Guests: David Corn, Clarence Page, Michael Hirsh, Lynn Sweet, David
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Born in the USA.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews up in New York. Leading off tonight: Birthright. The birther movement—it‘s a phony controversy designed by people who want only one thing, to delegitimize Barack Obama‘s presidency. Neil Abercrombie, the new governor of Hawaii, wants to make it possible to release more evidence to put to rest this nonsense that the president wasn‘t born in the country. It won‘t matter to some, of course. As someone once said, don‘t waste your time arguing with someone whose job depends on not being convinced. But will it member to some?
Plus, remember the moment—this moment from the 2010 election year?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL DAVISON (R-OH), CANDIDATE FOR STARK CTY. TREASURER: My name is Phil Davison, and I am seeking our party‘s nomination for the position of Stark County treasurer!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I remember it now. That piece by Phil Davison, who was running for office in Ohio, was just one of many campaign moments that went viral this year. We‘ll count them down all through the top five for 2010.
Also, the mere threat of a filibuster has now made it possible to get
not to get anything done in the Senate without 60 votes. Isn‘t it time to make the minority party actually show up on the Senate floor and talk about the bill they‘re opposing, like Jimmy Stewart did in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”? That‘s what some Democrats want done next year, and I think it‘s a great idea, so expect resistance.
And we‘ll look back at my favorite movies this year and their political angles with the film critic from “New York” magazine. You‘re going to like this one.
Finally, what was it that made Pennsylvania governor Eddie Rendell so angry yesterday? Check out the “Sideshow.”
We start with the so-called birther movement. The new governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie, wants to put to rest the manufactured controversy, while allowing more information to be released from the records office in Honolulu. David Corn is Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” and Clarence Page is, of course, with “The Chicago Tribune.”
Gentlemen—of course you are. Let‘s go to this, a new poll out this year, just to make sure everybody knows why this is still an issue. A “New York Times” poll that came out this past April, asked, “Do you think Barack Obama was born in the U.S. or was he born in some other country? Well, never forget this number -- 58 percent say he was born in the U.S., just 58 percent. A majority, but less than three out of five are willing to say he was born here. Twenty percent said that he was definitely born somewhere else and 23 percent said they don‘t know, which leaves the president in a somewhat odd position since he is our chief executive in a job that requires being born in this country. Again, only 58 percent agree that he was born here.
Now the governor of—Abercrombie, the newly elected Democratic governor, who grew up and lived with Obama‘s parents and knew him when he was growing up as a kid, believes it‘s time to end this nonsense.
So let me ask you gentlemen, why don‘t—and I am not a birther. I am an enemy of the birthers. This is an actual birth certificate, a long form certificate of live birth in the state of Hawaii. This, on the other hand, is what they release generally to the public, a thinner form. I‘m not sure if it has less information, but it‘s digital, of course, doesn‘t have signatures on it, and to the birthers is evidence he really ain‘t one of us.
Clarence, is this going to help, if we get more documentation? And second question, why has the president himself not demanded that they put out the initial documents?
CLARENCE PAGE, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: The president‘s got more important things to do, thank goodness that he‘s more focused on that. Governor Abercrombie himself says that and points out that it is he, the governor, who‘s bringing this issue up because he was a classmate of Obama‘s parents. He saw Obama as a baby. And he is tired of people literally lambasting Obama‘s parents for no good reason. And so he wants to try to put this to rest.
Of course, it won‘t work because the birthers aren‘t interested in evidence that Obama was born a U.S. citizen. They only want to hear evidence that he was not, and that‘s not going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Well, what about going to that 20 percent or 23 percent we showed in the “New York Times” poll that doesn‘t know, they just want evidence? Is that a group that has a right to get more documentation? And would Abercrombie‘s position here be the right one, David?
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”: Well, listen, there‘s enough evidence out there already. There‘s the certificate that you‘re holding up. But perhaps even more importantly, there are two birth announcements in Honolulu newspapers. Imagine the conspiratorial mind that would have to have, at the time of his birth—was in 1961 -- plant those things so that one day, he could become president of the United States.
So there‘s already plenty of information out there that the 20 percent who don‘t know are willfully ignorant. They just don‘t want to know. And for the 23 percent, I think of that great movie line, “You can‘t handle the truth.” I think Neil Abercrombie, who is a great progressive Democrat—I loved him when he was in Congress here in Washington—is basically in a mug‘s game. There‘s nothing he‘s going to do that‘s going to change any mind of anybody out there who already believes this. I mean...
MATTHEWS: But what do you make—are you saying that 43 percent of the country is incorrigibly stupid or resistant to truth? Because we‘ve got the poll that shows that only 58 percent are confident of his birth in this country. So what do you do about those other 43 percent? I‘m just asking you. Why isn‘t Abercrombie on the right trail here to at least go to the 20 or 30 percent—you can‘t—obviously, the nutcases on the far right who hate this guy aren‘t going to ever admit that you‘re right, but why not get to the people who are confused?
CORN: You‘ve lost the 23 percent already. I would just write them off...
MATTHEWS: What do you mean? Forty-three percent of the country is off...
CORN: No, the 23 percent who say that they know...
MATTHEWS: That‘s—OK, it‘s 20...
CORN: ... that he wasn‘t born here.
MATTHEWS: ... actually.
CORN: I would just write them off, send them a holiday card...
MATTHEWS: OK, what about the 23? Are they worth going for?
CORN: I think the 20 percent just don‘t know because they haven‘t paid enough attention. If they‘d paid enough attention already, the facts that you‘re holding in your hand would be enough to convince them. They just don‘t—maybe just don‘t care enough to know, or they think—this is where the right wing does a good job. They‘ve created enough of a controversy, even a fake controversy, over this that people listening with maybe half an ear, say, Well, I guess I can‘t—I don‘t really know because I understand there‘s some controversy going on here. So that‘s what‘s probably brewing with those people.
PAGE: There‘s also another answer which the questionnaire apparently did not include, and that‘s the “Don‘t care” crowd. A lot of those people who don‘t know don‘t care enough to look deeper into it because it‘s just not relevant to their lives, compared to other things they want from the president right now, like helping to turn the economy around.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me tell you what I think is new here. And you‘re both reporters and you can tell me if I‘m right. I think the mere fact that a newly governor of Hawaii, his home state—and it is his home state, I completely agree with you—has begun this effort. Now everybody on the right knows he‘s begun the effort. Every news person knows it. You guys know it. I know it. So we‘re going to be paying out—maybe out of the corner of our eye for the next couple weeks, How‘s Abercrombie doing on his expedition to find the original document with signatures all over it, like our birth certificates, like this one here of somebody who was born at the same—one day before, has all kinds of signatures on it. It‘s an actual photostat.
Don‘t we want to know if he can find it? And I don‘t understand why the governor doesn‘t just say, Snap it up, who‘s ever over there in the department of records, send me a copy right now? And why doesn‘t the president just say, Send me a copy right now? Why doesn‘t Gibbs and Axelrod say, Let‘s just get this crappy story...
PAGE: The president doesn‘t care.
MATTHEWS: ... dead? Why not do it?
PAGE: The president doesn‘t care. The president‘s already showed...
MATTHEWS: He doesn‘t care that 43 percent of the country isn‘t sure he‘s an American?
PAGE: Look—look, Chris, that copy that you‘ve got there, the copy that the president has provided on the Web, is all you need, if you‘re a Hawaiian, to get a passport. Everybody accepts that birth certificate as proof of his citizenship, except the birthers. I don‘t blame him for just ignoring the crowd.
MATTHEWS: So this is the same document which would be adequate if, say, you wanted to join the CIA.
PAGE: That is proof of his birth in Hawaii.
CORN: And one question here is that the governor has asked for more information. He hasn‘t said it has to be the long form that you‘re holding there for somebody else. So if he comes up with other information that is not exactly a long form, will that satisfy or change anybody else‘s—anybody‘s view on this?
MATTHEWS: But the department out there just said the other day that there is such a thing. It exists. The original document of his birth is available in storage. They have it in storage, they say.
CORN: Well, I would...
MATTHEWS: If it exists, why not put it out?
CORN: I would—I would...
MATTHEWS: I‘m just asking the obvious question. Why not—will there be any harm done by releasing the original document?
CORN: I will take the brave position of saying that if they can find it, they should put it out there, and then we can make even more fun of the birthers.
PAGE: I‘ll take the brave position of saying, yes, put it out there, and the birthers are still not going to believe it. They‘re going to say, Well, that governor is part of the conspiracy, too, because he‘s a Democrat.
MATTHEWS: ... you guys are—you know what? You‘re all dead right. So let‘s agree three to nothing. It‘s the new year beginning. Why don‘t we all say three cheers for Neil Abercrombie, knowing that the next “New York Times” poll taken a week after that will show 20 percent believe everything‘s bogus, including the fact that anybody who says anything on television is a liar. So let‘s move on.
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. It‘s great to have you on.
PAGE: Thank you, Chris.
CORN: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Clarence, I‘m sure we‘ve gotten to the bottom of this as much as mortal men can. But have a nice new year.
Coming up: It didn‘t get her elected senator in California, but Carly Fiorina‘s “demon sheep” ad was one of the most bizarre in politics ever. We‘re going to count down the top five best-ever YouTube moments when we come back. We‘re talking 2010.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, now that Rahm Emanuel has his residency question all cleared up out there for his run for Chicago mayor, he‘s ready to bring in the campaigner-in-chief. No, not fellow Chicago voter Barack Obama, it‘s Bill Clinton. A campaign spokesman told the Associated Press that Clinton, the former president, will campaign in January for Emanuel. He used to work for him in the White House. Chicago‘s mayoral primary is coming up quick, February 22nd.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Our friends at Politico have rounded up the top YouTube political highlights and lowlights this year. Here to share in the fun and preview—or review, rather, a few from Politico are Politico‘s own Ken Vogel and the PoliticsDaily.Com‘s Alex Wagner.
Let‘s start with the Republican Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck, who took some heat from his primary opponent, Jane Norton‘s, ad that Buck might not be man enough. Well, here he is answering the question—I want Alex to respond after you‘ve seen this. Here he is answering a question at a campaign event. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN BUCK ®, COLORADO SENATE CANDIDATE: Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why should we vote for you?
BUCK: Why should you vote for me? Because I do not wear high heels.
BUCK: He has questioned my manhood. I think it‘s fair to respond. I have cowboy boots. They have real (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Alex, did that work? Did that work with the peeps?
ALEX WAGNER, POLITICSDAILY.COM: Well, I think, you know, it was definitely controversial when it was said, but ultimately, Ken Buck ended up winning, you know, the primary, and I think largely because he put it in the context of man baiting. He went back and showed how Jane Norton had sort of questioned his own manhood, and this was part of a larger onslaught against and for feminism. I mean, you had Nikki Haley in South Carolina, you had the “mama grizzly” movement with Sarah Palin, you had Sharron Angle questioning Harry Reid‘s manhood. And I think Buck put it in that context, and as such, managed to escape sort of the death knell—potential death knell of his candidacy.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think that‘s interesting. By the way, that tactic has been reviewed in a book called “Politics”—or rather, “Life‘s Campaign,” by Chris Matthews years ago. It‘s called attacking from a defensive position. People always root for you when you seem to be defending yourself but going on the attack. Just a thought. The book‘s available still. Anyway—just kidding!
Let‘s go to Ken with this one. Ken, I want you to respond to this. This is an ad by Senate candidate Carly Fiorina against her opponent, Tom Campbell, the much respected Tom Campbell, but this, I guess, leveled him. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Campbell—is he what he tells us or is he what he‘s become over the years, a FCINO, fiscal conservative in name only, a wolf in sheep‘s clothing, a man who literally helped to put the state of California on the path to bankruptcy and higher taxes?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEN VOGEL, POLITICO.COM: Good ad, effective ad. She won, so you can‘t overlook that, an ad by Fred Davis, interestingly, a guy who‘s kind of known for making quirky, out-of-the-box ads on the Republican side. He made that ad in 2008 comparing president, then candidate Obama to Britney Spears. He‘s actually, interestingly, Senator James Inhoff‘s nephew—so a little bit of trivia for you there—And a guy who knows how to make a real ad, as opposed to a straight to the Web ad that has the potential to go viral.
We see a lot of these candidates and committees try put out these ads without paying to air them and hope that they go viral, hope that we cover it. Here‘s a guy who does the opposite. He puts them up on TV, and they usually have such a sort of interesting take that we‘re compelled a little bit to cover these things.
MATTHEWS: Well, Alex, I want you to look at the next one because I‘ve never seen a year when there‘s so much political reference to manhood, to macho. It‘s in the lingo. Here counting down, number three, Dale Peterson, who was vying to be Alabama‘s agriculture commissioner. Let‘s listen to his story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DALE PETERSON, ALABAMA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER CANDIDATE: So listen up. Alabama ag commissioner is one of the most powerful positions in Alabama, responsible for $5 billion. Bet you didn‘t know that. You know why? Thugs and criminals. If they can keep you in the dark, they can do whatever they want with all that money, and they don‘t give a rip about Alabama. I‘m Dale Peterson. I‘ll name names and take no prisoners!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What happened to him?
WAGNER: He turned into J.R. Ewing. I‘m not quite sure. In the course of that ad, he also mentioned that he‘d been a cop, a farmer, a businessman, a Marine, everything short of a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker. But I think, ultimately, you know, what Dale Peterson is trying to do is tap into the sort of populist anger that was very much a theme of the mid-term elections and say, you know, Doggone it, I‘ve had enough. And on so doing, I think, you know, he sharpened his spurs. I‘m not quite sure that ended up being the most effective tack, but certainly was representative of a feeling that was, you know, current inside the United States throughout the year.
MATTHEWS: What version of English is this, by the way, I don‘t give a rip. I mean, is this “I don‘t give a” damn cleaned up for television? I mean, what—why—who writes this stuff? It‘s not our lingo.
WAGNER: Oh, I think that...
MATTHEWS: And yet it seems like it‘s supposed to be.
WAGNER: Those are Alabama bona fides, I think, Chris. I‘m not—I think maybe...
MATTHEWS: “Don‘t give a rip” is really local, huh?
VOGEL: I love the “Dallas” analogy...
VOGEL: ... the analogy to the mini-series “Dallas” there. I think that‘s a good one. This commercial‘s kind of like “Dallas” meets Tom Tancredo.
MATTHEWS: Oh! OK, let‘s take a look at number two—I want you to do this, Ken—number two, Phil Davison, a Republican candidate for Ohio Stark County treasurer. Let‘s listen. I think I‘ve seen this character before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL DAVISON (R-OH), STARK COUNTY TREASURER CANDIDATE: My name is Phil Davison, and I‘m seeking our party‘s nomination for the position of Stark County treasurer! I have been a Republican in times good, and I have been a Republican in times bad! This is the opportunity we‘ve been waiting for! If nominated tonight, I will win this election! And I‘m going to say that again so there‘s no miscommunication tonight! (INAUDIBLE) tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell Randy Gonzalez, I‘m coming!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know what to say! Ken, this man doesn‘t seem together.
VOGEL: It may surprise your viewers to learn this, Chris, but he did not win, unfortunately.
MATTHEWS: I knew that.
VOGEL: I‘m sure it was a very competitive race. But yes, I mean, he kind of strikes me a little bit as an unhinged gym teacher, sort of. Doesn‘t really seem ready for primetime there. But in the YouTube age, that‘s kind of the beauty of it. Anyone can...
MATTHEWS: Did you notice that...
VOGEL: ... get out there...
MATTHEWS: He seems unhinged, as you put it, and then he goes back and checks his unhinged notes every couple seconds. Like, he has to get a new cue to be unhinged again. He‘s goes down, he looks down at the lectern, and then he goes back to angry again!
VOGEL: He actually—he tries to quote...
MATTHEWS: I mean, what‘s he reading on that paper?
VOGEL: ... Albert Einstein there—he had a quote from Albert Einstein. He misquoted it, went back and requoted it, so at least he‘s a stickler for accuracy. And look, he‘s got a legacy out there forever.
MATTHEWS: OK, here‘s one we all remember, Alex. Then we‘ll get back and review them all, if we have a moment. Here‘s number five—of course, number one on our list. It‘s the best of them all, gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino running for the Republican—actually, he won the nomination for governor against Andrew Cuomo (SIC). He had an exchange here with our buddy, Fred Dicker, of “The New York Post.” Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO (R-NY) CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: You send another goon to my daughter‘s house, and I‘ll take you out, buddy!
FRED DICKER, “NEW YORK POST”: You‘re going to take me out?
DICKER: How‘re you going to do that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we did watch. I mean, “take you out” has sort of a mob aspect to it.
I‘m told, by the way, by a friend of his and a friend of mine that he‘s not that bad a guy, but, boy, what a picture he gave us.
WAGNER: Well, I don‘t know, Chris. This was kind of the hat trick for Carl Paladino.
WAGNER: It began with the racially denigrating e-mails and the pornographic e-mails that he was sending around featuring the president and the first lady.
Then you had his remarks about gay Americans, which were—many considered anti-gay, homophobic remarks, and then this. I think there‘s a reason he‘s not the governor of New York.
MATTHEWS: Well, what is it this year, guys, all two of you, if you have a moment here, about this particular year, 2010? It was a Tea Party year, fair enough, but it seemed to have brought out an edginess, a rawness in the lingo, the language used. It was about macho, manlihood, put on your man pants. I went through that a moment ago.
But also the decorum level seems to have dropped dramatically, Ken.
VOGEL: Well, and, you know what we see? I agree with you 100 percent on all those points.
We also see this strategy of confrontation, confrontation documented by video, that‘s increasingly becoming part of the discourse. And you‘ve going to be ready for it. Carl Paladino has to know that there are going to be situations where he‘s going to have a camera in his face and he‘s going to be faced with an uncomfortable situation. Got to deal better with it, because, if you don‘t, this footage is going to wind up more of than not in your opponent‘s ads.
MATTHEWS: Well, Alex, it seems to me journalists and those interviewing people that want an exciting interview will be seeking to taunt these people into action, that if they‘re that ready to go—I remember my wonderful experience with Zell Miller years ago, who I respect his service to the country, but he went kind of haywire on me in New York.
I‘m up here now. I remember that when I go out. Every time I go by Herald Square, I remember the time he wanted to challenge me to a duel.
MATTHEWS: That was a magic moment. Do these guys prepare this stuff or what? Or do you they just think it up on the spot?
WAGNER: Listen, between Sharron Angle running away from the cameras, Joe Miller strong-arming reporters, and Carl Paladino, I think journalists who were covering the 2012 presidential race may want to bring bulletproof vests or straitjackets if they want the interview.
MATTHEWS: We‘re getting—I‘m thinking of professionals like Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. They do have that tendency, guys, to sort of pause before they respond. Have you noticed that, that—I have learned that from the best politicians I have met over my lifetime.
They look at you when you ask them a provocative question, and they give you that look, like, hmm, let me register on what you‘re up to here. And it‘s almost like the old Jefferson thing. When you‘re mad, count to 10. When you‘re really mad, count to 100. They don‘t respond like these characters.
Your last word here, Alex.
WAGNER: I think that they‘re trying to tap into this anger and this furor over the economy, over joblessness, over just a feeling that Washington is no longer listening to their concerns.
But, at the same time, it‘s not an elevated discourse and it‘s not thoughtful discourse. And to your point, Chris, I think that‘s a reason why most of these people didn‘t win. And until we get candidates that are thoughtful about this stuff, this kind of advertising and this kind of messaging isn‘t going to work.
VOGEL: To be fair, Bill Clinton didn‘t have that video camera in his face all the time. And we saw during the 2008 presidential campaign, when he was a surrogate, an unfortunate one in many cases, for his wife, that he didn‘t always deal with it very well.
VOGEL: So, I think it‘s a combination of a coarsening of the discourse, as well as increase in this type of journalism and kind of guerrilla tactics, using video to make people look bad.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think you‘re right. Defining deviancy downward, Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it.
Well, it‘s going to be worse this year.
Anyway, thank you, Ken Vogel, and thank you, Alex Wagner, for joining us.
VOGEL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Happy new year.
WAGNER: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: My good friend Eddie Rendell is upset with the snowstorm, of course, which is all around us, delaying an NFL game. That never happens. Remember the Ice Bowl, Vince Lombardi? Delaying an NFL game? They‘re supposed to be in bad weather.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
Well, the Northeast blizzard made the NFL postpone Sunday night‘s Eagles game against the Vikings until Tuesday. That‘s tomorrow. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell‘s a big Eagles fan, and here‘s his reaction to the decision last night with the local FOX station.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think it‘s a joke. I mean, we canceled a game, and there‘s less than three inches of snow in Montgomery County, where a lot of our fans come from. There‘s less than two inches in Wilmington, where a lot of our fans come from.
In Philadelphia, we have got a great subway system. Broad Street is fine. The parkway is fine -- 95 and the expressway are clear. I think the fans can make their own judgments about their own safety.
This is football. Good lord. Good lord. Vince Lombardi would be spinning in his grave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he may be.
Next: It looks like it‘s finally over in Alaska. Or is it? Republican Tea Party candidate—Senate candidate Joe Miller announced today that he won‘t oppose the state‘s certification of the—November‘s vote, where he lost to write-in Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski, but Miller still wants to move forward with his federal lawsuit looking into an alleged Alaska election law violation and irregularity possibilities.
So, here‘s a question. What does it take for a guy who can‘t stand the federal government to dabble in state affairs to go out and get the federal government to intervene in a state-run election? Apparently, the answer is simple: You‘re losing.
And now the “Big Number.”
As Rahm Emanuel campaigns furiously to be Chicago‘s next mayor, the
man he hopes to replace marked a significant milestone on Sunday. Just
yesterday, Richard M. Daley passed his father in the number of days he
served as mayor. According to the Associated Press, Sunday marked the 900
or, rather, 9,000 -- I‘m sorry -- 7,917th day in office.
And that‘s tonight HARDBALL “Big Number.” And between them, the Daleys ran up Chicago—they ran Chicago for 42 of the last 55 years. Wow.
Up next: If someone wants to filibuster a bill, shouldn‘t he or she
be made to stand and talk and actually do it, like Jimmy Stewart did in
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”? The coming fight—I hope it‘s a real one
over filibusters. Are they going to go away or actually come back the way they should come, with one guy or one woman standing up there all alone, taking on the country?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Tyler Mathisen with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks ending the day sort of flat after a surprise rate hike from China over the weekend. The Dow industrials, well, they fell about 18.5 points, but the S&P 500 was up about three-quarters of a point, Nasdaq climbing a big 1.5.
China stepping up its fight against inflation, hiking key interest rates for the second time in two months. Analysts say this could cut into global demand and hurt equity prices worldwide. With no big economic news today, investors are watching airline stocks. A bump in post-holiday demand could fail to appear because of all the snow in the U.S. and in Europe.
Same deal for retailers. They ended mixed as investors wait to see what impact all this snow in the East is going to have on post-holiday sales.
Insurer AIG surging more than 9 percent today after announcing it had secured $3 billion worth of credit facilities, another step on its road to recovery.
And Charles Schwab shares jumping after 73-year-old chairman and found Charles Schwab has successful heart valve surgery the day before Christmas.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON”)
JIMMY STEWART, ACTOR: I‘m not late. And I‘m going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause, even if this thing gets filled with lies like these and the tailors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It‘s still a great movie. I just saw it the other night.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That, of course, is a scene from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
So, now, that is the way to do a filibuster, but that‘s a far cry from what happens today. Now senators don‘t even need to be on the floor when they call for a filibuster. Democrats would like to revise the rules, at least some of them would.
Here‘s Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: No more senators hiding in the shadows. Senators who want to filibuster should stay on the floor, like Jimmy Stewart, and keep debating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I couldn‘t agree more.
Joining me is Lynn Sweet of “The Chicago Sun-Times” and Michael Hirsh of “The National Journal.”
Lynn, I don‘t know why this guy can‘t win this argument. You should have to filibuster to filibuster, no more delaying tactics.
LYNN SWEET, COLUMNIST/WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “THE CHICAGO SUN-
TIMES”: Well, he may do that.
The Democrats are getting together. And Senate Leader Harry Reid seems open to changing the rules, not to end the filibuster, but to mend it, and just make the process faster before you get to the point where you actually might filibuster something. I think you will see some change in the rule.
MATTHEWS: well, what I‘m hearing, Michael, is that the proposal is that they‘re actually going to get to the vote on the measure, so you can actually debate the bill, decide whether it‘s a good bill or not, and then somebody can keep talking if they want to, but you can‘t debate—you filibuster-prevent a debate. You can‘t prevent consideration of a measure just because you want to.
MICHAEL HIRSH, “THE NATIONAL JOURNAL”: Right. And there may be time limits.
I mean, one of the proposals by Merkley is that you have to have a certain number of senators with each block of time that passes. You know, with each 24 hours, you have to have an additional 10 senators. Another proposal requires that you have actually 40 in support of a filibuster. And a lot of this is going to come to a head in the first day of Congress, actually, on January 5.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think that‘s going to happen.
Lynn, I think what‘s going to happen is the possibility that you‘re going to actually have to filibuster. Because isn‘t it true, gentlemen—
I mean, both to Michael and to Lynn, that senators don‘t want to give up on their divine right, it‘s almost divine, that each senator, if he really or she really wants to, can filibuster.
MATTHEWS: In other words, one senator, just like Jimmy Stewart, if they really think it‘s the most important thing in the world to them, that they‘re willing to get out there and stand up there and make a fool of themselves, if necessary, they should be able to do it. They aren‘t going to give that up, are they?
SWEET: No, no, they‘re not going to give that up.
You know, the use of filibusters or the threat of filibusters jumped in this last session of Congress that just ended. And it‘s been creeping up from the ‘90s, Chris. But the so-called reform proposal is not to end it, but to force people on the floor, not just to phone it in, like they do now, to tell a clerk, start the clock, I‘m going to file a filibuster threat, and then go on and waste 30 hours of debate over whether or not we should have this vote to break the filibuster.
What the Democrats want to do is in a sense call the bluff. And it could work against them another time when they‘re a minority. But every senator is going to have the right to do it, but it will make “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” more possible than it is now.
The Senate just says, OK, you threatened something, now we will have the vote. That‘s why everything needs 60 votes to pass almost automatically, because you have had so many of these threats jumped up in the last session.
MATTHEWS: Back in 1957, when Nixon was reelected as vice president, he was a civil rights guy back then—he changed obviously later—but he certainly was more murky later on.
But, back then, he tried to get the Senate to simply agree on establishing new rules every two years and throwing away the old rules they thought were out of date. And the liberals joined the Dixiecrats and defeated him. That‘s what we‘re up to now. I think, when they come back in on January 5, they have got to decide what the new rules are.
Here‘s Senator Lamar Alexander, a smart fellow, saying: “You don‘t want to create a freight train running through the Senate, like it does in the House, because, in two years, it might be the Tea Party Express.”
So, there‘s a guy cautioning against change.
But I guess the question comes down to this. Take an issue like health care, Obamacare, it‘s called. Lynn, it seems to me that there are times that are so important, that a member of the Senate may want to stand up there, man or woman, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, and say, you know, this is too important to rush through. I‘m going to filibuster this on a couple of issues I think need to be understood, and then I will sit down.
That seems to me the reason for a filibuster. You‘re not paying attention to this one provision. Let me accent it, underline it. I may spend 20 hours up here, if I can keep talking, so at least, at the end of it, the newspapers and TV stations will report, this is hot. We should have looked at it more. That‘s a filibuster.
SWEET: Even without the filibuster, Bernie Sanders got a lot of attention when he just started the first steps. It was an informal filibuster. And he got a lot of attention.
SWEET: But the other technique, the other arrow in the quiver that a senator has is that any senator can just put a hold on the bill. One of the other proposals out there is to not do it anonymously, which the senators are able to do it now, but they actually have to put your name on there, which I think is something that is way long overdue.
If you‘re going stop a bill, be man or woman enough to put your name on it and come forward. Right now, these senators just sneak around and hide behind these secret holds. And they could it. That—it speaks to your point. If something‘s important to you, yes, stop the Senate, but, man or woman up and put your name on it.
MATTHEWS: You know, I have a sneaking suspicion, Michael, that the Senate doesn‘t want to change, that there are people behind the scenes, including Harry and Mitch, that, when they get in that club room, in the back room, together, they say, you know what, one of us is going to be on the out one of these days. The other is going to be on the out the next day. We‘re going to rotate in power for the rest of our careers here. Don‘t we want to protect the minority?
And that means the right to demand 60 votes.
HIRSH: Which was precisely Chris Dodd‘s warning in his farewell speech, you know, don‘t change the rules. But he does seem to be in the minority.
And there is this building aggravation particularly among the Democrats, the look, the filibuster and the use of it has just become too cost-free. It‘s just simply too easy. You don‘t even have to lose your voice as Jimmy Stewart did, you know, in that movie and get hoarse on the floor.
And I think that while the 60-vote cloture rule is going to be sacrosanct, no one‘s going to tamper with that, there is a possibility of, you know, negotiated agreement to change some of the other rules.
LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: And remember, Chris, these rules can be changed again.
SWEET: So, nothing, this is not like the 11th Commandment here.
MATTHEWS: If they‘re willing to do it. I tell you, back in ‘57, they wouldn‘t do it because they stuck—you know, the Democrats were not a great party back then.
SWEET: I think they‘re going to try it.
MATTHEWS: Maybe since there‘s no more Dixiecrats of the Democrat Party, that we won‘t do that anymore. But they used to protect, you know, the people who didn‘t like civil rights with that stuff. And we all know that dirty history of the Democrats, they defended the evils of Jim Crow and they kept that filibuster for that reason.
Anyway, thank you, Lynn Sweet. Let‘s hope there‘s some change and some reform coming.
And thank you, Michael Hirsh.
Up next, we all love the movies, of course. When we come back, the five movies of 2010 I think tell us much about our politics and our times right now. Let‘s take a look at the political angle on the movies when we come back with HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, Gallup is out with the 2010 most admired men and women. Well, to t the top three men, it‘s a presidential pact. President Obama is way up front with 22 percent. President George W. Bush at 5 percent. President Clinton at 4 percent.
The top three women: Hillary Clinton all the way, 17 points. Sarah Palin at 12. Oprah Winfrey at 11.
So, it‘s—as I like to say, the Obama-Clinton coalition topping the charts as the most admired leaders in the USA.
HARDBALL will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just wanted to tell you, face myself, a little management, (INAUDIBLE) training, it‘s all good. Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) Sanchez.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On HBO.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you come of that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What‘s your plan? How are you going to fight Sanchez?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not going to talk about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What‘s your plan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not here to talk about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your plan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You watch the fight and you‘ll see the plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ha! We‘re back.
We thought we‘d get a little head start on award seasons tonight with my favorite movies of the year. The clip you just saw was, of course, one of the great ones this year, “The Fighter,” starting Mark Wahlberg. And that wasn‘t the only Boston-based or Boston-based movie this year. Ben Affleck directed and started another great movie, “The Town,” about an armed robber who falls for the bank manager that he just robbed.
Here‘s a scene between Ben‘s character and that woman. She has no idea that he was one of the men who held up the bank and took her hostage and he attempts to prevent her from given info to the FBI. What a tricky situation. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell the FBI. If a guy‘s got a record, I‘m sure he does. You‘ll have his tattoos on file. They‘ll ring him up the next day. Rob him weapons, he‘ll get 30 years. Of course, they‘re worried someone‘s going to come looking for a witness.
FBI probably want to push with (INAUDIBLE) witness security and they probably put you somewhere like, you know, in Cleveland or Arizona, you know, somewhere safe. Or you could wait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Just remember how great that movie was, “The Town.”
I‘m joined right now by “New York Magazine” film critic, David Edelstein, for CBS “Sunday Morning,” a great show.
You know, David, it‘s great to have you. I met you before, but we are now going to have a culture clash because I‘m a regular moviegoer, who just likes really good movies and you‘re an intellectual, right?
DAVID EDELSTEIN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Hardly. I like really good movies, too.
MATTHEWS: OK. What do you think of those two? And why so much talk about Boston these days?
EDELSTEIN: I mean, I went to school in the Boston area? You went to Worchester.
EDELSTEIN: Right. So, it was—I didn‘t bring it back the way they were hitting those R‘s so hard all the time.
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s Boston and it‘s regular guys, you go to Fenway, these are the kids there, the young people of all ages. They‘re poor white people in many cases, if you will, working class people. You get in the subway in Boston, they‘re like these guys, the regular people.
EDELSTEIN: See, that‘s the beauty of these two movies. They didn‘t
focus so much on these individuals as this whole kind of ecosystem, this
community with its roots
MATTHEWS: But it‘s not Harvard, it‘s not MIT, it‘s not even B.C., it‘s a regular crowd of people who live and die for the Sox.
EDELSTEIN: Or they live and die for their fighters, for their welterweight fighters.
MATTHEWS: But why are they so attracted to moviemakers?
EDELSTEIN: Well, I think it‘s—first of all, they‘re very mouthy. So, “The Fighter” could have been called the fighters because everybody in it is like fighting, it‘s like, yes, you skunk, you dirt bag, you skunk. I mean, really, the least pugilistic person in the whole movie is Mark Wahlberg, who‘s the fighter. I think they love it because these people really say what they think and they‘re very tribal, something about the way they act out.
MATTHEWS: Well, “Mystic River” was like that, too, the Clint Eastwood movie. I mean, I grew up close enough and had roommates from that area, for the part of Cambridge that wasn‘t the ritzy part, you know, the Holy Cross and north Cambridge. And I worked for Tip O‘Neill, so I know all about that, the class thing. (INAUDIBLE) used to cut the lawn at Harvard. He wasn‘t a student there. He finally got a Ph.D. from there.
But let me ask you about the class thing. It seems to me that these are rough times, big though, 10 percent unemployment over and over again. These people, these people—America feels like they‘re not going catch up, that there is a big divide. They‘re not going to get over it.
EDELSTEIN: Right. And the great kind of subtext of “The Fighter,” even though it‘s set in the ‘90s, is this upcoming HBO special on Dicky Eklund played by Christian Beal and how he is going to be portrayed. He thinks he‘s going to be portrayed as this blue collar guy who‘s making his comeback. It turns out it‘s being portrayed as a crack head.
EDELSTEIN: And this changes—this transforms the entire community into something that was going to get really proud and really into it. Suddenly, the shame, the pervasive shame—
MATTHEWS: It‘s so great. Because, you know, cracks have been identified with the black community. Here you have the white community, equally infected with it this setting, working class people with no sort of dysfunctional mother, with all the sisters hanging around, all they do is hang around and make fun of the brother who‘s trying to make it.
Here‘s a scene from “The Ghost Writer.” It‘s a different altogether. I love it. It‘s pure politics. It‘s about Prime Minister Tony Blair really in about his hot wife is very interesting in this movie to say the least and “The Ghost Writer” played by Ewan McGregor, I talked to I brought to the correspondence to this year.
Let‘s listen. I love this movie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You stole my idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wrote (INAUDIBLE), didn‘t you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh you read those.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We stayed at his house in Mystique (ph) last winter. That was beside the bet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I‘m embarrassed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, why? It was brilliant enough in a horrible social way how you turned his ramblings into something vaguely coherent. I said to Adam, here‘s the guy to write your book.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The way she bites those words, David, she is sexy, she‘s dangerous, she‘s frightening, she‘s a conspirator. Ah, and she‘s the wife of the prime minister.
EDELSTEIN: Look, what‘s great about in movie in its darkened and twisted and psychological way, it‘s about taking control of the narrative of history, it‘s about a prime minister based on Tony Blair.
EDELSTEIN: Very thinly. Who is trying to rewrite history to come off a little bit better in terms of the Iraq war.
EDELSTEIN: And this poor sap, who is the ghost writer who has to kind of make it all kind of plausible, who gets pulled into this—
MATTHEWS: Pierce Brosnan is spectacular in this movie.
EDELSTEIN: Oh, absolutely. Well, he‘s a man who‘s ashamed of himself, really, for what he did, and he‘s desperately—I guess one could compare it to George W. Bush in his current memoirs, trying to take control of the narrative of history.
MATTHEWS: How many movies are we going to see where they show Tony Blair being taken in by George W. Bush? “Love Actually,” it‘s all through that movie.
Let‘s take a look at “Fair Game,” a movie I know something about. Valerie Plame‘s story, Valerie Wilson‘s story, about how they sold the war in Iraq. Let‘s take a look, in how they give away her identity. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED KID: You‘re welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Valerie, turn on MSNBC.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: Mom—
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, hold on one second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They‘ve launched an investigation. Ashcroft just announced it. They say he‘s going to convene a grand jury.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hold a second.
TOM BROKAW, MSNBC: The FBI is now conducting a criminal investigation into who leaked the name of the CIA undercover—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want me to comment on the investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe, just hold on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘ve got to fight this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I tell you, mark, Penn, Sean Penn is spectacular as Joe.
I thought he was Joe Wilson for a while, because I know Wilson, like him.
Naomi Watts is wonderful in this movie. Your thoughts.
EDELSTEIN: OK, you were—
MATTHEWS: Forget the politics now.
EDELSTEIN: OK, you were right in the middle of this.
EDELSTEIN: OK. So, when you watch this, doesn‘t it make you angry, doesn‘t it make you think, God why aren‘t more people in jail over it? I mean, to me, it was like this horrible flashback of the ‘90s.
MATTHEWS: Well, they‘ve got Scooter. They got Scoot on four counts.
EDELSTEIN: They did. But I think that the movie sort of portrays him as kind of a scapegoat. And to me, you know, the movie sets out to do two things, the agenda is two things. It‘s first to show that in Niger, yellowcake uranium was basically trump up.
The second thing is to show that they did endanger national security and a lot of individual‘s lives by exposing Valerie Plame.
MATTHEWS: The crowd over at the White House, yes.
EDELSTEIN: Yes. So, I guess—I mean, to me, I watched in a—I mean, it‘s a very cool movie but I watched in a state of rage.
MATTHEWS: I was gripped by it and I knew a lot of it and I think that they took license with some of the peripheral stuff but main stuff harder truth.
EDELSTEIN: Let me ask you this, did Plame—did Wilson write that op-ed without consulting his wife?
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know. But I think that I know that more than you know.
Anyway, let‘s go to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg knocking the winkle glass—
EDELSTEIN: Come on, tell me, tell me.
MATTHEWS: -- rich kid in “The Social Network.” Here‘s a movie by the other side of the individual divide. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You must really hate the winkle boss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t hate anybody. The winkle buy (ph) aren‘t suing me for intellectual property theft. They are suing because for the first time in their lives, things didn‘t work out the way that they‘re supposed to for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Must of the time in this movie, you want to punch this guy in the mouth. He has no personality. He‘s a genius. He dumps on the one person in the whole movie, you‘re like the woman who goes to B.U., and says, why do you have to study you go to Boston U., what‘s your problem.
EDELSTEIN: And yet—and yet, he is the youngest billionaire.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that‘s one of the reasons.
EDELSTEIN: So, it doesn‘t matter if he‘s a jerk, you want to be that guy.
MATTHEWS: Does Aaron Sorkin get you to be sympathetic to this guy?
EDELSTEIN: Well, yes, he—I mean, it‘s very reductive in a way because he says this whole vast social network, this great—sorry?
MATTHEWS: Great year at the movies.
MATTHEWS: David, I‘ll have you back and great year in the movies.
We‘ll have you back for the Oscars.
MATTHEWS: The Oscars.
EDELSTEIN: I‘ll put in on the Facebook.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll be right back in a moment. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: “Let Me Finish” tonight with some good nights at the movies.
I was surprised at how many good movies there were this year. I have a simple way of deciding, it comes down to whether I expect to want to see the movie again. Figuring there was something there I want to relive, the struggle of some flawed hero I was rooting for, some place in the imagination of the moviemaker, I want to go back to—Rick‘s cafe and wartime Casablanca, the Arabian desert in Lawrence‘s time, the rubble of Vienna in “Third Man” just after World War II.
Yes, usually it‘s the place they yearn for like the British soldier yearning for his days of adventure in Mandalay. So, this year I love the murky fog in northern Europe disguised as Martha‘s Vineyard in “The Ghost Writer,” a fog as murky as the case they made for the Iraq war.
This isn‘t about Roman Polanski, it‘s about his movies and this one like “The Pianist” was a gripper. I love the palaces and the rest and the king speech about George VI and finding the words to lead his country against Hitler. Fact, I go for anything that speaks of British eloquence, duty and wartime grit and although could have found a better guy to play my hero, Churchill in this movie.
Anyway, I love “Secretariat” from the simple reason they rooted from the start for the Diane Lane character who believes she should carry on her father‘s legacy. And then again I‘m one of those moviegoers who roots for Diane Lane and has been ever since I spotted her as a kid in “A Little Romance.”
Finally, no surprise here, I love “The Fighter.” I know a little about the background, the working people from Rust Belt towns like Lower Mass. I know a little bit about how people who feel who‘ve been passed by economically, socially, humanly. And John Pedora‘s (ph) review I love who put in “The Weekly Standard,” if you don‘t like fight pictures, you don‘t like movies. This might be, by the way, one the best of them all up with “The Boxer,” the first and third “Rocky” were great. Somebody up there like me, it was great with Newman and Clint Eastwood‘s dynamite, “Million Dollar Baby.”
There are great movies this year. “The Social Network,” Aaron Sorkin‘s dark success in bringing cinematic sympathy to one extremely odd duck and “The Town,” Ben Affleck‘s wildly entertaining success in making bank robbery appearing to be a positive social statement.
That‘s HARDBAL for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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