Guest: David Corn, Steve Kornacki, Peter Galbraith, David Ignatius, Daniel
Kane, Richard Stengel
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hot tea.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Teapot doom! Here they come. We‘ve got a death threat up in Seattle, a
noisy town meeting down in Ft. Lauderdale, another on up in New Hampshire,
and a nasty racial attack down in Georgia. We‘ve got some mad haters out
there in the tea parties, and of course, the steam is not blowing over.
Wait until you hear the latest racial—or racist voicemail some character
left to Civil Rights hero U.S. Congressman John Lewis on his phone. And
wait until you hear how Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was greeted
at her town hall meeting last night in Ft. Lauderdale. And now comes the
arrest of some fellow for threatening to kill Senator Patty Murray in the
state of Washington.
Plus: Wrong-way Karzai. Did you catch Afghanistan‘s Hamid Karzai
saying if foreigners, as he called them, don‘t step meddling in
Afghanistan, he‘s going to join the Taliban? Foreigners meddling? Isn‘t
he being defended day and night by American soldiers? Well, earlier today
on MSNBC, the former deputy U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, Peter Galbraith,
questions Karzai‘s mental stability. What makes me think we‘re going—
well, we‘re going back to the Diem regime back in Vietnam. That‘s not a
nice place to go.
Also, that mining tragedy in West Virginia is a tragic notice of the
failure of some mining companies to keep their workers safe. Well, last
year, the operator of the mine was assessed $900,000 in penalties for
hundreds of safety violations. Was this mine disaster, the one right now,
Plus, an impressive gesture of chivalry by Senator Tom Coburn toward
Nancy Pelosi at a Republican town meeting in Oklahoma. We‘re going to have
that in the “Sideshow.”
But “Let Me Finish” tonight by playing you that voicemail, that racist
voicemail that was left for U.S. Congressman John Lewis, a bit of hard
documentation that U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has been denying
We start with the death threat against Senator Patty Murray of the
state of Washington. Pete Williams is NBC News justice correspondent.
This is a crime. How serious is it, Pete?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it‘s very serious. It‘s a
felony. Threatening a member of Congress in retaliation for what they do
or to threaten them to prevent them from doing something is punishable by
10 years in prison, Chris.
What federal authorities say is this man, who‘s identified Charles
Allen Wilson (ph), did is repeatedly call and leave voice messages on the
Seattle voicemail system of Senator Patty Murray. The staff notified the
FBI, saying this guy‘s called all the time, but around the time of the
health care bill, his threats began to get more serious, into death
The FBI quotes him extensively from the voicemail messages in a
federal indictment. He says, “If I had the chance, I would do it”—
talking about killing Senator Murray. “I want to kill you,” he says. “Not
only do I say kill the bill, I say kill the senator.” And he also says, “I
would actually pay to help that person.”
Now, he says he‘s not a Republican, he‘s not a Democrat, he‘s not in
the tea party, he‘s just furious at her for passing the—for voting for
the health care bill. Now, he blocked his phone number so that if you
looked on caller ID, you wouldn‘t see a phone number. But of course, that
didn‘t stop the FBI from getting his phone number. Then agents, to be sure
it was him, actually called him, pretending to be from a phony group that
opposed the health care law, talked to him for about 14 minutes...
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
WILLIAMS: He said in that conversation...
MATTHEWS: Thank you...
WILLIAMS: ... he called her several times, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Pete Williams.
Right now, we have to go to West Virginia and a news conference on
that deadly mine disaster.
(VIDEO CUTS TO DIFFERENT EVENT)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Excuse me. Excuse me.
I‘m going to ask everybody to continue to be respectful—to continue to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you be respectful to us when you lie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congresswoman, who gave you the right or the
authority to determine whether or not I have to purchase health care?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, (INAUDIBLE) direct question. Do I have to buy health
care? Last Wednesday, at a senior center in Manchester, New Hampshire,
Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes, who‘s running for the Senate, was
rebuffed by a constituent when he tried to shake her hand. The constituent
said, I don‘t want to shake your hand, you voted for health care, so just
And hours after health care reform passed the House, Democratic
congressman John Lewis received this voicemail.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That (EXPLETIVE DELETED) don‘t tell me I got to
get some (EXPLETIVE DELETED) health insurance. I ain‘t paying no
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) fine. Tell that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he can come put my
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) in jail if he don‘t like it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it gets much worse and much more racist. We‘re going
to have the rest of the tape in the rest of the program.
I‘m joined right now by David Corn of “Mother Jones” magazine and
Politicsdaily.com, and also Steve Kornacki of Salon.com. Gentlemen, thank
you for joining us. We‘re looking at an array of incidents here.
Certainly the most serious is the death threat out in the state of
Washington to Patty Murray. But also, we get this kind of—wait until
you hear this thing later in the program, the really racist kind of
language directed at John Lewis from Georgia. We‘ve got this incident up
in New Hampshire, this incident down in Ft. Lauderdale, what looks to be a
middle class crowd. Is this anger endemic or these isolated areas or is
this just the right wing finding another opportunity to complain about a
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”: There is a fringe that is very angry. We
won‘t know how big the fringe is until election day in November, and that‘s
what Democrats are worried about. But in the meantime, what I think is
really noticeable about this is if you read the criminal complaint about
Charles Allen Wilson, the man who threatened Patty Murray, he repeats
Republican talking points—this bill is socialism, it‘s a baby killer and
it‘s going to have end-of-life classes, his version of “death panels.‘ And
he repeats that over and over and over...
MATTHEWS: This guy...
CORN: ... yes, on those he phone calls when he‘s threatening to kill
her or to help someone else kill her. And so we see from the Republican
leadership, what they‘re saying—and you know, they can make their
arguments on policy grounds—is really, you know, fuelling the fires out
there. And when you have Republicans having—we talked about this the
CORN: ... having protest rallies on the Hill that they sponsor when
tea party and other people come and they call the Democrats Nazis, Nazis,
Nazis, and Republican leaders like John Boehner are waving to the crowd,
they‘re encouraging people to think of Democrats, indeed, as either Nazis,
socialist—and what do you do with people like that? Well, sometimes you
take up arms against them. So this is being encouraged, at least
implicitly, by Republican leaders.
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s much—it‘s more—it even gets worse than
that in terms of state officials. Let me go right now—let me go to
Steve Kornacki—the same point. It seems to me there are degrees of
this. There are people like Bill McCollum running for—he‘s attorney
general of Florida. He talks about this as an invasion of the sovereignty
of Florida, this bill. They use words like “invasion.” We‘ve got, of
course, the governor of Texas using words like “succession.” You‘ve got,
We‘re going to meet them at the border, at the state line. That‘s a phrase
used, We‘re going to meet the federal government at the state line, and
almost like a posse comitatus kind of thing, We‘re going to meet them with
There‘s a lot of reference—obviously, I‘ve had this dispute little
with Rush Limbaugh about the use of the word “regime” again and again and
again, or “junta,” that there are foreign elements. It does play to the
black helicopter notion that somebody‘s coming to take over your country
and take over you.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Well, I hate to say it, but I—there
isn‘t a whole lot that‘s new about this. What is new is we live in an era
where we have the technology to really document all the episodes and all
the instances like this and we‘re able to really publicize it and get it
out there. But imagine if we had the technology we now do—you know,
videocameras, the Internet, all that, audio equipment—you know, back
during Reconstruction. Imagine if we had it during the debate over Social
Security. Imagine if we had it—you know, had more of the Internet when
Medicare was pushed through in the 1960s. Every major sort of progressive
action, every major piece of progressive legislation, you know, really in
American history has been met with this kind of fierce emotional,
irrational, hysterical backlash from the right.
And I think, again, you know, back during Reconstruction, I mean,
that‘s where you had the birth of the Ku Klux Klan, you know, in opposition
to, you know—you know, progressivism sort of making its way into the
South. What‘s different now is—you know, David alluded to it—you‘ve
got guys like Glenn Beck out there who have, you know, this platform every
day on television, through the Internet, over the radio, where they can
reach millions of people and they can rile them up over something that
really—you know, when you look at what this health care law actually is
going to be, this is a very modest, incremental, you know, very sort of
pro-private sector, you know, piece of legislation.
I‘ve always said, you know, that people on the left have a lot more
reason to be mad with this legislation than people on the right. But if
you look at the emotional sort of reactions to this, you‘d never get that
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Why would the people—just to get your
point completed there—why would the people on the left be angry about
KORNACKI: Well, because...
MATTHEWS: It is progressive.
KORNACKI: It is, in a sense, but it‘s also—you know, the biggest
winner in this, one of the biggest winners in this is the private insurance
companies. And you look at the left, you know, the dream on the left for
years, for decades has been single-payer national health insurance in this
KORNACKI: ... where we get the private—you know, the private
insurers out of the way. They‘re stronger than ever now.
MATTHEWS: Do you get angry when your dreams don‘t come true?
MATTHEWS: I mean, that seems to me a different (INAUDIBLE) just a
small point. But it seems like the right is angry with what they see as a
near and present danger, not the failure to reach a dream, but they fear—
they fear, first of all, the individual mandate. And what I do hear coming
through this is not so much an anger about the fiscal impact of this bill,
which we don‘t fully understand, none of us do, and the numbers may be off,
and maybe there isn‘t enough clarity to the whole thing and what it‘s going
to do to people—but what you do hear is that sort of cowboy sense that,
This is going to threaten my freedom. And you hear it about the individual
mandate. That‘s what comes through. That‘s the anger, the libertarian—
I find that interesting. And that may be the long-term anger quotient
CORN: Well, I think your point earlier was dead on. I think people
believe they‘ve lost their country. And you can come up with a lot of
different reasons why different people feel that way with the election of
Barack Obama. There‘s some obvious reasons and there are some more subtle
ones. And the health care bill has become the stand-in, the proof. You
know, They‘re taking away our freedom, they‘re turning us into a socialist
Today, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank here, said
that America is no longer a free nation, it‘s a mostly free nation. They
rank countries every year and they dropped America. So now we‘re living in
a not so free United States, according to the Heritage Foundation.
So people are picking up on this, and their paranoia is really, you
know, kicking in. There was a lot of anticipation about what the health
care bill would do, but no one‘s even waiting to see that. They‘re
already, you know, acting as if it is the worst case scenario. And it‘s—
you know, first we had Obama, the foreigner, the guy who wasn‘t born here,
coming in and basically taking over the government, creating a regime, as
Rush Limbaugh calls it. And now he‘s imposing socialism. Anybody who
lives in a socialist country, whether it‘s Europe or anyplace else, would
be laughing at this, at the notion of socialism.
CORN: But yet—so there is a—I mean, this has become the battle
front for people who are worried about the very nature of this country.
And I think a lot of the worry is irrational, but they‘re directing (ph) it
in this—in this direction.
KORNACKI: One thing I think we‘ve got to keep in mind is, you know,
this didn‘t start with health care. Remember the 2008 campaign. Remember
the fall of 2008, when you had people showing up at Obama rallies, you
know, Republicans showing up there, or you had Republican crowds at McCain-
Palin rallies that were calling him a socialist, that were calling him a
Marxist, that were saying this is—you know, this is the beginning of
communism in the United States.
So that was before he ever even proposed health care, let alone pushed
it through Congress. So you know, I think this—one thing when we try to
understand the motivation on the right, I think what ties together, you
know, health care now, Medicare in the 1960s, Social Security in the 1930s,
all of these great progressive advances and sort of the reaction from the
right—I think what ties them all together is there‘s always this
fundamental sort of inherent fear of redistribution, the sense that, you
know, when the government gets involved—in terms of the right...
KORNACKI: You know when the government gets involved, they‘re going
to take from me and they‘re going to give to someone else. And one of the
amazing ironies sort of of this whole debate over health care is you have
people out there, you know, older people out there who are, you know,
leading the protests on health care, you know, who are also at the same
time on Medicare. And you can imagine these same people...
MATTHEWS: Steve, that‘s part of the propaganda problem here. The
problem is that we don‘t think in terms of what the country would be like
if we didn‘t have Medicare for our parents as they get very old, in their
80s, for example, and they‘re still alive, and they need health care, a lot
of it, and they don‘t have any source of income. They‘re not working every
morning. They‘re not making a paycheck. We don‘t think—what would it
be like in this country, Calcutta, poor people all over the place, old
people lying in the streets? I mean, we don‘t think about what it would be
if we didn‘t have health care, if we didn‘t have Social Security for people
at the age of 65, if we didn‘t have unemployment compensation, if we didn‘t
have a progressive income tax.
There‘s a lot of things we don‘t think about, and when you—and the
right wing just pounds and pounds away at this idealistic notion of a
cowboy country where everybody‘s self-reliant. Well, part of self-
CORN: Except when it comes to the big banks and lots of other things,
where, you know, they don‘t get—the Republicans don‘t get so upset.
MATTHEWS: I think the progressives, for all their power on the
blogosphere, have not done a positive case for the advantages of some kind
of social state.
CORN: Well, Obama hasn‘t, either.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CORN: He‘s—you know, he‘s made this...
MATTHEWS: They make it...
CORN: ... a big—you know, a better business issue.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much. Thank you, David Corn. Thank you,
Coming up: What‘s going on with Afghanistan‘s President Karzai? And
we mean it, what‘s going on? He‘s threatening to join the Taliban if we
don‘t stop meddling in his country. Weren‘t we the ones that put him in
power? And just whose side is this guy on and how big a problem has he
become for President Obama? They don‘t seem to be clicking, these two
fellows, after that midnight meeting.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The president of Afghanistan,
Hamid Karzai, has escalated a war of words with the U.S. ahead of a major
military offensive against the Taliban coming this summer. He accused us
of perpetrating voter fraud in the last elections, and on Saturday, Karzai
told members of the Afghan parliament, quote, “If you and the international
community pressure me more, I swear that I‘m going to join the Taliban.”
How can we work with a leader who threatens to join the very forces
we‘re trying to defeat? Peter Galbraith‘s a former U.N. deputy envoy to
Afghanistan. Karzai recently took aim at him—direct aim at Galbraith
and actually accused him of trying to orchestrate electoral fraud over
there. Galbraith was dismissed from his post last year after clashing with
his superiors over how to eliminate Afghans‘ widespread voter fraud. Also
joining me is David Ignatius.
Let me go to Peter, though, first of all. What is going on with
Karzai? Is he a drug user, as far as you understand?
PETER GALBRAITH, FMR. DEPUTY U.N. ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN: Well, he‘s
clearly not—not—not entirely normal, and that was an observation that
was also made by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who‘s a physician and who was his
principal opponent. And this is fairly well known among diplomats in
You know, these kinds of tirades that he‘s produced are not rational.
It can‘t possibly be rational for him to say that he‘s going to join the
enemy of the United States so—or to accuse the U.N. of fraud that he
himself committed. Now, there are reports in the palace that—from the
place that he uses drugs, hashish. I don‘t know the accuracy of that, but
I have some confidence in the sources.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about our situation over there. We
Americans, we have fighting forces in the field over there who are, you
know, in harm‘s way right as we speak, on post, defending our interests
As you understand them, is it in our interest to continue to support
the Karzai government?
GALBRAITH: That‘s not really the issue.
What he said is offensive, but we‘re not in Afghanistan to defend
Hamid Karzai. But the—the larger problem is that—is that, in order
for our strategy to work, which is a counterinsurgency strategy, we need to
have a credible Afghan partner.
And Hamid Karzai, who has been in office for eight years, eight years
of corrupt and inefficient government, now in office by fraud, now not—
illegitimate in the eyes of many Afghans and many around the world, is also
behaving very strangely, clearly is not a credible partner.
And, without that partner, the strategy simply is not going to work.
The reason is very simple. U.S. troops can come into an area, they can
clear out the Taliban, but, by and large, we don‘t kill them. They
disappear. They—they go back to their home villages or to another
And, so, unless we‘re going to stay there for ever, which we obviously
won‘t, we need to have Afghan security forces who can fill in, and, most
importantly, we need an Afghan government that can provide honest
administration, win the support of the population. And that clearly is not
the government led by Hamid Karzai.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I get your point. In other words, we don‘t want the
Taliban to take over. We need someone else to run the country. And, right
now, that‘s Karzai.
Well, Karzai actually accused you, Mr. Galbraith, of perpetrating
voter fraud in the Afghan elections—quote—“”There was fraud in the
presidential election and the provincial election. No doubt there was
massive fraud. That was not done by the Afghans. The foreigners did that.
That fraud was done by Galbraith. And that fraud was done by the embassies
What do you make of that kind of charge?
GALBRAITH: It is—it is bizarre beyond measure.
In another context, you might say that this was simply the big lie,
something pioneered by totalitarian regimes, the Nazis and the Soviets.
Tell such a big lie, that people might believe it, because it‘s—they
GALBRAITH: ... that it—it wouldn‘t be true.
But—but I don‘t think that‘s it. I mean, it is—it is—the
person who‘s hurt by that kind of lie is—is Karzai. And so, again, I
have to say that it‘s irrational.
Now, as to the substance, I think it‘s fairly well-known that Ban Ki-
Moon fired me because I felt that the U.N. should take an active role first
in preventing the fraud, and then in doing something about it after it took
place. And it was the U.N.‘s view that we should basically—should
simply support the Afghans and support the Karzai election commission in
whatever it did.
So, it‘s a really—a very bizarre...
GALBRAITH: ... that really raises questions about Karzai‘s mental
MATTHEWS: Ambassador Galbraith, thank you so much for joining us—
Peter Galbraith, who is over in Norway.
David Ignatius is right here with me. He‘s with “The Washington
I have a huge faith about—in you, David...
MATTHEWS: ... to try to explain this whole mess over there.
MATTHEWS: We have a government we‘re defending because we have to
have somebody besides the Taliban. Let‘s be honest about it. We only care
about one thing. We don‘t want enemies in that part of the world coming at
DAVID IGNATIUS, COLUMNIST, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: We don‘t want...
MATTHEWS: That‘s our interest.
IGNATIUS: We don‘t want another—we don‘t want another 9/11.
IGNATIUS: Let me try to untangle a few of the threads here.
We have been pushing Karzai hard on corruption, on other issues. He‘s
been pushing back. He‘s been doing so in a very erratic way. Just over a
week ago, President Obama went to see him and had what he thought was quite
a good meeting.
IGNATIUS: They all flew home, thinking, gosh, that went well.
MATTHEWS: They did like it from the White House...
IGNATIUS: They thought that this problem was back in the box.
And then, a few days later, he‘s making these bizarre statements...
IGNATIUS: ... saying he‘s going to join the—well, he‘s not going
to join the Taliban. That‘s absurd.
What I—I see happening here in part is a reaction to the fact that
we have announced we‘re leaving Afghanistan in July of next year. And, so,
Karzai is looking at this. And he says: The one thing I can‘t appear to
be is an American stooge. I have got to have some independence. I have
got somehow find a political base.
IGNATIUS: He doesn‘t have much of one, because he‘s not a strong
So, I think a lot of it is that. And we—we need to just admit that
anti-Americanism plays well, whether it‘s Iraq, whether it‘s Afghanistan,
whether it‘s Pakistan.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Could he tell us to leave?
IGNATIUS: He could tell us to leave. There would be a lot...
MATTHEWS: Just tomorrow morning, get up and say, I have had it with
IGNATIUS: He—he could.
There are many other people in his government who are—who we work
with on a daily basis, the minister of interior, the minister of defense,
with whom we have very good relationships.
I just would note, Chris, if you‘re in Kabul, you see this
overwhelming American presence. I mean, this is such a poor country. And
we have landed there with our billions of dollars of hardware and our tens
of thousands of troops. And there is a feeling on the part of Afghans—
and Karzai is expressing a little bit of this—about, so, where‘s my
sovereignty? Where am I in this?
And I think that, for that reason—these are bizarre remarks, but
the underlying thing that he‘s expressing, which is...
IGNATIUS: ... I want some independence, it‘s my country, back off a
little bit, I think that general line, independent of what he‘s—the
general line, we should take seriously.
MATTHEWS: Do you think we‘re going to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq
within a year, year-and-a-half?
IGNATIUS: I think—I think that we‘re going to begin the process of
withdrawal from Afghanistan in July of next year, as the president has
said. You know, I think the president is now committed to trying to do his
best with this.
You can see what fragile raw material we‘re working with...
IGNATIUS: ... in these comments from Karzai.
MATTHEWS: It reminds me so much of the Diem regime in Vietnam, South
Vietnam, back in ‘63, where we had a guy who was a bit mystical, who seemed
a little bit out of it, and we ended up knocking him off.
IGNATIUS: We have—we have bizarre clients. And when we‘re dealing
when they‘re trying to fight a real movement of the people, that‘s part
of the problem.
Thank you, David Ignatius of “The Washington Post.”
Up next: What caused Republican Senator Tom Coburn to do the
unthinkable? This is a pretty conservative guy. He‘s one of the most
conservative guys in the Senate. He‘s out there defending Nancy Pelosi,
very chivalrous, very classy. He also took a nice little shot at FOX News
in the—in the doing. Interesting to watch this. You never know what to
expect in politics—coming up in the “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First: a nice bit of class for those who think that this political
debate in this country has gotten a bit sordid.
Here‘s some audio from a town meeting conducted by Republican Senator
Tom Coburn of Oklahoma last night. You will here this very conservative
senator defending the very liberal Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy
Pelosi, and also doing a little nudge at FOX News.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA: I‘m 180 degrees in opposition to the
speaker. She‘s a nice lady. I don‘t think we can wait...
COBURN: Wait. Come on now.
She is a nice—how many of you all have met her? She‘s a nice
What we have to have is make sure we have a debate in this country so
that you can see what‘s going on and make the determination yourself. So,
don‘t catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody is no good.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a fresh bit of air.
Anyway, I‘m sure he will get some catcalls for his what we used to
call chivalry in this country, but you know what? He will feel a lot
better about what he said about the speaker than those people who were
making the catcalls feel about being who they are.
Next, Jon Stewart did his job last night on Afghan President Hamid
Karzai, while also delivering a late hit on a certain former U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: It‘s a rare
politician willing to accept responsibility for misdeeds and fraud
committed on his watch.
HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN (through translator): The
fraud is not by the Afghans. This fraud has been done by the foreigners.
STEWART: What the—what?
STEWART: You‘re blaming us for conspiring to get you, Hamid Karzai,
reelected as president? I believe the term you were looking for was,
STEWART: Hamid, say it ain‘t so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it seems that President Karzai is
backtracking on his words. What he told Hillary Clinton by phone was that
he, in fact, didn‘t mean it like that.
STEWART: You know, I don‘t think there‘s any woman in the world who
has had more late-night “Baby, you know I didn‘t mean it like that” phone
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: ... than Hillary Clinton.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: “Come on, baby. You know I love U.S.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He‘s unbelievable. Say this for Secretary Clinton and her
husband: They won their elections fair and square.
Up next: In light of yesterday‘s mining disaster in West Virginia, is
enough being done to protect miners in this country? A big question today
in a tragic time. I‘m going to ask a top official with the United Mine
Workers of America coming up next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
Stocks pulling back from a midday surge as enthusiasm for the latest
Fed minutes petered out—the Dow slipping 3. 5 points, the S&P 500 adding
two, and the Nasdaq climbing more than seven points.
Minutes released today from the meeting of the Federal Open Market
Commission showing signs of division over when to raise interest rates.
Members appeared to be leaning towards waiting a long time before raising
In stocks, banks were among a handful of winners based on a couple of
analyst upgrades for the financial sector, but homebuilders skidded after a
ratings downgrade for two big names. Credit Suisse predicts a dip in
demand with the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit at the end of the
Netflix surging again today as one of the most popular apps on Apple‘s
And Massey Energy shares tumbling more than 11 percent after that
deadly coal mining accident in West Virginia.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spoke with Governor
Manchin of West Virginia last night and told him that the federal
government stands ready to offer whatever assistance is needed in this
So I would ask that the faithful who‘ve gathered here this morning
pray for the safe return of the missing, the men and women who‘ve put their
lives on the line to save them, and the souls of those who have been lost
in this tragic accident. May they rest in peace and may their families
find comfort in—in the hard days ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Obama this morning at an Easter prayer breakfast at
the White House.
At least 25 miners are dead in the worst mining industry accident in
America since 1984. And rescue efforts continue tonight to search for four
workers who are still trapped inside that mine.
Daniel Kane is secretary-treasurer of United Mine Workers of America.
Mr. Kane, I have the greatest respect for the guts of men and women,
men who go down into our mines, the guts it takes just to go down there
every day. What do you hear? What‘s your hopes? What do you think is
going on with the four guys that are down there right now?
DANIEL KANE, SECRETARY-TREASURER, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA:
Well, we‘re—we‘re always—we try to maintain hope. In the—in
light, though, of the horrific nature of the explosion, it looks very bad.
We will hold out hope to the end, but, in the meantime, we have to
make sure that we, number one, don‘t endanger the lives of the rescuers and
we do everything possible to find out what happened to everyone who was in
the mine at that day—on that day.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the rescue effort so far, the putting
of that drill down there, 1,100, 1,200 feet, to try to get the methane gas
out of there? Is that the smart first step?
KANE: Yes, I imagine it is. You do have to de-gas the mine.
What a lot of people don‘t realize is, when there‘s a mine explosion,
it disrupts the ventilation in the mine in a terrible way, and gas begins
to build up. You have to take that into account when beginning any rescue
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look at the governor now, Joe Manchin,
the governor of West Virginia. Here he is.
And then I want to get back to you, sir. You know what you‘re talking
about. Let‘s go to the governor first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I can‘t sit here and make any
excuse, or nor do I intend to. I can only tell you, when the investigation
is completed, and these people do their job, and they will give us the
findings. And there‘s anything at all that could have been preventable or
things we can do that will give us an indication that something‘s out of
kilter or out of whack, if you will, we will pass—if legislation is
needed, we will pass it immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Accidents happen in every part of our life. Airplanes
crash. Trains crash. Cars crash. People do all kinds of things that just
don‘t work. Is—is—is mine safety perfectible, sir, Mr. Kane, or not?
KANE: I—I don‘t know if anything in life is perfectible.
Certainly, we can do a lot better than this. The thing we have to
realize, though, is that having strong legislation is important. Having
good enforcement is important. But the main thing that we have to do is
empower those miners.
The men and women who work in the mines every day have to feel assured
that they can do those things that make their job safe, that they can
perform their job in a safe manner, without any kind of intimidation.
There is so much money that can be saved, so much more that can be
made by cutting costs.
KANE: And we have to do everything possible to prevent mining
companies from doing that.
Mining companies are very powerful in this country. And there‘s a lot
of incentives to try and get the coal out, no matter what. And I have...
MATTHEWS: You think the Massey Company—do you think Massey—this
company, I‘ve heard their name before in this regard. Is this a bad
company? They have a bad record, would you say?
KANE: Look at their record.
MATTHEWS: I see 1,300 violations. It‘s 2005. They‘re contesting
about a third of them. That means about two thirds of them they‘re not
testing, which tells me, just prima faci, they don‘t have a great record.
KANE: Well, it‘s not a company that we represent. So we don‘t deal
with them directly a lot. However, in the mining industry, when you have
one company that tries to increase productivity by pushing a little harder
and trying to intimidate people to cut corners, it affects all of us. We
all have to compete in that industry.
The thing that needs to be pointed out is that in the coal fields,
these jobs are the good jobs in the area. If they don‘t exist, it‘s a
severe economic hardship to the people in that area. And they absolutely
have to be able to perform their job in a safe way, free of any kind of
intimidation. They have to be empowered so they can do what they know
best. And it‘s time—
MATTHEWS: What‘s a high-skilled mine worker make right now, a high
scaled veteran? What‘s he get coming out of the mine every week? What‘s
he get in gross income? I‘m curious.
KANE: It‘s very easy to make 70,000 dollars a year in some of these
MATTHEWS: That‘s a 40-hour week?
KANE: Nobody works a 40-hour week anymore. There‘s a lot of overtime
MATTHEWS: I see, to get the 70.
KANE: Yes. There‘s overtime involved. But that‘s very common for
people to make a very good living. And in those areas, that‘s the best job
MATTHEWS: Nobody likes regulation in this country, except when it
involves them. They like airlines to be safe. They like their food to be
safe. If you worked in a mine, you‘d want the mine to be safe. Thank you
very much. And let‘s pray for those guys, the four of them still down
there. Thanks for coming on, sir. Good luck. I like the labor movement
Anyway, up next, from nuclear weapons to health care reform, President
Obama‘s trying to do big things. And we‘re going to see how it‘s going
right now. How‘s he doing? This is a big question. We‘ve got a real
expert, Richard Stengel, editor of “Time Magazine,” coming on talk about
the greatness of Nelson Mandela. But more importantly, he‘s going to grade
our president and how he‘s doing in the greatness field right now. This is
HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: There could be trouble for Senator John Ensign out in
Nevada. According to the “Las Vegas Sun,” federal officials are looking
into the possibility of indicting the senator. Ensign admitted having an
affair with the wife of one of his top aides. And since that admission,
there has been a series of damaging revelations about the senator‘s
conduct, including a 96,000 dollar payment made to the woman and her
husband. A criminal indictment against a sitting senator would be a major
headache, at least, against the national Republican party, and it may very
well help fellow Nevadan, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, as he tries to
HARDBALL returns after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So, today, I state clearly and with conviction America‘s
commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. A year after President Obama
called for a world without nuclear weapons, he put forth the framework for
that goal today. The president has clearly been unafraid to tackle our
biggest problems. And in both his temperament and the way he uses power,
“Time Magazine” editor Richard Stengel sees similarities between Obama and
Nelson Mandela. He should know. He collaborated, Richard did, with Nelson
Mandela on his big autobiography.
Now, Richard has a new book called “Mandela‘s Way, 15 Lessons on Life,
Love and Courage.” Thank you, Richard. I‘ve been reading the book. It is
fabulous. It reads with such texture. I feel better already as a human
being, and I am dead serious. I love Mandela. I got to interview him
myself when he was released. This book is great stuff.
I want to ask you about a kerfuffle that you‘ve already aroused here.
Here‘s some language from your book that will arouse some anxiety on the
right, some interest on the left, and perhaps some—well, we‘ll see in
the middle. Here you are comparing Nelson Mandela to President Obama. You
write, “while it took 27 years in prison to mold the Nelson Mandela we
know, the 48-year-old American president seems to have achieved a Mandela-
like temperament without the long years of sacrifice. While Mandela‘s
world view was forged in the cauldron of racial politics, Obama‘s creating
a post-racial political model. Whatever Mandela may or may not think of
the new American president, Obama is, in many ways, his true successor on
the world stage.”
The right wing hates that because they hate it. Your thoughts.
RICHARD STENGEL, “TIME MAGAZINE”: Well, Chris, the right wing has
problems with Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist in America
until he was released from prison. He was a revolutionary who fought
against an ally of the United States, even though that ally had an
Apartheid government that discriminated against people that were not white.
But let me just clarify the comment, because it has aroused a little
bit of controversy. I‘m not comparing Obama‘s achievement with Mandela‘s
achievement. I‘m comparing their two temperaments. And one of the things,
as you know, that I write about in “Mandela‘s Way” is that the man who went
into prison in 1964, Nelson Mandela, was 48 years old. And his temperament
then, he was tempestuous. He was passionate. He was a revolutionary.
Prison tempered him. Prison was his great teacher. Prison changed
his temperament to that man we know who got out, who is self-controlled,
who never loses his calm. The thing about Obama is he seems to have that
temperament without having had to spend 27 years in prison.
MATTHEWS: How do you explain it?
STENGEL: I don‘t know how to explain it. I think it‘s DNA. It‘s
genetics. I don‘t really know. Of course, he went through his own
travails, his own search for identity as a young man. He had to forge his
own identity in the kind—in a racial caldron in America, not as harsh as
what it was in South Africa. But I think part of it was he realized he had
to be somebody with a very calm temper to achieve what he wanted, and he‘s
a very ambitious man, like Nelson Mandela was.
MATTHEWS: Well, Barack Obama, our president, has been very good at
forging an alliance. As you know, the alliance that won him the election,
between college-educated white people, if you will, liberals, progressives,
center left people, who just—maybe just good-hearted people who wanted
to see him win—and minorities. That was a hell of the coalition the
Democratic party. It beat Hillary Clinton, ultimately, in the numbers, and
it won the general election.
He has not been so successful at working hearts and minds of working
class whites. We see it in the terrible part of the early show, when we
saw some racism afoot there, and anger more generally. He has not been
able to build that coalition. Mandela has at least tried, with Rugby. We
saw with that great film “Invictus.” We saw it in some of the stuff in
your book about racial, not forgiveness entirely, but let‘s get along and
move on attitude, which I think has been pretty powerful in South Africa.
Barack Obama hasn‘t been able to do that with the white working class,
STENGEL: Well, no, but, I mean, look at the different situations. In
South Africa, you had a country that was literally on the brink of a racial
civil war. Nelson Mandela, as he said to me many times, he felt the
country very narrowly averted a civil war. Part of it was his own persona.
He stood for reconciliation between the whites and the blacks. He got out
of prison after 27 years and said, let‘s forget the past. I forgive you.
We have to move on. What unites us is much more important than what
Barack Obama didn‘t get working class whites in the election and he‘s
not—he‘s not getting them now. And one of the things I find curious
about the political miasma that we see ourselves in now is so many of the
characteristics that we prized in Barack Obama the candidate people don‘t
seem to necessarily like in Barack Obama the president, mediation,
listening, being thoughtful. We seem to want him to act more and act more
precipitously. Those were not the valued that we elected him for.
MATTHEWS: Actually, that‘s one criticism I don‘t go along with, but I
hear it out there. Certainly, people want him to be more passionate. I
hear it from people close to him. Why doesn‘t he show more passion? But
is there any way a leader who‘s African-American, in a country that‘s
largely white, can be a passionario? Could he be, you know, a man of great
passion and great rhetoric that rouses people, brings them to their feet,
gets them to march? Is that doable in this country?
STENGEL: Well, I mean --
MATTHEWS: This is a pretty tricky question, I admit.
STENGEL: It‘s a tricky question. Nelson Mandela, for example, always
said when you speak to people, you speak to their heads and their hearts at
the same time. He‘s not nearly as good a speaker as Barack Obama. And
tends to be a little too intellectual and even more professorial than Obama
Again, I mean, Chris, you could argue that President Obama is leading
people not through calls to passion, but through calls to rationality,
through calls to what‘s in their own benefit. I mean, I think voters and
Americans always vote and care about what‘s most in their own benefit,
rather than someone necessarily being there and yelling charge and move
MATTHEWS: I have to give you a real tribute in this book. The
beginning of this book is useful to everybody in any line of work at
whatever age. I don‘t care if you‘re 70 years old or 17. It‘s about
courage. The strongest message I‘ve gotten out of your book is the fact
that courage is not fearlessness. Courage is facing down your fears and to
some extent faking it, not letting the other side see you sweat.
I love that stuff. I think it‘s what life is like. You got make
phone calls certain days you don‘t want to make. Decisions you have to
make, people you have to deal with. Every day you have to face them down.
You can‘t—you can‘t let the fear get over you.
STENGEL: Absolutely. Absolutely. The thing as you saw in the book,
Chris—when we were talking during the writing of “Long Walk to Freedom”
-- and I did many, many hours of interviews—he would often say to me, I
was terrified or I was afraid of this. And I kept thinking to myself, my
God, I have Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest men and greatest heroes of
the 20th century telling me that he was frightened. I would ask him about
that. He would say, Richard, it would be irrational not to have been
frightened. He would said, you have to put up a front. You have to
pretend to be brave even when you‘re not brave.
Here‘s Nelson Mandela, who stood for bravery and courage for millions
of people, not to mention the thousands of men that he served in prison
with, and every day he was doing exactly what you said. He was—
MATTHEWS: A lot of passion, Richard. You got more passion than
Barack Obama, sir. Thank you very much. Richard Stengel, the editor of
“Time Magazine.” His book is “Mandela‘s Way.” This is a great book for
graduation, and a lot of other people should read this, people like me.
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about that disgusting
level of vitriol we‘ve been hearing addressed to members of Congress. Wait
until you hear this tape, this voicemail for Congressman Lewis. You won‘t
believe it. Maybe you will. It‘s a bit of America we don‘t like. You‘re
watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a refutation to those like
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who continue to deny racial epithets have
been leveled at members of Congress in the recent health care debate. Here
is a recorded message left for U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. Our
network has bleeped some of the words. But you can easily follow the drift
and the sense of venom. You can hear with your own words the hostility
directed at one man, the president of the United States. The hatred is
personal. It is hostile. It is racial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Bill, yes, calling from (INAUDIBLE). I ain‘t
going to get no health insurance. Tell that son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
that I ain‘t getting the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) health insurance. That God
(EXPLETIVE DELETED). Don‘t tell me I got to get some god (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) health insurance. I ain‘t paying no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) fine.
Put my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in jail if you don‘t like it. (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) who voted for Obama and
all them white trash honkies that voted for that communist socialist dumb
mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED). God (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I ain‘t getting the
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) mandatory health insurance. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). A
bunch of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) white trash, honkies, communist (EXPLETIVE
I didn‘t go fight no god (EXPLETIVE DELETED) war so I can be forced to
do something I don‘t want to do. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) all of you.
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) you, John Lewis, you god damn (EXPLETIVE DELETED),
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Lewis is hardly the only lawmaker to
receive this kind of abuse. We saw the man who spat at U.S. Congressman
Emanuel Cleaver. We have gotten eye witness reports of similar behavior as
Congress voted on the health bill itself.
Congressman Jim Clyburn, leader of the House, got a fax with a picture
of a hangman‘s noose, plus calls that his wife has gotten at home, scary
calls. It would be good if people in the media, not just the left or
center left, but also on the right, put out word that this kind of stuff
hurts the cause, whatever cause you believe in. It‘s certainly not helping
the American cause. I think, deep down, the great majority of people,
right, left and center, don‘t think this stuff is American.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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