Guests: Pat Buchanan, Jonathan Alter, Alex Wagner, Rep. Chaka Fattah, Stephen Moore, David Corn, Eric Boehlert, John Heilemann
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Fire on the right.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Glenn Beck shoots off his mouth. Today Jared Loughner pled not guilty. So has the right wing to the charge it promotes trouble with its endless rants about guns and hatred of government. Take Glenn Beck—please. He targets what he calls radicals in Washington who, quote, “believe in communism,” and “you‘re going to have to shoot them in the head.” Gotcha!
We‘ve got a Republican member of Congress out there going full bore on this stuff, saying he wants him and his fellow members of Congress to carry guns at the Capitol. Welcome to the State of the Union 2011. The violent rhetoric of the right won‘t stop. It‘s our top story tonight.
Plus, President Obama goes where no Democrat has gone before. Bill Clinton wanted to do this, like he wanted to get health care, but was stopped by the danger of higher interest rates. Tomorrow night, President Barack Obama‘s going to do it, push for an all-out progressive push for more jobs, new spending on education and R&D and economic infrastructure to out-compete China and our other global rivals. He‘s going to do what a state-of-the-art liberal Democrat would do.
Also, the Tea Party moves east. The latest captive, New Hampshire, where the Tea Party captured the party‘s top spot. Does this flatten the one speed bump now between Iowa and South Carolina for the right-wing sweep to the presidential nomination? Good question.
And when conservative House Republicans called last week for deep spending cuts, what was the sacred cow they skirted neatly around? The U.S. Pentagon, of course. But some conservatives are joining liberals now in calling for deep cuts there, as well. Is that real? Is the Pentagon actually going to be cut?
Finally, another top Republican refuses to deny the birthers their day in the sun.
Let‘s start with the arraignment today with Jared Loughner and the right-wing gun talk that won‘t quit. MSNBC political analyst David Corn writes for “Mother Jones” and Eric Boehlert is a senior fellow for MediaMatters. I want to start with Eric. Let‘s take a look right now—here‘s what conservative radio—conservative I guess is one-word—columnist Hugh Hewitt said this morning in “The Washington Examiner.” Quote, “Led by Olbermann, Paul Krugman and a few others, many on the left attempted to link the violent actions of an insane killer to conservative political rhetoric and goals some on the left, like NBC‘s Chris Matthews, doubled down.”
What do you make of that? Here‘s Congressman (SIC) Giffords, by the way. She was among the first to point to the danger this rhetoric has, even before the horror struck. She was—she has to deal with her injuries, of course, now, while we have to listen to more and more of this gun talk from the right, including Glenn Beck.
Here‘s a sampling of some of his television and radio appearances where he brings guns and shooting into the conversation. We start with a Beck message to, quote, “the liberal media.” Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The radicals that you in Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep‘s clothing changed (ph) the pose. You (ph) get (ph) the ends (ph). You‘ve been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for revolution. You‘re going to have to shoot them in the head. The warning—they may shoot you. They‘re dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You‘ll never change their mind. And if they feel you‘ve lied to them, they‘re revolutionaries! Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about!
And for those you in the administration who are coming after me on this one, I mean, remember, you‘ve broken three. Let‘s make it four, Thou shalt not kill.
America is waking up. You know, the American revolution took place with 12 percent of the population -- 12. You tell me there‘s not 30 percent of this population that you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I let somebody into my house to tell me how to raise my children. You will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun. You will have to shoot me in the forehead before I acquiesce and be silent! You can try to put the lid on this group of people, but you will never silence us.
You will never—you can shoot me in the head, you can shoot the next guy in the head, but there will be 10 others that line up. And it may not happen today, it may not happen in next week, but freedom will be restored in this land. Period! And no matter what you want to call it, it is a totalitarian state that you‘re headed towards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you have the paranoia of the right, Eric, writ large, talking about, They‘re coming to get you with their guns. They‘re going to shoot you in the head. You‘ve got to shoot these radicals in the head. This—and there we have, of course, this head shooting. I mean, I‘m not saying anybody said pull the trigger, but this is so incendiary, this language. It just keeps going and going. You would think somebody would stop and say, You know, let‘s take a breather. Yet there you got Hugh Hewitt out there saying, Keep it up, keep up the gun talk, keep talking about guns and shooting people in the head and—it‘s so graphic. Your thoughts.
ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIAMATTERS.ORG: Yes, well, you know, what—you know, what violent rhetoric, you know? After—after the Arizona shooting, there was this debate sparked about violent rhetoric, and what was the right-wing response? What was the Fox News response? We don‘t do violent rhetoric. We don‘t do anything out of the ordinary. We don‘t do anything liberals didn‘t talk about in the Bush years.
And you know, you just played a small clip about what this is really about. This is incendiary and it‘s relentless and it‘s a demonization of people. And after Arizona, they have doubled down. The excuse now is, This doesn‘t cause anything, and you know, folks on the left are trying to censor us. We have the right to use this gun talk, this paranoid fantasy. This is what we believe, so why shouldn‘t we talk about it? Utterly unconcerned about the consequences at this point.
MATTHEWS: You know, I think people should watch this show again at 7:00 and catch this, just to catch this again. Listen to this rant of this guy—Shoot in the head, shoot in the head, they‘re coming to shoot you in the head. You got to shoot them in the head, the radicals in Washington.
It feeds on paranoia. They‘re coming to get me—it‘s like the old thing about, They‘re broadcasting out of my teeth, you know, that old weird thing. You‘re laughing, Eric, but this is getting to the crazies.
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the key thing is a word that Eric just used, “demonization. It‘s not just violent rhetoric, but he‘s out there—Glenn Beck and others—saying that Barack Obama has a secret plan, in essence, to destroy America. Not that he‘s wrong on policy, but he wants to destroy America.
MATTHEWS: Well, what‘s this coming to...
CORN: And he wants—listen...
MATTHEWS: ... shoot you in the head thing?
CORN: He wants to kill 10 percent of the population. He wants FEMA camps. Glenn Beck has either advanced or, you know...
CORN: ... all these conspiraciders (ph). So then when you tie that to the violent rhetoric, it gives people the pretty obvious solution that they should...
MATTHEWS: Well, I just wonder...
CORN: ... they should move towards.
MATTHEWS: I want get the motive here because, obviously, everybody on television and radio, obviously, would like to have a larger audience. I don‘t even thing that‘s worth talking about. But is that going to get you a larger audience, talking about this? Why would somebody be more likely to listen or watch you if you‘re saying, They‘re coming to you with guns to shoot you in the forehead? He‘s very specific about this. You‘ve got to shoot them in the head first. I mean, this is almost—well, it sounds crazy. I mean, it does sound...
MATTHEWS: ... but it does sound -- (INAUDIBLE) somebody out there, a loony was talking about this, with gun talked like this, you‘d say that‘s how loonies talk.
BOEHLERT: Right. This is...
MATTHEWS: Wouldn‘t you?
BOEHLERT: This is sort of the militia media. I mean, this is the dark conspiracies—it was around during the Clinton years in (ph) the “new world order,” but you had to sort of gather around a CB radio to exchange the sort of nutty talk. Now you turn on, you know, Fox News or you flip on AM talk radio. It has been completely mainstreamed during the Obama years and...
MATTHEWS: Well, why are they...
BOEHLERT: ... consequences when...
MATTHEWS: Why is Hugh Hewitt out there saying, Don‘t let people like Tom Coburn, the conservative but respected guy from Oklahoma, saying. Cool it on this kind of lingo, left and right—why would a guy like Hugh Hewitt say, We got to keep this up? He‘s saying, If we don‘t have this right-wing rant going, we won‘t be there to protect you conservatives when the time comes. Let me ask David that.
CORN: Well, I think the enemy of the enemy is my friend. I mean, I know Hugh Hewitt, and he doesn‘t use the same language that Glenn Beck does, but...
MATTHEWS: Why is he defending him?
CORN: I think because the enemy of the enemy is my friend, he‘s on my side. They see this in a very polarized fashion...
MATTHEWS: Why do they reserve the right to talk about guns and their hatred of government together? Why do they reserve the right to put those thoughts together?
CORN: Because it sells and it plays the resentment...
MATTHEWS: How does it sell?
CORN: Look at the audience. Look at the money Glenn Beck is making. Listen, there was a guy last summer, Byron Williams (ph), who was arrested on the way to the Tides Foundation, where he wanted to kill people. Why? Because Glenn Beck had targeted the Tides Foundation as being the epicenter of this conspiracy against America because they‘re progressives. So this talk has real world consequences, and it‘s only a matter of time before it gets even uglier.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s take the gun piece of this. I‘m not going to talk gun control right now, although I do think it‘s a good time to be talking about it. Let me go to you, Eric, on this. We have this guy, Louis Gohmert. He‘s a birther, so you can get the whole picture here. They always want full context. He‘s a birther! He thinks the president wasn‘t born here, he‘s illegitimately sitting in the White House, he ought to be hanged (ph) -- taken out and arrested, taken out of the country and deported because he shouldn‘t be here. That‘s his belief system. So full context to Congressman Gohmert there.
He says that they should be able to carry their guns around the Capitol. Now, the other day—he corrected that two days later by saying, Well, I don‘t mean in the chamber itself. You don‘t have to walk in the gun with a chamber into the chamber, but you do need to be able to carry it right up to the door of the Capitol—not the Capitol, but carry it in the Capitol, but not into the actual House chamber. But everywhere else in the Capitol, you need to carry a gun or should be able to carry—what is this about?
BOEHLERT: It‘s a gun obsession. Same during the Clinton years. If a Democrat‘s in the White House, they‘re going to take your guns. And...
MATTHEWS: Well, why would a congressman want to carry a gun? I mean, it‘s a heavy thing to carry around. Why would you want to have a gun?
BOEHLERT: It‘s part of this—it‘s this right-wing paranoia and it‘s right-wing...
MATTHEWS: Is he paranoid?
BOEHLERT: ... obsession with guns.
MATTHEWS: Does Gohmert think somebody‘s coming to get him and shoot him in the side of the head?
CORN: He might actually believe that. I mean, if he believes that Obama‘s a birther...
MATTHEWS: ... president‘s walking into tomorrow. (INAUDIBLE) people he knows when he walks in tomorrow night to—you know, “Pomp and Circumstance,” or whatever it is, or “Hail to the Chief.” He‘s going to walk in there and look out and know that some of those faces in that room don‘t think he‘s an American, think he‘s some sort of impostor...
CORN: And that he has a secret plan to destroy America! This gun stuff is part code, part real. I think—you know, not everybody who says it on the right actually walks around, packing a pistol. I don‘t even know if Glenn Beck knows how to fire a gun. But they know that there are, you know, 10, 20, 30 million Americans out there for whom this is an article of faith...
CORN: ... who believe that Barack Obama is coming for their guns not now but tonight, in the dark of night with black helicopters, and they‘re preying on this. That‘s what they‘re doing.
MATTHEWS: Well, we used to talk about the black helicopters as some sort of crazy idea. I think this is getting very close to (INAUDIBLE) Eric, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I think we‘re going to have an interesting State of the Union tomorrow. We‘re going to get into the substance now, but I wanted to get to the sound and fury around the State of the Union.
We have the shooting death (INAUDIBLE) the death of a federal judge. We have the very serious shooting, and she‘s still in critical condition, of a United States member of Congress, which has, in fact, terrorized a lot of members of Congress, if you talk to them. They are worried about this environment. Whatever they say politically, they are—and their wives and husbands are worried about this environment that their loved one is working in. This is real now, and this even—I just want to get to the kind of gun talk that preceded it and I hope goes away because I think people like Tom Coburn are right on the right, stop it.
David Corn, I don‘t think I‘m going to stop it, but thank you.
CORN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Eric Boehlert, thank you very much, from MediaMatters.
Coming up: Where‘s President Obama headed ideologically? Well, a lot of people say he‘s taking towards the center, but I don‘t think so. I think tomorrow night, you‘re going to see a very strong progressive case for active government to create jobs, R&D, infrastructure, real positive investment. It‘s not going to be running away from government, saying government‘s not the solution or the era of big government‘s over. Very interesting. Different than Clinton. Very different than Clinton. To the left of Clinton, I think.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina is the latest Republican who‘s chosen to skip this year‘s Conservative Political Action Conference. It‘s called CPAC—over its inclusion of a pro-gay group.
Oh! Numerous social conservative groups, such the Family Research Council
and Concerned Women for America, have already announced they would boycott
the conference for inviting the gay Republican group GOProud to the
conference. Interesting division on this point. Event organizers decided
to allow GOProud to be a participating organization for a second straight -
there are gay conservatives. Let‘s be honest.
HARDBALL will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future. And that‘s what is going to be the main topic of the State of the Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, welcome back to sanity and to HARDBALL. That was President Obama in a message to supporters just the other day, Saturday. Here‘s how Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor reacted yesterday. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: He‘s quit bashing business and is now celebrating business. Well, it‘s about time because the only way we‘re really going to get unemployment down and get out of this economic trough is through private sector growth and development. And I think excessive government spending, running up debt, making us look like a Western European country is the wrong direction. That‘s the direction they took the first two years.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MINORITY LEADER: ... on increasing government spending and trying to spawn (ph) action from a Washington-based perspective. And what the people have said is, Enough. We‘ve got to shrink government. We‘ve got to cut spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Don‘t you just love the new Republican Party? We have the Tea Party people with the placards and the Nazi stuff, and then you have these two Junior Chamber types representing them in Washington.
“Newsweek‘s” Jonathan Alter joins us now. He‘s an MSNBC political analyst. And John Heilemann has the cover story for “New York” magazine right now, and there it is, “The Remaking.” What a beautiful cover on that great magazine!
Let‘s talk about the substance tomorrow night. We‘ve talked about the craziness on the right and the guns and the unrelenting gun talk of Glenn Beck and, You got to shoot people in the head, the liberals, and all this stuff. Let‘s take a look at the bump (ph). And here it is, Obama on his video, and then the Sunday reaction. This is, by the way—by the way, let‘s go back to the 1992 campaign. Bill Clinton outlined an economic plan that included lots of innovative plans.
Here‘s how “The New York Times” described the Clinton plan coming out of that election. It was hot stuff. It was called the “future budget.” It was designed to increase investment in areas like education and environmental technology and accelerate spending on highway and bridge construction and upkeep. But before his inauguration, amid concerns about interest rates and the higher deficits than expected, Bill Clinton saw headlines like this one in “The New York Times”—“Growing U.S. debt is limiting options.
So Jon, I want to go back to you, and John Heilemann. This is fascinating stuff. What I‘m zeroing in on is that Bill Clinton, when he got elected, was state-of-the-art, a really smart young governor, came to Washington with all kinds of exciting plans about how a moderate or progressive Democrat could really—in an older sense, a progressive—could really move the country economically with the right kind of industrial policy. It was called neo-liberalism—education, hi-tech the works. But he couldn‘t do it because he was stymied by a high deficit, scary numbers coming in from CBO.
Now, this president, even with high numbers, has got lower interest rates. So Obama sees an opening. He will cut some of the entitlements tomorrow night, perhaps, but he‘s going to push the positive economic stimulus stuff in the budget. Tell me about that, if you believe what I believe is true.
JOHN HEILEMANN, “NEW YORK” MAGAZINE: Well, Chris, to start with, you know, the president gave a kind of a preview of what he‘s thinking about this back in December, and no one paid attention to it. But he gave a speech at a community college in North Carolina where he said exactly what you‘re saying. It was kind of almost a revival of Clinton‘s “putting people first,” kind of human capital agenda...
HEILEMANN: ... talking about how we needed to invest in infrastructure, innovation, education in order to build a foundation for the 21st century economy and stay competitive with our rivals abroad, especially China. The biggest problem for him—and I think he is going to talk about this a lot tomorrow night in the State of the Union, but the biggest problem for him is he faces the same fiscal constraints, maybe even bigger fiscal constraints than Bill Clinton did.
MATTHEWS: But interest rates are zero.
HEILEMANN: Interest rates are low...
MATTHEWS: Clinton‘s biggest fear was higher interest rates that would have stymied growth. Now we have interest rates that are effectively not there. So how can you say it‘s the same situation?
HEILEMANN: Well, I—it‘s the same situation except for the budget deficit‘s even larger now than it was then, and there are a lot of economists who would say that those—though interest rates are low today, the worry is that those rates are going to rise in the future if we don‘t lay out a long-term plan for dealing with the long-term structural deficit.
JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But Chris, here‘s thing. Barack Obama in the stimulus package, $787 billion passed in February of 2009 -- that was more public investment than Bill Clinton managed in eight years.
ALTER: So the issue now is defending what Obama already achieved when it came to public investment. The Republicans want to roll back spending to 2008 levels. And Obama is going to fight them on it, or he will lose the public investment in things like research and development, on finding cancer cures, a significant amount of infrastructure spending, energy, the biggest energy bill ever.
The—he‘s trying to not lose what he‘s already gained. And I think that‘s the fight.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re saying you don‘t think he‘s going push for more spending on—on education or...
ALTER: No, he is.
MATTHEWS: Yes. He‘s going to push for it?
ALTER: Not so much on education, because on education there is real room for agreement with the Republicans, because it‘s not ultimately about a lot more money. It‘s about new accountability standards and moving toward...
ALTER: ... some of this Race to the Top reform.
But on infrastructure, yes, there will be a fight and there will be a huge fight on Republican efforts to cut 20 percent out of the budget, which would basically gut the whole public investment process.
ALTER: OK. Here‘s what “The Journal” said this weekend on Saturday, which is a pretty good issue because it has got Peggy Noonan in it. But here it is, Saturday “Journal.”
“President Obama will call for new government spending on infrastructure, education and research.
John Heilemann, that‘s what I think he‘s going to do. I think he will defend, but he‘s going to push forward, as Jon—Jon—Jon Alter says. I think we‘re looking at a president who wants to be the new Democrat, if you will, what we called neo-liberal Democrat, sort of a Mike Kinsley...
MATTHEWS: ... but going forward with that kind of—but, yes, yes, I‘m serious.
ALTER: He would love that.
MATTHEWS: Well, I don‘t mind throwing out blossoms occasionally, because I believe in this stuff. It‘s smart liberalism. Let‘s be honest.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Heilemann.
HEILEMANN: Well, yes. And—but, look, he is going to have to—he is going to, I think, both have to and is going to make those proposals, but will have to twin them with some substantial structural deficit reform measures...
HEILEMANN: ... that he‘s going to take on. He‘s going to lay say—he put out—his deficit reduction—his long-term entitlement commission put out a report in December. The president I think will get behind some part of that, because the only way you could pay for those kind of investments is by dealing with long-term issues like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s talk to Alter.
This is a tough question, because if the president attempts this two-step, which I think he will attempt, a massive support—not massive, but big-time support for positive economic development in the role of government, at the same time financing it somewhat by squeezing the entitlements, in other words, taking money from the maintenance programs and putting it into a capital budget, basically, which any normal person does.
You squeeze down to the money you don‘t need really to spend at home so the kid can go to college. This is what people do all the time. They squeeze the stuff they can squeeze, so that the important developmental stuff in their family—this is good families—can get ahead. That‘s how I grew up. It‘s the way you guys grew up, probably. Parents are willing to make those judgments.
He‘s making those kind of judgments.
ALTER: Well, here‘s the thing. And Mitch McConnell teed it up correctly. He said Democrats call it investment. Republican call it wasteful liberal spending.
The problem with McConnell‘s position is that he‘s at odds with 200 years of American history, where, starting with Alexander Hamilton through Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, his big thing was internal improvements, building railroads, canals. That‘s infrastructure.
Right now, it seems like the Republican Party doesn‘t really believe in investing in the future in these capital programs. And it‘s really a problem for the future of the country.
MATTHEWS: Look, I will say this. They are so awful. And the Democrats are just as bad, because, look, if they hadn‘t built the railroads, this country wouldn‘t be—there wouldn‘t have been a manifest destiny without the railroads.
If Ike hadn‘t built with the Democratic Congress a highway, so there wouldn‘t be a 95 going to Florida, there would be a 70 and an 80 crossing the country, you wouldn‘t be able to see America and the USA. You wouldn‘t be able—your Chevrolet. It wouldn‘t happen. We would be riding around in county roads trying to figure out how to get from here to there in some crappy little road somewhere.
Today, we have superhighways. Eisenhower did that. I just wonder why we don‘t have what the French have, fast railroads. We don‘t have anything like that. The Italians have them. I‘m not knocking the Italians, but they are so far ahead of us. I was just over there.
MATTHEWS: The Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans all have fast rail, they all have infrastructure, and we‘re diddling around here, Heilemann. Is this president going to shove that—that throttle forward tomorrow night and say let‘s join the world in getting around; we‘re going catch up?
HEILEMANN: Chris, the watch word of that speech in December that I talked about earlier was that we‘re facing a Sputnik moment. This is supposed to be a wakeup call. That‘s what he said back then. I think he‘s going to say it again tomorrow night. It‘s going to be a clarion call.
But the question is what he can actually get through in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives that feels exactly as Jonathan Alter just described.
MATTHEWS: OK. Which headline writer is going to be the first guy to find out what Chinese is for Sputnik?
MATTHEWS: What‘s Mandarin for Sputnik? Because that‘s going to be the headline.
ALTER: Innovation nation, that‘s what we have to be. We innovate or we stagnate.
ALTER: And that‘s a deeply American theme and he will strike it tomorrow night.
MATTHEWS: OK. I went to college on Sputnik. It got me my National Education Act loan. It got me my fellowship. It got me the highways.
National defense is a great word to precede all spending. I love it.
Anyway, thank you, Jon Alter.
Thank you, John Heilemann.
Up next: House Leader Eric Cantor to call birthers crazy. They will not push them off the reservation. They cohabit with the nut bags.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
First, going to press. As of now, the Chicago ballots for this February 22‘s primary will not include the name Rahm Emanuel for mayor. A panel of appeals judges did the brutal deed, ruling 2-1 that the president‘s former chief of staff did not meet the residency requirements to run for mayor.
State law in Illinois requires that a candidate be a resident for 12 months prior to the election, though exceptions are often made for service in the federal government. Polls show Emanuel way ahead, by the way, in that race. He will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
Next, just answer the question, please. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor engaged in a tricky two-step on “Meet the Press” yesterday. It was painful to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS WITH DAVID GREGORY”)
DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: There are elements of this country who question the president‘s citizenship, who think that his birth certificate isn‘t authentic. Will you call that what it is, which is crazy talk?
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: David, you know, I mean a lot of that has been an issue sort of generated by not only the media but others in the country. Most Americans really are beyond that and they want us to focus—
GREGORY: If somebody brings that up, just engaging in crazy talk?
CANTOR: Well, David, I don‘t think it‘s nice to call anyone crazy.
GREGORY: All right. Why don‘t you just call it what it is?
GREGORY: ... there are a lot of Republican leaders who don‘t want to go as far as to criticize those folks.
CANTOR: I think the president is a citizen of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Why is it like pulling teeth to get a Republican leader to separate himself from the nut base? David did a good job there, and the guy still really hated to do that.
Finally, Joe Biden reports for duty. The vice president showed up for jury duty in Wilmington, Delaware, the other day to offer his services as a prospective juror. Biden didn‘t seem to be bummed about it either, telling a local newspaper: “I don‘t consider myself different from any other person. It is an honor to be part of the system.”
He‘s right on that one.
The vice president, however, was dismissed midday, as many of us often are, without having to serve. Imagine knowing that good old Joe Biden might send you to the big house. Well, that would be kind of a weird honor, wouldn‘t it?
Now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
In a new “USA Today” survey, how many economists said they are more optimistic about the economy than they were three months ago? Well, you will love this number, for once. Nine out of 10 economist, those of the so-called dismal science, see brighter days ahead. Nine out of 10 economists are more excited about the good economic news coming—a greet feel-good “Big Number.”
Up next: The Tea Party keeps gobbling up the GOP. And that‘s very good news for Democrats, you might say. They are going and taking already New Hampshire. The Live Free or Die State is now a Tea Party state.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
SIMON HOBBS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: And good everything. I‘m Simon Hobbs with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
A solid rally to kick off the week, the Dow Jones industrial average surging 108 points. We‘re just 20 points shy of Dow 12000. We have not done that since before the crisis. Investors moving away from so-called momentum stocks into more defensive large cap names as the Dow hits that two-and-a-half-year high.
Aluminum giant Alcoa among the blue chip leaders after its CEO predicted strong demand this year from Asian countries, including China—
Intel shares adding 2 percent on news it will increase stock buybacks by $10 billion, after posting solid earnings a couple of weeks ago.
AIG moving higher after hours on word exclusively on CNBC from CEO Robert Benmosche that he has got a good prognosis from his doctors as he battles cancer. He will therefore stay on.
Rare earth miner Molycorp jumping nearly 9 percent on word it will sell up to half-a-billion dollars in shares to finance the expansion of its California mine. And American Express posting earnings after the bell coming in light on profit, slightly better than expected on revenues, but shares are slumping after hours on a weaker-than-expected full-year outlook.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL.
This weekend, the Tea Party candidate up in New Hampshire, the Granite State, won the chairmanship of that party‘s Republican chairman—well, the party. The Tea Partier Jack Kimball is his name, beat the establishment candidate in another piece of evidence that the Tea Party is gaining power across the country.
It used to be that in presidential primaries—I mean used to be, like two years ago—New Hampshire served as electoral kind of speed bump slowing down the very conservative candidates. They would win in Iowa, then lose in New Hampshire, then win again in South Carolina. Now they can go for the trifecta.
Alex Wagner is a White House reporter for PoliticsDaily.com. And Patrick J. Buchanan is an MSNBC analyst, and, for more important purposes here, the winner of the Republican candidates—the Republican nomination fight up there in 1996 against Bob Dole.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Mm-hmm.
MATTHEWS: You know, Bob Dole came up to me. And I had my son Thomas on my shoulders up there, because I always brought one of my kids up there to cover those primaries.
BUCHANAN: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: And he came up to me and he said—because he thought I was an expert, which was a mistake—and he said, who is going to win this thing? How am I doing?
And out of sympathy for Bob Dole—I have always like Bob Dole—I said, I think you will win this one. I had foolishly read that American—what is it called, the American Research survey up there...
MATTHEWS: ... the worst poll in the world, because all it did was check old Yankees up there.
MATTHEWS: It didn‘t get all these Catholic types that had moved up there teed of about the Taxachusetts, right?
MATTHEWS: So, tell me what‘s going on in these pollings. And is it a Tea Party state? Is it a pitchfork state like you? Is it “move to the right” New Hampshire?
BUCHANAN: Buchanan brigades and the pitchfork brigades are basically Tea Party people.
But what makes it bigger there, Chris, than it was is three things. One is the outsourcing of jobs to China, very visible NAFTA gap. Those are huge issues now. They were just big then. Second, immigration nationally is a burning issue -- 25 states are trying to emulate Arizona.
MATTHEWS: How many immigrants they got in New Hampshire?
BUCHANAN: Well, I...
MATTHEWS: It seems pretty white and Anglo to me.
BUCHANAN: OK. Lou Barletta in Pennsylvania knocked off Kanjorski because of the situation in Hazleton.
MATTHEWS: Sure. Yes.
BUCHANAN: So, it‘s all over the country.
And the third thing is the deficit issue, which Perot hint in 1992, has become enormous. That‘s why the Tea Party thing is so huge. But as for the Republicans, I don‘t see anyone who perfectly fits the national identity.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go national on this. If you‘re a Mitt Romney, are you in trouble up there now because you‘re not right-wing enough?
BUCHANAN: Well, Mitt Romney has got to get it out of the Republican establishment...
MATTHEWS: Can he skip Iowa and go to win New Hampshire and win that way, or does he got to go out to the right-wing Christian types?
BUCHANAN: He has got a fighting chance in New Hampshire, because this I think time “The Union Leader” is more friendly. They cut him last time. He almost won it. And secondly he‘s been working that state.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at the latest.
I want to bring you in here, Alex.
Here‘s the latest New Hampshire polling. And we‘re getting into the season. By the way, by this time two years—or four years ago, Barack Obama was running. This season is a little slow getting started here. There‘s a little engine coldness going on here. And the engine is cold.
Mitt Romney 35, pretty powerhouse up there, Ron Paul second with 11, way back, Tim Pawlenty back still farther. Now, here‘s a fascinating exchange, Sarah Palin at seven, Bachmann at five. Is she moving up on the inside on Palin? If Palin doesn‘t run, is Bachmann going to grab the cheese?
ALEX WAGNER, POLITICSDAILY.COM: Absolutely.
Look what‘s happening tomorrow after the State of the Union. You have Paul Ryan giving one rebuttal. You have Michele Bachmann giving the other. And try to put Bachmann in a box. It‘s not working. Eric Cantor today in a press conference saying Paul Ryan is giving the official rebuttal, and Michele Bachmann is welcome to say whatever she wants to say.
I mean, the GOP is on a road that has a sign at the end of it that says, heartbreak dead ahead. This is...
MATTHEWS: Is this the split we will see tomorrow night, as soon as tomorrow night, not waiting for New Hampshire, Patrick? But an excellent cue, by the way.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s the question. You will have these battling bands, the battle of the bands tomorrow night, with Michele Bachmann, who I‘m guessing will have a more interesting headline than Paul Ryan.
BUCHANAN: Right. Look, she‘s a Tea Party princess, Chris. There‘s no doubt about that.
And, look, if she runs in Iowa—it depends on, you‘re right, whether Sarah Palin runs. If Sarah Palin is out, she‘s the most exciting candidate in the race, is she not? She‘s on your show every night.
MATTHEWS: Who‘s the frog? If she‘s the princess, who is the frog?
MATTHEWS: Is Paul Ryan the frog, if she‘s the princess?
BUCHANAN: I think Mitch McConnell.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a pretty good call.
WAGNER: All these kissing games, I will say, if we‘re looking at New Hampshire, there is a very powerful female conservative there—not powerful, but...
BUCHANAN: Kelly Ayotte.
WAGNER: Kelly Ayotte.
I think the GOP—the establishment GOP very much would like to see her become the face of the new Republican Party.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: She‘d beat him by one point.
I beat Dole by one point.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: That‘s the favorite name of any politician ever, Lamontagne.
BUCHANAN: But, you know, the party is split up there, Chris. It‘s very split. It may be very evenly split.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go. Let‘s go. Let‘s go. It‘s 2011. It‘s going to be 2012. They‘re already planning. Somewhere right now, there‘s a meeting going on with each one of these candidates, go on meeting. How do I win the presidency and take on Barack Obama. Because we all know at this table, Barack Obama is lucky to win as much as he won the last time.
MATTHEWS: Fifty-three, lucky. He‘s probably going to win 51-49.
If he wins 52, big win for him. Now, so, you know, you got 50-50 shot. So, everybody wants to be the Republican nominee, right? Have I set it up, right?
WAGNER: Well, yes.
MATTHEWS: So, all you got to do is win the damn thing now. So, you got to go to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, the trifecta. Is New Hampshire now made it easier for a right winger—with the Republican Party in the hands of the Tea Party?
BUCHANAN: The populist conservative is always strong in New Hampshire if you can clear the rest of the field, which we failed to do it.
WAGNER: That‘s exactly right.
BUCHANAN: Me, I failed to do it.
MATTHEWS: But you beat Dole.
BUCHANAN: I beat him by one point, but Forbes was in there. All these ads saying, you know, flat tax, flat tax—they never saw him. And a lot—he got a lot of those voters—
MATTHEWS: OK, you‘re the youngster here. And you‘re out there covering this thing for the first time you ever covered it and you‘re kind of—you‘re kind of figuring who‘s the Republican nominee going to be? Is this good news, the fact that Republican Party in New Hampshire is now a Tea Party organization? Is that good news for Huckabee? Did I pronounce it right?
Huckabee—is it good for him? Is it good for Palin?
WAGNER: No, I think it‘s—
MATTHEWS: Is it good for Palin?
BUCHANAN: It‘s good for Palin.
WAGNER: I don‘t. I mean, look at the straw poll. You have Mitt Romney with 36.
BUCHANAN: But this is a straw poll of Republican
MATTHEWS: Her Vaudeville act, it‘s up there.
WAGNER: But you talk to any and maybe it‘s—
MATTHEWS: Who you do want to—
MATTHEWS: All right. I look at those polls right now, but I‘m still saying this, whose speech do you want to catch in New Hampshire?
WAGNER: I want to catch Pawlenty‘s speech. He was the first person to—
MATTHEWS: You‘re in an acquired taste here. Most people will want to catch Sarah Palin—
BUCHANAN: Michele Bachmann.
MATTHEWS: -- and Michele Bachmann, catch those two and then try to fit in Romney.
MATTHEWS: I want to read Romney‘s speech. They want
BUCHANAN: Look at who was polled there. That‘s Republican regulars on the committee and stuff like that. If you take a poll of the state I think Romney will run in the lead. And you take one other person and you get a good read.
MATTHEWS: OK. The Republican Party of New Hampshire is now in the hands of the Tea Party. Jack Kimball is now the boss up there.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll see. The Tea Party moves east. There‘s no safe place to hide you Yankee moderates.
BUCHANAN: They‘re good people.
MATTHEWS: Pitchforks for guns now, Pat. I like the pitchfork guys, like to load (ph).
Anyway, Alex Wagner and Pat Buchanan.
Up next: Could Tea Partiers join liberals in going for cuts in Pentagon spending. That will be the day. But it might be today. Anyway, that alliance could be coming up. They might all be serious at the Tea Party. And up next, they cut the Pentagon.
HARDBALL—New Hampshire, New Hampshire—on MSNBC, will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Come back time. Former Virginia senator, Republican George Allen announced today in a video e-mail to supporters that he‘s running to reclaim his old job next year. Allen is hoping for a rematch with the incumbent Democrat Jim Webb who beat him. This is going to shape up one of the most exciting races in the country. George Allen is trying to come back. There here he is. You‘re watching it right on HARDBALL.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back.
More than 160 House Republicans proposed deep slashes in the federal budget last week but notably exempted the sacred cow of all secret cows, the Pentagon. Not even on the list.
Does this fly in the face of Tea Party demands to actually cut all spending, including military spending? And could Tea Party newcomers actually join force with liberal Democrats to cut defense spending? It‘s happened before. It might happen again, I guess.
Stephen Moore is a member of “The Wall Street Journal” editorial board. And Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania is a member of Appropriations Committee.
So, we‘re doing a little dating here. This is sort of a lunch date, lunch only kind of thing we‘re setting up here between you two.
Congressman Fattah, a man with 100 percent ADA voting record for like 10 years now, and very proud of it—can you see cutting a deal with some people on the right to try to bring fiscal sanity to our defense budget?
REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D-PA), APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: I think there will be deals cut. I mean, when you see Dick Durbin and Coburn and others join together on the debt commission, voting for a package of cuts and some tax reform ideas, I think there can be and there will be as we go forward. You know, politics is a business where, you know, people have interests and you try to pursue them.
If there are going to be cuts and there are going to be cuts, then they should be across the board and they should focus in on where there are unneeded revenues—
FATTAH: -- that we can grab. And, you know, when Secretary Gates say we can cut $100 billion out of the defense budget, I think we should take him up on it.
MATTHEWS: You know, the hardest part of cutting defense is the really nice hardware, you know? I mean, people like to make it. They like to make submarines up in Connecticut. They like to make engines for G.E. up in Massachusetts, Raytheon. Everybody likes to build some special thing that‘s absolutely essential to the military. It‘s hardware.
STEPHEN MOORE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: And it‘s also the bases, of course.
FATTAH: We shouldn‘t cut the pay for our soldiers. It‘s not—it‘s not in the young people in the service. It‘s in this hardware like you said, Chris. And in any exotic weapon system that anyone can think of people want to invest in.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go back—look, you‘re an expert on this, I guess, because you worked for the “Wall Street Journal”. You must be an expert. You guys are not amateurs. You might be wrong all the time. You‘re like Yogi Berra, you‘re making good time (inaudible).
MOORE: Let‘s start with the first principle of the budget.
MATTHEWS: All right.
MOORE: You know, on defense, you spend what you have to spend. I mean, when John F. Kennedy was president, he spent 10 percent of our GDP on national defense. Now, we spend about 6 percent.
MOORE: So, you know, we‘re not wholly excessive. Now, I think the congressman—
MATTHEWS: Well, we got a lot more older people depending on Social Security. There‘s reasons—
MOORE: No, what we‘re talking about is the percentage of our economy, 10 percent of our economy is spent on national defense. Six percent is practically an historic low.
But, look, the congressman is right. There is a lot of waste in the defense area and the challenge I would make to the congressman is this: look, I think you can get Republicans to agree to some of these cuts in the defense budget, but you got to go along with some of these cuts on the domestic side.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look. Congressman Fattah, hold for a second, suspend for a second. Here‘s a list of Republicans. We‘re going to show them to you. And this is a big development.
Anybody, a progressive out there, will be stunned by this. Here, Republicans called for cuts in defense spending, actually in the campaign trail this last summer. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON ®, GEORGIA: Well, first of all, there‘s not a government program that shouldn‘t be under scrutiny. And that begins with the Department of Defense and goes all the way through.
SEN. MARK KIRK ®, ILLINOIS: I back spending restraint across the board. At the DOD, like no second engine for the F-35 firefighter, closing down Joint Forces Command—across the board reduction.
SEN. RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY: In order to address the deficit, the only compromise that I think that we can have is that you have to look at the whole budget. We‘ve always excluded the military and said we‘re not going to cut the military, or the Democrats exclude the social and domestic welfare spending. Everything has to be on the table. We have to do this intelligently.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Congressman Fattah, you‘re on Appropriations. Are you hearing from any Republicans that are talking like the candidates there, talking cuts in defense?
FATTAH: Well, when the Tea Party actually finds out what‘s really going on here, they‘re going to be very upset. You know, what you have is a pledge to cut $100 billion out of the next appropriations bill. Well, we never did last year‘s bill. So, they get a chance to actually cut money that they never thought they would be able to cut.
But what the Republicans are saying is, well, wait a minute, we still can‘t cut $100 billion out of the budgets for what now really are two years back to back. And they say, well, we might only be able to cut, you know, $60 billion or $40 billion. They‘re going to have to look at where the money is really at if they want to cut spending.
FATTAH: It‘s in the mandatories.
MOORE: But hold on here. I mean, I looked at the budget numbers in preparation for this. And if you look at what‘s happened to the domestic budgets, when you include the stimulus spending, that‘s up, many agencies, 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent in the last two years.
MOORE: The defense budget over the last two years is up about 12 percent. So, the point I would make to you, Congressman, is a lot of the beef in the budget, the big increases in spending, have been in the domestic area. That‘s why I think one of the reasons Republicans are aiming their budget blade at those programs.
And you never answered my question. If you can get a deal with Republicans to cut some of the defense programs, what about Democrats? Will they come to the table and cut some of these—the waste in the domestic budget?
FATTAH: Well, I voted for a balanced budget under Clinton and we cut a lot of domestic programs. It was a hard, tough vote, but we balanced the budget.
What I‘m saying to you, Steve, is that the Republicans are not giving you the whole scoop here. They have—they have the budget from last year which we never finished. Remember, the omnibus was pushed aside. They could be able to cut money out of a budget that should have already have left the station that—so there should be more money for them to cut on the table, except they‘re telling you they can‘t find these cuts.
So, all I‘m saying to you is—
MOORE: No, Paul Ryan is going to come out with his budget, you know
MATTHEWS: OK. Yes or not, let bottom line—let me HARDBALL this, Steve. Is there going to be budget cuts in defense like everyone else?
MOORE: I think there will be.
MATTHEWS: Chaka Fattah, Congressman, will there be cuts in defense like there will be in other areas?
FATTAH: Yes, there will be.
MATTHEWS: I assumed we‘re in a budget-cutting season. Will there be?
FATTAH: No, at the end of the day, they‘re going to find every excuse in the world to fluff up the defense budget and they‘re going to cut programs that educate our children. They‘re going to put our future economy in jeopardy and “The Wall Street Journal” will be the first ones to say that we need to make sure that we‘re producing the work force that we need for innovation and leadership in this world.
MOORE: But that‘s by cutting taxes.
FATTAH: We shouldn‘t be cutting education.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, are you going to sit with any Republican tomorrow night to show you‘re buddy-buddy on the other side of the aisle? Are you going to do one of the stuff tomorrow night, that dating game?
MOORE: What are you going to sit next to?
FATTAH: Look, any one of them that I can find that‘s for educating our children and for putting our country‘s freedom and security first, rather than political rhetoric, I‘m going to sit with.
MATTHEWS: You‘re not guilty of political rhetoric at all. Thank you, Congressman, for that rhetoric-free comment. Thank you, sir, so much. Congratulations on getting re-elected again by the way.
Stephen Moore, thank you, sir—from “The Journal.”
Chaka Fattah, my friend from Philadelphia.
When we return, “Let Me Finish” with a great promise of tomorrow night‘s State of the Union. I think you‘re going to hear a very progressive speech tomorrow night.
You‘re watching HARDBALL tonight, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: “Let Me Finish” tonight with the great promise of tomorrow night.
President Obama is going to do stuff. Now, there‘s a lot of pressure on this president to buckle, to give into the right and do nothing tomorrow night—nothing but what they want. You see, they want to be the scorekeeper.
If the president does what they want, they say he‘s been centrist or reasonable or being or smart. Smart, that is, enough to see who‘s telling him what to do.
I don‘t think suspect the president is going to buckle. I don‘t think he‘s going to make the right all that thrilled tomorrow night.
What I believe he will do is show that government can be a force for economic growth. Yes, government. The government the haters vilify every hour on the radio, every minute on FOX. They hate it, they hate it. Government is bad. Government is bad, bad, bad.
Well, the president will present a more nuance feel of reality and of American history. I must admit right up front, a prejudice, I know what he will say is right. He will push for education as a way to compete with the Chinese and every other country that‘s out there trying to beat us.
I went to college on a National Defense Education Act loan. I borrowed it, $2,800 at 3 percent interest that got me to Holy Cross. Two of my brothers went to Holy Cross with Naval Scholarships. My dad also a Navy man went Drexel in Philadelphia, engineering on the G.I. bill. It‘s the reason when he all grew up the way we did.
So, I believe in education when invested by the federal government.
I‘ve lived it. I‘ve seen the country grow because of it.
The president is also going to go with this approach—a positive, progressive government push for economic growth in this country. He knows it worked before, because it worked after we got the Sputnik scare back in ‘57. People like me were the beneficiaries of that scare.
Research and development is another area he‘s going to push. So is infrastructure. Look what the space program did for this country, what defense engineering did for this country.
This kind of positive progressive effort works. It got us to the moon. Got us to learn what we learned getting to the moon.
The Eisenhower program got us united by highways that weren‘t there before Eisenhower did what he did.
I know I can make a hard prediction, that will be can‘t calls from the conservatives, can‘t do it, can‘t afford it, we need to save the money, got to put it to tax cutting. We know how to spend money better than the government does. Well, that‘s predictable.
I heard it, Kennedy heard it, every leader who ever wanted to do anything heard those begrudgers grumbling in the aisles, we‘re not able to get there. We can‘t do it. They‘re going to show you the press releases already condemning it. So, what? But let‘s get on with it.
Bill Clinton wanted too to do a lot of this when he was elected but was warned about high interest rates. That‘s not our problem today. Our problem is a 9.4 percent unemployment rate and we want that number to come down. An aggressive public and private investment effort is the way to get there.
Let‘s cheer the president tomorrow night, he‘s going to be a progressive tomorrow night, a job-producing progressive.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
More politics ahead with Cenk Uygur.
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