updated 8/27/2007 1:32:59 PM ET 2007-08-27T17:32:59

Guest: Michael Eric Dyson, Marcia Dyson, Lance Armstrong, Julian Barnes, Charlie Hurt, Dan Gilgoff, Susannah Meadows

MIKE BARNICLE, GUEST HOST:  Tonight: Will the president‘s top military man tell him it‘s time to get out of Iraq?  Plus, Lance Armstrong on how the next president can win the war on cancer.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, and welcome to HARDBALL.  I‘m Mike Barnicle, in for Chris Matthews.

First up tonight, we‘ll have Lance Armstrong.  He wants to make sure the 2008 presidential candidates have the war on cancer on their agenda.  Next week, Chris Matthews will co-moderate a presidential forum with Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor.  And he‘s going to join us in a moment to talk about what the next president can do to save thousands of American lives.

In our second story tonight, leaving Iraq.  This week, President Bush used America‘s experience in Japan, Korea and Vietnam to make the case for staying in Iraq.  Then the National Intelligence Estimate said that violence in Iraq is high, the Iraqi political leadership is poor and the infrastructure is floundering.  On Thursday, Republican senator John Warner pushed President Bush to begin a withdrawal from Iraq.  And today, “The Los Angeles Times” reported that outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman Peter Pace is expected to advise the president to reduce the United States force in Iraq next year by almost half.

Why is General Pace saying this now?  What‘s it tell us about what General Petraeus will tell Congress?  We‘re going to talk about it with retired colonel Jack Jacobs and the “Los Angeles Times” reporter who broke and wrote the story, Julian Barnes.

In our political headlines, Rudy Giuliani hires the ad team that brought you this desperate gem from the 2006 campaign against Harold Ford.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I met Harold at the “Playboy” party!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘d love to pay higher marriage taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Canada can take care of North Korea.  They‘re not busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So he took money from porn movie producers.  I mean, who hasn‘t?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Harold, call me!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNICLE:  Also tonight, are the spouses of White House hopefuls helping or hurting their campaigns?  That‘s our HARDBALL debate with spouses Michael Eric Dyson and Marcia Dyson.  More on all that later with our roundtable.

But first, the chairman and founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Lance Armstrong.  Lance, thanks very much for joining us.

LANCE ARMSTRONG, LIVESTRONG PRESIDENTIAL CANCER FORUM:  You bet. 

Thanks.

BARNICLE:  You know, one of my cockamie theories—and I have a lot of them, and I‘d like you to comment on it—I figure that if you went all across this country and everyone you bumped into, whether you were getting your gas in the morning or a cup of coffee, and you told them two things—two things—if you said that—al Qaeda to them or cancer to them and asked them which they feared most, the preponderant number would say cancer.  What do you think about that?

ARMSTRONG:  Well, we‘ve actually asked them that question.  I mean, not everybody in this...

BARNICLE:  Really?

ARMSTRONG:  Yes, we have.  We polled—we did a large poll in 2004 and the number-one concern, I mean, if you consider a serious car accident, other types of accidents, terrorism, a plane crash or cancer, cancer was by far and away the biggest fear.

BARNICLE:  So tell me about the forum, Monday and Tuesday on MSNBC, you and Chris moderating the Livestrong presidential forum.  What do you hope accomplish?  What are you going to do?

ARMSTRONG:  Well, for us, it‘s the most important thing is to get the candidates or the future commander-in-chief on the record talking about the disease, so they have opportunity to lay out their plan, lay out their agenda, answer some questions from Chris and myself—I suppose probably more questions from Chris than myself—and then also take some questions from some—some polling we‘ve done over the Internet and from the other cancer groups in this country.

BARNICLE:  Who is going to appear at the forum?  I guess maybe more importantly, who‘s—who‘s not going to appear?

ARMSTRONG:  Well, on Monday we have the Democrats, and we have Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards, Bill Richardson—Governor Richardson—Dennis Kucinich.  And then on Tuesday, the Republicans, we have Governor Huckabee and Senator Brownback.

BARNICLE:  Where‘s Senator McCain?  He‘s actually, you know, had a bout with cancer.

ARMSTRONG:  That‘s true.  Both Senator McCain and Mayor Giuliani are cancer survivors themselves, and as you know, Senator Obama is also the son of a—of—his mother lost her life and her battle to cancer.

But you know, I‘m not sure where they are.  I know that we will be there and I‘m honored that the—that the candidates that have chosen to come, are coming.  And you know, I would love for them to be there.

And again, I would just stress that this is not our one and only opportunity to talk about this issue.  This political race that we‘re in, it seems like it started way early.  So we‘re buried in and dug in, and we‘ll be in this for the long haul.  And so they‘ll have an opportunity to talk about it.

And quite frankly, I mean, the only thing I will say pointedly is that, you know, it‘s the number-one killer in this country for people under the age of 85.  It kills 600,000 Americans a year.  And for the candidates that aren‘t there Monday and Tuesday, we hope that they will be there at the next opportunity.

BARNICLE:  You know, I mean, it‘s tough to compare any federal program with another federal program, the budgets, the appropriations.  But when you consider the fact, as you just said, that cancer is the number-one killer in this country, and given the fact that we are the most advanced both culturally and scientific nation the world has ever seen, it‘s mind-numbing at a certain level to think that we can‘t better cope with coming up with a cure for this disease than we have.

ARMSTRONG:  Well, you have to consider this the disease is an old problem.  I mean, Richard Nixon declared the “war on cancer” in 1971.  And you know, you have peaks and valleys there.  And when you have a peak of diagnoses or deaths, then everybody starts to stress and worry about cancer.  But then it‘s quickly absorbed and swallowed up by something else or another news item.  So we forget about the disease that kills 1,500 Americans a day, OK?

And you know, my job as an activist and a cancer survivor myself, is to make sure that we all remember to remind each other that—that the odds are the odds—one in two men, one in three women will be diagnosed with this disease—and to ultimately do something about it.  And I think a great place to start is with the commander-in-chief.

BARNICLE:  Tell me about—you just mentioned you‘re a cancer survivor.  Tell me what happened the day you were in the doctor‘s office or wherever you were when you heard the doctor say to you, Lance, you‘ve got cancer.

ARMSTRONG:  Well, of course I was—I was—I got a sense that something was coming up because they kept sending me to different—to, you know, get different scans and X-rays, and I realized that this wasn‘t your normal doctor visit.  But nothing can prepare you for that moment, that instant that the—that the doctor comes in and says, You have cancer.  And I mean, my first reaction was, Are you sure?

But then for me, I guess, fortunately enough, he put up the chest X-ray, which showed it littered with tumors in the lungs.  And so it was not only confirmation that I had cancer, but it was confirmation that it had spread.

BARNICLE:  Did you think you were going to die at any point?

ARMSTRONG:  You definitely have—look, I‘m not going to lie and say I always thought I was going to live.  I mean, the odds were 50/50, so I would have been a fool to think that I would have been, you know, in the right 50.  I always considered the fact that I might die.  At some point, you have to become comfortable with that and at peace with that.  But you know, my—my—my mindset at the time was just one of—of determination and toughness and wanting to get through it.

BARNICLE:  So is that—I was going to ask you about that.  Anybody who‘s faced a critical health issue, a potentially life-threatening health issue—because of who you are and because of what you do, did cancer become the immediate opponent?  Did cancer become that cyclist out ahead of you on the hill, you were going to overtake that and beat it?

ARMSTRONG:  You know, it‘s interesting.  For me, it really was a sports match or a bike race or a—or any sort of competition.  I viewed cancer as—as the enemy.  I absolutely hated it.  I wanted to get rid of it.  And it was a fight between it and I, or he or she and I.  And so yes, it was advantageous that along the way I got—the same chest X-ray that showed all of these lesions in the lungs, I got to do every week, so I got to see the lesions shrinking.  And I realized, You know what?  I‘m checking out the scoreboard and I‘m starting to win.  And so that type of stuff just fueled my motivation to live and—and ultimately to live strong.

BARNICLE:  You know, Lance Armstrong and others with access to health care and health insurance, you get that screening.

ARMSTRONG:  That‘s correct.

BARNICLE:  And yet you could be from one particular zip code and you could combat and perhaps survive cancer, and live in another zip code and you‘re gone.  I mean, this is a frustrating thing, is it not?

ARMSTRONG:  Terribly frustrating.  And I think the best example there is if you just took New York City, for example, and you—you know, you have a—a wealthy investment banker, a hedge fund manager in Manhattan doing his job on a daily basis.  He‘s diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer, say colon cancer.  He‘s treated at Sloan Kettering.  He goes on to survive and thrive and live a prosperous and normal life.

If you just ventured a couple of miles outside of that neighborhood,

you would be in Harlem.  You would find a middle-age man or an older man

that was diagnosed late, didn‘t have access to the best treatment options,

perhaps didn‘t believe in the care that was there, and ultimately will die

from the disease.  So within a span of—of literally two or three miles,

you have the polar opposite in terms of treatment and outcome.  And that‘s

in the United States of America in 2007, 2008, that‘s not right.

BARNICLE:  Yes—no, it‘s not.  I agree with you.  And I don‘t want to put a campaign button on you here, but what do you think of the Bush administration‘s policy, their fiscal policies, their appropriations in this fight against cancer?  Not to single out President Bush, but he is the president.

ARMSTRONG:  Right.  Well, I mean, I‘ll just be honest.  The president is—is a fellow Texan.  I knew him when he was the governor.  He‘s—I would say that he‘s a friend of mine.  I serve on the president‘s cancer panel.

Having said all of those things, I, as a cancer survivor and I as an activist, am disappointed that the budget at the NCI, the National Cancer Institute, has been shrunk two years in a row.  The disease isn‘t going away that quickly.  We need to stay focused.  We need to stay behind it.  And so, you know, my immediate reaction would be that I‘m disappointed.

Having said all of that, I know that these are difficult times.  And look, I mean, I saw the run-in to our segment here.  I mean, the war has been a—has been a huge burden on this country.  And again, not to say I‘m for or against the war, but it‘s difficult to manage this household when you have so many other obligations.  And so you know, right now, I think that our priority is the future administration, and we‘ll see what happens there.  And that‘s why the forums are so great, give the candidates an opportunity to come out and lay out their plan.

BARNICLE:  Well, we‘re looking forward to them.  Lance Armstrong, thanks very much.  Stay strong and live strong.

ARMSTRONG:  Thank you.

BARNICLE:  And watch the entire Livestrong Presidential Forum moderated by Chris Matthews and Lance Armstrong on MSNBC.com and MSNBC on Monday and Tuesday starting at 11:00 AM Eastern.  And don‘t miss Lance this Sunday on NBC‘s “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert.  And if you‘d like to join Lance and the Livestrong army to make cancer a national priority, text the word “join” to 85258.

Coming up: Will the chairman of the Joint Chiefs tell the president it‘s time to leave Iraq?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARNICLE:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman Peter Pace is expected to advise President Bush to significantly reduce U.S. forces in Iraq next year.  What‘s behind his recommendation?  And will this pit him against General Petraeus and the White House?

Retired Army colonel Jack Jacobs is an MSNBC military analyst, and Julian Barnes broke and wrote this story for “The Los Angeles Times.”  Julian, I was reading the story this morning.  People clearly talked to you.  I‘m not going to ask you, obviously, who was talking to you.  But what‘s your sense of what‘s going on here inside the Pentagon?

JULIAN BARNES, “LOS ANGELES TIMES”:  Well, you know, the Joint Chiefs have been worried for awhile about the overstretched Army and Marine Corps.  They were worried when there was 15 brigades in Iraq, and now that there‘s 20, they just—they see that it‘s weakening the—America‘s strategic position.  And they—they feel that the United States needs to cut the number of forces in 2008.

BARNICLE:  Colonel Jacobs, as a former commander yourself in the field with men serving under you, working under you, fighting under you, do you sense that General Pace, who has a distinguished military record—he fought in Vietnam, at the Citadel in Hue in 1968 -- distinguished military record—do you have a sense that he might feel that his inability or perhaps failure inside the Pentagon to speak out loudly enough about this Iraqi war plan in the past, that he thinks it may have tarnished his—his record and now he‘s going about corrective measures?

COL. JACK JACOBS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, I think it weighs very, very heavily on him.  There‘s no doubt about that.  Not only that, he‘s—he‘s been the object of about two years worth of lobbying from the Army, who‘s been taking a bigger and bigger hit as a result of the commitment to Iraq.  I think it was just a couple of days ago that the Army secretary had to answer a question about whether or not they were actually going to extend the tours past 15 months.  And he said, No, absolutely not.  And that means something‘s got to give.

No, this has been very, very difficult on the ground forces—on all forces, but particularly the Army and the Marine Corps, and among those, particularly the Army.  And I think that General Pace has taken a lot of heat from particularly the Army chief about this—about this subject.

BARNICLE:  Julian, Colonel Jacobs just mentioned, you know, the dilemma of these extensive tours and what they‘re doing to the Army and the Marine Corps.  Speaking of tours, General Pace‘s tour as chairman of the Joint Chiefs is going to end at the month of September.  He wasn‘t re-upped.  The president decided, Secretary Gates decided not to renominate him.  Is there anything going on there vis-a-vis his failure to be renominated and his tendency to, I guess, be speaking out about it now?

BARNES:  Well, this is General Pace‘s last chance to, you know, influence Iraq policy.  And you know, about a year ago, he brought together this council of colonels to sort of be, you know, sort of innovative thinkers about different military problems.  They started off on Iraq, and then they moved on to other problems.  And you know, we learned that he—recently, he got them looking again at sort of Iraq strategy.

You know, Pace knows that this is his last chance to make a mark.  This is his, essentially, last recommendation.  He wanted to be renominated.  He wasn‘t because, you know, Secretary Gates said he didn‘t want to rehash the—the road to the Iraq war again.

BARNICLE:  Colonel Jacobs, I know you talk to your old guys in the Pentagon all the time, OK?  So what do you figure is the dynamic and what will the dynamic be over the next month between General Peter Pace and General David Petraeus, the field commander and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs?

JACOBS:  Well, I knew—I knew Petraeus years ago when he was a cadet at West Point and I was teaching there.  He‘s a very, very smart guy.  And Pete Pace is also a smart guy.  I‘m not convinced they‘re necessarily on opposite sides here.

There‘s one possible explanation for—for General Pace‘s saying that we need to draw down.  And by the way, he‘s denied it, but very, very weakly.  And that is he may be telegraphing what the White House wants him to say.  That‘s entirely possible.

We‘re pretty sure what General Petraeus is going to say when he comes to testify and deliver his report.  He‘s going to say things are going well in certain areas because we‘re staying there, we‘re doing very well.  There‘s still a lot of bad guys there.  If you want to win over there, we know how to do it, but it‘s going to take a long time.  And when they—when they suggest to him, Well, how long is it going to take?  He‘s going to say an awfully long time.  Do we have the political will to do it?  I think Dave Petraeus is going to say, Not my job.  You‘re the guys who have to figure that out.

Well, I think that—that General Pace perhaps may be telegraphing on behalf of the White House an attempt to accommodate in a very, very difficult—at a very difficult time what has to be the—a solution to the problem that the White House got us into in the first place.  They‘re going to have to decide it.  And just maybe Pete Pace is the—is the vanguard of a—of an attempt by the White House to reach some sort of accommodation on Iraq.

BARNICLE:  Let me ask both of you gentlemen the same question.  I just don‘t want you to answer it at the same time, obviously.

(LAUGHTER)

JACOBS:  We can do that.

(LAUGHTER)

BARNICLE:  Yes, I know you can. 

But, you know, I speak to young captains sometime and a little older colonels at some points in time, and there seems to be, at least among the people that I speak, to a buildup of frustration with what the Joint Chiefs, not just General Pace, the Joint Chiefs, have failed to do in terms of dealing with the president in formulating this war strategy, not enough troops at the beginning, yadda, yadda, yadda.

What‘s your sense of that? 

Julian, you first. 

BARNES:  Well, I have heard the same thing on my trips to Iraq, when I talk to company commanders and platoon leaders.  They have all read H.R.  McMaster‘s book “Dereliction of Duty,” which, you know, shames the Joint Chiefs of Staff for not taking an active enough role, for not getting their voice heard on Vietnam policy. 

So, I do think that you‘re right that the—the young officers want a very active chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

BARNICLE:  Jack Jacobs? 

JACOBS:  Yes, I think you—I agree.  And I think you see some of the results of that in the attrition rates among middle-level officers, captains and majors.  Unfortunately, experienced people are leaving the service in record numbers. 

We saw the same thing when there was frustration with policy in Iraq.  There‘s no doubt about the fact that people want to win.  And nobody bears the brunt of war more than the lower-ranking people, young officers, young NCOs and soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.  They want to fight.  They want to win.  And they want to be led properly. 

When they go through what we have gone through, four to five years of unsuccessful combat, they get frustrated.  They—they want to serve, but they want to serve under good leadership.  I—I think you‘re right.  I don‘t think they‘re particularly happy with the highest levels of leadership. 

BARNICLE:  As always, Colonel Jack Jacobs, thank you. 

Julian Barnes, thank you. 

JACOBS:  Thank you. 

BARNICLE:  Up next:  Pound for pound, more Democrats like Rudy than Republicans like Hillary.  And independents like Rudy better, too.  Bad news for Hillary?  Well, we will have that in our political headlines. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARNICLE:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Here‘s the latest political news. 

President Bush touched a nerve this week when he used America‘s experience in Vietnam, Korea and Japan to make his case for staying in Iraq.  The president quoted one historian who wrote about critics who said democracy could never work in postwar Japan. 

Well, the Politico.com found that historian, MIT Professor John Dower. 

But Dower doesn‘t like how the president is using his work, saying—quote

“I have always said as a historian that the use of Japan in arguing for the likelihood of successfully bringing democracy to Iraq is a misuse of history”—unquote. 

In advertising news, remember this sleazy ad against Harold Ford from last year? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I met Harold at the Playboy party. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would love to pay higher marriage taxes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Canada can take care of North Korea.  They‘re not busy. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, he took money from porn movie producers.  I mean, who hasn‘t?  

(LAUGHTER)

NARRATOR:  The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Harold, call me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNICLE:  Oh, it‘s still awful. 

Well, the Associated Press reports Rudy Giuliani has hired the masterminds behind that one to work on his presidential campaign.  The head of the ad firm also helped George W. Bush beat John McCain in South Carolina back in 2000, another awful campaign. 

In polling news, a new Pew survey has some interesting nuggets.  If they get the nominations, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani will battle over independent voters and maybe even some crossover voters.  Among independents, 64 percent view Rudy favorably.  And—get this -- 47 percent of Democrats like him, too.  That‘s compared to just 53 percent of independents who favorably feel about Hillary and just 10 percent of Republicans. 

And here‘s some news in that plan to chop up California‘s electoral votes.  The Associated Press reports today that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said—quote—“In principle, I don‘t like to change the rules in the middle of the game”—unquote.  The Governator stressed that he hasn‘t made up his mind about the Republican proposal yet.  But could his answer hurt the effort to push this thing through?  We will find out. 

And, finally, the man who shot and paralyzed Alabama Governor George Wallace 35 years ago is getting out of jail.  The now-57-year-old Arthur Bremer is set to be released from a Maryland prison on December 18.  At a parole hearing 10 years ago, the Associated Press reports that Bremer called Wallace a segregationist dinosaur—dinosaur—and said the country kind of went to hell in the last 24 years. 

Up next:  Is Michelle Obama taking swipes at Hillary?  Is Elizabeth Edwards upstaging John Edwards?  A debate over spouses with spouses Michael Eric Dyson and Marcia Dyson. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

And what a difference a week makes on the Street.  All major indexes up 2 percent for the week, thanks in part to the Fed‘s move cutting that discount rate last week—the Dow closing up today 143 points, the S&P 500 also up 16, and the Nasdaq gaining nearly 35. 

The Dow getting a boost on better-than-expected economic data.  New home sales rose a surprising 2.8 percent in July.  But analysts are cautioning against getting too excited about that number, warning August sales could come in lower.

A lot of big-ticket items were also selling well last month, sending durable goods orders up almost 6 percent. 

And a big day for the energy sector—crude oil prices surging $1.26 on supply concerns, closing at $71.09 a barrel in New York trading today. 

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

HARDBALL. 

BARNICLE:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Barack Obama‘s wife, Michelle, has roughed up the campaign with a line that some believe is a backhanded swipe at Hillary Clinton‘s marriage. 

Take a peek at what she said in Iowa last week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK OBAMA:  One of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values?  Is he somebody that respects family, is a good and decent person?  So, our view is that, if you can‘t run your own house, you certainly can‘t run the White House. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNICLE:  OK, well, we dropped the—the kicker line on that.  She went immediately in to talking about how she and her husband care extensively for their daughters.  But did Michelle Obama take a shot at Hillary? 

That‘s our HARDBALL debate tonight. 

And what‘s better than to pit a husband against a wife?  Well, that‘s up to you to answer that out there. 

Reverend Marcia Dyson is a Hillary Clinton supporter.  She‘s also the founder of the Rosa Fields Foundation.  And Michael Eric Dyson is a Barack Obama supporter.  He‘s a Georgetown University professor and the author of “Know What I Mean?” 

And the two of you are potentially perhaps the next great reality series, sitting there together. 

(LAUGHTER)

BARNICLE:  I mean—I mean, do you fight over politics at breakfast? 

How does that work out? 

(LAUGHTER)

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY:  Well, we try to get the breakfast done first.  Since I‘m dependent upon her, I have to get that breakfast done first.  Then it launches squarely into the thick of the political battle. 

But, you know, looking at Michelle Obama, it‘s clear that people are being hypersensitive about what Ms. Obama said. 

First of all, her point is not directed toward any particular individual.  It‘s talking about a clash of values, a different stylistic approach to how we understand the best of American democracy.  And her point was, if you can‘t get your house together, then don‘t come into the White House. 

That‘s not directed toward Hillary Clinton.  That‘s directed toward anybody who would dare step up into this arena, if you will, without their bona fides established.  She‘s not only done it domestically.  She‘s done it professionally.  And she and her husband have done it as a creative team working for the best of the American democratic future. 

BARNICLE:  Marcia, what was your take on what Michelle Obama said? 

REVEREND MARCIA DYSON, FOUNDER, ROSA FIELDS FOUNDATION:  For this, I kind of agree with Michael. 

But you did note that Michelle Obama said he.  So, she‘s talking about he has to clean his house, maybe because she realized that Hillary Clinton has done all of her cleaning, whatever, if that was indeed the case that Michelle said. 

But I don‘t believe that.  I don‘t believe that any Democrat wife would take those kind of tactics.  They are basically given or known for the Republican Party to use those kind of tactics and political slurs at this point in time. 

I think that Michelle Obama, as well as Edwards‘ wife, will, you know, get accustomed to having a woman running for a seat of power, and accept that.  And maybe I will run into them in a store when we buy our inaugural gowns for Hillary Clinton‘s presidential election. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  Yes, well, you know, the thing is that I think that, you know, Marcia is right, that Michelle Obama doesn‘t have to single out—single out Hillary Clinton. 

The—the question is:  Are we going to have a democratic process where the candidates muster the moral might to do the right thing, not simply in terms of domestic issues, but in cleaning the house in terms of how they treat the poor, the least of these?

Hurricane Katrina‘s second anniversary is coming up.  Cleaning house deals with how we approach these subjects in a very, very—not divisive fashion, but in a very collective and healing fashion. 

BARNICLE:  So, what you just said, Professor, begs the question, at least from me, do you think that, you know, Barack Obama is more of a moral force in this country than is Hillary Clinton?  Is that one of the reasons why you‘re supporting him? 

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  Well, it‘s not against Hillary Clinton, so much as it is what is for Barack Obama. 

I think Barack Obama is a fundamentally decent and humane individual, who has made his compact with the truth and the quest for justice.  It is clear that Barack Obama, from the very beginning, has been a man who was working for $13,000 on the South Side of Chicago, when he could have made millions—you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars more as a Harvard law graduate. 

He was determined to do the right thing, to forge connections with those who were the most vulnerable and to make this country better.  So, yes, I think, in that sense, Mr. Obama has mustered the moral might, about which I have spoken, to an extraordinary degree.  And people have responded. 

Why have more people in the history of this country given him money to support him?  Because they see in him the reflection of a moral decency and an ethical awareness that is quite rare in politics. 

BARNICLE:  So, Marcia, I mean, you are obviously an incredibly strong woman, because, as the Corn Flakes is poured at breakfast time, and you hear that pitch from your husband, you don‘t go along with that?  You‘re for Hillary Clinton? 

MARCIA DYSON:  I am for Hillary Clinton. 

Michael talked about moral values.  Hillary Clinton has great moral values, and she has 35 years of experience and strength.  Her track record proves that, if there‘s any mess in anybody‘s house that Hillary Clinton will be cleaning up, it‘s not her own.  It would be the mess that this Bush administration has left for the next president of the United States. 

I think that she has proven that in her health care program, that—which she will be announcing in September.  Edwards and Obama are just now rolling theirs out, when she already had a plan.  If anything, she will be revamping that plan.  And they were smart to put one on the table. 

She is on target with the—the solution to end the war in Iraq.  She is on target in mending and uniting this country.  Hillary Clinton is a woman who can help restore our country, help reconcile our communities, and help reconciliate us to a world who are now distanced from us because of our political international politics—international politics. 

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  What is interesting, I‘m glad that Hillary Clinton wants to clean up that mess, because, as we know, she voted for the war in the first place. 

MARCIA DYSON:  Yes, she did. 

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  So, it‘s up to her to try to clean up that mess. 

MARCIA DYSON:  So did of the majority of the viewers of HARDBALL, along as—many of the people in Congress and—and the United States Senate.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  No, no, no, but, you know, the majority of viewers of HARDBALL are not in the United States Senate, where the decisive stroke of a pen or the support of legislation by a standing United States senator, of which there are only 100, suggests that she has supported the policies of the president, when she could have, as a courageous moment and gesture, resisted what he imposed upon us. 

We know that Barbara Lee, when it first came down, was the only person in the United States Congress who resisted giving George Bush carte blanche.  And then, in the Senate, when Mrs. Clinton had opportunity to resist that, she didn‘t do so.  So, we know that cleaning up the house has nothing to do...

MARCIA DYSON:  Well...

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  ... with domestic issues.  It has to do with your political persuasion as well. 

MARCIA DYSON:  Well, as you said very correctly, Michael, she was the only person who stood up, which meant that Obama didn‘t either.  And it seems to me...

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  He wasn‘t in the Senate then. 

MARCIA DYSON:  But it seems to me that Obama‘s foresight and Hillary‘s hindsight didn‘t give him a plan for Iraq or the war afterwards anyway.

So, to me, that she has just as much gumption, she has just as much insight as he has now in his foresight of saying not to be embattled in this war.  He has done nothing.  Right now, he‘s talking about what he‘s going to do for the war.

She‘s been—had her hindsight to show that, I will take what I know to be wrong by incorrect information given to her, like most of the people in our government, to now correct it up. 

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  Well, but this is my point. 

Senator Barack Obama was not in the Senate at that point.  He was a state senator.  And, yet, he courageously articulated a resistance to this war as a citizen of humane conscience.

MARCIARCIA DYSON:  He has been a senator for two years and he is just now, in his...

(CROSSTALK)

MARCIA DYSON:  ... a plan.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  But I‘m saying—but, as a senator of conscience, he was able to resist that and articulate a vision that was wholesale against that war.

And Hillary Clinton, when it counted, when she had the—when she had the bona fides and the vote, made a judgment that now, unfortunately, she looks back upon as the wrong one.  And I agree with her. 

BARNICLE:  Michael and Marcia, listen, I—I don‘t want you two crazy kids coming back here and getting in divorce court next week, OK? 

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIA DYSON:  We will not.

(LAUGHTER)

BARNICLE:  Are the two of you going home together?  

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIA DYSON:  We have separate cars.  

(LAUGHTER)

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:  We have separate cars, but a common destination, to be sure. 

But I think that this kind of healthy debate is what the country needs to see.  And I think that, once Hillary Clinton‘s supporters toss their support in for Barack Obama, we‘re going to have a unified country. 

MARCIA DYSON:  I beg to differ.  I think that once Obama supporters come into the Hillary Clinton camp, --

(CROSS TALK)

MARCIA DYSON:  new America, a new government and a new foreign policy that will work for us and our allies. 

BARNICLE:  Got to go.  Michael Eric Dyson, the Reverend Marcia Dyson, thanks very much. 

Up next, the HARDBALL round table on all the big news of the week. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARNICLE:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Time now bring in our round table; the “New York Post‘s” Charlie Hurt, “U.S. News & World Report‘s” Dan Gilgoff and “Newsweek‘s” Susannah Meadows. 

First up, more bad news for President Bush.  And they say bad news comes in threes.  And for the president this week, he hit the trifecta in this morning‘s “Los Angeles Times,” when it reported that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs will tell President Bush to cut U.S. troops in Iraq by nearly half.  The chairman calls the report purely speculative, but it follows a bleak intelligence report on Iraq and Senator John warner‘s call to start pulling out troops. 

Are these knockout blows for the president‘s Iraq plan?  Well, you have the National Intelligence Estimate; you‘ve got John Warner; and today the “L.A. Times” story about Peter Pace.  Charlie, does this speak to the isolation of this White House? 

CHARLIE HURT, “NEW YORK POST”:  Yes, I think it really does.  And while I don‘t know that it‘s quite a knockout blow, you know, it certainly underscores what has kind of happened to this president with this war sort of at every turn.  He had a couple of good days.  He had a good speech before the VFW earlier this week.  And there were a number of Democrats who have come out saying that the surge appears to be working. 

There was a glimmer of hope, a glimmer of good news and then, boom, this stuff comes out the last day or two.  And, you know, it‘s got to be just demoralizing, except I don‘t think that inside the White House, they‘re hearing much of it anymore. 

BARNICLE:  Do you agree with that, Dan? 

DAN GILGOFF, “US NEWS & WORLD REPORT”:  Yes, I think this really changes things, both for the White House and for Republicans, both on Capitol Hill and those running for president right now.  I mean, I talked to Republican strategists very early this week and they were, to tell you the truth, excited about David Petraeus scheduled to testify before Congress, expected to deliver some positive news about developments on the ground in light of the surge.  Then all of a sudden we have the NIE estimate come out; we have John Warner‘s remarks just yesterday about wanting a draw down of troops beginning immediately. 

And then today we have the “L.A. Times” story about Peter Pace possibly asking for the same.  And so what really happens now is all of those expectations for Petraeus get reigned and kind of recalibrated.  And I think it re-complicates the picture, not just for the White House, but for Republicans who were expecting Petraeus to deliver some good news. 

BARNICLE:  Susannah, you know, not only the Republicans in the House and the Senate, but the Republicans now running for the presidency of the United States, they have this presidency, this war that they‘re carrying around; what does something like General Pace‘s, you know, proclamation in the “L.A. Times,” the National Intelligence Estimate earlier this week, and Senator John Warner‘s statements earlier this week—what does that do to the presidential race? 

SUSANNAH MEADOWS, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, it makes it complicated for Republicans, of course.  And I—there is that one piece of the National Intelligence Estimate that they can cling to, which says that if we were to draw down troops, security would really be compromised.  So there was a little something in there for them.  It wasn‘t completely bleak about the war, in terms of—of where to go and that we have to pull out. 

But the thing about General Pace‘s comments, I think, is that everyone‘s throwing around these ideas, well, I would pull out troops.  I would do this.  I would do it this month.  And what he is offering is some sort of hard information, saying, look, whether we want to or not, the well-being of the military is at stake here.  And so I think that this whole debate has needed some concrete evidence like that. 

BARNICLE:  Yes, you know, Charlie, it‘s going to be interesting, I think, after Labor Day, when the House and the Senate return to Washington, D.C.—they‘ve been home for the larger part of August—and I don‘t know about where anyone else lives, but other than, you know, how‘s your family, how are you doing, the war in Iraq still remains the biggest issue in this country.  It‘s what people talk about.  And congressmen and senators have heard people talking about it. 

What‘s the impact of the combined affects of this week, of Warner, the NIE and now General Pace going to be, do you think, on the politicians who are home now and are returning to Washington in a couple of days? 

HURT:  Well, if you‘d asked me a couple of days ago that question, especially as a lot of these Democrats were coming out saying that they thought—they saw some hopefulness in the surge, I would have given you a different answer.  Now I think it‘s going to be—you know, it‘s going to be really tough for them. 

Obviously, they‘ve heard a lot from their constituents back home.  And in particular with the Peter Pace thing, what is so tough about that, all long President Bush has been able to maintain a lot of support by saying, look—you know, to the people in Congress, look, you‘re not on the field.  You‘re not out there.  You‘re not the—I‘m going to listen to my generals.  Well—well, this is one of those generals, and it‘s going to be really hard for him to sort of beat that back. 

MEADOWS:  One of his generals whom he did not reappoint for another term. 

BARNICLE:  Yes, you know, Susannah, you‘ve got to wonder, is that playing a part in this?  Is General Pace‘s laid-back attitude, in terms of speaking out more vociferously internally, and now the fact that he hasn‘t been renominated, is that playing a part in this story today? 

MEADOWS:  It‘s got to be liberating that you‘re—if you‘re leaving the office in September, that you are certainly free to speak your mind, I would imagine. 

BARNICLE:  We‘re going to be right back with our round-table.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARNICLE:  We‘re back with the HARDBALL panel, Dan Gilgoff, Charlie Hurt and Susannah Meadows.  Next up, Michelle Obama‘s clean house.  When Michelle Obama said, if you can‘t run your own house, you can‘t run the White House, some heard it as a swipe at Hillary Clinton.  Barack Obama said it wasn‘t and many agreed.  But will any mention of households or family on the campaign trail remind some voters of what happened in the Clinton administration?  Dan, I‘m begging you; tell me we‘re running this story into the ground.

GILGOFF:  Yes, I think so.  It‘s interesting to me that this story, for all the attention it got—first of all, it‘s important to know that the Obama campaign has vigorously denied any intentional swipe at Hillary Clinton.  Secondly, the story has eclipsed some other comments from the Obama camp this week.  And they were made by Obama himself on the “John Stewart Show” Wednesday night. 

He made the comment that experience is not the primary prerequisite to being president, but that judgment is.  He said specifically he knew folks that were in their 50‘s, 60‘s, or 70‘s, who had plenty of experience but not sound judgment, and that led them to make the same mistakes over and over again.  That was an intentional swipe at Hillary Clinton.  I think that really focuses what this race is about for him.

Can he make the argument that indeed judgment is more important than experience, or will Hillary Clinton ultimately triumph in saying she is not only experienced enough to govern this country and the White House because she‘s been there, but also experienced enough to defeat a Republican in the general election. 

BARNICLE:  What you just said, if you write it in “U.S. News & World Report” or if you write it in the “New York Post,” or “Newsweek‘s” Magazine, you can with never tell what the reader will take from what you write.  What you just said—in taking from what you just said, I was thinking not of Hillary Clinton.  I was thinking of Don Rumsfeld.  Susannah, it‘s interesting the way different people read these things. 

MEADOWS:  If to say that Michelle Obama—I am not done with the Michelle Obama comment, because I think, regardless of her intent, the strategy of it makes perfect sense.  You have Obama running on this message of optimism and hope and happiness, and the Clinton camp is just waiting for him to go negative, so they can call him a hypocrite. 

But Michelle offers this sort of loophole.  You see Elizabeth Edwards doing this same thing, where the women can, I think, get away with more, in terms of making an attack, especially on another woman.  And Hillary Clinton, as tough as she is, we all remember in 2000 when she ran against Rick Lazio, and when he looked to be too aggressive during a debate, he was toast.

You‘ve got this dynamic where you can‘t attack a woman too much or you will turn off female voters.  And I think that‘s the thing to watch for going forward. 

BARNICLE:  Charlie, another thing to watch for, which is also kind of interesting, is the way the culture has changed and the role of spouses in national politics.  Bill Clinton, Charlie, you‘ve got Mrs. Edwards.  You‘ve got Michelle Obama, obviously.  But it was unheard of four, eight years ago for spouses to be so prominent. 

HURT:  Think back to the original Bill Clinton campaign, when such a curfuffle (ph) over the comment that you get two for one.  Everybody went crazy about that.  You do get kind of two for one these days.  But going back to the Michelle Obama thing, I am always eager to see a food fight, even where there may not be one.  I‘m fairly well convinced that she probably—when you read the rest of her comments, it really does seem like she was not directing that at Hillary or Bill, for that matter. 

BARNICLE:  Yes, I mean, Susannah, you like this and you get theory—

I don‘t know if you like it.  But you have your own theory about it.  And yet she did almost immediately talk about her children. 

MEADOWS:  Right, and certainly on that front, Hillary Clinton‘s daughter is praised left and right, and Hillary is praised for being a good mother.  So that certainly is an argument against the swipe. 

BARNICLE:  Susannah Meadows, Charlie Hurt, Dan Gilgoff, thanks very much. 

Before we go, we want to share a story with you about two New York City fire fighters who died in the Deutsche Bank fire earlier this week down at ground zero.  Thousands of their fellow fire fighters attended the funeral service today at St. Patrick‘s Cathedral.  Their fire house has been hit hard by tragedy before.  Many of the deaths of 9/11 firefighters were remembered both today and yesterday when these two fire fighters were buried. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARNICLE (voice-over):  The fire in the 9/11 damaged building spread quickly and brutally.  Fire fighters Joe Graffagnino and Bobby Beddia ran out of there and died on the 14th floor. 

(on camera):  This house, engine 24, ladder five, has been hurt and haunted by its history, as it has been honored by the courage of its fallen heroes.   

(voice-over):  March 28, 1994, a back draft killed three of their firefighters.  Bobby Beddia spoke to NBC News in December 2001. 

BOBBY BEDDIA, DECEASED FIRE FIGHTER:  That was pretty horrific in itself.  It was the worst days of my life, up until now, up until the World Trade Center. 

BARNICLE:  On September 11th, the firehouse lost 11 fire fighters.  The sad irony, Beddia said, was that the casualties on Watt Street helped them deal with their colossal loss. 

BEDDIA:  I drew on that experience quite a bit through all of this, through September 11th.  I tried to be stronger.  It didn‘t always work. 

BARNICLE:  Craig Monnahan (ph) was a probie in 1994.  He switched positions with one of the men killed at Watt Street at the last minute. 

CRAIG MONNAHAN, FIRE FIGHTER:  This is like something that will be with me for the rest of my life. 

BARNICLE:  Monnohan narrowly escaped death on 9/11. 

MONNAHAN:  We‘ve been through this a couple times.  I can‘t believe it.

BARNICLE:  In 2001, Bobby Beddia said he had enough. 

BEDDIA:  I think about leaving now, two more years, let it go.  It‘s a young man‘s job, and some things you don‘t want to go through again and again and again. 

BARNICLE:  But Bobby Beddia never left.  It‘s a job that never leaves any fire fighter, especially when the brave are buried. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BARNICLE:  God bless them and everyone who serves.  Chris will be back Monday night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Tune in for live coverage of the Live Strong Presidential Cancer Forum, moderated by Chris Matthews and Lance Armstrong Monday and Tuesday beginning at 11:00 a.m.  Easter, Monday and Tuesday only on MSNBC and MSNBC.com.  Right now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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