Guests: Pat Buchanan, Eugene Robinson, Jane Wells, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, David Corn, George Pataki, Joan Walsh, Peter Canellos
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Iced tea.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
Leading off tonight: The power of Palin. Primary day turned out to be another bad day for Washington insiders, with the biggest story being that Lisa Murkowski may go down in her Senate reelection bid in Alaska. And if the unknown Joe Miller wins, he‘ll have one person to thank, Sarah Palin, the politician he credits personally for his victory.
If you still deny Sarah Palin is a huge force in American politics, you‘re making a big mistake. Her approval ratings among Republican voters nationally is the envy of the field, and she has a clear path to the presidential nomination, should she run. Sarah Palin, the big winner last night.
Plus, that planned Islamic center near Ground Zero. We know the local
or rather. vocal opposition nationally comes from the right. Why do so many Republicans hold negative views of Muslims?
Also, that Glenn Beck rally on the Washington Mall. Why is he holding his rally from the same site on the same month as Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s “I have a dream” speech? We‘ll get into that one.
Plus, Sarah Angle—rather, Sharron Angle of Nevada echoes Michele Bachmann‘s famous appearance here on HARDBALL and agrees there are enemies of the United States as elected members of the House and U.S. Senate. That‘s in the “Sideshow,” that amazing charge.
“Let Me Finish” tonight with a salute to New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made the case for religious freedom in New York.
We start with the primaries and the power of Palin. David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” and a columnist for Politicsdaily.com, and Patrick J. Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst.
I have to start with Pat because I think you‘re a Palinite. This isn‘t just Miller time, the victory of Joe Miller up there, a guy we never heard of and was way, way, way back in the pack as of a couple of weeks ago. Is this the power of Palin, bigger than ever?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it‘s extraordinary, Chris. This is astonishing. I didn‘t think Miller was going to win this thing, and I thought it was just a roll of the dice by Sarah Palin for a good buddy and a fellow member of the cause, but this guy‘s going to be in the United States Senate or he‘s going to be the Republican nominee, I believe, because I think that 2,000-vote margin is too much to cover up with the 2,000 votes that are out. This is Sarah Palin‘s night.
MATTHEWS: As you point out, he‘s got 98 percent of the vote in. He‘s got 16,000 absentees, about that, still out. But the history shows that he‘s probably going to win this thing, thanks to Sarah Palin.
Now, regarding Palin‘s support, here‘s what Joe Miller, the winner, the former judge said. He told “The Anchorage Daily News,” quote, “I‘m absolutely certain that she was pivotal.”
Let‘s go to Corn right now, David Corn. It seems to me that if you fear Sarah Palin, if you hate her, if you love her, the bottom line is still she has clout. She can kill United States senators. It looks like she‘s knocked off Murkowski. She beat her father. Now she‘s beaten her.
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”: Well, it‘s not so surprising that she would have clout in Alaska, even though she quit as governor there. You know, when it comes to a small pool, the Republican primary voters, these are the types of people, tea party types and others, who just go gaga over Sarah Palin. You noted earlier that there‘s a poll out that shows 76 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of her—
CORN: -- but yet 47 percent of Americans overall don‘t, so she plays very well in a small pool.
CORN: She is queen of the tea party. There‘s no doubt about that.
MATTHEWS: Well, among all Republicans—
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to get to that poll. Among all Republicans nationally—don‘t put her down yet, David. Nationally, 76 percent of Republicans have a favorable view. She leads all other Republicans nationally in terms of favorability among Republicans. By the way, that‘s how you get the nomination, getting Republicans.
Here‘s some of the robocall, by the way, that she put out for Joe Miller. Let‘s listen to her pitch. There‘s some interesting language she uses here we ought to pay attention to. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: Hi, this is Governor Sarah Palin. I‘m calling on behalf of my friend, Joe Miller, who‘s running for U.S. Senate. Joe is a former judge and a common sense conservative who understands that the Founders wrote the Constitution to limit the power of the federal government. He‘s got the backbone to confront Obama‘s radical agenda.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow! I have to tell you, Patrick, in terms of, well, protocol—
MATTHEWS: -- I‘m Governor Sarah Palin. She remembers her title, even though she‘s out of office. What do you make of the way she refers to Obama, just by the name Obama and his “radical agenda”? I know you may agree it‘s a radical agenda.
MATTHEWS: Doesn‘t she owe him some sort of surname or something, some kind of name or salutation or whatever, soubriquet or something?
MATTHEWS: How about President Obama?
BUCHANAN: This is a political ad, for heaven‘s sakes, Chris! Look, in 1970, we ran against, quote, the “radical liberals.” President didn‘t say it, but Agnew did. But let me say this and disagree. Look, she went in for Rand Paul and Nikki Haley. She‘s decisive here. Chris, let‘s go out—if you see right now she‘s the leading cause candidate, she‘s the leading charismatic candidate, the leading conservative. She‘s a Christian, and as our friend said, she‘s queen of the tea party. She‘s coming in with tremendous tickets in Iowa, and if she wins Iowa, Chris, she will roll through South Carolina and that is it.
MATTHEWS: OK, you‘re with me. I‘m with you on that. Let‘s take a look at states where she‘s always—the tea party people have already racked up big victories—Ken Buck in Colorado, big upset there, Rand Paul in Kentucky, another upset, Sharron Angle, another upset there in Nevada, and Mike Lee, knocking off an incumbent senator, Robert Bennett, in Utah.
You know, you‘re still putting her down as a significant force, I noticed, David Corn.
CORN: No, I‘m not—
MATTHEWS: I‘ll both of your names here. The fact of the matter—
MATTHEWS: I won‘t call you “Corn,” like she calls the president “Obama.” But let me ask you this. Why do you keep—
CORN: OK, Matthews.
MATTHEWS: -- keep putting her down as a threat, when she has shown her clout here again last night?
CORN: I‘m not putting her down as a threat. She is a potent political force. I believe it‘s confined to certain wars (ph).
MATTHEWS: What, South Carolina, Nevada—
CORN: Listen, in Washington state, her Senate pick didn‘t win. In Georgia, didn‘t win. She was batting about .500 until about last night, when she happened to go 5 for 5. It was a very good night for Sarah Palin. But I do think, you know, she has—there‘s a natural limitation on how far this woman can go.
CORN: If Republicans want to nominate her, that maybe the best news for Democrats.
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re going to get ahead of the primary season schedule because Pat‘s already alluded to her potency here. Let‘s take a look at—let‘s take a look—I thought we were going to—let‘s listen to Miller time here. Let‘s listen to—we don‘t have Joe Miller? OK, let‘s jump ahead here. Let‘s jump ahead into the primary schedule because I think we‘ve got to remind ourselves how you win a party nomination. You start by a big win, a big win in Iowa—
MATTHEWS: -- February 6th. Then you have New Hampshire February 14th, Nevada the 18th and the 20th in South Carolina. Pat, you‘re the expert. You‘ve ran in these primaries. Tell me how she could possibly win the Republican nomination coming off of what we‘re talking about right now, this big victory in Alaska.
BUCHANAN: If she wins Iowa—and quite frankly, the only way I can see she can be stopped in Iowa, Chris—Romney does not look like he‘s doing it. They‘re going to have to have Huckabee in there to pull off the Christian evangelical vote, or a huge slice of it. They have got to stop her in Iowa because if they don‘t, those guys are going to ride to the sound of the guns in South Carolina, where Christian, conservative, charisma, cause will do it. Romney can‘t beat her if she comes to South Carolina—
CORN: Pat? Pat—
BUCHANAN: -- if she comes out of Iowa with a victory.
CORN: But Pat—but Pat, there are two primaries between—
CORN: -- Iowa and South Carolina. And also, she may not run. I mean, if she runs—
BUCHANAN: All right.
CORN: -- she‘ll have to talk to the media.
BUCHANAN: She won‘t win if she doesn‘t run!
CORN: She may have to go into debates, and we—
CORN: We have no idea how she will perform as a candidate.
MATTHEWS: The key word in the last five minutes, the word “charismatic.” Pat, I want you to explain it because I think David Corn needs an explanation here.
MATTHEWS: I need something of one, too.
BUCHANAN: All right, look—
MATTHEWS: She is running as a Christian woman, not running as a right-winger or a fringie or even a tea party—
BUCHANAN: But when I said charismatic—
MATTHEWS: This Christian woman thing is powerful stuff in Iowa, you and I know it—
MATTHEWS: -- among the evangelicals. Explain how she could just blow everybody out over there.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, there‘s the Christian right-to-life cause in Iowa. Those are older voters. It is enormously powerful. If you‘re not pro-life, you can‘t win out there. She not only has that—when I say charisma, Chris, it is the thing in a way of saying someone is a political athlete. Whatever you like, Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan—
BUCHANAN: -- when they walked into a room, there was a presence.
MATTHEWS: Oh, that charismatic.
BUCHANAN: Who is that, when they walk into the room? That‘s not the same with Ron Paul, who‘s got his own, for example, small following.
BUCHANAN: But she has charisma. She sets—
BUCHANAN: -- lights a place up.
MATTHEWS: I made a mistake there. I thought you meant charismatic as in Christian charismatic or—
BUCHANAN: Oh, no, no, no.
MATTHEWS: -- or Catholic charismatics. I thought you were talking about a particular portion of Christianity, which is very—
BUCHANAN: She‘s evangelical.
BUCHANAN: That‘s right. She is evangelical.
MATTHEWS: Therefore, Corn knows as much about this as you do!
MATTHEWS: David, her charisma factor—let‘s take a look at her charisma. Here—favorability nationally among Republicans in July. Here it is, 76 percent favorable among Republicans nationwide, 10 points higher than both Huckabee and Gingrich, 20 points better than Romney, facts on the table. That‘s where she stands.
CORN: She‘s in a good position to go for the nomination. At the same time, I‘ll repeat my previous point, Chris, which is she‘s still going to have to campaign for it. She‘s going to have to take hard questions, you know, deal in debates. And these are areas that she—at the end of the day, she may not do too well in.
CORN: Right now, as a Facebook candidate who doesn‘t take hard questions, she‘s perfect. But that‘s not—that may not be the way you can win. Maybe it is—
BUCHANAN: Here‘s the problem—
CORN: -- different fashion.
BUCHANAN: Here‘s the problem, Chris, that everybody‘s got. You cannot go after her and tear her apart and expect to get the nomination or have the nomination worth anything. Secondly, the only competitor over there on that Christian conservative side, and he‘s very strong, Huckabee‘s running first in Iowa—is Huckabee. Romney can‘t take that vote away from her. Somebody‘s got to take it away from her, but if Huckabee goes out there—
BUCHANAN: -- and Sarah goes out there, they could split it.
MATTHEWS: You keep singing the name Huckabee, but he‘s got a Willie Horton problem, doesn‘t he, Pat?
BUCHANAN: I know he does.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s not forget that. Anyway, thank you, David Corn.
Thank you, Pat Buchanan.
Coming up: Do Republicans have a negative view of Islam?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Former Republican Tom Tancredo appears to be playing a spoiler‘s role in that race for governor out in Colorado. According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released just today, 40 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Democrat John Hickenlooper, the current mayor of Denver, while 33 percent, many less, said they‘d support Republican Dan Maes. Sixteen percent say they plan to support Tancredo, a former Republican who is pulling votes away from Maes, the Republican. Democrats enjoy no such luck in Colorado‘s Senate race, where incumbent Michael Bennet Republican challenger Ken Buck—catch this -- 49 to 40. That‘s tough.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. The repercussions of that debate over the location of a planned Islamic center up in Manhattan extends far beyond this city. What message are we Americans sending to our allies in the Muslim world by all this fight? Eugene Robinson is an MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post,” and George Pataki is, of course, the former three-time governor of New York state.
Governor Pataki, a tough question, but why do Republicans have such a negative view of Islam?
GEORGE PATAKI ®, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Well, I don‘t think Republicans have a negative view of Islam. We do, along with a great many Democrats and most of the American people, have a negative view of the Islamic center being built so close to Ground Zero, and I think with good reason. We don‘t know really what the purpose of that center is going to be. We don‘t know the source of funding. It‘s not a neighborhood mosque. It‘s a 15-story, $100 million facility. And we—we have some very real concerns and legitimate concerns about the people involved, what their positions are, what their beliefs are—
PATAKI: -- and what, in fact, they intend to do with this center.
MATTHEWS: But your party is on record as being opposed to Islam, as such. We‘ve got a new Pew poll out, Pew Research, that shows that 54 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of Islam—Islam itself.
PATAKI: Ask the question whether or not—
MATTHEWS: Twenty-seven percent of Democrats do—an unfavorable opinion of Islam itself.
PATAKI: Well, Chris, ask the question whether or not Republicans believe in religious freedom, including the right of Muslims to worship freely in this country—
MATTHEWS: But why don‘t they like Islam?
PATAKI: -- and you will find over 90 percent to say so.
PATAKI: Ask those 54 percent. You tell me the answer.
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re flipping—you just told me they don‘t—your party doesn‘t have a negative view of Islam. I show you a poll that shows that it does, and then what are you telling me now, they don‘t or they do? Does your party like Islam or dislike it? Apparently—
PATAKI: I think—
MATTHEWS: -- they don‘t like it.
PATAKI: My party likes freedom of religion, and all of the freedoms that are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. I don‘t speak for my party and I don‘t say that a poll constitutes the opinion of people within my party. I‘ll take your word for it, but I don‘t take—
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s not my word. I just read the poll. Let me go to—I‘m sorry, Governor. I respect you, but the poll does show 54 -- I was stunned by this. They don‘t like the word Islam.
PATAKI: And to the extent there is a negative view, I think it directly comes out of al Qaeda, comes out of the fact that al Qaeda is an Islamist organization that was responsible—
PATAKI: -- for the September 11 attacks.
MATTHEWS: We know that.
PATAKI: You look at the Taliban—
MATTHEWS: The Republicans are educated people, aren‘t they?
PATAKI: You look at the Taliban and their retrograde effort to impose Middle Ages behavior in Afghanistan.
PATAKI: You look at Iran, where a couple was just sentenced to death by stoning, and that creates a negative image. And part of it, as well, Chris, I believe, is that we are a tolerant society. Republicans are tolerant of all different faiths. But we are also upset by the fact that so much of the Islamic community is intolerant of other faiths, whether it‘s Judaism, Bahai-ism in Iran, Christianity—
PATAKI: -- Hinduism in Pakistan and India. So I think tolerance is a two-way street. Understanding is a two-way street.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s—
PATAKI: So I can understand negative feelings. I don‘t share them—
PATAKI: -- but I think it‘s incumbent on all of us to try to understand the differences that exist.
MATTHEWS: Right. Well, who threw the first stone? But let‘s go to Eugene Robinson. Your thoughts about the fact that the Republican Party, 54 percent doesn‘t like Islam. And the question I want to put to you is, what message is this fight over having a religious center within two blocks of the World Trade Center being rejected, fought over zoning, fought over the right to build, threats of blacklisting, that they‘ll go after the construction companies that participate—what kind of message is that sending to our allies in places like Egypt and Jordan and the Emirates and countries like that?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it sends a terrible message. The message it sends reinforces the poisonous narrative that is used by terrorist recruiters around the world, which is that the—that U.S. officials, U.S. presidents are lying when they say our fight is with the terrorists, it‘s not with Islam.
They look at this fight over a community center run by—that‘s going to be run by an imam who is—who has a long record—such a long record of moderation that he is—he is used by our own State Department as an emissary to the Muslim world—they look at that, and they say, No, they‘re lying. It‘s all a smokescreen. They really are out to destroy Islam.
And for all the citing of the—of the atrocities, the horrors that you see in places like Iran and Afghanistan perpetrated in the name of Islam, people forget that Indonesia, for example, the most populous Muslim country on earth—
MATTHEWS: Right. OK—
ROBINSON: -- is a place where very moderate, respectful version of Islam is practiced, as is Malaysia, as is most of the Islamic world, and—and that seems to be forgotten or—
ROBINSON: -- or perhaps not known.
MATTHEWS: Governor, it just seems to me that people on the right of the spectrum, right across the right center right all the way over, really don‘t like Muslims. Take a look—here‘s Rush Limbaugh today. Here‘s what he said today about—about the—about our election of—well, he refers to President Obama, basically, as a Muslim here again. Here he is. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: My question—Mr. Matthews and Mr. Fineman, a question for you. How can America be Islamophobic? We elected Obama, didn‘t we? If this is a nation that is Islamophobic, how do we elect a man whose name is Barack Hussein Obama?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Governor, this is why, I think, 25 or some 30 percent of the people think that Barack Obama is a Muslim, this trash talking by Rush Limbaugh, the voice of the American right here, who speaks for so many Republicans, assuming that he‘s a Muslim because we voted for him and that proves we‘re not anti-Muslim.
What do you think of guys that keep putting out lies like that?
PATAKI: Well, I think it‘s clear that Rush and I both understand that Barack Obama is a Christian. He has expressed his Christianity.
He has shown that he goes to church, although I have doubts about his choice of the right church when he was with Reverend Wright for so many years in Chicago.
But, you know, you can pick out inflammatory positions on either side. The idea of this Islamic center so close to Ground Zero is wrong, and you‘re painting it as something that the right is opposed to. In New York State, the Democratic governor and the Democratic speaker are opposed to it. Harry Reid has come out against it.
There is bipartisan opposition, and by the way, the vast majority of Americans think it is the wrong center and the wrong site at the wrong time.
PATAKI: And just commenting on Eugene‘s analysis that it‘s making the U.S. look bad in the Islamic world, if the people who proposed building this in fact wanted to reach out, wanted to build bridges, they would understand the nature of the opposition. They would understand the emotion involved around September 11, and they would have taken up a Democratic governor‘s offer to relocate that site.
They won‘t do that. So, it makes me question, not just question, but doubt seriously, if in fact this is about building bridges, as opposed to just sticking—poking a stick in our eye at one of the hallowed grounds and the scenes of one of the greatest tragedies in American history.
And I have to tell you that you—I am not anti-Islam. I am very strongly anti that mosque.
MATTHEWS: Well, you think that‘s the message, Gene, that we‘re sending here as a country?
MATTHEWS: Is that the message that we‘re sending, we‘re not anti-Islamic?
PATAKI: It‘s not the message you‘re sending, Chris, when you say that the right is anti-Islam.
MATTHEWS: I‘m looking at the poll data.
PATAKI: We‘re in favor of tolerance across the political spectrum.
MATTHEWS: OK. I have just cited a major national poll that says most Republicans don‘t like Islam, period. I have just quoted Rush Limbaugh from today‘s broadcast where he is making it sounds like we have elected a guy who is Islamic, and therefore we‘re not anti-Islamic, playing that old game again, that canard that he‘s really not a Christian.
I would think if I were a guy sitting in a Cairo cafe right now, I be would thinking, I don‘t really want to go to Michigan State and study engineering because those people don‘t like me.
PATAKI: Well, you know, you always manage to get a clip from Rush. I would love to have one from Keith Olbermann or someone, because you can always take—
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m looking for Republican opinion here.
PATAKI: -- take positions—let me give you a Republican opinion.
PATAKI: We believe in freedom of religion. In New York City, there are over 100 mosques. In New York State, there are over 300 mosques.
PATAKI: We believe that religious tolerance is an important part of our Bill of Rights and of our country.
But that doesn‘t mean that we have to tolerate building a center with questionable sources of funds, questionable leadership so close to Ground Zero. It is the wrong thing to do at the wrong site.
MATTHEWS: Gene, your last word here, please.
ROBINSON: Well, I believe the organizers of the mosque will refuse, as all of us do, to be classified as second-class citizens of this country.
PATAKI: That‘s right.
ROBINSON: I believe the governor forgets that innocent Muslims died in the collapse of the Twin Towers, along with Christians and Jews and everyone else.
And—and I just think it is an outrageous violation of what we as Americans hold sacred, freedom of religion, and the fact that we are all equal to say, yes, sure, we like Islam, but we don‘t like you here.
PATAKI: You know, I think it‘s an incredible violation of our freedom of speech if you think that by expressing an opinion that differs from yours somehow, it is in any way treating people as second-class citizens.
MATTHEWS: OK. I‘m with you. I‘m with you.
PATAKI: It‘s not.
MATTHEWS: Governor—Governor, you rang my bell. I agree. Both sides—I respect your opinion. I respect the other guy‘s opinion.
What I don‘t respect are people talking about blacklisting the construction companies, talking about we‘re going to get those people and run them out of business who do try to build this center. That is bad Americanism. That is not American to say, all right, you have a right to do it, but we will ruin your business if you do it. Is that freedom of speech or is that something else?
PATAKI: No, it‘s not. No, it‘s not. And I agree with you.
MATTHEWS: OK. Then we‘re together on that --
PATAKI: We have to follow the law.
But let me raise another point here. The developer, so-called developer of this project, earlier, about a year or so ago, plunked down $4.9 million in cash to buy the site. A year-and-a-half before that, he was a waiter. He then plunked down $5 million to buy the second site and got a mortgage in excess of $20 million or $30 million, a guy who was a waiter as a restaurant a year-and-a-half ago.
People are asking him the source of that almost $10 million in cash.
PATAKI: He won‘t answer the questions.
And I think it‘s—the American people and certainly the people of New York have a right to know the source of the funding, because that goes to what this center is going to be used for. I have grave doubts. I think it should be moved.
And if they were really serious about reaching out and building bridges, they would listen to those of us who respect Islam, but who don‘t believe that center should be there.
Seven years ago, the man who is building this center was speaking at Danny Pearl‘s funeral. I‘m not sure he‘s a bad guy, like you say he is.
PATAKI: Well, I can tell you, Danny Pearl‘s father has said that it should not be built there.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you. A lot of different views on this.
Thank you, Governor Pataki.
Thank you, Gene Robinson.
Up next: I see that enemies of Sharron—well, Sharron Angle agrees there are enemies of the United States in the United States Congress. Well, next, that‘s coming up in the “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And now to the “Sideshow.”
First up: fringe factor. Would-be Senator Sharron Angle of Nevada has become a “Sideshow” regular for her extremist views, including her comment that people may resort to Second Amendment remedies, i.e. gunplay, if Congress continues on its current course.
This next revelation, however, might top them all. In an interview from October of last year, can Angle flat-out agree with conservative radio host Bill Manders? Well, you can hear he asserts that there are homegrown enemies in the walls of Congress. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BILL MANDERS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, I—I talk often about this—this oath that they give. And it is to defend the Constitution and all of that, but one of the things that‘s very important to me in this oath that they give is that they will defend against foreign and domestic enemies.
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, yes.
MANDERS: We have domestic enemies. We have home-born, homegrown enemies in our system, and I for one think we have some of those enemies in our own—in the walls of the Senate and the Congress.
ANGLE: Yes, I think you‘re right, Bill.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Harry Reid was quick to issue a statement on the newly publicized interview asking angle to name names, who exactly these domestic enemies are.
I can‘t wait to hear the list.
Next: a candidate interview that might cause a stir. Without further ado, Chris Young, mayoral candidate for Providence, Rhode Island, in a local interview earlier this week. Catch this customer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joining us this morning is Democratic candidate Chris Young.
Thanks for being here this morning.
CHRIS YOUNG (D), PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for having me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, first of all, tell me a little bit about why did you get into politics in the first place?
YOUNG: Well, I got into politics to bring attention to the issues that matter to the people of the state of Rhode Island.
I want to say that I write songs for fun, and I can play a song for you really quick. And this is a song that I have written.
YOUNG: I would like the opportunity to come on your show again and sing again with my band.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we will see what we can do about that.
Chris, thanks so much --
YOUNG: How about this week? Later this week?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you know what? I‘ll tell you what.
That‘s a higher pay grade than me, and other people arrange that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But thank you for being here this morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I‘m just guessing, but I don‘t think this guy is going to get a callback.
Now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Congressman Tim Johnson of Illinois has made it a goal to reach out personally to each of his 650,000-plus constituents. How does he do it? He makes at least 100 phone calls a day, seven days a week. Congressman Johnson only takes a break on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter -- 100 calls to his constituents every day. Talk about political retail, tonight‘s very impressive “Big Number.”
A hundred calls a day, the guy makes.
Up next: Glenn Beck‘s rally at the Lincoln Memorial is three days away. What‘s he up to?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JANE WELLS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Jane Wells with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks bouncing back in the last hour of trading to finish modestly higher. They had been much lower during the day. The Dow ended up, adding 19 points, the S&P tacking on 3.5 and the Nasdaq climbing 17.
Investors apparently shrugging off dismal data on new home sales and durable goods, like a surprise 12 percent drop in new home sales in July. That sent sales to their lowest annual level on record. New home prices lower now than they have been in six-and-a-half years as the brand-new houses have to compete with foreclosures. And orders for durable goods climbing a measly 0.3 percent, well short of the 2.8 percent jump analysts were expecting, and almost all of that was due to a rise in airplane orders.
Still, by midday, investors were seeing bargains in the depressed housing and retail sectors. Homebuilder Toll Brothers‘ shares soared after swinging to a profit in the third quarter, and teen retailer American Eagle surging nearly 8 percent after saying it plans to trim inventories and close some stores. And many analysts say we still have too many stores period in this country.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In today‘s “Washington Post,” Martin Luther King III had some thoughts on Glenn Beck‘s big rally coming to the Lincoln Memorial this Saturday, which, of course, is the 47th anniversary of King‘s father‘s “I Have a Dream” speech.
King writes—quote—“My father championed free speech. He would be the first to say that those participating in Beck‘s rally have the right to express their views. But his dream rejected hateful rhetoric and all forms of bigotry or discrimination, whether directed at race, faith, nationality, sexual orientation or political beliefs.”
The Tea Party groups are mobilizing to get to Washington. Beck himself says the event is non-political, but is that possible or plausible when Sarah Palin is a headline speaker? What exactly are we going to see on Saturday and what should we make of it?
Joan Walsh is editor in chief of Salon.com. And Princeton history professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell is an MSNBC contributor.
I want to bring up a couple of things about—let‘s take a look at a couple of things about Glenn Beck. In June, here he is talking about picking the date that he did, the anniversary exactly of the “I Have a Dream” speech. Let‘s listen to his explanation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, HOST, “GLENN BECK”: I believe in divine providence. It was not my intention to select 8/28 because of the Martin Luther King tie. It is the day that he made that speech. I had no idea until I announced it and I walked off stage, and my researcher said, “New York Times” has already just published that this is Martin Luther—and I said, oh, geez.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a docudrama.
MATTHEWS: And now let‘s remember who we‘re talking about here. We‘re talking about a guy who called the president a racist. Here he is doing it. This is part of his—well, our reclaiming of his history, we should say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don‘t know what it is. This guy is, I believe, a racist. Look at the way—look at—look at the things that he has been surrounded by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joan, is he to be believed? He didn‘t know that August was the month in which Martin Luther King gave the “I Have a Dream” speech, that he gave it on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial? This quibbling about the actual date is nonsense, and I think it‘s a—a red herring.
The issue here is, why is he going to the site most known for being the King speech site? Why is he doing it in August—
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: Right.
MATTHEWS: -- the exact same month, and why is he doing it when has in fact made comments like the president is a racist and now he‘s walking into what he claims to be a non-political event in the nation‘s capital?
WALSH: He‘s doing it, Chris, because we live in bizarro world today, where white people, not all white people, not most white people, but a section of aggrieved white people are trying to make themselves out to be a victim. And it‘s ridiculous.
When you listen to him tell that story, that docudrama, as you put it a few seconds ago, he claims that the first he knew of the date being the same date was when his researcher told him, and he was like, oh, boy, he‘s going to get into trouble.
I mean, I find it all hard to believe because he posted that on his Web site. The date was there before he made the speech, and nobody made the connection? It‘s the Lincoln Memorial. I mean, I find it hard to believe.
But you know what? What‘s more scary, that he didn‘t know, that he doesn‘t know about this incredible date in our history, about what that site is really best known for? You know, that‘s scary, too. So—
MATTHEWS: Melissa, Professor Lacewell, thanks for joining us on this issue.
Do you think you will be making this event?
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I will not be.
MATTHEWS: I mean, Sarah is going to be there, and I don‘t think—I don‘t think Dr. Laura is going to be there. But Sarah—her friend is going to be there. I mean, it‘s going to be an interesting event --
MATTHEWS: -- using—you talk about hallowed ground, by the way. All these people are yelling about hallowed ground and a sort of Middle Eastern focus—
MATTHEWS: -- on rocks and territory and historic relic significance.
I think this is probably the most hallowed ground in American secular life, the Lincoln Memorial.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, you know, actually, I won‘t be there, and not just because, obviously, ideologically, I‘m somewhere to the left of Glenn Beck—
YOUNG: -- but—but, more importantly, because I will be at another space that is a hallowed ground, and that is, I will be in New Orleans, because it‘s the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: And I guess I—I would like to say two things.
One, you know, it certainly is possible that he didn‘t know. I‘m not a history professor. I‘m a political scientist, but still, history is so poorly taught in this country that it is in fact possible that we have failed to recognize and make sort of common that 8/28 is a meaningful date.
By also want to say, I think we need to be really careful, as you‘ve mentioned here, about this idea of hallowed ground. I mean, you just had a segment talking about what happens when there‘s a kind of American ethnocentrism that emerges around, you know, Ground Zero, in Manhattan, and our anxiety about allowing something to occur there if we feel that somehow it is disreputable or it harms our memory of what happened on 9/11.
So, I certainly don‘t want to reproduce that exact same thing about the Lincoln Memorial—
HARRIS-LACEWELL: -- or about 8/28. Yes, it‘s hallowed. Yes, it‘s special.
But I‘ve got to tell you, I will put Martin Luther King‘s 47-year-old “I Have a Dream” speech next to whatever come out of Sarah Palin‘s mouth this time, and I have no doubt which one will hold up in history.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make—what do you make, Joan, of this comment by Martin Luther King III saying he‘s for freedom of speech as we all are. This isn‘t about the right to do anything. This is about what the message is intended to be. He says he doesn‘t like things being used like certainly my dad was not for deep-seeded hatred. Obviously, he‘s for non-violence and for brotherhood—I know the speech, and—and the content of our character and all the wonderful words in that speech about American geography even and tying American values to our geography.
It‘s the most amazing speech—I‘ve said it the other night—since the Lincoln second inaugural. And not to know that that was in August at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is ignorance beyond belief.
WALSH: It is.
MATTHEWS: So, he knew it and the only question is quibbling about the exact date. He‘s coming here to make noise. He‘s bringing Sarah Palin with him, and my question to you is: how can we believe it‘s not political?
WALSH: Of course, it‘s political. I mean, Sarah Palin is either—probably undeclared but a very likely 2012 candidate. She does nothing that‘s not political, Chris, unless she does it for money. Maybe he‘s paying her a lot of money, that gets her to events, too.
But, you know, she‘s going around the country. She‘s endorsing Tea Party candidates. There‘s not a thing that she does that‘s not political.
And her last known civil rights stand was standing up for Dr. Laura‘s right to use the N-word and abuse a black caller. And Sarah Palin, on Twitter, announced herself, Dr. Laura‘s new defender because poor Dr. Laura was having her First Amendment rights abridged—complete misunderstanding of our Constitution but let‘s not go there.
So, of course, it‘s political. Of course, they are kind of thumbing their noses at all of us who take a very different meaning from Dr. King‘s words. And, you know, the first thing Glenn Beck does when he gets called on it is say black people don‘t own Martin Luther King, and, you know, the tone deafness of that when people were actually owned as slaves.
WALSH: It‘s just ridiculous, but, you know, they can do what they want. They have the right. We‘ll all be spending our Saturday in much better company.
MATTHEWS: Professor, I am alarmed by the ability of propaganda to succeed in this country. A very small shrinking percentage of the Republican electorate now believes that our president is a Christian—as he says he is; that he‘s a native born American—as his records show he is.
This power to constantly suggest—as Rush Limbaugh did today, and Beck and the rest of them do—is working, and anybody who isn‘t paying attention isn‘t paying attention.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, I‘m not sure that it‘s working yet. So, I—
MATTHEWS: The numbers show that it is, Professor.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: No, I don‘t know that it is. Look, I certainly believe in the power of public opinion polls, you know? I certainly employ them in my own research. But I also want to look at electoral outcomes. For me, you know, ultimately the question is: what is happening in terms of our policy, and what is happening in November?
Now, there is a huge sweeping win of the GOP in the House, then I—
I‘m going to go with you on this anxiety.
But at moment, I am just going to pause the “fear” button and I‘m going to say, look, we‘re talking about a potential Republican candidate who, at moment, her primary tasks and jobs are Facebook updates. She gave up her job as an elected official. She does not have a meaningful role as an elected official or a public organizer. Mostly what she does is sort of comment.
And I know that when we focus on something like the “I Have a Dream” speech, then we think that what Martin Luther King, Jr. was was a great speechmaker, but that is inaccurate. What Martin Luther King, Jr. was was a great grassroots organizer who had the efforts of many thousands of organized people around him.
I do not yet see—there are these moments, these kind of media moments, but at the moment I still don‘t see that level of grassroots—
HARRIS-LACEWELL: -- American commitment to these ideals that I think ultimately are mostly occurring on Facebook and FOX News.
MATTHEWS: OK. She has the highest favorability of any Republican in the country.
But thank you for that, Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell.
Thank you, as always, Joan Walsh.
Up next: It‘s the first anniversary of Senator Ted Kennedy‘s death, believe it or not, on his legacy a year later, when we come back.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Now to one person who will not run for president in 2012.
Today, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels told “The Louisville Courier General” he‘s not interested in the post, is not raising money for such a campaign and has not spent much time outside of Indiana. The Republican governor has been coy before about whether he‘s planning to run, saying that he‘s open to the idea. Just recently, GOP Senator Dick Lugar said that he hopes that the governor strongly considers a White House bid.
HARDBALL will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 12, 1980)
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dreams shall never die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
That was Ted Kennedy in August of 1980, delivering perhaps the most memorable speech in U.S. convention history.
Today, August 25th, marks the one-year anniversary of his death. Family remembered—his family remembered Kennedy during a private mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Joining us right now for more on Senator Kennedy‘s legacy, “The Boston Globe‘s” Peter Canellos, editor of “The Last Lion: A Look at the Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy,” which is just out in paperback.
Peter, thank you for joining us right now.
Let‘s look right now at the hard facts around this sentiment—or inside it, I should say. Since Ted Kennedy has passed away, what has been the political impact in Massachusetts and around the country?
PETER CANELLOS, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Well, Massachusetts just lost a great advocate for some things like medical research and education grants, which are very important up here.
Around the country, though, I think the impact has been even greater. You know, we saw all the struggles in that health care bill. They finally got it passed, but it was a torturous process that cost the Democrats dearly. I think Kennedy would have delivered a bill earlier and he would have delivered it in a better time frame—I mean, sort of more acceptable bill in an earlier time frame.
He‘s also a great advocate for liberal causes, and there‘s been a little of that lacking as well, that, you know, red meat rhetoric that the Democrats used to enjoy from him just isn‘t out there now.
MATTHEWS: I have a sense that the heart of the Democratic Party is missing. I mean, the president, with all his incredible intelligence, President Barack Obama, and I think success legislatively—you‘ve got to hand it to him—on all kinds of issues like health care and financial regulation and economics, he‘s been able to get his programs through. He hasn‘t had that big heart that Ted Kennedy and his brothers had that has always been a big part of the modern Democratic Party for the last 40 or 50 years.
CANELLOS: Yes. And Ted Kennedy with his early endorsement of Obama sort of took on this kind of mentoring role of Obama. So, if he were around, you know, he‘d be telling Obama to, you know, get out there and defend the program, stand up for our values. You know, think of things like the unemployment, you know, extension of unemployment benefits. Those were Kennedy‘s red meat issues, you know?
MATTHEWS: And also, I think Ted Kennedy, when he was alive and I interviewed him on this subject and I know you did, was really honest about the fact that the immigration problem is a manmade problem—as his brother, President Kennedy, said, it can be solved by men. He had a solution.
It was a complete solution. It that had to do with all kinds of things in terms of dealing with the people already here, who have been living here for years, and also dealing with the need to stop people from coming in illegally and getting jobs here illegally. It was a comprehensive program.
I don‘t hear the president or anybody really out there selling because of the sensitivities on both sides.
CANELLOS: Yes, I think that‘s right. And you know, they‘re scared to go out there and one of Kennedy‘s great attributes was that, you know, people knew what he stood for. And he sort of pursued it relentlessly. He also had great deal of influence with the legislative leadership. So, he‘d be telling Harry Reid to make that a top priority.
MATTHEWS: Well, up in Massachusetts, I noticed that Scott Brown, who got his seat after he passed away, ran on a Kennedy ad. He kept showing pictures of Jack Kennedy. The opponent, the Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, didn‘t seem to ever mention Kennedy.
Why did Democrats throw away the Kennedy legacy and let the Republicans pick it up? It seems like it works—it just worked for the Republicans up there.
CANELLOS: That‘s true. Well, there was a little bit of bad blood between Coakley and the Kennedys I think because they felt that Coakley had been sniffing around for the seat before he died. But Scott Brown was very, very careful to be deeply respectful and continues to be very careful to be deeply respectful of Kennedy‘s legacy, you know, even as he represents the opposite party.
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s interesting that just the other day, yesterday, John Boehner gave a speech at the Cleveland Economic Club. You know who cited? Jack Kennedy.
And it seems like the Republicans love the Kennedy legacy in one regard, tax cuts. And they‘re always talking about it. And Democrats don‘t do that.
CANELLOS: Well, it‘s true. And you know, Senator Kennedy‘s legacy is obviously, you know, a very substantial part of Democratic history as is his brothers. But, you know, there‘s been that lack of real, you know, connection to the Democratic roots—as you pointed out during the Obama era.
MATTHEWS: I always love Ted Kennedy coming on the show and just being Ted Kennedy. There‘s no doubt about it. He was always willing to come on HARDBALL and do what he had to do. He was great.
Anyway, thank you, Peter Canellos: It‘s a great book out in paperback, “The Last Lion.” Good luck with that one.
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about someone I consider a true leader, a real profile in courage, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York.
You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a tribute to a leader.
Whatever your position on the proposed Islamic center in southern Manhattan, this is one person who stood up, stood down, and done the fine thing, the historic thing. Again, there are people of good will on both sides of this debate, good people with different views. They‘re also, to be truly candid, some real troublemakers—people who love this topic and this fight precisely because it has drawn heat.
I don‘t want to draw heat. If the Islamic center become a reality, I
hope it will one day be a generally unremarkable part of downtown New York
remarkable only in the fact that because of when it was built, just nine years after the tragedy of the Twin Towers, it stands as a tribute to what an open and free country we Americans have built here.
One person that stood above the noise in this debate, it is Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York. He has fought from the beginning the effort to make a negative issue of the Islamic center. He said yesterday that saying no to its construction, either by throwing up new obstacles or threatening to blacklist company who‘d do the work would send a signal around the world that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law but separate in the eyes of their countrymen. And we would have handed a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiter who‘s spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam.
Mayor Bloomberg has cut to the heart of this struggle. It‘s not about real estate or turf geography. It‘s over symbols.
What would letting a religious group build a community center in southern Manhattan symbolized? Well, freedom of religion for one thing. And what would it mean to stop the building? Well, use your imagination.
I often think—I often think that the fight with Islamic zealotry, Islamism, is really being waged over the little tables in cafes in cities like Cairo and Amman, and Riyadh.
There‘s the young adult who speaks openly of his desire to study engineering someday in Michigan State, and then there‘s the radical who speaks with sympathy for jihad, who brandishes the wounds, spiritual as physical, Islam can trace to those of us in the west.
Well, Mayor Bloomberg reminds us that this is the battleground, in the hearts and minds, newspapers and television networks and cafes of the near and Middle East.
Raising Cain over the building of this Islamic center helps one side of the fight. Which one do you think it is?
I salute Michael Bloomberg. If Jack Kennedy were alive today to write more of “Profiles in Courage,” Mike would be in the book.
That‘s HARDBALL for now.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
PASTE THE TRANSCRIPT HERE