updated 1/19/2011 12:31:59 PM ET 2011-01-19T17:31:59

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Michael Smerconish, Clarence Dupnik, Mark Potok, Cynthia Tucker, Emanuel Cleaver, Jim Moran, E. Steven Collins, Daniel Hernandez

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Let‘s go to a higher level.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. 

I want to focus tonight on the crosshairs.  If you don‘t want to hear what I‘m saying right now, just go to your desktop or BlackBerry and look up the word “crosshairs.”  It‘ll make the same point.  Just go to Google and write, “crosshairs” under the news.  It‘ll take you to one person, one American political figure in this country.  It‘s the person who‘s made crosshairs her political signature.

Want to know who this person doesn‘t like?  Just check the crosshairs.  It‘s how this particular American politician IDs the preferred target, right there in the crosshairs.  “Don‘t retreat,” comes the command from the same politician that same day, “reload.”  Reload (ph), of course.  Don‘t forget to check those crosshairs when you do about the enemy is.

Well, last spring, before she was shot, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said that she was in the certain politician‘s targeted list, that she had been put in the crosshairs of a gunsight on that politician‘s Web site. Congresswoman Giffords drew her own conclusions.  Quote, “When people do that, they‘ve got to realize there‘s consequences to that action.”  Well, now, after the shooting and the deaths, the politician who put Congresswoman Giffords and others in her crosshairs has put out word that those crosshairs are really something else, something to do with surveying, that they‘re not the bulls eye this very politician herself said at the time they were intended to be.

Well, that‘s not the way this crime‘s going to get written up in the history accounts.  It will include an account of how Congresswoman Giffords had been targeted, placed in the crosshairs of a gunsight prior to the attack by one person, former governor Sarah Palin.

Now, with all the history in this country in support of the 2nd Amendment, there‘s also an up-to-date history of rejecting politicians who use the threat of gunplay against other politicians.  Sharron Angle, for example, out in Nevada talked of “2nd Amendment” remedies against Congress and the need to, quote, “take out Senator Harry Reid.”  The opponent of Debbie Wasserman Schultz invited voters to shoot at a human-shaped target that had her initials next to it.  Well, voters don‘t like politicians who do this kind of thing.  They‘re both out of the picture now.

Well, as Republican consultant Todd Harris put it in the newspaper today, Governor Palin is now missing an opportunity to show that she‘s a leader at a higher level.  Let‘s see whether she joins the country in saying that however we may disagree in this country, people shouldn‘t be talking about guns, reloading them or targeting them, as a way to solve political arguments.  It‘s in the governor‘s hands.

Let‘s bring in Cynthia Tucker of “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution” and MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.  Lady and gentleman, both of you—this is an unusual juxtaposition, a politician who‘s sort of done all this sort of targeting and somebody who gets show, and there is all happens and we watched it all.  So we have a fairly vivid evidence of, if not causality -- (INAUDIBLE) I wouldn‘t argue causality—the language meaning and then the reality of the meaning.


MATTHEWS:  You use words that mean certain things, and then those certain things happen, and you wonder, Should I have used those words?  I think most people would think like that.  Governor Palin has yet to say she shouldn‘t have talked like this.

TUCKER:  And that‘s the least that she has to do.  She went much too far in her use of incendiary, violent imagery.  Did she mean to incite anyone to violence?  I‘m sure she didn‘t, and it‘s not clear that she did.  We don‘t—

MATTHEWS:  What did she mean to do when she had a target—put up these crosshairs?  No matter what she says, that‘s what they are—put these crosshairs—we‘re looking at the map now of various congressional people she wanted taken out, if you will.  And then she used the word “bulls eyes” that day and talked about reloading that day.  It‘s clear she was using this ballistic language.  Why did she use that?  Is this cowgirl?  Is this Annie Oakley stuff?  What is it?

TUCKER:  Very much so.  You know, she cherishes her image as the Alaska frontierswoman, tough, self-reliant.  She‘s tougher than any Democrat.  She‘s the mama grizzly.


TUCKER:  But that language, that rhetoric, that imagery can certainly go too far.  And all she had to do was say, I wish I hadn‘t said that.  I am so sorry that this happened.  I shouldn‘t have used that language, those images.  And she hasn‘t done that.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Richard, get in here.  Here‘s what she tweeted in March of last year to promote that map.  Quote, “Commonsense conservatives and lovers of America, don‘t retreat, instead reload.”  And then “Look at my Facebook page.”  And then she says, “Go look at that map” with all those targets on it.

She‘s constantly throwing this all together.  Now, we know she knows what a gunsight is.  She posed for it on the TLC channel the other night with that shooting that caribou that was standing there.  She obviously likes that imagery of that gunsight.  What‘s it all about?  Is this something you need to do on the right now—


MATTHEWS:  -- to encourage people to get involved in voting?

WOLFFE:  I think there is—

MATTHEWS:  Voting?

WOLFFE:  There‘s cultural politics at play.  And by the way, Democrats have been playing with that cultural politics, too.  I mean, Congresswoman Giffords was pro-gun, although she voted for—

MATTHEWS:  That‘s not guns in politics.

WOLFFE:  But there‘s cultural politics that she was playing, saying, I

speak to this American culture, this Western culture, that maybe the

president or other people don‘t.  But there is a line that she crossed over

in using “reload.”  And by the way, that e-mail that she sent to Glenn Beck

we‘ve heard very little from her recently, but when she says, There will be no peace with (ph)  politicos seek to capitalize,” there‘s a vague threat in there.


WOLFFE:  All of this stuff has threatening—


WOLFFE:  -- underlying threat  Sorry?

MATTHEWS:  What‘s it mean?  Let‘s get into the language here.  What‘s she talking about when she says there‘s no going to be any peace?

WOLFFE:  Well, this is—

MATTHEWS:  No justice, no peace?  I remember that one growing up!


WOLFFE:  This is part of the idea that your government is out there trying to threaten you, take away your freedoms, and that faced with those threats—

MATTHEWS:  OK, here‘s her spokesman.  And Glenn Beck‘s a broadcaster, as well,, but here he is offering himself up sort of as her spokesperson or intermediary.  Here he—he‘s recounting an e-mail exchange he had with Palin.  Let‘s listen.


GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, FOX NEWS HOST:  I said, Sarah, as you know, peace is always the answer.  And I know you‘re feeling the same heat, if not much more, on this.  I want you to know you have my support.  But please, look into protection for your family.  An attempt on you could bring the republic down.  She wrote back, in part, I hate violence.  I hate war.  Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence.  Thanks for all you do to send the message of truth and love and God as the answer.  Sarah.


MATTHEWS:  Oh, I love these people that speak for God.  I don‘t know what—I think if Palin doesn‘t correct this quickly and surgically and remove herself from this conversation—it‘s not about 2nd Amendment.  That‘s in the Constitution.  It‘s about bringing guns to political events, which has become a new norm.

We‘re going to talk later in the show about Congress people who‘ve said, I‘m going to carry a gun now to political events—


MATTHEWS:  -- to defend myself.  We‘ve got guy showing with auto—semi-automatic weapons.  I‘ve argued with them on the air.  Why do you bring guns to—it‘s the juxtaposition of guns and political events were talking about and the bringing of gunplay and the language of it, not in the 2nd Amendment arguments, but in the general political discourse.  That‘s what‘s different here.

TUCKER:  Well—

MATTHEWS:  It‘s not defending the right to own a gun.  It‘s saying, I want to bring a gun to political—let you politicians.  I talked to a congressman from Pennsylvania today.  He said that people come to his political events now carrying guns.  That‘s how they show up at political events.  And he‘s got to look out at the crowd—Nice to meet you, guys.

TUCKER:  Well—

MATTHEWS:  I see you‘re armed!

TUCKER:  In the debate for the—to head the Republican National Committee the other day, the—

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes.

TUCKER:  The people were asked—

MATTHEWS:  How many guns do you want?

TUCKER:  -- How many guns do you own?

MATTHEWS:  What is the relevance of that?

TUCKER:  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  And Then one guy says, I‘m an addict, but I only have four guns, making a point, I suppose.

But let‘s take a look.  Here‘s somebody who is sort of an associate of Sarah Palin, Rebecca Mansour.  She‘s a conservative radio talk show host on -- and she says this to Tammy Bruce, talk show host, on Saturday.  This is the kind of defense we‘re getting.  Let‘s listen.



REBECCA MANSOUR, PALIN AIDE:  We never, ever, ever intended it to be gunsights.  It was simply crosshairs like you‘d see on maps.

TAMMY BRUCE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  It‘s surveyors.  It‘s a surveyor‘s symbol.  Rebecca—

MANSOUR:  A surveyor‘s symbol.

BRUCE:  Yes.  And—

MANSOUR:  No, but I Just want to—just want to say this, Tammy, if I can.

BRUCE:  Please.

MANSOUR:  You know, this graphic was done—you know, it was done not even in house.  We had a professional who does political—you know, political graphic artist, you know, consultant do this for us.  So we saw it really quickly and we said, yes, that‘s fine.  That‘s great.  And we had never even imagined or it occurred to us that anybody would interpret it as violence because it‘s not.


MATTHEWS:  OK, this is idiotic.  This is—everybody knows what a gunsight looks like.  Everybody knows that Sarah Palin is very familiar with the imagery of a gunsight.  She‘s out there doing it on television with a big telescopic lens with a gun—gunsight.  She—the language was “bulls eye.”  The language was clearly “lock‘ and “reload” and everything. 

And now to come out and say it has something to do with surveying details -


TUCKER:  She‘s digging herself in deeper here.

MATTHEWS:  -- is nonsense.  She (INAUDIBLE) answers.  I will say this again.  If she doesn‘t get off of this and stop trying to have somebody else skate her off of it, like Glenn Beck or this person, Mansour, she is going to be erased as a potential candidate.

WOLFFE:  Well—

MATTHEWS:  You cannot run like this.  We can disagree.

WOLFFE:  We‘re going to disagree.  But look, first of all, it doesn‘t make any sense.  Doesn‘t pass the smell test.  And if they didn‘t think—


MATTHEWS:  Why is she hiding?  Why is she in a bunker right now?

WOLFFE:  If they didn‘t think there was another interpretation for this, then that‘s political malpractice right now.  They should have thought this through,  and none of that stacks up.  Whatever she said on that—

MATTHEWS:  Well, what‘s “reload” mean?  Reload your surveying equipment?

WOLFFE:  I agree on that.  But the question here—the bigger question about leadership in this moment is, What are people looking for?  Are they looking for someone who‘s actually going to increase those divisions and talk about, you know, the threats that we all face, the threats to your children, or someone that brings the country together?


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Tim Pawlenty.  He‘s apparently going to run against her for president, if they both run.  Here he is on “Good Morning America.”  Let‘s listen to Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota.


GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA:  Wouldn‘t have been my style to put the crosshairs on there.  But again, there‘s no evidence to suggest that that had anything to do with this mentally unstable person‘s rage.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there you have it.

TUCKER:  Well, you know, Pawlenty makes a good point, that there is no evidence that this is in any way helped to motivate Loughner, if he‘s guilty.  But let‘s be clear that Palin‘s rhetoric was over the top, and that‘s what she should say.  And she should stop trying to paint herself as the victim.  In that entire Glenn Beck tirade, it was as if Sarah Palin was the victim.  Well, we have several people dead, including a 9-year-old child.  We have a congresswoman fighting for her life.  For heaven‘s sakes, Sarah Palin, come out and say, I shouldn‘t have said that, I‘m very sorry I did, and let‘s all get together and pray for the victims.

MATTHEWS:  As long as she lives, Sarah Palin will be checkable on

Google.  You can look up “crosshairs” and “Gabrielle Giffords,” and you

will get Sarah Palin and the crosshairs.  Check it out.  It is never going

away unless she deals with it.  And if she doesn‘t deal with it, she will

always be the candidate who put Giffords in her crosshairs before Giffords

was shot.  And that is powerful imagery, and she ought to deal with it

instead of hiding in a bunker.  Who‘s ever advising her to hide right now -

and you know, she is pretty talkative.  Where‘s she been now for five days, except she doesn‘t know what the hell to say?  And I got something to say.  I made a mistake.  Fix it.  We‘ve all made mistakes.

Cynthia Tucker, thank you, Richard Wolffe.

Up next, so much for cooling the hateful rhetoric.  Rush Limbaugh has attacked Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff who blamed the specter of violence in part on the heated talk we hear on radio.  Sheriff Dupnik joins us here live next.

You‘re watching a special edition of HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Former U.S. congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, of course, lost two uncles to assassins‘ bullets, President Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy.  He says there‘s an obvious connection between the violent rhetoric of today‘s political landscape and the shooting in Tucson.  Kennedy told Politico, quote, “When Sarah Palin puts targets on people‘s districts or you have 10,000 signs on the Mall during the health care battle saying ‘Bury Obamacare with Kennedy,‘ when the vitriol and the rhetoric is so violent, we have to connect consequences to that.

HARDBALL we‘ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Well, Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik has triggered a war of words with the right wing after he singled out what he termed the vitriolic rhetoric from talk radio and some on TV for perhaps playing a role in this shooting out there in Tucson.

On Monday, Rush Limbaugh said the sheriff was making a fool of himself.  Dupnik, in turn, called Rush irresponsible.

Here‘s how Rush responded to all that just today.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is on the path here of attempting now to expressly personally associate me with this event.

We have a law enforcement officer, the sheriff of that county, admitting he‘s got no facts for what he‘s speculating about.  I don‘t know.  Maybe Pima County would have been better served by a real sheriff, one who spent his time trying to lock up nutbags and criminals, rather than finding ways to excuse them.  He hasn‘t pointed out a single thing that I have said that would inspire such a heinous act.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik joins us now.  Looks like you‘ve got Rushbo all riled up there.  Let me ask you about what you make of that.  Did you know you would open up a hornet‘s nest from the right radio?


MATTHEWS:  Well, you have.  And the question is, what do you make of it?  Do you think that‘s the right thing to do?  On second thought, do you think there is a connection between the atmospherics, the hatred of government you hear every day on radio, the hatred of Obama you hear on the right wing, the language you hear all the time that they‘re evil and that they‘re taking over the country with socialism, et cetera, et cetera.  Do you think that had anything whatever to do with this person‘s behavior in this tragedy?

DUPNIK:  There‘s no doubt in my mind.  Particularly troubled personalities, which is what we‘re dealing with here, are very vulnerable to the emotion that comes out, especially anger, hate, paranoia, and so forth.  And when you were talking about Sarah Palin—I happen to be a not -- only an admirer and somebody who respects Gabby Giffords, I was involved in her campaign.

And you talk about the crosshairs on Gabby Giffords.  Well, I want to tell you that her opponent, who was heartily endorsed very vocally by Sarah Palin, had an event, a fund-raising event, where the people were invited I think to a barbecue or something with the—after the barbecue, if they wanted to, they could each come up and fire an automatic rifle, a semi-automatic rifle.  And this same individual had hundreds of campaign ads starting out by saying, Are you as mad at Washington?  Boy, I want to tell you, I sure am.

MATTHEWS:  You know—

DUPNIK:  And so I think we‘re talking about the same thing.

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of Palin?  I mean, it‘s not just the crosshairs, which I tell you, and I believe this, she‘ll always be identified with now historically, no matter—you look up crosshairs on Google now, you get Palin.  It‘s just a fact because of that map she put out.  And she talked about bulls eyes and she talked about reloading.  She‘s constantly using this ballistic language.  She poses with a big rifle and a big telescopic lens on it shooting a caribou.  She seems to love this idea of portraying herself as sort of an Annie Oakley character.

What about bringing guns?  I mean, they‘re talking now—you‘re a law enforcement official.  This -- - people now show up at political events carrying guns.  And I asked them, Why would you bring a gun to a political event, not to a hunt?  Well, I hope it‘s not a hunt.  And they say, Well, I have a right to.  And I say, yes, you have a right to do a lot of things, but why are bringing a gun to a political event?  And here‘s this guy who shows up with a gun.

And my question is, as a law enforcement official, suppose 20 or 30 people show up with guns?  How do you know which one‘s the nut?

DUPNIK:  Well, and you don‘t, and you don‘t know which one is going to be enraged at any given second and start using that weapon.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about this.  Suppose you were to find out—well, let‘s take a look at Rush.  Here he is accusing the Democratic Party of trying to politically profit from this shooting.  He said Democrats were hoping for an event like this.  Let‘s listen to his line of reasoning.


LIMBAUGH:  Powerful Democrats wished for this!  It happened on Chris Matthews‘s show.  Powerful Democrats wished for this as a means of an opportunity for the president to shore up his sagging base, poll numbers, of what have you.  Voila. 

In two months time, we have a nutcase opening fire in Tucson, Arizona, and, lo and behold, leading Democrats are conducting strategy sessions with the president on how he can use the right words to maximize this event. 

They want to lay this on me or Palin, when we had nothing to do with it, yet leading Democrats actually hoped for this. 

Interesting conspiracy theory, isn‘t it? 


MATTHEWS:  If you‘re a conspiratorial nut, I guess so. 

But the fact is, Mark Penn, who is a centrist, not a man of the left by any stretch of the imagination, was on this program, not talking about how the left can settle scores with the right after a tragedy, but how, if anything like that were to happen, how the president could be a peacemaker, how he could be a man of the center, like Clinton was after Oklahoma City, not how the left could get even with the right or could exploit it to hurt the right, but how to calm things down. 

It was a totally different proposal.  In fact, it wasn‘t even a proposal.  It was a statement of what might happen if it did happen.  It wasn‘t a conspiracy plan, like Rushbo is alleging for his full-mooners out there. 

But your thought.  I guess we have to get back to this environmental question, Sheriff.  And you‘re right in the thick of this.  You know, when Lee Harvey Oswald, a man of the communist world, went after Jack Kennedy and shot him, and all the evidence was he had been disillusioned with Soviet communism, was infatuated with Castro, he was a man of not the left, but of the communist world, it was also in a context of Dallas being a city that really had a real problem with Kennedy. 

How do you connect, however, the right and the left in this regard?  How do you connect environmental atti—atmospherics, rather, with bad psychology, with sickness?  How do you connect them? 

DUPNIK:  Well, I suppose that‘s a matter of opinion, but from my point of view, I would ask the question, who is upset the most about the anger and hatred and prejudice being generated in this country?  Is it the right or the left? 

And, second of all, I would ask the question, which political party is benefiting from anger at the government? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I suppose the Republican Party this year, right?  So, therefore?

DUPNIK:  And, well, therefore, I anticipate that the nut people in the radio—some of the nut people, I should say, in the radio and the TV business are going to continue to inflame the public with hatred until after 2012. 


You know where I agree with you?  I don‘t know cause and effect.  I‘m not sure you do.  But I do agree this villainization of the government, the use of the term the government, not our elected officials, not our democracy, our republic, but the sense that the government is this evil force that has nothing to do with us, that we didn‘t elect it, even though Republicans now are proud to say they have elected the Congress, this sense that the IRS is evil and all this stuff, I think that plays into the hands of the nut bags.

Anyway, thank you, Sheriff Dupnik, for coming on HARDBALL.  You‘re welcome back at any time. 

Mark Potok is director of intelligence—of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

It‘s great to have you back on.

Tell me about this case when you heard about it and what your professional reaction was when you heard about the shootings out in Tucson. 

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER:  Well, of course, the first reaction was, it was a horror show.  To listen to Limbaugh quoted on your show saying that Democrats hoped for this, hoped for the murder of, you know, six people and the wounding of 14 others, fairly amazing statement. 

My reaction was to go and look and try and discern from what writings and video, YouTubes, and so on were out there from this fellow what his motives may have been, if he was a political actor.  It was certainly a political act, in the sense that he killed a politician or tried to murder a politician. 

And, you know, in looking through that material, really, the conclusion, it seems to me, is, yes, this person was clearly mentally ill, at least as clearly as can be said by a nonprofessional. 

But, at the same time, as you look through his material, you glean a pretty consistent threat.  It‘s all about the individual against a tyrannical, overbearing, oppressive government.  He has some very bizarre theories, people being controlled by English grammar and so on -- 


POTOK: -- that do in fact originate among conspiracy theorists of the far right.

But I just think, overall, sure, this is not a consistent political thinker.  He doesn‘t have some great fully-formed ideology.  He‘s not a right-wing ideologue.  He‘s not connected, I don‘t think, to any groups.

And yet, I think, clearly, as the sheriff said as well, he absorbed the atmospherics around him.  So, he may not have a coherent political philosophy, but he definitely got into his head that the government was evil and of course he didn‘t seem to think of the government as real human beings. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re an expert.  I trust your judgment on this, but it seems to me that the left, the far left, can be as vulnerable to conspiracy theories as the far right.                                                                                              


I have heard some really wacky theories about what happened in Dallas back in ‘63, which involved so many layers of conspiracy, the Irish mafia, Kennedy‘s best friends, the sheriffs, the Dallas Police Department, the CIA, the FBI.  Everybody was in on it.  Johnson, Nixon were all in on killing him, if you listen to Oliver Stone. 

So, it seems to me the left is equally vulnerable, aren‘t they, to these wildly—I think it‘s brain soup.  I think some people walk into a room and think everybody‘s been plotting against them when they walk in the room.  They believe that everybody‘s in cahoots against them.  Isn‘t that just brain soup, left or right? 

POTOK:  Yes, I think there‘s something to that. 



POTOK:  Well, I think there‘s something to that. 

I mean, I remember the ‘60s and the early ‘70s, you know, and the feeling that—look, there undoubtedly were some real conspiracies of various kinds, but the feeling that sort of the establishment was all in a massive conspiracy. 


POTOK:  On the other hand, of course, I would say that, overall, I that conspiracy theorizing—well, first of all, is very particularly American. 

We for some reason as a nation are really afflicted with this kind of thinking.  And certainly, over the last 20, 30 years, I think it‘s fair to say that most of—


MATTHEWS:  So, you‘re with Richard Hofstadter.  You think we‘re—


MATTHEWS:  Do you think we‘re paranoid as a people, as Richard Hofstadter—the paranoid theory of American history, that kind of thing?  You‘re into that? 

POTOK:  Well, I think there‘s a lot of truth to it. 

You look at the European radical right or radical left for that matter and the thinking by and large is not the same.  Now, of course, Nazi Germany, it was all about conspiracies by Jews, imaginary conspiracies.

But, by and large, they‘re not into conspiracy theories nearly on the same level.  And they‘re also not into kind of religious explanations of the world.  It‘s a much more sort of secular scene, I would say. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think Hitler had a theory about the Jews, which was so outrageous beyond belief. 

Anyway, thank you, Mark Potok.  Thanks for coming on. 

Up next:  The Tucson gunman was allowed to own a semiautomatic handgun, despite his troubled past.  Apparently, it wasn‘t so hard for him to get that purchase.  And the oversized ammunition clip he used was once banned under federal law, under the assault weapons ban.  It‘s now legal again.  That bill was allowed to expire because of action by the gun rights people. 

So why don‘t we have reasonable gun control laws in this country?  Why have both sides caved into the wishes of, well, the people who support the Second Amendment all the way? 

This is a special edition of HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘re back.

And as we reported last night, I can‘t believe this news in the wake of Saturday‘s shooting out in Tucson.  At least two members of the United States Congress say they‘re going to carry guns now to future events with their constituents.  Boy, that‘s a nice way to receive people.

Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz and North Carolina Democrat Heath Shuler both hold conceal-and-carry permits, so they‘re going to use them.  Is this the right way for members to meet constituents: armed? 

Joining me right now are two Democratic members of the House, Missouri‘s Emanuel Cleaver, who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Virginia‘s Jim Moran.

Gentlemen, I think this is an extraordinary idea.  I have also heard about the Peter King idea, which is basically to stop people from bringing weapons to political meetings by basically a restraining thing, like you have around schoolyards.

Which do you like, Congressman Cleaver, the idea of keeping guns away from political meetings or bringing one yourself to match the firepower of your potential enemies? 

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI:  Well, knowing how members of Congress misuse their tongues, I can imagine what would happen if they had guns. 



REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA:  Nice one, Emanuel.

CLEAVER:  Well, hey.

I don‘t think that‘s the smart thing to do.  I think Congressman King has the right idea.  There is no excuse, absolutely no excuse, for anyone to attend a political gathering with a gun.  That sends a bad signal, and it could create some bad, bad things if things somehow got out of control. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Congressman Moran, I just wonder about that.  It seems to me you can be for the Second Amendment, you can be completely for the right of hunters and self-protection, even in the extreme case against your own government, if that‘s what you believe.  It‘s in the Constitution. 

But why do you—look at this.  We have these guys.  This guy‘s walking around.  At presidential events, they show up with guns.  How‘s the Secret Service going to keep track of all the guns?  How do they know which nut is in the room or which the bad guys are?  With all these guys walking around with guns, all they have to do is draw it.  I‘m not anti-gun per se, but guns at political meetings, I don‘t get the idea. 

MORAN:  It‘s insane. 

MATTHEWS:  Why not wear uniforms, go all the way?

MORAN:  Chris, I agree with you.  It‘s insane. 

Since Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, more than a million Americans in the United States have been killed by guns.  Now, of course, that does include suicides and some accidental deaths and so on, but we live in a violent culture that no other industrial, civilized society experiences -- 150,000 gun deaths just in the last decade. 

And, in fact, the Supreme Court, even though I disagree with the ruling, they said that you can have conditions on the sale and the commercial transactions of guns.  And, certainly, what we at least ought to do is to reinstate the assault weapon ban. 

Why somebody needs a gun with 30 rounds, I mean, it has nothing to do with hunting.  It has nothing to do with self-defense.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know the argument.


MATTHEWS:  Congressman, you know the argument.  It‘s the slippery slope argument.  You know the argument.  If you start taking away the right to own these magazines with all the bullets in them, if you take away the rights to own a semiautomatic, you will take away the right to own a shotgun.  That‘s the argument.


MORAN:  It is about individual freedom.

But shouldn‘t people have the freedom to live?  Shouldn‘t that little girl have had the freedom to go to a discussion with her congresswoman without getting killed? 

This is crazy.  And the NRA, I do think, bears responsibility, but it‘s more than that.  It‘s largely the Congress, who won‘t stand up to the gun lobby. 


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the mix of vitriol.  You were in that famous scene, or infamous scene, Congressman Cleaver.  I don‘t know you, sir, but I have seen you walk past that line of people. 

And I don‘t whether you call it spitting, or we used to call it, “Mad” magazine, ball (INAUDIBLE), but this guy spat all over you, basically.  And this kind of anger coming from a man‘s face right to you, there you are, a gentleman member of Congress, and you get this kind of abuse. 

And there you are wiping your face off.  Imagine if that guy‘s got a gun on him and he‘s got more attitude coming at you. 

CLEAVER:  Well, what has happened in Congress and around the nation for that matter is that we have forgotten how to have a civil discourse. 

Right now, there is no way we can, in a very sane manner, have a discussion about guns, for example, because we have not established the rules for conduct.  We can‘t have a debate now, because all debates seem to be fact-free. 

And if there are no rules, unwritten and unspoken rules, that would require the least amount of common decency, we can‘t resolve any problems.  And we are—we have an avalanche of problems falling in on us.  And, right now, ideology trumps problem-solving. 

MATTHEWS:  Well said. 

And if you‘re really crazy politically, you can always find some blogger or a group of bloggers who will agree with you and support your craziest ideas, and you can enjoy their company. 

MORAN:  Absolutely.  I wish we had more people like Emanuel Cleaver in public service, frankly, Chris. 

But I should mention this legislation by Peter King.  I was on a conference call with Mayor Bloomberg‘s office this morning.  And it seemed like a good idea at first.  I don‘t—

MATTHEWS:  Is it constitutional? 

MORAN:  Well, I‘m not going to support it. 


MORAN:  In the first place, whether it‘s constitutional or not, it implies that we‘re far more concerned about ourselves than our constituents. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know.

MORAN:  When we talk about the fact that there were a million people killed since Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, what about those people?  They should be our first consideration, not our own protection.  So, I don‘t think we ought to support --  

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about people riding the subway every night on their night shift?

MORAN:  Well, I mean, that‘s why Carolyn McCarthy is involved in this issue.  Her husband was mowed down, along with a lot of other people, from an assault weapon.  We should at least reinstate the assault weapon—


MATTHEWS:  And I don‘t think it‘s about ideology.  I think you can be far-right or far-left and still respect the point of view of the other person on the other end as an American who totally disagrees with you.  It doesn‘t mean he‘s evil. 

This fundamental problem we have today is a person disagrees with you, they‘re evil.  That is childish.  It‘s high school.  And it‘s perpetrated too much on the airwaves, that mentality.  And it‘s idiotic.

Thank you, Jim Moran.

And, thank you, Congressman Cleaver.

Thank you both, gentlemen, for joining us. 

Up next:  We have heard Sheriff Dupnik and others criticize the kind

of talk we hear on radio.  We‘re going to talk to some people on the radio

right now, talk show hosts who are listening to people out there right now

what they‘re saying, plus what they‘re hearing from listeners, not just the talk jocks.

You‘re watching a special edition of HARDBALL on MSNBC.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

What‘s been the role of talk radio and fueling the heated language?  Also, what are people saying out there?  What do people think about this tragedy last week?

I want to go to the radio jocks and really, the experts and our friends: Michael Smerconish is syndicated radio talk show host.  He‘s on here a lot as my sub and I love to have him.  He‘s an MSNBC contributor, of course.  And E. Steven Collins, host of radio talk show, “Phillies Speaks.”

Gentlemen, thank you, both, for coming on.

First, Michael, what are people saying out there?  You‘ve got a lot of hours with people.  What are they saying about this tragedy and its meaning politically?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, what I‘m hearing mostly from callers and I‘ve talked about it for six hours already this week is that they don‘t see a causal connection, a direct causal connection between as I put it, the hate-riolic comments and shooting on Saturday in Arizona.  However, they view this as an importunity to have a conversation about the terrible level of discourse in the nation, something that‘s been a mainstay on my program for a number of years because I think it‘s appalling.  It‘s been getting worse.

And although I‘m not one to say that gun belongs in the hand of a particular talk show host because they caused it, I am here to say that I hope it‘s an opportunity for us to reflect because things are way out of hand.  I‘ve been doing this for 15 years, Chris, and it has never been at the fever pitch that I have found it since this president came into office.

MATTHEWS:  E. Steven, I have to tell you, though, I‘ll mention a couple of names without getting into too many fights.  People like Mark Levine, Michael Savage for example, who every time you listen to them are furious—furious at the left.  With anger that‘s just builds and builds in their voice and by the time they go to commercial, they‘re just in some rage with ugly talk, ugly sounding talk.

And it never changes.  It never modulated.  They must have an audience.  I looked at the numbers today.  They have big audiences.

I guess that‘s the question: why?  And is there going to stop or it keeps working?

E. STEVEN COLLINS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  The sheriff is Tucson was absolutely right, Chris.  It does impact people who may have a mental problem or may not.  And they just have an anger toward government, but a little push to the right and they are there.

And that little girl who went down to meet the congressperson who lost her life for absolutely nothing is a witness to what we‘ve seen over and over again, this kind of violence.  Idea that Sarah Palin, who was a governor of a state would put crosshairs over congressional districts and then a week or so later, a congressperson is almost fatally shot and a federal judge is killed and other bystanders and others who came out to meet their congressperson were shot the way they were, there is a direct relationship.

This person, I get he‘s mentally ill.  But how do we know that what he heard on his radio, saw on his Web site, did not impact him to make that decision?

MATTHEWS:  I guess the question to you, Michael, you and I are both within the 40-yard line.  So, I don‘t think we operate too far down field in either direction.  I speak for both of us.  I think we‘re somewhere near center-left, center-right, depending on the issue.

There are some people that work at extremes.  They work at the 5-yard line from either the left to the right.  And they do see the other end after the field as evil, as awful.  Not just disagreeable but evil.  And they use that language when they talk about the other side.

Isn‘t that part of the problem?  And my question is: doesn‘t that give them moral license to people who have crazy mind to start with?

SMERCONISH:  Short answer is yes.  You mentioned earlier in the program that you find it objectionable when everything is cast as the government.  The government is doing this, that, or the other thing.


SMERCONISH:  My pet peeve is, the way that this is all cast as a revolution.  I mean, to listen to some of this talk, Chris, you would swear we‘re about to overthrow King George III.  And what I object to—


MATTHEWS:  I know.  We didn‘t elect King George.  We didn‘t elect King George.  I keep reminding people of that.  You got what you voted for, you know?

It‘s not like they‘re from mars.  These people are from London.  You keep putting them in office.  You want to stop re-electing the same old guy every year in Congress, or woman if you want change, you know?  It‘s self-directed, most of this.  But I think you‘re right—

SMERCONISH:  Well, what I see happening is I see that revolutionary script.  Then eliciting a response from the audience, and when I say this, I know you‘ll remember it.  I remember Congressman Mike Castle being at a town hall meeting in Delaware when this thing was reaching its fever pitch and a woman stands up and she is frothing at the mouth and she is screaming, “I want my country back.”  Well, she wants his country back from the Muslim, Kenyan-born president.


SMERCONISH:  And the insanity of all of this—

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Well, she—

SMERCONISH: -- the insanity of this is that the audience, and I had this conversation with Governor Castle (ph), the audience was right there with her and I looked at that video, I was frightened.  I said, these are people who are on the edge, and if somebody pushes them over, God help us all.

MATTHEWS:  Hey, Steven, thank you.  Wish we had a lot more time.  We can do an hour on this.

Michael, as always, sir.

Up next: the intern credited with saving—let‘s get some good news tonight—saving Congresswoman Giffords‘ life.  He‘s going to join us when we return on this special edition of HARDBALL.  There he is.


MATTHEWS:  Well, here‘s some good news concerning the condition of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Her doctors have issued their most optimistic prognosis so far.  Trauma surgeon Peter Rhee told a British TV station that she is, quote, “100 percent likely to survive.”  Well, it would still be days if not weeks before doctors learn the extent of the congresswoman‘s injuries and, of course, the potential for a total or partial recovery.

We‘ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Twenty-year-old political intern Daniel Hernandez heroically rushed to Congresswoman Giffords‘ side after the shooting this weekend and administered first aid.  Saturday was his fifth day on the job.

Mr. Hernandez joins us now from the University Medical Center in Tucson.  He‘s a student, by the way, at the University of Arizona.

Well, Daniel, I can‘t say enough about you, young man.  And I guess what we all want to know was what happened.  And if you could give us a fresh description of what it was like to be there the role you played, what you saw.  Go ahead.

DANIEL HERNANDEZ, REP. GIFFORDS‘ INTERN:  Hi, Chris.  Thanks for having me.

I was in my role as an intern helping to staff this event called Congress in Your Corner, where the congresswoman would get a chance to speak one-on-one with her constituents.  I was in charge of signing people in and making sure we could control the traffic so that everyone had the same opportunity to speak with the congresswoman.

Ten minutes into the beginning of Congress on Your Corner, shots were fired.  I may have heard someone yell “gun,” and my first instinct was to head where the congresswoman would be, because where I was at the back of the line, I was 30 to 40 feet away, and I couldn‘t see what was going on.


MATTHEWS:  When you went up to the congresswoman, she had had just been shot in the head.  What did you do to treat her, with first aid?

HERNANDEZ:  When I got to where the congresswoman was, there was a few other people on the ground and using basic triage, I was trying to see who still had a pulse, who was still breathing.  So, I didn‘t see the congresswoman first.  After about two or three people, however, I saw the congresswoman had, indeed, been hit, and I started to apply pressure to her wound.

But before I did that, I lifted her up because in the position she was in, she was vulnerable to asphyxiation just because she could have choked on her own blood from the wound.  So, I propped her had up against my chest and started applying pressure to her wound to prevent blood loss.

MATTHEWS:  Your training, what was the extent of your training to be able to know what to do?

HERNANDEZ:  The most basic you can get really.  In high school, I did a training program as a certified nursing assistant, as a phlebotomist.  So, I was able to get just the most basic first aid and triage.

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about your new boss.

HERNANDEZ:  Actually, I have known Gabby for some time.  I started in 2008 on her congressional campaign as an intern.  So, she wasn‘t my new boss, she‘s an old friend.  She is someone who I have known for, like I said, years.

In 2010, I had the opportunity to work with her again.  This time, I was working as a campaign manager for a local legislative district representative and his district is within her congressional district.  So, when she retained her seat, I was very excited to apply for an internship with her office.  So, she was just—she is the—

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about the—tell me about the political environment in that district.  I know the border issues are very hot, immigration, illegal immigration.  Undocumented workers, that‘s a hot issue.  But is that something that is an obsession with the people, or it‘s just come up once in a while with certain people?

HERNANDEZ:  Being a border district, it obviously has a lot of concern about national security as well as border security.  But I wouldn‘t be able to speak too much about the concerns of the people in the district other than what I‘ve seen—and I‘ve seen, especially during elections, a lot of concerns about border security.

MATTHEWS:  How would you describe Congresswoman Giffords?  Is she a moderate Democratic, centrist Democrat, liberal?  What would you call her?

HERNANDEZ:  I definitely call hear moderate.  She‘s really true to her district.  She is—has been a great representative and will continue to be one, and she‘s just an amazing human being.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you must be, too.  And I guess—I can only say I‘m so admiring of what you were able to do in those difficult circumstances.  You showed a lot of grace under pressure there.

Thank you so much for being on the show tonight on HARDBALL, Daniel Hernandez.

HERNANDEZ:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  And good luck with your career and life.

When we return, “Let Me Finish” with a reminder of America‘s greatness.  We need some good news tonight.  We‘ve got a reminder of some very great news.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  “Let Me Finish” tonight with an American story that reminds us, a good time to do so, what a great country we are, what good people we have and have had showing their bravery to keep us safe.

Richard Winters, remember that name, never forget it if you can—

Richard Winters.  He was the commanding officer of Easy Company, the unit of the American Army, with grit, great courage and unmatched patriotism fought its way all the way from the beaches of Normandy in June 1944, all the way to Hitler‘s mountain hideaway in May of 1945.  Dropped behind enemy lines prior to the landings on Utah Beach, Winters led his unit to fight the Battle of the Bulge and on through Germany itself.

One of his sergeants remembers him under enemy fire.  He was the first one out there yelling, “Follow me.”  He got shot in the leg and still kept going.  At one point, with just 35 men, one of his platoons routed two German companies of 300 men.

Richard Winters died this month at age 92.  He lived without fanfare with his family in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Having won so many decorations for his actions, he played down his personal role in the war.  “The cohesion that existed in the company was hardly a result of my leadership,” he said.  “The company belonged to the men.  The officers were merely the caretakers.”

It was Captain Winters‘ unit that won fame as the “Band of Brothers,” as well they should have.  This story shall the good man teach his son.  From this day to the ending of the world, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.





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