updated 3/24/2010 11:02:19 AM ET 2010-03-24T15:02:19

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

convinced Democrats.



votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United

States of America.



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

morning-after strategy.

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.


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



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



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

diverse look.

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,



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



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.


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.




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.


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.


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

Pennsylvania Avenue...


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.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Those who are shouting out are out of order. 

REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER ®, TEXAS:  ... baby killer. 


MATTHEWS:  Well...


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...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

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.

CORN:  Yes. 

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. 

CORN:  But...

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

positive case.

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

million-dollar infield. 




MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

CORN:  The Phillies, right?


MATTHEWS:  No, it was the A‘s.


BUCHANAN:  Now, look, you know, it was predictable and predicted. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

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

Social Security.

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. 









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. 

CORN:  Right. 

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...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

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


BUCHANAN:  Right. 

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.  



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. 



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

newly-acquired Cadbury. 

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



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. 


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...


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. 

COX:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s ran every two years for something or other since I can


Go ahead.

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. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

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. 

MATTHEWS:  Well...

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

reform statute...”

COX:  Right. 

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...

COX:  Right. 

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.

COX:  Right. 

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...

COX:  Right. 

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

understand that.

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-




building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago.  And the Jewish people are building

Jerusalem today.  Jerusalem is not a settlement.  It‘s our capital. 


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. 


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. 


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,

stronger internationally. 

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. 

MATTHEWS:  Evangelicals? 

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



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

U.S. Congressman. 

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

actually happen. 

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. 




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