Guests: Howard Fineman, Hampton Pearson, Chris Cillizza, Jonathan Alter, Alex Wagner, Joan Walsh, Bob Casey, Wayne Slater, Eric Burns
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The best defense is a good offense.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Them against us. From day one of Barack Obama`s
presidency, they have been coming for him. Rush Limbaugh said he wanted
him to fail. Mitch McConnell said his number one goal was to make Obama a
Then came the ideological attacks. The Tea Party claimed Obama was a
big government socialist, that there was something un-American about his
health care plan. The attacks became ethnic, even racist, with birthers
questioning whether he was even born in the country. Corporations led by
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce got into the game, spending millions to defeat
him, the same companies earning record profits by minimizing and squeezing
Now conservatives are going after the poor, saying they need to be
taxed more, while asking the rich to contribute nothing, all the while
charging Obama with engaging in class warfare. Well, they accuse Obama of
creating divisions, when they went after him. And that`s our top story
Those same Republicans talk about the need to cut spending during
tough economic times. Surely some of them know history, that doing so now
threatens to choke the fragile recovery and throw us back into a recession.
And you have to wonder if this doesn`t bother them so much so long as it
helps to make Obama a one-term president, their number one goal.
And President Obama is taking conservative stands on Afghanistan, and
buckled to Republicans on Bush tax cuts for the better-off, but he`s still
the most progressive president since LBJ.
And across the aisle, is the country really ready for another Texan in
the White House? Rick Perry`s making noise, and a lot of Republicans want
him to get into the race.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the horror over in Somalia and what you
can do about it.
Let`s begin with the partisan attacks on President Obama. Howard
Fineman is, of course, the Huffington Post Media Group`s editorial
director, and Joan Walsh is editor-in-chief (SIC) of Salon.
As a bit of a refresher course, I`m going back over who started this
class warfare, this division in our country during this administration of
President Obama. Senate majority (SIC) leader Mitch McConnell told
"National Journal" way back in October of 2010 that, quote, "Our top
political priority over the next two years should be to deny President
Obama a second term."
Let`s keep going with this. Rush Limbaugh told Sean Hannity back when
the president was inaugurated that he wanted him to fail. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So I shamelessly say, no, I want
him to fail. If his agenda is a far-left collectivism -- some people say
socialism -- as a conservative heartfelt deeply -- why would I want
socialism to succeed?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: At the CPAC conference earlier this year, Michele Bachmann
named her number one goal for 2012. Let`s listen to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The all-
important must-have for 2012 is this -- making Barack Obama a one-term
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman, what I`m hearing now in the aftermath of
the debt fight is that President Obama is somehow engaging in class
warfare, divisive politics, when from day one, from second one, the goal of
the Republican Party, of the right, of corporate America, of the Tea Party,
of the whole shebang has been eliminate this guy`s presidency. It`s been
personal. It`s been about him. And it`s about hatred.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
think that in a situation like that, people often think that -- your
political foes think that -- but they didn`t use to say it out loud.
MATTHEWS: What, We hate you, we want to kill you?
FINEMAN: Politically -- quite the way they did so brazenly as they
did at the very beginning of the Obama presidency. I think -- I was out
there on the Mall when Obama was -- the president was inaugurated. You
thought that perhaps all of America was out there. There were 1.5 million
FINEMAN: But it wasn`t all of America. It was Barack Obama`s
America. And the people on the right, the conservatives, the corporate
leaders for the most part decided from day one that that crowd that they
saw on the Mall and that president that they saw taking the oath was not
MATTHEWS: It was like the secessionists. You know, the way you said
that, the way you phrased it because of your history sense, was almost like
even as he was being inaugurated, the voices of secession were uniting in
the South and planning to bring this guy down, right? And to divide.
FINEMAN: Well, that`s my view of it. And I think the president made
some efforts to reach out. I don`t know how wholeheartedly he did because
I think he felt from the beginning that his overtures would be rejected.
The way that things started here in Washington from the very beginning was
quite icy and quite distant from get-go in the beginning of the Obama
MATTHEWS: And the positive side of that day, as I well remember, it
was the first time that real Washington, urban Washington, the city we both
have lived in for years --
FINEMAN: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: -- joined in the national celebration. The whole city came
for the --
FINEMAN: But it turns out a lot of people weren`t celebrating.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Let`s go -- let`s go to Joan Walsh on that very
point, the partisanship. We`re going to get to the corporate aspect of
this, the Tea Party aspect, and I hate to say it, the racial part of this
later. But it seems to me that the enemies of Barack Obama didn`t need to
be told this is class warfare or divisive politics. They were ready to go
after this guy for his very being from day one.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Yes, they absolutely were. And you know, I
would differ from Howard just a little bit in that I think he was
conciliatory. You`re more there on the scene, Howard. You`re in -- you`re
in Washington. But you know, I just remember the president holding a
dinner, the president-elect holding a dinner for John McCain to honor John
McCain. I believe it was the night before the inauguration. And I
thought, How wonderful that is. They had a very, very spirited battle. It
got ugly at times. But John McCain has served his country in many
capacities, and this is the way it`s going to be in a Barack Obama
I am to his left. I`ve always made that clear. I don`t always like
his conciliatory style when I would like him to fight, but you can`t say
that he didn`t try from the beginning, from the campaign. He talked about
creating Obama-can. (ph) He was somewhat more moderate than Hillary
Clinton on a couple of economic issues, like his health reform plan and
mortgage modification. He was not a firebrand. He was not the socialist.
He was not the ultra-leftist.
WALSH: So this attack really came out of nowhere, is really
ideological, and it`s a very, very deliberate effort to undermine him from
MATTHEWS: You know, my executive producer here, runs this show,
basically, has said for a while now that the Republicans cannot stand the
idea of a Democrat being president.
WALSH: Well --
MATTHEWS: And I was thinking back, Howard -- that goes back to
Eisenhower. When did they first lay claim to the United States presidency?
Let`s go with some other points coming at him. Back in 2009, as
President Obama addressed the Congress on his health care plan, here`s
South Carolina`s Republican congressman Joe Wilson shouting out the
wonderful words we`ll never forget. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reforms I`m
proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wonderful talk, "You lie." Just a few weeks ago, first-
term Tea Partier congressman Joe Walsh, another Joe, of Illinois called on
the president to quit lying. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WILSON (R), ILLINOIS: President Obama, quit lying! You know
darn well that if August 2nd comes and goes, there`s plenty of money to pay
off our debt and cover our -- all of our Social Security obligations. But
have you no shame, sir? In three short years, you`ve bankrupted this
country and destroyed job creation! You`re either in over your head, you
don`t understand what makes this country great, or you`re hell-bent in
turning us into some European big government wasteland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, there`s another part of this, the ad hominem
part, not just he`s a Democrat, but he`s faintly foreign. Even -- even the
genteel Mr. Romney, Governor, Romney has referred to him as "awfully
European." What is this about?
FINEMAN: Also --
MATTHEWS: What is this about?
FINEMAN: Also --
MATTHEWS: They`re saying he`s not really one of us. This is a
FINEMAN: Yes, Congressman --
MATTHEWS: -- relentless -- relentless point here.
FINEMAN: Congressman Walsh also saying "You don`t understand what
makes America great" --
FINEMAN: -- the implication being that you`re somehow not an American
because only Americans can really understand what makes this country great.
And I do think that our politics and the discourse has been coarsened over
the recent years. But there is a personal edge to this that you don`t
FINEMAN: You don`t -- there`s some -- there`s some sense in which for
these people, that the president just kind of sticks in their craw, in a
way. It`s not that they`ve accepted him and rejected him. They never
accepted him --
WALSH: They never -- yes.
FINEMAN: -- from the beginning. And that was -- the difference with
George W. Bush, for example, who after 9/11 had the whole country gather
around him, however momentarily, and everyone accepted him as leader for
that moment, and then he lost a lot of his political capital.
FINEMAN: This president, he never started with the full-out assent of
the whole country.
MATTHEWS: You know, he could be Mighty Mouse every day of the week,
saving the day, you know, like in the cartoon, and these guys wouldn`t --
he could be catching bin Laden every two hours, and these people wouldn`t
think he was worth much, Joan.
WALSH: Well, right, and --
MATTHEWS: -- prove himself to them as an American!
WALSH: One thing we`re --
MATTHEWS: Not as a liberal or a conservative.
WALSH: As an American. And one thing I feel like we`re leaving out,
perhaps inadvertently because we`ve -- the three of us have talked about it
before, is that -- remember Dick Cheney`s attacks and all the attacks that
he was making America less safe and that he was soft on terror, when in
fact, you know, he`s gotten bin Laden. He`s gotten a lot of other people.
He`s been criticized from the left on some of his foreign policy. He`s --
you know, he`s been very strong president in that way, but he was really
untrustworthy from the beginning.
The only thing I guess I would add and -- to go back your brilliant
executive producer -- because all your staff is brilliant -- is he`s right,
that this also goes back to Bill Clinton because, you know, Bill Clinton
had his problems, had his problems, but the effort to delegitimize him, to
say he was involved with running drugs, to say he was involved with murder,
with poor Vince Foster, that was coming from Jerry Falwell, that was coming
from the Arkansas Project --
WALSH: -- that was even coming from Congress -- it was similar. It
wasn`t the same, but it was similar. There was a real dehumanization of
this man as our leader. He just wasn`t fit, and he could be accused of
literally anything -- anything --
MATTHEWS: It`s funny that --
WALSH: -- and it tore the country --
MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s funny, you guys, the worst thing the left can
say about somebody is not that they`re not American. They usually accept
the fact the other side is American. They just call them idiots. Anyway -
- I`m serious! That seems to be the worst you can say about a right-
winger. The worst thing you can say about a left-winger is, He`s not one
MATTHEWS: Anyway, this spring, Donald Trump jumped on the birther
bandwagon. Let`s not forget that he was number one in the polls when he
pulled this number.
MATTHEWS: Here he is talking about the president, using some street
corner hustler term, saying he conned us into believing he was a citizen.
This is the Donald Trump thought here. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I would like to have him show his
birth certificate. And can I be honest with you? I hope he can because if
he can`t -- if he can`t -- and if he wasn`t born in this country, which is
a real possibility -- I`m not saying it happened. I`m saying it`s a real
possibility, much greater than I thought two or three weeks ago -- then he
has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s Donald Trump, Howard, betting on black and it
came up red.
FINEMAN: Yes. But you --
MATTHEWS: A bad -- bad call there!
FINEMAN: Chris, you made such a great point about the fact that when
Democrats attack from the left -- they said of George W. Bush, OK, he`s not
up to the job, he`s not bright enough for the job, he`s shrunk in office,
not grown in office --
FINEMAN: -- he`s misspent money, he started us on the wrong path.
But they never really questioned, obviously, whether he was an American --
FINEMAN: -- or questioned his patriotism --
FINEMAN: -- whether he somehow at some level understood what America
was all about, even if he was wrong in all his policies. That`s not the
case here. There`s a fundamental threshold that for a third of the
country, Barack Obama never crossed. Again, it`s not a matter of losing
something. He never crossed it.
WALSH: He never got it.
FINEMAN: It may partly be because of race, it may be because of the
name, might be because of all the rumors about Islam, and so forth. But
for whatever reason, he never crossed that point.
MATTHEWS: I want to get to this, Joan, this last one here. Here`s
Orrin Hatch, who`s fighting for his life against a Tea Party threat, I
suppose, out in Utah -- he`s not worried about liberals out there --
MATTHEWS: -- saying he was tired of the president arguing for shared
sacrifice. This is something new, adding to this class warfare we`re
hearing from the right. They started it. Here`s proof, Orrin Hatch saying
we`ve got to tax the poor more. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I`m getting a little tired of hearing the
Obama approach towards shared sacrifice. The top 1 percent in the so-
called wealthy pay 38 percent of all income taxes. The other side just
spends and spends and spends, and they want to tax and tax and tax so they
can spend some more! My gosh, when are we going to wake up in this country
and realize they`re spending us into oblivion! And I hear how they`re so
caring for the poor, and so forth. The poor need jobs. And they also need
to share some of the responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: They need to share some responsibility. Tax the poor, Joan
MATTHEWS: That is a new anthem. That -- I`ve never heard that in
politics -- well, not never, but in a long time, I`ve heard the Republican
Party be restrained about, Let`s go sock it to the poor. This is a new one
from Orrin Hatch.
WALSH: Well, right. And you know, it was a bipartisan program. It
was a program under the first George Bush, the Earned Income Tax Credit,
that said, OK, we`re creating a lot of low-wage jobs, we don`t know what`s
going on in the economy, a lot of people are working, they`re working hard,
but they`re still poor.
WALSH: And so a Republican began funneling people money, cutting
their taxes, and that was accepted. Milton Friedman thought this was a
good idea. But now that`s socialism. You know, that`s how far this
country has come, that it`s time to bash the hard-working poor people who
aren`t making enough to get out of poverty, rather than help them. It`s so
MATTHEWS: You know, in terms of party, in terms of partisanship, in
terms of ideology, in terms of ethnicity, in terms of corporate power, the
squeezing of the labor force to not just bringing on new hires during this
so-called recovery, but to squeeze the people who are working and that`s
how we avoid recession -- that`s the new tool. And now to have the united
-- Citizens United call by Supreme Court that they can use all their power
on television, in this medium -- this is a real assault on Barack Obama and
they dare to say he`s being divisive.
FINEMAN: Well, I keep calling it a slow-motion secession, and that`s
what it is. The implication of what --
FINEMAN: -- Orrin Hatch is saying is that we aren`t all responsible
for each other in the end. And he`s right. Have we spent unwisely
sometimes? Yes. Is spending out of control? No doubt. But that`s
accepted. What Orrin Hatch is saying is, We question whether we`re all in
the same boat together at this point --
FINEMAN: -- that some people have conned us, that there are people in
it for something other than for the common good, and questioning the
motives of poor people who, basically, are only trying to get by, is not
generally something that you`ve heard from politicians in the past --
MATTHEWS: And I don`t think it`ll sell in Utah --
FINEMAN: -- in recent decades.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think it`ll sell in Utah in the long run, either.
That`s not the culture of Utah.
FINEMAN: No, it isn`t.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) I`ve gotten to know out there. Anyway, thank
you. There`s a real sense of (INAUDIBLE) society looking out for poor
people out there. Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, Joan
Walsh. We agree.
WALSH: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: I`ve been saying for months that President Obama
is vulnerable in those battleground states in the Rust Belt -- or I call it
the Scranton-to-Oshkosh corridor, from Pennsylvania on the eastern side up
to Wisconsin. Now the president`s doing something about it. He`s getting
on the bus, Gus. He`s hitting the road, fighting back against Republicans
who want to keep the economy in a ditch. This is going to be something.
He`s trying to offset the costs of cutting all that spending and what it`s
going to do to the Rust Belt.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, right on the heels of that fight over the debt
ceiling, the Senate`s embroiled in another stalemate. This one involving
the Federal Aviation Administration. Four thousand FAA employees are out
of work, and airport safety inspectors are working without pay because
Democrats and Republicans can`t agree on a financing extension.
Republicans have offered to extend funding but want to slash funds to
rural airports. And Democrats say Republicans are really trying to make it
harder for airline workers to unionize. President Obama`s urging both
sides to end the stalemate by the end of the week. We`re going to have
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on HARDBALL tomorrow night to talk
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, Republicans may have won, gotten their way in the debt ceiling
fight, something they won in many ways, but is there any evidence that
cutting spending is the way to revive this slagging economy right now?
Joining me right now is Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania,
who is a member of the Joint Economic Committee.
Senator Casey, I guess there`s a battle that`s over, and I just wonder
who won. And when you cut spending, usually, that`s a sign you cut jobs.
Is that your view?
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Chris, I don`t think there`s
any question when I talk to people in Pennsylvania, they want us to cut
As you know, we cut by a record amount in the 2011 budget. We cut a
lot of spending -- or will be cutting as a result of this recent agreement.
So, there`s no question we have to do that. But I think the debate now is
going to be, when you propose cuts to the federal budget, what effect will
that have on the economy and jobs, as you assert, but also what`s the
difference between a smart cut and a cut that really hurts investments,
hurts jobs, and really doesn`t make us grow?
And I think that`s where some of the debate is. I think they did see
a different this spring when the Republican House put out a budget where
they cut medical research by a billion dollars. That`s a bad idea. When
they slash law enforcement by hundreds of millions of dollars, that`s a bad
So I think the debate is not going to be about cutting spending or
not, because we have to and we have, but how we do that.
MATTHEWS: Is President Obama viewed in Pennsylvania as an aggressive
Democrat or as a passive Democrat?
CASEY: It`s hard to -- it`s hard to categorize it, but I think
Pennsylvania right now has kind of a mixed point of view about the
And I think that`s a result mostly of where we are in the economy.
When I go across the state, people say to me a couple of basic messages:
Focus on jobs. Work things out and try to -- try to come together and
And if we do that, especially those of us who happen to be Democrats,
I think we will do just fine, but right now is a very tough time for the
country. People are leading very tough lives of struggle and sacrifice and
a lot of anxiety. And we have got to be able to understand that if we`re
going to be effective at leading them.
And that`s what I hear across Pennsylvania, about spending and about
getting things done, and focus on jobs.
MATTHEWS: OK. Today`s August -- Senator, today`s August 3, 2011.
What`s the federal government doing today, what`s the Obama administration,
the president doing today, besides taking a bus trip, to create jobs? What
program is hiring people, putting people to work, coming up with public
MATTHEWS: Where is all that happening? I -- I just don`t see it
CASEY: Well, Chris, I think we made a good decision last year at the
end of the year -- and it actually was bipartisan -- to use the tax code.
The payroll tax credit -- payroll tax cut, I should say, was a very good
idea. I think it had a very positive impact in the early months of the
year, when we were getting private sector growth the 220,000, 230,000,
240,000 every month.
That worked, I think, well.
CASEY: I think that the earned income tax credit, the child tax
credit, using the tax code is one way to -- to create jobs. I would hope,
and I`m not sure our Republican friends would go along with this, but I
would hope that we could come up with a very focused and targeted, but
effective, infrastructure program.
I think in Pennsylvania, you know -- you know our state well -- and at
both ends of our state and in the middle as well, we have got a lot of jobs
and a lot of activity around medical research, the life sciences. A tax
credit like that I think is a good idea. I think the administration would
agree with us.
But I think there`s still some work to do to either reinstitute
strategies that have worked to create jobs, but also to introduce new
ideas, like a life sciences tax credit.
MATTHEWS: Yes. The problem, Senator, is those first three months
created 200,000 jobs a month. And last month, it was 18,000.
CASEY: You`re right.
MATTHEWS: And that is a real drop. And I just hope this unemployment
record -- the news that is coming out Friday is another turnaround. We
need another turnaround.
Thank you so much, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
Joining me --
CASEY: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, he`s doing much better than the president
up there in the polling.
Let me join -- go right now to talk about the uphill battle the
president may be facing across the Rust Belt from Scranton to Oshkosh with
Chris Cillizza, who is an MSNBC political analyst and managing editor of
Bob Casey is probably going to get reelected. He`s probably not even
going to face a tough opponent. He`s beloved in Pennsylvania. He`s seen
as a -- sort of a Sherrod Brown labor Democrat, tremendous relations with
labor. President Obama is not like that.
Tell us what his problems is in terms of political connection with
Rust Belt guys and women --
CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
MATTHEWS: -- and the obvious economic problem of a lousy jobs outlook,
which the business community isn`t do much about, despite the Bush tax
CILLIZZA: Well, Chris, let`s start with the 2008 presidential primary
process, Ohio, Pennsylvania, two very high-profile fights between Barack
Obama and Hillary Clinton that Hillary Clinton won.
So, it`s not as those these areas have ever been great for Barack
Obama. Yes, he carried Pennsylvania by double digits, he won Ohio by five.
Some of that was more about the national wave than people being in love
with Barack Obama.
To your -- to your point, why is it tough, these are older states,
these are whiter states in terms of overall population. These are states
that as --
MATTHEWS: Yes, we`re looking at the map now.
CILLIZZA: Yes. These are states that --
MATTHEWS: We`re looking at Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
CILLIZZA: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. Throw Iowa a little bit
in there. You know, all of those states, Indiana, Illinois, in the
northeastern corner of Illinois, all these states are places where the
economy is very, very tough.
Now, the economy is tough, of course, across the nation, but these are
places where the manufacturing sector has either disappeared or taken a
massive hit. Therefore, they feel the economic anxiety and pressures more.
MATTHEWS: This week, too, Chris --
CILLIZZA: They were never totally sold on Barack Obama to start. I
mean, I think that`s an important point. A lot of these --
MATTHEWS: But that`s fresh news. This is just news you`re talking.
MATTHEWS: This is this week.
CILLIZZA: Well --
MATTHEWS: One of the reasons the market dropped this week is because
the bad manufacturing numbers --
MATTHEWS: -- in those older industrial states where people are old.
Is Obama seen as a guy who is looking out for Medicare, for those
programs that help the older people that don`t have the money to go to
Florida or Arizona or wherever?
CILLIZZA: Well, I will tell you, Chris, putting Medicare on the table
in this trigger, this deal, this super committee if they can`t decide on
these $1.7 trillion --
CILLIZZA: -- in tax cuts, that Medicare hurts -- that defense even,
Chris -- look, let`s talk about Pennsylvania, that old Jack Murtha district
down there in northwestern Pennsylvania. Jack Murtha, one of his great
CILLIZZA: Southwestern Pennsylvania. Excuse me.
One of those things that Jack Murtha was known for was bringing
defense money into that district. So it`s not as simple as just saying
defense is -- cutting defense bad for Republicans, cutting Medicare bad for
It could be in places in that region that if that special committee
can`t decide, it`s bad for Barack Obama, defense and Medicare.
MATTHEWS: Look at the -- look, we don`t have time to go through all
the poll numbers. But they basically show the president just about even in
those states --
MATTHEWS: -- and losing Michigan because of the family connection,
obviously, of Romney to his -- to the old state where his father was
That is the battleground, bottom line, isn`t it, the Midwest?
I mean, look, your Scranton-Oshkosh thing has been -- it was true in
2010. It`s going to be true in 2012. Add up just four states, the -- that
we`re talking about, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and -- and Indiana, 64
electoral votes, Chris -- 64 electoral votes.
CILLIZZA: That`s one-quarter of the 270 you need.
CILLIZZA: He won all of those states in 2008. He doesn`t need all of
them in 2012, but he`s need some of them.
The one argument I would say in his favor, Chris, history. The last
time a Democrat won -- lost Wisconsin -- excuse me -- was 1984. That was
Walter Mondale. The last time a Democrat for president lost either
Pennsylvania or Michigan, 1988, George Herbert Walker Bush.
So, the numbers aren`t great at the moment, but if you go back and
look at history, it would suggest that Democrats will rally to the cause by
MATTHEWS: OK. We got to go.
CILLIZZA: But --
CILLIZZA: -- Barack Obama would rather have his numbers be higher than
lower at the moment.
MATTHEWS: I think you`re optimistic about the Democrats` potential.
I don`t think history is much of a guide right now. I think people are
really angry. Anyway, you know more than I do.
MATTHEWS: No, you know as much as I do.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Chris Cillizza.
CILLIZZA: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: So, what`s up on the Satan sandwich? This
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver called this whole budget deal a Satan sandwich.
He`s going to add to that. He elaborates on his big metaphor. That`s
coming up on the "Sideshow."
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
First up: The most unforgettable description of the debt ceiling
agreement might just be Representative Emanuel Cleaver -- quote -- "Satan
Well, Cleaver now seems to have turned the sandwich into an entire
meal, which he described on "MORNING JOE" today. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MORNING JOE")
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: You have got a bit of sourdough
on one side of the sandwich for -- for poor people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
CLEAVER: And then you have some onions --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CLEAVER: -- for, you know, people who are on unemployment benefits and
realize that`s not going to be in the deal. It`s a -- it`s -- it`s got a
lot of stuff in it. You serve it with, of course, a demon drink.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m not sure I want to know what`s in a demon drink.
Anyway, next up, it`s no secret that former President Richard Nixon
was no natural on TV, but we now know he did try to solicit some help along
the way. Now up for auction by the former president`s joke writer is a 10-
page long critique that Nixon requested from a media consultant to help his
on-camera image back before he ran again in `67.
The pages are filled with brutal honesty. Some of the highlights --
quote -- "Loose fingers hanging downward from bent wrists moving toward the
camera in a swimming motion are confusing and have grotesque connotations."
Quote: "His frequently clenched fists indicate tension, even
Quote: "A greasy preparation to keep his hair in place gives him a
slick, foreign look, unbecoming in his role."
Boy, no sugarcoating in those recommendations. The pages also suggest
that Nixon exercise -- quote -- "a more pleasant facial expression."
Up next: Progressives say they`re unhappy with President Obama for
folding on the debt deal, as they say. But does the left realize that, at
his core, he is the most liberal president since LBJ? Well, we will argue
that when we come back.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."
Stocks snapping an eight-day losing streak, with techs leading the
way, the Dow Jones industrial gaining 29 points, the S&P 500 adding six,
the Nasdaq surging 23 points.
The Dow and the S&P were playing follow the leader, as gains for
Google, Apple and Intel helped lift the Nasdaq. We also had Research In
Motion jumping almost 5 percent after unveiling five new BlackBerry models
On the earnings front, MasterCard soaring more than 13 percent today
after reporting a 33 percent jump in second-quarter profit.
Activision reporting after the closing bell, blowing past estimates,
helped by strong demand for it downloadable game content.
In economic news, service sector growth slowed in June to its lowest
level since February. And while private employers added more jobs than
expected in July, the number of planned layoff climbed to a 16-month high.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Liberals say they`re unhappy with the president for what they see as
folding on the debt fight, but the president is also being hated by -- and
continually -- by conservatives. They call him a socialist.
Doesn`t the left understand they have got a progressive president?
Well, we will argue about that right now. What is he?
Joining me right now is MSNBC political analysts Jonathan Alter and
Alex Wagner, both of our analysts.
I want to start with John on this.
Jon, you have got a lot of history under your belt.
MATTHEWS: And I was thinking, if you look at a couple of things right
up front, this guy`s a progressive. The stimulus package was pure
Keynesian economics, pure Roosevelt. The TARP -- the saving of the auto
industry was very aggressive, what you might call industrial policy, if you
will, and clearly the health care bill, the first guy since Truman to
actually deliver on a longtime Democratic progressive goal.
Then you get things like Afghanistan, where he went right of the
middle, where most Americans would like to get out of that hellish country,
and he`s sticking in there in force, and the Bush tax cuts, where it`s very
hard to read why we still have tax cuts for the well-off. In every one of
these disputes, they -- we still have Bush`s tax policy.
So, put it all together. Is the shot that he`s too conservative from
the left right?
JONATHAN ALTER, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTING CORRESPONDENT: No, I don`t
really think it is.
And liberals have to be very careful about making these kinds of
charges. When Hubert Humphrey was too centrist for them, they sat on their
hands in 1968, and we got Nixon. When Carter was too centrist for the
liberals, we got the Teddy Kennedy challenge, which -- which helped sink
him in 1980, so you have to look at the record. And the record is mostly a
quite progressive until his reaction to the midterms.
ALTER: And then he made a conscious decision, in his own political
self-interest, to move abruptly to the center, to start talking more about
deficit reduction than about stimulus, and he took his eye off jobs. And I
think that might cost him.
MATTHEWS: Did he think that the -- the recovery was under way? Did
he just get the numbers wrong? Did he think that thing we were talking
about -- Bob Casey was just talking about it, the senator from
Pennsylvania, just a couple minutes ago.
Look, we keep forgetting. We all have ADD in this country. We forget
the beginning of this year looked pretty good, 200,000 jobs a month. It
was moving in that first quarter. The second quarter was terrible, at
least in terms of jobs. We added 18,000 new jobs last month, nothing. We
don`t know what is going to happen this Friday.
But did he get the idea we`re already rolling into recovery?
Let me go on to -- let me go to Alex for that.
MATTHEWS: Did he get the idea we`re rolling in the recovery,
therefore, he could start to put the brakes on --
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: -- safely?
WAGNER: Well, I mean, the -- forget the "car in the ditch" metaphor.
You know, at the end of the year, he was saying, the car is level, we`re
out of the ditch, you know, the predictions, Christina Romer, et al.
MATTHEWS: The tide has turned.
ALTER: Yes, exactly. And -- and now unemployment is ticking back up.
And I think, you know, to the earlier points, look, it is about jobs.
And vis-a-vis the base? Look at what`s happened with the black community.
Look what`s happened with the Hispanic community. Look what`s happened
with youth unemployment. It`s edging up 20, 25 percent -- 16.2 percent
unemployment among the black community?
I mean, there is a real feeling, if not that he is a tool of the
right, people are demoralized. And I think this -- you know, the White
House loves talking about inflection points, this was an inflection point
for the Obama administration. This war -- I think the debt war changed a
lot of people`s perceptions --
MATTHEWS: I agree.
WAGNER: -- about what he is going to be capable of.
MATTHEWS: Is he capable of turning the country`s direction to the
issue of jobs? Even though we have a $1.7 trillion deficit, that it may be
time for the government to go out and creates jobs even with that deficit?
Can he -- because all I hear is about trade with Korea and what else, you
know, green jobs. I don`t see anything in terms of a big push for jobs.
ALTER: Well, I just think there`s a creativity gap here. They need
to be thinking harder, working the problem harder. You know, I floated an
idea recently that`s been a around for a while, too, to allow those who are
getting unemployment compensation, the long term unemployed, to turn that
into a voucher, to take to an employer
ALTER: -- and say, if you hire me, you know, $40,000 job will only
cost you $20,000 to hire me because I can use my unemployment voucher with
no extra costs to the taxpayer. So, it doesn`t have to be a big spending
Now, there might be problems with that in terms of its workability,
but they need to think of things like that to do what Franklin Roosevelt
suggested -- bold, persistent experimentation. Take one method and try it,
Roosevelt said. If it doesn`t work, try something else, but try something.
That was the New Deal, and we`re missing that spirit right now.
MATTHEWS: We`re talking about the president who just announced today,
the White House did, and we`ve conveyed, Alex and Jon, that he`s going to
get in a bus and drive around the Midwest. And he is vulnerable in that
bus to -- I would think to picketing, and shouts from the crowd.
MATTHEWS: We don`t want you on the bus here. We want construction
jobs. We want the roads fixed and the bridges fixed and brought up to
code. We don`t want you riding around here campaigning this August.
WAGNER: Yes, and there`s a bit of hucksterism to it. It`s like
recovery summer of last year. It`s like of sort of White House that was so
good with messaging back in the day. What has happened?
And I think, you know, to Jonathan`s earlier point, look, green jobs?
I mean, these are --
MATTHEWS: What does it mean to you, that phrase?
WAGNER: Renewables. Battery plans. If we see Obama in another
battery plant in the next three weeks, I think everybody is ready to give
up on wind, solar and hydro. I mean, the idea that that`s going to pull us
out of the ditch that we are remain in.
I mean, you know, I was talking with Emanuel Cleaver earlier this
week, and he was saying, look, you know, to a certain degree, there`s bound
to be disappointment, people pin hopes on Barack Obama. But, at the end of
the day, people don`t understand what these green jobs are, you know? And
if that`s the only plan he has, I think the White House is in serious
MATTHEWS: What stops them, Jon, from proposing, even if the
Republicans under Boehner knock it down -- why don`t they have a well-
advertised program to put 2 million or 3 million people to work on public
works projects? Put out a list of all the bridges below code nationwide,
all the roads that need fixing, all the subway systems, whatever you want,
put out the list, put it on the newspapers, put it on TV, show it, use the
advertising ability, and say we want these jobs done. It`s the Republicans
who are stopping it. Let`s talk about it in the next election.
At least they`d be putting out in public what they would like to do.
I don`t know what the president would like to do. Do you?
ALTER: I think that`s a great idea. You know, they rejected direct
hiring, WPA-type programs at the beginning of the administration, for some
very good reasons, but they should at least lay down a marker that they`re
going to do what it takes or at least propos big, bold ideas.
ALTER: You know, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued a
report last week that said if we don`t fix our infrastructure, that it`s
going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars in productivity over the
years, because a great nation must have a great infrastructure.
But they have to stop talking about its, quote, "infrastructure."
Infrastructure bank doesn`t mean anything to people. It should be we want
to put people back to work rebuilding this country. The other side
Frame the issue squarely.
MATTHEWS: Why do we have a Penn Station in New York fit for rats to
go in and out of? I mean, really a dump. Penn Station, the ugliest train
station in the world, probably. Certainly the first world, and was once
Penn Station, now it`s a dump.
We have the L.A. airport, which is the ugliest, older airport in the
world I think compared to South Africa`s airport. Everything is better
You go to Europe, they go 300 miles an hour on trains. We go 50 miles
Has anybody done a comparison of how we live compared to the rest of
the world now? In China, they 200 to 300 miles an hour.
Everything here is old and out of date, and Republicans keep saying we
don`t like the public sector. Well, who`s going to take responsibility for
the public sector if it`s not the Democrats? Just a thought. Maybe
Jonathan, you know history. Thank you. Alex, you`re too young to
know history. You know it as well.
Up next, there`s a lot -- I like it when you say this -- there`s a lot
of noise lately about Rick Perry. We`ll see if he`s got anything up his
sleeve? Is this guy all talk? All hat, no cattle?
He`s certainly got a lot of talk and a lot of hat. And he`s coming
up. It looks like he`s going to be the new kid on the block.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Look at these incredible pictures from Egypt. That`s
ousted President Hosni Mubarak on a hospital gurney in a cage in a Cairo --
there he is in a cage in a Cairo courtroom. Mubarak faces charges of
complicity in the killing of protesters earlier this year, as well as
corruption charge. Mubarak was forced to resign in February after a
stunning 18-day uprising against his rule.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is interesting.
Texas Governor Rick Perry hasn`t officially decided to run for
president, but a group called Jobs for Iowa has decided to run this ad for
him in the Hawkeye State. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: What if we had a candidate for president with a real record
of creating jobs, a conservative with proven leadership in tough times, the
leader of a state that created more jobs in the past two years than the
other 49 states combined? What if we had a better option for president?
We do. Rick Perry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Will Rick Perry jump into the race? Yes or no?
Wayne Slater is political columnist for "The Dallas Morning News," and
Eric Burns is a Democratic strategist.
Let`s talk -- let`s bottom line this thing.
Wayne, this guy runs, he immediately threatens Romney in the South
because he`s a Christian conservative. He is not Mormon, so he can be an
easy outlet pass for Christian conservatives who don`t want to elect an LDS
guy, a Mormon guy, a great option for them. He is an executive, much more
successful executive than Romney. He beats him on every point.
Up north in Minnesota, he immediately challenges Michele Bachmann, who
is very exciting and very dramatic and charismatic, I would say, but
doesn`t got the executive experience behind her, like this guy does.
Doesn`t this guy become the hottest property in the Republican Party
at least through the fall?
WAYNE SLATER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Yes, absolutely. Well, I think he
is going to run.
MATTHEWS: Will he be the hottest property in the Republican Party
through the fall before the enemy gets tested, of course? Eventually the
SLATER: He will be and for the exact reason that you said. He offers
up this sort of dual advantage. On the one hand, he`s a jobs guy, in a
year where jobs count, the economy counts. On the other hand, he`s the
kind of social conservative who after Bachmann does fairly well in Iowa,
which is possible, he`s exactly the kind of candidate who can win South
Carolina. And if he wins South Carolina, then and can encourage the base
of the party, the more establishment base of the party, to jump on board,
he absolutely is important.
Now, I realize that`s early next year but between now and the vetting
process of November, December, he`s the top guy of the race.
MATTHEWS: You know, he looks like the treasury secretary that Obama
should have. Absolutely self-confident, you now, John Connolly type. You
know what I mean, Wayne -- the guy who looks like the guy who makes money,
even though Connolly never had any money, he looked like he did.
ERIC BURNS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He is a presidential candidate
right out of central casting. That`s why in Texas, they call him good hair
Perry because he is almost cheesy.
MATTHEWS: How about below the hair, how is he doing inside?
BURNS: Not so well. He`s really not that popular in Texas. I mean,
he`s been able to hang on to the governor`s office --
MATTHEWS: Well, Kay Bailey Hutchison may not agree with you. She got
ran out of the race by this guy.
BURNS: But that`s in part because, you know, Governor Perry had to go
far, far, far to the right and really get in bed with the radical right
wing and Tea Party folks in order to beat her.
MATTHEWS: How does that work for 2012? Is it the 2012 Republican
Party? Now, we can have this argument.
MATTHEWS: Lawrence O`Donnell was making the point the other day on
our network that a thing we did in California with the critics, that the
party move so far over that it`s a different party.
MATTHEWS: And it`s a Tea Party now more than a conservative party.
MATTHEWS: And therefore, somebody like this guy could be just perfect
through this year in the fight.
BURNS: He could be the problem is that it is about an inch deep. I
mean, you know, even just in May he authorized --
MATTHEWS: You are not going to cut him a break. Why don`t you wait
until he wins the nomination before you go after him? Come on, we`re
talking about -- I`m touting the guy, OK? Here is Rick Perry. I want
these guys in the race.
Here is Rick Perry with President Obama`s policies in the "The
National Telegraph" today. Perry says, quote, "This president is trying to
engage in class warfare and shooting high-powered bullets -- don`t use
ballistic references -- who have corporate jets, but the bullets pass
through those wealthy individuals and hit blue-collar workers who rely upon
them, upon those wealthy individuals who risk capital to create the jobs."
Wayne, don`t they know in Texas to stop using bullets as reference
point for presidential candidates? I`m sorry. Stop it.
SLATER: It bothers me when I saw it as well. But I tell you, the
kind of rhetoric, that kind of rhetoric, as you said, is the rhetoric
that`s going to win the primary -- it could win the nomination next year
for the Republicans.
SLATER: Rick Perry has run a primary race. All these things, whether
it appeals to Christian conservatives or whether it`s really tough rhetoric
against Obama -- it`s all a dog whistle to the constituencies that are
going to name the nominee. And then he`ll worry about the general.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You think?
BURNS: Yes. Look --
MATTHEWS: Do you think he`s got the message that sells on the right?
BURNS: I think he, absolutely -- the far right absolutely. Right
now, the question is, if he gets anywhere -- if he can stand the scrutiny
of a presidential campaign -- which I don`t think he can.
MATTHEWS: That gets back to my point. I already advance that
MATTHEWS: If he is the man for the fall -- if he is Mr. October, Mr.
November, Mr. December. If he sweeps into the early primaries, wins a
couple, it could be the best break President Obama`s ever gotten.
MATTHEWS: He`s got an untested opponent then he can take down.
BURNS: He`s boxed himself so far to the right and frankly could be
paying disingenuous as that if you look at his long history. I mean, this
is a guy that actually chaired Al Gore`s, you know, presidential campaign
at one time in Texas. You know, just past, you know, $10 billion debt
increase in the state of Texas in May.
MATTHEWS: Good stuff. Good research. Thank you. I`m sure you guys
will be doing it.
Eric Burns, thanks for joining us. Wayne, as always, I love the
previews from down there.
When we return, "Let Me Finish" with the drought that`s going on in
Somalia -- serious business over there. We haven`t talked about. I`m
going to do it tonight. We ought to be focusing on the worst part of the
world right now, Somalia.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, "Let Me Finish" tonight with a part of the world that
is having a truly horrible time. Right now, the region of Somalia, you
can`t really call it a country, is experiencing one of the worst of
Africa`s -- east Africa`s worst droughts of modern times. The fact that
there`s no real national government over there, hasn`t been in a
generation, adds to the desperate situation.
The area of worst drought is even under the control of forces loyal to
al Qaeda, making it a triple whammy of devastation.
The U.S. government has just declared that no one will be punished for
helping the starving people in Somalia or face trouble for helping
indirectly the terrorists who rule the famine area itself.
Look at these people. The situation is that bad -- bad enough that we
can see past the terrorist loyalties of the insurgents running the famine
area, to the people themselves who are suffering miserably from it. We are
talking millions of people here, by the way -- over 3 million of our fellow
humans suffering a loss of food, of medicine, of what`s necessary to
The pictures tell the story. Young kids starved to the bone. Their
mothers watching it, living with the withering death of their own children.
Maybe this is the future of this planet for millions for more, I wonder. I
sometimes wonder if what we are watching here is the unending predatory
growth of desert in Saharan Africa, with more and more people trying to
find a life on less and less formidable land.
But for now, the problems right before us in these pictures, we need
to help people to keep them from starving to death: children in their
mother`s arms. If you want to help, one of the best agencies to get a
contribution to is USAID. Go to their Web site at USAID.gov. It`s easy to
remember, USAID.gov. I think what makes America great, even in these
relatively tough times for us, is that we are still the world`s most
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
More politics ahead with Al Sharpton.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>