updated 5/15/2009 2:48:06 PM ET 2009-05-15T18:48:06

Guest: Anthony Romero, Pete Hegseth, Joan Walsh, Jennifer Donahue, Mike Allen, Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Rebecca Jarvis, Donny Deutsch

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Nasty pictures.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in New York.  Leading off tonight:

Don‘t ask, don‘t show.  What should be done with photos showing Americans abusing prisoners in Iraq?  I‘m talking about those photos we were all expecting to see, that were described as not as bad as the pictures from Abu Ghraib, which became such a huge embarrassment for the U.S. last month.  Well, the Pentagon reached a deal with the ACLU to release photos last month, but President Obama soon heard from Defense Secretary Gates, from Centcom commander David Petraeus and from the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno.  All of them warned of a backlash against the U.S. and its service people.  So today, the president moved to block the release of those photos.  There are strong feelings on both sides of this very hot issue, and we‘ll debate it in a minute.

Also, the Republican Party just keeps digging itself deeper and deeper.  It‘s an old truism in politics that when you‘re in a hole, stop digging.  So why do the Republicans keep digging?  Why do they plan to brand the Democrat Party—the Democratic Party—made their mistake there—quote, “the Democrat socialist party”?  Isn‘t this a little schoolyard for a major political party, trying to belittle the other party that‘s more popular than you are by mucking up its name?  Pat Buchanan and Lawrence O‘Donnell are going to face off on that baby.

Part of the Republican problem right now, it seems, is which Republicans are doing all the talking out there.  We‘ve got Newt and Rush and Dick Cheney, and now daughter Liz Cheney has joined her father.

Before the White House backed off in releasing those Iraq photos, Liz Cheney had this to say.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY‘S DAUGHTER:  I have heard from families of service members, from families of 9/11 victims this question about, you know, when did it become so fashionable for us to side really with the terrorists?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Side with the terrorists?  Fashionable to side with the terrorists?  Who writes this stuff?  Does it really do the GOP any good to suggest that the president of the United States is, quote, “on the side of the terrorists”?  More on this “all in the family” Cheney media blitz later in the show.

Plus, Sarah Palin—now, don‘t laugh—is writing a book.  Not just reading a book, writing a book.  Actually, in the word of the publisher, she‘s “collaborating” on a book.  I love the way that sounds.  Does that mean that she answers questions of the writer and then the writer writes the book?  I guess the reason to have someone write a book for you and claim it‘s your book is to get to do a nationwide book tour and act the part of an author yourself.  Well, she‘s not the first person to pull that number.  Sarah Palin, author, in tonight‘s “Politics Fix.”

And did you hear what Jesse Ventura had to say about Dick Cheney and the subject of torture?  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSE VENTURA, FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR:  I‘ll put it to you this way.  You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney, and one hour, and I‘ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s much more from Jesse coming up on the show tonight.  We‘re going to have it all for you in the “Sideshow,” where it belongs.

We begin with the president‘s decision to try to block the release of prisoner abuse photos from over in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Anthony Romero‘s the executive director—I mean the top guy—at the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union.  They brought in the big boys for this one.  The group has argued in court for the release of those photos.  And Pete Hegseth, an old friend of the show—he‘s an Iraq war veteran—thank you for your service, Pete, again.

PETE HEGSETH, VETS FOR FREEDOM CHAIRMAN:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s chairman of Vets for Freedom.

First of all, I want to go to Anthony Romero for—how many weeks have you been fighting this thing?

ANTHONY ROMERO, ACLU EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:  We‘ve been fighting it for six years.  Not weeks, six years.

MATTHEWS:  Six year to get these pictures out.  Why is it in the interest of, well, the country or civil liberties, the things you fight for, that we see these God-awful photos?

ROMERO:  Well, no one wants to look at the God-awful photos, but we as a country have to go back and look at the crimes that were committed under President Bush‘s watch.  And these photos will show incontrovertible proof that torture did, indeed, occur.  And we have Vice President Cheney flying around the country saying, We didn‘t torture, we didn‘t waterboard.  Show us the photos.

MATTHEWS:  Have you seen them?

ROMERO:  No, I haven‘t seen them yet.

MATTHEWS:  Have you got any description of what they‘d show?

ROMERO:  I‘ve talked with high-level government officials who‘ve told me that expect more than 2,000 photos, worse than Abu Ghraib.

MATTHEWS:  Worse than Abu Ghraib?

ROMERO:  So when the president says these are not inflammatory, I don‘t believe it.  I don‘t buy it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go to Pete.  Why shouldn‘t these photos be released?  Now, you find yourself perhaps in this argument on the side of President Obama, but why do you think he‘s right?

HEGSETH:  Oh, he‘s absolutely right.  He‘s right because he listened to the sound advice of his commanders on the ground, who told him out front -- who told him out front that attacks will increase, that we will lose American lives if these photos are shown.

If you look at the 10 days following the release of the Abu Ghraib photos, attacks increased 200 percent across Iraq.  They saw that.  They understand what happens when we give this propaganda to the enemy.  That‘s what the ACLU is trying to hand over, propaganda to the enemy.

Anthony has not seen this enemy.  I have and hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have.  They understand the danger that we face and that our enemies will use this against us.  I applaud President Obama for having the courage to stand up and not release these.  He did the right thing today.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think we should have banned any use of anything that could be called torture for the same reason, Pete, because it can be used against us in the field?

HEGSETH:  Well, no, I mean...

MATTHEWS:  I mean, if pictures of it does trouble to us...

HEGSETH:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  ... wouldn‘t the knowledge of it do just as much trouble? 

The knowledge that we torture...

HEGSETH:  Sure...

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that equally as bad as the pictures of us doing it?

HEGSETH:  Well, why is the ACLU going after pictures?  Because it‘s sensationalizing, because the media grabs on it.  They can show it everywhere because it will expose and it can drag the Bush administration through the mud.  They don‘t care about the outcome of the conflict on the ground.  Thankfully, President Obama does.  And he‘s doubled down in Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS:  OK...

HEGSETH:  He wants to protect the troops there.  And that‘s what this is about, and I applaud him for it.

MATTHEWS:  OK, just remember—I warn you, you‘re talking about motive, and you have no idea what‘s in another man‘s heart.  I don‘t.  You don‘t.

Here‘s President Obama talking late today about why he won‘t release those photos.  Here he is, agreeing with Pete Hegseth here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  These photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.  But they do represent conduct that did not conform with the Army manual.  The individuals who are involved have been identified and appropriate actions have been taken.  The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals.  In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  One of the things we do on this program before each show is to try to figure out what‘s going on on every possible level.  Anthony, some people think that what Barack Obama, the president, is doing there is trying to slow down the rush to prosecute torture.

ROMERO:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Well—in other words, you agree.

ROMERO:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  You both—he sees the release of these pictures potentially as something that will rush the public to punish the torturers, and that‘s what you want to happen.

ROMERO:  Let‘s...

MATTHEWS:  No, that‘s what you want to happen.

ROMERO:  I do want that to happen.

MATTHEWS:  So you both see it the same way...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMERO:  When crimes have been committed, we need to prosecute and investigate them.  And the president, with all due respect, is flatly wrong when he says that these crimes have been prosecuted, they‘ve been investigated.

MATTHEWS:  He says all the cases are closed.

ROMERO:  No way.  The highest-ranking person who was prosecuted for crimes of torture was a lieutenant colonel, who was later on acquitted.  There‘s no way you‘re going to tell me that with 2,000 photos that go throughout...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

ROMERO:  the theaters of war that these were a few rogue apples.

MATTHEWS:  Well (INAUDIBLE) Pete, according to a report, a bipartisan report signed by people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham of the Armed Services Committee of the United States Senate, said that this came from up the line, that this abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere came from up the line and did not start at the non-commissioned level or even the junior officer level.  If that‘s the case, have we done justice here?

HEGSETH:  I think President Obama—I couldn‘t have said it better than what President Obama said today.  And if you want to talk about justice, the reason the photos even came out of Abu Ghraib and the reason these photos would ever come out and see the daylight is because the military did its own internal investigation, prosecuted...

ROMERO:  That is not true.

HEGSETH:  ... and found guilty what the members had done.  Absolutely it is true!

ROMERO:  That is not true.  That is not true.  Let‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMERO:  Let‘s talk about the CIA...

HEGSETH:  ... Abu Ghraib came out.  It was an internal military investigation on Abu Ghraib.

MATTHEWS:  How high up the chain of command did it go, Pete, according to the prosecutions of these officers?  How high did it go?  Did it go any higher than lieutenant colonel?

HEGSETH:  That, indeed, is above my pay grade.  But I can tell you that the people that I served with and the intelligence officers I served with...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

HEGSETH:  ... did everything they need to do within the law to get active intelligence so my guys could go out and find the enemy and kill the enemy and win these wars.  And it was not about...

MATTHEWS:  Do most soldiers...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  If we went out there in the field right now...

ROMERO:  Let‘s discuss this—let‘s discuss the facts...

MATTHEWS:  No, we‘ve talked about this.  I want to get this done on the air right now.  If you ask the American people right now if they want these pictures released, I don‘t know what the result would be.  If you ask military families, however—your answer first, Pete—military families would probably say, Don‘t release the pictures, right?

HEGSETH:  Absolutely not.  That doesn‘t represent our service.  It doesn‘t represent what happened...

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t want them released right?

HEGSETH:  And it‘s—and it‘s...

ROMERO:  But America...

HEGSETH:  Because it‘s not representative of what happens on the battlefield.

ROMERO:  But let me—let me answer that, Chris...

HEGSETH:  Bad things happen, and we‘ll deal with that internally with the military processes.

ROMERO:  Let‘s deal with the facts here.  Americans, we believe in the rule of law.  We believe when you break a crime, you do the time.  If those photos show that crimes have, in fact, been committed, then people need to be held accountable.

HEGSETH:  Those individuals are doing the time right now, Anthony.

ROMERO:  Those—I‘m sorry, sir.  That‘s not exactly the case.

HEGSETH:  That is the case!

ROMERO:  We have less than 20 prosecutions, the highest level being a lieutenant colonel who was acquitted.  We need to have those photos so we understand the gravity of the crimes.  And the fact is, it doesn‘t fly when the president says that to release these photos will inflame the public.  We‘ve released four torture memos, in clear English, unredacted, talking about the torture techniques that were authorized by the Justice Department.  Now, are words any less inflammatory?

MATTHEWS:  Is there any way—is there any way to find a middle ground here?  I want to ask you, Pete, first.  Would you have objection to these pictures going to a commission that would look at these pictures and decide if there was a requirement or a need for further prosecution, if people have escaped justice here?  Would you be for that?

HEGSETH:  Probably not.  With assurances—probably so, with assurances that it doesn‘t reach the public.  This is about enemy propaganda.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMERO:  I agree with Pete.  This is the first time I agree with Pete.  Let—if Attorney General Holder, the country‘s highest-ranking law enforcement official...

MATTHEWS:  Is willing to review these pictures...

ROMERO:  ... does his job...

MATTHEWS:  ... with a commission...

ROMERO:  ... and appoints a special prosecutor, like a la Ken Start, who can follow it up the chain of command, you can shut these up behind closed doors...

MATTHEWS:  How about a better one...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... better than Ken Starr.  That‘s the trouble.

ROMERO:  Give me anybody else.

MATTHEWS:  How about Patrick Fitzgerald?

HEGSETH:  Chris, I...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

ROMERO:  Give me—but give me a prosecutor.

HEGSETH:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

ROMERO:  We‘ve called on Holder and Mukasey...

MATTHEWS:  OK, so you‘re...

ROMERO:  ... over the years to have a prosecutor...

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve reached agreement.  I feel like Barbara Walters here. 

I‘ve actually found a way of getting you guys—or—or...

HEGSETH:  He‘s just trying to drag...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... Walter Cronkite.  I‘ve actually found an agreement on this show once.  In other words, you both agree that it would be the proper, perhaps, compromise...

ROMERO:  Give us an investigation...

MATTHEWS:  ... to show these pictures to a responsible secret panel...

ROMERO:  Investigator...

MATTHEWS:  ... that would look at this responsibly...

ROMERO:  ... with subpoena power...

MATTHEWS:  ... and decide if there‘s crimes...

(CROSSTALK)

HEGSETH:  Chris, I would argue that the ACLU...

ROMERO:  That would work perfectly well.

HEGSETH:  I would argue that the ACLU‘s objective is not necessarily to find out what actually happened but to drag the Bush administration through the mud for political gain.

MATTHEWS:  Well, wait a minute.

ROMERO:  No.

HEGSETH:  For political gain.

MATTHEWS:  Wouldn‘t that be the appropriate thing to do?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, wait a minute!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We have a compromise here.  If it goes to a non-partisan commission or it goes to a special prosecutor who is non-political, what‘s wrong with punishing people who are guilty, then?

ROMERO:  Absolutely.

HEGSETH:  Well, I think—I think that—I believe that that‘s fair, special prosecutor would, if it was, indeed, fair, indeed, non-partisan, would probably come to fair conclusions.

MATTHEWS:  OK, so you‘re...

HEGSETH:  As long as it is not...

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t have a problem with that.

HEGSETH:  ... a political—as long as it is not a political...

(CROSSTALK)

HEGSETH:  ... and the Obama administration isn‘t rigging that game, I would stand beside it.

ROMERO:  I agree with you, Pete.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about this.  Can the president intervene here?  Can he put his thumb on he scale right now?  Forget our argument here, or maybe an agreement here to send this to a non-partisan group that‘s actually going to look for justice, not for publicity.  But can the president win this argument?  He‘s put his thumb on the scale now, saying he agrees with the military.  You guys have a case that—you‘ve got—you‘re litigating this.  You‘re trying to get it out under the Freedom of Information.

ROMERO:  The president...

MATTHEWS:  Can he stop this?

ROMERO:  The president, fortunately, doesn‘t decide this one.

MATTHEWS:  Who does?

ROMERO:  The courts do.  We‘ll go before the Supreme Court.

MATTHEWS:  So this is going to the Supremes.

ROMERO:  Yes, we‘ll go to the Supremes.  And with nine Justices...

MATTHEWS:  And what‘s your thinking about that?

ROMERO:  And I think we have a good chance because I think, frankly, this government is built on the premises of transparency and accountability.

MATTHEWS:  OK...

ROMERO:  And in fact, what‘s most disturbing...

MATTHEWS:  ... you know what I think?

ROMERO:  ... is that the president ran on a platform...

MATTHEWS:  Pete, are you worried the Supreme Court...

ROMERO:  ... of having a transparent, open government.

MATTHEWS:  ... even though it‘s 5-4, relatively conservative, including Kennedy, that Kennedy this time might go with the liberals and release these pictures?

HEGSETH:  Kennedy is always a wild card.  But I would say they will—they most—for the most part, the Supreme Court sides on national security, that it protects the interest of our soldiers on the battlefield...

ROMERO:  Might you remember...

HEGSETH:  ... and I think in this particular instance, that would be the case.

ROMERO:  Might you remember...

MATTHEWS:  In the “Pentagon papers,” they went the other way.

ROMERO:  Yes.  And...

HEGSETH:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  With Nixon, they went the other way.

ROMERO:  And might you remember...

MATTHEWS:  Anthony Romero...

ROMERO:  ... the last three Gitmo cases...

MATTHEWS:  This is one of the best segments we‘ve ever had because we found agreement on a common around here, which is to have a panel...

ROMERO:  A special prosecutor...

MATTHEWS:  ... that we trust to look at it...

ROMERO:  ... with investigatory powers...

MATTHEWS:  ... without giving these pictures to our enemy.

ROMERO:  You bet.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  You know, I thought the ACLU was tough as a rock, but you guys have found a compromise point here.  Thank you—although you may still win anyway in the courts.  That‘s why he‘s being nice here today.  Anthony Romero, who may win on another panel, has agreed to a compromise.  Pete, well done tonight.

HEGSETH:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, sir.

Coming up: Dick Cheney‘s media blitz.  Why is the former vice president speaking out so—I love this word—stridently against the Obama administration?  Is this a preemptive strike against the negative stories coming out about the Bush administration, the stuff we‘re talking about?  Does Cheney want to say, I told you so, when and if we get attacked again some day, he‘ll be able to say, no matter what it is, I was right, you were wrong?  Well, we‘ll see.  And is all this simply about love of country?  You got to consider that possibility.  Rush Limbaugh says it is.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think that we are stripping ourselves of some of the capabilities of that we used in order to block, if you will, or disrupt activities by al Qaeda that would have led to additional attacks.  I think that‘s an important debate to have.  I don‘t think we should just roll over when the new administration says—accuses us of committing torture, which we did not, or somehow violating the law, which we did not.  I think you need to stand up and respond to that, and that‘s what I‘ve done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  He‘s back.  That was former vice president Dick Cheney.  He‘s not so former, is he?  Seems like currently vice president.  He was on FOX, of course, home turf for him, defending torture and attacking President Obama.  And like father, like daughter.  Before the president reversed his decision on releasing those photos showing abuse of terrorist suspects, Liz Cheney joined her dad in trashing the new administration.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ CHENEY:  I think that it is really appalling that the administration is taking this step.  I haven‘t seen the pictures.  I don‘t know what‘s in them.  But clearly, you know, what they‘re doing is releasing images that show American military men and women in a very negative light.  And I have heard from families of service members, from families of 9/11 victims this question about, you know, when did it become so fashionable for us to side really with the terrorists, you know, for us to put information out that hurts American soldiers?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  To side with the terrorists.  I don‘t know.  I like Liz Cheney every time I meet her, and I don‘t know why she used a phrase like that.  I don‘t know why you‘d say somebody‘s siding with the terrorists you disagree with over an issue like this.

Joan Walsh is editor-in-chief of Salon and Donny Deutsch is a genius at communication.  He‘s chairman of the advertising firm Deutsch—how‘d you come up with that name? -- Deutsch Incorporated.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What is going on with this Cheney media blitz?  Joan, you and I have been watching this parade of Cheneys.  Is it because everyone else is turning south on this administration, from, God, Richard Haass to Colin Powell to lesser lights like Scott McClellan and Matt Dowd?  I mean, all the people that seem to have been on television before are now turning the other way.  It seems like the last Japanese soldier, as somebody said, on some atoll fighting out the war long after VJ Day?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  He doesn‘t know it‘s over.  What I want to know is what happened to the Dick Cheney that we—the country came to know and hate, quiet Dick Cheney, the man in the bunker, the evil puppet master?  It‘s like when he lost his puppet, suddenly he has to be the one in front of the camera speaking.  And I really...

MATTHEWS:  You mean, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain?

WALSH:  That‘s what he used to say, but...

MATTHEWS:  ... and now the man behind the curtain is in front of the curtain, darn it!

WALSH:  Exactly.  And he won‘t go away.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s doing Darrell Hammond impressions, if you ask me.  He‘s out there with the lip snarling up and you just—you know, it‘s so funny to watch him be Dick Cheney because all we had were impersonations before, Joan.

WALSH:  Right.  He got him down very well, just like he does you, Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, let me go to Donny Deutsch, who‘s an expert on communications.  Is the strategy behind the father/daughter routine now of them coming out—he‘s going, by the way, to the American Enterprise Institute, you know, the seat of the hurricane, the well-paid flackery operation for all wars in the Middle East.  He‘s over there speaking this coming week—we‘re going to mention it in the “Sideshow.”  He is actually going to give a speech where you‘re only allowed to come to the speech by invitation only, you can‘t transfer your invitation to anyone else.  So obviously, they don‘t want anybody causing any trouble.  But yet we‘re going to cover the event, so he gets all the advantages of being a trumpeteer and yet nobody can question him.

DEUTSCH:  And the Cheney grandson is going to be on “SpongeBob SquarePants.” 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

DEUTSCH:  You know, you live long enough, anything happens.  I am actually going to be defending Dick Cheney. 

MATTHEWS:  Go for it.

DEUTSCH:  First—first of all, he‘s an American.  He‘s allowed to speak his mind. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DEUTSCH:  If you‘re Dick Cheney, what do you have to lose? 

We all know, unfortunately, there will be a terrorist attack.  It might be next year.  It might be 10 years from now, unfortunately.

MATTHEWS:  So, he‘s betting on red?

DEUTSCH:  And, basically, at that point, we‘re going to be looking at the war differently, just like we did on September 12.  You know, we talked about this on “SCARBOROUGH” the other morning.

You know, we‘re all ideologues right now.  The day after 9/11, you asked anybody, torture, yes, torture, no, I‘m all in on torture. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, that‘s when the troll comes out from under the bridge?

DEUTSCH:  Exactly. 

And I think right now...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And, in the meantime, he bites the foot of every Democrat that passes over the bridge. 

DEUTSCH:  And...

MATTHEWS:  But he comes out from under the bridge when that time comes and says?

DEUTSCH:  I told you.  Here we are.

And, by the way, it will be the downfall of the Democratic Party, because they will be the weak party.  We are the defense party.  Obviously, nobody else can do it.

And he‘s got nothing to lose.  He‘s the ogre right now anyway. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DEUTSCH:  So, if the—if you‘re the Republicans, yes, let‘s put him out there, in case that does happen.  Then nobody else is going to go out on the limb right now and say it.  But it‘s actually a brilliant communication move. 

And, on a separate note, I think he believes this.  I actually think he believes this.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you this.  Is there any way that we could face a conundrum, or a horror, a catastrophe, in the next 20, 30 years, that‘s caused from Iraq, from not—if we had not fought that war to its conclusion? 

(CROSSTALK)

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM:  Yes.  

(CROSSTALK)

DEUTSCH:  Yes.  Obviously, you‘re drawing a line that doesn‘t necessarily exist.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Joan, Joan, how can he say, I told you so, we should have gone to war with Iraq?  How can he say, I told you so, we should have tortured?  How can he say, I told you so, we should have had Gitmo?  How does that work? 

WALSH:  He can‘t.  I mean, he‘s saying it.  But he‘s not getting through.  The American people don‘t believe him.

(CROSSTALK)

DEUTSCH:  Joan, I don‘t know if that‘s true.  I think—Joan, I think this is a very gray issue. 

And I‘m a liberal.  I‘m a raging liberal. 

MATTHEWS:  Except on torture?

DEUTSCH:  Except when it comes to—I‘m a hawk in terms of defense. 

MATTHEWS:  How about torture?

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  Well, I just disagree with you, Donny.

(CROSSTALK)

DEUTSCH:  But, Chris, let me ask you a question right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

DEUTSCH:  If, God forbid, one of your family members was going to be killed in a terrorist attack next week, and it could be avoided by...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

DEUTSCH:  ... a bad guy, a terrorist, being tortured, you in? 

MATTHEWS:  I have never said I‘m against...

DEUTSCH:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, in emergency situations, presidents have to break the rules, in emergencies. 

WALSH:  No, I‘m—well, good.

MATTHEWS:  But they changed the book. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s what this administration did.  They changed the definition, so that there would be a different operating set of instructions generally.  That‘s the crime, if there is a crime. 

No one would ever hold it against a president if an urgent circumstance with the clock ticking, and he did something he knew might be against the law, he would have to explain it to history. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But wait a minute.

What they did was change the manual.  They said, it‘s not torture. 

They lied. 

DEUTSCH:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  They say, this isn‘t torture.  Denying of oxygen to a human being is torture, OK?  There‘s no other word for it. 

WALSH:  You guys...

DEUTSCH:  Chris...

WALSH:  ... it is torture.  It is against the law.  They did do it. 

The ticking—ticking time bomb scenario is a cheap...

DEUTSCH:  Nobody will answer my question, though, guys. 

WALSH:  OK.  I will answer your question, Donny. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I will answer it.  I said you have got to be a president at that time.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  No.  I would say no. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You say never do it? 

WALSH:  I would say no.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Never do it? 

DEUTSCH:  Say never do it?

MATTHEWS:  Never. 

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  No.  It‘s against the law and it doesn‘t work. 

DEUTSCH:  OK.  Then you‘re a better—you‘re a finer person than me.

(CROSSTALK)

DEUTSCH:  You‘re a finer person.  Well, that‘s the other question.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  It‘s against the law and it doesn‘t work.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think it depends on the person.  I have no idea how—I think a committed terrorist who‘s totally religious and totally believes what he‘s doing is for God, and he‘s going to end up in some paradise, he or she might be willing to withhold information under the worst kind of stress and torture. 

The regular person who is picked up...

DEUTSCH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... who may be one of the big shots in that organization doesn‘t have the guts to stand up to torture might squeal in two seconds.  It depends on the person. 

(CROSSTALK)

DEUTSCH:  You‘re right. 

But, if anything, it‘s going to tip in the scale in one direction of giving it up vs. not giving it up.  Like I say, am I a torture guy?  No.  But it‘s very easy for us to sit at this point.  And, as I said, we have got to do this investigation.  I applaud...

MATTHEWS:  And, by the way...

DEUTSCH:  ... I applaud Barack for—for not releasing the photos today.  That was such a wonderful move.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, every prosecutor knows you can squeeze every defendant by...

DEUTSCH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... threatening them with more torture, more time in prison. 

DEUTSCH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  People do choose pleasure over pain.  If you say to a guy, you‘re going away 20 years hard time, but I can get you off in five if you give away your grandmother, they give away the grandmother. 

(CROSSTALK)

DEUTSCH:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They do it. 

DEUTSCH:  And?

MATTHEWS:  So, people do act in the wrong way under duress.  They just do it.

WALSH:  You guys, I hate to—I really hate to break into your theorizing...

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

MATTHEWS:  No.  Every day of the week, it happens.

(LAUGHTER)

WALSH:  ... but there is research, and there are many, many, many interrogators who believe it does not work, people give up false information, they do anything to make the—to make the torture stop. 

In this case of Abu Zubaydah, they got the only—the only useful information they got, they got by taking care of his wounds and by treating him like a human being.  Really macho guys out there say it doesn‘t work.

DEUTSCH:  Joan, I‘m not saying—I‘m not saying it is—Joan—

Joan, it‘s obviously not a black/white issue, but it‘s still one tool that I think should be left on the table, if it makes us safer.  I think a lot of Americans believe that way.

WALSH:  Well, it‘s not on the table. 

DEUTSCH:  I think a lot of moderates believe this—this way.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  Then, change the law, Donny, because it‘s not—back out of the—the treaties that Reagan signed.  Change the law, because it‘s against the law...

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

WALSH:  ... right now.  And nobody happens the courage to do that either. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I would rather  you outlaw it and force the president to justify breaking the law.  I would rather have that situation. 

DEUTSCH:  Me, too.

MATTHEWS:  Because that puts a higher pressure on him or her, a president, not to break the law.  But if they have to do something in the national interest, you don‘t come afterwards and say, gee whiz, I wasn‘t supposed to do it.  I saw the world blow up, but I did—I did follow the rule book. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, we don‘t expect presidents—we expect presidents to protect us in extremist—but you have got to have judgment at the top. 

DEUTSCH:  Yes. 

WALSH:  And...

MATTHEWS:  And I don‘t want to remove any tool from them in judgment at the top.

By the way, you‘re right.  Generally, it may not work.  But you‘re not going to tell me that, with a ticking time situation, that you might not be moved to try it. 

DEUTSCH:  Amen.  Amen.

WALSH:  I‘m actually telling you that.  I have given it a lot of thought, Chris. 

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  I might be the only person that will come out and say—and say it. 

DEUTSCH:  Joan, I have got to tell you, unfortunately, we‘re going to be sitting here one day.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know.

DEUTSCH:  Hopefully, it‘s many years in the future, post-next attack, and there aren‘t going to be two people in this country saying, oh, we should have been softer.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll tell you one thing we have got to stop doing.  We have got to stop lying about what we‘re doing.

WALSH:  No, actually, you know, Donny...

MATTHEWS:  We have got to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... calling torture torture, and stop saying denial of oxygen isn‘t torture. 

DEUTSCH:  It is.

WALSH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And stop playing with the rule book.  The rule book should say, no torture. 

But presidents have to do things like shoot down airplanes with 200 people on them.  They have got to do things that aren‘t in the rule book. 

WALSH:  They have got to do tough things.

MATTHEWS:  Imagine that.  Cheney could have shot down a commercial plane, that one that was knocked down in Pennsylvania by the passengers.  He might have shot that plane down if it got through.  And he would have done that.  And I‘m sure it‘s against the law to shoot down airplanes.  But he would have done it, because—and that would have been the right thing to do.

WALSH:  I‘m not sure it is, actually.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  I‘m not sure it is, if it‘s self-defense.  That‘s what you guys—you know, what if—what if, Donny, God forbid...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who says it‘s self-defense?  You have got to prove it. 

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  What if we‘re sitting here 10 years from now, or longer, let‘s hope, and there‘s been a terrorist attack?  Isn‘t it also possible that we would look back at—at that this reign of torture and this reign of law-breaking that‘s made us enemies throughout the Middle East, this awful war that, as Chris has often said...

DEUTSCH:  Joan...

WALSH:  ... was the best recruiting platform for the terrorists...

DEUTSCH:  Joan, you know what? 

WALSH:  I mean, maybe we will learn that lesson, and maybe we will try to live up to our ideals.

DEUTSCH:  Unfortunately, sometimes, we have got to go back and watch the Nicholson speech in “A Few Good Men.”  Sometimes, we need some of these guys on the wall that we don‘t want to talk about at parties. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I don‘t want to judge future presidents by whether I trust Dick Cheney or not. 

Thank you very much, Donny Deutsch and Joan Walsh.

DEUTSCH:  See you, buddy.

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  There‘s one high-profile politician who is speaking out against Dick Cheney.  Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura says, he wants to water—I think this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but we will see—he wants to water-board Cheney, an interesting idea.  That‘s next in the “Sideshow.” 

Would he give?  Would he break?  Would he give away Bush, or would he give away himself?  Who knows.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Time for the “Sideshow.”

First up, a little tit for tat for Dick Cheney, courtesy of former Minnesota Governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura on CNN. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LARRY KING LIVE”) 

JESSE VENTURA, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA:  It‘s a good thing I‘m not president, because I would prosecute every person that was involved in that torture.  I would prosecute the people that did it.  I would prosecute the people that ordered it, because torture is against the law. 

I will put it to you this way.  You give me a water board, Dick Cheney, and one hour, and I will have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  I just want to confess to beating the drum of war.  I wonder if he will confess to that, Cheney, under pressure. 

Anyway, Don Rumsfeld didn‘t get a very warm reception at yesterday‘s -

or Saturday‘s, rather, White House Correspondents Dinner.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  War criminal!  War criminal!  War criminal!  Arrest this man!  Arrest the war criminal!  I wish I had some handcuffs right now to arrest this man!  He is responsible for the death of millions of people!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Here comes the war criminal, Donald Rumsfeld!

War criminal!  He killed people in Iraq!  War criminal!  Donald Rumsfeld, war criminal!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  He shouldn‘t have hauled her away.  That‘s free speech. 

And I completely like the way Rumsfeld handled it. 

So, is that why Dick Cheney‘s event at the American Enterprise Institute next week is by invitation only?  I think so. 

Time now for tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Times are tough, especially when you‘re trying to raise funds for a reelection campaign.  So, what‘s a congressman to do?  Well, Phil Gingrey has got a new strategy.  He‘s a congressman.  He‘s auctioning off seats in his luxury box for tonight‘s big Washington Capitals hockey game to raise money.

How much would it set you back to watch the hockey game snuggling alongside that U.S. congressman, Phil Gingrey?  According to “The Wall Street Journal,” 1,500 smackers, 1,500 bucks to sit right down next to the U.S. congressman and share some ice time with the man from Georgia. 

Fifteen bucks to catch tonight‘s big hockey game with U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey—tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Up next:  We have heard often the Republicans on this show deride their opponents by calling the Democrat Party, you know, without the adjective, the Democrat Party.  Well, apparently, that‘s not enough anymore.  Now the RNC wants to rebrand the Democrats unilaterally the Democrat Socialist Party.  Hmm.  Is this the best they have got?  Sounds like schoolyard to me.  Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.  Boy, they‘re going places with that one—the latest on the GOP agony next.

You‘re watching HARDBALL—HARDBALL—only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REBECCA JARVIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Rebecca Jarvis with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

A sell-off following a disappointing report on retail sales—the Dow Jones industrials tumbled 184 points.  The S&P 500 fell 24, and the Nasdaq dropped 51 points. 

Retail sales fell unexpectedly in April.  It was the second straight monthly decline.  And, if the trend continues, the economic recovery could stall. 

Meantime, foreclosure filings hit a record high in April for a second straight month, surging 32 percent from a year ago.  California, Florida, and Nevada had the highest number of foreclosure filings. 

European Union regulators fined Intel a record $1.45 billion, saying the world‘s biggest computer chipmaker—quote—used “illegal anti-competitive practices” to exclude its only competitor, AMD.  Intel says it will appeal the fine. 

And oil fell 83 cents, closing at $58.02 a barrel. 

That‘s it from CNBC.  We‘re first in business worldwide—now back to

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

And this is for real.  There‘s a move afoot in the Republican National Committee right now, as we speak, to rebrand the Democratic Party as the—quote—“Democrat Socialist Party,” Democrat Socialist Party. 

And there‘s a tax—another tea party tax coming up scheduled for tomorrow.  Is this the way to strengthen the Republican Party? 

Patrick J. Buchanan joins us from Washington, and Lawrence O‘Donnell here the millionth rubber match between these two gentlemen coming up over this issue. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Patrick Buchanan, are you one who refer to the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party, and this doubling down to call them the Democrat Socialist Party? 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  You know, Chris, there are phrases that really work—there‘s—evil empire is one—limousine liberal, death taxes, amnesty that work well. 

I don‘t think Democrat socialism works that well.  I think a socialist

party—is it a socialist party?  Well, Norman Thomas, who ran for

president six times, the great socialist leader, said: “I quit.  They have

the Democrats have stolen all my ideas.”

So, I think it is probably, in my judgment, a socialist party.  However—in some aspects—however, I don‘t think Democrat Socialist really does it.  It‘s a—it‘s sort of a turgid phrase.  It‘s ideological.  It doesn‘t have any bite to me.  So, I wouldn‘t go with it.

MATTHEWS:  Lawrence?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, the Republicans have stolen all the Democrats‘ socialist ideas.  It was the Republicans who added a prescription component to the—to Medicare. 

Medicare and Social Security are pure socialist ideas.  Social Security was invented in Germany.  We imported it.  And, so, we‘re all socialists now.  We have been so for more than a generation. 

And, if there—if there‘s a Republican who‘s willing to stand up in the Congress and offer a bill to repeal socialism and repeal Social Security, I will say, that‘s the Republican who is not a socialist.  All the rest of them are. 

MATTHEWS:  Just to clean the table here, Pat...

BUCHANAN:  Well, I agree here with Lawrence.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... is the word Democrat, as an adjective, correct?  Or do you like that one?  He‘s a Democrat—he‘s a member of the Democrat Party? 

BUCHANAN:  No, it doesn‘t—no, it doesn‘t—I mean, Democratic is a

anybody that knows any Iambic Pentameter, it‘s...

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  It goes better.  Democrat Party just doesn‘t—it doesn‘t sound good. 

I don‘t think it‘s effective at all, Chris, to use that terminology—that terminology about the Democratic Party. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about irony here, because you worked for Dick Nixon.  And Dick Nixon was a—Richard Nixon had many parts to him, some good, some bad, some still to be determined. 

But he was, in many ways, a socialist.  He was the guy that was going to give us a guaranteed income—in fact, it was a reverse income tax that would guarantee, at least as strongly as anything in the Bill of Rights.  It would be a red right for people.  They would—everybody would get an income, even if they were poor as hell.  Everybody would get national health insurance paid for by employer mandate...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... where employers would have to, under the law, or go to jail, have to pay for health care for their employees. 

No Democrat has got in the way with doing that.  Dick Nixon tried to do it.  Does that make him a socialist?  He also got rid of Gold Window.  He did a lot of—he had wage price controls.  He set prices on goods and services in this country.  He set wages in this country for all kind of services and worked production, industrial production.  No Democrat has ever gone this far.  Was Dick Nixon a socialist? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think the—clearly, I agree with Lawrence on this.  The great socialist leader was—this was Bismarck.  And a lot of his ideas in Germany in the 19th century were picked up in Europe.  And a lot of them have come to the United States through the New Deal, through the Great Society and Earned Income Tax Credit, gives tax refunds to people who don‘t pay any taxes. 

You‘ve got one third of the people in the United States don‘t pay any income taxes.  And the top one percent are paying 40 percent of the bill. 

Are we partly a socialist nation?  Of course we are, when 40 percent of GDP

--

O‘DONNELL:  Pat, when you were running for president, why didn‘t you call for the abolition of Social Security and Medicare? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, because I think it would be—we saw Barry Goldwater try it.  It didn‘t work that well for us back then.  So I figured I‘d focus on something else. 

O‘DONNELL:  So you can‘t say what you really believe in when you run for the right wing. 

BUCHANAN:  I‘m not for the abolition of Social Security.  I do think they should raise the age to 70.  I do think they should change the indexing formula and things like that. 

O‘DONNELL:  So you‘re a working socialist like me. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the Republican party going left.  Your party, Pat, your erstwhile party—I guess you‘re back in it again if you‘ll run as independent.  Let‘s take a look at this; Charlie Crist, it looks like he has the nod from John Cornyn, the head of the Republican Senate campaign committee.  Charlie Crist could be the poster boy, if you will, of the Republican party in this next election. 

Are you comfortable with that?  A moderate, pro-stimulus Republican from Florida, who‘s not a conservative apparently.  Are you happy with him for your poster boy for 2010? 

BUCHANAN:  There is a young fellow running against him who has a terrific conservative record.  I believe he‘s an Hispanic or a Cuban fellow.  He‘s nowhere in the polls right now. 

But I‘ll be honest, Chris, because he more closely represents, I believe, the things I do; if I were in Florida, I would probably vote for this individual in the primary.  And then if Crist won, I would vote for Crist in the general election, assuming they didn‘t have some good conservative Democrat running against him. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it would be good for your party to have the man with the tan in the fan as your poster boy?  He has a fan.  No, Charlie Crist, wherever he goes, has a tan, of course.  He also has the guy who comes along with a fan and aims the fan on him while he‘s speaking.  Does that offend your sensibility, Pat Buchanan? 

BUCHANAN:  No, it doesn‘t.  I don‘t know where these Republicans get these tans in the middle of the winter. 

MATTHEWS:  John Boehner, the president was making fun of him for his complexion the other day. 

BUCHANAN:  There‘s nothing in nature like that.  And I agree with him.  Look, yes—I like Charlie Crist as a person.  He‘s not from my side of the party.  But if he‘s nominated and our guy gets beat and I‘m a Republican, I‘d vote for him. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re getting too soft.  Lawrence, would you rake this guy over the coals here?  Pat Buchanan supports Charlie Crist.  I think he used to stand for Neanderthals.  Now he‘s the most debonair of all Republicans. 

O‘DONNELL:  He‘s advocating a losing strategy in the primary, which is he wants people to vote for the most conservative Republican in the primary, which is exactly what Democrats want him to vote for.  That‘s what Democrats want him to vote for, because that‘s how Republicans lose.  They nominate these extreme conservatives in places where extreme conservatives cannot win, like Florida. 

BUCHANAN:  Lawrence, look what we did.  We won with Reagan.  We won with Bush Two.  We lost with Bush One.  We lost with Dole.  We lost with McCain.  The moderates lose at the national level. 

MATTHEWS:  Pat, if you had to put someone on the national television tomorrow to debate Barack Obama, would you put Charlie Crist or Rush Limbaugh? 

BUCHANAN:  Sarah Palin. 

MATTHEWS:  You are so loyal to her.  One thing you are is not transactional.  Let me tell you why Pat‘s for her.  Because her husband was part of that Alaska Separation Party that supported you in one of those races for president, right?  It‘s pay back. 

BUCHANAN:  I like Todd Palin.  I heard he supported me.  I don‘t want to go on the record because I can‘t be sure if he voted for me, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Pat. But I know where your loyalties are.  To you. 

Anyway, thank you, Pat Buchanan.  Thank you, Lawrence O‘Donnell. 

Up next, Sarah Palin gets a book deal—I love the way they say this

to collaborate on her memoirs.  Her career in politics isn‘t that long. 

What would the memoirs be?  Would you please tell us the name of the ghost writer and get this over with?  She‘s going to tell my story unfiltered, but somebody is going to write it.  Is this the roll out for a presidential run and a big book tour?  A presidential run to follow. 

The politics fix is next.  Sarah Palin, she will get a long line when she sells that book.  The question, who‘s going to write it, coming up on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Time for the politics fix. 

Joining me Jennifer Donahue of the New Hampshire Institute for Politics.  Good to have you on.  And Mike Allen, two pros.  What is Sarah Palin up to, Jennifer?  She‘s got this book deal.  She‘s obviously not going to write it.  They already announced she‘s going to collaborate on it.  What an embarrassment.  It‘s one of these I told you books the jocks do.  Why they do it like this; she can‘t write.  We have a collaborator for her.  What do you make of this?

JENNIFER DONAHUE, NEW HAMPSHIRE INSTITUTE OF POLITICS:  I‘m not that surprised she can‘t write the book herself.  You write a lot of books.  But she‘s not a writer.

MATTHEWS:  Why does she have a book, then?  You‘re not supposed to be able to get claim.  She‘s going to be an author now. 

DONAHUE:  You‘re right.  You got it.  Here‘s the thing: she‘s trying to obviously rebrand herself, because Tina Fey branded her so solidly, she‘s going to dig out.  And she‘s running.  So she‘s got to dig out, and hard.  And Harper Collins is going to help her do that.  She‘s lucky. 

She‘s lucky she got the deal, which doesn‘t mean that it‘s going to fix it for her.  I mean, when she still does interviews and Todd Palin‘s pulling carts of clothing back and forth behind the live interview, their problems go deep, in terms of luck and strategy.  But it‘s not a lot of cause here. 

MATTHEWS:  Doesn‘t this, Mike, rip the scab off all these family issues that normally don‘t become fodder for discussion on things like this.  If she writes a book, it‘s going to open up a can of worms, isn‘t it?  On everything, the daughter, the once almost son-in-law, the whole ridiculous Fandango? 

MIKE ALLEN, “POLITICO”:  OF course it will, Chris.  But she wants to talk about those things.  She wants to put her spin on them.  She thinks that she has not gotten a fair shake.  And she‘ll be able to go on every show in the world and give her side of this, Chris, as you know, when she‘s out promoting that book.  She‘s going to get some hard interviews, but she‘s also going to get some fairly soft ones. 

She knows that right now she is hot.  Her star could well wane.  It could well be that in a few years no one will be interested.  So this is on a very accelerated schedule.  As you said, that collaborator, who is going to have her journals to work with.  She talked during the campaign about her journaling, and she said she journaled ferociously as the campaign got worse.  The collaborator, soon to be named, will have those to work with. 

It‘s going to be out in the spring of next year.  As you know, for a book, that‘s incredibly fast. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, guys, you get in trouble in this business not because somebody asks you a tricky question—even that Miss America contestant, Miss Universe, Muss USA, she will come out all right because she gave an answer she believed in.  What you get in trouble for is when someone asks you a question that you should know the answer to but you don‘t.  Like the—

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  Or what do you read?  That‘s what got her in trouble with Katie Couric.  It‘s the question you should know the answer to and don‘t.  It‘s not giving the wrong answer.  Is she going to be able answer the most obvious questions?  Like, how do you write this?  Did you write it on a laptop?  Did you write it by long hand?  Or actually didn‘t you write it?  Isn‘t that going to be the problem? 

DONAHUE:  You know, Chris—

ALLEN:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  No?

DONAHUE:  I think that could be the problem.  But listen, she sees her party in the wilderness.  They are deep in the woods.  So deep that Rush Limbaugh is the titular head of the party, and Colin Powell, who actually galvanizes independents and Republicans, is being kicked out in a very ugly fashion. 

She‘s going to look good compared to them.  She needs a media trainer to tell her when to shut her mouth and stop winking.  The truth is, you can be taught those things, as we all know. 

MATTHEWS:  Why doesn‘t she play her strengths, Mike, which is public speaking.  She‘s a hell of a public speaker.  She does all the efforts that you have to put into a good platform speech.  She gestures well.  She presents herself well with excitement.  I do a lot of public speaking.  She is really good at it.  Why doesn‘t she work her strength rather than pretend to write a book?  Why doesn‘t she go on a speaking tour? 

ALLEN:  She‘ll do that, too.  That‘s essentially what all of these TV

interviews that she is going to do will be.  By the way, Chris, Katie

Couric said something funny.  She said that Governor Palin should have said

she asked her what she read.  She should have said “The Economist.” 

Everyone lies about reading “The Economist.”  I liked that.

But Governor Palin is going to going to out here.  As you said, it‘s rehabilitation.  It‘s a chance for her to push the headlines rather than responding to whatever her crazy relatives have done.  Haven‘t her crazy relatives gotten her in more trouble than—

MATTHEWS:  I want to ask you guys a gut-killing question.  First you, Jennifer, and then Mike, same question.  Will her book make the “New York Times” best sellers list?  Yes or no? 

DONAHUE:  Yes.  That‘s why—

MATTHEWS:  And Mike? 

ALLEN:  Yes, and she‘s going to get this big pay day to go around and keep herself in the news at the time the top Republicans wish she would fade away. 

MATTHEWS:  She swings that big hammer down, that bell is going to ring.  Back with Jennifer and Mike.  We come back to talk about Dick Cheney and his daughter.  What is the father/daughter act all about?  Two smart people.  Are they being smart?  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m up in New York today, I have to tell you, to watch my son graduate from New York University today.  He‘s the actor in the family.  Anyone out there booking actors, pay attention.  By the way, Hillary Clinton gave a very fine commencement address.  There she is at Yankee Stadium, out at second base, giving a very good speech to the 10,000 graduates at NYU. 

Any way, we‘re back with Jennifer Donahue and Mike Donahue—Mike Allen with more of the politics fix.  What do we make --  Jennifer, you can bite into this cheese first.  What do we make of Dick Cheney and daughter now sort of being the last fighters for the old saloon?  They are out there defending this past administration at its worst moments. 

DONAHUE:  I know.  It‘s amazing how far neo-cons will go in destroying the Republican party just to purify it with their own intention.  The only upside is that someone is going to cry foul and say, get Cheney off TV.  Get him away from this.  States are moving towards independents.  You cannot win a general election without the middle.

And they are going to say, guess what, Cheney, take your Atwater thoughts, take your Rove socks, take the whole game plan and get out. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve always wondered how group thinking works, Mike.  You‘re a smart guy.  Like the group think in the O.J. case, in a murder case, where they decided he was innocent because they didn‘t like the way the L.A. Police handled the case.  And then you have the group think within this past administration, which took us to war in Iraq.  And you can never figure out who in the group said, we‘re going to war, let‘s make up some reasons to do it. 

Cheney was in there.  Who did it all?  Who said we have to torture?  Who says we have to have Gitmo?  We have to go to Iraq?  Who says it?  Who did all this stuff?   

ALLEN:  Chris, as you know, it looked a lot more logical at the time, as you can tell by the reaction of Democratic congressional leaders to it.  Remember, this all occurred in 2003.  Things look very different now. 

To answer your original question, the vice president is out there because he thinks no one else is.  There is no one else to defend the faith, so to speak.  Democrats, Chris, will tell you that they are cynically laying the predicate to suggest that if we are attacked it‘s because the new administration made us less safe. 

As you‘re suggesting, Republicans largely wish that he would go away.  But he believes that this program was part of—program, a very 1984-ish word, right?  But he believes that all of this worked together to keep the country safe and there‘s no one else out there to do it.   

(CROSS TALK)

DONAHUE:  It was Rumsfeld.  Cheney picked Rumsfeld. 

MATTHEWS:  Got to go.  Jennifer, I‘m sorry. 

DONAHUE:  OK. 

MATTHEWS:  Jennifer and Mike, thank you.  Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Right now it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.

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