Guests: Hossam Shaltout, Thomas Nelson, Anna Eshoo, Maria Shriver
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Now on HARDBALL, President Bush appears on Arab television today, saying the treatment of Iraqi prisoners was abhorrent.
And Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will testify in an open hearing before the U.S. Senate on Friday. Will heads roll with the Pentagon?
Plus, a new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll shows only 42 percent of Americans now think the war with Iraq was worth the cost.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
President Bush takes to the airways of Arab television. The president condemned the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of Americans.
And now Senator Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says the heads of top administration officials should be on the block.
And in the latest allegations of abuse to surface, a Canadian national held prisoner in Iraq by coalition forces says he, too, was tortured, and in a moment we‘ll be joined by the man making that allegation.
We begin with NBC‘s David Gregory on President Bush‘s unprecedented appearances on Arab TV.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Arab language television tonight, the president promised swift justice for those behind the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to tell the people of the Middle East that the practices that took place in that prison are abhorrent and they don‘t represent America.
GREGORY: In two interviews which were hastily arranged by the White House to contain outrage toward the U.S. in the Arab world, Mr. Bush did not apologize for the abuse against prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. He did, however, acknowledge that these images seen around the world are, quote, “terrible for America‘s image.”
BUSH: I think people in the Middle East who want to dislike America will use this as an excuse to remind people about their dislike.
GREGORY: On al-Hurrah Television, a U.S.-funded network, Mr. Bush was forced to defend America against comparisons to Saddam Hussein‘s regime.
BUSH: His trained torturers were never brought to justice under his regime. There were no investigations about mistreatment of people.
GREGORY: In Baghdad tonight, some remain unconvinced.
This man said of the prison abuse, “We thought it was over now that Saddam is gone, but now we are seeing just the same thing.”
Some Arab commentators said such criticism goes much too far.
MAMOUN FANDY, ASHRAQ AL-AWSAT COLUMNIST: There is an amazing hypocrisy when torture by the Americans is immediately criticized when, in fact, we‘ve been silent about torture throughout Arab prisons.
GREGORY: Still, the widening prisoner abuse scandal is another damaging blow to the goal of winning hearts and minds throughout the Arab world, an effort that has failed to succeed since the 9/11 attacks.
The State Department first enlisted Madison Avenue guru Charlotte Beers to counter anti-U.S. propaganda. But she left after television ads she produced for the Muslim world were viewed as lacking credibility. Many never aired.
Her replacement, former ambassador to Morocco Margaret Tutwiler is also on her way out. NBC News has learned she‘s grown frustrated because too little attention has been given to a public relations strategy in the Arab world.
Arab scholars say public relations is just a small part of the problem for the U.S., which is still widely resented in the Middle East.
SHIBLEY TELHAMI, MIDDLE EAST EXPERT: One single picture like the one we have seen outweighs the millions of dollars we spend in public diplomacy.
GREGORY (on camera): The White House officials say the president is very angry about being one of the last to know the details about the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.
Mr. Bush told Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today he was particularly unhappy about first learning of those graphic photos by watching television.
David Gregory, NBC news, the White House.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think the president is doing his best right now. Joining me right now by telephone from Saudi Arabia is Hossam Shaltout, who says that he was beaten in an Iraqi prison and he has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. military. His lawyer, Thomas Nelson, joins us from Portland, Oregon.
Let me go to Mr. Shaltout.
Can you hear me, Mr. Shaltout?
HOSSAM SHALTOUT, ALLEGED TORTURE VICTIM: Yes, I do. Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: I want to give you a chance now to tell your full story. You were in an American, a coalition forces prison in Iraq. Tell me what happened to you. What were you prisoners—what were you treated to in terms of torture?
SHALTOUT: Well, I was tortured in many ways. The first way was a beating during interrogation and sometime before and sometime after. I was beaten with open hand, with fists, with gun butt, with shoes.
And the other thing I was taken to solitary confinement, where I was tied and many time I was hog-tied, my hands to the back and tied to my feet. And I was left there for hours in a very painful position.
And other things they used to do to us was very sexually humiliating, especially for Arab people. They would order us by force to undress and to violate (ph) each other in a kind of sexual position. And this was one of the most humiliating things I ever felt, and all the prisoners ever felt.
A lot of them broke down. I seen Iraqi men—Iraqi men are tough men. I‘ve seen them cry. I‘ve seen them weep and cry, and that was part.
There was another thing in solitary confinement. The Americans used soldier, fell in love with the scorpions there (ph). And they used to keep them as a pet, and they used to hang them at the end of the rope.
And if they really want to get somebody really bad, they would leave the scorpion in his cell while he was hog-tied. And the scorpion would walk all over his body, and sometimes the scorpion would sting the person. I had this done to me, but luckily the scorpion didn‘t bite me. But it was frightening. It was frightening when I have a scorpion walk over my neck and my face.
MATTHEWS: Well, what were they trying—were they trying to torture you just for fun, or were they trying to get some information out of you?
SHALTOUT: The man saying they were trying—they were trying to have me confess. They were trying—I was a peacekeeper there. I was there to convince Saddam Hussein to step down, and I was in the last hours working on this peace agreement (ph).
And I wanted him to keep the agreement that he agreed to step down only 15 minutes before the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of this ultimatum. That was what I was doing there.
MATTHEWS: When did you—sir, when did you...
SHALTOUT: They wanted me to confess because they found the speech I was going to say and said that I‘m the speechwriter of Saddam Hussein, which I wasn‘t. And they want me to confess I am his right-hand man.
And this was the main purpose of them. They wanted me to break down and confess so they have in their hand the confession of a success. They call every confession a success.
I had so many innocent people that confess to things they didn‘t know, and there are so many guilty people who are never confess to anything. Because we used to talk openly among each other, and some people brag that they killed the American and they never confessed.
And there were informers among us, but the informers were very well known because they were the ones who have the cigarettes and the food. And they even told us they‘re informers.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you...
SHALTOUT: Lousy intelligence. They have a lousy intelligence over there.
MATTHEWS: Right. Let me go—Let me talk to your lawyer in a minute. I want to review what you said. You were beaten continually. They used a scorpion in the cell with you to torture you, to let it crawl over you. You were luckily not stung by the scorpion.
I want to ask Mr. Nelson, Mr. Nelson, your client had an advantage over many of the other prisoners. He speaks English pretty well. He‘s a Canadian national.
Did he—Why didn‘t he present his credentials as a Canadian national, his passport and say, “I want to talk to a consul”?
THOMAS NELSON, HOSSAM SHALTOUT‘S LAWYER: He did.
MATTHEWS: And what happened?
NELSON: Mr.—Well, I understand that it didn‘t do any—As a matter of fact, he wrote on his T-shirt, a white T-shirt, the word Canadian together with his EPW number. He was known as the Canadian. It didn‘t do him a bit of good, and I think...
MATTHEWS: Where are the Canadians? Aren‘t they coalition partners to some extent? Why didn‘t he appeal to—why couldn‘t the Canadians jump in and say, “Hey, he‘s one of ours. We want to talk to him”?
NELSON: Mr. Shaltout has a particular dispute going with the Canadian government right now. I think he better—he‘s in a better position than I am to answer that.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this, Mr. Shaltout. As a Canadian national, didn‘t you appeal for some sort of intercession?
SHALTOUT: First of all, Canada is not part of the coalition. Canada refused to participate in the coalition to invade Iraq. And they used to call me one of those Canadian bastards who didn‘t want to go to war with us. They took that against me.
They knew I‘m Canadian. I‘m not only Canadian. I‘m a green card holder for 25 years. I live in Los Angeles for 25 years. I lived half my life in America.
I‘m a distributor for American company called Garment International. It goes to American and goes all over the Middle East. And I‘m more American even than Canadian, although I didn‘t take the nationality—
American nationality, but I‘m American.
American people are wonderful. But those soldiers seems to be a beat of their own.
MATTHEWS: How long...
SHALTOUT: Except for a few. All of them almost.
MATTHEWS: Sir, how long were you in prison in Iraq?
SHALTOUT: I was in prison in Iraq for a total of 37 days. One month and one week.
MATTHEWS: And why were you eventually released?
SHALTOUT: I don‘t know. They just came, three days before my release. They become nice to me am.
Then they gave me new clothes. They asked me to take off my bloodied shirt and T-shirt, which were running with blood. I refused. They told me, “If you refuse, we‘re not going to let you go.”
So I changed my shirt in the new clothes, and they stole my shirt and T-shirt. And when I left, I didn‘t find it in my bag anymore.
MATTHEWS: What did you make today of the president of the United States making that statement on Arab television today?
SHALTOUT: Well, I think what he said is not realistic. If you want to punish, he could punish almost everyone which was running this camp. This is thousands of American soldiers. He‘s not going to punish thousands of American soldiers. It‘s not going to work that way.
Actually, the people which are—which have been in prison along the last year—about 50,000 Iraqis one time have been a prisoner so far. That‘s a lot of people to be in prison before.
And the Iraqis didn‘t even fight against the Americans. The American almost won without a fight. I was in Baghdad, and the tanks rolled in without firing a bullet.
And we have 50,000 prisoners of war who were abused. And every one of them who was in the camp say, “Well, I didn‘t like the American before, but now I really wish I‘d killed an American.”
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Mr. Shaltout, did all of the prisoners, to your knowledge, in your vicinity where you were, were all of them badly treated like you were?
SHALTOUT: Yes, and some of them were even worse than me. Some of them were sodomized with a broomstick. Some of them a lot of bad things happened to them.
I had the advantage of speaking English, and I was once to Americans there—And his name was Major Garrett (ph). And I hope he could hear me and come on the line. And I complained to her.
So she brought the special investigating—special agent from the criminal investigating division. He came, and he took my complaint in writing, and he said he was going to come in a couple of hours back to me. And instead of him coming, I have bunch of soldiers came to me, took me and gave me the beating of my life.
SHALTOUT: As the punishment for complaining. I never complained again.
MATTHEWS: OK. Mr. Shaltout, thank you very much for joining us from Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Nelson, thank you for joining us from Oregon.
NELSON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, Congress is demanding answers from the Pentagon.
We‘ll get reaction from Capitol Hill coming up.
And later on a different subject altogether, Maria Shriver, the first lady of California, will join us.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is set to testify on Capitol Hill about the Iraqi prison abuse. We‘ll get reaction from two members of the United States Congress. HARDBALL, back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Here is what Senator Joe Biden, ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said this morning on “THE TODAY SHOW” about who should be held accountable for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: If it goes all the way to Rumsfeld, then he should resign.
Who is in charge? I mean, look, every single solitary decision made almost, since the time of the fall of Saddam Hussein, has been mistaken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Eshoo is a Democrat from California.
Congressman Peter King is a New York Republican.
Let‘s stick with what Joe Biden—he‘s on the show a lot, I had to say there. If you go through the issues of—well, the claims made by the Defense Department, Wolfowitz, fighting the rest (ph), and starting at the top, I guess, Rumsfeld.
There was going to be weapons of mass destruction. There was a connection to al Qaeda. There was going to be an easy transition after the victory in the field. All wrong.
There‘s been a very dirty occupation, very difficult one. There‘s no WMD‘s apparent, and no connection to al Qaeda. And here we have the secretary at the top of the chain of command, which has allowed this crap to go on over there.
So do you think he should walk?
REP. ANNA ESHOO (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, what I‘m struck with is that no one is held accountable.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m talking about holding the secretary of defense...
ESHOO: Absolutely. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Can you answer the question? Should he walk or should he wait for the president to talk about it?
ESHOO: Well, I think that the president should say, “Thank you for your service. It‘s time for you to go.
MATTHEWS: So the buck stops at the Pentagon?
ESHOO: Well, the buck stops with the president, ultimately. American people are going to weigh in on him. But right now, yes, I do.
MATTHEWS: Peter King, congressman from New York.
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Are we talking about the prison scandal now or...
MATTHEWS: I‘m talking about the question of the credibility of the Defense Department all the way to the top.
KING: OK. If you‘re talking about WMD, obviously, Bill Clinton, Al Gore said the exact same thing. So did every intelligence agency in the world.
As far as the situation in the prisons, if this is confined to six people or 12 people or 15 people...
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe if they‘re all being sold the same garbage by Ahmed Chalabi, maybe they all bought the same crap. Maybe it‘s all their fault.
Why do you forgive our defense intelligence agencies...
ESHOO: He‘s an employee of Mr. Rumsfeld.
MATTHEWS: Yes, we‘re paying him $350,000 a month. Why do we forgive
· why do you forgive our people for getting it wrong because the Brits get it wrong?
KING: Are we talking about the prison or talking about the WMD?
KING: Every intelligence agency in the world, including the United Nations, said he had WMD.
MATTHEWS: Well, how did it happen? How‘d it happen?
KING: Because he did have them, and he didn‘t account for how—for getting rid of them. It would be irresponsible for us not to go to war.
MATTHEWS: President Bush went to war.
KING: It was the right thing to do.
MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton didn‘t go to war.
KING: He certainly did. He attacked in 1998.
MATTHEWS: That wasn‘t a war.
KING: Four days of bombing is war.
Listen. No. This is an important point. It would have been irresponsible not to go to war after September 11 if a dictator says he has weapons of mass destruction, refuses to account for them. You cannot give someone like Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt.
Rumsfeld was right. Bush was right. Hillary Clinton was right. And so is John Kerry in voting for the war.
MATTHEWS: So they‘re right even though they‘re wrong?
KING: Absolutely. Because you set a precedent. You cannot allow someone after September 11 to say he has WMD and not account for them. Absolutely right. And that‘s why Libya came over to our side.
MATTHEWS: So you find the United States credible in the aftermath?
KING: Certainly, it‘s credible.
MATTHEWS: So we‘re credible in saying there are weapons of mass destruction that cannot be found. We‘re credible in saying there‘s a connection or implying a correction to 9/11.
KING: We never said there was a connection to 9/11. We never said there was a connection to 9/11.
MATTHEWS: We never did? We never did?
ESHOO: Well, the administration continues to, on the campaign trail, draw a nexus between 9 -- war on terrorism and Iraq. In fact...
MATTHEWS: Why did the overwhelming number of people that still support this war believe there was a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?
KING: Because a majority...
MATTHEWS: Why do a majority of them believe, up to about 70 percent, believe that somehow Iraqis attacked us 9/11?
KING: Well, it‘s part of the war on terrorism.
MATTHEWS: Why do they believe Iraq attacked us 9/11?
KING: Maybe because they see—Don‘t blame George Bush. George Bush never said that. George Bush never said it. Colin Powell never said it.
What he did say was there were links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, but nobody ever tied it to September 11. None whatsoever.
ESHOO: There‘s never been a shred of intelligence that draws a nexus between Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda, and the attack on our country.
MATTHEWS: And there certainly—who‘s going to question the credibility...
ESHOO: And what has happened in this debacle is that there is a war on terrorism in which we‘ve departed.
MATTHEWS: OK. We‘re talking about a simple question. If somebody gets it wrong—Congressman King, you made your point. You say they were right in being wrong or they were wrong in being right. Whatever.
But the fact is they‘ve now have a string of four problems here. Bad intel on WMD, maybe bad intel shared by other countries.
No. 2, a problem here on making the case to 9/11.
And No. 3, the case it was going to be an easy occupation.
And fourth, now, this problem of treatment of prisoners.
KING: OK. Let‘s go to the treatment of prisoners. We don‘t know how far it started. If we‘re talking about five, 10, 15 people, there‘s no way the president of the United States or the secretary of defense is responsible. Any more than Franklin Roosevelt was responsible when German prisoners were mashed in World War II.
MATTHEWS: What does he have to do?
KING: What he‘s doing now. I think the president is doing the right thing. He‘s going forward...
MATTHEWS: Should heads roll?
KING: As far up as it has to go, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: How high would you go?
KING: As high as it goes. As far—you track it. You have an investigation.
MATTHEWS: Should this woman Karpinski go, the one who was the commandant of this prison, as well as those other facilities?
KING: I think we should see what the report shows.
ESHOO: Failure from what we see on her hands.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a hot topic. And it ain‘t getting any cooler.
Anyway, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Congressman Pete King.
Coming up, a live report from Cumberland, Maryland, home to several of the Americans accused of prison abuse.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The Americans facing court-martial for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners are from an Army Reserve unit from the small town of Cumberland, Maryland.
That‘s where HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster is, and he joins us right now—David.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is a very patriotic town, but Cumberland is also a place now filled with anguish and frustration.
SHUSTER (voice-over): It‘s a bucolic western Maryland town where the patriotism runs deep. George Washington started his military campaign here, and Cumberland has long been the home of the 372nd Military Police Company.
FRED HILL, CITIZEN: You come around here, and you see them in their uniforms, and they‘re American soldiers, and you‘ve proud of them.
SHUSTER: But the pride in having 164 soldiers in Iraq has turned to embarrassment and confusion over these pictures from Abu Ghraib prison.
Six members of the 372nd face military charges.
Ed Abbott is a unit veteran and has lived in Cumberland his entire life.
ED ABBOTT, VETERAN: I‘m dismayed, upset and a whole—you know, whole barrage of thoughts that are generated by that.
SHUSTER: At the local coffee shop, the Manhattan Coffee House Restaurant, nobody can grasp how any soldier from Cumberland, population 1,000, could get caught up in any abuse.
BARBARA BUEHL, CITIZEN: I think it‘s very surprising, because these are our neighbors. And their sons and daughters are families that we know, and it‘s totally unexpected.
SHUSTER: One of those facing charges is Lindy England. Her best friend says England was just following orders.
DESTINY GOIN, FRIEND OF LINDY ENGLAND: They were doing what higher-up expected of them, told them to do.
SHUSTER: The debate is all that anybody wants to discuss on Cumberland‘s local talk radio station.
JIM ROBEY, STATION MANGER, WCDC: I would say about 30 percent of the people are being real defensive of the 372nd and the area.
About 30 percent are offended and up in arms about the fact that it occurred in the first place.
And that maybe about 30 percent are saying, “Gee, we hate to get this kind of attention in Cumberland.”
SHUSTER: Especially since Cumberland has a huge number of military veterans. There are more than 500 who belong to the local Vietnam veterans‘ chapter, but they too want answers.
WILLIAM BOWMAN, VIETNAM VETERAN: We just want to know the bottom line on that and what actually occurred. All the facts and the truth of the matter.
SHUSTER: Part of the truth has been obscured by the dozens of rumors running rampant through Cumberland. And, Chris, there is a feeling here that matters are only going to get worse—Chris.
MATTHEWS: Solid stuff. David Shuster.
Up next, the first lady of California, Maria Shriver, is going to be right here. Right here.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: This half-hour on HARDBALL, Maria Shriver, the first lady of California, she‘s coming here to talk about her new book about Alzheimer‘s disease and her father, the great Sergeant Shriver.
But, first, latest headlines right now.
Did I say that right?
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Maria Shriver is the first lady of California. She is the author of a new children‘s book—yes, you are—on Alzheimer‘s disease, “What‘s Happening to Grandpa?”
I want to talk about this, because I think a lot of people who watch this show, based upon people I bump into, are of the age—middle age, I guess. It‘s such a boring term.
MARIA SHRIVER, FIRST LADY OF CALIFORNIA: Baby boomers.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but they‘re of the age that they‘re taking care of parents.
MATTHEWS: And the other people that watch this show, like Mrs. Ronald Reagan, are taking care of their spouses. And they watch the show a lot. It‘s a lot of intellectual stimulation, I would like to think, and it‘s good company because the one thing you lose when you lose your partner is company.
SHRIVER: Absolutely. And Mrs. Reagan says that, and my mom has said that, and I think everybody that I have talked to who is a spouse or a child has a different experience with this disease.
But it really affects the entire family emotionally, financially, from the caregiver point of view. I have the utmost respect for Mrs. Reagan and the way she‘s caring for her husband. And I have met so many people who are dealing with this who are emotionally drained from having this go on in their family.
SHRIVER: And from the decisions that they find themselves having to make so that they can survive.
MATTHEWS: You know, my dad took care of my mom for years for this.
So I know...
SHRIVER: Oh, really?
MATTHEWS: I mean, he knows all of it. I know a bit of it. And it is usually the caregiver who not only takes care of the person who has Alzheimer‘s, but keeps the secrets of the worst of it, because the worst of it is what they do try to keep from the rest of the family, the anger, the out-of-control behavior. It‘s not just that you get slower or you lose memory. It‘s what replaces it, you know, the anger and all the rest of that stuff.
I tried to make this book, Chris, though, very optimistic.
MATTHEWS: OK, tell me about this book.
SHRIVER: Well, I wanted to write is because it was really the questions that I as a child of someone with Alzheimer‘s was having. It was also the questions that our children were asking me.
SHRIVER: You know, grandpa keeps repeating. What‘s happening?
And it was a way for me to kind of come to terms with what was going on with my dad. But my dad, as you know, is one of the most optimistic human beings on the planet.
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.
SHRIVER: And when he wrote a letter to his friends announcing that he had been diagnosed with this disease, he put in the letter: This means one thing and one thing to me only. It means that my memory is lousy. I still want to challenge the world. I still want to fight for peace. I want to challenge each and every one of you to make a difference. And so he is in the early stages of Alzheimer‘s.
MATTHEWS: When did he get it, at what age?
SHRIVER: Well, you know, these things are always hard
MATTHEWS: When did you first notice it?
SHRIVER: About two years ago.
MATTHEWS: How old was he two years ago?
MATTHEWS: So he can‘t really complain that much. This is late.
SHRIVER: And he doesn‘t. He does not complain.
MATTHEWS: This is a late incidence of it.
SHRIVER: But it doesn‘t—it‘s kind of like when people say someone passes away and they‘re older age and then you go, well, they had a great life. That doesn‘t mean it doesn‘t hurt.
MATTHEWS: Are we outliving our brains now? Is that‘s what is going on?
SHRIVER: Everybody is getting older. That‘s for sure.
SHRIVER: And, as you said, our generation is dealing with aging parents.
And I think that whether they have Alzheimer‘s, if they have cancer, if they have something else, this book to me also is about forging a relationship between our parents or the grandparents of our children. I‘m a big believer in that relationship. And so I wanted this book to be inviting to children. I wanted it to explain the disease in very simple terms to them. And I wanted to make sure that they understood that they could be active in helping their grandparents through this.
The little girl in this book comes up with the idea of making a scrapbook and—which she hopes will jog her grandpa‘s memory about people whose names he can‘t remember or events that he might not be able to remember. And kids, I have discovered, being the parent of four—you‘re a parent—they like to be feeling like they‘re involved, that they can be of help, that they can understand.
And that‘s what I wanted this book—I wanted it to be optimistic because that‘s the way daddy is. And I didn‘t want to dwell on what‘s down the road, because we know what‘s down the road.
MATTHEWS: It gets worse.
SHRIVER: I want to do—is celebrate him for who he is today. I want to celebrate the optimism that he deals with this disease, the courage that he has, that my mother has, and that my whole family has.
MATTHEWS: You know, when you walk into a room and you‘re 8 years old or some—your kid‘s age, you‘re a teen or younger, and you walk into the grandfather you always could kid around with and he would buy you ice cream or whatever, take you for walks, the usual things.
My grandfather always took us for walks, his cigar and our ice cream cones, you know?
MATTHEWS: And I remember being older than a kid when he got it. And I used to also politics with him. And then you couldn‘t talk politics anymore. You couldn‘t talk anything with him.
But what does your book do to a kid that makes it better? How does it help?
SHRIVER: Well, I think it makes a child feel that they be—first, that they can understand it.
SHRIVER: And I think that‘s really important, and that it‘s not something that anybody needs to be embarrassed about. There‘s no stigma here. Everybody has all kinds of grandparents. I think there‘s still a lot of stigma associated with Alzheimer‘s.
I think the Reagans did an incredible thing by coming forward and being open about it and sharing their journey, sharing their long goodbye.
SHRIVER: And I think obviously other people have come forward. But I think children still have huge questions.
SHRIVER: And I‘ve been doing a couple book signings with this book and people come up to me in tears, and saying I cared for my mother for 10 years.
SHRIVER: I cared for my father for 12 years, and I never wanted to tell anybody. And I am so grateful that now we can talk about this, that I can explain it to my children or my grandchildren.
MATTHEWS: You know, I had lunch with him a couple years ago, your dad, and he‘s the best lunch in town because he is one of these guys, he is totally wide awake around noon, for some reason. And, as people get older, they‘re better at lunch than any other time of day.
But I did notice when he was talking about writing his book—we‘ll talk about that.
MATTHEWS: He started to have trouble with that book. You could tell he wasn‘t remembering a lot of things.
SHRIVER: Right. This book became a biography. And Scott Stossel did a great job.
MATTHEWS: He picked up on it.
SHRIVER: He picked up on it and he devoted about six years of his life to writing daddy‘s life story. And he did a brilliant job. and I certainly hope—I am adamant, adamant, that everybody knows Sergeant Shriver‘s story.
I gave it out to every member of the legislature in California.
SHRIVER: I think every person in public service should read this book, because I think daddy is a man of ideas, of innovation, of drive, of passion, and I think that‘s sorely missing in politics today.
MATTHEWS: How come he looked so damn good the night that your husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, won the election? He came out on the stage looking like I don‘t know what, Mr. Right. He had everything about him. The kerchief was right. The tie was right.
MATTHEWS: And I kept saying, doesn‘t he have always Alzheimer‘s? And what‘s going on here?
SHRIVER: Daddy is an elegant man. He is charming.
SHRIVER: He is old school in that way. I have never not seen my father be elegant. I have never not seen my father...
MATTHEWS: Even now?
SHRIVER: Even now—be charming.
And we had a great event where we honored his legacy and people came and talked about it and he spoke. And he was elegant. He was charming.
MATTHEWS: What did he have to say today?
SHRIVER: He talked about how everybody in the room had something to give their country. He talked about how we should all be peace builders and that that was more important now than in any time in this world‘s future, that we needed to understand other cultures, other religions, and go in and sell what was great about America.
SHRIVER: People talked about his idealism, about his optimism, about his courage, and really about his legacy and why the lessons of this book and of Sergeant Shriver are critical in today‘s world. And I believe that.
MATTHEWS: I was reading—I was reading a part of the new book called “Sarge: The Life and Times of Sergeant Shriver” by—as you said, Scott Stossel has finished the book your father began.
MATTHEWS: And I was in the Peace Corps. I got to tell you something.
SHRIVER: I know. I know.
MATTHEWS: There‘s 170,000 people that in the Peace Corps starting in the ‘60s. And I got to tell you, there‘s not one of them whose life wasn‘t changed.
MATTHEWS: I got to hitchhike all through Africa alone. I did stuff, wild things that I would never imagine doing now because of that experience.
MATTHEWS: And also, it does take you out of your cocoon into the world.
MATTHEWS: It gets you out of your rut.
MATTHEWS: It makes you want to be different. And I‘m not sure better, but certainly different. And it‘s a different world once you come of two years over there in the bush.
SHRIVER: But it gives you a bigger view, doesn‘t it? It gives you a bigger view of the world.
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.
SHRIVER: Maury North (ph) talked today about
SHRIVER: Really about also the Peace Corps when she was in it. It was probably about maybe the same time that you were.
MATTHEWS: It was.
SHRIVER: That women were treated equally in the Peace Corps. They were given the same job opportunities as the guys were, that that was really different.
MATTHEWS: The same bathing arrangements, too, because we were living
SHRIVER: The same housing.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s come back to talk to the former colleague of mine at NBC News, Maria Shriver.
SHRIVER: Not former. Don‘t call me about former.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll talk about that. I might have a plan for her here—and her life as California‘s first. I wonder what it‘s like to come from a Kennedy world and to be in a Schwarzenegger world.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, much more with Maria Shriver, California‘s first lady. Plus, the latest polls on President Bush. They‘re interesting. And the war in Iraq, those numbers are very interesting—when HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: President Bush is speaking at the Republican National Committee‘s Presidential Gala right now. Let‘s listen up.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... tell people that I put together a fantastic administration to serve the American people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: People from all walks of life, people who have come to our nation‘s capital to serve the people, not their self-interest.
BUSH: I‘m proud to be running with a fine vice president, Dick Cheney.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: And I appreciate the team we‘ve put together, starting with the RNC chairman, Ed Gillespie. He is a fine guy.
I told Ed when he took the job, I said I want him reaching out to people from all walks of life. I want him to understand our message is so optimistic and hopeful that people regardless of their political party are going to like what they hear, that we got to keep working with everybody in this country.
I appreciate the fact that his wife, Cathy, has taken a strong lead in the campaign as well. She‘s working for W. Stands for Women.
MATTHEWS: That‘s President Bush speaking right this moment at the Republican National Committee‘s Presidential Gala here in Washington. They‘ve raised $38 million tonight.
We‘re back with Maria Shriver. Big money.
Let me ask you about Pat Tillman. We were all washing on MSNBC the other day when you were live. What was that about, the power of that moment to be there?
SHRIVER: Well, I was invited by his family. I guess he had admired Arnold all growing up. Arnold had been his hero. And I had called his mother to reach out to her to see if there was any way I could help during this difficult time, and she asked me to come to the funeral.
And it was an honor. It was incredibly moving. I read a letter from
Arnold, and then I wrote Pat a letter myself, which is what I‘ve done when
I‘ve lost members of my own family. And I told him about the conversation
I had with his mother, who is a special-ed teacher and really such an
incredible woman. And the array of young people that spoke at that funeral
· his friends, people who served with him, coaches—I only wish that we could have those kinds of cameras and that kind of attention on every funeral of every service person who has died on our behalf in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MATTHEWS: What do you think about the war?
MATTHEWS: You‘re allowed to say that now that you‘re not part of NBC News.
SHRIVER: I‘m allowed to say it?
MATTHEWS: Yes, if you want to.
SHRIVER: Well, you know, I‘m concerned about the people left behind in the war. That‘s where my heart is. That‘s where I‘m focused. Actually, I went down to Pendleton about 10 days ago to visit with a lot of the young soldiers who are in the hospital there.
SHRIVER: And I was really struck by the fact that all of them who are injured who were there said, you know, I want to go back.
MATTHEWS: I know. I saw that.
SHRIVER: I want to go back. And I said, well, why do you want to go back? And they said, because my brothers and my sisters are there, and I feel like I let them down. I want to go back.
But I was—I‘m particularly struck by the families that are living in limbo that are struggling to make ends meet. I met with families at Pendleton who don‘t have day care services, who have no grief counseling for their kids. That‘s what I‘m concerned about. I‘m concerned about people who think their loved ones are gone for two or three months, and they‘re gone for a year. What are we doing to help them? What are we doing for families who lose somebody in Iraq?
They‘re given six months to get off the base. What kind of support are they getting? So I‘m going to focus a little bit on that issue, reaching out to the mothers, the wives that are left behind. And I think people would be surprised at how many people are left behind and the conditions that they‘re left behind in.
MATTHEWS: On a lighter note, your husband.
MATTHEWS: I knew, finally, that he would win the governor‘s race—we were out there covering it. We‘re in Modesto. It‘s a nice town.
MATTHEWS: The Central Valley. And it‘s a pretty, very pretty downtown area. And he came in with his bus. And the hoopla, the confetti cannon, and all this phony stuff of politics and all the music playing, the hired band.
But there was one thing that was totally authentic. I saw the bus he was in, you know, the big bus with all the pictures of his staff on it.
MATTHEWS: And as a state trooper was pushing the crowd back from the bus, as the bus was about to move out—there you are—this little 12-year-old kid, about 12 years old, goes up to the bus and just touches the bus and runs away.
MATTHEWS: The celebrity of your husband is so powerful. What‘s it like?
SHRIVER: I think the message of Arnold is so powerful.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but the message of this kid—let‘s not overstate it yet.
MATTHEWS: The worldwide celebrity that led to this—that led to that kid wanted just to touch that bus.
SHRIVER: But optimism that led to that worldwide celebrity, the work that led to that.
I always say to my kids, you know, you got to understand, daddy has been working for 30-some years to get where he is. You may know him now as a famous person. That‘s hours in the gym. That‘s hours learning English. That‘s hours practicing English. That‘s hours practicing his craft. That‘s working from the bottom up. And Arnold is a worker. He‘s not someone who gives off the work to a staff member.
SHRIVER: And I think as governor now, he is in there working. He is
in there working on the budget. He is in there crafting things. He does
the tough stuff. He doesn‘t leave it to somebody else. And that
MATTHEWS: Does he like it?
SHRIVER: He loves it.
MATTHEWS: Will he stay for another term?
SHRIVER: I have no clue.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t have a clue? You never talked about whether you‘re going for seven years, rather than just three?
SHRIVER: No, not now, because politics is a day-by-day business.
SHRIVER: You know that. It‘s a lifetime at the end of May, June.
MATTHEWS: You are married to a naturalized American, Arnold Schwarzenegger, maybe the most famous of all naturalized Americans. Do you think we should change our Constitution? Is it out of date that someone like him shouldn‘t be president?
SHRIVER: Yes, I think it is, and not because of him. I think it‘s out of date because we‘re a nation built by immigrants. We‘re a nation full of immigrants. There are so many people who have great things to give to this country who I believe if they‘ve been here for 20 years, they‘ve given back, they want to be involved.
SHRIVER: Look, we need good people to be involved.
MATTHEWS: So you would campaign for a constitutional amendment, Maria Shriver?
SHRIVER: Well, I can‘t think about campaigning for that. I have so many things. I‘m campaigning for this book about daddy.
MATTHEWS: This is the book. This is the book.
MATTHEWS: No, for both books. For both books.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s do it. Let‘s do it. This is what your mother would do. She would call up and say, make sure you push the books.
MATTHEWS: OK, this is “Sarge,” about your dad.
SHRIVER: Well, she would call up and say, make sure you are nice to Maria.
SHRIVER: That‘s what she would say.
MATTHEWS: And vote for all her brothers and sisters.
MATTHEWS: Here we go, “Sarge.”
MATTHEWS: This guy is a personal hero of mine. I was in the Peace Corps. I owe this guy. And this is another book, another one of these incredibly successful books that you just—I don‘t know how you do it.
SHRIVER: You can say I‘m a personal hero of yours, too.
MATTHEWS: Well, no, I think you are incredible at getting these books out. And this is a book that I think a lot of kids who have Alzheimer‘s in their family ought to have given to them.
SHRIVER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: It would be a nice way to understand the whole thing.
SHRIVER: I appreciate that.
MATTHEWS: It ain‘t good news, but it can be a little better.
Anyway, thank you, Maria Shriver.
SHRIVER: I‘m finished?
MATTHEWS: Yes. To read an excerpt of “What‘s Wrong With Grandpa?”—that‘s the name of her book—go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
Up next, news polls on President Bush and America‘s performance in Iraq. Interesting numbers, as I said.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll finds only one-third of registered voters say the nation is headed in the right direction. Half feel that things are off on the wrong track.
And here is Pat Buchanan to talk about it, an MSNBC contributor.
Pat, that‘s always been considered the most important number about a presidential election. What do you make of it?
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that‘s the most important number about a presidential election. The second most important is your approval rating. Bush has never been lower there.
MATTHEWS: There he is, 47 percent approval rating.
BUCHANAN: And he is down below where he‘s below 50 percent. That‘s a line you‘re going to lose the election.
But the opposite news is, he is beating John Kerry, not only beating him, but in every category of leadership, you know, toughness, principles, get—you know, is a good fellow to be with, all these things, he is beating Kerry. It is an astonishing poll.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think that‘s happening with the president‘s approval—any question we ask about Iraq goes down, like a trend line relentlessly every month or so, and yet those numbers are not pointing to any positive look for Kerry?
BUCHANAN: Kerry has been losing ground ever since his great January and February. With every Tuesday night, Chris, we were in here saying what a phenomenal night, another great night for Kerry.
BUCHANAN: He has been falling off. His negative images are rising.
His negatives and positives are equal now, about in the mid-30s.
Kerry has got—this is his problem. His image is not yet solidly formed in a totally negative way, but it is being formed right now. That‘s why he has made a wise decision to get this positive stuff out, his war image. Incidentally, on the war record, Kerry comes off phenomenally well. The country knows—or considers him a war hero, something like 77-8.
MATTHEWS: Why do the Republicans keep pouncing on it?
BUCHANAN: They‘re pouncing on it because he is very weak in terms of flip-flop and he‘s very weak in terms of that he is not a strong leader. And they‘re—they want to go after him because two of the three big issues are war on terror and Iraq and the country wants a tough leader there.
MATTHEWS: And those numbers have been driven up at least 10 points by this ad campaign, haven‘t they?
BUCHANAN: You mean against him?
MATTHEWS: Yes, saying he flip-flops.
BUCHANAN: Oh, listen, his flip-flops is a terrible problem. And he
cannot let them define him as a liberal. If you look in there
MATTHEWS: The people have to choose between two of these guys.
Let me go on here. Over half of voters, registered voters, disapprove of the job President Bush is doing on handling foreign policy. What do you make of—that‘s even lower than the other number.
BUCHANAN: I think that‘s going to go down because I don‘t think that reflects the real problems of this week, Chris. That‘s a real problem...
MATTHEWS: The prisoners issue.
BUCHANAN: The prisoners issue and the fact that the Americans are saying what is going on over there?
BUCHANAN: The economy.
MATTHEWS: This is the weirdest set of numbers I have seen. And this
· you would be good at this. Two-thirds of the American registered voters say the United States should meet the deadline we‘ve set of June 30 for getting—handing over power to the Iraqi government.
But that‘s two-thirds of the voters say, stick with the deadline of June 30. Then the other one, two-thirds of the people also say that the people who take over are not able to do that. So we‘re basically saying we don‘t care if you can do the job or not. We‘re getting out.
BUCHANAN: Well, the American people are realistic on it. That‘s what I was astonished about this poll.
But you do have this, Chris; 45 percent of the country is willing to stay in there for five years; 55 percent says either go now or be out of there in 18 months. But you‘re exactly right. They say turn it over on June 30, but we don‘t think these guys are going to handle it. Quite frankly, they are dead right as far as I‘m concerned. They have a very realistic assessment that this situation could crumble and fall apart, and I think it shows a certain maturity on the part of the American people.
MATTHEWS: So what do the American people want us to do as a country in Iraq?
BUCHANAN: I think what they want us to do, I think, is transfer—I read this poll—transfer power, accept the possibility this thing is going down the tubes, but we are willing to spend some time, 18 months at least, and maybe longer, to see it through if there‘s a possibility, but it could do down the tubes. And I think they‘re exactly right.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the American people who don‘t like what they‘ve been seeing—forget this thing—what‘s happening this week. I don‘t think it‘s the president‘s fault or the top general‘s fault. It‘s just one of those bunch of sickies over there.
But the fact is—or people that don‘t know what they‘re doing. Do you think the American people will suffer casualties, accept casualties in the defense of a regime that‘s not our own?
BUCHANAN: I think they will...
MATTHEWS: Will somebody fight and die for Chalabi or one of these
MATTHEWS: Or Sistani?
I mean, here is the thing. Look, the problem is going to come up is, when the U.N. regime, if you will, the technocrats start putting limits on American officers and soldiers and where they can fight and what they can do, the American people would say, wait a minute, we‘re going to run the war or we‘re going to get out of there.
BUCHANAN: The second issue coming here...
MATTHEWS: We don‘t like being under foreign command, do we?
BUCHANAN: Oh, the best line I ever had in a campaign is that we will not let American troops be put under U.N. command, no U.S. troops under command. And it‘s a winner with the American people.
And if—and I don‘t believe the president is going to let this happen, the Pentagon is going to let it happen or Mr. Negroponte is going to let it happen. I think he is going to run the war, the generals are going to run the war. And these guys are going to be a caretaker government for six months, puppet government.
MATTHEWS: So we‘re going to be the boss.
SHRIVER: We‘ll be the boss up until January. But what happens when the elections are run and these guys run on a campaign, I will kick the Americans out if you elect me?
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, because the only people that are going to be popular over there are the ones that don‘t like us.
Thank you, Pat Buchanan.
Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Our guests include Queen Noor of Jordan.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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