Guests: Howard Fineman, David Corn, Veronica De La Cruz, Joan Walsh, Mark Penn, Barry Scheck, Cynthia Tucker, Dana Milbank
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: United Nations, divided voices.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington.
Leading off tonight: The president, Palestinians and politics.
Picture these two scenes. One, President Obama making a full-throated
defense of Israel at the U.N. today, saying there will be no Palestinian
statehood until the Palestinians make peace with Israel. And two, Governor
Perry saying the president committed "appeasement" -- that`s his word --
Romney saying the president threw Israel under the bus.
Just imagine the cries of "traitor" if Democrats had bashed President
Bush hours before he spoke at the U.N. How can anyone accuse President
Obama, by the way, of being -- of not supporting Israel after today?
Also, what some call the "professional left" is thrilled with
President Obama`s new-found populist voice, but former president Bill
Clinton strategist Mark Penn worries that the president has it exactly
wrong and that he`s in danger now of losing the middle-of-the-road voter.
We`ll debate that hot one for the Democrats tonight.
Plus, in just two hours, Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed in
Georgia. Despite years of efforts and national attention, all of his
options for clemency have now been exhausted. But is it possible an
innocent man is being put to death?
And we hear it almost every day from Republicans: If you raise taxes
on people making $250,000 a year, you`re hurting the job creators. That`s
their phrase, "job creators." Really? Is everyone making that kind of
money a "job creator," or is this just another way to keep taxes down for
the better-off? You decide.
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with Rick Perry`s dangerous and ignorant
use of the word "appeasement."
We start with the president, Palestinians and politics. Howard
Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst and the Huffington Post Media Group
editorial director. And Joan Walsh is editor-at-large for Salon.com.
Thank you both, both treasured guests on this program, as you both must
Let`s talk about this vote today. Today President Obama told the
United Nations General Assembly that the United States, our country, would
not support the Palestinian bid to create a state through the U.N.,
opposing something many of the country`s allies in the Arab world strongly
support. Let`s watch our president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Peace will not come
through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that
easy, it would have been accomplished by now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He also used the occasion of his 47-minute address to
defend Israel in front of a body that has been, and we all know this,
historically hostile to Israel. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: America`s commitment to Israel`s security is unshakeable. Our
friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. Israel, a small country of
less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much
larger nations threaten to wipe it off the map. The Jewish people carry
the burden of centuries of exile and persecution and fresh memories of
knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard, you know, I`ve done some looking up on this, like
we all have, his political history. He has a short political history, of
course, President Obama. But coming up out of Chicago politics, coming up
with the friends he`s made, the supporters he`s had, the people he`s close
to in terms of thinking at night -- they used to say people he meets near
midnight, people he talks with all the time -- say he`s very pro-Israeli.
Now, he may not be as pro-Israeli as George W. Bush was in a sort of a
mechanical way, but this charge of appeasement by Perry today -- your
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
talking to people on both sides of the aisle and all sides of this issue
today, I didn`t hear one -- including a Republican who`s very involved in
pro-Israel Republican Jewish activities -- who praised Rick Perry for using
that word. Matt Brooks, who`s the head of the Republican Jewish Coalition
MATTHEWS: Good guy.
FINEMAN: Good guy.
MATTHEWS: I`ve known him a long time.
FINEMAN: I asked him about Perry, and he said, well, he -- he, Matt,
was traveling. He didn`t -- he didn`t get to hear the whole thing. He
thinks it`s good that Rick Perry supports, you know --
MATTHEWS: Now he --
MATTHEWS: Matt? Matt, are you watching, buddy? Let`s see if you can
catch the drift of this thing. Here`s what Republican -- don`t ever
mention the Holocaust in any other context but the Holocaust, please,
ladies and gentlemen. Don`t mention appeasement in any other context but
MATTHEWS: -- ladies and gentlemen. Here`s a guy -- you got to be a
real knucklehead -- I`m not saying he surely is one, but this is
knucklehead behavior to do this. Here he is telling a crowd in New York
yesterday that Obama is guilty of appeasement. Here he is. Let`s watch
this guy doing this. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re equally
indignant of the Obama administration and their Middle East policy of
appeasement that has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith. Simply
put, we would not be here today at this very precipice of such a dangerous
move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn`t naive and arrogant,
misguided and dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Who is writing this claptrap, Joan? This is the kind of
language you use when you go to war with another country, certainly not the
language you use against your own president as he is about to address the
United Nations and when you know he`s going to give a strong defense of
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Right.
MATTHEWS: -- when you know he`s going to stand up there all alone in
the world pretty much -- I don`t know who else is voting with Israel this
time on this issue. We are, for sure. I have to say just about any
president right now would be. But here he is about to stand there all
alone in the world, and this guy pulls the rug out from under him, accuses
him of basically pro-Nazi behavior.
MATTHEWS: We know what appeasement means. It means Neville
Chamberlain. It means -- yes. Go ahead.
WALSH: He`s pulling Hitler into this, which is a very horrible thing
to do. It`s ignorant, Chris. He`s even gone beyond what some Israelis
want. He`s calling for maybe the U.S. should cut off its aid to the
Palestinian authority. Our aid funds security there. So he knows nothing
about this issue.
He is -- he`s ignorant as ignorant can be. And he`s also playing
politics because Rick Perry knows he`s going to have a really hard time
getting the Jewish vote, if he should be nominated. I mean, come on! The
guy holds his prayer rally, doesn`t have a single rabbi, doesn`t have a
priest, for that matter -- evangelical Christianity of a type that is very
scary to some Jewish people. So he`s going to double down on Israel and
say ignorant things.
MATTHEWS: Why is it scary to any thoughtful person who`s a citizen of
Israel? Because what use do some of these right-wing Christians have for
Israel, the end of days, right?
WALSH: The end of days. And he said that. He said that -- he`s --
not end of days, but he did say that he comes to his support for Israel out
of his Christian faith, which is not really a geopolitical way to be
approaching it. It`s a theological way.
MATTHEWS: Do you like the way he said it, I`m directed to do this.
WALSH: I`m directed to do this.
MATTHEWS: Here`s Joe Scarborough. We don`t always agree, my buddy
and I, Joe.
MATTHEWS: But here he is on "MORNING JOE." He went after Rick Perry
and Mitt Romney and called them reckless for playing politics during a
critical time when the president of the United States is engaged in high-
level negotiations. Let`s listen to Joe right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, "MORNING JOE": This is not helpful when our
president -- our president, America`s president -- is in the difficult
situation that he is in today in New York City with -- with I think one of
the most explosive situations on the globe. And we`ve got Rick Perry and
Mitt Romney posing for political purposes and undermining our president.
That is dangerous, and it`s not good for our country!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well said. But let`s get out of the diplomatic area now
that he`s making his debut up there, the ingenue of foreign policy, Rick
Perry, as he shows up, up there. I use these words carefully, by the way.
Let`s talk about this, politics. What`s he running in? He`s running
in the Iowa caucuses. They`re coming up as the first big test. You`re
smiling because you and I know this politics better than anybody. What do
you want to do in Iowa, where there`s very few middle-of-the-roaders? You
know, you got Tom Harkin on the progressive left, and you got the -- you`ve
got -- what`s his name? I`m trying to think of the right -- who would you
-- Grassley on the right over there.
FINEMAN: Chuck Grassley, yes.
MATTHEWS: You really are working the Christian right in Iowa, the
people who vote in the church bus.
MATTHEWS: You know, he`s going for the people who are super-Israeli
because of Old Testament thinking and the end of days and all the that
stuff, and Revelations.
FINEMAN: Well, yes, I mean --
MATTHEWS: I shouldn`t say Old Testament.
FINEMAN: Rick Perry`s whole strategy is, I`ll worry about tomorrow
FINEMAN: And he`s going straight after evangelical Christian votes in
Iowa, which are extremely important. The mega-churches in the suburbs of
Des Moines and elsewhere carry --
MATTHEWS: The Palin bus.
FINEMAN: They carry a huge amount of weight. And yes, the idea that
Israel needs to flourish, needs to thrive, needs to have the in-gathering
of the Jews to the Holy Land --
MATTHEWS: And to be a larger Israel, too.
FINEMAN: -- before the Rapture, is a big one in evangelical
Christianity. And also defense of Israel and a hard line --
MATTHEWS: OK --
FINEMAN: -- on Israel is a big thing for certain conservative Jews,
who are -- conservative Jews, as well.
MATTHEWS: I agree. But is this --
FINEMAN: That`s not a factor in Iowa, but he`ll take --
MATTHEWS: OK --
FINEMAN: -- he`ll take whatever benefit that brings him later on.
MATTHEWS: I`m on stronger ground here, rather than the geopolitics,
but I must say -- Joan, I`m going ask you about this. It seems to me what
Rick Perry`s doing in this sort of infantile way is to go up to New York,
jump up and down practically with a bullhorn --
MATTHEWS: -- and basically take sides with those who want to annex
the West Bank, Judea and Samarra, as they call it, and basically create a
larger Israel for the purposes of the end of days so that the Christian
right will have what they want --
MATTHEWS: -- an end of the world on their terms.
WALSH: And don`t the Jews then go away?
MATTHEWS: I mean, it`s so incredible that he`s pulling this.
WALSH: At some point --
WALSH: At some point, sadly, the Jews go away in this story --
MATTHEWS: Under that scenario.
WALSH: -- you know, under that scenario.
FINEMAN: Depending on the choice we make, yes.
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, Howard. I don`t respect (ph) this.
MATTHEWS: I know.
WALSH: But anyway --
MATTHEWS: There`s politics as we know it in this country right now,
which is extreme politics on the right. We`re getting to be very
fundamentalist in our politics.
WALSH: But this is -- but we need to --
WALSH: -- bring this out. I mean, we need to say this is what he`s
talking about and this is where -- this is where you wind up if you`re --
if you`re a Jewish person and you make friends with Rick Perry and the
evangelical right. That`s their vision for what`s going to happen to your
land and you.
FINEMAN: I don`t think there`s anything wrong with discussing this
issue in politics. I mean, the question of the role of Israel and
Palestine is an important one for American voters --
FINEMAN: -- because the United States supports everybody in that
region. We care about it a lot. But I agree with Joe Scarborough. You
don`t -- you don`t be this naked about politics on the morning of the
president giving a difficult speech at the United Nations. You just don`t
do it. There`s no -- there`s no sense of proportion or decency in the way
this is being handled on that side.
MATTHEWS: I think "decency" is the word. I`m going to get to that at
the end of the show. I think it`s indecent what Perry did today. And I`ve
not been tough on him personally, but I`m personally offended by what he
did to our country today.
Here`s President Obama meeting -- he met today with Israel`s prime
minister, Bibi Netanyahu, today. Before that meeting Prime Minister
Netanyahu had this to say about President Obama`s stance on vetoing any
Palestinian state bid in the Security Council. Let`s listen to Bibi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Standing your ground,
taking this position of principle, which is also, I think, the right
position to achieve peace -- I think this is a badge of honor, and I want
to thank you for wearing that badge of honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard and Joan, you first. It seems to me what Bibi`s --
not Bibi -- he`s a strong leader -- what Perry`s up to -- and he`s out of
his league here -- is he knows that President Obama`s going to be treated
very well in the Jewish community, and anybody who cares about Israeli, in
the next couple of months because this is a heroic stand he`s taking,
opposing any Palestinian state being created by the U.N. under these
I think he went up there to pull the rug out from under him.
WALSH: Yes --
FINEMAN: They went up there to try. But I think the president is
still standing on the rug in part thanks to Bibi Netanyahu. That -- that
photo op --
MATTHEWS: Badge of honor.
FINEMAN: -- that badge of honor, that statement with Bibi Netanyahu -
MATTHEWS: You think that might show up in a New York general election
FINEMAN: I think you`re going to see that picture all over --
MATTHEWS: Florida and south Florida.
FINEMAN: Speaking of Joe Scarborough, you know, you might not see it
in the Panhandle so much, but you`re going to see it everywhere from
Orlando south. That was worth its weight in gold to the president.
MATTHEWS: And Bibi`s as smart a pol as there is. He knows what he`s
FINEMAN: He knows what he`s doing. He knows American politics as
well as he knows Israeli politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, there -- I`m going to once again remind everybody
that Bibi Netanyahu went to Cheltenham High School right up the street from
LaSalle High School. He`s a neighbor in good standing as of that
Your thought? Last word, Joan?
WALSH: Well, I just want to say it`s also a tough stance for
President Obama to take because we are also trying to reach out to the
newly liberated, newly democratic states. We`ve seen the Arab spring. And
he cares deeply about those issues. And this is going to cost us -- if it
comes to a veto, it costs us with those communities. So it`s not -- it`s
definitely not a decision with no negative ramifications.
MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s a big -- it`s a strong suit for the president to
wear these next few days. I think he`s doing the right thing, what he has
to do. Sometimes the right thing is what you have to do, and what you have
to do is the right thing, and that`s what he`s doing.
Anyway, thank you Howard Fineman. Thank you, Joan Walsh.
Coming up: President Obama finds his populist voice. We`ve been
talking about it -- coming out against the rich people, coming out for tax
fairness for the wealthy -- and his progressive base is very happy. My
blogger friends who e-mail me all the time love what he`s doing.
But not former Clinton pollster Mark Penn. It`s not surprising. But
Bobby Shrum was going after him here last night, hammer and tong, and going
after him hard personally, too, by the way. Well, Mark Penn`s coming on in
a minute to defend himself saying that the president`s wrong to go left, if
you will, on this issue.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, Sarah Palin told the home crowd, if you will, on Fox
TV that there`s still time for her or anyone else to get into this
presidential race. And even though the Iowa caucuses are just four months
away now, she might be right.
Let`s take a look at the HARDBALL "Scoreboard" right now. A new
McClatchy poll has -- finds that Palin only trails President Obama in a
general election matchup -- that`s next November -- by just 5 points --
this is scary for the White House -- 49-44. Not much of a spread against
Palin. She`s been behind the president by more than 20 all year long.
That`s more about him than her, I think.
The reason Palin`s gained so much ground -- she now leads Obama among
independents, a sign of the president`s increasing vulnerability, I`d say.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You`re already hearing the Republicans in Congress dusting off
the old talking points. You know, you can -- you can write their press
releases. Class warfare, they say. You know what? If asking a
billionaire to pay the same rate as a plumber or a teacher makes me a
warrior for the middle class, I wear that charge as a badge of honor.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s two badges of honor he`s got. Anyway, welcome back
to HARDBALL. That was President Obama at a Democratic fund-raiser last
night up in New York City defending his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.
Democratic pollster and former Clinton adviser Mark Penn joins us now.
He said it`s a misguided strategy. He wrote that in the Huffington Post.
Quote -- here`s what Mark wrote. "Barack Obama`s careening down the wrong
path toward reelection. He should be bringing the country together, rather
than dividing it through class warfare."
Mark Penn joins us now, along with David Corn, who`s an MSNBC
political analyst and Washington bureau chief.
You know, last -- Mark, you know, you`re not going to get excited
about Bob Shrum attacking you here last night, but Shrum said awful things
about you, really awful. Much worse off camera. Just kidding.
MATTHEWS: But the fact --
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You missed that.
MATTHEWS: -- of the matter -- just the fact -- here`s (INAUDIBLE)
every -- a lot of progressives watching this show, some moderate Democrats
watch this show and a lot of independents and Republicans watch this show,
but they`re trying to figure out what Obama is going to try to do to get
reelected. He is in touch shape. We`ve shown the polls. He`s neck in
neck with Sarah Palin now, losing to independents among her.
What`s the right prescription, go down the middle left, if you will,
somewhere where I`m at usually, or go a little bit over to the progressive
side, maybe Ed Schultz country, and really stick it to the other side, go
after the rich people, a little bit of Madame Defarge, if you will, from
the French revolution. Your prescription, sir?
MARK PENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, first of all, let me
just say I love Bob, Mr. Class Warfare himself, and I think that we`ve --
we`ve been down this playbook before. This is the time to go to the
center, the way Bill Clinton did. This is the time not to bring, you know,
divisive measures, particularly for President Obama, who got unprecedented
support -- he got half of the 26 percent that earn over $100,000 in this
country, along with the overwhelming votes from those making under $30,000.
He has to bring those groups together the way he did in the last
presidential election, and this is the wrong way to do that.
MATTHEWS: But we`ve got a Gallup poll -- I want to just flash it by
you right now -- a Gallup poll that shows that 66 -- two thirds of the
people out there -- percent -- say go after those people that make over
PENN: Well, let me just say that those polls have been that way for a
A majority will always be for taxing a minority, but, at the polls, it
doesn`t seem to play out that way. Obama won by six or seven points last
time. Three of those points came from the over-$200,000 crowd. They
switch, he`s in a head-to-head race or losing. What`s happening is, he has
to bring people together.
The divisive strategy doesn`t work. Moving to the center, being for
smaller, activist government and isolating the Republicans as being against
Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment, that`s the strategy
that worked, not for being for trillions of dollars of tax increases.
MATTHEWS: Well, wait. OK. Let me go to David Corn.
David, it seems like he`s been the middle-of-the-roader for a long
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: And he`s gotten stuck in the middle of the road and the
people don`t like the fact he seems to be wishy-washy.
CORN: Well, there are two levels to this.
One is the negotiating position. One is the messaging. I mean, Mark
even just conceded that most polls show you, you get 60 percent to 70
percent -- I have a list of 20 polls here -- if you talk about Obama`s
approach to balancing the budget with a combination of cuts and some
But also there`s the negotiating stance, which is every time he`s come
out there and tried to take a more center position, the Republicans this
year have kicked him in the teeth. He can`t --
MATTHEWS: They have gone hard right.
CORN: He can`t negotiate from that position. It was Bill Clinton
back in 1992 --
MATTHEWS: That`s a good question.
CORN: -- who raised taxes.
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re saying don`t be a lefty, but doesn`t he have to
start on the left to get to the center in any final deal on anything to do
with debt reduction?
PENN: No. He has to take a strong position, rejecting the extreme
Republican ideology. You have to say, look, the Republicans don`t want a
smaller government. They want to eliminate Medicare and Social Security.
They don`t like those programs. Look, me, President Obama, I`m going to
protect them. I`m going to figure out how to have a smaller, activist
government. And if we have to raise taxes, I will hold the line on taxes
as much as I can, and you know what? I`m not going to divide the country
when I raise taxes. I will propose tax reform.
MATTHEWS: Because, Corn, look, the president just came out with a tax
MATTHEWS: Basically, raise taxes on the rich, but leave Medicare and
Social Security pretty much alone. So he`s doing what you`re saying to do,
make the Republicans do all the cuts in the programs the Democrats favor
most, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. So isn`t he doing what you want
in effect, even if he`s not using your rhetoric?
PENN: No, because he came out with a message that, look, I will cut
Medicare if you will raise taxes on the wealthy.
MATTHEWS: All right.
PENN: That`s a message that doesn`t appeal to independent voters, who
neither want to cut Medicare nor raise taxes. He never should have
accepted the rhetoric of the debt ceiling in the first place and he
shouldn`t buy that this is about taxes now.
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re saying walk away from the debt cuts.
CORN: He`s talking about going back to the Clinton era level of
taxation, when Mark Penn was advising Bill Clinton.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Let`s not get into personal.
CORN: I`m not being personal, but this is what he`s talking about.
It`s not a dramatic -- it`s not a dramatic rise -- raise --
PENN: It`s not about the policies.
MATTHEWS: I want him to hear it too.
Go ahead. Go ahead, Mark.
PENN: It`s not about the policies. What is the message the American
public is hearing? They`re hearing that he`s for trillions of dollars of
He`s going into an election with a Walter Mondale-like strategy. He`s
got to change it. He`s got to make the Republicans pay a price, I agree
with that, just as Clinton made the Republicans pay a big price by holding
tough on the negotiations. But he`s got to be for expanding the economy by
going out in the international economy, and innovation program, and putting
money into new areas. He`s not doing any of that. That`s not his message.
CORN: Mark, from his State of the Union on, he`s talked about
education, innovation and building. He`s done that with the jobs speech.
And he gets no traction from the right.
I don`t understand what you want him to do, when he`s dealing with a
bunch of hostage-takers. I think if you look at his jobs plan, a lot of
that is stuff that, as he says, has been supported in the past by
Republicans. It all polls pretty damn well, whether it`s good policy or
not, and he`s talked about trying to come up with a reasonable approach to
the deficit, without going overboard on it.
MATTHEWS: I want to learn something tonight.
Why is it, Mark -- and you know this better than I do -- how come this
week my lefty friends that do blog me and e-mail me all the time -- and, I
mean, they are happy to be called left -- they are thrilled, thrilled with
this president this week, because they say finally he`s listening to us.
Finally he`s going after the rich who aren`t paying their share.
Why are they -- isn`t this animating the base by doing what he`s
PENN: Well, right, but that doesn`t tell you everything you need to
know? If it`s animating the base, what`s it doing to independent voters?
He`s gone straight down since he got into the budget negotiations
because he became about raising taxes, not about limiting the size of
government. People want to see that he`s going to take the positions that
he took during the presidential campaign. And they want him to bring these
two groups together to find a reasonable path for budget negotiations.
PENN: -- tax-raiser.
MATTHEWS: What could he do? You`re saying he can`t raise taxes and
he can`t cut the social programs. You`re leaving him with no move at all.
What can he do on cutting debt? Nothing.
PENN: Oh, but he can take a -- look, he can take a tough position.
He can make the Republicans pay. He can come up with some cuts that make
And you know what? If he wants to have tax reform to raise revenue,
he can do it in a way that`s not class warfare. Take, for example, if he
took capital and labor and he brought those taxes closer together, but
didn`t discriminate what people made. All of those higher wage earning
professionals who voted for Obama would pay lower taxes.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you. I think you`re on to something.
PENN: And Warren Buffett would pay higher taxes.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to the Buffett rule. The Buffett rule says
no matter how much you make, you should pay no less as a percentage of your
income than your -- than people who work below you who make less than you.
Isn`t that what you`re getting at?
CORN: Wait a second.
MATTHEWS: Because I think that makes sense.
CORN: But that would be class warfare --
CORN: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: He`s saying if you make money --
CORN: Mark doesn`t like the Buffett rule.
MATTHEWS: No. Mark says, if you make money the old-fashioned way,
through salary and pay a high percentage of your income in taxes, that`s
OK. You just shouldn`t be getting away by just coupon clipping.
Is that what you`re saying?
PENN: Well, I`m saying that, look, there`s an opportunity. And I
worked on a plan on this many years ago, that if you close those taxes,
what you do is the professionals who are the natural supporters for Barack
Obama would pay less who are hardworking, the coupon clippers would pay
more. It wouldn`t be class warfare.
MATTHEWS: That`s the Buffett rule.
PENN: And he`d maintain his support.
MATTHEWS: The Buffett rule is everybody should be pay about the same
percentage, not matter how much you make. You shouldn`t pay a lower
percentage when you`re richer.
CORN: Right. But you have to change tax rates to make that happen,
which means raising a lot of the capital gains rates.
MATTHEWS: That`s what he`s saying. That`s what he was saying.
PENN: You also have to have some winners.
CORN: The president is not opposed to that.
MATTHEWS: I think you guys are closer than you think.
CORN: Well, listen, I don`t think the president is not doing a lot of
what Mark is suggesting to do.
CORN: He`s talked through this year about being above the fray and
trying to come up with a reasonable plan.
CORN: Yet the other side has not given him the latitude to do that.
MATTHEWS: He`s really against unfairness. I think that`s what he`s
fighting with this Buffett rule. And I think the American people will be
with him if he fights unfairness at the top, not wealth at the top, and I`m
with you on that, Mark.
Thank you, Mark Penn.
Thank you, David Corn.
Up next: President Obama channels Sarah Palin. What`s that? That`s
coming up next in the "Sideshow."
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, back to HARDBALL now and back to the "Sideshow."
First up: stealing a line from Sarah Palin. Really? Well, kind of.
Last night, at a DNC fund-raiser, President Obama incorporated a trademark
Palin quote into his speech. There`s a shocker. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All that hopey-changey
stuff, as they say --
OBAMA: -- that was real.
OBAMA: That wasn`t something worth being cynical about.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It`s still there, even in the midst of this hardship, but it`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, clearly, that was no accident. Don`t think that one
slipped by anyone -- hopey-changey.
Up next, speaking of recycling, some campaign jargon, here`s one from
GOP candidate Mitt Romney. Remember his corporations are people too, line
from last month? Well, with all the backlash it drew, maybe you thought he
was hoping we would all eventually forget it happened. Well, far from it.
Here`s what the candidate himself, Mitt Romney, had to say at a
Florida town hall earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was in Iowa the other day,
and someone said, why don`t you just raise taxes on corporations? And I
said, because corporations are people. Raising taxes on corporations is
raising taxes on people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Does he not get that people simply don`t sense any kind of
kinship or common humanity with big corporations? I don`t think he gets
We will be right back.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Veronica De La Cruz with
your CNBC "Market Wrap."
Stocks plunging on the Federal Reserve`s latest stab at salvaging the
economy, the Dow Jones industrials sinking 283 points, the S&P 500 tumbling
35, the Nasdaq giving up 52. It`s a case of be careful what you wish for.
As expected, the Fed announced a $400 billion program known as Operation
Twist. Its goal is to rebalance the Fed`s portfolio in a way that keeps
interest rates lower and helps bolster the housing market.
The problem is, nobody really expects it to have much of an effect.
The Fed also warned of significant downside risks to the economic outlook,
but stocks were already moving lower ahead of that announcement after
mining giants Freeport McMoRan and Alpha Natural slashed outlook forecasts
due to mining problems and slowing demand in Asia.
That dragged materials and transports lower, with train companies
taking some serious lumps along the way.
I`m Veronica De La Cruz. Let`s get you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We`re about 90 minutes away right now from the execution of Troy Davis
-- we talked about him last night here -- down in Georgia for the 1989
shooting death of a Savannah police officer, Mark MacPhail. Davis and his
defense team are fighting for his life as they try to get one last reprieve
Joining me now are Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker and
Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project.
Barry, thanks so much for joining us.
How long have you been involved in studying the case of Mr. Davis?
BARRY SCHECK, CO-DIRECTOR, INNOCENCE PROJECT: Oh, I think about five,
six years now, at least.
MATTHEWS: What was your immediate interest caused by, and when did
you make a judgment about his guilt or innocence?
SCHECK: Well, at the very beginning, we saw that there were
eyewitnesses to this incident that were taken back to the crime scene,
brought all together. A reenactment was performed.
Then one witness came in and told everybody elsewhere they were and
what she saw. Single photographs were shown. So the eyewitness evidence
in this case, based on everything we know from the psychology and the hard
data, was just fraught with risk.
You would never do this. Then, after that, there were seven
recantations by witnesses that they were really coerced by the police into
making these identifications in the first instance, and then there were
admissions by a man named Redd Coles, who was one of the alleged witnesses
here, who the defense always alleged was the real perpetrator, that he had
really committed the crime.
And finally -- and this happened after the Georgia courts got it and
is the subject of the latest appeal -- it now turns out that there was
forensic evidence, a bullet that was recovered from officer MacPhail it was
alleged by the police was involved in a shooting earlier that evening, that
they both came from the same gun.
And now the Georgia Bureau of Investigations has said that evidence is
unreliable. There`s no basis for believing that both the bullets came from
the same gun. And one of the jurors testified in front of the Board of
Pardon and Patrols, a woman who said that she is a supporter of the death
penalty, that she never would have voted to execute Troy Davis if she had
known that those bullets were not both fired from the same gun.
So when you put all this together and you look at Bill Sessions, pro-
death penalty, former head of the FBI, former federal judge, Mark White, a
former governor of Texas who himself executed 22 people and was an attorney
general in that state, Bob Barr, a congressman from Georgia --
SCHECK: -- these are pro-death penalty people who are saying there`s
just too much doubt in this case; there shouldn`t be an execution.
MATTHEWS: So the argument is that the other guy involved in beating
up that homeless person somehow got a gun, that gun that had the same
ballistic evidence left behind as the man who -- as apparently the guy who
was convicted of this crime, somehow got a hold of the gun and he did the
shooting. Is that your theory of the crime?
SCHECK: No, no, no.
The theory is, is that there was a man named Redd Coles. He was
there. He was the first person who came forward to the police, and he said
Troy Davis did it, because he knew Troy was at the scene.
MATTHEWS: Right. I thought they were both involved in beating up the
SCHECK: Well, it`s not clear that -- you know, that`s an allegation,
but the point is, is that Davis said that he came upon Coles beating up the
guy, and Coles is saying the opposite.
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK.
SCHECK: But there are no credible eyewitnesses.
MATTHEWS: Well, how`s your -- what`s your theory of the other guy
having the gun? I`m just trying to figure out what`s the reasonable
argument that something else happen than what the jury decided here?
SCHECK: Oh, there`s plenty of reasonable arguments. The witnesses
recanted. They weren`t in a position --
MATTHEWS: No, no, but what is the -- what did happen then?
SCHECK: Oh, what -- well, the defense theory is a very simple one,
that Coles is the guy that did the shooting. It was his gun, whatever he
did with it. No gun was ever recovered.
SCHECK: But the -- the theory that was put before the jury by the
prosecution is that there had been a shooting earlier that night, and they
allege that Troy Davis did that shooting that wounded somebody. Then they
MATTHEWS: And the shell casings matched up, they said in the
SCHECK: They said -- that`s right.
They said the shell casings from the prior shootings and the shell
casings from Officer MacPhail shootings both matched up and came from the
same gun. Now, everybody agrees, including the Georgia Bureau of
Investigations that that`s wrong.
SCHECK: And the reason why that`s so important is that prosecution
also argued to the jury that the reason Troy Davis would shoot the officer
when he saw him come upon the scene is that he was worried about having
committed the shooting earlier that night and so it made sense that Davis
did it and he did it with the same gun. That was the prosecution`s theory.
MATTHEWS: I got you.
SCHECK: There`s no forensic basis for that. That`s got to be
MATTHEWS: OK. Here we are less than 90 minutes now and the Supreme
Court, just heard from the "Associated Press," the Georgia Supreme Court
refuses to stop the execution as of this minute. Yesterday, by the way,
the Georgia Board of Pardons that we`ve been talking about -- and Paroles -
- released a statement denying clemency to Davis.
It reads, quote, "The board members have not taken their
responsibility lightly and certainly understand the emotions attached to a
death penalty case. In considering clemency in such case, the board weighs
each case on its own merit. The board has considered the totality of the
information presented in this case and thoroughly deliberated on it and the
decision is to deny clemency."
So, there we are. Cynthia Tucker, I want to bring you in here.
Cynthia, you cover these kinds of cases. You`re from down there. I
don`t know how we get beyond the jury here, but here we have the jury, the
parole board, the Supreme Court, the federal judge involved. Nobody wants
to stop this execution which looks like it`s going to happen.
Why do you see the dis-equality between what seems to be the lack --
the manifest lack of existing extant evidence here against the defendant
and the refusal of the process to stop?
CYNTHIA TUCKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Chris you`re asking the
$64,000 question, of course. Why is it with all of this evidence that
raises more than reasonable doubt -- many, many reasonable doubts -- why is
it that the death train keeps rolling?
And the only answer I can think of is that in a conservative state, a
conservative criminal justice system, and the board of Georgia -- the
Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is also part of the larger criminal
justice system -- they are reluctant to admit that the system may have made
a mistake. They are deeply invested in the idea that we did it right the
And that`s -- that`s the only thing that I can think of, that they
were committed to this idea. No mistakes were made. We did it right the
first time. We just don`t want to reopen this.
MATTHEWS: But aren`t some of the participants knew in this case to
make the other argument? Why would the fresh recruits to the parole board,
for example, feel any responsibility to defend a decision made before?
SCHECK: Well, you know, Chris, I understand that the parole -- that
it was only a 3-2 vote. That`s what the word is.
SCHECK: It was only a 3-2 vote.
TUCKER: It was a close vote, but also remember that people chosen --
MATTHEWS: OK, we know that.
TUCKER: -- for the Board of Pardons and Paroles in Georgia are likely
to be law and order types, conservatives who believe in the system and
believe that the integrity of the system has to be protected. I happen to
believe that you protect the system best --
TUCKER: -- by reopening the case when you have new evidence. But
there are many people who believe no, no. You protect the system against
all assault, and this is an assault on the criminal justice system.
MATTHEWS: Barry, let me ask you this, a philosophical thing. A lot
of people have problem with a lot of decisions juries make and they
believe, for example -- a lot of people believe O.J. Simpson was guilty of
the murders in the first case. You were involved in that case.
And they figure --well, it`s not the end of the world, if somebody
gets off who did it. But if somebody gets convicted and punished and their
life taken when they aren`t guilty, is that worse than somebody getting off
SCHECK: Well, that`s the theory behind our legal system. But, Chris,
you know, at the Innocence Project, we have over 275 people who were
exonerated with post-conviction DNA evidence. And, remember, DNA evidence
is only present in less than 5 percent of criminal cases. So, what about
all the other ones where there may be eyewitness misidentification, perhaps
as happened in the Troy Davis case or bad forensic evidence that we know
definitely happened in the Troy Davis case?
MATTHEWS: Well said, well said. We`re out of time, I`m sorry.
MATTHEWS: We`re going to have you back in our second edition at 7:00.
We want you back. I look forward to it. I want to talk about the very
things you`re bringing up here.
Thank you, Barry Scheck, one of the great exports on this kind of
evidence and Cynthia Tucker as always. We`ll bring you back both for our
live edition of HARDBALL tonight at 7:00, perhaps after the execution.
Up next: meet a so-called job creator who has created no jobs.
This is HARDBALL coming back in a minute, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, two American hikers jailed in Iran for more than two
years have been released and are heading home. Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal
left Tehran and were flown to the Gulf state of Oman today. Upon landing
Bauer and Fattal ran down the stairs of the plane into the arms of their
awaiting family members. And from there, they will fly back to America.
The pair were convicted by an Iranian court of spying for the United
States, even though they denied. And I think they are innocent of the
charges and maintain they accidentally crossed the Iranian border, which is
hard to explain either. But anyway, they were hiking in northern Iraq.
Anyway, a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released by Iran last year.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
For months now, we`ve heard the Republicans in Congress talking about
wanting to protect small businesses. They don`t want to protect rich
people. They never say that.
They want to protect men and women who call -- they call the job
creators of America. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Make sure that our nation`s
job creators have an economy in which they can start hiring again.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Get rid of the loopholes, lower the
tax rates and make us more competitive so we don`t tax our job creators
more than our foreign competitors are taxing their companies.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Private sector job
creators of all sizes have been pummeled by decisions being made right here
in Washington. They have been slammed by uncertainty from the constant
threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending and unnecessary regulation
from a government that`s always micromanaging, meddling and manipulating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans believe strongly that an extra $1.5
trillion of tax increases on America`s job creators is going to do nothing
to help the unemployment crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Well, the great thing about thing about word search, when
you use this search, just go chasing for the phrases they use over and over
again. It sort of shows what they`re doing here. Those job creators, by
the way, aren`t always who they think.
In fact, we`ve got one with us right now, who calls himself a job
creator who creates no jobs, "Washington Post" columnist Dana Milbank.
Dana, you did a column today about -- how have you taken the clothes
off, if you will, this argument that everybody who makes $200,000, $250,000
a year is a job creator?
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Well, look, Mitt Romney says that
corporations are people. And he is correct, because I am a corporation.
There are, according to the Small Business Administration, 27 million
small businesses in America. But guess what? More than 21 million of
those are actually non-employer corporations, like me. And that means it`s
just the guy who owns the business or the guy who is the business.
You know, guess what? You can reduce my taxes to zero or --
MATTHEWS: So, you think this is a tax dodge or just to prove this
MILBANK: Well, because the IRS. I`m sure is watching the show, it`s
all perfectly legal and aboveboard. But this is
MATTHEWS: I`ve heard of one, for example, called Hardball Inc. It
sounds very familiar.
MILBANK: Exactly. I`m sure you`re familiar with corporations.
MILBANK: But, look, they can drop my taxes to zero, I`m still not
going to hire anymore people because that`s not why I have a corporation.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s just a tax dodge that people can use as a pretext
for every time you want to touch the people at the country club or anybody
who`s got a lot of money -- oh, you`re cutting that business down to Main
MILBANK: You say job creators, you think, you know, it`s Steve Jobs
in the garage making the next great corporation. There may be a few of
those in there, but more likely you`re talking about doctors, and lawyers
MATTHEWS: Frank Luntz, did he come up with this? Didn`t he just come
up with the word -- don`t call them rich people anymore, call them job
MILBANK: It`s the best thing since --
MATTHEWS: It`s like revenue enhancement.
MILBANK: Right. Since the estate tax became the death tax, I think -
MATTHEWS: The death tax, who comes up with this stuff?
MILBANK: Well, it`s good stuff because you don`t want to hurt the job
Of course, there`s a way to help the job creators and that`s actually
to give them incentives for creating jobs as opposed to cutting taxes for a
lot of doctors and lawyers.
MATTHEWS: Yes, people making money and buying stuff.
You know, they always say in the little small-town way, the main
street going to the town, being challenged by Wal-Mart, which they don`t
always talk about. And it`s like that little store, variety store, gift
shop, that`s barely staying alive. And the reason it`s there is because
the tax law written by Republicans.
MILBANK: Well, the tax code is completely absurd, written by many
people over a long period of time.
So, it`s ridiculous that I`m a corporation, same as Google or General
Motors, but it`s a rational response to an irrational system. So, people
are making these businesses not because they want to create jobs, but
that`s because what this absurd tax code requires us to do.
MATTHEWS: And the people who are the biggest hawks in this country,
by the way, who want to fight every war, I`ve noticed on the right, who
can`t wait to be -- let`s go into Iraq and spend 40 zillion dollars a week,
they`re the ones who don`t want to pay taxes.
Don`t they see the connection? Remember the phrase "war effort" --
you all do your bit when Uncle Sam has got to fight a war, not just the
poor kids, the working kids that go over there and fight the wars? But
everybody does? What happened to that idea?
MILBANK: I think the interesting thing about this is you see Obama
talking the Buffett Rule.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I like the Buffett Rule.
MILBANK: How many people are going to be affected by this? I asked
as expert at Brookings, few thousands, maybe as few as 1,000 people in the
MATTHEWS: Who would pay a lower tax rates than the poor people.
MILBANK: Than their secretaries, or the equivalent to that. It`s not
such a large thing the president has asked for.
MATTHEWS: What about people that make all their money off of money?
Don`t they pay at the 15 percent rate? Not the 35 percent rate?
MILBANK: They do. My corporation is not --
MATTHEWS: Well, I think a lot of (INAUDIBLE) than you think. I see
them with their big yachts. I don`t think they`re out there sweating 60
hours a week like a working person.
MILBANK: This is true, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thanks. You always win your arguments. Thanks,
Dana Milbank, who`s going to be right here a lot. This guy is smart.
When we return, let me finish with why I think Rick Perry dishonored
this country today and doesn`t get the role -- doesn`t get what an American
president is supposed to be. The president speaks for the America at U.N.,
not some guy walking around the street putting on a show.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this -- appeasement. It`s what
democracies buckle to when they debuckled to Adolf Hitler`s demand for a
part of Czechoslovakia back in 1983. It`s what Neville Chamberlain did at
Munich, give the Nazi regime the right to march across a border and take
what land it wanted.
Appeasement, it`s what many people believe was the reason for Hitler`s
rise for World War II itself. By yelling to Hitler, the democracies sent
the signal that they would not fight, that he could grab all that he
wanted. By failing to take a stand when it could have worked, they opened
the door to Hitler`s a grab a year later to Poland, the country that was
far harder to defend, setting it up as an opportunity for Hitler and Stalin
to simply greedily divide it up and take what they wanted for themselves.
So, a person uses this word "appeasement," this vile word, so loaded
with meaning and hatred, carrying a very tremor of evil with it, the
history of the Holocaust, of course. They ought to know, whether they use
it or not, they ought to know what they`re saying. And if they`re not
saying a terrible thing like this or not knowing it, they should be ashamed
of themselves for being so ignorant.
That`s right. Yesterday, the leading candidate for his party`s
nomination stood within a few blocks of the United Nations building and
accused of president of the United States of appeasement. Governor Perry`s
charge delivered just hours before the president was to speak for our
country and also in the clear national interest of Israel to give a case
for the United States decision to veto a move in the Security Council to
recognize the sovereignty of a Palestinian state. It was a shameful act.
It was meant to undermine the president at the very instant he would be
standing practically alone in the world as he was today, standing with our
At this very moment of national challenge, with the president doing
what every friend of Israel -- left, right and center -- understands he
needed to do, this person from Texas, this foreign policy ingenue, spotted
his chance and he showed up in New York to make his diplomatic debut.
Mr. Perry, you did our president a disservice, our country a dishonor
today. You showed that you do not understand the role of the American
presidency in our national life. When a president acts to defend the
United States, in this case on principle as well as national interest, we
should all stand behind him. If you don`t get that, you don`t get us --
much less the job of representing us on the world stage which the president
did so well and so courageously today.
As the great attorney asked of another showboater doing harm against
our country a half century ago -- have you no sense of decency, sir? At
long last, have you left no sense of decency?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. We`ll be right
back in one hour for a live edition of HARDBALL.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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