Guest: Sheldon Whitehouse, Rep. Barbara Lee, David Corn, Mike Cox, Howard Fineman
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Change you better believe in!
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight,
history right on television. It happened today on live television, and
it‘s one of those moments that Democrats hope will be remembered, like
Franklin Roosevelt signing Social Security and Lyndon Johnson signing
Medicare into law. President Obama signed a new health care bill into law
today before an East Room filled with exuberant, proud and morally
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, after all the
votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United
States of America.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Tonight, we‘re going to look at the politics of health
care. Last week‘s conventional wisdom was that Democrats were facing the
abyss. This week—it‘s just possible this week that Republicans may have
overplayed their hand, that they relied too much on sitting back and cat-
calling, been a bit too lenient in letting the far, and in some cases,
nasty right do the work for them, even to the point of stating their case.
Where has this taken us politically? That‘s our top story tonight.
As for the Republicans, they‘ve done what the old federalists did in
the early days of the republic, what the Republican moss-backers (ph) did
back in the New Deal days, they‘ve resorted to the courts. In the language
of today, they‘re suing. A dozen Republican and one Democratic state
attorneys general have filed suits against the bill, the health care bill,
in one case claiming the federal government is now—I love this word—
“invading” his state and taking away its sovereignty—Civil War talk
there. Four of these attorneys general are running for governor, by the
way, I should add. Some politics here. We‘re going to look at the GOP
Plus: Losing ugly. With the use of the “N” word and gay—or anti-
gay epithets, I should say, and the cry of “Baby killer” from one Texas
Republican congressman, Randy Neugebauer, it‘s become more and more
difficult to distinguish Republican office-holders from their more extreme
tea party supporters. What is it about health care reform that causes
opponents to reach for the nastiest charges?
And on the heels of his health care victory, President Obama meets
today with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, the
meeting‘s tonight. Can he mend the diplomatic rift with Israel and get the
peace process back on track?
And finally, I‘ll have some thoughts about the brother who wasn‘t
there today, Senator Edward Kennedy.
We start with this historic day itself with senator Sheldon
Whitehouse, a Democrat, of Rhode Island. Senator, I have to give you some
good news for the Democrats. A new Gallup poll by “USA Today,” a one-day
poll conducted Monday—that‘s yesterday—finds 49 percent say it‘s a
good thing that Congress passed the health care bill, 40 percent say it‘s a
bad thing. So times change, things change so quickly. Victory looks good
to the American people so far. Your thoughts?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: I think victory does look
good to the American people. I also think that as they become more
accustomed to this bill, as the president said, as its reality confronts
some of the rhetoric that we‘ve heard about it, they will learn some very
important things about what this bill does.
I think the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner, if they
want to run against us in November, on opposing closing the doughnut hole
for seniors, opposing protecting children with preexisting conditions
against the insurance companies that are denying them coverage, opposing
$1.3 trillion in deficit reduction, opposing tax credits for small
business. It‘s—they put themselves in a tough position.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s listen to some of the president today as he
signed the bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable. With
all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game-playing that passes
for governing in Washington, it‘s been easy at times to doubt our ability
to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing, to wonder if there are
limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve. It‘s easy to succumb to
the sense of cynicism about what‘s possible in this country. But today, we
are affirming that essential truth, a truth every generation is called to
rediscover for itself, that we are not a nation that scales back its
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Senator, I was just thinking, I‘m trying to get
beyond the cynicism of the people who just think everything is score-
keeping, to real motivation in politics, real mission in politics. How
does this fit with your goals in life, what happened today?
WHITEHOUSE: This is right down the middle. I come from Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is a state with a lot of seniors, and a lot of low-income
seniors. So solving their greatest dread, which is falling into the
doughnut hole for part D prescription drug coverage, is a really important
and fulfilling thing.
I heard from a woman just the other day, Christine (ph) in Providence,
about her 23-year-old son, who she‘s scared to death about because he‘s out
on the job market and can‘t get health insurance and he‘s off her policy.
Christine‘s son will be protected. You have—you come from a state like
mine, and this is all personal. It‘s all real.
And that‘s what‘s been so frustrating about the demagoguery and the
nonsense, and frankly, the flat-out lies about things like “death panels.”
Now that it gets real and we have a real bill, I think we‘ve got a
wonderful story to tell. And more important, we can really deliver for the
people at home who are living in this health care system and experiencing
its failures day in, day out in heartbreaking ways. Really, the stories
are just unbelievable, and this will begin to address them.
MATTHEWS: Well, I want you to get to that point in a bit more detail
even than that because, you know, every economist, everyone who studied
economics in college or grad school, like I did, knows the importance of
the stimulus bill that was passed last year. And yet anecdotally, your
party has lost the argument because Republicans were able to say it didn‘t
do anything because you never sold it on the ground. Is that a lesson you
have to not make—well, the mistake you cannot make this time, you have
to explain the health care bill so it doesn‘t become evanescent, like the
stimulus bill did?
WHITEHOUSE: I think it‘s true. The stimulus bill achieved kind of a
notoriety of its own. Republican governors and congressmen came to all the
ribbon-cuttings. They spent the money. They loved it. They claimed the
jobs that it would create when they applied for it. But once it was a
stimulus bill, something generic, they attacked it.
We have to make sure that this stays close to home and that the real
stories hit home. And I think we have a strong commitment from the White
House to be persistent about getting that message out. And of course, the
bill itself gives us a story to tell that has (ph) good in the real homes
of real people and real families all over this country.
MATTHEWS: How does the president use this victory moment to grab hold
of the hearts and guts of the American people? I know that you‘ve got
financial regulation coming up, which could be another one of those bills
that becomes a little too Adlai Stevenson, a little too elite—Woodrow
Wilson, if you will, a little too elitist, if you will. It doesn‘t grab
people. Wait a minute, the government‘s going to be a little Teddy
Roosevelt here. They‘re going to grab hold of these big trusts and they‘re
going to protect us. How do you grab that issue and make that coming issue
into a kitchen-table issue?
WHITEHOUSE: I think there are lots of ways for the president to do
this. Two that come to mind, bring to the White House some of the families
of the children who have preexisting conditions, where dad and mom were
trapped in their jobs because they couldn‘t move because they‘d lose the
coverage for their child with the preexisting condition. Let them tell
their stories. You know, it can be as simple as that.
I think also, at a more political level, you know, one team worked
very hard to try to fix a real problem for the American people. The other
team demagogued it and lied about it. And I think independent voters,
given the choice, even if they disagree with parts of the bill, will say,
Look, one team was in there trying. The other team was out there lying.
We‘re for the team that‘s in there trying. At least they took us seriously
as voters and tried to solve a real problem that we, as citizens, face.
MATTHEWS: Is part of the problem—the failure to get what we call
bipartisan support—was that there aren‘t many bipartisan types left on
the Republican side? You‘ve got people like Chuck Grassley and Enzi, Mike
Enzi from Wyoming, you got a few out there potentially—certainly, Dick
Lugar, people like that, who would be—and the two senators from Maine,
who would normally be part of a coalition to get something done for this
country, a pragmatic coalition. But they‘re not enough in number. Is that
the problem, you just can‘t get enough of them, so none of them break loose
because nobody wants to be part of a small renegade group?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, I think they also made a calculated decision, as a
party, to hang together and oppose everything Obama proposed for the
purposes of basically trying to make him look like a failed president. It
was a calculated decision. They made it early. They stuck to it. It was
a strategy. This was not just people being unwilling to come across the
aisle, this was an actual strategy of refusing to come across the aisle.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s the same thing...
WHITEHOUSE: And the...
MATTHEWS: Well, then, you‘re saying they followed the same strategy
of rejectionism that they used back in ‘93-‘94.
WHITEHOUSE: More or less. I wasn‘t here then, so I didn‘t see it
firsthand. But I think the combination of trying to deny Obama victories
and trying to appeal to the very far right wing that is very important in
Republican primaries has driven them way off course from the American
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode
Island. Thanks for joining us on this very historic day.
WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a California Democrat and
chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Well, it‘s an honor to have you
on. I‘ll bet you folks were 100 percent today, I‘m just guessing, the
members of the black caucus. Did you vote 100 percent on Sunday for health
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA), CHAIR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: There was
one member of the Congressional Black Caucus who voted no. But for the
most part, 99.9 percent of the Congressional Black Caucus...
LEE: ... voted for this bill. And let me just say, Chris, this is a
major victory for the American people. The Congressional Black Caucus, of
course, for many years has been fighting for equity in our health care
system. When you look at health disparities in communities of color and
the African-American community, huge gaps, this is a moral issue for us.
And we were so happy to be able to help write this bill and make sure that
the expansion for community clinics to the tune of $11 billion is in there,
to make sure that we have now an institute for—the National Institute
for Minority Health, some major, major provisions that will allow now for
more doctors into our communities, more people of color going into medical
So it was a great day. It was a great day for the entire country.
MATTHEWS: Well, I like the press coverage myself because I don‘t know
if you noticed—you probably did notice, Congresswoman, the press
coverage all over the country in the newspapers was four people, Nancy
Pelosi, the Speaker, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn and John Lewis in all the
pictures. I thought that was impressive that the—that this was a
Here‘s the president today at the Interior Department. Let‘s listen
to the president, then I want you to respond to what he says,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Now, as long as the road that this has been, we all know our
journey is far from over. There‘s still the work to do to rebuild this
economy. There‘s still work to do to spur on hiring. There‘s work to do
to improve our schools and make sure every child has a decent education.
There‘s still work to do to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. There‘s
more work to do to provide greater economic security to a middle class that
has been struggling for a decade. So this victory does not erase the many
serious challenges we face as a nation. Those challenges have been allowed
to linger for years, even decades, and we‘re not going to solve them all
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make? It seems like there‘s so much
before you now, the energy question in this country, our reliance on
foreign oil, climate change, educational challenges. The war in Iraq is
winding down. The war in Afghanistan continues. So many challenges for
this president to get from here to the end of perhaps two terms.
LEE: So many challenges. But the president has shown us over the
last year-and-a-half that he‘s up for the challenge and he is going to stay
the course. As we speak, we just passed today, for example, a jobs bill.
The Congressional Black caucus—I know you know, Chris, we‘ve been
beating the drums on jobs, jobs, jobs since last year. We‘ve got to create
a comprehensive jobs initiative to employ everyone in our country,
especially the chronically unemployed.
And so today, under the leadership of Chairman Levin and our great
Speaker, we passed out of the House an expansion of TANF. And also,
tomorrow we‘ll be working on our summer youth jobs initiative to the tune
of $600 million. Hopefully, we‘ll be able to pass that.
I share that because we met with the president, the Congressional
Black Caucus—we met maybe two or three weeks ago—we talked about what
next and how to put forth initiatives to create jobs for the country,
especially for those in areas of high unemployment. So we have a lot of
work to do.
But I think what you have seen is the leadership of both the
president, our Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and all of our Democratic
caucus, with the commitment, regardless of where we are on political points
of views, that we‘re willing to step in there, fight it out, and come up
with something that‘s major for the country. And I‘m so proud of the fact
that we were able to do this under our watch.
MATTHEWS: California congresswoman Barbara Lee. Thank you so much
for joining us, Congresswoman.
Coming up: Republicans went for broke and failed to defeat health
care. Did they break their pick? And what‘s worse, they lost ugly because
some of them—well, some on the right certainly spewed some racial and
rough stuff against people like Barney Frank and some black members of
Congress—rough talk out there at the Capitol the other day. How can
Republicans defend the ugly attacks from those on the far right?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I heard one of the Republican leaders say this was going to be
Armageddon. Well, you know, two months from now, six months from now, you
can check it out. We‘ll look around.
OBAMA: And we‘ll see. You don‘t have to take my word for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Monday on MSNBC, U.S.
Congressman Jim Clyburn told Andrea Mitchell what he heard and saw this
weekend outside the Capitol building. Here‘s what he said and heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: John Lewis told me that he
was called the “N” word more than once, and two other members in the
vicinity told me they heard those words being used. And when you look at
some of the signs that were painted out there, putting a Hitler-like
moustache on President Obama and other things that carried double meanings,
you know that much of this was not about health care at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the Democrats weren‘t the only ones shocked by the
ugliness out there on the Capitol Plaza. Here‘s a “Politico” report from
today. “‘It was like a mob at times,‘ lamented one House Republican
speaking on the condition of anonymity. ‘It wasn‘t good for us. Remember,
it took years for Democrats to recover from the bad publicity the anti-
Vietnam protests generated.‘”
Well, is that unnamed House Republican right? Could the ugliness of
this debate cause big problems for Republicans? Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC
political analyst and David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for “Mother
Jones” and a columnist for Politicsdaily.com.
I remember, Pat, reading something you wrote about when Richard Nixon
was nominated and—I‘m sorry, was inaugurated, and you came down
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: ... and the ugliness of that crowd.
MATTHEWS: Remember that? I‘m sure you don‘t forget it.
BUCHANAN: Very first thing that President Nixon said to me as
president—he came walking into the reviewing stand and I was in the way,
and didn‘t know he was right behind me. And the Secret Service moved me
aside, and he said, Buchanan, was that you throwing the eggs at me?
BUCHANAN: You know, they threw eggs at the presidential limousine
coming down there. But, Chris, you were...
MATTHEWS: And that led to a lot of that ugliness of the...
BUCHANAN: Hey, hey...
MATTHEWS: ... of the late ‘60s and ‘70s, early ‘70s, that ended up
helping the Republicans, in a weird way.
BUCHANAN: Every time. Every time. Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did
you kill today? Marching...
MATTHEWS: That got the president 60 percent.
BUCHANAN: Well, and, yes, every time they went after Nixon on these
things, I mean, we went—we soared in the polls.
I was at the Pentagon when the crowd of about 50,000 Mailers‘ Armies
of the Night tried to storm the building, fought with the M.P.s, trying to
break into the building. It was an enormous event. These things are
really tea parties compared to that.
MATTHEWS: Well, that was at ‘67.
BUCHANAN: That was ‘67, exactly.
MATTHEWS: I was in that crowd.
BUCHANAN: So was I.
MATTHEWS: As my wife reminds me, I was watching the demonstration
more than participating.
Here‘s Texas Congressman Randy Neugebauer yelling “baby killer” as
Bart Stupak—at Bart Stupak as he spoke on Sunday. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those who are shouting out are out of order.
REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER ®, TEXAS: ... baby killer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”: You know, the
Republicans, I think, have two problems.
One are these optics that we see. I think they look ugly. They look
bad, and they only appeal to the really most extreme part of their
constituency. The other problem is, what do they do now? The vote on
Sunday night created a tremendous divide.
There‘s, you know, not just a partisan divide, but an ideological and
policy divide. And they‘re going to run on repealing this bill? The
Democrats now are—actually feel like they‘re in the catbird seat. I was
meeting with Nancy—with other columnists with Nancy Pelosi just a few
minutes ago, and she is saying, we would love to tell the story about what
this bill is going to do.
I just read about an 8-year-old boy who had a stroke and therefore was
kicked off health care, and he would never get it again, except for this
bill. Do you want to run on repealing that?
Already, we see Michele Bachmann and Jim DeMint saying, repeal,
repeal, repeal. And some Republicans are starting to say today, wait a
second. Let‘s think this over.
MATTHEWS: Back to the ugliness, you saw that portrait of those
people, the one guy in the white shirt and the tie last week before I left
for the wedding this weekend, that guy yelling, making fun of the guy who
was the Parkinson‘s victim sitting on the ground there, obviously a guy in
desperate shape. You may not agree with him, but...
MATTHEWS: ... that kind of ugliness, what do you think of that, Pat,
because it fits with this?
BUCHANAN: Oh, no.
MATTHEWS: This—why are people so angry? Well, let me ask you
this. I understand why a middle-class person is worried. They may have
health insurance. They may taxes that they consider way too high for their
ability to pay. They may figure there‘s freeloaders out there. They may
have all kinds of regular Republican attitudes.
But this goes beyond that.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, what—the behavior towards that guy sitting
there—I don‘t know who put the guy down there who had a...
MATTHEWS: I think he crawled there.
BUCHANAN: ... who had Parkinson‘s.
BUCHANAN: He crawled all the way out in front of that demonstration?
MATTHEWS: It looks like it.
BUCHANAN: Who made the sign?
CORN: It doesn‘t matter how he got...
BUCHANAN: This looks like The bring us together sign...
BUCHANAN: The behavior was contemptible.
MATTHEWS: Here we go back again. We‘re going to back to outside
BUCHANAN: I mean, OK, I don‘t know...
MATTHEWS: Let‘s assume he got there on his own.
BUCHANAN: Let‘s assume that.
The behavior was contemptible by those few individuals, calling the
congressmen names, even calling Barney Frank names. This happens in these
things. It‘s deplorable. It ought to be condemned.
But to think that Democrats can run on this nonsense, when you‘re
talking about a takeover of one-sixth of the American economy, I disagree -
I disagree on this sense.
BUCHANAN: The Democrats have made these arguments. They have made
the anecdotal cases, and they have lost them. Apparently, the president
went from 76 to 46. Anyhow, we‘re going to have it out.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here‘s John Boehner making your point.
MATTHEWS: This is a Republican point you‘re making, and fair enough.
Here he is. A spokesman for Boehner told “The Hill”—quote—“My
impression is that he was satisfied”—that‘s the boss, the leader of the
Republicans—“with the tone of the debate, which focused on the serious
factual arguments against the Democrats‘ job-killing, government-takeover
Now, there you have some pretty strong language, job-killing. Fair
enough. That‘s standard politics. But it‘s not working, Pat. We have got
a new poll out that shows 49 percent to 40, people like what happened this
BUCHANAN: Sure. Yes, well, they...
MATTHEWS: So, it shows how quickly the American people adjust to a
BUCHANAN: Well, there‘s no doubt.
CORN: They—they—they like the fact that something was finally
done. And they‘re going to like what‘s delivered in terms of these
And it‘s not just outside agitators, Pat, when you have people on the
floor shouting “baby killer.” Connie Mack, representative from Florida,
Republican, puts out a press release saying, “Freedom died today.”
Americans, by and large—a lot of American voters, a lot of
independent voters don‘t like excessive rhetoric of either side. They‘re
going to look at the fact that the bill was passed, it has benefits, and
this is how Republicans react? They‘re—the Republicans are facing a
MATTHEWS: Hey, freedom died when his great-grandfather sold the
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
CORN: The Phillies, right?
MATTHEWS: No, it was the A‘s.
BUCHANAN: Now, look, you know, it was predictable and predicted.
BUCHANAN: You get a halo effect. They won a big victory. Everybody
saw it. The president won. Pelosi won. No one—the Republicans are
losers. He‘s going to go up. And he‘s go back down in two weeks. Chris,
but this is going to be...
MATTHEWS: You don‘t think the ugliness has been one reason why people
find the president more fetching, if you will, than the other side?
MATTHEWS: They don‘t like that stuff. They don‘t like that stuff.
They probably don‘t like what Joe Biden said today. This is a big deal. I
don‘t think John Nance Garner said that when Franklin Roosevelt passed
CORN: He probably said worse.
MATTHEWS: Pat, did you ears turn pink?
BUCHANAN: No, I laughed about it, but that‘s what is going to be on
BUCHANAN: Repeal and...
MATTHEWS: And here‘s Vice President Biden today with President Obama
at the White House.
BUCHANAN: All right.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s give Pat his jiggle and giggle.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a big
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORN: That‘s guy, locker room talk. People like that.
MATTHEWS: Will somebody please explain to the vice president we have
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know.
BUCHANAN: David‘s right about this.
MATTHEWS: I want to ask you just...
CORN: Wait a second. He‘s going to agree with me.
MATTHEWS: ... hypocrite. Are you offended by that language?
BUCHANAN: I laughed my head off.
BUCHANAN: All right, but here‘s the thing. David is right about
If you run for repeal, first, you‘re not going to do it.
BUCHANAN: Everybody is going to know you don‘t do it.
If you say repeal, repeal and reform. Say, we‘re going to get rid of
these, we‘re going to keep these, and we‘re going to put these in there.
That might work, if you say it‘s not going to happen until 2013, because
then it‘s got credibility. But it ain‘t going to happen...
CORN: These guys don‘t have credibility, though. They took
themselves out of the conversation. They are flirting with the worst
aspects of your side of the aisle...
BUCHANAN: You just heard it from “Mother Jones.”
MATTHEWS: ... be grownup here. Just like we needed a Senate bill and
a House bill to fix with reconciliation...
MATTHEWS: ... we‘re going to need this basic reform to work from.
Once we make a commitment we‘re going to insure everybody, or 30 million
more people, then we can spend the rest of our lives reforming and
MATTHEWS: But until we got to today and passed that bill and signed
it, it was all talk. Now we‘re into true reform and refinement and
polishing. And, over time, this government will improve.
Thank you, Pat Buchanan, for not being offended by the—that word
that you have never heard in a newsroom.
BUCHANAN: Well, Dick—I heard it from Dick Cheney once.
CORN: Only once?
MATTHEWS: All right.
At least—well, this guy wasn‘t armed.
MATTHEWS: Up next, I want to tell you about a wonderful moment this
weekend in my family. This is totally personal. It explains where I was
on Monday and where I was on Friday, the marriage of our oldest boy,
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Kathy and I were down in Charleston this weekend for one of those rare
wonderful moments in life when something really great happens. Our son
Michael got married. He and his beloved Sarah became a family in the
company of many of their friends and our friends, including some very
special people who paid real attention to Michael and Sarah growing up.
Their sacrament of matrimony took place in an old Huguenot church, the
church of her Ravenel family. Father William George (ph) of my beloved
Jesuits performed the ceremony. Our son Thomas, the actor, sang “Ave
Maria.” Our daughter, Caroline, was a bridesmaid.
Kathy and I have been fortunate to enjoy a pretty adventurous life
along the way, heading back to Africa a good many times and to Ireland and
enjoying all those family events at home, like birthdays and the beach and
just hanging around together.
Michael and Thomas and Caroline are just great company, especially
great company when we‘re all together.
Sarah‘s one of us now. We were five. Now we‘re six. And I miss
being together already, even though it was just yesterday we were. And I‘m
already missing them.
As I said in the words of the song to Michael and Sarah, I wish you
bluebirds in the spring, a cozy fire to keep you warm, but, most of all,
when snowflakes fall, I wish you love.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks surging to session highs in the final hour of trading, the Dow
Jones industrials climbing almost 103 points, the S&P 500 adding eight
points, and the Nasdaq 20 points—a smaller-than-expected drop in home
sales helping reassure investors today. Analysts say the market is
beginning to show improvement, but will bounce along the bottom for a
Homebuilders KB Home slipping more than 1.33 percent, after posting a
larger-than-expected loss in the latest quarter. Drug store chain
Walgreens also missing its earnings target, but finishing in the green as
investors drilled down and noted a big improvement in the company‘s
Kraft Foods leading the Dow, after naming its executive committee for
And Apple continuing the steadily climb, as the April 3 release date
for the new iPad inches ever so close.
That‘s it‘s from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few minutes before 12:00, the president of the
United States today signed into bill a—or into law a health care bill
that, in our judgment and the judgment of 12 other state attorney generals,
is unconstitutional and invades the sovereignty of the states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Invades the sovereignty of the state of Florida.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, that didn‘t take long. Minutes after President Obama signed the
historic health care reform bill into law, attorneys general in 13 states
filed a lawsuit challenging it. They say the individual mandate—that‘s
what requires you to buy insurance—is unconstitutional.
Attorney of Michigan, Attorney General Mike Cox, is one of the 13.
Sir, it seems to me interesting that 12 of you are Republicans...
MIKE COX, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right.
MATTHEWS: ... and four of you are running for governor. Is this
politics? Four running for governor
COX: Well, Chris, I am running for governor, and Nancy Pelosi is
running for her seat, and Harry Reid is running for his seat as well this
MATTHEWS: Yes, but you‘re trying to get a promotion based on this
Let me ask you this. Do you really believe it‘s an invasion of the
sovereignty of the state of Michigan? That‘s what the language used by—
by Bill McCollum down in Florida.
MATTHEWS: He‘s ran every two years for something or other since I can
COX: Yes, Chris, what we‘re arguing is that the federal government
has never—Congress has never said to Americans that part of the price of
American—being an American citizen is that you have to buy something.
COX: And here, for the first time ever, we have to buy something. We
have to buy health insurance, or the federal government is going to fine
us. That has never happened in our 200-plus years of history.
COX: And we‘re saying—we‘re saying Article I of the Constitution
doesn‘t authorize this.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look. Oh, you use—OK, Article I,
you‘re going on. Let‘s take a look at a Justice Department spokesman. He
just put out this statement tonight.
“We will vigorously defend the constitutionality of the health care
MATTHEWS: “... along with any other claims in any litigation that‘s
brought against the United States. We‘re confident that this statute is
constitutional, and we will prevail when we defend it in court.”
What‘s your sense, Attorney General, Mr. General, I should call you...
MATTHEWS: ... about the possibility of you winning this case? I
talked to Pete Williams here, who is a pretty straight-down-the-line
reporter on this, who knows this stuff.
MATTHEWS: He said there‘s a possibility you might have a case. It
may be remote, however.
What‘s your sense of the—of the plausibility of you—of you
getting cert, going to the Supreme Court, and winning your case with a 5-4,
at least, decision?
COX: Well, Chris, I think we have a very strong case.
As I said, in the past 15 years, the Supreme Court has scaled back
Congress when they have tried to inject themselves into purely state
matters, and using the Commerce Clause.
A perfect example was the Morrison case with the Violence—the
Violence Against Women Act. Another case was Lopez, where they tried to
criminalize purely state behavior within a state.
So, this—over the past 15 years, the Supreme Court has scaled back
and said to Congress, when you try and go after activity that doesn‘t cross
state lines, and when you try and go after activity, such as here, which is
inactivity—here, the federal government is punishing people for not
buying a product.
COX: They‘re punishing them for not getting into interstate commerce.
And that has never happened before.
MATTHEWS: Well, they punish people in the Civil Rights Act under
public accommodations in 1964...
MATTHEWS: ... for not selling to an African-American who comes to a
hotel door and says, I want a room. So, there you have them punishing a
hotel owner or a restaurant owner who is running a diner. If you say to a
black fellow who comes in the door, get me a coffee, and you say, no,
because you‘re black, that‘s—the Constitution held that they had the
right in Congress to do that.
So, how is this different?
COX: Well, Chris, that is...
MATTHEWS: That was interstate commerce.
COX: Well, that‘s apples and oranges.
They were proceeding under...
MATTHEWS: Well, how so?
COX: They were proceeding under the three amendments that came into
being after the Civil War.
MATTHEWS: No, no, no, I‘m following your language.
MATTHEWS: They said you must sell this cup of coffee...
COX: Let me finish, Chris, if I can.
... to this fellow.
COX: But here‘s the difference. The federal government wasn‘t saying
there to the individual who wanted to use the hotel room, the African-
American, you have to go into that hotel, that public accommodation, and
make a purchase.
Here, the federal government is saying, you have to go in to the
public square, the public marketplace...
COX: ... and you have to make a purchase of health insurance.
That has never happened before.
MATTHEWS: But you do recognize that the opposite was done, that they said
to the hotel owner, you must sell the room to this customer, if he‘s a
legitimate customer. You do understand that the Congress of the United
States went across all state lines and said, I don‘t care if you open up a
Mrs. Murphy‘s; I don‘t care if it‘s a corner store that only sells the
tomatoes that you grew out back, you must sell those tomatoes to anybody
who comes in the door. You must sell them.
So you understand the strength of that Interstate Commerce Clause,
as invoked by the Congress in the past, and accepted by the courts. You
COX: Absolutely. So if an insurance company turned down someone
because they were black or because of their gender, that wouldn‘t be
allowed. But this is not the case. This is where the federal government
is saying you have to buy this. You can‘t be a cash payer for health care.
You can‘t make private arrangements with your insurance company. You have
to buy this.
MATTHEWS: You think hospitals should have to take care of a person
who is injured in a traffic accident, right? They must take care of them,
right? That‘s a law.
COX: That‘s a federal statute, yes.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. I‘m looking at the other way, which is
you have to help contribute to the cost of your medical care, if you expect
it in extreme cases. To always have somebody pay for it, whether there‘s a
traffic accident, heart attack, a stroke, you expect somebody to come to
your aid without cost if necessary, right?
COX: Well Chris, nine out of ten people have insurance companies—
have a contract with insurance companies to take care of that, or they pay
MATTHEWS: Right. Well, the government is going to try to say make
it ten. Anyway, it‘s a an interesting case, let‘s put it that way. I‘m
not going to say good luck with your case, but we‘ll be watching you.
Thank you, Attorney General Mike Cox of Michigan, state of Michigan.
Congresswoman Donna Edwards is a Democrat from Maryland.
Congresswoman, you‘re an attorney. You know the law. You swore an oath to
it, like everybody else in Congress. I only can assume that you know the
Constitution they‘re trying to follow it. Explain why you believe, under
the Constitution, it‘s acceptable for Congress to say, you must buy
insurance if you can afford it.
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Not just that, but I brought my
Constitution. All of us know, even from second year in law school, that
the Interstate Commerce Clause gives Congress broad authority to regulate
in these matters, where there‘s an economic impact across the states. And
clearly that‘s been true with insurance. That was litigated 65 years ago.
We‘ve established Medicare, Medicaid, minimum wage standards, other
kind of workplace and labor standards that cross state lines. Congress has
broad authority to regulate, that‘s what we‘ve done here. And if these
attorneys general want to file a case, it‘s not winning a case. But the
fact is that for the 15 million people in their states who don‘t have
health care insurance and who are now going to be able to have access to
quality, affordable health care right now—we‘re all grateful for those
15 million people that we‘ve got Article I, Section Eight of the
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, can you cite a case where the federal
government has ever, before this bill signed today, told somebody to buy
something? They had to buy it, in this case insurance?
EDWARDS: Well under McKaren-Ferguson (ph), of course, regulating
insurance across state lines. And you know, obviously in the states, we
have insurance companies that operate across state lines. And that‘s
regulated both at the state level and at the federal level.
We have commerce that—with transportation, you know, trucks, et
cetera, operating across state lines, where we have specific obligations
that people have to meet because they‘re operating in interstate commerce,
I think this is really well-settled law.
And the fact is that many of the Republicans in Congress and now in
the states lost on the substance; they lost on the process; and now they
want to litigate. And it really is a bit of an irony for a group of folks
that decided that they actually wanted to challenge the litigation for
people under our health insurance reform plan.
MATTHEWS: Well, none of us are shocked that they‘ve resorted to the
courts. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Donna Edwards from Maryland.
Up next, in the middle of the biggest fight between the United
States and Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in
Washington tonight meeting with President Obama. Does the president have
the muscle to get the peace process back on track? Or does he risk being
too tough on Israel? This is a tricky question. We‘re going to deal with
it when we come back. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is
meeting with President Obama tonight. Earlier today, the Israeli prime
minister told Congressional leaders that peace talks could be delayed
another year unless Palestinians drop their demands for a settlement
freeze. And last night, Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
gave competing speeches before the powerful lobbying group AIPAC, the
American-Israeli Political Action Committee.
That revealed simmering diplomatic tensions existing still between
the two countries. Netanyahu refused to yield to U.S. pressure to halt
construction of housing units in Arab East Jerusalem. Here are the back-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The Jewish people were
building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago. And the Jewish people are building
Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It‘s our capital.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: New construction in East
Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines that mutual trust and endangers the
proximity talks that are the first step towards the full negotiations that
both sides say they want and need. And it exposes daylight between Israel
and the United States that others in the region hope to exploit. It
undermines America‘s unique ability to play a role, an essential role in
the peace process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let‘s turn to NBC News chief foreign affairs
correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, also host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS,” and
MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, also of “Newsweek.”
I would like both of you experts—and you are—to talk about
presidential power, and how victory in one arena, domestic politics, and
perhaps political leadership of the political party, the Democratic party,
would help Barack Obama navigate through this very tricky bit of business,
which I have to say, having been on that trip with Joe Biden a couple weeks
ago, looked very tricky, even treacherous for him.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You
were there at ground zero for diplomatic riffs. You were right in the
middle of it. And you know that perception of power and of strength,
politically, is very, very important. Nobody studies politics like the
MATTHEWS: They study us.
MITCHELL: Their politics, our politics, I mean, it is their
national sport. And so they are watching this, as are everyone here in the
United States. And this is a very big plus, not just on the health care
issue. But this makes the president seem, you know, more powerful,
MATTHEWS: I think it does one thing. And I‘ll suggest to you, old
buddy, he seems like the leader of the Democratic Party right now, in the
way Jimmy Carter, another guy who was suspect by Israel, never was, in the
way that George Bush Senior was never Mr. Republican. You know what I
mean? He‘s much more Mr. Democrat.
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: It‘s very interesting, because you
would think of Jimmy Carter in this context for two reasons. One is
success on the Hill and efficacy within the party. The other is the Middle
East. You need to be a strong president to be able to deal with Israel,
however you‘re going to deal with Israel. OK?
So Barack Obama is out of the Jimmy Carter category. I think he‘s
in little danger of falling into the idea that he‘s ineffectual and just
can‘t get things done. And the Israelis—
MATTHEWS: You think he‘s out of that?
FINEMAN: I think he‘s out of that category, probably permanently,
in the eyes of historians, and in real-time. The Israelis know that they
can‘t rely on the Republicans. What‘s happening now is Republicans are
making a big play for conservative supporters of Israel, Jews and non-Jews.
FINEMAN: Evangelical Christians, conservative Jews, the Likud crowd
in the United States.
MITCHELL: It worked for them before.
FINEMAN: I know. But they‘re smart enough to know that with a
strong Barack Obama, they can‘t put all their eggs in the conservative
Republican basket, that they‘re going to have to deal with a strong—or
at least president with a fairly united Democratic party, even though the
party, itself, is split on supporting Israel‘s hard line or not.
MATTHEWS: Is it fair to say that Democrats who vote and speak in
polls are a lot more sophisticated about their knowledge of Israeli
politics, the nuance of the peace over here on the left? Much more aware
that we‘re allowed to argue with Israel, that we have differences on
politics and on the two-state solution? Whereas Republicans see Israel as
kind of a Biblical notion? You know what I mean? Is that fair?
MITCHELL: The interesting thing about this is that, of all people
in the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton was the strongest defender of
Israel, certainly in the campaign. She in the cabinet has been very, very
tough. She was the one who called Netanyahu after the affront to Joe Biden
and said, we condemn this and had a very tough conversation with him.
The fact is that I‘m waiting to see the pressure come, because
Pelosi and Boehner came together around Bibi Netanyahu today. They had
their photo opportunity with him. They were praising him. I‘m waiting to
see the pressure come from Democrats on the Hill against the administration
on this issue.
MATTHEWS: Is there a difference on—always argue does the United
States and Israel have the same interests or not? No two countries have
the exact same interests. But is there a policy difference? The United
States, under these last two administrations, has said we want a two-state
solution. Does Netanyahu buy that? Or is he grudgingly saying yes, but
FINEMAN: Andrea would know better than I. I know more about
American politics. I don‘t think he necessarily buys it. I think he‘s
willing to stall around and pretend that he buys it. I don‘t think he
really does buy it.
MATTHEWS: Your answer‘s no. He doesn‘t buy it?
MITCHELL: He doesn‘t buy it. In fact, U.S. interests are to work
closely with the Arab states. And the feeling of this administration is
that Netanyahu‘s policies undermine American interests in the region and
with the Arab world, and that he‘s actually hurting his own security by
undermining Arab support against Iran.
FINEMAN: Let me say this. Obama has to be careful because support
for Israel in the United States, according to the polls, is about as high,
overall, as it‘s ever been. And that‘s because of the, quote, war on
terror. That‘s the main—
MATTHEWS: We‘re together with them on that. Thank you, Andrea
Mitchell. And thank you, Howard.
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about the brother
who wasn‘t there in the East Room of the White House, where President Obama
signed health care reform into law today, Teddy Kennedy. You‘re watching
HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a small event that occurred 64
years ago up on Cape Cod. It was at a family party for a young candidate
running well ahead in the polls in his first race for office. His whole
family was gathered around celebrating his birthday and the fact that he,
this young fellow just back from action in World War II, was about to be a
Everybody was offering a toast to this young hero when his youngest
brother, just 13 years old, stood up and said, I‘d like to offer a drink to
the brother who‘s not here. Well, the party was in honor of John F.
Kennedy. The young boy was offering the toast to the late oldest brother,
Joseph Kennedy, who had been killed a couple years earlier on a dangerous
mission in Europe.
The young boy was Edward Kennedy, Teddy. He was the one who never
forgot the brother who wasn‘t there.
Today, the Democrats celebrated the signing of the historic health
care bill. You could see all the key people right there in the White House
East Room. President Obama signed the bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate
Leader Harry Reid, Jim Clyburn, they were all there. From Bernie Sanders,
a self described socialist, to Bart Stupak, who insisted on the executive
order banning federal payments for abortion, they were all there in the
East Room today.
It was a joyous time, perhaps something like the party up in
Hyannisport back in 1946, when the Kennedy family got together, and its
youngest rose to say that they should not forget the brother who set the
standard of courage for all. Quote, “there is a new wave of change all
around us,” he said in the election year of 2008, Ted Kennedy did. “If we
set our compass true, we will reach our destination, not merely victory for
our party, but renewal for our nation.”
Well, on this day of celebration, I‘d like to offer a toast to the
brother who wasn‘t there today, the senator who devoted his career and
finally his life to the cause of national health care, to knowing it, to
feeling it, to driving it, to leading it and finally to inspiring it to
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Catch us again
tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern. Right now it‘s time for “THE ED
SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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