.  He was sitting in that chair.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Politicians are spending a lot of time this Thanksgiving talking to the people back home about the Iraq war. 

Here to talk with us about the war‘s impact on both parties are former Republican National Committee chairman and Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, and Democratic strategist and HARDBALL political analyst Bob Shrum. 

Happy Thanksgiving to both of you gentlemen. 

JIM GILMORE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN:  To you too. 

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  You too.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you—Governor Gilmore, let‘s start it off with you, sir. 

I know my family and, I expect your family, discusses politics over the dinner table.  Do you think the American dinner table will be moved by the actions and statements of Jack Murtha, a combat veteran from Vietnam, who says it‘s time to leave? 

GILMORE:  Well, I think the congressman is a great leader and I think that he‘s very sincere and I think he‘s visited a lot of people who have been injured in the hospitals. 

But, you know, it‘s incumbent upon us to think strategically here. 

And I just think that the idea that we‘re supposed to now all of a sudden precipitously get out of Iraq and leave this thing, I think he‘s not thinking of the long-term consequences that it would have on this country and on the world if the United States is seen to not stand by its commitments. 

So I don‘t think—I think the American people want somebody who‘s going to stick with the program and is going to stand by their commitments. 

They elected George Bush commander-in-chief of the United States military forces and of American foreign policy.  And I think he‘s leading vigorously. 

It‘s not everything that we can do, but I think this constant condemnation of our elected official in this particular instance, you know, may not be in the best interest of this country. 

MATTHEWS:  Bob, you could argue, I think—although I wouldn‘t be heard making the argument—that we‘ve already paid the biggest price for going into Iraq from Arab public opinion. 

Why not stick it out a couple years more and make good on our commitment? 

SHRUM:  Well, Chris, first of all, you don‘t just have to listen to someone from Pacifica Radio to say that our presence there is a problem and not just a solution. 

General Casey has said that our presence there actually feeds the insurgency. 

I also think what‘s happening right now is that the administration in trying to make its case is actually hurting itself.  They picked the wrong country to invade and then in Jack Murtha they picked the wrong person to attack in the wrong way at the wrong time. 

He‘s not only a decorated Marine veteran; he talks to everybody in the Pentagon.  He‘s not just reflecting his views; he‘s reflecting the views of a lot of people in the military who are afraid and can‘t come out and say what he said. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Paul Hackett will be able to win the Senate seat in Ohio or should be able to, just using your political sense, using the Iraq war issue? 

I noticed he hesitated when I said, “Do you want this to be an up or down on the war in Iraq?”  He wanted to muck that up a little bit. 

SHRUM:  Well, I think the 2006 election in many ways will be up or down on Iraq. 

Paul Hackett, before he gets to beat Mike DeWine, has to win the Democratic primary against Sherrod Brown and I think we‘ll have a strong candidate there. 

But, look, I mean, the other day if you saw the president and the vice president together at the pardoning of the turkey, I thought maybe the president pardoned the vice president too for helping to get him into this mess. 

The only problem is after Thanksgiving all the turkeys in the administration are still going to be there.  Rumsfeld ought to go, Rice ought to go, the neo-cons ought to go, and Dick Cheney ought to go back to doing what vice president‘s used to do—going to state funerals and ceremonial events. 

But the president won‘t hold people accountable and he won‘t change the policy. 

MATTHEWS:  Does that open an opportunity for you, Bob, to come in there as an adviser to a president, your long dream come true? 

SHRUM:  No, I‘m very, very happy. 

I‘m very happy at NYU and the Wagner School.  I‘m very happy writing and I‘m very happy coming on here conversing with you. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You could be the new Gergen, the guy that serves four presidents. 

SHRUM:  No.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask Governor Gilmore, do you think it‘s possible that even in the red state of Virginia that the next election—the congressional elections could turn on the war? 

GILMORE:  No, I think we just had the election. 

The president has not deviated, he‘s not changed his policy.  He ran on it in a straightforward way in the election. 

I don‘t think that this—the fellow that was on here a little while ago is going to beat Mike DeWine, not in the state of Ohio over something like this. 

And, you know, I think that we have a lot to do.  And there‘s still room for more policy. 

But I think that staying the course on this and being strong and expressing ourselves in international relations in a strong way is the right thing to do at this point in time. 

If we turn around and just immediately withdraw, then it just goes back to all the historical allegations that say that the United States is not a reliable world leader. 

Doesn‘t mean that we can‘t criticize a congressman like Murtha, it doesn‘t mean that we can‘t speak openly about the policies.  But at this point in time I think we had better be strong. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the role of the vice president. 

The vice president has become the poster boy for this administration.  He‘s out there in a much more assertive way than even the president on the issue of cruelty to prisoners or the use of torture by the CIA.  He‘s out there in front defending the WMD case for war even now.  He defends some sort of connection between 9/11 and Iraq.  He hasn‘t given an inch.  He‘s out there all the time attacking the Democrats. 

Is this good for the president?  The numbers keep going down.  I wonder if he—well, do you think Cheney‘s a good salesman for this administration? 

GILMORE:  This is what I think. 

I think that the Democratic Party is going to have to come forward with some real ideas also.  And just simply saying, look, let‘s just abandon things is not going to be the right kind of approach.  And I don‘t think that they‘re really coming forward with a program that the American people can grab on to.  And that‘s why in response to your question a little while ago, I don‘t think it‘s going to turn the ‘06 elections because the Democrats have not come forward with a real plan of their own.

MATTHEWS:  Bob, do the Democrats want Cheney to come into their states because it will help them?

SHRUM:  Well, first of all, I notice that Jim Gilmore wouldn‘t back Cheney up.

GILMORE:  I‘ll back the vice president. 

SHRUM:  You will now.  When you had the chance you didn‘t really want to.  I don‘t think Cheney helps the Republicans, partly because he‘s not realistic.  When you have a national security adviser saying look, here‘s our best deference for the war.  It wasn‘t a lie, it was a mistake. 

A lot of people have died for that mistake and I think there‘s real evidence of deception and the fact is that a lot of Democrats, a lot of people in the Congress, did not see the same intelligence the president did. 

But for Cheney to keep saying there were weapons of mass destruction, there‘s a connection to 9/11, those things are evidently untrue.  Bush said them in the 2004 election.  They were untrue then.  But the American people now understand that they‘re false. 

MATTHEWS:  Why is vice president—

GILMORE:  Can I respond to that? 

MATTHEWS:  You sure can. 

GILMORE:  I think the vice president‘s comments are deeper than this.  I think, number one, he understands, as do I, that there‘s a serious danger to this nation that can come from nations who might have the opportunity to develop these kinds of weapons and they want to, and we have to do an international transformation which is exactly what we‘re attempting and working to do. 

And second of all, he‘s speaking out strongly and providing real leadership.  And I‘m not seeing that from the other side of the aisle. 

SHRUM:  First, there‘s not a chance—

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the political question, governor.  You know politics.  Is it smart of Cheney to go down and campaign for Tom DeLay, go to a big fund raiser for him next week and keep alive the president‘s connection with DeLay and all his trouble? 

GILMORE:  DeLay has not been convicted of anything and DeLay has been a vigorous leader in the United States House of Representatives.  If he is convicted of something, that‘s one thing.  But until then, I don‘t think that we should be turning our backs on people who provided leadership to us. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re tough.  Thank you very much.  Governor Gilmore, there‘s a tough man.  Bob Shrum, you wish you had tough Democrats like this guy. 

Up next, a great new book by Christopher Kennedy Lawford, nephew of a

President, son of an actor.  And a reminder the political debate is ongoing

on hardblogger, our political blog web site.  You can download a pod cast

of HARDBALL. Isn‘t that great?  Go to our web site—hardball.msnbc.com 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Christopher Kennedy Lawford was born to a Kennedy and a Hollywood actor, Peter Lawford, we all know him from television and movies.  That‘s a combustible gene pool and it‘s mixed with a political legacy of this country‘s most famous first family.  

With the golden days of Hollywood and the rat pack for toppers, Frank Sinatra and all these incredible figures it‘s been quite a life for Christopher Kennedy Lawford, a mixed blessing I must say..  The name of the book is “Symptoms of Withdrawal.”  Thanks for coming on HARDBALL tonight.  The book is doing great.  How is it doing in the Kennedy family, however? 

CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY LAWFORD, AUTHOR, “SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL”:  I got

a call from my Aunt Eunice yesterday who said, “you‘re the one grandchild who got it right.”  So, you know, I sent out to everybody in my family who‘s in the book. 

I heard from my sisters who loved it.  I heard from Bobby Shriver who laughed about the lack of index.  I heard from my Aunt Eunice, and everybody else is either a slow reader or waiting for the movie. 

MATTHEWS:  What about Bobby Kennedy?  What has he had to say? 

LAWFORD: I haven‘t heard from Bobby. 

MATTHEWS  I bet you will though. 

LAWFORD:  I hope he likes it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he might.  Anyway—

LAWFORD:  He might. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the big part of the book.  I want to ask you about a lot of people in the book.  But Ted Kennedy especially, and his former wife Joan Kennedy. 

Let me ask you about the nice part of the book.  Let me ask you about how Joan Kennedy, who has an alcohol problem herself, how she led you out of the problems you were having with booze and drugs, serious drugs. 

LAWFORD:  Well you know, Chris, I suffered from addiction for 17 years.  And I tried for nine years to get sober.  I‘ve been sober 19 years.  And Joan Kennedy was the person who reached her hand out to me at a particular time when I was ready to get sober. 

She brought me to a recovery group that changed my life.  And I‘ll be forever grateful to her. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think she, who has had this—we‘ve seen the public aspect of her problem with alcohol—why do you think she was able to get to you in a way your pals weren‘t, your family members, the other family members who were healthier than her weren‘t able to get to you? 

LAWFORD:  Joan has a great heart and she was just being of service.  She just happened to be my Eskimo.  She was there when I needed her.  You know, it just happened to be her. 

As you mentioned she‘s had her own troubles, and I think this is the -

the heartbreak of this disease is that there are a lot of good people out there who help other people who can‘t get it themselves. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, it was stun to go read that your mom, she obviously loves you and has been rooting for you all these years, but when you quit—quit the booze she said can‘t you at least make me a daiquiri? 

LAWFORD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you explain that? 

LAWFORD:  This is a family disease.  People—you may know people that have this.  This is a huge problem in America.  The federal government has identified it as a number one health issue in this country, addiction and alcoholism.  And it‘s a family disease. 

There‘s a dynamic that goes on in families where one person gets sober, it‘s—it changes the whole dynamic.  And people have a hard time adjusting to, you know, they spend years and years and years adjusting to a person‘s active addiction, and then they have to change gears and do it. 

My mom was really happy that I was sober and I wasn‘t ending up on the front pages of newspapers.  But it took her a while to accept the fact that I couldn‘t, you know, party with her. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, she said why can‘t you have a glass of wine with dinner. 

LAWFORD:  I made a great daiquiri, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  I bet you do.  Why doesn‘t she understand you have to go cold turkey, you have to stay that way? 

LAWFORD:  Right.  People have a hard time.  This is, I think, the heartbreak of this illness.  It‘s people don‘t understand what the solution is.  You know, many people, they don‘t understand—abstinence is a solution.

Many people who do abstain for a period of time do go back. The recovery rates are not good on this illness, and so people are always—they are confused about how to handle it.

MATTHEWS:  You know, your dad—I‘m older than you—and your dad

was a real star when I was growing up.  He was on “Dear Phoebe,” the

television show, for a number of years.  He was always in all those college

you know, those raccoon coat college movies.  Incredibly likable guy, long before he tagged up with Sinatra.  Why was he so down on himself? 

LAWFORD:  You know, I think my father—my father was a beach guy.  You know, he started surfing at Malibu pier.  He loved volleyball, he loved the girls on the beach.  I think he should have stayed on the beach and been an actor.  He got married and he ended up between Jack Kennedy and Frank Sinatra.  You‘ve got to be Machiavelli to do that.  My dad just didn‘t have the temperament for it. 

MATTHEWS:  Why was he not happy? 

LAWFORD:  You know, I don‘t know.  I think my father—I think, you know, his marriage failed.  I think that was a big thing.  He lost his kids.  We went back East.  He didn‘t see us that much. 

And he was profoundly affected by Jack Kennedy‘s death.  I think Jack Kennedy for him—my dad was an only child and Jack Kennedy was like a brother to him, the brother he never had.  And he was deeply impacted by that death.  And I think, you know the loss of his friends—and Hollywood is a very unforgiving place. 

MATTHEWS:  And also they‘re with you when you‘re hot.  And when you‘re not, they‘re not. 

LAWFORD:  There you go. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back, we‘ll be back with Chris Kennedy Lawford.  I want to talk to you about your family, because it seems to me that everybody notices, we‘ve grown up with the losses of your family.  I don‘t think we realizes what those losses meant inside.  And I think that nobody gives you credit for that.

This is HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was Jack Kennedy‘s birthday back in 1962.  We‘re back with Christopher Kennedy Lawford, his nephew, and his memoir is called, “Symptoms of Withdrawal.” 

Happy birthday—boy, that‘s a memorable moment.  Let me ask you.  I was going to ask you about something really serious here.  Oh, yes, your dad.  You obviously loved your dad, and he was an alcoholic. 

And he once said in a book, he said something I can completely identify with.  He said, he couldn‘t imagine a life where he couldn‘t have white wine with dinner.  He couldn‘t imagine giving it up. 

LAWFORD:  It‘s tough.  It‘s like your best friend.  It‘s what gets you through life.  I write about my own thing.  I believed in better living through better chemistry.  I just did not believe that I could get through a day without my best friends.  You know, and my dad had a similar point of view. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I stopped drinking 11 years ago.  People say, “when did you quit?”  I say when you first start to hear about me.  Because I really do think it picks up your spirits and you do a lot better.

Let me show you something—you wrote it, let‘s go back to something

you said.  You talked about your uncle Ted, Senator Ted Kennedy,

Massachusetts.  “The great thing about uncle Ted is that he can be

emotional and pragmatic at the same time.  Just having him around made me

feel better.  There was something in the fearless lust with which he

embraced his own struggles that was inclusive and inspiring.  He made me

feel that no matter how crazy it got, I could keep moving forward”

What a testimonial.  And I know it—when I‘ve been with him, the times I‘ve been with him, he just makes you happy.  He‘s like that poem, “The Emperor of Ice Cream.”  You know, he‘s there, he‘s alive, all of the things that worry. 

But how does he put together the emotional and—I know the real concern is—but as a human being, Teddy‘s something.  Let me go to the pragmatic and the emotional, how does he do it? 

LAWFORD:  His heart, I think is the things that is Ted Kennedy.  And I think the circumstances of his life dictated him to take a different path.  And that‘s, you know, I think that‘s always the struggle.  It‘s like where your heart goes.  And Teddy has managed in his life, to meld his heart and his pragmatism or his destiny.  And I think that‘s—but, it‘s always been his heart.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s go to the heart.  Do you think the horror of Chappaquiddick, all those years ago in the ‘60s, where the woman died in the car he was driving, do you think that has made him such a committed person? 

He could go off and have fun and sail the rest of his life and enjoy the good life in Monte Carlo if he wanted to, wherever people go with lots of money.  What do you think has driven—do you think that‘s made part of the reason why he drives himself so hard to be a senator? 

LAWFORD:  I—you know, I wrote a story in the book, about a story that I heard.  I don‘t know whether it‘s true or not, I‘ve never asked him.  That after college, he and a friend of his wanted to go out  and teach water skiing to girls in the West.  And I don‘t know whether that‘s true, but my grandfather put the kabbash on that, and he went into the family business.

I don‘t know whether that‘s true, but what I do know about that is, that it represented to me, this idea of that there is something bigger than your own wants and desires.  And my family‘s always been about that.  I think what drives my uncle Teddy is a real commitment.

You‘ve been around him, you‘ve seen how impassioned he gets.  I remember when they were persecuting Martha Stewart and he was incensed at the fact that she was being persecuted and all these other executives were getting a pass and he gets really emotional about what‘s happening in America. 

MATTHEWS:  I know, he‘s a real committed guy, politically.  He never gets tired of it, he never quits.  You say in the book, if it weren‘t for him, losing your Uncle Bob and Uncle Jack, and of course, years before that, and Uncle Joe, the war hero, that your family wouldn‘t be still the Kennedy family, if it weren‘t for Ted.

LAWFORD:  No, there‘s no question.  This Christmas, I got—he sends out a calendar every year with everybody‘s birthday, everybody‘s wedding day, every grandchild, great grandchild, is in that calendar.  Teddy—and he includes, we went to the Democratic Convention, I think I saw you up there, the entire family was brought up there to participate in all of that.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve only got 10 seconds, Chris.  It‘s a hell of a book. 

There‘s no damn ghostwriter involved,  I know what those books read like.  This is a hell of a book for people who have had this problem of addiction, and it‘s also a great look into your family you don‘t usually get.

Thank you very much, Christopher Kennedy Lawford, a great author.  And join us again Friday night, at five and seven Eastern for more HARDBALL with Louis Freeh, Bill Maher and the great Jerry Lewis.  And from all of us at HARDBALL, I mean this, a real Happy Thanksgiving.

END

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