Guests: Michael Brannon, Corbin Dates, Tom Mauser, Buzz Bissinger, Bob Shrum
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The face of horror.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. "Let Me Start" with
what someone can do with a semiautomatic rifle, a clip containing 100
bullets. He can shoot a person a second without reloading. He can walk
into a movie theater and start shooting at human beings like they were
plastic ducks in a shooting gallery. He can do it for no other reason than
he feels like it and has the confidence to carry it out, that and a lack of
Well, today we got the first good look at James Holmes, the man now in
custody for this horrid crime. Two questions. Can we spot a guy like that
ahead of time? You know the saying guns don`t kill, people do. What about
Second question. Did Ben Franklin and the others, with all their
foresight, imagine a day when anyone could tote around a weapon like this,
or were they thinking of someone from the neighborhood carrying a musket?
Was the original intent of the founding fathers -- Jefferson, Madison and
Adams -- to have people strolling into theaters carrying the kind of
firepower this guy did? Can anyone honestly argue this?
And Penn State`s Happy Valley isn`t going to be happy for a while.
First went the statue of Joe Paterno -- Jo-Pa, as we used to call him from
the stands. Then today came the verdict, four years of not going to a bowl
game, open season for Penn State players to transfer where they can. And
oh, yes, a lot fewer scholarships and a huge fine besides.
But let`s go right now to this mass murder in Colorado. With me now
is Corbin Dates, who was in the movie theater when the gunman opened fire.
Also with me is Dr. Michael Brannon, a forensic psychologist and co-
director of the Institute for Behavioral Sciences and the Law.
Thank you, Dr. Brannon. Let`s start right now with Corbin Dates -- we
have to go to Brannon right now. Let`s go to Dr. Brannon.
What did you make of the picture we saw today in the courtroom of
James Holmes? Did he give you any indication that he had a problem?
MICHAEL BRANNON, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, Chris, it`s very
difficult to tell from a picture. We don`t know a whole lot about him. I
haven`t interviewed him.
But certainly, the things that stand out, of course, are the red hair,
which may be symbolic of what he said at the time the police picked him up,
I`m the Joker, and his eyes. Right away, from looking at his eyes, it
looks different from the other pictures. We immediately begin to suspect
the possibility of some type of drug abuse.
MATTHEWS: Well, would he have access to drugs or would he be in
withdrawal? What do you mean, at this point?
BRANNON: Well, some drugs are long-acting. So certainly, he may well
still be under the influence of some type of drug even at this later date.
Or he may have been given drugs while he`s in jail to calm him down. If he
has a major mental disorder, he may have some major tranquilizer in his
system that`s helping him to calm down or deal with a delusion.
Those type of drugs oftentimes give one the appearance of either being
wide-eyed, or like we saw in court today, him being drowsy, lethargic,
almost falling asleep.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let`s get to that. The Arapahoe County
sheriff`s office just released a booking photo for James Eagan Holmes.
Let`s take a look. Now, there`s that look. Can you see that right now?
Can you see that Dr. Brannon?
BRANNON: I do not have it on a monitor, Chris, but I have seen the
MATTHEWS: It`s wide-eyed -- wide-eyed, almost affectless. What do
you make of that shot? What`s that tell you? Almost non-emotional, I
guess you`d say.
BRANNON: Well, again, it`s different from his other pictures that
we`ve seen previously of this well-manicured, good-looking young man. Now
we have this kind of wild-eyed look. Now, that may be suggestive of mental
health problems. But more likely, we again think about some use of some
illicit substance or even an abuse of a prescription medication to give
that kind of appearance.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go right now to Corbin Dates, who is a witness who
was in I think the second row of that theater. Corbin, thank you for
joining us tonight.
What did you feel when you saw the picture of that guy in court today,
Corbin, James Holmes?
CORBIN DATES, SHOOTING WITNESS: I`d say as soon as I was watching the
trial on CNN today, I felt completely numb. I felt no emotion whatsoever
when I was looking at the face of the gunman.
MATTHEWS: Did he look dangerous to you? Did he remind you of what
you saw in the theater?
DATES: Honestly, looking at his face right now, no, he looked like an
average person that you would see probably at a mall or anywhere common.
You would not put two and two together if you saw that person and if you
were there that night. You would never know.
MATTHEWS: OK, compare him to what you saw, the gentleman you saw, the
two gentlemen, whatever you saw -- compare him to what you saw in the
theater the night that everything went horribly.
DATES: The night in the theater, as soon as the door swung open and
the person dressed all in black walked into the theater, this person had a
stroll like he knew what was going on, like he knew what was supposed to
happen, like it was supposed to be a walk in the park and that he was going
to have a good time. That`s what it looked like.
MATTHEWS: Do you -- is there any way you can connect the two? Could
you identify him as that guy, the one who killed the 12 people and injured
or wounded so many others, dozens of others?
DATES: I couldn`t have identified him because the person -- the
gunman was dressed all in black. You could not see anything. The only
thing that was available to see was only his eyes.
MATTHEWS: Let me -- how did you survive, by the way? I`m glad you
did, sir, just meeting you now, but I`m glad anybody survived that horror
scene. The assailant was moving with an automatic weapon. Tell me about
the weaponry that you heard (INAUDIBLE) What kind of a gun was he shooting?
BRANNON: It seemed like he was shooting a semiautomatic rifle. It
wasn`t anything that was rapid-fire, but however, it was just continuous
single shots. After the shots -- they immediately went off -- after the
gas canister that he threw into the audience went off, I immediately went
to the floor, along with my friend. In about 10 seconds, I decided that I
needed to crawl my way out.
MATTHEWS: And how did you know -- how did you get behind him? He was
moving up the aisle, and you were bear-crawling behind -- underneath the
chairs? How did you do it?
DATES: Well, sitting in the second aisle, he came out, like I said,
he threw a canister into the audience that went off. Within two seconds of
it going off, he started firing off his rifle. After that point, I was
immediately already on the ground.
I started walking my way towards the other opposite side of the
auditorium. It was still dark. There was smoke everywhere. And the film
probably did not stop playing until maybe 15 seconds. And it was pitch-
MATTHEWS: Was he using the projection of the movie -- on the screen -
- in other words, the movie itself, the Batman movie itself, as his
lighting as he shot -- identified people and shot and killed many of them?
DATES: I`m sorry. I couldn`t understand that question. Could you
MATTHEWS: What was -- was the only light in that theater the movie
being projected on the screen?
DATES: That`s correct. That was the only -- the movie being
projected on the screen was the only light that was there, plus the lights
that were in the back far hallways that would lead you out to the lobby.
Other than that, everything in between was pitch-black.
MATTHEWS: OK, hold on there, Corbin. Let me go back to Dr. Brannon.
You know, I`ve seen -- I`m a movie buff, like everybody knows. I hope
everybody remains a movie buff, to be quite blunt about this, because I
love them, the experience of going to a theater.
But here`s the question. I saw a movie called "Minority Report." Tom
Cruise was it, sci-fi movie that said you can catch people ahead of time.
You can find their projection into the future. I know that`s the sci-fi
part. Is there any way in real life to figure out a guy like this ahead of
BRANNON: Chris, prediction is very difficult because not a lot of
people do these kinds behaviors. In psychology, we talk about the base
rate being real low. So we don`t know a lot about these kinds of people.
We know in general what increases risk potential and causes people to
be more dangerous, but we don`t know specifically what causes someone to do
this kind of behavior.
MATTHEWS: So we don`t know the trigger...
BRANNON: There`s no profile, in other words.
MATTHEWS: So for all the people categorized as psychotic or
sociopathic or whatever terms we use, and there are lots of them out there,
we don`t know how -- how -- what it takes to take them from a private hell
of confusion and anger to activity that`s horrible. We don`t know what
triggers that, right?
BRANNON: Well, we do know a number of different factors. Like for
instance, someone who is a psychopath and has no connection or remorse or
empathy with other people. We do know that people who use drugs and
alcohol have a higher rate of those kinds of behaviors, or people who are
delusional. A small percentage of people with mental illness, delusional
types, may well be so paranoid they engage in these kinds of behaviors.
Or it may be a neurological condition. Someone can have a brain tumor
that`s been undiscovered for a long period of time that would cause these
types of seemingly sudden behaviors.
MATTHEWS: How do you put together mental problems of the most severe
kind with high competence? This crime, it looks to be, was organized very
well by perhaps a single individual. We don`t know. It seems like it.
Here`s a guy that apparently held the door open, knew he was going out
of the theater, knew there`d be an alley there, knew he could put his car
there, knew nobody would be watching, knew how to get the weaponry, how to
get the bullet, how many he could fire. A lot of competence goes into
How do you put together the competence of a criminal with what seems
to be serious mental illness?
BRANNON: Yes. Yes, Chris, remember, the overwhelming majority of
individuals with mental illness are not dangerous. But of the small
percentage who are, not all types of severe mental illness lead to
BRANNON: Some people with severe mental illness, like paranoid
schizophrenia, can plan. They can organize. They think of things months
in advance and even plan escape routes. So not all mental illness results
in disorganization and an inability to plan.
MATTHEWS: How about the guy in court today we saw? Could that guy in
court be already thinking through an insanity defense and his behavior
BRANNON: Well, it`s always possible...
MATTHEWS: ... and acting it out?
BRANNON: It`s always -- Chris, it`s always possible that someone does
something called malingering, the purposeful exaggeration or fabrication of
symptoms for secondary gain. So it`s always possible. It`s very difficult
Less than 1 percent of all cases that go to trial use the insanity
defense. And most of them, over three quarters of them, are unsuccessful.
So it`s not a defense that`s oftentimes used...
MATTHEWS: What else has he got?
BRANNON: ... or successful.
MATTHEWS: What else has he got?
BRANNON: Well, we don`t know yet. We don`t...
MATTHEWS: OK, or anybody...
MATTHEWS: I got to be careful about presumption of innocence, even in
a case that gets so -- so graphic as this. Let me go back quickly to
Was there one or two people involved in this? I`ve heard that you
believe there might have been two, not just one.
DATES: I couldn`t speculate, but the way from what I saw prior to
before the gunman walking in, acted out, it seemed like there was two. But
I couldn`t speculate because I did not know what happened after that door
MATTHEWS: Did you tell someone...
DATES: ... before it swung back open...
MATTHEWS: I think you told one of our producers that the person you
saw going out of the theater to get -- and come back -- whoever came back
in, the one who went out had a goatee, had...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
DATES: That`s correct, yes. Prior to the movie even starting, when I
came and got my seat at the theater, a guy walked into the auditorium after
me, sat into the very front -- first right row, and got a phone call, took
his phone call towards the emergency exit, not the lobby, and had his foot
propped open by the door.
It seemed like he was making gestures of trying to find somebody or
trying to have somebody come to his location to where he currently was.
After that, I had already stepped out of the auditorium to bring my friend
in. And when we came in, the movie was just starting, the lights were
dimming, and that door seemed closed.
MATTHEWS: And you`d testify to all this in court?
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Corbin Dates. I`m glad you got
through it, fella. And Dr. Michael Brannon, it sounds right to me,
everything you`ve said.
Coming up next: Yes, the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to bear
arms, and we know what the founding fathers meant by that, a musket. Did
the founders mean (ph) including assault weapons with hundred-clip
magazines? Is there any middle ground, by the way, in here between public
rights to own a gun and public safety?
Plus, judgment day for Penn State. Boy, are they getting the judgment
on that (ph). One day after Joe Paterno`s statue was wrapped up, taken
away, the NCAA puts the hammer to the football program, guaranteeing it
won`t be competitive in the Big 10 or anywhere else for a long while. But
is it enough?
And the right-wing hate machine. More conservative Republicans
criticize Michele Bachmann -- these are the good guys and good people, by
the way -- for her indefensible attack on Muslim Americans generally. You
know, the Republican Party, the old good Republican Party, is coming out
and saying, Enough, enough of this attacking people because of their ethnic
And remember this moment from the 2004 Republican national convention?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: Well, I wish I was over there! I wish
we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was former (SIC) Zell Miller in an unforgettable
moment. He`s from Georgia. I`m from Philly. And I never met a guy like
it. He now says he regrets having made that challenge to a duel to this
lonely fellow sitting here.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: If you think this presidential campaign looks a lot like
2004 race, consider this. New polling from Gallup puts President Obama`s
approval rating closer to George W. Bush`s than to any other recent
president. Obama`s approval rating for his 14th quarter in office averages
out to 46.8 -- 46.8. That puts him a hair under where George W. Bush was
at this point in his presidency at 47.9. Now, Bush, of course, beat John
Kerry in a close race to win his second term. He won by about three
million votes. Remember that.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, fatal shooting rampages
like the one last weekend in Colorado in that movie theater are seared in
our minds, of course. Their names are names like Virginia Tech, of course,
Jonesboro, Arkansas, Columbine. But these tragedies never lead to tougher
gun control, ever. A kind of torpor has sent in the gun control debate.
There`s a horrific incident. Gun control advocates plead their case, make
some noise for a while. And then the issue fades away.
Well, Tom Mauser`s son, Daniel, was killed in the Columbine shooting
13 years ago. Since then, Mauser has become a gun control advocate,
founding the group Cease-Fire (ph) Colorado. And of course, "Time"
magazine`s Mark Halperin is in touch with all this politics. He`s an MSNBC
senior political analyst.
Let me go to Mr. Mauser. And I can only have sympathy for you, sir.
I can`t even imagine the loss of a son. And that stays with you every
moment of your life.
Why does the need for gun control -- and I remember the first time I
ever wrote a congressman in my life was when Johnny Carson said, Write your
congressman. It`s the only time he ever asked us to do it, after Bobby
Kennedy was killed, about gun control. And nothing`s happened.
TOM MAUSER, SON KILLED AT COLUMBINE, GUN CONTROL ADVOCATE: That`s
right. Nothing happens because people -- people forget. They move from
one story to the next. They don`t see one single solution to the problem.
And they see that there`s not been action, so they just assume that nothing
can happen because of the 2nd Amendment and because of the gun lobby.
MATTHEWS: What do you think? If everybody in America got to vote
right now on line, everybody who could vote, everybody over 18, would we
have gun control if we had a plebiscite? Do you really believe that?
MAUSER: I think that if you have a measured action -- we did that in
Colorado. We put the measure to close the gun show loophole in Colorado
after Columbine. When the legislature wouldn`t do it, we did it. We put
it on the ballot. Seventy percent of the voters in Colorado, a
conservative Western pro-gun state, closed that gun show loophole.
And the reason why is that whenever it was in the legislature, it`s a
lot easier for the gun lobby to buy, bully and badger 51...
MAUSER: ... out of 100 legislators than it is to get to all the
voters in Colorado.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Mark...
MAUSER: If you give them something reasonable...
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Mark Halperin, my colleague. I just heard
recently by an author (ph) that even very young people today who can just
vote, 18 to 21 -- they`re more for gun rights than their elders, that this
is not moving in the gun control direction, Mark.
MARK HALPERIN, "TIME," MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first, Mr.
Mauser, as Chris said, sorry for your loss. It`s just unthinkable. And of
course, we`re all thinking still about the families of the victims and the
people were still wounded. And that human element is compelling to a lot
If you walk around on a coast, certainly, in Washington, New York,
Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, people will look at this human tragedy
and they say, We need gun control.
But the public opinion, as Chris just said, is on one side. It is not
moving in the direction of greater gun control. It`s moving in the other
direction. The intensity for voters remains on that side.
And I think if you look at the well-meaning people, not necessarily in
the case of post-Columbine in Colorado, but if you look at national
remedies, the well-meaning people who`ve tried to form a way, the Brady
campaign and others, to pass more laws that would regulate firearms in one
way or another -- I think their legislative strategy, their grass roots
strategy has clearly been a failure.
And people who want to move in that direction I think need to rethink
longer-term ways to change public opinion because the legislators aren`t
just afraid of the gun lobby, they`re aware of what public opinion is on
MATTHEWS: Let me go -- Mr. Mauser, I`m from Pennsylvania originally,
and you can`t be for gun control statewide in Pennsylvania. Your goose is
cooked. This true all the way back to Joe Clark (ph) in the `60s. You
come out for gun control, you`ve got that point of view on your side, you
lose the next election for senator. That`s the way it works.
MAUSER: You know, I`m originally from Pennsylvania myself also, the
Pittsburgh area. You have a lot of hunters. You can talk to those
hunters, and you ask them, do they think that they need an assault weapon
to shoot a deer, of course not. If you ask them if there are reasonable
things that you can do -- again, you have to present people with a
reasonable measure, like we did in Colorado.
The problem is that so often this debate comes down to, are you pro-
gun or anti-gun? Are you for the Second Amendment or against it? There`s
a lot of gray in between. And that`s what you have to present to people.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me tell you where it`s not in-between. Mr.
Mauser, let me tell you a clear-cut case.
We have been talking tonight about a gunman who may well have used a
semiautomatic rifle with a 100-round clip in it. Now, with that, we have
been reading you can shoot off one a second. You can kill -- in a sitting
duck situation, you could potentially shoot or kill 50 to 60 people in a
Now, most people would say that`s not a hunting rifle. They would say
it`s certainly not something that James Madison or Ben Franklin was
thinking about. It`s a frightening weapon that could have taken on a whole
regiment of British soldiers or Continentals. It`s unimaginable by...
MAUSER: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And all these old guys that say, oh, we got to go by
original intent, original intent, does anybody really think Ben Franklin
was thinking give people the right to carry any kind of firepower they can
put on their shoulder? Of course he wasn`t thinking that, because he had
no imagination for something like that existing, I don`t think. I think
What do you think?
MAUSER: That`s right. And that`s -- and that`s -- that`s why in this
political environment here in Colorado, we`re going to have to ask those
people who are running for office, are you OK with a 100-bullet clip? Is
that OK? Is that reasonable to you? Do you support that?
MAUSER: And we`re going to hear all the excuses, but we have to put
that question to them, because I think most people, reasonable people will
say, this is insanity.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s touch that...
MAUSER: When are we going to start looking at how other nations don`t
HALPERIN: But, Chris, if you look at...
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s -- no, they don`t. Mark, let`s look at this
and react to this, Mark Halperin.
Here are the attitudes and how they have changed in the last 20 years
on this issue of gun control. 1990, 1990, 78 percent, four out of five
Americans told Gallup gun control should be stricter, four out of five back
in `90. Only 19 percent say should be less strict, so that`s four to one,
or say the same.
BY 2010, that`s 20 years later, those numbers were very different,
with only 44 percent of Americans saying laws should be stricter, less than
So, there you see a decline Mr. Mauser, despite the horror in your
life that goes on and on and on. Look at that. The graphic shows people
have lost their zeal for gun control.
HALPERIN: And, Chris, the graph doesn`t illustrate, doesn`t include
HALPERIN: Anyone in politics will tell you the people who are gun
voters tend to be overwhelmingly, the people who are intense about it, who
would vote on that issue, tend to be people -- tend to be people who don`t
want gun control.
And again, I`m describing what I think is, not what I think ought to
be. I should be clear about that.
MATTHEWS: I know.
HALPERIN: But the assault weapon is I think the clearest case of what
an uphill fight people who want more gun -- strict gun laws face, because
you have made out the case for the assault weapon. That`s been around a
long time. We have seen other shootings with assault weapons.
We all know that that`s not intended for hunting. And yet you don`t
see Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton when she ran for president or John
Edwards when he ran for president or Joe Biden when he ran for president --
none of them were out there championing an assault weapon ban.
It`s dead in Congress right now because of public opinion. And,
again, I will say the well-meaning people who are trying to change the
debate on this have spent time and some resources, but they`re overwhelmed
by resources on the other side, trying to change it and they haven`t.
MATTHEWS: Last word, Tom.
MAUSER: Frankly, I think people -- frankly I think that people have
given up in this country.
It`s clear that we go from one strategy to the next. And I think
people have simply given up. They have seen nothing has been done by
political leaders. They see the power of the gun lobby and they have just
given up. They don`t look at the reality that other free nations don`t
have this problem.
It`s shameful, the level that we have, the level of gun violence, and
yet we do nothing. Those other countries have done something. Can you
argue that those nations are not free? Are they somehow less free than us?
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, the gun lobby will say they do.
MAUSER: What they have shown is a lot more concern for the
individual. They show a lot more...
MATTHEWS: My brother is a gun guy, and I will tell you there are
people that say they don`t want to live in Europe because of that. There
are gun voters out there, as Mark points out, who vote primarily on gun
rights. That is their voting issue.
MAUSER: And that is, unfortunately...
The thing is there are only a few people like you, Tom, for whom --
for whom gun control is their primary concern. There just aren`t as many
people on that side.
MAUSER: I agree.
MATTHEWS: And that`s the problem.
MAUSER: That is the problem.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much.
Please come back on. When we bring this subject up, we want you back.
And, Mark Halperin, you nailed it.
Up next, remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2004)
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: I wish we lived in the day where you
could challenge a person to a duel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Zell Miller, that`s the man right there, has got some
thoughts about our interview eight years ago. That`s coming up. This
surprised me today.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And now for the "Sideshow," and what a
"Sideshow" it is.
When you think of the duo of former Senator Zell Miller of Georgia and
me, I`m guessing it comes down to one conversation. Let`s look back at our
exchange right after his fiery keynote address at the 2004 Republican
Convention, when he suggested John Kerry would arm U.S. forces with
Here is a look at my follow-up to this speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2004)
MATTHEWS: Do you believe, Senator, truthfully, that John Kerry wants
to defend the country with spitballs? Do you believe that?
MILLER: That was a metaphor, wasn`t it? You know what a metaphor is.
And he certainly doesn`t want to defend with B-1 or the B-2 bomber or
the Harrier jet. I think we ought to cancel this interview.
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t mean...
MATTHEWS: Well, that would be my loss, Senator.
MILLER: You`re hopeless.
I wish I was over there.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MILLER: I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person
to a duel. Now, that would be pretty good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was me laughing actually.
Anyway, challenge to a duel. Zell Miller is a former Democratic
senator from Georgia. He was an actual Democratic senator from Georgia
then. But he underwent a massive transformation in his political views and
supported George W. Bush`s election.
Zell Miller recently got candid about his 2004 encounter. According
to "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," he said -- and I quote -- "That was
terrible. I embarrassed myself. I would rather it had not happened."
Miller has taken a back seat in the political scene in recent years.
Anyway, finally, there`s been no shortage of Republicans blasting
President Obama for not believing in the idea of American exceptionalism,
which I believe in, by the way.
The question is, what has the president done to even said to bring on
the attacks? Well, recent issue of "New York" magazine did some digging
and paired up some of what we have actually heard from the president with
what Republicans have thrown at him.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michelle and I had the
chance to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We`re only here because somebody passed on this -- this
incredible notion, this -- this exceptional American idea that it doesn`t
matter where you come from.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Those in the White House today don`t
believe -- they don`t believe in American exceptionalism.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If you are for
American exceptionalism, you`re us. If you`re for European socialism and
Saul Alinsky radicalism, you`re with Barack Obama.
OBAMA: My entire career has been a testimony to American
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This has all got to do with a foreign
policy led by a president who doesn`t believe in American exceptionalism.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I`m pretty certain
I don`t see that same level of willingness to assert that the United States
is, indeed, exceptional.
OBAMA: The United States has been and will always be the one
indispensable nation in world affairs. One of the many examples of why
America is exceptional.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m convinced he wants
Americas to be -- Americans to be ashamed of success.
OBAMA: What makes us exceptional, what makes us great is not just how
many skyscrapers we have. It`s not how powerful our military is. What
makes us special is this idea that, in this country, if you are willing to
work hard, if you`re willing to take responsibility for your own life, then
you can make it if you try.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And that`s why people like this guy.
Anyway, see what I mean? It`s all part of the never-ending effort to
convince Americans out there that the president is some combination of
foreign ideas, socialism and other-ness. And the list of that crap goes on
and on. You heard him. Let him speak for himself, ladies and gentlemen.
Anyway, up next: Penn State gets strict sanctions -- I would call
them that -- boy, they are tough -- after the Jerry Sandusky child rape
scandal. But did the punishment go far enough? The great Buzz Bissinger
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."
Worries about Spain`s finances sent stocks into a skid. The Dow falls
101 points, the S&P sinks 12, and the Nasdaq loses 35. The global slowdown
hits McDonald`s. The fast-food giant`s earnings and revenues fell short
and shares finished nearly 3 percent lower. Meanwhile, Halliburton`s
profits came in ahead estimates, thanks to increased oil drilling activity.
And toymaker Hasbro saw profits beat as it made market share gains.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
It`s the end of an era in a place known as Happy Valley. In the
advance of the tough punishments handed down against Penn State by the
NCAA, the statue of the late football coach and hero to many Joe Paterno
was wrapped up, taken down and -- there it is -- hauled away yesterday.
Well, today, the school heard their punishment. While Penn State will
be allowed to keep playing football, they won`t be allowed to go to any
bowl games for four years, among several other very tough edicts.
Well, this afternoon, the Paterno family slammed the NCAA for issuing
those sanctions based on the Louis Freeh report. And their statement said
the punishment to Penn State are -- quote -- "Well, they defame the legacy
and contributions of a great coach," they say, the family, "and educator
without any input from our family or those who knew him best."
Well, that`s what the Paterno family said. The school has done
This afternoon, I spoke with Buzz Bissinger with the approval of the
removal of the statue, about that, and the sanctions against the
university. He`s the author of "Father`s Day" and a sports columnist for
The Daily Beast.
MATTHEWS: Buzz Bissinger, what did you think when you saw those
pictures of the statue of Joe Paterno up at Penn State being shrouded up
and then hauled away in the night, basically, yesterday when no one was
supposed to be watching?
BUZZ BISSINGER, AUTHOR, "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS": Well, you know, it was
a little bit weird, but, frankly, I think they had to do it.
I have to admit I sort of felt a pang of sadness about the whole
thing. I mean, if Joe basically had made one phone call, one phone call,
all this would have been different. But he did not. He ignored. And I
think the university had to take that statue down.
So, I think they did the right thing. It was a little bit surreal,
but it`s gone. But you just couldn`t have fans walking by it and seeing
that smiling face.
MATTHEWS: Yes, you can`t have a guy who is historically placed there
who has been known to have covered up child rape. And that`s what it
looked like the university was doing there all the way up the line.
Let me ask you about the NCAA punishments exacted today, no bowl games
for four years, Paterno`s victories, 111 of them, ripped from the record
book, completely gone. He`s not the number-one winner anymore. Shrinkage
in scholarships down to where they can`t really win the Big Ten. Players
can split if they don`t like the deal there anymore, they don`t like the
smell, and now a big fine of $60 million.
Is that enough? It`s a lot.
BISSINGER: It was a lot. I was surprised.
And I have to give the NCAA chops. I really wondered if they would do
anything. And, frankly, I recommended a two-year ban. This is much, much
tougher, because that program basically has been deflowered. They are
going to be on their back for longer than the four-year banishments of
scholarships and bowl games.
Kids are not going to go. They are not. They are not going to be
able to compete. And I think the NCAA did the right thing. They said your
football culture was so entrenched, this is so egregious, the most
egregious thing we have ever seen, that we have to take drastic, drastic
Granted, there was a lot of public pressure on them, but I think they
did the right thing. And, yes, it`s draconian, it`s tough, but I think
it`s merited. And they will still play football, so the shopkeepers and
the vendors who make money off of Penn State, they will make some money.
But I will tell you this. There ain`t going to be 110,000 people going to
football games. They are going to be terrible.
MATTHEWS: Are they going to -- the people up there who go up to Happy
Valley on Sunday morning -- and I have been in that crowd there, that
incredible ride up that hill to get there, where everything is about
winning in the Big Ten -- are they going to understand -- as they go to
games this fall and lose games they used to win, are they going to
understand it`s because a revered coach and some other authorities at their
revered institution covered up a rape?
BISSINGER: You know, Chris, I think that`s...
MATTHEWS: Are they going to get it?
BISSINGER: I think it`s a great question.
Frankly, no, they won`t get it. I think they kind of get it now. But
the minute the football season starts -- I was on the Penn State athletic
Web site today. And right at the top in the right-hand corner, you see 40
days, 12 hours, 13 minutes until the opener against Ohio University.
The minute they sit in that stadium and the minute Penn State starts losing
to traditional rivals like Ohio State, they are going to say, you know
what, we got screwed. This was unfair. This was the actions of the few.
They will not understand the extent of the cover-up and why the NCAA had to
do what they had to do to be an enforcement body which they are. Otherwise
just make them a cash register, which is basically what they have been in
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let`s talk about the way the value systems
are, because I guess one of the things the schools teach is values. Wasn`t
the value at Penn State until now, winning is everything, cover up what you
have to do, even if it`s horrifically -- horrific crimes, because winning
is the only thing that matters? Was it fair to say that was the values in
the stands, not just in the front office, in the management level?
BISSINGER: Yes, definitely. I mean, the problem is winning is
everything at Penn State. And virtually, you know, every major college in
the country. You had SEC media day last week, -- record crowds. Record
crowds and this in the middle of the Penn State controversy. All these
teams want to do is win and in this case, they turned an eye to a sexual
animal who because of their actions -- we all know this by now -- went on
to rape other children. It was protecting that football program at all
If it was an English professor involved, he would have been involved
in five minutes. Anyone else, but anyone else, because it was Joe, Joe
ruled. You know as well as I do, Chris, they all took orders from Joe,
whether he gave them or not. They were terrified of him.
And all Joe I think in the end cared about, yes, he could be
avuncular, all he cared about was that football team and winning.
MATTHEWS: So in the end, the statue goes down as if he were Saddam
Hussein or Stalin or Mussolini or anybody else.
BISSINGER: That`s exactly what I thought. I said, my God, this is
sort of like you know, it don`t want to exaggerate. But it reminded me of
an Americana version of Saddam Hussein.
I had to say to myself, this is a football coach. This is not a big
political figure. This is not someone who frankly in the end result really
had much effect on our society as Americans except for the fact we are so
sports obsessed. I think it is the new opiate of the masses.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what? I want to say a final word. My
comment here is that, you know, the working class kids have been going to
Penn State for years, middle class kids, regular people from the state of
Pennsylvania, who have worshipped that university for so many good reasons,
they now have -- they have to live this down now.
But they have to understand that whatever is going through them right
now, whatever bad news they have to live with, imagine what the victims
have to go through to the last day of their lives. Think of that and put
it in proportion. Do they really want to cover up and be part of that? I
hope they say we can take a few defeats. We can`t take that on our
Anyway, thank you, the great Buzz Bissinger, the great author of
"Father`s Day", great sports reporter for "The Daily Beast" -- thanks for
BISSINGER: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: He`s also the guy who wrote "Saturday Night Lights" or
"Friday Night Lights." Boy, he`s good.
Anyway, up next, more conservative Republicans are criticizing
Michele Bachmann`s outrageous attacks on Muslim Americans. And that`s
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the first American woman in space has lost her
battle with cancer. That`s right. Sally Ride died today. In 1983, she
blasted off in space on the space shuttle Challenger, at age 32 that was.
She was at the time the youngest American in space.
Well, her pioneering flight made her a household name in this
country. Sally Ride was 61.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann`s request for investigation to
root out potential moles in the State Department has finally motivated some
Republican leaders to say enough.
Bachmann`s letter singled out longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma
Abedin as having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Bachmann writes in that
letter that Abedin has, quote, "three family members, her late father,
mother, and brother connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or
organizations. Her position affords her routine access to the secretary
and policy-making," she wrote in the letter.
Well, now, add U.S. Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin to
the list of Republicans who challenged Bachmann on this. One video
obtained by ThinkProgress.com shows Sensenbrenner responding to a woman who
voiced support for Bachmann and her investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES SENSEBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: Let me say that I do know
Huma Abedin. I think that the comments that were made about her in that
letter, whether or not they were taken out of context were the wrong thing
to do. She could not have gotten the job either as then-Senator Hillary
Clinton`s top adviser or the job in the State Department without passing a
rather rigorous security clearance. And if there was any indication she
had any connection at all with the Muslim Brotherhood, she would not have
passed that security clearance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Bob Shrum is a Democratic strategist, and Howard
Fineman is editorial director of the "Huffington Post" Media Group and
MSNBC political analyst.
Gentlemen, I don`t know what we`re living here but I have to say that
I`m impressed at least piecemeal by these Republicans who are sticking
their heads up and saying enough is enough, this McCarthyism.
Bob Shrum first.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, number one, they need
to do more. She`s on the intelligence committee. She has routine access
to some of the most important secrets this country has. Michele Bachmann
and intelligence committee are an oxymoron. They need to get her off
Number two, I`m glad to see this. I wish we saw more of it. You
now, in May in Cleveland, a questioner got up and said to Mitt Romney that
the president of the United States Barack Obama should be tried for
Romney didn`t rebuke the questioner, didn`t say she was wrong, didn`t
do what John McCain did in 2008 which was to take that mic and say look,
he`s a loyal American. He`s a decent man. I just happen to disagree with
This is all part of a pattern and Michele Bachmann is an extreme
expression of it that goes back to beginning of this administration. That
has made the president out to be alien, that`s targeted Muslims, perfectly
local Americans in this country, single them out, somehow or other made
them enemies of the country.
It has to stop. I`m glad to see that it`s beginning to stop. But a
lot more has to be done.
MATTHEWS: Well, our own polling in NBC and "The Wall Street Journal"
says that almost half the country won`t give Barack Obama credit for being
the religion he says he is, Protestant Christian. Eight percent are saying
he`s a Muslim, 40 percent say they don`t believe him or don`t know what he
Let`s take a look at the Republicans who have come out not just to
defend Huma Abedin but to criticize Bachmann. Senator John McCain is the
one, no surprise there. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican strategist Ed
Rollins, of course, House Speaker John Boehner and now, add U.S.
Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner from that report we just gave you.
And again, to Howard now, where is Mitt Romney? And I`m talking pure
politics here. Isn`t there a plus -- forget profiles in courage -- isn`t
there a plus in showing you`re a man or woman to have the guts to stand up
and say, you know, I want your vote, but not this kind of vote?
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that would require
Mitt Romney to run an entirely different campaign from the one he`s run so
far. And he`s not going to do it.
He is playing to and has from the beginning of the campaign played to
the kind of nativist base with the Tea Party. By nativist I mean people
who are in essence afraid of the world.
FINEMAN: And Bob Shrum worked for the Kennedys. The Kennedys stood
in the Democratic Party for an expanded view of Americans` role and
America`s role in the world. The Republican Party is going to cripple
itself beyond recognition if they don`t quit xenophobes, which is what
they`re doing here now. That`s the larger picture.
There`s the Huma Thurman question -- Huma Abedin question and then
there`s a question about the Republican Party --
MATTHEWS: But let me try to fine tune this. You first and then Bob
MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton won the African-American vote down the line.
He would like to get 90 percent of it. He may have well done close to it.
But he took on Sister Soulja, which he didn`t like the lyrics, OK?
MATTHEWS: Now, maybe did that out of political opportunism, but he
was willing to separate himself from extreme talk and still hold on to the
constituency. Isn`t there a way that Romney -- I`m not writing his case
for him --
MATTHEWS: -- but can`t he be for the people who are conservative and
worried about the Islamic threat and terrorism --
FINEMAN: Yes, there is a way.
MATTHEWS: -- still say you got to draw the line on rights here.
FINEMAN: Yes, I think there is a way but either hasn`t found or
hasn`t looked for a way to do it. What I`m saying is, that if you look at
the Republican Party and look at the demographics of the country in terms
of Hispanics, in terms of minorities, in terms of Muslims, and so forth, if
you look for the changing demographics and the fact that most understand
we`re living in a global society, multicultural society, the Republicans
led by Mitt Romney are going to keep shrinking to the point where they`re
not going to win an election.
MATTHEWS: Bob, if you watch any sitcom on any network and all the
independent networks, they also have a South Asians now, African-Americans,
Latinos, South Asian, that`s the face of America. Not the Republican Party
Why don`t they just admit what`s in front of everybody`s eyes? This
country is getting more diverse. It`s the way we are, the way we`re going
SHRUM: Because Howard is right. The Republican Party has become the
vessel of the resentful, of the fearful, of the people who are anxious
about the fact America is on its way to becoming a majority non-white
nation. In a way, President Obama`s election symbolized that, symbolized a
greater tolerance, a greater openness.
But there`s a group of people in this country who resent and resist
that. Michele Bachmann speaks for them. She spoke for them during the
primaries, didn`t do very well.
But Mitt Romney kowtows to them. Howard is absolutely right. He is
afraid of offending the right wing base of the Republican Party. If he
ever got elected president, he would be totally beholden to them. He would
never offend them because he doesn`t want to be challenged for re-election
in a primary in 2016.
So, if he were president, immigrant bashing, Muslim bashing, all this
would continue to go on inside that party. Long-term, Howard`s right.
It`s a demographic disaster for them.
MATTHEWS: It`s just fear mongering. This country is changing slowly
over time. The people who live in this country -- white, Hispanic, or
black, or South Asian are going to be happy in this country, stop worrying.
Anyway, thank you, Bob Shrum. I think it`s a great place. I think
the future looks pretty good too.
Bob Shrum, thanks so much, from sunny California.
And Howard Fineman from humidity of Washington.
When we return, let me finish with what we can do in the face of
tragedies like the massacre this past week in Colorado.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this crime in Colorado. I,
like you, love living in this free country of ours and while I know we will
continue to look for clues of how this happened and how to stop it from
happening again, I wonder if some events are not just beyond our control
but well beyond.
Even if we could outlaw the sale of guns, let`s face it, we`ve
outlawed murder for centuries and that hasn`t stopped it. We could check
on people with mental and emotional problems, but let`s face it again,
there are millions of people facing them and people who live in their own
private grief and confusion and pain don`t always wreak havoc and horror on
Besides, this is a big country. Millions of us live in our private
worlds -- worlds that are good or bad but have little to do with others.
We have no right as a society to go around checking in on people with all
kinds of problems -- mental, emotional, or simply social. They certainly
don`t want us doing that. I`m sure of that one.
So, we push on. We face this tragedy and hope for the best,
including that we are still capable in all our modern complexity and high-
tech capability we can still feel the human heart, the hurt that comes when
others we don`t know to face tragedy.
I think we still do. We are still a strong, caring society of people
who can hurt when someone 3,000 miles away has their life robbed from them.
When someone we can`t who we can tell is just like us feels the loss about
someone they care about. And that is the one good thing to come of this.
But it is and do not let this pass like so many events in the news,
far more important than the arguments we have on HARDBALL -- being united
is always better than being divided. On this tragedy in Aurora, Colorado,
we are surely together.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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.>