updated 6/19/2007 11:03:34 AM ET 2007-06-19T15:03:34

Guests: Rep. Phil Gingrey, Bob Borosage, Seymour Hersh, Gerald McEntee, K.T. McFarland, Mark Green, Eugene Robinson, Matt Continetti, Paul Rieckhoff

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Was “See You in September” just a song to get us through the summer?  Has the surge become a splurge?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to HARDBALL.  OK, so what‘s the deal?  Last November, when the president‘s party got whupped at the polls, he fired Secretary Rumsfeld and said he would try one last gambit in Iraq, a six-month surge of U.S. troops into Baghdad.  He convinced Congress not to cut off the funds but to give this one last effort to try.  Now that commitment looks like it‘s off the table.  The president‘s hand-picked field commander said yesterday that we won‘t know this September whether the surge is working, so we can‘t decide whether the deep U.S. commitment in Iraq is working or not.  So when will we decide?

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell says the right time to make that  decision on whether to stay in Iraq or not is in September, the time everyone once agreed upon.  So that‘s the question tonight.  Is September the moment of truth or not?  And if not, when is the moment of truth?  When do we decide whether a continued U.S. involvement in the Iraq fighting is good for America or it‘s not?  A related question, by the way—maybe it‘s sarcastic.  But does the decision to invade Iraq, which the president made in 2003, look any smarter today than it did a year ago or two years ago or four years ago?

Plus, a new “USA Today/Gallup poll gives Hillary Clinton a double-digit lead now over Barack Obama.  But is Hillary is the frontrunner—who is the frontrunner now, the inevitable nominee, or is she peaking too soon?  That‘s our HARDBALL debate tonight.

But first: This country is divided by the war in Iraq, as everyone watching knows.  Bob Borosage is co-director of the Campaign for America‘s Future.  Today they kicked off a three-day “Take Back America” conference here in Washington.  And U.S. congressman Phil Gingrey is a Republican from Georgia who sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Congressman Gingrey, what do you make of General Petraeus‘s statement yesterday that we can‘t count on September to be the point of decision?  Let‘s watch what he had to say in his own words.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. ARMY, U.S. COMMANDER IN IRAQ:  I think just about everybody out there recognizes a situation like this, with the many, many challenges that Iraq is contending with, is not one that‘s going to be resolved in a year or even two years.  In fact, typically, I think, historically, counterinsurgency operations have gone at least nine or ten years.


MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that, Congressman?

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R-GA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE:  Well, Chris, I think the key word there was “resolved,” and I don‘t think that General Petraeus is backing away from a report in September, which, of course, the Congress is going to require him—has required him to make.  And we look forward to that report.  I hope that we will continue to make great progress in this new way forward.

But when you have members of Congress at the highest level—and I‘m speaking of the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader in particular—that criticized this new way forward even before it started, and here we just got the remaining 8,000, fully a third of the additional troops just got in theater this June, literally last week, and to all of a sudden to declare that the new way forward is a failure on their political posturing I think is a great disservice to this country.

MATTHEWS:  Bob, do you disagree?

BOB BOROSAGE, CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA‘S FUTURE:  Oh, it sounds like the general‘s agreeing with the speaker of the House that the new way forward is a failure.  He‘s saying September‘s not going to tell us anything.  Maybe 10 years, if we stay there and keep spending more trillions of dollars and more lives, maybe we‘ll know something.

The point was, the supposed nature of the escalation was we were supposed to know—we were supposed to make massive progress by September.  Now the general is saying what Democrats have been saying, No way.  This thing is an endless civil war with no end, and we‘ve got to start getting our troops out of there.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at what the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, had to say on setting timetables for progress in Iraq.  Here he is.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER:  We‘ve all been to one degree or another disappointed in the Iraqi government.  They‘ve not been able to do on the political side what they told us they would try to achieve.  But I think the proper time to really make a serious evaluation of the direction we ought to head is in September.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there we are again.  Congressman, tell us what you think we must decide in September as a country.

GINGREY:  Well, Chris, Bob just said massive progress.  I don‘t believe anybody ever required or asked for massive progress.  But I think we—I agree with Senator McConnell.  I think we need to pay very close attention to what the president says, as called for in the emergency supplemental that we just passed, that on July the 15th, he will report to the Congress on what the Iraqi parliament, what the government is doing in regard to the benchmarks.  And I think that‘s very important.  Maliki needs to respond.  And I think we need to listen to General Petraeus.  And quite honestly, I will listen to General Petraeus before I listen to Mr. Betray-us—with a B—from all of these Democratic politicians that are more interested in making political hay out of this than solving the problem.

BOROSAGE:  This isn‘t political hay.  You can‘t keep American troops in the middle of an endless civil war.  Petraeus is just telling us the truth.  The truth is, this thing is going to go on for 10, maybe 20 years.  This is a civil war that we‘ve got our troops enmeshed in, and there is no way out.  The general has an impossible task.  And Democrats are right.  They‘ve already made this decision.  They are unified...

GINGREY:  Yes, you...


BOROSAGE:  ... ought to start bringing those troops home, and that is the best thing we can do for American security and...

GINGREY:  Well, you‘re right...


GINGREY:  They made their decision before the surge even started.

BOROSAGE:  And they were right.

GINGREY:  In fact, the Speaker of the House, Ms. Pelosi, wouldn‘t even meet with General Petraeus when he came to Congress to outline this new way forward.  She was—she gave him 15 minutes on the telephone, great disrespect to a man who is now serving his third command assignment in Iraq.  I trust him.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Congressman—you‘re a civilian leader of this country.  You share that responsibility with other members of the Congress.  Soldiers fight the wars they‘re told to fight with great heroism, as we‘ve seen in this case of this battle in Iraq.  But it comes down to a decision that has to be made by civilians under our form of government.  When will—when is the appropriate time for Americans to take a good look at this war and say, Should we stay in there for the long haul?

GINGREY:  Well, you know, we let the politicians cause us to lose the Vietnam conflict.  And after we pulled out of there, some three million people, Chris, as you know, were slaughtered in South Vietnam and Cambodia.  And you know, we go down this track again, the same thing‘s going to happen.

I would say to my friend, Bob, and to others that are watching the show and to all the men and women in the military and to the civilians, what is the consequence of us pulling out and giving up and saying we‘re not going to give victory a chance?  And that‘s what the Democratic leadership and the rank and file have been pushing for for the last six months.

BOROSAGE:  We‘ve been there for years.  We‘ve spent—now we‘re committed over $2 trillion with the cost to date.  We‘ve lost 3,000 people.  We‘ve got 25,000 casualties.  The war is getting worse, the violence getting worse, the civil strife is getting worse.  The general is a realist.  It‘s going to take 10 more years of this.

Americans have already made this decision in large numbers.  The majority of Americans want us to start bringing the troops home.

GINGREY:  No, they don‘t!  They want...

BOROSAGE:  Democrats are committed...

GINGREY:  They want to give...

BOROSAGE:  ... to that.

GINGREY:  They want to give victory a chance.

BOROSAGE:  That is vital to our security.

GINGREY:  They‘re not going to give in to this defeatist attitude...

BOROSAGE:  The reality is that this war...

GINGREY:  ... of the Democratic majority...

BOROSAGE:  ... has done more to harm our security...

GINGREY:  ... all those talking heads that they put on these shows.

BOROSAGE:  ... and harm our battle against al Qaeda than any other policy.  This is the worst foreign policy debacle surely in this nation‘s history.

GINGREY:  We lost 58,000 000 soldiers in Vietnam.  We...

BOROSAGE:  Do you want to lose 58,000...

GINGREY:  ... lost 250,000...

BOROSAGE:  ... soldiers in Iraq?

GINGREY:  ... in World War II.  No, and we‘re not going to, and I...

BOROSAGE:  You can.  Stay there another 10 years.

GINGREY:  ... just put it in perspective—you need to give this a chance and we need to give victory a chance.  We owe that to the 3,100 who have died and the 12,000 to 14,000 who have been injured severely, and to their families.  That‘s what we need to do for the troops to show true patriotism.

BOROSAGE:  But the troops are saying, We got to get out of here.  This situation doesn‘t make any sense.  We‘ve got about 2,000 people on a petition for—a petition for redress in eight months that are active duty troops on the line in Iraq...

GINGREY:  No, no, no!

BOROSAGE:  ... saying, It‘s time to get us out...

GINGREY:  All of those people you‘re talking about are wearing pink T-shirts, not camouflage.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Congressman, about the choices you have to make as a—you‘re a conservative Republican.  You have a point of view which I‘ve been listening to, which is very sound.  It makes sense from a certain perspective.  But let me ask to sort of explain that.  Do you think we‘re doing a holding action over there, basically saying, We got to hang in there because if we leave, it‘s a disaster?  And I understand that point of view, but it doesn‘t promise success, it promises a holding action.  Or do you see us five years from now or some reasonable period of time between now and then over the next couple years where we‘re going to be able to leave there—largely leave there, like, three quarters of our forces get out of there, with a real different Iraq than we have today?  Do you have that optimistic view that we can leave that country in much better shape than it is right now?

GINGREY:  Chris, I absolutely do.  That‘s exactly the way I feel, and you described it better than I can.  But we know that we‘re going to need a diplomatic and a political ultimate solution, but in the meantime, we have to establish security in the neighborhood, in the neighborhood of Baghdad and al Anbar province.  And that success is coming, slowly, a little slower than we had hoped.  I‘ll grant that to Bob and anyone else that wants to argue the point with me.  I wish the progress had been faster.  But that doesn‘t mean you give up.

Think back to the Battle of the Bulge.  It looked like we were going to be overrun by the Germans, and thank God for General McAuliffe, when he said to them, when they asked him to raise a white flag, he said, Nuts.  And I say, Nuts, to raising the white flag now.

MATTHEWS:  Last word, Bob.

BOROSAGE:  This is faith-based foreign policy.  There is no evidence of progress.  The general is telling us there‘s no evidence of progress.  Don‘t count on him giving a good report in September.  Give him 10 years, maybe he‘ll show progress.  That‘s not good enough.

MATTHEWS:  Is this going to be the election issue, Congressman, in the South and all across the country, your party basically saying, Hold on, there‘s still a chance for victory in Iraq, and the other party saying, It‘s gone?  Is that going to the issue of 2008?

GINGREY:  I believe it is, Chris.  It‘s going to be a big issue.  And of course, immigration‘s going to be a big issue, too.  You mention the South.  I can assure you that people where I come from are opposed to amnesty.  They want a secure border, and they want victory in Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia.  Coming up—and thank you, Bob Borosage.

Coming up: New revelations about Abu Ghraib.  Did a top-ranking general‘s investigation into that scandal kill his military career?  That‘s something we were trying to figure out months ago.  We‘re going to get more on that from investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who broke the My Lai story, of course.

And tomorrow on MSNBC, I‘m going to interview the top Democrats running for president.  We‘ll have all-day coverage of the Democratic presidential forum at the AFSCME Leadership Conference here in Washington.  I‘m going to have those big names—not those big names.  They‘re going to interview people, too.  I‘m going to have the Democrats on tomorrow to find out where Hillary and Obama and Edwards and all the rest of them stand on the big issues.  You‘re going to see it tomorrow night here on HARDBALL and throughout the day.

You‘re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Three years ago, Army Major General Antonio Taguba was tasked with investigating the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib.  His report and his testimony on Capitol Hill was at odds with the Pentagon‘s civilian leadership, surprisingly.  And now he says he was told to retire after 34 years of service.  Did General Taguba‘s investigation into the Abu Ghraib scandal end his military career?  And did former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his inner circle prevent Taguba from looking further up the chain of command?

Seymour Hersh interviewed General Taguba in this week‘s “New Yorker” magazine.  Well, what‘s the—what‘s the answer to that question?


MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) smashed for telling the truth?

HERSH:  Sure.  What else?  You always go after the messenger, shoot

the messenger, which is his words.  Yes, he got smashed for telling the

truth.  He‘s a—just one of those wonderfully honest, straight guys who -

he came—he was born in the Philippines, came out of a small college in Idaho as a 2nd lieutenant, made his way to two-star, deputy commander for force structure in Kuwait, when the war is on.  And he gets tabbed just by chance, not by any accident, and he‘s got to—you know, he‘s there.  They need a two-star general.  Let‘s do the investigation.  He‘s gone from nothing to two-star doing it right, so he does it right again.  And...

MATTHEWS:  And he decides—and he discovers what about Abu Ghraib that the higher-ups, the civilians didn‘t like?

HERSH:  He discovers a couple things.  He‘s prevented from looking beyond anything.  He has grave suspicions that these bunch of kids didn‘t invent this kind of craziness.

MATTHEWS:  No.  Well, nobody watching this show thought those non-coms and the grunts did all that stuff.  They didn‘t have—you know, they weren‘t creative writers.  They didn‘t make up—they didn‘t bring the dog collars with them from West Virginia.  They saw all that stuff when they got there, and they saw other people doing it, obviously.

HERSH:  Well, obviously.  And you know, in the military, there‘s a phrase that‘s called, One size fits all.  Whatever you do in the special force prison, you know, the special force prisons we have going and the CIA prisons are very rough—whatever you do...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you the question, why did all those guys—and I‘m not defending their behavior because we saw it, they were stacking these guys up like hot dogs and humiliating them—and by the way, doing it on international television because those pictures went everywhere, driving more people to be suicide attackers of us—who was giving them the lead to do this kind of stuff?  What have you found out?  What did...


MATTHEWS:  ... was he about to find out?

HERSH:  What Taguba found out was that there was a major change in policy the previous fall.  They brought in the general who ran Guantanamo, a guy named Miller, Jeff Miller.


HERSH:  They brought him in—the insurgency was beginning.  This is the fall of ‘03.

MATTHEWS:  They brought him in from Gitmo.

HERSH:  They brought him in from Gitmo...

MATTHEWS:  Because he was doing it tough there.

HERSH:  He was doing it very tough there, and doing what the big boys wanted done.  You know, he was getting calls from the boys in Washington and carrying out their orders.  They brought him there to bring what they call “strategic interrogation” into the MPs at Abu Ghraib.  Most of the MPs were trained to be traffic cops.  They were reservists from West Virginia and Virginia.  They were going to teach the guys how to integrate—the MPs‘ job is to run a prison...

MATTHEWS:  And they—they were there to soften them up.

HERSH:  They were there to work with the intelligence people who were doing the interrogation.


HERSH:  And Army regulations are really clean on this.  MPs run prisons, they don‘t do interrogations.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What did humiliation of prisoners, treating these people like dogs—why did—how did that help the interrogation?

HERSH:  As far as I can tell, no way.  You know, as Taguba says often, he said, all these tactics were used and we‘re still using in the world, where are we?  Are we winning?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but what was the intention?

HERSH:  The intention was that they thought perhaps that the would find people who could—either were in the insurgency, would who blab about it, or people they could turn around and send into the insurgency to be sort of double agents for us.  We were desperate to get into the insurgency.  They blew up the U.N.  They blew up the Jordanian embassy.  It was the year before a presidential election.  Don‘t forget, they were very worried about ‘04.  And so here in the fall of ‘03, it isn‘t going so great.  So this guy comes and he‘s going to—Let‘s toughen it up.  Let‘s start whacking these people around.  Let them do what they want...

MATTHEWS:  Whose idea at the Pentagon—was this Cambone‘s idea?  Was it higher up than him?

HERSH:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Was it—was it Feith?  Was it—who are the usual suspects here?

HERSH:  Well, the usual suspect is Rummy, Cheney and the president.


HERSH:  Come on.  Who else?  You know, they all have a story now, the story that goes—now Rummy‘s story that this—this is what really drove Taguba up the wall.  Rummy goes and testifies on May 7 before—you know, he‘s sworn testimony before the House—Senate Armed Services Committee, and later to the House Armed Services Committee, If I‘d only known.  I mean, you know, I just saw these pictures the other week...

MATTHEWS:  OK, bottom line.  Are we ever going to be able to trace this up the chain of command and beyond the people like that woman general that got nailed on this thing?  Are we going to get any further than her?

HERSH:  I think Levin, who‘s now chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee—I know he has a bunch of guys that are competent really beginning to look at stuff, and maybe this‘ll be an incentive...

MATTHEWS:  OK, why did the intimidate the non-coms and the enlisted people to basically plead out here?

HERSH:  What choice did they have?  Intimidate them—all you have to...

MATTHEWS:  They have lousy lawyers?

HERSH:  No, they had pretty good lawyers.  What are you going to do? 

You know, you did it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, who—why...

HERSH:  Because they did it.  I mean, they did dumb stuff.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but didn‘t they—couldn‘t they say they saw the higher-ups do it, that they say it being done weekdays, and they did it at night?

HERSH:  It doesn‘t matter what they say.  They did it.  They did bad stuff, and they were caught, and they were caught on film.

MATTHEWS:  And they‘re facing 20 years, so they pled to three or something like that.

HERSH:  Well, but they were on film.  The only question...

MATTHEWS:  I understand.

HERSH:  Yes.  OK.

MATTHEWS:  It was bad news for our country, that Abu Ghraib thing, wasn‘t it.  It was bad news for our attempt to try to mollify the Middle East and to try to win over whatever support we can in that part of the world, isn‘t it.

HERSH:  And it‘s bad news that we still haven‘t come face to face with what we did and who‘s responsible.

Let me say one thing to you.  The president of the United States was told about Abu Ghraib very early, and what did he do about it?  Did he say to Rumsfeld, I want some generals‘ heads to roll?  I want to clean up detainee practices?  We can‘t do this?  We can‘t have these kind of pictures going around.

He did nada.  And so what happens in the military chain of command when the president of the United States—they know he‘s been briefed on it.  Rummy‘s been briefed on it.  Nobody‘s doing anything.  You know to investigate...


HERSH:  ... seriously detainee abuse is the end of your career.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I wonder when these—I wonder when we‘re going to take care of all these people.

Rumsfeld walks.  Wolfowitz gets knocked out of the World Bank, his little hiding place over there.  He‘s knocked out of there.  Feith can‘t get lunch with anybody at Georgetown.  The faculty club won‘t hang out with him.

When are these—all these guys going to come, make—maybe put them in front of us and make them answer for this thing?


MATTHEWS:  Is it ever going to happen? 

HERSH:  Listen, you know, we...

MATTHEWS:  And Rummy and Cheney and all these guys...

HERSH:  You know... 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Cheney is still there.  I shouldn‘t say that.  He‘s still in power.  I have got to be respectful.

But the fact is, it seems to me, all these—these guys, with their nutty ideas that got us in this war, and the poor soldiers are paying for it every day over there.

HERSH:  They have got to live with their own thoughts, too. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m afraid they‘re too comfortable with them.  I think they are still dreaming.  They are cooking up Iran for us now, is what I think is coming.  And you know that is coming, right?  Because you just told me before we went on the air.

HERSH:  No.  I didn‘t say it was coming.  I just say, they have not given up on very detailed planning, very, very detailed...


MATTHEWS:  To go to Iran, boy, with more firepower.

HERSH:  I mean, down to—down to nickel and—nickel and dried nuts, you know?  They have got... 


HERSH:  They have got it going.


MATTHEWS:  That‘s what we need, from the boys that brought us Iraq, Iran. 

HERSH:  Take it out. 

MATTHEWS:  I love that phrase, take it out, like it‘s something they read somewhere. 

HERSH:  Well...


MATTHEWS:  They have never been in a schoolyard fight, and they talk with such abandon about warfare and death. 

Anyway, thank you, Seymour Hersh, once again, another breakthrough story.  It‘s in “The New Yorker” this week.

Up next, we will preview the big presidential candidates forum at the AFSCME Leadership Conference tomorrow in Washington.  I will be moderating it.  But which Democrat can win over the party‘s rank-and-file, the working folk?

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  The big event in Washington tomorrow is the Democratic presidential candidates forum that I will be moderating.  I will interview the top Democrats who are running for president, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and all the others.

The public employees union AFSCME is going to be hosting it.  Gerald McEntee is the head of AFSCME right now.

Thank you, sir.



MATTHEWS:  Working people, let‘s talk about that, people that make an average salary, a decent salary, but are not well off...

MCENTEE:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... work for county.  They work for state governments...


MATTHEWS:  Who do they like?   

MCENTEE:  Who do they like?

MATTHEWS:  We‘re picking a president right now.  Who do they like?

MCENTEE:  Well, they don‘t know yet. 

I mean, that is why we are having this forum.  We want to, as a union, drill down, as far as we can, to find out where our leaders, where are our members are.  We would like to endorse in the primary, but we don‘t know...

MATTHEWS:  You did for Howard Dean last time.

MCENTEE:  We did.  That was—that was a bad thing. 


MCENTEE:  That was a bad thing.  It was a bad thing because...

MATTHEWS:  He was hot when you endorsed him.

MCENTEE:  ... we blew up—we blew up in Iowa and then we blew up in New Hampshire.  And that taught us all lesson.  And the lesson was to drill down deeper into our membership to find out where they are...

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to hold an election?

MCENTEE:  ... and who they want to support. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to hold an election?

MCENTEE:  Tomorrow?

MATTHEWS:  No.  AFSCME, are you going to let all the members vote? 

MCENTEE:  Well, they would vote for me. 


MATTHEWS:  And then you decide. 

MCENTEE:  No, no, no.

MATTHEWS:  This is like Robert Mugabe here. 

MCENTEE:  No, no, no.

MATTHEWS:  This is like Zimbabwe here.


MCENTEE:  I decided when we went for Dean.  So, that was a bad thing. 

MATTHEWS:  So, this time, how are going to let the members of the union decide this, so you don‘t make these sort of arbitrary decisions... 


MCENTEE:  Well, we‘re having these forums.  We had one out in Carson City.  You‘re going to emcee one tomorrow.


MCENTEE:  We have a national presidential search committee comprised of about 10 of our leaders.  We have an international executive board comprised of 35 people.

We are going to follow that up with another meeting of our international executive board.


MCENTEE:  ... with bringing in all of our other leaders.  I mean, we will have talked to these candidates longer than I am talking to you. 

MATTHEWS:  You like Hillary? 

MCENTEE:  No, no, no. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes, you do.

MCENTEE:  Oh, no.

MATTHEWS:  I have read you like Hillary.

MCENTEE:  No, no, no.

MCENTEE:  You will have me hung by the time I go back to this forum.


MCENTEE:  It is not a McEntee endorsement.  It‘s an AFSCME endorsement.

MATTHEWS:  Would Hillary Clinton defeat the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, Rudy Giuliani?  Would she beat him?

MCENTEE:  I think she would.

MATTHEWS:  Or would that be a tough one?

MCENTEE:  I think she would.

MATTHEWS:  Would that be a tough one?

MCENTEE:  I think she would, though.  I think we have, the Democrats, a very strong bench.  I think it is ours to lose.

MATTHEWS:  You have got a great bench.  The question is, who is going to be the nominee? 

MCENTEE:  Of course.

MATTHEWS:  Can that person beat Rudy or Fred Thompson, one of the Republican leaders? 

MCENTEE:  Well, Rudy is starting to lose a little ground now.  I mean, we have 125,000 members in New York City. 

MATTHEWS:  But don‘t the cops and firemen like him? 

MCENTEE:  No.  They do not like him.  The firemen in New York City do not like him.

The police, well, they might like him a little bit, but not a whole lot.  Our people can‘t stand him, can‘t stand him.  He was mayor there of our people for eight years. 


MATTHEWS:  ... guys a raise, right?  That was it, wasn‘t it?

MCENTEE:  Oh, he would not give us anything. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  But he was good for fighting crime, wasn‘t he? 

MCENTEE:  Well, that is what the statistics show, that he was good for fighting crime.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Murder was down by 40 percent.  I mean, that is real.

MCENTEE:  So, what is he going to do, fight crime all over the United States?  We have more serious problems than that. 


MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t public employees like a guy that enforces the law?  I just wonder why you‘re...

MCENTEE:  Well, of course we do.  Of course we do.

MATTHEWS:  But he doesn‘t give you a pay raise, so you don‘t like him.

MCENTEE:  Yes, that is right. 


MCENTEE:  I mean, our people deserve at least a fair day‘s pay for a fair day‘s work.  

MATTHEWS:  What do you think?  I want to ask you a question I‘m going to ask the candidates tomorrow.


MATTHEWS:  You‘re reading about CEOs of big corporations today...


MATTHEWS:  ... making 500 times, huge ratios, of what the working guy or working woman makes.

Does the federal government have any say in that, or is that just up to these corporations? 

MCENTEE:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  If the board decides to give these guys—the stockholders say it‘s OK for a guy to make a zillion dollars a year, that is OK? 

MCENTEE:  We‘re going—I mean, AFSCME has a program.  We are going...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re...


MATTHEWS:  ... employees.  I...


MCENTEE:  Yes.  We‘re—we‘re—but we‘re visiting all of these various corporations that are holding stockholders meetings.


MCENTEE:  And what we‘re trying to get done is the fact that the stockholders have a say in that.  The stockholders have a say in who is going to be on the board.


MCENTEE:  The stockholders have a say in the pay...

MATTHEWS:  So, it‘s not a sweetheart deal?

MCENTEE:  ... of the CEO.  That‘s right.  So, it is not a sweetheart deal.  We have made some progress. 

And a Democrat as president could set a standard like that which would make a difference between...


MATTHEWS:  You‘re going to jawbone, like Kennedy did...


MATTHEWS:  ... on prices and wages.

MCENTEE:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, the good times could be rolling pretty soon for you guys. 

MCENTEE:  I would hope so.

MATTHEWS:  Feeling the old music again.  I‘m hearing it. 

MCENTEE:  I would hope so.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m hearing it. 

Gerald McEntee...

MCENTEE:  I would hope so.

MATTHEWS:  ... an Irishman from Pennsylvania, good man.  Thank you. 

And a reminder.

MCENTEE:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  All day tomorrow on MSNBC, it is Super Tuesday for us, too, not just for AFSCME, for the public, and, boy, as we‘re going to have live coverage of that forum, which I am going to be moderating starting—get up early tomorrow—at 8:00. 


MATTHEWS:  Up next, the HARDBALL debate—with polls showing a big lead over Barack Obama, can anyone stop Hillary?  That‘s our big question tonight.

And, of course, this is an old Nixonian question.  Has she peaked too soon?  Nixon used to say, don‘t peak too soon.

You are watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


MIKE HUCKMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Mike Huckman with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks closing lower, after three days of solid gains—the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 26-and-a-half points, the S&P 500 falling almost two points, and the Nasdaq down just fractionally. 

A major management shakeup at Yahoo announced after the closing bell -

CEO—make that chairman Terry Semel is stepping down as CEO after six years.  He will be replaced by co-founder Jerry Yang.  And, in after-hours trading, Yahoo shares are up more than 4 percent. 

Boeing and Airbus are battling for orders at the world‘s biggest air show in Paris.  So far, Airbus is in front, inking big deals with U.S.  Airways and a number of Mideast carriers as well.  Boeing has orders, though, from Jakarta-based Lion Air and GE Commercial Aviation Services.

GE, of course, is the parent of MSNBC and CNBC. 

And Wendy‘s says it is exploring strategic options for the fast-food chain, including a possible sale.  The company also slashed its 2007 outlook. 

That is it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.            

Is Hillary Clinton pulling away for the Democratic nomination?  A new “USA Today”/Gallup poll gives her a double-digit lead right now over Barack Obama.  Is she the inevitable nominee?  And, if so, will she be the Republicans‘ dream opponent? 

K.T. McFarland was a Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race last year, the race that Hillary Clinton won.  She‘s now a Republican activist in New York State.  Mark Green is president of Air America Radio.

Mark, has Hillary got it? 

MARK GREEN, PRESIDENT, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  She is strongly favored, but it is not inevitable she will win. 

To quote Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters,” I am absolutely confident she will probably win. 


GREEN:  Chris, half the anointed front-runners since 1968 in contested primaries on the Democratic side have won.  Half have lost.

And these national polls are fun, but not significant.  What is significant are polls in the two slingshot states of Iowa and New Hampshire.  And then what is significant is, what is her real strength, as compared to Obama, Edwards, and Richardson?

And, so, like Tiger Woods, she is the favorite against the field, but ask Angel Cabrera what that means. 


We‘re going to go from the U.S. Open to K.T. McFarland.


MATTHEWS:  Can Hillary be beaten? 


Oh, sure. 

No, I think that—you know, it‘s really curious, what Mark Green just said.  Most Democrats think that she can‘t win.  They think she can get the nomination, but that she can‘t win. 

Most Republicans think that she could win.  So, I think—and I‘m going to be—you heard it here first—I think that Al Gore is going to jump in by the fall.  And I think he will be the candidate.  He will get the nomination.

MATTHEWS:  Do you want to make some money?  Do you want to make some money? 


MATTHEWS:  We will talk.


MATTHEWS:  I think—I think—I can make you some money on that bet.


MATTHEWS:  Because I will give you even on that one, that Al Gore is getting into this race.  If he wins the Nobel Prize, he is going to tarnish that by going into electoral politics, after all that?

GREEN:  I agree.

MCFARLAND:  I don‘t know.  I think that the opportunity to change the world...


MCFARLAND:  ... is pretty...


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s stay on the debate question here.  And it is right now—K.T. McFarland, you stay on it, please, madam.

Has Hillary Clinton got this thing locked?

MCFARLAND:  You mean the nomination or the—or the election? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, the nomination.  Let‘s stay with the nomination right now, if we can.

MCFARLAND:  Well, if Gore does not get in, yes, she has it locked.

GREEN:  Boy, can I...

MATTHEWS:  Who booked you?  I thought you were going to be the one that says she doesn‘t.  

What is going on here?

MCFARLAND:  I think she has got it locked, but I don‘t think she can win.

MATTHEWS:  I was told that you didn‘t—you said she‘s not going to win this thing.

MCFARLAND:  I don‘t think she‘s going to win the election, no, but I think she wins the nomination, absolutely. 

GREEN:  Enjoy K.T., as I do, on our occasional shows, I disagree with both her points. 

One, I don‘t find many Democrats who think Hillary can‘t win, putting Obama‘s and Edwards‘ strong candidacies aside, because, whoever the Democrat is, is far more in line with American public opinion in a general election.


GREEN:  On universal health care, global warming, and Iraq, the generic Democrat, as we know, is 15 to 20 points ahead of the generic Republican.

Second, to say that...


MCFARLAND:  Mark, no, I have just got to disagree and jump in. 

GREEN:  Please.

MCFARLAND:  If it was George Bush running, I think you are right.  But George Bush is not on that ticket in ‘08.

GREEN:  All...

MCFARLAND:  And I think that the national security issues are going to be first and foremost.  It is going to be the Iraq war.

GREEN:  All...

MCFARLAND:  It‘s going to be nuclear weapons in Iran. 

GREEN:  All 10...

MCFARLAND:  And, on those, McCain or Giuliani speak very well. 

GREEN:  They speak well.  What they‘re saying is, Bush-plus.

Both have said, we need more troops, when, America, by 3-1, want us to leave, rather than have more troops.  So, while, of course, Bush is not running, people who like Bush‘s stubborn wrongheadedness on Iraq will love Rudy and McCain.

One last thing.  You say Hillary is the inevitable nominee.  I mean, I was with John Kerry in 2003.  He went from likely nominee to no chance in December of ‘03.  Three weeks later, he wins Iowa, and it is all over. 

You have a level of confidence about this that history, I think, would belie.  The Democrats have so many strong candidates, any one of the top three, plus Biden and Dodd, are so experienced and smart and conversant, that any one of them could win.  Hillary is the strongest.

MCFARLAND:  Hillary will get the woman‘s vote, though, in the Democratic primary. 

GREEN:  I agree. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well...


MCFARLAND:  For example, in New York State, in 2000...

MATTHEWS:  Boy—you know, you know, if you get the women‘s vote on the Democratic side, K.T. McFarland...


MATTHEWS:  ... that is half of -- 60 percent in the vote in the primaries and caucuses are women.

So, if they get—if you start with 30 percent, without a single male voter, it is very hard to lose or not come in at least close second in almost every one of the contests. 

MCFARLAND:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  So, if you‘re right, if she gets the women‘s vote, if she gets the lion‘s share of the woman‘s vote, she can‘t be beaten.  I am totally with you.  Most voters are women.

GREEN:  Can I make a...

MCFARLAND:  You know, look, in 2000, she won almost 75 percent in—when she ran for the Senate in New York in 2000, she had almost 75 percent of all women voted for her.  And then the men broke 50/50 between Hillary and the Republican candidate. 

That 75 percent, you can‘t make that up. 

GREEN:  Can I make a non-gender...

MCFARLAND:  So, I think she wins...

GREEN:  Can I make a non-gender point? 


GREEN:  Although ethnic politics is not unimportant, Hillary has such an organizational advantage. 


GREEN:  In the last couple of weeks, she has gotten Mayor Villaraigosa in L.A.  She has gotten Senator Menendez.  She‘s gotten...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GREEN:  ... Governor O‘Malley.  She and her very influential husband are so well-organized, ahead of the curve, presidentially experienced...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GREEN:  ... and she has been so substantively...


GREEN:  ... authoritative in her presentation...

MATTHEWS:  By the way...


GREEN:  ... in the debates, that‘s why I think she has an edge.

MATTHEWS:  Hey, Mark, only in New York politics is gender considered an ethnic group. 


MATTHEWS:  I love the way you said that.  It‘s an ethnic fact, anyway, only in New York ticket ballots.

And, K.T., so, just to make this clear, you think Hillary will win the nomination? 

MCFARLAND:  If Gore gets in, I think Gore wins the nomination. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s...

MCFARLAND:  The question is, does he want to get in? 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sure that‘s a question, but I don‘t think there is an question that is positive. 

Anyway, Mark Green, thank you, sir.

Up next:  How long will the U.S. troops stay in Iraq?  A couple of months?  Or General Petraeus is talking about 10 years to fight that insurgency.  Ten years, he said yesterday, we are going to be over there fighting the Shia militia and the—and the Sunni insurgents, and stopping them from fighting each other. 

Plus: Hillary‘s big lead.  And will Scooter Libby get a pardon?  That is my favorite question tonight—when our panel gets back. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Time now to debate the big stories that have been making news across the country today.  And here to get to the bottom of things are the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson, Matt Continetti of the “Weekly Standard” and Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and author of the book “Chasing Ghosts.” 

First up, see you in September—remember that song?  Well, maybe.  President Bush kept saying that his surge plan needed until September to work.  Well now it seems his military man in charge, General David Petraeus, is not so optimistic.  On a Sunday news show he said not to expect conditions in Iraq to improve to a point where troops can be reduced by September.  Let‘s watch. 


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER U.S. FORCES IRAQ:  I think just about everybody out there recognizes that a situation like this, with the many challenges that Iraq is contending with, is not one that is going to be resolved in a year or even two years.  In fact, typically, I think historically, counter insurgency operations have gone at least nine or 10 years. 


MATTHEWS:  Well that‘s Petraeus on Fox Sunday.  So the question is what happened to Bush‘s promise of seeing results this September, and how will both parties try and alter the course of this war?  Matt, is September still judgment day? 

MATT CONTINETTI, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”:  Absolutely.  September is still judgment day for Congressional Republicans.  And that‘s the key constituency.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Mitch McConnell said that again yesterday.  Tell me what the significance of this is.

CONTINETTI:  They‘re looking to September.  The report will come in from Petraeus and Ryan Crocker.  Crocker will talk about the politics.  Petraeus will talk about the military.  And depending on what they say, you may have more Senate and House Republicans revolt from Bush.  What I think the likeliest candidate, they will go back to Baker/Hamilton.  And they will say, we need to reduce our profile. 

You have to remember, we were trying to reduce our profile before we chose a surge policy, before Bush chose the surge policy.  And we still had casualties in Iraq.  So I don‘t think it would make much of a difference in the long run. 

MATTHEWS:  But, politically, you think that is the option play? 

CONTINETTI:  Politically, I don‘t think it would be enough to win over

MATTHEWS:  You think that—we‘re talking—The Democrats have already voted.  They are against the war.  They want to get out, basically.  The Republicans, who still have almost half the members of Congress, have to decide this, people like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter.  They have to make the decisions. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Let‘s assume that in September Petraeus says, basically, it has not worked yet.  But here are a few little things that have gone right.  I am not sure exactly how the Republicans come out on that.  You know, Susan Collins, the more liberal wing of the party—

MATTHEWS:  Is that a holding action then?  Is that just staying in Iraq, taking the blood and the treasure that is costing us and letting the people die just to avoid not leaving?   

ROBINSON:  Well, what is the potential of the surge?  Thirty thousand troops in a country the size of what California, this huge country that‘s in chaos.  It is not going to pacify Iraq.  And unless the Iraqi government is of a mind to reach a political settlement that I am not even sure is possible for them to reach at this point—but they‘re certainly not of a mind to do it, or they haven‘t been yet. 

So what can Iraq possibly look like in September?  A lot like it looks now, really.  And, so, yes, it‘s a holding action. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Paul Rieckhoff, this is a political decision time.  Is it going to hold, even though Petraeus is talking a 10-year war against insurgency over there, not a six-month surge? 

PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA:  Well, here‘s where we see the disconnect, Chris.  The people in the military are planning for decades, if not longer, because that‘s how long a counter-insurgency traditionally takes.  But the political clock is running out.  So the bigger question is, what is plan B?  The president has never talked about plan B.  McCain hasn‘t articulated a plan B.

So what happens if September comes and the American public is fed up and they want an alternative?  Hope is not a course of action.  We need a plan beyond hey, give us some more time as we continue to move the goal line back and our troops are there for a third and fourth tour.  I think politically they are out of time here beyond September.  And that‘s when you‘re going to see the Republican party start to fragment. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s take a look at this: the leader of the pack,

Barack Obama, may be considered a political rock star, who draws big crowds

wherever he goes, but, according to the latest “USA Today”/Gallup Poll, it

is Hillary Clinton who is the leader of the pack with a big—look at this

double-digit lead over Barack Obama.  She‘s 39; he‘s 26.  Can she sustain the momentum over Barack?  And what does he need to do to turn things around?  Matt, again, Hillary, she keeps winning and winning and winning.

CONTINETTI:  She does, but we have to look at the second quarter finance numbers, which are going to come out at the end of the month.  Obama may out-raise Hillary Clinton in the second quarter.

MATTHEWS:  So what?

CONTINETTI:  Money goes to the winning candidates.  People choose a big winner.  They like to pick it.  And look at the Mason Dixon Poll, Chris, in South Carolina, this week, Obama is ahead. 

MATTHEWS:  In South Carolina?

CONTINETTI:  Absolutely, he is in first.  National polls don‘t matter at this stage. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we disagree.  Go ahead. 


MATTHEWS:  -- are going to matter.

ROBINSON:  Well, what the national polls do is give Hillary Clinton the aura of front-runner.  They anoint her as front runner.  I think it helps her in the states.  But I don‘t think—

MATTHEWS:  Do you think some senior citizen of Miami gives a rat‘s rear how some farmer votes in Iowa?  They‘re going to vote—or somebody in southern California is going to vote the way they want.  This idea that we are going to have somebody in Iowa decide how people vote in these huge states, like New Jersey, when they already know Hillary Clinton—they know these people. 

Let me see, oh, I heard this guy Romney won in Iowa, I guess I will have to vote for him.  Why is anybody going to vote like that?  That‘s an idiot‘s way of looking at politics.   

ROBINSON:  Better than I do you know the record of Democratic front runners.  You know, at this stage, before an election—this year is different.  Hillary Clinton is different.  You can‘t really compare apples to apples, but I don‘t think it is over. 

CONTINETTI:  People like to vote for a winner too, Chris.  If Hillary comes out on top in Iowa, all of a sudden she is the winner.  She‘s anointed as the front runner by the media.  People in Florida may --  

MATTHEWS:  Hillary Clinton is going to get half the women to vote for her, at least, and that is enough.  Let me go right now to Paul.  Do you have any political sense about Hillary Clinton or Barack in this thing?  I don‘t see Barack catching her.  I don‘t see him closing the gap.  And in football they call it separation.  I see a lot of separation between him and her. 

RIECKHOFF:  I think that Obama has tremendous energy, especially among young people and people who are outside the beltway.  But I think where Hillary is really starting to differentiate herself is on national security. 

MATTHEWS:  This wasn‘t a poll inside the beltway, Paul.  These are national polls.

RIECKHOFF:  In the national polls, I think where she is really starting to separate herself is on national security, is on defense, is on military issues.  She sounds like a president, and he sounds more like a mayor. 

MATTHEWS:  She is making sure that she gets all the hawkish votes in the Democratic primary.  You watch the way she carves it; a residual force in Iraq.  She sends all the signals. 

RIECKHOFF:  And that comes from being on the Armed Services Committee. 

She‘s got a lot of experience.  She sat through these committee hearings.  She spent time in the Pentagon.  And she has really gotten her resume stacked up with military lingo, military contacts and foreign policy experience.  Obama is still trying to catch up on that. 

MATTHEWS:  We agree.  We will be right back with Eugene Robinson, Matt Continetti and Paul Rieckhoff.  Hillary Clinton is winning this thing and Barack can‘t seem to do anything about it, despite raising lots of money.  He‘s got to figure out what to do with all that money.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re back with Eugene Robinson of the “Washington Post,” the “Weekly Standard‘s” Matt Continetti and Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  First off, before we go to this pardon issue, which I‘m fascinated with, do you know—wait, we are going to the pardon issue.  Let‘s go with the pictures.  Follow the pictures. 

Gene, will he be pardoned? 

ROBINSON:  I think no.  There‘s no indication from the White House that they‘re leaning in that direction.  And so I say no. 

MATTHEWS:  Paul, do you have any inside skinny on whether Bush is going to pardon his guy? 

RIECKHOFF:  Absolutely not.  But I think that if he does it is going to send a message about accountability in government.  You had Cy Hersh on earlier about Abu Ghraib.  If this guy gets a get-out-of-jail free card, what does that say about all the other people who have been involved in some aspect of this war and this administration, who have walked?  That‘s the bigger question, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  Suppose the president does something very dainty and gives him respite, which is freedom from jail during his appeal, a little respite, do you think he‘ll do that?  Like the Schiavo case.

CONTINETTI:  It‘s possible.  Respite is possible.  Commutation of the sentence is possible. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that‘s in the best interest of the country for the president? 

CONTINETTI:  Sure, it‘s an incredibly harsh sentence.  The maximum sentence for the perjury of two and a half years—

MATTHEWS:  Four counts. 

CONTINETTI:  This ridiculous fine for an investigation that many legal scholars questioned was even constitutional, even though Judge Walton disagrees with that assessment.  I think it was an excessive sentence. 

MATTHEWS:  So Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and Scooter should walk for it?   

CONTINETTI:  Bill Clinton wasn‘t convicted and he lost his law license.  That was at the end of the day—

MATTHEWS:  No thanks to the Republican party.  They voted overwhelmingly to convict him and kick him out of office. 


MATTHEWS:  -- tried to kick Clinton out of office for perjury.  And you‘re saying that Scooter Libby should walk for perjury?   

CONTINETTI:  I‘m saying that the sentence should be commuted, because it was a maximum—it was a harsh sentence.  Anne Reddington, a juror on that Grand Jury, told you the same thing. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you allowed to say he should reduce it to six months? 

Or do you want him—

CONTINETTI:  I‘m not going to tell the president what to do.  I‘m saying he should commute the sentence. 

MATTHEWS:  To what? 

CONTINETTI:  To six months, whatever. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean, he does deserve to serve time? 

CONTINETTI:  He was convicted of a crime. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe he should serve some time?

CONTINETTI:  No, I don‘t. 

MATTHEWS:  See, you want hi to walk.  You guys—this is the neo-con line.  This is the absolute line.  Let him walk or Clinton gets impeached. 

CONTINETTI:  There was no adverse consequence, even if he had committed the crime. 

MATTHEWS:  What was the adverse consequence—well, I‘m not getting into Clinton.  I‘m not going to defend the guy, but you guys have a double standard. 

CONTINETTI:  There‘s no double standard. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, impeach the president for perjury and let this guy

walk back to the AEI for the rest of his life for nothing.  Paul Rieckhoff

CONTINETTI: There‘s a great difference between the two.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the difference? 

CONTINETTI:  In the one case you had the president of the United States obstructing justice and supporting perjury—


CONTINETTI:  This guy doesn‘t remember who told him who Valerie Plame was.

ROBINSON:  He was found guilty by a jury. 

MATTHEWS:  I had a guy steal my car once and he said some guy named Joe told him he could steal my car.  I mean, that‘s called a defense.  It‘s not the truth.  You‘re giving me the case he gave in his defense, which the jury rejected as a reason to spring him. 

CONTINETTI:  Isn‘t that case just—I mean, the jury wasn‘t persuaded, but the juror and—


MATTHEWS: You could have hung the thing.  You could have kept him out of jail.

CONTINETTI:  I will have liked to have been on that jury. 

MATTHEWS:  But you weren‘t.

CONTINETTI:  I wasn‘t.  Anne Reddington told you that it was an unfair

MATTHEWS:  I let the jury speak, but I just notice that the people on the hawkish side of things have a totally different judgment when it comes to whether we punish people for perjury or not, depending on where they stand on the war.  You say, since he‘s with you on the war and supports the war, he should walk for perjury. 

CONTINETTI:  That‘s not what I said at all.  I said the sentence was excessive.

MATTHEWS:  What should be the punishment? 

CONTINETTI:  I‘m the not judge, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  You said nothing. 

CONTINETTI:  Two and a half years, plus more than a hundred thousand dollar fine is excessive. 

MATTHEWS:  You said nothing.

CONTINETTI:  I would have been happy with nothing.  I would have been happy with a month.

MATTHEWS:  OK, suppose he gets three months, is that OK? 

CONTINETTI:  I‘m not the president and I‘m not the judge. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Paul, you‘re a military serving man.  What should a civilian who pushed the war all the way through and got caught obstructing justice defending the American way?  And now the American way says go to jail.  He says I don‘t like the American way.  I want the president to be my big brother and come save me.

RIECKHOFF:  You did the crime, do the time.  I mean, that cuts across partisan lines.  And this is why people are fed up with Washington.  It seems like everybody chooses a side depending upon what their political affiliation is. 

If the guy was found guilty, in my opinion, he should do some time.  I think most Americans would agree.  If you separate all the other intangibles and all the other history, you look at the fact on the ground, I think he should do time.  How much?  I don‘t know.  But, in my opinion, if you do the crime, you do the time. 

CONTINETTI:  Paul and I agree.  If he is convicted of a crime—

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s do this question right now.  You have to make a decision as journalist, because you are a great journalist.  Will the president pardon Scooter Libby?  Yes or no, will he do that?


MATTHEWS:  He will not do it? 



ROBINSON:  No, I won‘t do it. 


RIECKHOFF:  I hope not.  Nothing surprises me anymore. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I think he‘s going to do it. 

CONTINETTI:  Well, this is the thing—

MATTHEWS:  Do you know why, because he‘d rather book him than read the book he‘ll write if they keep him in there.  That‘s just my guess, because he can not keep secrets.  This guy is not G. Gordon Liddy.  He is not going to defend the president to the end, is he?  Is he going to stay in stir for two and a half years, meeting some interesting characters for two and a half years, getting to know a whole new social life, which is not like the American Enterprise Institute, and do this, and all the time keep quite about why he did what he did and who he was covering for?   

CONTINETTI:  Who‘s to say?  He might write another novel.  But he shouldn‘t be going there in the first place.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s a better man than I.  If he stays in there and keeps his trap shut, it‘s the most astounding thing I‘ve ever seen in politics.  I‘ll tell you, if this guy doesn‘t talk.  Because he has a story to tell and you know it.  That‘s why you‘re defending him.  Anyway, thank you Eugene Robinson.  Thank you Matt Continetti.  Thank you Paul Rieckhoff. 

Tomorrow, big day tomorrow.  Super Tuesday, all-day coverage on MSNBC,

as the top Democratic candidates for president try to win over the rank and

file at the Aspen Leadership Conference.  I‘ll be there to ask the

questions.  We should get some good answers to show you on this show all day tomorrow.  It‘s time for “TUCKER.”



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