January 21, 2013
Guest: Dana Milbank
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews live from the
Newseum in Washington, where all day, festivals have marked the second
inauguration of Barack Obama. It began with a church service early this
morning, but the celebration is far from over.
The inaugural parade itself is currently under way and the first family is
watching from the viewing stand just outside the White House. Early this
afternoon, the president sent crowds along Pennsylvania Avenue wild when he
and the first lady got out of the motorcade and walked several blocks
waving to the crowds. It was a rare close-up look for many of the hundreds
of thousands who descended on the capital today.
Well, the highlight, of course, was the president`s inaugural address way,
which was powerful, and I believe, Lincolnesque. He defended entitlements
for the middle class, called for an end to perpetual wars, as he called
them, and gave an historic shoutout to gay rights.
On many fronts, the president said, it was time to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For now decisions are upon
us, and we cannot afford delay.
We must act knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act knowing
that today`s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those
who stand here in 4 years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the
timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow! We`ve got it all covered this hour. With me right now are
four MSNBC political experts, TheGrio`s Joy Reid, the HuffingtonPost`s
Howard Fineman, "The Washington Post`s" Eugene Robinson, and former RNC
chairman Michael Steele.
I want everybody to get -- we`ve been watching this all day, most people,
so I want something -- that just stuns me is the close -- look -- you
first, Joy -- of the first family, this incredibly attractive family
sitting next to the Bidens. It`s -- we`ve never -- you know, everybody
thinks we see these guys every day around here.
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Look at this picture, the way they`re acting like people.
REID: I love watching them interact. I actually love watching Joe Biden
all the time, but watching the first family interact...
MATTHEWS: He`s chewing something. Is that Nicorette?
REID: No, you know, when my -- when I was kid, my mom used to love Diahann
REID: ... because she would say, You know what? That`s the way a black
woman should be portrayed. That`s the way we should be seen. And I think
for a lot of women in my generation, and even in older generations,
Michelle Obama is so iconic. She`s such a combination of the woman next
door, your neighbor, but also just such a style icon and she`s sort of like
a Jackie O figure for African-Americans.
And watching her interact with the kids, watching this family that are at
once so normal but in a way sort of grand. They are sort of Kennedy-like.
And I just love it and I just love watching it. And to people that I`ve
spoken with that are here, are just so consumed with it.
REID: I think African-Americans feel so proud of the way they are...
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: ... several
times that I think this is one of the most important legacies of the Obama
presidency, that -- that just that visual images...
MATTHEWS: Right now!
ROBINSON: ... are so powerful...
MATTHEWS: Look at him right now!
ROBINSON: ... and so -- to see an African-American family charmingly
filling the roles of head of state, first family of the United States, to
see them walk across the White House lawn and get on the helicopter to go
to Camp David, or to see them there in the reviewing stand and watch the
girls interact with their friends -- it`s -- it`s -- these images, I think,
change the machinery in our heads and they give us a view of what is
possible in this country that we didn`t have before. They teach us
something about ourselves.
MATTHEWS: And the Jason Sedakis (ph) version of the vice president
MATTHEWS: ... where he`s always too close to the president. He`s, like,
push back a foot or two! You can tell the president -- Enough, Joe. I
know what you had for lunch! Get back a bit, you know? Michael?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Joe is -- you
know, Joe is quintessential Joe. He`s in his element, like, you know, his
moment with Al Roker on the parade route...
STEELE: ... you know, where he, you know, steps out of the role of vice
president and the formality of the parade to shake hands and to say hello.
That also, I think, you know, humanizes moments like this, that connects us
and brings us closest to this administration and to its leaders.
You know, unfortunately, tomorrow, the hard work begins. And we hope that
some of this rubs off. You know, I have to take a little bit of issue, if
I could, here, Chris, for a moment, with Republicans who were very vocal
about staying out of Washington this weekend and not...
MATTHEWS: How about Mitt Romney? Where`s he?
STEELE: I just -- I just don`t think that`s the mood or the tone the
MATTHEWS: He said he wouldn`t watch today. Howard, you know, I -- you
know, I always say when I go to a party and I don`t know somebody, they`re
a billionaire. The people you don`t know are the rich people! I`m looking
at the people behind him. I don`t recognize a single face. They must be
contributors, right, in the reviewing stand behind him? Who are those
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, there are a probably a few.
FINEMAN: And I can think of a lot of political things to say right now,
but I would rather focus...
FINEMAN: ... on this family.
MATTHEWS: On the schmaltz.
FINEMAN: Yes. Why not?
MATTHEWS: Yes, go for it.
FINEMAN: Why not? I think they have done a terrific job of being
themselves in a very difficult role. Now having been reelected, having
been reaffirmed by the American people in the role as a first family -- in
an odd way, we were voting on them as first family.
FINEMAN: And the American people said, You know what? We may disagree
with him on policy and we don`t trust him on Social Security, whatever, but
we kind of like that family. We kind of trust that family, and that is a
MATTHEWS: How did they do it? Does anybody know?
FINEMAN: That`s a tremendous...
MATTHEWS: How`d they do it?
FINEMAN: By being -- by working very hard at being normal.
FINEMAN: As Joy says, stylish but normal.
FINEMAN: And I think to see them so comfortable now is a reflection not
only of them but of the country. Whatever else you want to say, whatever
other arguments we`re going to have about entitlements...
FINEMAN: ... about war, about Medicare, about Medicaid, it`s not going to
be about having an African-American first family because they have done it
And by the way, to have walked the tightrope of race the way they have...
MATTHEWS: I know.
FINEMAN: ... having come up as Baby Boomers in the Affirmative Action
FINEMAN: ... when people thought, Hey, wait a minute, maybe they don`t
deserve it. You know, maybe they don`t -- they`ve got to prove themselves,
Barack and Michelle have proved themselves in that sense, and they`ve
proved themselves also, I think, as parents. I think every signal you get
-- and my kids went to the same school that their kids are attending now.
Every word you hear is that they`re dedicated parents. They go to the
meetings. They do it all right. They cross the T`s, they dot the I`s.
That`s above politics, that`s beyond politics, and yet it`s the essence
MATTHEWS: Look at that. We just saw (INAUDIBLE)
FINEMAN: ... and yet it`s the essence of American (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: In the old -- the old story I`ve heard from African-Americans is
that the bar keeps being raised on you all the time.
MATTHEWS: And you always have to beat the new bar.
ROBINSON: Yes, if you`re going to be the first black anything...
ROBINSON: ... you`re -- then you`re going to be held to a higher standard.
ROBINSON: Mr. Chairman...
STEELE: It`s very true.
ROBINSON: And you know, that`s the way we were taught growing up, and so
that`s the way it is, that`s...
MATTHEWS: You know, actually...
MATTHEWS: ... objectively -- objectively -- forget ethnicity for two
seconds -- the guy won everything on scholarships, pretty much. He went to
the absolute best schools in the country, Columbia and then on to -- then
on to Harvard law. He becomes editor of the "Harvard Law Review" in a
blind test. Nobody knew -- there`s no Affirmative Action here -- blind
test, you were the guy that had the best writings, the best research, the
best scholarship to get the job.
And then he comes back and instead of being a money grubber on Wall Street
-- excuse me, money grubbers on Wall Street...
MATTHEWS: he decides he`s going to do come back and do something for his
community where he came from.
MATTHEWS: So he does that right. And then he runs for office, gets beaten
-- you know, gets beaten on the South Side by Bobby Rush. And what`s he
do? He gets in a car with a map next to him in the car and drives out to
the burbs, where the burbs have never voted for a guy looks like him, and
lets them decide.
FINEMAN: By the way, Michelle Obama...
MATTHEWS: It`s very nervy.
FINEMAN: Michelle Obama did the same thing. She resented Princeton a lot
when she got there, but she channeled her resentment into writing a
brilliant paper about the history of discrimination against -- against
REID: And I mean...
FINEMAN: She worked within the system. She went to Harvard law school,
too. The fact that they worked within the system, given the challenges
that they had, to have gotten to this place and to be the calming influence
that they are, I think is remarkable.
MATTHEWS: Calming. More calm than me.
REID: And the point is...
ROBINSON: Low bar. Low bar!
ROBINSON: But with an inner fire, though. I mean, you know -- you know,
FINEMAN: Yes, they proved themselves.
ROBINSON: There`s stuff going on beneath the calm.
REID: Right. Well, I want to...
MATTHEWS: It`s always that`s the part about him that -- look at him there,
Mr. Calm, "Cool Hand Luke," and you have to ask yourself, how did he know
he could get reelected a certain way? How did he know to trust David
Plouffe? How`d he know to trust Axelrod? How`d he know to plus (ph) the
ground game, plus (ph) his air game, plus (ph) after the first debate, how
he knew he could come back. I mean, I don`t know if it was all figured out
ahead of time, but that -- he never seemed...
FINEMAN: That was one of the secrets -- having covered both of his
campaigns, one of the secrets to the success of both of his campaigns was
his refusal to panic.
FINEMAN: And any moment -- he trusted the people that he brought aboard
from the very beginning, some of whom are sitting -- you asked who was
sitting with him. When he was on the inauguration stand, people like David
Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, who were with him at the very beginning of his
national career, were 10 feet away from him today. He stuck with the same
people and he listened to them and he never panicked. As a candidate, he
MATTHEWS: You know what he did at the Al Smith dinner...
FINEMAN: He probably didn`t panic enough before the first debate!
MATTHEWS: I was sitting behind him at the Al Smith dinner, right after the
first debate didn`t go so well. And he told me, I`m going to mention you.
He took a little shot at me. Fine. And then he said -- comes back and
says, Calm down. I got this. So where is that from?
REID: But it`s so...
MATTHEWS: That confidence after the first debate...
MATTHEWS: Calm down. I got this.
REID: But it`s a...
FINEMAN: That`s a great line. Did you -- have you said that on the air
MATTHEWS: No, and I just did, didn`t I.
FINEMAN: That`s fantastic.
FINEMAN: That about summarizes (INAUDIBLE)
REID: No, I was going to say it`s a reliance on data that I think is
important because we`re in an age of unreason, in a lot of ways. And I
think one of the things people also like about Barack Obama is he reaffirms
what we tell young people we want them to do and to be, right, to give
back, to rely on data, to not go from the gut, which we had in a previous
president. But I just wanted to say real quick what you were saying
MATTHEWS: Is it gut? Is that where that war (ph) came from?
REID: I think, unfortunately, yes. But I mean, you were talking before
about all the things that Barack Obama did. And I think just to put a
reminder, a lot of that was mocked. It was mocked that he was a community,
MATTHEWS: By the way, how did he win the election...
REID: Organization and data.
MATTHEWS: Take that, Sarah Palin!
REID: There you go.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, we`re watching him again. and I still think the
staggering thing in our democracy is a couple things. Given all the
dangers we live in in our society, and of course, from gunfire -- you know,
it`s just part of our life now. Presidents have been shot at. We know it.
But there he was out there, and the Secret Service, a great credit to them,
they figured out a way to let the president get out of the car a couple
times and connect with people at fairly close range. And you know, you
guys and I grew up where...
MATTHEWS: ... you actually -- and Howard -- where we were used to being
able to drive by the White House.
FINEMAN: ... Chris, the sad reality now is that everybody went through a
magnetometer to get onto the parade route.
MATTHEWS: Is that how it works?
FINEMAN: That`s how they did it. You could not just casually walk up to
Pennsylvania Avenue. Everybody went through a magnetometer...
MATTHEWS: Well, better that. Better that.
FINEMAN: Yes. And if the result is a sense of unity in the country, so
much the better.
MATTHEWS: You have to go through a magnetometer to go on the Bill Maher
MATTHEWS: No, it isn`t like having security, you know (INAUDIBLE) But
there they are again. That`s the oldest daughter.
MATTHEWS: Who`s at Sidwell and I guess doing well. I was saying to Joy
that -- I know Washington. And when it gets dull in this town, it`s all
going to be, Who`s the prom date? What`s coming up? Will we have a
wedding in the White House?
MATTHEWS: It`s probably too soon for that.
FINEMAN: And half of the stories you`re going to hear about that are from
the president, who loves to play the role of the...
MATTHEWS: Robert De Niro.
FINEMAN: ... overprotective father.
FINEMAN: And he already said, you know, any young man who wants to date my
daughters, if they can make it through the Secret Service...
MATTHEWS: Well, OK...
FINEMAN: ... I`ll try to give them attention.
MATTHEWS: Is he like Robert De Niro in "Meet the Parents," the guy with
the lie detector test?
MATTHEWS: Is he that guy or is he (INAUDIBLE)
FINEMAN: I think he`s a guy who...
MATTHEWS: Look at him chewing the Nicorette!
FINEMAN: OK. When the young -- I pity the poor young man who comes to sit
in the parlor.
MATTHEWS: How many -- how many-...
REID: ... Cliff Huxtable!
FINEMAN: Yes, but he will also carve them up with...
MATTHEWS: OK, what is he chewing?
FINEMAN: ... a little gentle wit, I would say.
MATTHEWS: OK, ladies and gentlemen, what is he chewing?
ROBINSON: We all vote for Nicorette.
REID: And he`s doing it openly. He`s not even hiding it.
FINEMAN: He`s reelected now. He can break out the Nicorette.
MATTHEWS: He looks like he`s playing the majors right there.
REID: It`s either that...
MATTHEWS: A southpaw!
REID: ... or you know, a stogie.
MATTHEWS: A southpaw with some chaw! So we`re watching the parade here
today, and this is the one -- I said earlier today one of the great
anachronisms of our life. They`ve gotten rid of the convention rallies,
the convention demonstrations. They got rid of the nighttime rallies.
And what`s left is this bit of Americana in real life, Joy. Real life.
These are people who`ve come in from -- stayed at a hotel, probably a two-
MATTHEWS: ... not a lot of money, and they`ve all come in just to do this
for the president, just for him.
REID: Absolutely. You have these high school bands, these marching bands
that are -- I mean, this is a point of real pride for these guys. They`re
on national television. They`re demonstrating their regional and ethnic
pride. And I think it`s great. It`s sort of a showcase of America. This
is one of the few unifying things...
MATTHEWS: What ethnic pride is this...
REID: ... we do anymore.
MATTHEWS: ... by the way?
REID: You know, I`m trying to figure out where...
FINEMAN: This must be regional or maybe...
MATTHEWS: There he is! He`s dancing! You`re right! You`re right, Gene!
There -- that`s his dance.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Michelle`s performance today I think is going to be
talked about for days, if not weeks, if not years. I know nothing about
design. I decided that this guy from Allentown knows what he`s doing,
though, Thom Browne. Your thoughts, Joy.
REID: No, she looked gorgeous and elegant. And the thing is, is that
we`ve done stories about this at TheGrio. Anything she wears, anything
Michelle Obama puts on or buys, whether it`s -- you know, she picks up
something inexpensive from Target or she goes designer, it becomes
instantly a huge brand. She`s sort of taken over from Oprah Winfrey, that
kind of brand blessing power. It`s amazing.
MATTHEWS: So this is about Nicorette and three-quarter-length sleeves.
Anyway, thank you to our panel. We`re going to come back. You`ll be
sticking with us throughout the hour. We`ll be right back. You`re
watching this -- this is rare stuff, live coverage of the first family and
President Obama at his second inaugural. Look at these people. This is
something, to see them this close.
MATTHEWS: We`re back. What a day it`s been. I mean, I don`t know about
party politics, but today about America is a good day. This city I love --
I`ve come to love. I moved here years ago to Washington after the Peace
Corps. It is a beautiful city, and today the Pennsylvania Avenue route
we`ve been watching used to be, as I said, all waffle shops and firecracker
stores. And Jack Kennedy said to Pat Moynihan...
MATTHEWS: ... his secretary of Labor -- move on...
MATTHEWS: ... the secretary of labor, and he said, Make it like Paris.
And it is very much -- if you ever get to Paris, it very much has that kind
of look of Paris, a beautiful thoroughfare.
And there you see all this local stuff, of people that come in here by bus
from all across the country, nothing fancy, just their best, and all the
different ethnicity stuff. And it`s really a great old tradition and it
has nothing to do with politics. And there`s the president`s reviewing
And I want everybody to get in on this again. We have waited a long time
to see the relaxed Obamas, Michael.
MATTHEWS: How is your crowd going to like this, when they see these people
looking so debonair and charming and delightful?
STEELE: Look, you know...
MATTHEWS: Are they going to be mad and jealous?
STEELE: They`re not going to be mad and jealous, no. You know, look,
there are people who obviously do not have affection for the president
personally. And you know, even going back to my time as chairman, I made
it very clear this is never about anything personal to the president.
MATTHEWS: Come on!
STEELE: We`re all proud of his accomplishment and all -- I mean for me.
MATTHEWS: Oh, for you? Of course.
MATTHEWS: You`re a wonderful person.
STEELE: I can`t speak for...
MATTHEWS: We`re talking about the Republican Party.
STEELE: I think the Republican Party by and large, you know, celebrates
this day as we -- as all Americans do because it does speak to our
democracy and the transference that occurs after an election and coming
together, which this parade represents.
FINEMAN: Michael, I think that`s nice, but I think you`re sugar coating it
a little bit.
STEELE: I`m not sugar coating!
STEELE: Howard, let me finish my point! You know, I`m tired of, you know,
the left and Democrats and reporters painting the entire Republican Party
with such a broad brush because you have a few idiots out there who say
stupid stuff like they want to stay out of Washington and the like.
It is not reflective of the entire party. It`s certainly not reflective of
those of us who are grass roots activists and believe fundamentally that
the president is taking the country in the wrong direction, that in this
hour and this moment, we cannot celebrate like the rest of America the
democracy that is...
MATTHEWS: Alex Wagner...
MATTHEWS: I have to bring Alex Wagner in to settle this dispute. Alex, is
it fair to be stereotypical when discussing the Republican Party, or do you
have to be refined and sophisticated in delineating the hard right from the
mainstream Republican Party, if there is a difference?
ALEX WAGNER, HOST, MSNBC "NOW": You know, look it, I`ll say this, Chris.
Many times today, I thought, Wow, what if today was about Mitt Romney being
sworn in? And the thing about the president`s speech was that it was such
a broad vision for the country.
Now, you may take issue with the defense of Medicare and Social Security,
the pressing need to combat climate change, the notion that gay rights is a
civil right, but at the end of the day, it was a huge proposal for America,
the road ahead.
And my question to myself was, what would Mitt Romney`s speech have sounded
like? What is the big vision for America from the Republican Party, other
than cutting the deficit, other than tackling debt? I don`t think we have
heard anything articulated on the level that the president did today and
certainly in recent months from the right.
And so in that way, you know, much respect to the chairman. We are friends
and I respect his opinion, but I have not heard anything from the right
that would counter the notion that the party is very much in crisis.
STEELE: But my point isn`t on policy. Yes, we`re going to disagree with a
lot of what the president -- the president laid out a collectivist agenda
today. It`s very clear. And that`s fine. We can disagree philosophically
MATTHEWS: A collectivist agenda?
STEELE: A collectivist agenda, yes, where he said the individual can`t
succeed without the collective. And that`s just not true in the view of a
lot of Republicans.
But that`s not my point. My point was speaking to what Howard was raising,
was that, you know, this broad brush that Republicans are right now with
their head in their soup lamenting the moment, and I`m saying that that`s
not necessarily true across the board.
MATTHEWS: Collectivist, where would it fit between Maoist and Trotskyite
and Bolshevik? Where would you put collectivist on the spectrum?
STEELE: I would put it where a lot of liberal tweeters today, some of whom
are associated with this network, were talking about it.
ROBINSON: But just take the "ist" off the end of it, and you`re right. He
talked about collective. He used the word...
ROBINSON: He did not use "ist," right. That has a connotation going back
to, you know, sort of Stalinist labor camps, and that`s unfair.
ROBINSON: However, he did -- his speech essentially said we`re all in this
together, and, as we support each other, we will get out of this together.
We will move forward together. And, actually, that does delineate...
STEELE: What does the president mean when he says individual freedoms
require collective action?
MATTHEWS: OK. Can I ask a question of all the people here?
MATTHEWS: What -- Alex, you first, very quickly, on a scale of one to 10,
10 being very partisan, one being pretty much nonpartisan, where would you
put the speech today, the inaugural address?
WAGNER: I would give it a seven. I think you heard a strong defense of
the role of government. It was actually the full circle. Reagan maligned
government. Clinton triangulated. Obama laid out a vision, progressive
vision for America.
MATTHEWS: I want to get an average here.
ROBINSON: I think seven.
MATTHEWS: Seven for you.
REID: ... more liberal.
MATTHEWS: Where were you? Very liberal, 10.
MATTHEWS: Howard, where would you assess this as a bipartisan address.
FINEMAN: I want to top Joy, so 8.1.
MATTHEWS: Well, 8.1.
And, Michael, looking at it...
STEELE: I will top all of you.
STEELE: Inching to 10.
MATTHEWS: Well, I thought it was totally nonpartisan, so it averages out
MATTHEWS: And I thought that when he talked about people who really are
skeptical about government, the Tea Party people, he reached out to them
and said some people have sort of a reasonable skepticism about what
government can do. He was even nonpartisan with regard to Tehran, which I
FINEMAN: No, I have to disagree. I think he did very little reaching out.
STEELE: Very little.
FINEMAN: What he said was, look, I honored the tradition of individualism
in America, and we have a yin and yang thing in this country that will go
on forever between impulse of pioneering individualism and the need for us
all to be together.
But he also said at this moment, at this time we need to stress one side of
that equation. I think he has used the line, we could go on with these
arguments for centuries, but right now we don`t have the time to argue. I
think that`s what he said.
MATTHEWS: Let`s get the particulars.
He said that we need Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid so that people
who are risk takers have something to fall down on, a net. I thought that
was fascinating, because I have parents, many of us have, who took a lot of
risks to educate us, so they knew that in the end they could retire.
FINEMAN: That was well-done. I agree.
MATTHEWS: Alex, your thought. You jump in here. Parents will take risks
with money knowing that at the end even if they`re not rich when they`re
old, they will have something, so they spend all their money on tuition and
raising kids. So I thought that was what he was talking about, which was
really important about our country.
FINEMAN: I agree.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Alex?
WAGNER: But I -- I thought -- I think one of the things that`s been
underdiscussed in terms of how progressive this message was is the foreign
Advocating for engagement against the backdrop of a hostage situation in
Algeria is a very firm flag to plant in the ground. To say that, as we see
al Qaeda cells multiplying, taking over a host of failed states in North
Africa and now West Africa, to say these are not our enemies, that we can
come in peace, that we can have peaceable relations with evil actors in the
world is very much Obama 1.0. And for him to say that now, I thought it
was really, really remarkable if you`re talking about hawk vs. dove,
progressive vs. conservative.
I thought that was a direct message to the mullahs and to the people of
Iran. I spent some time with one family this week. I think he knows that
the worst-case scenario is war, it always is the worst-case scenario, and
he`s hoping somehow we can stop them from weaponizing, somehow talk them in
MATTHEWS: ... nuclear weapons.
REID: I think this was a forthrightly liberal speech. I don`t think this
was a speech that...
REID: I think that he...
MATTHEWS: You`re eight. You`re an eight.
REID: This was a robust defense, yes, of liberalism.
He said that we are a country that doesn`t -- that believes that every
citizen deserves a decent measure of security and dignity.
REID: He talked about that little girl born in bleakest poverty should be
able to have security. He said no endless wars. These were all defenses,
MATTHEWS: Howard, you get first when we come back. We will come back and
rejoin the Obama family. There they are, Nicorette and all, I think,
Obama`s second inaugural, the 57th time America has sworn in a president.
Coming up, some major milestones in inaugurals throughout history. This is
going to be a lot of fun. One of our producers put this together.
As the parade continues down Pennsylvania Avenue, a little bit of old
America and I got to tell you some brand-new America here, which is great
for all of us.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, this may be the first time we have had such a really
close-up look at the first family. We have been watching them in the
reviewing stand watching the inaugural parade continue.
There it is. These are -- look at the first lady. They`re just bobbing.
They`re around having fun. He`s chewing we think Nicorette to ward off his
hunger for, what do you call it, nicotine.
Anyway, today`s inaugural, by the way, marks the 57th time America has
sworn in the new president or a president. And while inaugural is
historic, some are more historic than others. You got to watch this tape.
It is so much fun. It`s done by Will Rabbe.
MATTHEWS (voice-over): George Washington`s inauguration was not only a
first for our country, but also the first and only to be rescheduled
because Congress delayed the election. Andrew Jackson was the first sworn
in on the east side of the Capitol Building and Ronald Reagan was the first
sworn in on the west.
The shortest inaugural address was George Washington`s second, while the
longest was William Henry Harrison`s, who talked for almost two hours in
the winter rain. He caught pneumonia and died a month later. Six
presidents have taken the oath outside Washington, George Washington first
in New York and then in Philadelphia. John Adams in Philadelphia. Chester
Arthur in New York. Teddy Roosevelt in Buffalo. Calvin Coolidge in
Plymouth, Vermont, and of course LBJ in Dallas.
James Polk`s inauguration was the first to be covered using a telegraph and
Warren Harding`s parade was the first to use cars. James Buchanan`s
inaugural was the first one photographed and William McKinley`s was the
first filmed. Calvin Coolidge`s was the first on radio and Hoover`s was
the first in a movie newsreel.
The first inauguration to be televised was Harry Truman`s. And the first
streamed on the Internet was Bill Clinton`s second. Lincoln`s parade was
the first to include African-Americans and Wilson`s was the first to
include women. While bad weather moved the ceremony indoors for William
Howard Taft and Ronald Reagan, Grant toughed it out in 16 degrees and Jack
Kennedy in 20 degrees without an overcoat.
FDR`s inauguration was the first held in January after a constitutional
amendment moved the date up from March. And finally, more people witnessed
Barack Obama`s first than any other event ever held in Washington.
MATTHEWS: That was put together by producer Will Rabbe of "The Chris
Matthews Show" on weekends. And he`s lent it to us. I love that stuff.
Fast, lots of information, lots of take-home.
Anyway, up next, the moments we will still be talking about tomorrow from
this historic day and a lot happened today, a lot of pictures of greatness
for America and happiness I think and joy.
You`re watch a special edition of HARDBALL live from Washington and the
second inauguration of President Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Beyonce and the Marine band with the national anthem today after
President Obama`s inaugural address.
Welcome back to HARDBALL for our live coverage of the inaugural parade.
Still, the parade going on here in the nation`s capital.
With me tonight on set are MSNBC analyst Eugene Robinson -- I think he just
left -- Howard Fineman, Joy Reid, and Michael Steele. And at our NBC News
Washington bureau is Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter.
Jonathan, I don`t know. Do you want to venture an opinion about the
performance and the appearance of Beyonce today? I dare to say it`s always
FINEMAN: When I think of musical criticism, I think of Jonathan Alter.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.
MATTHEWS: I said delightful. I will leave it at that for safety`s sake,
but I thought she was beyond belief.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.
ALTER: She was good. That he was right in my wheelhouse, Chris.
REID: Look, but it`s interesting because Beyonce also African-American,
and the reason I mention that is that one of the things that struck me
today is, in 2009, when he was inaugurated the first time, if President
Obama was Jackie Robinson breaking into the Major Leagues, you know, this
is Jackie Robinson winning a batting title.
There`s an old word that was used a lot in American life, integration. We
talked all the time during our horrible legacy of segregation about the
need for integration. Today represents the integration of our political
tradition. Barack Obama is now in the American grain, as they say. He is
part of our political tradition, and this will be our tradition for the
So he`s just not -- he`s not just the face of the president, Chris. He is
the face of the future of this country demographically in terms of the way
we regard ourselves and define ourselves and what we owe each other. And I
thought the three critical words of the speech, which he used a few times,
was our journey continues. The United States is a work in progress, and he
MATTHEWS: You know, I was thinking, Joy, that you have got to be careful
about all this ethnic stuff, but I thought it was a nice blend to the whole
picture today. It wasn`t like a New York state Democratic ticket exactly,
where there has to be one gay and one Hispanic and all that.
It seemed to be a better blend than the obvious. And my view is they did a
getter job of putting it all together than most of these tickets they try
to put together.
REID: Yes. And it felt natural.
REID: It actually felt like this is Obama`s coalition. Look, you had
Beyonce and Jay-Z, who are friends with the president. It was great seeing
Jay-Z sitting there.
MATTHEWS: John Legend was there.
REID: John Legend was there. And it was sort of an American tapestry, but
it wasn`t forced.
FINEMAN: Yes, I agree with that. And let`s look at our popular culture
now. I mean, Beyonce is somebody who transcends -- to me transcends racial
identification at this point.
REID: She`s a pop star. She`s a pop star.
FINEMAN: She`s just a star and she looked like the face of -- to me she
looked like the face of America.
MATTHEWS: If we`re lucky.
FINEMAN: If we`re lucky. She`s beautiful, she`s talented, she`s radiant.
FINEMAN: She exuded confidence. And it was like she was saying, look,
this is what America looks like now. Isn`t that a great thing? And I
think it`s -- as Jonathan said, it is in the American grain. This is who
we are, and it`s a wonderful -- it looked like a wonderful thing today.
It felt -- being out there -- I was out on...
MATTHEWS: Did everybody see the movie "Places in the Heart," Sally Field`s
movie? Nobody ever sees movies.
Anyway, it was a great movie.
MATTHEWS: And at the end of the film, there was like one of these scene at
the end of the movie where you think the movie is over, but they have an
And it`s all the people who have been killed in the movie. There was a lot
of racial stuff going on. And all of a sudden you realize everybody is
going to this like church service together, and they`re all mixed up and
it`s all working together. And you go, wait a minute, this is about
heaven. This is there`s -- there`s the Tuskegee Airmen meeting with the
president. What about the history here?
MATTHEWS: They`re alive.
ROBINSON: They`re getting old.
MATTHEWS: Yes, World War II guys.
ROBINSON: ... World War II who demanded the right to fly for their
MATTHEWS: Tell me about the history of those guys as fighter escort with
the big super fortresses going over Germany.
ROBINSON: Right. Right.
They were -- of course, initially, they were (INAUDIBLE) and they were
determined to prove -- not just to prove that they could fly, but to fly
better than anybody else, because they were the first black aviators, and
they ended up with a sterling record of -- both as escorts and as fighter
MATTHEWS: A lot of aces.
MATTHEWS: Jon Alter, you know some history about these guys? Because...
ALTER: They flew escort -- they flew escort for my father`s B-24s as he
was flying 31 missions over Nazi Germany. And I spoke to him earlier
today. He is 90 years old and he was -- he was weeping over this and
everything he has seen in his lifetime.
He`s the same age as these Tuskegee airmen we`re seeing. His life was
essentially saved by them over Nazi Germany. At that time, you know, we
still had segregation in the armed forces but we were starting to
integrate. We were starting to move forward in that post-war period.
And this is -- this is really the realization of the dreams of a lot of
Americans about a different country than many people fought for over a long
period of time, and now, we can feel to some extent with all of our
problems we`ve achieved that different America.
ROBINSON: You know, the war was so important in that process because so
the many African-Americans served in the war in segregated armed forces and
segregated army. My father was in a segregated army. My late father, my
late father-in-law was on the segregated navy on an ammo ship in the South
And they came home to a country that did not honor their service the way it
honored the service of white soldiers by treating them as full citizens.
And that was an impetus not just for African-Americans, but I think for the
country, too, to begin to dismantle some Jim Crow.
MATTHEWS: And they came back and said no way.
ROBINSON: Yes, yes. I mean --
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: These guys represent that endless
journey that I think this country has been on from its founding, and that
is, you know, people, however they got here, making the most of the
opportunities that they have in front of them, and that`s what these airmen
You know, they were risk takers of a different sort. You know, they
weren`t highfalutin in business, but they were highfalutin in different
parts of our society that were just as important. I think to connect this
bridge to this president, again, taking politics so completely out of it is
so important for, you know, a 7-year-old or a 15-year-old African-American
male, particularly when we see so many of those young men looking down the
road and not seeing themselves as a future Tuskegee airmen or future
president, but instead are right now sitting in the Baltimore detention
STEELE: Or otherwise not regarded as a value to our community. And I
think that`s something that I hope the president in some way addresses a
little bit more fundamentally and really talk about to young black men
particularly about his role, his legacy for them.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Can I say though, we spent the last week
at the "Huffington Post" looking at the challenges the president faces in
the next term? And we found as others have found, that there`s a lot of
work to be done in terms of poverty, in terms of education, in terms of
And he has made some efforts, but there are a lot of people who think, and
not all of them are predictable liberals, who think that as wonderful a
symbol as he`s been and as elegantly and as sure-footedly he`s handled the
difficult terrain of race, he`s got a lot more to do in terms of dealing
with the reality.
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: : Can I tell from you just a visual standpoint
watching these pictures now, it strikes me that this, at least
cosmetically, is what Dr. King was talking about when he was talking about
an America where black and white and brown were sort of all in it together.
REID: But beneath that --
FINEMAN: At least cosmetically. I was going to say beneath that I think
there is still --
MATTHEWS: What about you, Joy? I want you to take a look at the picture
of the president with his Nicorette or whatever.
FINEMAN: You have given more free publicity to Nicorette.
MATTHEWS: Well, also, Thom Browne of Allentown, and his wardrobe, I think
the absolute casualness of the lightness with which this guy carries his
office which is on display is to me stunning.
REID: And I think that is what the modern presidency is about. I think
it`s become less and less regal as presidents have gone. They`ve become
more accessible, they`ve been really frankly more like celebrities.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Mitt Romney would have been less regal?
REID: I think that`s why Mitt Romney couldn`t win. I think Mitt Romney
was from an older America, from an America that really doesn`t exist
anymore. I think in a lot of ways, this president hasn`t been able to
obviously change everything in four years.
But this is the America that a lot of people feared in the `60s, a more
integrated America, an America where a young guy like this, a black guy,
somebody that no one ever would have imagined could be president and stand
there right in that position and I think actually that`s a wonderful thing.
FINEMAN: And he`s confident. To be a leader today you have to be
confident in public because everybody, especially kids know this, everybody
lives their lives fully in public. Unless you`re really at ease on the
public stage, you can`t convey the sense of confidence and identity that`s
necessary. That was one of the Mitt Romney`s problems.
REID: I was ill at ease with being Mitt Romney.
FINEMAN: And that is now a requirement. Joy is absolutely right, that`s a
requirement of the presidency and it`s all the more difficult, one might
argue, as the first African-American, and yet he`s pulled it off.
MATTHEWS: You know want Jack Kennedy said about Nixon? I feel sorry for
Dick Nixon because he doesn`t know which Dick Nixon to be each day.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, much more on President Obama and the first family.
We`ve been watching here as they watch the inaugural parade.
Our coverage of Barack Obama`s second inaugural continues after this. This
is HARDBALL, although it doesn`t seem like HARDBALL, the place -- it`s
definitely the place for politics. Here we are in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL ROKER, NBC NEWS: Mr. Vice President? Mr. Vice President? Mr. Vice
President? Hey, how are you doing? Come on. Come on. They won`t let
Are you -- that`s it. Yes! All right! Yes! Yes!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s making the get. Anyway, that`s NBC`s Al Roker, the
inimitable Al Roker, trying to get the attention of Vice President Biden
ROBINSON: He got it.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, "Washington Post" columnist Dana Milbank joins us right
Dana, today, I watched a vice president running for president. I saw a
number of occurrences, Sotomayor, of course, being asked to give an oath --
all kinds of signs that he might be interested in running. In fact, his
kinetic performance on the parade route today is evidence to me he`s
retailing his way to the presidency.
DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Unfortunately, the crowd --
MILBANK: The crowd loved him and also loved Hillary. I`m not sure it
guarantees him anything.
But he`s really enjoying this, as you know with the signing -- with the
swearing in ceremonies on the Hill a couple of weeks back.
I`m not so sure he`s doing it to campaign. He`s doing it because he`s Joe
Biden. And he loves doing this stuff and he can`t believe he`s getting as
much attention as he is for doing this. But this is genuine Joe Biden.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s stick to my preface, that he`s running.
MATTHEWS: And my premise is the following.
FINEMAN: I agree with you, by the way.
MATTHEWS: But if Biden made such an overt move to run, does that lock him
in to run even if Hillary chooses to run, the secretary of state? Not only
-- I think he`s creating what (INAUDIBLE) used to call new facts. He`s
creating the fact that I`m running.
And once he does that, and Hillary, Secretary Clinton, has to decide
whether she wants it a primary fight with the vice president or not. It
makes it a little less likely that she`s -- I still think she`ll probably
run. But is she gaming this thing a bit?
And is the president helping him by giving him firearms, fiscal deficit,
all of the decisions he`s putting in the guy`s hands? Isn`t there a
campaign under way here right now?
MILBANK: You`re asking me, Chris?
MATTHEWS: I`m asking you. In fact, it was an essay question and you can
answer it in full.
MILBANK: Well, I`d like that. I don`t dispute the notion that Joe Biden
is laying the predicate to run for president. But I dispute the notion
that anything Joe Biden does is very premeditated, anyway. The guy just --
the guy lives by the seat of his pants. You know, self discipline is not
his strongest suit.
So I think running over to Al Roker has nothing to do with 2016 and
everything with Joe Biden being a tremendous ham.
But, OK, I -- but I accept that he probably is getting ready to run in
2016. And, you know, certainly had we talked about this a couple years
ago, we would not have seen him as really a viable man to be defeating
Hillary Clinton in a primary. The fact that I think people can take that
notion seriously now shows that he`s gone, you know, from a hero of "The
Onion" to a mainstream, serious possibility.
MATTHEWS: Well said, I think he`s almost there. But he`s not quite there.
Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank, but he can still get chopped up "Saturday
Night Live" brutally, the one that Gerry Ford was. "Saturday Night Live"
is a lethal weapon when it comes to guys like Biden.
Anyway, Jason Sudeikis is very tough. Anyway, thank you.
Back with more -- thank you, Dana Milbank at "The Washington Post." A
More coverage coming up with the inaugural parade that continues here on
HARDBALL, the place for politics.
FINEMAN: He was a moderate.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBAL, and on our live coverage. It`s very
live, as you can see. There`s the president, we`re watching the parade as
he turned his back right now to welcome some, I think, contributors to the
We`re trying to figure out who these people are. They`re not celebrities,
they`re just rich.
FINEMAN: These are the people being ushered if after dark
MATTHEWS: It`s an old rule, if you don`t know who they are, they`re rich.
FINEMAN: There`s the guy there who`s the finance chief for the campaign.
He`s ushering people in and out.
MATTHEWS: She`s not a bundler, a lot of bundlers in that room there that
get to say they were at the viewing stand with the president.
But the delightful thing watching this has been to watch the first family
at play, really, Joy, and to see them as -- you know, they`re obviously
well off in terms of their status. They`re living in the White House,
their father is the president. But there`s something really pretty
REID: I interviewed Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama`s brother yesterday,
and he said --
MATTHEWS: Who is the coach at Oregon State.
REID: Who`s the coach at Oregon State.
REID: He said you know why we seem like the family next door? Because we
are the family next door. Our mom taught us to have self esteem, but to
have respect for people. And that the way they are is just they`re not
putting on any affectation. This is just them.
ROBINSON: This is quintessentially American story. It`s a story of great
REID: Although, they`re in a surreal situation of being in the White
ROBINSON: Well, they are now.
MATTHEWS: The Robinson family is the real African-American --
MATTHEWS: They fit the ball.
ROBINSON: It really is.
STEELE: Is this different than prior inaugural parades where the first
family has been in display? I mean, we`ve seen -- are we seeing the Obamas
differently than who we saw the Clintons?
MATTHEWS: I don`t think he knows we`re watching them. I think he`s going
to find out later, Michael, like we`ve been watching him. Do you think he
knows all of this?
FINEMAN: Nobody is more comfortable looking comfortable than --
MATTHEWS: Do you think he`s chewing that Nicorette now when we all are
REID: Maybe not.
But no, listen, we haven`t had a family with young children in the White
House, obviously, Chelsea Clinton and then you had Amy Carter. With Amy
Carter, it was somewhat awkward, her debut that was sort of Chelsea (ph)
thing. With Hillary and Bill Clinton, you had sort of a weird family
dynamic and you had the daughter you`re trying to keep out of the spot
right. This is the most natural --
MATTHEWS: They`re not weird either. With Bill, you had half brother
showing up those --
MATTHEWS: Who are these half brothers -- with Billy Carter you had.
Johnson had Samuel Johnson, the estranged brothers. He has no weird --
we`re lucky he has no siblings except, he doesn`t have any strange family
ROBINSON: Well, he does.
REID: Not in this country.
ROBINSON: In Kenya, I mean, seriously.
MATTHEWS: A new rule for families, keep your families in some other
Anyway, thank you, Eugene Robinson, for that. Joy Reid, Michael Steele, an
erstwhile and someday future Republican Howard Fineman and I`ll be right
back with another hour live edition of HARDBALL, coming back at 7:00.
MATTHEWS: We`re going to have it all wrap up. A big, produced show coming
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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