Guests: Ron Reagan, Ron Christie, Thurbert Baker
HOST: Drill, baby, drill.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Finding the sweet spot. President Obama made a big move today on energy.
His goal was to win over some Republicans on legislation that will end this
country‘s dependence on foreign oil, and oil period, by allowing some
offshore drilling. Did he find the sweet spot? Did he give enough to win
over enough of the Republican crowd to build a bill?
No one is surprised that some environmentalists are unhappy that Obama
is opening up a big stretch of America‘s coastlines to oil and gas
drilling, nor are we surprised, in the current political climate, that some
Republicans are complaining he‘s not giving enough. The good news for the
president is that based upon some comments by Republicans like Senator
Lindsey Graham and U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, a state
coastline that Obama is including in his pro-drilling move, are saying good
things about the president‘s plan.
Plus: Republican lawmakers in Georgia are calling for the impeachment
of that state‘s attorney general. Why? Because he refuses to file a
lawsuit claiming that the new health care overhaul is unconstitutional. So
I guess it‘s unconstitutional to not say the president‘s unconstitutional.
Is that the deal? The attorney general joins us tonight from Georgia.
Also, how‘s this for outrage? You‘ve heard of that Kansas church
group that protested the funerals of Americans killed at war. They say
military deaths abroad are God‘s punishment for tolerance for gays here at
home. Now a father who‘s suing the group has been ordered to pay their
court costs. The dad‘s with us tonight. Talk about outrage.
And when someone wants to endorse you for U.S. Senate, make sure
they‘re not the sort to make you more enemies than friends. That‘s advice
that Florida governor Charlie Crist might have wished he‘d followed.
That‘s in the “Sideshow.”
Finally, we‘re going to talk about the widening scandal over child
molestation and cover-up in the Roman Catholic church. I tell you what I,
a layperson, thinks should be done to priests who abuse children.
Let‘s start with President Obama‘s decision to lift the offshore ban
on oil and gas drilling. Ron Reagan is a political commentator, and I have
no idea what he‘s going to say. And Ron Christie‘s a Republican
strategist, and tonight at least, I have no idea what he‘s going to say.
He‘s, of course, a former aide to the vice president we had recently called
Dick Chee-ney. And that‘s how it‘s pronounced properly.
Let‘s go to Ron Reagan on this. Ron, the president looks like he‘s
heading here for the sweet spot. He knows he has to sell this climate
bill. The only way he‘s figured I guess he can sell the climate bill that
came out of the House, get rid of cap-and-trade, bring in some offshore
drilling to bring in the developers, the Republicans aboard the ship. Is
this the sweet spot? Has he got it figured?
RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, obviously, he hopes he has.
He hopes he can woo moderate Democrats and maybe even a few Republicans
about this. Look, we could look at this from an environmental standpoint,
we can look at it from an energy standpoint, or the political standpoint,
which is what you‘re doing here. From an environmental standpoint, “Drill,
baby, drill” means “Spill, baby, spill,” so that‘s no good.
From an energy standpoint, even the Bush administration‘s Department
of Energy pointed out that if you opened up even more coastlines than
President Obama is figuring here to exploration, by 2030, when full
production actually—actually was under way, we might increase our oil
supply in this country by 1 percent.
So that leaves us with the politics. The jury is out on that. You
know, maybe some moderate Democrats will be wooed, maybe some Republicans,
although at the end of the day, I‘m reluctant to imagine that they‘ll
actually get on board.
MATTHEWS: Ron Christie, it seems to me that a couple—well, a
couple of hours ago today, I thought that any chance of a climate bill was
dead, any chance of an energy bill was dead because the bill that came out
of the House is so detested by the Republicans, you‘d never get 60 votes in
the Senate to pass the thing. Now I wonder if he‘s reshuffled the deck
enough to give a little to the developers, the people who want to drill
now, so that he can get what he wants, long-term—a meeting of this long-
term challenge of climate change and energy dependence on countries that
don‘t like us.
RON CHRISTIE, FMR. CHENEY AIDE: Look, it‘s smart politics. I agree
with Ron Reagan for once. This is a smart political move by the president.
You have people like Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, the senator from
Alaska, applauding what he did today. The devil‘s always going to be in
the details. What does this specifically mean? A hundred and twenty-five
miles off the coast of Florida? Well, is there really oil and gas out
there to be explored? But from a political...
MATTHEWS: Well, I assume there is. Why would he...
CHRISTIE: But again...
MATTHEWS: He‘s not going to a child about this.
CHRISTIE: But that‘s my point. My point is...
CHRISTIE: ... let‘s take a look.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s see the specifics. Let‘s whether or not there‘s
energy out there (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Do you think they‘re putting them far enough out so that
you can‘t see them from the beach, and yet they‘ll get the oil there,
CHRISTIE: I‘m sure that is what he‘s hoping.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go to Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who‘s
been trying to work together on putting in an energy bill. Here—he‘s a
Republican, of course, from South Carolina. Quote, “This is a good first
step. Drilling is an important piece to making our nation more energy-
independent. But I realize we can‘t simply drill our way to energy
independence. We need a comprehensive energy strategy for our nation that
breaks our addiction to foreign oil.”
Ron Reagan, Lindsey Graham remains—I hope we don‘t get him in
trouble down there—one of the more thoughtful conservatives in the
country. He‘s trying to find something here. He‘s trying to find a way to
get us off the hook of depending on those countries in the Middle East we
know we‘re not going to have forever, and at the same time, deal with the
fossil fuel problem, which is we got to find alternative energy to—to
what we‘re doing to our environment.
REAGAN: Yes. The one problem we have here, of course, is that in
terms of the strategy to wean us from foreign oil—and that‘s a national
security issue, as well, of course—is that the longer we remain
dependent on any oil, the longer we will remain dependent on foreign oil
because we simply don‘t have enough oil here in this country to satisfy our
needs here. So if we‘re going to drill for oil here and encourage the use
of oil here, we‘re going to be depending on the Saudis to supply us with
There‘s one other factor that we might want to keep in mind here, and
that is that the leases won‘t be granted until 2012. Production won‘t
start, at the earliest, until 2017, full production until 2030. By that
REAGAN: ... one would hope that Americans will have decided that oil
“Drill, baby, drill”—just isn‘t the way to go...
MATTHEWS: President Obama is thinking of you, Ron Reagan, more than
Ron Christie now. Here he is talking to those who are on the environmental
side of this fight. He addressed them...
REAGAN: I‘m glad he‘s thinking of me more than Ron.
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s personal.
MATTHEWS: Those who oppose the decision to drill. Let‘s listen to
the president trying to woo you back here. Here he is, President Obama.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be those who
strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not
open any new areas to drilling. But what I want to emphasize is that this
announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an
economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more
on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will
succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and the long
run. To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s question. Do the Republicans want an energy
bill? Ron Christie, you come here sort of as a Republican, to put it
lightly. Do you think there is—nobody wants to say this president‘s
bacon (ph), if you‘re a partisan. But if you care about this country, are
those who are willing to say—Well, let‘s take a look. Here‘s John
Boehner, who said, “Keeping the Pacific coast in Alaska, as well as the
most promising resources in the Gulf of Mexico under lock and key makes no
sense at a time when gasoline prices are rising and Americans are asking
where the jobs”—so he still thinks there‘s not enough. That‘s Boehner,
OK, Boehner, the golfer, the hard-ass Republican guy who won‘t give an inch
on anything, who has to pee on this guy‘s parade no matter what he says. I
don‘t care what he says sometimes.
CHRISTIE: Hey, careful. Boehner...
MATTHEWS: No, seriously...
CHRISTIE: Boehner‘s my friend.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but he‘s just playing partisan politics here. In the
interests of this country, everybody knows the same thing, basically.
There is a climate change problem. Anybody who reads the paper and thinks
knows, somewhere down the line. Number two, that man has something do with
it—number two. And number three, we got to stop depending on Arab oil
or we‘re crazy.
MATTHEWS: OK? So you got to do something about it, right?
MATTHEWS: And is the president doing something?
CHRISTIE: He is doing something. You say everyone who knows anything
says that there‘s global climate change? I think there‘s serious
scientific disputes of whether or not that is actually viable. But let me
address your question...
MATTHEWS: Do you really challenge it?
CHRISTIE: Of course I really challenge it! I think you‘ve had—
we‘ve seen what happened in East Anglia over in England, where they
discredited the scientific research of these people. I think that it is a
MATTHEWS: There are people that question—there are people who
question evolution. That doesn‘t mean there isn‘t evolution.
CHRISTIE: Oh, Chris, wait a second. So we‘re supposed to take
scientists who have a fiduciary interest in this that could benefit...
MATTHEWS: This is party line.
CHRISTIE: Oh, no, this isn‘t party line. This is actually—I‘ve
researched this. Why should we take hook, line and sinker what some of
these environmentalists have said about global climate change? Why don‘t
we have an honest debate? Why don‘t we have the conservative voices...
CHRISTIE: ... actually addressing this.
MATTHEWS: Because the weather in Boston right now over the last X
many years is the same as it used to be in Philadelphia.
CHRISTIE: Oh—oh, and let‘s...
MATTHEWS: It‘s getting warmer and warmer.
CHRISTIE: It was sure warm here on the East Coast. We had blizzards.
It was one of the—it was one of the coldest winters record!
REAGAN: Now you‘re discrediting yourself, Ron! Come on!
CHRISTIE: Actually, Ron Reagan, I‘m actually making my point. It was
one of the coldest winters we have on record...
REAGAN: ... making a point that is one that discredits you.
CHRISTIE: No, it doesn‘t discredit me.
MATTHEWS: Ron Reagan, your thoughts.
REAGAN: Well, listen, weather is not climate. So let‘s forget it.
REAGAN: Climate change doesn‘t even have to be part of the—it
isn‘t! It isn‘t, Ron, and you know it as well as I do.
CHRISTIE: Oh, OK.
MATTHEWS: ... one years. We‘re talking about a trend line.
REAGAN: But forget about climate change for the moment because we
don‘t have to even discuss climate change. We could discuss national
security here. Everybody knows—forget about climate change. Everyone
knows the future is in solar and wind and renewable, sustainable energy
sources. That‘s where we have to be going now, not to the past. We‘ve got
to be going to the 21st century, not the 19th!
CHRISTIE: Now, Ron Reagan, here‘s where I agree with you. I agree
with all those, but you need to add one more component to that. You need
to add nuclear energy. France has over 80 percent of their domestic supply
supplied by nuclear energy.
MATTHEWS: How come the only thing you guys like about the French is
CHRISTIE: That‘s about (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: You never say one good thing about the French on any topic!
You won‘t eat their French fries! You make fun of their...
CHRISTIE: Freedom fries.
MATTHEWS: You have this cherry-picking way of selecting your allies.
CHRISTIE: Hey, that‘s the...
MATTHEWS: You are like Sarkozy on one issue, nuclear!
CHRISTIE: That‘s it!
MATTHEWS: Oh, God. And everything else, you say they‘re cynical and
they‘ll do anything—they don‘t have any values, they don‘t have any
morality. But on this thing...
CHRISTIE: I agree.
CHRISTIE: ... common ground. I do applaud the president on this. I
think he‘s going to take a lot of heat from the left for his decision to
open these leases up. It‘s a good thing. And as Ron Reagan says that I
agree with, and as you‘ve, this is a national security issue.
CHRISTIE: We need more domestic production. Let‘s do it together.
MATTHEWS: I like when you change hats, put on the American hat and
take off of the Republican hat. But your thoughts, Ron Reagan?
REAGAN: Well, listen...
MATTHEWS: Are you—the president wasn‘t very happy today, either.
You‘re not very happy. He‘s not very happy. Sometimes, the solution is
when everybody‘s moderately unhappy.
Here‘s President Obama. He wasn‘t exactly thrilled with the prospect
of doing this, of offshore (INAUDIBLE) when he was a candidate back in
2008. Let‘s listen to the old Obama because he‘s a critic, perhaps, of the
new Obama. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Offshore drilling would not lower gas prices today. It would
not lower gas prices tomorrow. It would not lower gas prices this year.
It will not lower gas prices five years from now. In fact, President
Bush‘s own Energy Department says that we won‘t see a drop of oil from his
own proposal until 2017.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, now he‘s compromising.
REAGAN: He‘s backing up my earlier point there.
CHRISTIE: I welcome this compromise. Let‘s have this debate.
REAGAN: I—like Ron Christie, I‘m a fan of nuclear power, but I
prefer fusion power. And you know what the biggest fusion power generator
we have is? The sun, and we ought to start using it.
MATTHEWS: Oh, you‘ve tricked us again, Ron Reagan!
MATTHEWS: You‘ve tricked your way to where you want to be.
REAGAN: I know. It was a little curveball there.
MATTHEWS: Ron Reagan, thank you, sir. Thank you, Rons—Ron
Christie and Ron Reagan.
Coming up: Attorney generals in 14 states are suing the government
over health care reform. They say it‘s unconstitutional. But the attorney
general in the state of Georgia—or people—they want him impeached for
not suing. I‘m going to ask Georgia‘s attorney general himself why he‘s
holding his ground against the governor and a bunch of state legislators
down there. It‘s a conservative state. He‘s a Democrat. Is he the odd
man out? But could he be right?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We reported on the attorney
generals of 14 states who filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality
of the new Obama health care bill. Now one state attorney general is
defying his governor and says he won‘t join those 14 attorney generals.
Here‘s what happened.
Right after health care reform passed, Republican governor, Georgia
governor Sonny Perdue wrote to his attorney general requesting that he file
suit on behalf of Georgia. Two days later, Attorney General Thurbert Baker
of Georgia wrote back to the governor and said he, quote, “respectfully
declines the governor‘s request on both legal and fiscal grounds.” He
didn‘t want to waste the taxpayers‘ money, he said.
Now Republicans, some of them, in the Georgia state legislature down
there are calling for the attorney general to be impeached.
Well, Georgia attorney general Thurbert Baker joins us now from
Atlanta. General, thank you so much for joining us. Is it impeachable? I
was looking at the law down there—“Whereas by failing and refusing to
perform his constitutional and statutory duties”—are your critics down
there saying that you failed to perform your constitutional duties by not
saying the president is unconstitutional? Is that their argument?
THURBERT BAKER (D), GEORGIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Chris, that seems to be
the argument. But you know, there‘s nothing in the Georgia constitution
and nothing in our statutory laws that requires the attorney general of
this state to file a frivolous lawsuit.
The governor asked me to consider filing a lawsuit against the federal
government to overturn the recently passed health care act. I took a hard
look at the constitution. I looked at every piece of law I could find on
the matter. I came away with the clear understanding that there was simply
no basis at all upon which to file a lawsuit, and if we were to proceed in
that direction, we‘d simply be wasting taxpayers‘ money in doing so.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s cause some trouble. That‘s what I do here.
You know, back in ‘64, when we passed the Civil Rights bill in this
country, especially that key feature, the Public Accommodations Act, which
said you basically—if you open up a drug store, I don‘t care if you sell
tomatoes you grew out back, if you open up that store for business, you got
to serve people regardless of race, color, creed. That‘s the law of the
land using the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution to justify
It seems to me if you can require a guy who opens up a store he has to
sell to somebody, you can use the interstate commerce clause to say
somebody‘s got to buy some insurance. If they‘re going to be in this
country and expect to get treated in a hospital for free, they better darn
well pay their fare.
Now, why does the governor of your state think that the Civil Rights
bill was constitutional using interstate commerce, or would he have said
that? Or would he be doing the same thing back then if he were governor,
calling it unconstitutional to demand the stores are open to everybody?
I‘m asking a tough question. Is he playing the same game those people
played back then?
BAKER: I can‘t attribute any motives to this governor, but let me say
this. Since 1937, this country has been very clear through our U.S.
Supreme Court that Congress has a very, very expansive commerce clause
power and they can regulate both interstate and intrastate.
There‘s no question, as I‘ve looked at that whole issue, that Congress
has the authority to pass the statute that they did. Now, there‘s a lot of
policy disagreements out there, there are a lot of budget policy
disagreements out there about the new act. But in my opinion, there‘s
absolutely no basis upon which to say Congress doesn‘t have the power to do
exactly what it‘s done in this case.
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think they‘re making the argument, the same
argument that was made against the Civil Rights bill, especially public
accommodations? Is it the same argument the governor‘s making?
BAKER: Well, you know the governor has not couched it in those terms.
You know, the governor simply asked me to go ahead and file a lawsuit in
this case. As I said, we‘ve looked at a lot of different angles. As a
matter of fact, there was an interesting matter. You know, several years
ago, when then-governor Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts, he
actually passed the same kind of statutory provision that required
residents in that state to have health insurance. Just this month, a court
has ruled in that state, an appellate court, that that act was totally
BAKER: ... and dismissed the claim. It‘s the same thing we‘ve got
going here now with the federal act.
MATTHEWS: And I think even Judge Scalia, who‘s a real strict
constructionist, whatever you want to call him, the first -- (INAUDIBLE)
what they call original intent kind of guy—he basically believes if you
pass a law, it‘s got to be given real credibility.
What do you make of Bill McCollum, your colleague down there in the
adjoining state of Florida, who is out saying that that this bill is—
quote—“an invasion” of the sovereignty of the state of Florida. I mean,
he uses the language of Lincoln in the Civil War. This is an invasion of
the sovereignty of the state of Florida.
And you say it‘s constitutional. Talk about different—different
BAKER: Yes, completely different strokes. And I—and I just
respectfully disagree with my colleague in the state of Florida.
Listen, we‘re all looking at the same set of laws. We understand that
commerce—has an expansive Commerce Clause power. We understand that the
Medicaid program that we‘re all engaged in at the state level, that it‘s a
Right here in Georgia, almost 60 percent of the moneys that we get
come from the federal government. States can choose to opt in or to opt
out. So, we understand that. And there is something we call the supremacy
clause. Federal law does supersede state law.
So, I can‘t speak for my colleague Bill McCollum, but I can tell you,
from my perspective—I have been the attorney general here in this state
for 13 great years—I can find no legal basis upon which to engage such
litigation. And, in my opinion, if we go down that road, we‘re going to
waste hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
MATTHEWS: General, you‘re running for the governorship down there
against Roy Barnes, another—another Democrat in the primary. You‘re 20
points behind. Is this going to be an issue in the campaign, the fact that
you won‘t sue the federal government? Is Barnes saying he will? Is this
going to be a Democrat issue, as well as a Republican issue?
BAKER: I have no idea what former Governor Barnes would raise as an
issue in this campaign, but I‘m clear on this point.
What we have said in this case is absolutely correct. And, you know,
this effort to impeach me here in this state because I have told this state
what the law is, and really told the truth, is something that we will talk
about, I‘m sure others will talk about as well.
But we have done it for all of the right reasons. We have given our
best legal advice. That‘s what the people of Georgia elected me to do.
That‘s what I‘m going to continue to do. And I cannot be intimidated by
threats of impeachment here in Georgia. We have got to do the job that we
were elected to do.
MATTHEWS: So, you‘re not afraid of the governor? You‘re not afraid
of Governor Perdue? You‘re not afraid of Governor PERDUE?
BAKER: We‘re—we‘re—listen, we‘re going to do the jobs that we
have been asked to do. This is not a matter of being afraid of one person
or the other.
What I have been required do, as the attorney general, is to talk
about the law, to give my best legal opinion.
BAKER: That‘s what we have done here. And that‘s what we‘re going to
continue to do. I will not relent from my position.
MATTHEWS: Good for you.
You know, if you had you said were afraid, that would have been a hell
of a news story.
Thank you very much...
MATTHEWS: ... Attorney General Thurbert Baker of the state of
Up next—thanks for coming up HARDBALL.
Up next: The late-night comedians go on town on the Republican
Party‘s approval of a payment for that sex club out in L.A. I‘m not sure
what kind of a club it was, but it‘s certainly not justified political
expenses. Well, it probably was in the past.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First, it‘s a story you have got to admit was made for late-night
comics. You guessed it, that Republican National Committee OK in picking
up the bill for a late-night visit to a sex-themed nightclub. Catch the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”)
JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”: I guess they
dropped over $2,000 for staffers at a topless bondage-themed nightclub
right here in Hollywood.
LENO: Apparently, this is the Republican version of a stimulus plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON”)
CRAIG FERGUSON, HOST, “THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON”:
Usually, when Republicans find themselves in dark rooms with whips and
chains and bondage gear and stuff, it‘s in Dick Cheney‘s basement, not..
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: “The New York
Times” even took up the story under the headline, “GOP Opens Inquiry on
STEWART: Here‘s a little hint to “The New York Times.”
STEWART: You‘re wondering why print is dead.
STEWART: Perhaps you could have gone something with, “Right-Wing XXX-
STEWART: Or perhaps “Schwing-Nuts.”
STEWART: Or “Log-Grabbin‘ Republicans.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”: Now that
they got caught, they have their excuses.
Republican National Committee excuses.
Number three: Hey, we‘re fat, dumb, rich guys. Nuff said?
LETTERMAN: Number two: If we can‘t spend donor money at a sex club,
the terrorists have won.
LETTERMAN: And the number-one Republican National Committee excuse:
research pending legislation, no stripper left behind.
LETTERMAN: There you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, they rose to the occasion. Bring it on.
Next: dangerous liaisons.
We know that Florida Governor Charlie Crist has an uphill battle to
win this year‘s Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. That, perhaps,
explains why he‘s touting the support of retired Colonel Bud Day, a hero of
sorts to conservatives for his appearance in those Swift Boat Veteran ads
for truth, supposedly, in 2004 that viciously smeared John Kerry‘s war
Well, Crist just got more than he bargained for. In an interview with
a Florida newspaper, Colonel Day tied together the skin color of President
Obama and that of Crist‘s Hispanic primary opponent, Marco Rubio.
He said—quote—“You know, we just got through electing a
politician who can run his mouth at Mach 1, a black one, and now we have an
Hispanic who can run his mouth at Mach 1. You look at their track records
and they‘re both pretty gritty.”
Crist‘s reaction—quote—“Everyone has a right to their analysis
and how they think somebody performs in office.”
Is this what you call analysis, analyzing people by race?
Charlie Crist, you got problems.
Time now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
So far, just over half of U.S. households have filled out and returned
their U.S. census forms, which are fun and easy to do, by the way, ahead of
tomorrow‘s official deadline. Which state has the top participation rate
so far? Well, as of yesterday‘s count, way out west, South Dakota, with 62
percent. And the Mount Rushmore State—didn‘t know that was the name of
it—does its homework. Sixty-two percent of their census forms are
already, tonight‘s very impressive “Big Number.”
Get them in. They‘re easy to do.
Up next: Get ready to be outraged. The father of a fallen Marine who
sued a vulgar anti-gay church group that protested at his son‘s funeral has
been ordered to pay the church group‘s legal fees.
I don‘t get this. We‘re going to talk to the father next who was hit
with the legal fees. The courts, you wonder.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
Stocks sliding in the final hour of trading, as the first quarter
winds to a close, the Dow Jones industrials falling 50 points, the S&P 500
shedding over three points, the Nasdaq slipping almost 13 points.
The major indices racking up their fourth straight winning quarter,
outperforming markets in Europe, Asia and South America. Banks and
biotechs were the biggest winners, but industrials, airlines and retailers
all finished higher for the start of 2010.
In economic news, some disappointing private payroll numbers
generating uncertainty about Friday‘s report from the Labor Department.
Employers cut 23,000 jobs in March. Analysts had been expecting them to
begin adding jobs.
In stocks, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion shares are moving lower
after-hours after reporting earnings just shy of expectations. And oil
drilling companies like Diamond and Transocean seeing significant gains,
after President Obama announced plans to expand offshore drilling for oil
and natural gas.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: We‘re back.
Starting last week, “The New York Times” has spotlighted reports of
sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, including a horrific story about
a priest who molested hundreds of deaf boys in Wisconsin. It‘s becoming a
big American story again. “The Times”‘ reports, along with news stories of
abuse in Ireland and Germany, has the Vatican on a public relations
offensive to beat back charges that the pope himself was responsible for
the church‘s mishandling of some of these cases.
What‘s it all mean and what‘s it all going to come to?
Patrick Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst. And Joan Walsh is
editor in chief of Salon.
Pat and Joan, let‘s take a look at this new Gallup poll that finds
that Pope Benedict XVI‘s favorable numbers have dropped since he visited
the United States two years ago. Today, just 40 percent of Americans,
generally, have favorable views of the pope. It was 60 percent among
Catholics and 35 percent among non-Catholics.
It‘s gone down by about 20 points, on average, in those three
categories, Catholic, non-Catholic and across the board.
I want to go to Pat first and then to Joan right away.
What is the situation, as you see it, for the Roman Catholic Church?
I think that we‘re all members. Your thoughts?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the church has got a
And what I were do if I were in the Vatican, Chris, is I would do what
we did in Iran/Contra with Ronald Reagan. We brought in a special fellow,
individual. He was totally to handle and get all the details and facts out
on that and answer all questions on that, and look into it, while the press
secretary, as it were, Larry Speakes, dealt with normal business.
I think they need an ombudsman in there to look at all this material,
and to handle their communications strategy.
MATTHEWS: Would you have them admit the worst?
BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, if the worst is there, I think you have to.
But let me take mention of this Milwaukee thing. That guy was
committing these horrendous acts against 200 deaf boys beginning in 1950,
up to 1974. Three archbishops knew about it. These boys went to priests.
The people, they went—their parents went to prosecutors and
attorneys. That whole scandal was unfolding. This guy was an old man
MATTHEWS: Yes. What you have done if you had been in the position of
the church hierarchy at the time?
BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, I would have...
MATTHEWS: Would you given him a break and said he‘s old and leave him
BUCHANAN: I mean, in 19 -- first, I would, the 1950s, for heaven‘s
sakes, you should have defrocked him and turned him into the police
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: Right.
BUCHANAN: These are massive criminal actions.
BUCHANAN: This isn‘t somebody involved with a teenaged boy. This is
somebody dealing with little teeny kids.
MATTHEWS: And it‘s not a question of a proposition. I mean, it‘s a
question of abusing your authority over people who have no—no control
BUCHANAN: That is...
WALSH: In the confessional.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Joan? I mean, I think a lot of these cases
are kids. It‘s not a question of whatever kind of relationship we might
say is out of order. We‘re talking about criminal acts here. Your
WALSH: They are criminal acts. And I‘m glad Pat and I agree about
I think that, in this case of Father Murphy, this awful priest, this
sad, sad priest and sick priest, who molested the 200 boys, I‘m sorry to
say—you guys know I‘m a person of mercy. I‘m a person who believes
people can change and repent, but I also believe in punishment as
And so for then-Father Ratzinger to look from the reports that—and
they were old reports—Pat was right—and essentially do nothing, and
then fall for a plea of mercy from the priest himself I think was
completely the wrong thing do.
WALSH: What‘s happening now, I think, is a little bit beyond the
scope of an ombudsman, although I think that would be hopeful to get all
the information out, if that was possible.
I think the real—the real thing that‘s touching the pope right now
is that are there several of these instances where he personally was
informed of these horrible situations. And in the case, I believe, in
Munich, he actually sent the person—was part of a decision to send the
person for two weeks of therapy. They went back to another church, and
they re—they re-sin. They...
MATTHEWS: Why do you think they do that? Let‘s—let‘s be—let‘s
be thoughtful here. Why would a member of the church hierarchy, like
Cardinal Ratzinger at the time, or anyone else, the former—the pope,
when he was in that position, why would people show sympathy primarily for
the cleric and not primarily for the victims of a serious crime?
Why does their sympathy...
MATTHEWS: ... go to the priest, and not to the kids?
WALSH: I think that‘s a really excellent...
MATTHEWS: The victims of crime?
WALSH: It‘s an incredibly excellent question.
And it speaks to, you know, a really insular, hierarchical, I would
say patriarchal institution that is more about protecting its own power and
its own authority, and less about opening itself up to any kind of
criticism, let alone any kind of punishment. And I think another...
BUCHANAN: All right. But let me add something else here, Chris.
WALSH: Wait. Let me finish. May I—may I just finish? I would
like to make one more point, Pat. Then I will turn it over to you.
The other reason that this is hitting the pope right now, Chris, is
that, as—as Cardinal Ratzinger, as the person in charge of—of church
doctrine, he was implicated. He—he wrote a letter that urged bishops,
priests, archbishops to keep these matters a pontifical secret. And that
meant don‘t take them to the...
MATTHEWS: This was in ‘62. That is what is coming...
BUCHANAN: It couldn‘t be ‘62, because he wasn‘t even a cardinal.
WALSH: No, he—that‘s right. That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: I‘m looking at the document which came out of the...
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s the document that came out of the church in
‘62 that talked about, as Joan was saying in this other regard, the Vatican
policy barring bishops from reporting abuse to priests.
WALSH: Then Cardinal Ratzinger...
MATTHEWS: Why does the church not think of this as criminal?
BUCHANAN: I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: You used the term criminal.
MATTHEWS: Why don‘t they think of these as crimes?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, let me talk this—look...
WALSH: Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter.
BUCHANAN: Hold it, Joan.
WALSH: ... reinforcing that doctrine. That‘s—I—I just want to
get that fact out.
BUCHANAN: OK. Well, let me say this, Chris.
WALSH: I‘m not talking about ‘62. I‘m talking about the early ‘80s,
BUCHANAN: All right.
Well, look, there‘s no doubt this is criminal activity. If you‘re
dealing especially with children under 16 or something like that, it‘s rape
and everything else, Chris.
But let me say this. The pope made—wrote in letter, apparently let
this priest go in 1996. He began has predations in 1950. Rembert
Weakland, the cardinal—the archbishop of Milwaukee, knew about this for
three years. And then he writes the pope and says, should I defrock him?
Why is “The New York Times” not going after—Rembert Weakland is a
great liberal. Let me say this. This has dealt...
WALSH: Oh, please.
MATTHEWS: That‘s certainly the case and makes common sense to me.
But we‘re talking about friends of the church.
MATTHEWS: -- look to the church, who respect it, who are not members
of the Catholic church, right now watching this, who believe in an
institution of God. And they don‘t think of it as a bad place. They think
of it, potentially and usually, as a good place. But this is now a world
wide problem. Pat, what floors me—
MATTHEWS: -- I thought justice a problem of a particular of couple
generations perhaps, a priest that had this problem and they were getting
away with it, covered up for it in the United States and Ireland. And it
turns out that it‘s a world wide problem. It‘s getting everywhere and it‘s
not going away.
BUCHANAN: Well, let me say this.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what I—
BUCHANAN: As we say, Murphy was in the priesthood in 1950. But
clearly, Chris, after post-1960s, an enormous number of these predators and
others came into the priesthood, hid there, you know, preyed upon kids, a
great number of them. We mentioned Milwaukee. It was in New Orleans.
It‘s been in Washington, D.C. It‘s been in Boston. Cardinal Law had
trouble with it.
MATTHEWS: This is what disturbs me. Here‘s part of an Associate
Press report on the abuse case in Kentucky. Listen to this, Joan. Quote,
“court documents show that Vatican lawyers plan to argue that the Pope has
immunity as head of state,” head of the Vatican, “that American bishops who
oversaw abuse of priests weren‘t employees of the Vatican, and that a 1962
document is not the smoking gun that provides proof of the cover-up.”
So what do you make of the Vatican issuing, basically, a political—
a legal defense, saying the Pope can‘t be sued because the Pope‘s head of a
country, basically, the Vatican, and the Pope is not the employer,
technically, of bishops? That‘s their legal defense. What do you make of
WALSH: He has more than plausible deniability here. He‘s above the
law. No law can touch him. He‘s taking no responsibility for the bishops.
He can‘t be touched by the state because he‘s a head of state. He has no
responsibility to the bishops because he, quote, doesn‘t employ them. I‘ve
never seen such a thorough-going shedding of responsibility in a moral or
criminal matter. It‘s disgusting.
BUCHANAN: Chris, not everyone, but dozens of diocese—take a look
at Los Angeles under Cardinal Mahoney—of diocese, even Washington, D.C.
And others have—
WALSH: It‘s everywhere.
BUCHANAN: -- have this problem. They—they‘ve dealt with it.
They‘ve dealt with it. And it‘s cost the church billions of dollars. By
the church what do I mean? I mean the women that go in there on every
weekday or every day and put a dollar into the basket. Those are the
peoples who‘s money is being lost and wasted. And a lot of people won‘t
contribute, Chris, to the church, won‘t contribute in the basket. because
they‘re afraid it‘s going to go to lawyers or it‘s going to go to pay
WALSH: It is and it should.
BUCHANAN: That‘s exactly what is happening. Why do you think that
these schools are shutting down?
MATTHEWS: What‘s the bigger problem here, Joan? Is it the mama
station of young boys, alter boys, kids in school, pre-pubescent kids, or
is it—or is it the cover-up?
WALSH: They‘re both problems. I can‘t—in this case, sometimes we
say the cover-up is worse than the crime. Not in this case. The cover-up
is terrible. The crimes are terrible. They seem to be related in a way.
I don‘t know why there was an inability to get these men help, to try to—
they‘ve spent a lot of money. They‘ve created facilities.
They create these facilities, Chris, and then the facilities are
really places where these guys can go and hide out, and then go back to
perish and back to molesting.
MATTHEWS: -- a serious problem. Do you think this problem of the
church looking out, primarily it looks like, for its own priests rather
than for it‘s people, the victims, the kids and their parents—do you
think that problem‘s gone? That problem is gone, the cover-up?
BUCHANAN: Well, the cover-up—I don‘t about the cover-up. I will
say this: priests have been cleaned out and thrown out. Billions of
dollars have been paid. New rules have been set down.
MATTHEWS: Is the problem gone?
BUCHANAN: Are there some people in the hierarchy who probably covered
up? Yeah, there may well be.
MATTHEWS: Is the pattern of wanting to cover up gone?
BUCHANAN: I think that is gone.
MATTHEWS: Do you really believe—
BUCHANAN: First, they‘ve been burned horribly.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe their instinct to look out for priests
rather than the people in the perishes is not gone?
BUCHANAN: A lot of seminaries have been shut down. A lot of people
are cleaned out. Yeah, I think they‘re on the side of cleaning it up.
MATTHEWS: I feel for the good priests. I feel for so many of them.
These priests out there watching, by the way, I feel for you, because
you‘re getting tarred by this, good priests.
BUCHANAN: Ninety five percent of them are good men.
WALSH: The great majority are good men, and that‘s awful thing.
MATTHEWS: They give up marriage. They give up sex. They give up
freedom. They give up independence, all of their lives. They give it up
for god and the people, and they‘re blamed with this. We‘ll be right back
with more of this conversation. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Which sports have the most Republican fans and which have
the most Democratic fans? Well, a new study of American sports fans finds
that professional golf is the sport with the highest percentage of
Republicans. I can‘t believe that! I‘m just kidding. That makes so much
sense. Followed by college football and Nascar, which may not surprise you
Now, take a look at the sports that Democrats like. The highest
percentage of Democratic fans—Democrats like basketball, the WNBA and
the NBA, top, followed by professional wrestling. Now that‘s a surprise.
What about America‘s pastime, baseball? Major League Baseball finished
smack in the middle, with roughly equal numbers of Republicans and
Democrats. It is American‘s pastime.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re back with MSNBC political
analyst Pat Buchanan and “Salon‘s” Joan Walsh. Joan, what do you think
would have been the heat level if it had turned out the Democratic National
Committee had been spending money on a lesbian bondage-themed club, and had
dropped a couple K in the middle of the night with a bunch of you God knows
what staffers, who seemed to enjoy to spend somebody else‘s money on this
stuff. Is Michael Steele getting off easy or is this a big problem or
WALSH: Pat would never let me hear the end of it, if that was the
DNC, Chris. You know that.
MATTHEWS: He‘d be blaming Nancy Pelosi for being from San Francisco.
They‘d be dumping off—
WALSH: It would be my fault. It would be Nancy‘s fault. Look, not
to make light of the the church scandal, but the only person more protected
than the Pope, it seems to me, is Michael Steele. He cannot be fired. He
cannot be gotten rid of?
MATTHEWS: Why not? You‘ve opened the trap door to yourself. You‘re
in the cage. Why can‘t he be fired?
WALSH: I‘m in the cage. I‘ll give you the easy answer. You know,
they can‘t—it takes two-thirds votes. They‘re not going to have—
MATTHEWS: Give me the hard answers. They picked an African-American
guy to compete with the president and, therefore, they—
WALSH: He‘s been a disaster from day one. They can‘t turn on him.
He‘s been a disaster from day one. I think Pat is going to agree with me
on this. But he is protected. So this is going to go on and on.
MATTHEWS: I am a friend of Michael Steele‘s. I voted for him for the
Senate. There‘s trouble. I think he was—I‘ve said it before and I‘ll
say it again, I think he‘s a delightful person to hang out with. He has
some of this problem of friskiness or—what do you call it—a tendency
to get in trouble on things that are not that big a deal, but become
BUCHANAN: Right. He‘s a little undisciplined, I think. But look,
let me say this, he should not be fired on this. He did not do anything
wrong here. This woman took these guys to the club.
WALSH: Oh, it‘s always the woman.
BUCHANAN: I think—
MATTHEWS: I didn‘t even know it was a woman—
BUCHANAN: She was mistreated. She didn‘t do anything terrible.
She‘s been fired. She got this other guy to pay for it, and then she
reimburses him, and foolishly puts down Voyeur Club, being honest. She has
MATTHEWS: How about if she didn‘t know it was a Voyeur—I guess the
title should have—
BUCHANAN: She took them all there.
WALSH: She was there.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think he should be fired for this. He knew nothing
about it. He wasn‘t there.
MATTHEWS: Give me a score on his performance. How is Michael Steele
doing as emblematic leader of the Republican National Committee these last
couple of years? How would you rate his service on a scale of one to five?
BUCHANAN: He‘s gotten to be too controversial in terms of him—
himself, rather than a figure for the party.
MATTHEWS: Would you prefer he was chairman of the Democratic National
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think it makes any difference. If they don‘t win
big—if they win big in November—but I still think—
MATTHEWS: They won Virginia. They won New Jersey. They won
Massachusetts. They have a winning streak like we‘ve never seen, the
Republican party, this year. As Jack Kennedy once said, victory has a
hundred fathers. One of the fathers of the victories of this year,
shouldn‘t it be Chairman Steele?
WALSH: Not at all. Come on, he came in—this is what‘s really
going to get him in the end. He came in and they had 24 million dollars
cash on hand. They now have less than 10. They can‘t raise money. Also,
he likes to spend it. He‘s spending it really quickly.
He went out—he wrote a book and didn‘t tell them. He went out on a
book tour. He actually got money—he earned 20,000 dollars or so per
speech, when his job should be giving speeches for free for his salary.
The list of things Michael Steele has done wrong doesn‘t end.
MATTHEWS: Could it be that he‘s an offset to some of the nastier
ethnic language being used by the Tea Baggers, or Tea People at these
rallies, and the fact you have him up there offsets, to some extent, this
bad rap that the Republican party is getting earned for itself by the
crazies out there and the mobs?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, this is basically a nice guy and a good man
who‘s made—I find it astonishing that Joan Walsh is deeply concerned
about the Republicans spending too much money maybe for limousines and jets
and things like that. Those are problems inside our party, Joan.
WALSH: No, I‘m happy. I‘m happy they‘re over-spending. I‘m happy
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t it great how this Ms. Independent American
occasionally rejoins the Republican party? Are you a Republican? Let‘s
make news tonight? Are you a Republican?
BUCHANAN: I‘m an independent in Virginia.
MATTHEWS: Are you a republican?
MATTHEWS: OK. But you just said our party. Was that a Freudian
BUCHANAN: I was one of those for a long, long time.
MATTHEWS: I want to know whether Pat is in or out, as we used to say.
As Bob Dornan used to say, in or out, buddy?
BUCHANAN: I was an independent, ran as an independent in 2000. I
have not rejoined the party. You don‘t rejoin the party because you‘re
independent in Virginia. There‘s no party registration. I can‘t say I‘m a
Republican. Do I vote Republican? Almost every time.
MATTHEWS: So you feel in your soul you‘re Republican.
BUCHANAN: I am a Goldwater, Nixon, Agnew, Reagan Republican.
MATTHEWS: You kept Agnew there.
BUCHANAN: You bet.
MATTHEWS: In the pantheon. Joan, this is a remarkable development.
We started talking about the Roman Catholic Church and we‘ve gone to
Michael Steele. Now we‘ve gone to Pat Buchanan.
WALSH: And strip clubs.
MATTHEWS: In the meantime, but we‘ve gone to this iconic member. It
is really—when I see you in old pictures, Pat, like in Houston, when you
gave the great speech, I‘m amazed. You‘re a man of history. You‘re not
just a guy here on television with me.
BUCHANAN: I‘ve been to a lot of places way back there, Chris. In
‘67, I was at that march in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Were you one of the guys with the police?
BUCHANAN: No, I came down from New York with my press corps because I
wanted to see it. They said they were going to levitate the Pentagon. I
didn‘t think they could do it. If they did—yes, if they levitated it, I
wanted to see it. Lift it off the ground.
MATTHEWS: I was there in a protest capacity. Thank you, Pat Buchanan
as was Norman Mailer. Joan, you‘re too young to have been there, but
thank you for talking and listening as we talk about the old days.
When we return, I‘m going to have thoughts about the molestation
scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, some serious thoughts from a layman.
That‘s me. I have no authority on this subject, except my membership in
the church. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the thoughts of a layman on the
problem under which the Roman Catholic Church is now suffering. The
tragedy begins with the molestation of children. It does not end there.
Young boys who were sent to Catholic school, who will become alter boys,
serve under the authority of the church. They are subject to taking
orders. Every minute, they are in a school or in a sacristy.
This is more than a secular discipline. It is empowered by the
authority of god. Priests stand before these young boys as representatives
of god, with all the august authority that comes with it. In this case, to
a young child being brought up with the fullest belief in God, and what he
come to firmly believe is his church.
This is not a place for three strikes and you‘re out. It is not a
place where Christian sympathy should go to the adult abuser of this trust
between child and churchman. It‘s the place where the first, indeed
overwhelming claimant to our sympathy and to justice must be the child, the
vulnerable young boy who finds himself under the power of a priest of Jesus
Christ, an heir to the disciples, a servant in the tradition of the
If there was ever an easy moral question, it should have been what to
do with priests who molest children. You fight for the victim. Then you
remove the perpetrator. You end the occasion of sin, so the priest, in
this cane the moral felon, never has the opportunity to act again.
If this has been done, we would not have the problem we have today in
the Catholic Church. It‘s up to the church to explain it all, in all moral
humility, why this was not done. That is the question Catholics and others
who respect the church want answered, why it was not done, why we didn‘t
get the truth. Not whether the Pope could be sued or whether bishops are
his employers or not—or his employees or not.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now it‘s
time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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