March 26, 2013
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Brian Silva, Ralph Reed, Steve Elmendorf, Lynne Olson, Rob Reiner,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: It`s up to the court.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. The history of America is being written
tonight. The Supreme Court of this country heard arguments on whether two
people of the same sex should be allowed the public recognition of their
This is not a decision about whether two people of the same gender can be
sexually intimate. The highest court decided that matter in Lawrence
versus the State of Texas, decided affirmatively. It`s not whether
citizens of a state in question here, California, can be allowed civil
unions. They have, as have gay couples in eight other states.
No, the matter before the Supreme Court today is neither about sexual
relations nor civil unions, it`s about basic human liberty, who you want to
be publicly married to.
Our guests are two men of California who have been at the ramparts of this
debate, and here they are. Of course, the names (INAUDIBLE) Rob Reiner and
Governor (SIC) Newsom. Thank you very much. Let me -- Gavin, thank you
for joining us tonight.
LT. GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me like -- observers today in the court said the
court didn`t seem to be in a mood so far -- at least in the arguments,
prepared to give a sweeping ruling on gay marriage that would affect all 50
states. Far likelier, the experts said, based on what the justices said
today, would be a narrow outcome focused just on the state of California.
That`s according to NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams, the
expert in this field.
The likely result -- the likeliest result, he said, would be one striking
down Proposition 8 out there, the 2008 ballot initiative in California that
banned same-sex marriage, and that would mean allowing marriages to resume
in California without setting any legal precedent for the other 49 states
One of the justices being watched closely today is Chief Justice John
Roberts. He showed -- well, showed he had sympathy for gay marriage
critics in California, for the critics this time. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: So it`s
just about -- it`s just about the label in this case.
THEODORE OLSON, ATTORNEY: The label is...
ROBERTS: Same-sex couples have every other right. It`s just about the
OLSON: The label "marriage" means something. Even our opponents...
ROBERTS: Sure. If you tell -- if you tell a child that somebody has to be
their friend, I suppose you can force the child to say, This is my friend.
But it changes the definition of what it means to be a friend. And that`s,
it seems to me, what supporters of Proposition 8 are saying here. You`re -
- all you`re interested in is the label, and you insist on changing the
definition of the label.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow! Gavin Newsom...
NEWSOM: I didn`t get that fully. I mean, I just was thinking back, you
know, five years ago, when I fell in love and -- you know, with my wife
now, Jen. If I sat (ph) on my knee and I said, Honey, I want to spend the
rest of my life with you, will you civil union me? I`d be here with a
NEWSOM: The point being that label means a tremendous amount. That
symbol, that marriage is what it`s about. You can`t have something else
and call it equal. I mean, that`s the whole argument against civil unions.
They are something else. And so with respect to Chief Justice, I just
don`t think he gets that.
MATTHEWS: Well, that argument was made by our cardinal here (INAUDIBLE)
small group of journalists, that married -- but the word gay, for example,
went from Fred Astaire gay to having a good time to meaning homosexual.
Words change their meanings.
ROB REINER, DIRECTOR/ACTIVIST: Yes. And to say that it has no meaning is
really crazy because it`s like saying you have all the rights of a citizen,
you just can`t be called a citizen.
REINER: That`s a big difference. You can vote, you do -- but you`re not a
citizen of this country. To say that to a group of people that, You do not
have the same rights and the same privileges and the same equality under
the law, is just wrong.
MATTHEWS: When did you -- you`re a -- I always figured you to be sort of a
classic Democrat, unhyphenated, regular Democrat, politically. You`re not
a lefty. I never thought of you as -- although we were both with Dean, I
MATTHEWS: Anyway -- didn`t seem like a lefty, just anti a stupid war. But
when did you get into this emotionally?
REINER: Well, I got into this emotionally when Proposition 8 passed
because my good friend, Chad Griffin, who is the president now of the Human
Rights Campaign, is a very, very close friend of mine. I love Chad
Griffin. I`ve worked with him. He is like a son to me. He was 19 years
old when I first met him. He was assigned to me...
REINER: ... to show me around the White House when I was making "American
President." And I came -- he ran my foundation for years. We became very,
very close. And he is like a son to me.
To look him in the eye -- and he came to me and said, We`ve got to do
something now. And when I look at him in the eye, I can`t look and say,
You are less than me. You deserve less than I do.
REINER: It`s like what Rob Portman said. He finds out his son is gay.
How do you look your son in the eye and say, You don`t deserve the same
rights that I have? And that`s when I became involved.
NEWSOM: But Rob...
MATTHEWS: And you became governor, you became involved as mayor...
MATTHEWS: ... of San Francisco...
MATTHEWS: ... to legitimatize the marriages.
NEWSOM: We had 4,036 couples from 46 states and 8 countries that came into
San Francisco and got married. And Rob was one of the first people calling
in 2004, celebrating that. So he`s been at it for an even longer period of
REINER: Well, yes, I was talking about on this particular case.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about -- let`s talk about this judge we`re all
fascinated with. And I`ve always liked Anthony Kennedy because he is, in
many ways, a libertarian and believer in civil liberties. He was the swing
justice and always will be, I suppose. He certainly seemed to swing today,
giving sympathetic statements to both sides of the argument.
At one point today, he talked about the immediate legal injury being done
to children of gay parents, if they lose their parents, as parents. Let`s
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANTHONY KENNEDY, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT:
There`s substantial -- that there`s substance to the point that
sociological information is new. I mean, we have five years of information
to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more.
On the other hand, there is an immediate legal injury or legal -- what
could be a legal injury, and that`s the voice of these children. There are
some 40,000 children in California, according to the red (ph) brief, that
live with same-sex parents. And they want their parents to have full
recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in
this case, don`t you think?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe he thinks. That`s the important thing. He`s the
judge. Anyway, Kennedy also warned that the case was entering uncharted
waters -- of course, it is -- and questioned whether the case should have
even reached the Supreme Court. Maybe it`s too fertile ground or too early
ground for him. But let`s listen to his final argument here.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KENNEDY: The problem with the case is that you`re really asking,
particularly because of the sociological evidence you cite, for us to go
into uncharted waters. And you can play with that metaphor. There`s a
wonderful destination, or there`s a cliff, whatever the metaphor is.
KENNEDY: But you`re doing so in a case where the opinion is very narrow,
basically, that once the state goes halfway, it has to go all the way or 70
percent of the way. And you`re doing so in a case where there`s a
substantial question on standing. I just wonder if the case was properly
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Here`s two options. There`s three options, of course. A 50-
state, basically saying you can`t deny the right of a person to marry
someone of their own gender. The other option is to say, basically, if
you`re going to go to civil unions, you can`t deny the label "marriage."
You can`t give all the rights, but deny the honor or the celebration of the
actual relationship publicly. And the first one is the one he looks like
he`s heading towards, which is to say you can`t take away a right once
given. Once recognized -- not given, but once recognized...
MATTHEWS: In California.
REINER: That was the ruling that the 9th Circuit gave, essentially, which
is gays and lesbians have the right to be married. Proposition 22 was
passed, and it was adjudicated at the California supreme court and the
California supreme court said that gays and lesbians have a constitutional
right to marry.
That`s when Gavin started holding wedding ceremonies. And then Proposition
8 took away that right that was given by the supreme court. So that`s the
argument that the 9th Circuit gave.
NEWSOM: And Chris, the significance of that, that narrow frame of
reference -- it was also written, from my perspective, to appeal to Justice
Kennedy, who had previously adjudicated in a 6-3 decision, writing that
majority opinion in the Romer versus Colorado...
MATTHEWS: And the children impact -- let`s get human here.
NEWSOM: The children...
MATTHEWS: ... 40,000 children now of same-sex couples in your state.
NEWSOM: And it was finally bringing the human element into this case
because we can talk in academic terms, we can talk in legalese, but talking
about human beings here. And to Justice Kennedy`s credit, that was the
first time we connected it to what Rob and others were (ph) just mentioning
(ph). This is about human dignity, self-worth. This is about human
rights, civil rights. And to bring the children back in was a good
reminder of what`s at stake here. It`s not just a legal brief. This is
about people. This is their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, mothers and
their sons and daughters.
REINER: You said it. You say it on that promo that you do it (ph). I see
it all the time on MSNBC. The beautiful thing about this country, any time
we talk about expanding rights and giving people rights, we do the right
REINER: Eventually, we do...
REINER: Yes, eventually, we do the right thing because the founders of
this country had an idea, which is that...
REINER: ... we should all be considered equal under the law.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a bad word to use in this country, but it`s a
dialectic at work. There`s a constant fight between the old know-nothings
and the segregationists and the slave owners, and then there were the
people against the franchising of women, giving suffrage for women. And
every one of those fights, the liberals have won eventually.
NEWSOM: Yes. And as Dr. King says...
REINER: It`s called progress.
NEWSOM: ... towards justice. Ultimately...
MATTHEWS: And finally, in the end. Anyway, the opponents of same-sex
marriage argue that the main thrust of their opposition had to do with
regulating procreation. In a nutshell, they said gay marriage doesn`t lead
to procreation, straight marriage does. But Justice Elena Kagan asked,
based on that position, what would stop a state from denying marriage
licenses to people too old to have children, which happens all the time
now? And that led to this exchange. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHARLES COOPER, ATTORNEY: Your Honor, even with respect to couples over
the age of 55, it is very rare that both couples -- both parties to the
couple are infertile, and the traditional...
ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: No,
really, because if a couple -- I can just assure you, if both the woman and
the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out
of that marriage.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a chuckle, but it was a point, Governor, which is
that not everybody marries even with the intent of having children.
NEWSOM: No, and people that are incarcerated can get married. So it`s
perverse. I mean, that`s why we got into the sterilization test and
whether or not you could sign up (ph) and whether or not couples (ph)
sterile or fertile. It`s a preposterous argument. And fundamentally,
that`s the only argument they have, that marriage as an institution is
about procreation, when we know better. And so Justice Kagan right -- made
the right point.
MATTHEWS: OK, few doubt where Justice Scalia stands on this question of
gay marriage. Well, today he sparred with attorney Ted Olson, who is
representing the two gay couples out in California who brought the
challenge to Prop 8.
Justice Scalia had a rather philosophical question. He asked Ted Olson
when exactly it became unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right
to marry. Listen to this great typical Scalia exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIN SCALIA, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: When
did it become unconstitutional to prohibit gays from marrying?
OLSON: They did not assign a date to it, Justice Scalia, as you know. But
the court decided in the case that came before...
SCALIA: I`m not talking about the California supreme court. I`m talking
about your argument! You say it is now unconstitutional.
SCALIA: Was it always unconstitutional?
OLSON: It was constitutional when we as a culture determined that sexual
orientation is a characteristic that individuals that they cannot control,
SCALIA: I see. When did that happen? When did that happen?
OLSON: There`s no specific date in time. This is an...
SCALIA: Well, how am I supposed to know how to decide a case then...
OLSON: Because the case that`s before you...
SCALIA: ... if you can`t give me a date when the constitution changes?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Answer, when did it become unconstitutional to deny gay couples
the right to marry?
REINER: The answer is that it was always unconstitutional, just like it
was always unconstitutional to deny women the right to vote, just as it was
always unconstitutional to have slavery. It was...
MATTHEWS: Well, why did they change the Constitution so women could vote,
REINER: They changed it because they realized that that was an
unconstitutional thing. And women fought...
MATTHEWS: It wasn`t consistent with our basic principles.
NEWSOM: No, you`ve got to remember...
NEWSOM: It wasn`t that long ago that President Bush was arguing to change
the Constitution to write discrimination into it, for a reason. There`s
something apparently about this Constitution they find offensive because it
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of this answer by Ted Olson, who`s a
pretty smart fellow, making this case? He said it was constitutional when
we as a culture determined that sexual orientation is a characteristic of
individuals they cannot control.
Remember Trent Lott saying, You have to make a decision. Remember? You
used to (INAUDIBLE) you decide whether you`re gay or straight.
REINER: It used to be called a disease.
REINER: I mean, you know, we`ve come a long way towards understanding what
-- you know, who people are and what they are. And as we evolve...
MATTHEWS: OK, what happens -- tough. You guys are both political in this
regard. You`re always political.
NEWSOM: Wait a second!
MATTHEWS: No, you are. I`m not knocking it. It`s your profession. If
you get a narrow ruling that says Prop 8 has to go, it`s unconstitutional
because of the children, because it`s already been -- those people have
already been ruled eligible to marry, you can`t take back that right, OK?
You don`t get the eight, nine states. You don`t get the 50 states. Where
does that take this case in the future? Where does it go after (INAUDIBLE)
NEWSOM: First of all, I think it`s important to remind people that means
by late June, people can legally get married in the state of California,
which is significant.
REINER: An eighth of the country.
NEWSOM: Which -- so that in and of itself is a big thing.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) get married, yes.
NEWSOM: And this guy deserves an extraordinary amount of credit...
MATTHEWS: So gay people will move to California, for sure.
NEWSOM: Potentially. But also, it creates another case law, and then
invariably -- and this is going to be the challenge for this court.
There`s going to be other cases that will invariably make their way to the
MATTHEWS: So this is progress.
REINER: We did...
NEWSOM: This is progress.
REINER: We did two things. And the reason we brought this case was to do
two things. One was to prove that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. The second
thing was to use this as an educational time, an educational moment to let
people know that`s why Lance Black, who won an Oscar for "Milk," wrote a
play called "Eight,"which was based on the proceedings that happened in
that district court.
And if you look at that play, and you -- the more and more you know about
the issue, the more and more we see the needle swing. When we started, we
were in the 40s. Now we`re at 58 with people under the age of 30.
NEWSOM: Yes, that`s profound.
REINER: Eighty-one percent believe that gays should be allowed to marry.
NEWSOM: It`s not right or left anymore. It`s...
MATTHEWS: Picked up Jon Tester today from Montana.
MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, as we all argue, these are progressive, and in the
end, the liberals win. Thank you, Rob Reiner. Great man. Thank you,
NEWSOM: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We call you Governor, by the way.
MATTHEWS: Some day, it`ll be fully true.
Coming up, why gay marriage advocates can`t lose. They can win this week`s
case at the Supreme Court or they can lose and make those defeats a
rallying cry for the gay rights movement. Remember, Roe v. Wade did more
to galvanize the anti-abortion movement than the other side than anything
else. But just as issues like gay marriage, guns and immigration have been
wedge issues against Democrats, look what`s happening now. Democrats are
using those very same issues to divide Republicans.
And if Congressman Steve King of Iowa is worried about losing on the
cultural issue of gay marriage, he`s got a ready solution for another
issue, immigration, build a Chinese wall, he says, from Texas to
California. If the Chinese could do it hundreds of years ago, if not
thousands, he figures we can do it now. Great idea, and a new idea, Steve.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with Hillary Clinton`s inevitability and what it
means for both parties.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: So which way does the Roberts court lean ideologically? Well,
it depends who you ask. Nearly half of conservatives in a new Pew poll
says the court is liberal. Wow. And another 4 in 10 call it middle of the
road. Only 9 percent of conservatives say the court is conservative. Wow.
Well, anyway, among progressives, it`s just the opposite. Nearly half of
self-described liberals say the Roberts court is conservative. Three in
ten say it`s middle of the road. And 15 percent call the court liberal.
Must be a pretty good court. Everybody thinks it`s on the other side.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now Sandy and I would like to introduce you to our
sons, two of our sons, Spencer (ph) and Elliot Perry (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. My name is Spencer Perry. This my twin
brother, Elliot Perry. And we`re two of Chris and Sandy`s very, very proud
sons. On behalf of myself and my twin brother, I just want to say how
incredibly proud we are of our parents. We love them. We love our family.
And we look forward to the day when we will be treated equally, just like
our neighbors` families. Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s pretty good. Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Today the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth Perry -- versus Perry, or more
commonly known as the Prop 8 case, showed what a family rooted in same-sex
marriage actually looks like. And it was impossible to miss the love there
those two kids had for their parents, their mothers.
Court decisions can create political movements in reaction to them. For
example, three key Supreme Court rulings in the 1950s, `60s and `70s had
significant influence in building today`s Republican coalition. Take Brown
vs. Board of Education back in 1954. The civil rights decision helped
shift the South to the Republican Party.
The 1962 Supreme Court decision banning organized prayer in public schools
sparked the creation of the moral majority. And Roe v. Wade, of course, in
1973 helped push cultural conservatives to the Republican side.
Well, given that history, what the Supreme Court decides on Prop 8, on the
Defense of Marriage Act as well, which will be considered tomorrow, could
have profound political implications stretching far beyond gays and
lesbians who want to marry.
Brian Silva is the executive director of Marriage Equality USA.
Let`s talk to you about that.
Suppose the court comes out with a narrow decision, which it looks -- looks
like they`re headed towards, basically shooting down, chopping down,
getting rid of Prop 8. You can get married in California if you`re the
same sex. What`s that going to -- is that going to energize the right?
BRIAN SILVA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MARRIAGE EQUALITY USA: You know, I think
that so many people on the right have already moved into the pro-marriage
equality camp that I think that that number of folks has really...
MATTHEWS: Who are these people?
SILVA: We have Senator Rob Portman.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You`re naming one or two. Come on, so many on the right.
SILVA: You have got an amicus brief signed by over 100 prominent
Republicans that they filed with the Supreme Court. You have got state
MATTHEWS: Which Republican candidate last time was for same-sex marriage?
SILVA: Well, none of them were...
MATTHEWS: Which one in history? Never.
SILVA: Well, Mitt Romney I guess at one point in Massachusetts was for
marriage equality, and then he was against it. But...
MATTHEWS: You see my point?
But I think that the thing is that the party is still shifting. And
whether it starts at the top or it starts at the bottom, we`re seeing it
from the bottom. My home state of New York, we had four Republican state
senators that came out in favor of marriage equality, helped us pass it two
years ago. So we are seeing...
MATTHEWS: How many Republican senators are there in the legislature in
SILVA: In Albany, they`re the majority right now. They`re at 30-plus I
MATTHEWS: So, four out of the 30?
MATTHEWS: And they got a little boost from Andrew, didn`t they?
SILVA: Well, they did.
SILVA: Well, you know what? Hey, folks working together is not a bad
MATTHEWS: OK. So you think -- so your bottom line here -- and you`re for
MATTHEWS: Is that you don`t think the Republican Party -- for example, in
their platform next time, when they put a candidate out there, whether it`s
Rand Paul or anybody, it could be Chris Christie -- do you think they will
take a position of supportive or somewhat fudging the issue? Where do
SILVA: Well, I`m hopeful, I`m hopeful that they will.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s true. But what`s it mean politically? Do you
think they will?
SILVA: I think eventually they will.
I think that`s the direction they`re moving in.
MATTHEWS: How about next time, 2016?
SILVA: 2016 is a tough call.
SILVA: I don`t know. It`s hard to look down the road. But if the court
rules that way, if more states continue -- we`re very close in Illinois,
Rhode Island, Minnesota, Delaware, all of these states...
MATTHEWS: What would you recommend the next Republican candidate for
president, he or she? Once they`re up there on the platform, once they`re
the nominee, should they support marriage equality?
Do you think it`s politically smart for them to take that and basically
echo the Democratic nominee, who will -- if it`s Hillary Clinton, has
already done it?
SILVA: I think so. I really think that when you look at the age
demographics, the folks -- the younger folks...
SILVA: Yes. They`re moving -- but they`re moving up. That folks that are
in favor of marriage equality are sticking around.
MATTHEWS: Do you think this will be a debating issue?
Let me just tell you how frequently it was recently -- 19 -- I`m sorry -- I
keep saying 19 -- 20 -- 2008, 2004, 2004, Ohio lost by John Kerry because
of a big ballot initiative on the ballot at that time, that the voters were
being asked to get -- to fight -- to come out for an anti-same-sex marriage
ban. It killed him in that state.
And you know what? Just until recently, Ohio`s numbers when it came to
marriage equality were under 50 percent. And just in the past few months,
the polls coming out of there are showing it over 50 percent.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s moving.
SILVA: It`s moving. It`s moving. You have got a big ground game going on
in Ohio, lot of folks working on the issue.
MATTHEWS: You`re a great promoter -- great promoter. I wish you well.
SILVA: Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: I`m not sure you`re right about the Republican Party. But I
wish you well.
Well, today on "MORNING JOE," Nicolle Wallace, who was senior adviser to
the McCain-Palin campaign and a former communications director for
President George W. Bush, pointed out, as you did, Brian, the generational
challenge faced by Republicans on the issue of gay marriage.
Nicolle supports gay marriage herself. And let`s listen to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLLE WALLACE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: There
were a lot of alarming things that happened at CPAC.
The one happy thing was that they went around trying to find young
conservatives who were against gay marriage, and they couldn`t find any. I
mean, even the youngest, most rabid, most devoted conservatives see this as
an equal rights issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Ralph Reed is founder and chairman of the Faith and
Ralph, thank you for coming on.
RALPH REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. You bet, Chris. Good to be with
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
I`m just setting it up what looks to be the direction of the court and
perhaps a narrow decision, perhaps just dealing with California, but
perhaps positively for the pro-choice -- or the pro-same-sex-marriage
How do people on the conservative side of things, you, how will you react
to that? What will be your plan?
REED: Well, if that were to happen -- and, of course, this is not my first
rodeo. I know it`s not yours.
I don`t tend to put a lot of -- lay down a lot of bets on oral arguments.
You know, it`s very hard to interpret how the court is going to rule based
on the repartee in oral arguments. But if they were to do that, Chris, I
think it would be profoundly disappointing. The people of California voted
not once, but twice that they wanted marriage defined between a man and a
I think this kind of issue, as we saw with the very polarizing and highly
divisive issue of Roe v. Wade, is best left to the people and their elected
representatives. It`s best left to the Congress and the various
If the people of California want to change their constitution, they can do
it at the ballot box. I don`t think the Supreme Court should intervene.
REED: But, if it were to happen, it would not have any effect in any of
the other states.
And let`s be clear.
MATTHEWS: Well, I know that.
REED: Eighty-six percent of the American people live in states today that
define marriage as between a man and a woman. This is the majority
position for the American people.
MATTHEWS: Well, what you really do understand as well as I do is the way
that there`s repercussions.
The old story was the Supreme Court follows the election results. Well,
the election results often follow the Supreme Court. People react. Most
voters vote negatively. That`s how they vote. They don`t like things, so
they get out there and vote against them.
Do you think there will be a -- will you be leading it, perhaps, an effort
to try to rectify what you see as a wrong decision?
REED: Well, I think, as you pointed out in the earlier segment, Chris,
it`s not so much that I want to do it, but the reality was -- is when the
Supreme Court gets over its skis and when it tries to be the one that is
the progenitor of very significant social change, rather than allow it to
take place incrementally and gradually with back and forth, maybe with
different answers in different states and different communities, I think
the problem is, whether it was the -- the backlash against Engel vs.
Vitale, the school prayer case that you mentioned earlier, whether -- there
was a very interesting cover story on "TIME" magazine`s cover a few weeks
ago that pointed out that the Roe v. Wade actually hurt the pro-choice
cause because it`s led to this very strong pro-life movement that is
REED: ... abortion on demand in the various legislatures.
So I think it would be a big mistake.
MATTHEWS: I understood Ginsburg may have your -- in a different -- from a
targeted, very different angle, politically, I think, she agrees with you
about her problems with the -- but, look, I don`t -- you`re not going to
come out against all landmark decisions.
MATTHEWS: You wouldn`t say, for example, we didn`t need the separate but
equal decision in the Brown case back in `54. That was -- everybody --
these states were way behind with this separate but equal attitude. Didn`t
that have to happen by the Supreme Court? Don`t we need leadership from
the top on occasion?
REED: We do.
But let`s remember that Brown v. Board was not leading. It was following
by 90 years the 14th Amendment of the Constitution that said...
REED: ... that African-Americans couldn`t be denied equal protection under
As you know, there was virtually no enforcement of that by the Department
of Justice after that. So the court had to step in. But, even with that
court opinion, at is -- as it is rightfully honored by all Americans today,
the fact is, Chris, that the real progress, the real progress on breaking
down Jim Crow and creating more equality for men and women of all color was
the Civil Rights Act of `64, Voting Rights Act of `65, and the Fair Housing
Act of `68.
The reality, where the rubber met the road, was in passing legislation in
legislative chambers and getting them signed by the president.
MATTHEWS: You know what? It`s interesting you argue this.
And I think you make a good point. Although we may disagree on a lot of
these issues -- I think we do -- I do think it`s always better when the
public will coincides with the rights. But, sometimes, the public will is
a little slow. But I agree with you on those cases. I think it`s -- the
Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were powerful because they had
the power behind them of both political parties, of Everett Dirksen and
Lyndon Johnson, and a heavy support by the Republican Party, by the way, at
They were amazingly influential. But I also think sometimes the Supreme
Court has to get ahead and it has to get ahead early, as it did with these
But, anyway, thank you, Ralph Reed, for coming on HARDBALL tonight.
REED: Thank you very much, Chris. Good to be with you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Steve King`s Great Wall of China. This guy, Steve
king, he is something, isn`t he? He wants to build a Great Wall of China
across -- along the Rio Grande.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
Part of the post-election Republican autopsy released last week by RNC
chair Reince Priebus about immigration reform. Bottom line, Republicans
need to stop saying things that minority populations will find to be out of
touch or, worse, just plain offensive.
For example, don`t compare the fence we could put up at the border to the
Great Wall of China.
Well, Iowa Congressman Steve King, have at it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: We have heard the arguments against the fence.
People said, well, you can`t build a 2,000-mile-long fence, and as if
somehow that would be too much of an engineering marvel.
I have been over there to take a look at the Great Wall of China that was
built more than 2,000 years ago. And that`s 5,500 miles long. And you can
march armies down the top of it. The Japanese did that.
So, building a fence is not that hard, so I thought, I will just show you
how to do it, if it`s too complicated for our public policy people to get
their mind around.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, not so luckily for Reince Priebus, we could be seeing a
lot more of Steve King. Think 2014 Senate candidate. King told "The Des
Moines Register" yesterday: "I have never wanted to be the guy who looked
back and said woulda, coulda, shoulda. And this is by far the most
positive kind of opportunity for a Senate seat that I`m ever likely to
Up next, once upon a time, it was Republicans who used wedge issues like
gay marriage, guns and immigration against Democrats. Now the Democrats
are the ones using those issues to divide Republicans.
And that`s ahead right here on HARDBALL. You`re watching it, the place for
BERTHA COOMBS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Bertha Coombs with your CNBC
The Dow Jones industrial average reaching yet another all-time high,
gaining almost 112 points to close at 14559. Close but no cigar for the
S&P 500, within two points of its record, finishing at 1563, the Nasdaq
also gaining, picking up 17.
The Conference Board reports consumer confidence has fallen about eight
point this month. And the S&P Case-Shiller home price index reports the
biggest annual increase in home prices, meantime, in six-and-a-half years.
That`s it from CNBC -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Cultural issues have long been used by Republicans, as we know, as wedges
to divide Democrats. In 2004, for instance, Republicans placed a gay
marriage ban on the ballot in Ohio, as I said, to help get the conservative
vote out, and it worked. President Bush won Ohio by two points. And, as a
result, he won that election in 2000.
But now -- well, he won it after the Supreme Court helped him. But now
it`s the Democrats` turn to use wedge issues -- actually, 2004 -- wedge
issues against Republicans. Politico reports today: "The culture wars are
back, but this time with a significant twist. The left is picking the
fights and for the most part enjoying being on the right side of public
opinion. Five years after Barack Obama warned that anxious voters are just
clinging to their guns and religion, wedge issues are cutting differently,
more to the liking of Democrats."
Well, I have got our HARDBALL strategists here tonight to argue this.
Former RNC chair Michael Steele is an MSNBC political analyst. And Steve
Elmendorf is a Democratic strategist who worked for Dick Gephardt, John
Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
None of them actually won in the end.
MATTHEWS: No, look, I`m just kidding.
MATTHEWS: You`re a very well-respected -- respected consultant here and
Let me ask you this. What do you think -- how do you think these issues,
Democrats are going to use these issues? Say, can they bash a Republican
for being against same-sex?
STEVE ELMENDORF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes.
If you look at the numbers, Chris, it`s not -- it`s young people at 81
percent. Young evangelicals are for gay marriage. Catholics are for gay
MATTHEWS: Conservatives -- well, not that many, 33 percent.
ELMENDORF: And young conservatives are for gay marriage. It`s just
moving, and in the right districts in a lot of places, it`s going to be a
big problem if...
MATTHEWS: How`s your party react to that at the convention? Do you fudge
the issue? I can`t see a candidate saying, and we`re not going to have any
of this damn same-sex marriage either.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No.
MATTHEWS: You`re not going to be aggressive, are you?
STEELE: Because that would just make your day if they did.
STEELE: But, on, you`re not going to have that.
And I think -- I was amused by Karl Rove`s musing on -- on the weekend that
he could see the 2016 Republican nominee, you know, expressing openly his
support for gay marriage. I don`t believe...
MATTHEWS: That`s funny, because Rove ran that Ohio campaign in 2004.
STEELE: Right, exactly.
I don`t believe at this point that that is necessarily going to be the
My caution is this, to the Democrats, and not that I`m one to caution
Democrats too much. But, you know, there`s one thing to see a poll that
says 58 percent support this, 80 percent appoint that. That`s not
necessarily translated into votes yet. And let`s just see how this plays
out in a ballot box.
Remember, state legislatures are acting in a way that`s consistent with
what they`re hearing and seeing from their constituencies in their
districts. So, let`s just be a little bit cautious. I take Jonathan
Capehart, our colleague, to heart when he says, you know, let`s be cautious
in our optimism and enthusiasm here because the Supreme Court is one thing.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I agree.
STEELE: The ballot box is something else.
MATTHEWS: Look at (INAUDIBLE), because as threatened as the conservatives
get in this country -- I mean threatened culturally, racially,
generationally, everything -- they feel more and more the circle the wagon
mentality has taken over. And they vote. They vote like bandits, right
wingers, conservatives. So, what happens if the party, if your party, is
successful in establishing its high ground politically on this issue, but
you scare the low ground people to the point where they all show up next
time and they win?
STEVE ELMENDORF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think the intensity on this
issue is actually much more on the side of gay and lesbian and marriage
equality. I think there`s a lot of intensity. It`s not just that gay
people think that gay people ought to get married. It`s all these
MATTHEWS: Is it a voting issue for them?
ELMENDORF: I think it`s a voting issue for a lot -- I think it`s a values
issue. I think there`s a lot of people, a lot of women who look at
Republicans who are on the wrong side of this issue and say they don`t
share my values.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to fun. Now we`re going to have dessert.
Cultural issues are nothing compared to the Clintons. Let`s take a look at
former President Bill Clinton, who I`m calling the advance man.
Yesterday, Clinton endorsed Wendy Greuel out in Los Angeles for the mayor`s
race. He noted her crisis management skills in the early `90s while
working at HUD during the Clinton administration. I supposed that helped,
but it sure it didn`t hurt that Greuel`s opponent, Eric Garcetti, was a big
supporter of Barack Obama in 2008 against Hillary Clinton. I think Bill
The Clintons have long memories. This is not the first time bill backed
the Democrat in a tough primary with Bill or Hillary ties. For example, if
recent congressional primary races, he endorsed Mark Critz in Pennsylvania,
and Bill Pascrell in New Jersey. He also endorsed former Clinton White
House staffer Sean Patrick Maloney in New York. And in the race for
Pennsylvania attorney general, he endorsed Clinton supporter Kathleen Kane
over Obama endorser Patrick Murphy.
He goes around the country, shapes the battle, you know how he`s doing
this, Steve. He`s rewarding old friends and punishing old rivals.
ELMENDORF: We ought to have more loyalty in politics. Loyalty matters and
he is supporting the people who helped him and helped --
MATTHEWS: To what effect?
ELMENDORF: In a lot of cases he`s winning. Even if he`s not winning, he`s
sending a signal.
MATTHEWS: Why is he doing this?
ELMENDORF: Because he cares. He cares about what you are for.
MATTHEWS: He`s setting up the battle.
STEELE: He`s setting up the battle for Hillary in about 18 months or less.
He`s making sure that everyone understands exactly they`re coming prepared.
And the thing about the Clintons, they don`t forget. They have long
memories on this. And they will exact their pound of flesh, whether $1
million or $10 million, you will pay, my friend.
MATTHEWS: This is where it`s tough. This is where it`s hardball. Their
attitude, fair enough, it works, I guess -- you`re with us or against us.
MATTHEWS: If you don`t come out for us, for example, for example, Altmire
was neutral in that race. Didn`t help him with them. The Clintons want
you with them. And if you`re not with them, you`re just dead meat.
Your thoughts, Steve?
ELMENDORF: He`s the most popular politician in America.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you answer my question? Are you afraid of him? You
are. You`re squirming.
ELMENDORF: I love Bill Clinton. I love Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: So, everything they do is right?
STEELE: He`s a Democrat strategist who wants work in 2016.
ELMENDORF: I think they do is right.
MATTHEWS: You`re made of rubber. It`s unbelievable.
Anyway, as a Republican expert, what do you think of this playing tough?
The way the Clintons are playing it? They basically probably are going to
win the nomination if they played softball.
STEELE: Yes, look, I admire --
MATTHEWS: Secretary Clinton.
STEELE: I admire the style. I think it`s hardball politics. I think it`s
smart politics for the Clintons to take all the goodwill that`s been
engendered as a result of his --
MATTHEWS: What about loving your enemy?
STEELE: Loving your enemy?
MATTHEWS: You`re a seminarian. What about going around saying, I want
STEELE: Chris, you`re not looking for that kind of blessing in this
situation. This is hardball politics. It`s real --
MATTHEWS: Is it smart?
STEELE: I think it`s smart. I think the Clintons have seen themselves be
burned. I think it`s smart politics for them to lay down their markers now
and to see right now who`s with them and who`s against them, even though
the field has not even begun to form. Whether it`s Cuomo or --
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to why they might calibrate it up a bit, escalate
from the beginning. I think Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, former
Senator Clinton, former First Lady Clinton always looks at her best when
she`s talking issues -- children, education, things like that. I mean,
that`s what she`s always cared about, a Marian Wright Edelman, another kind
of person like that.
I don`t think she`s especially great at the hammer and tongue of politics,
the nasty stuff.
ELMENDORF: Her husband`s better.
MATTHEWS: Yes. So maybe what they want to do is shorten the field to
maybe one or two weakling opponents. They`re not going to give her any
threat. Make sure Martin O`Malley doesn`t run against them, make sure Joe
Biden doesn`t run against them. Make sure Andrew doesn`t run against them
for New York. You have to run against a couple of skinny guys who don`t
mean anything. But you`ll win.
Is that the plan? If they`re take -- Bill`s tough, I`m arguing, Hillary
doesn`t have to be so tough.
ELMENDORF: I think he`s sending a signal --
MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question? Is that --
ELMENDORF: Bill should be the tough guy. And he`s doing the right thing.
STEELE: Look, you have --
MATTHEWS: You know what Mickey Cohen (ph) was once said, if you have a
dog, you don`t have to bark.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
STEELE: You have the right moniker. He`s the advance man.
MATTHEWS: OK, he`s the advance man. Thank you, guys. Michael Steele,
thank you. Steve Elmendorf, a loyal Democrat, a loyal Clintonite.
Up next, we all know we live in a polarized time today. But you know what?
It used to be worse. Wait until you hear about the wars before World War
II. We`re going to talk about that.
Lindbergh, boy, is that a lightning rod? I just said it, Charles
Lindbergh. A lot of people are already listening to that.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama`s made history today in naming a new
director of the Secret Service. Julia Pearson will be the first woman in
American history to hold that post. Pearson is a 30-year vet in the
agency, most recently serving as its chief of staff. Her choice -- choice
of her signals the president`s intention to change what has been a male-
dominated culture recently marked by scandal, you know, back in Cartagena?
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Some people say we live in a in a time of very bitter feuding between right
and left on everything from cultural issues like gay marriage to taxes and
spending, of course, health care.
But in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor, before World War II, the
country experienced one of the most divisive periods in our history, about
whether the U.S. should actually enter the war. And bestselling author
Lynne Olson chronicles the pre-World War II in her new book "Those Angry
At the time, President Franklin Roosevelt was quietly moving towards war,
of course, sending destroyers to aid Britain and signing a bill into law
that required men between the ages of 21 and 45 to sign up for the draft.
Charles Lindbergh, on the other hand, the American hero, who became the
voice of isolationists of America First people, was FDR`s most famous and
prominent critic on the issues. Here`s Lindberg in October 1940 on the
Mutual Broadcasting Network. His plea here is for us to stay out of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES LINDBERGH, AMERICAN HERO: The doctrine that we must enter the wars
of Europe in order to defend America will be fatal to our nation if we
follow it. When men are called upon to fight and die for their country,
there must not be even the remotest question of foreign influence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there he is. Foreign influence, and that`s where he got
into trouble. Because he talked about the only people that wanted -- it
was the Madison Square Garden speech, right?
LYNNE OLSON, AUTHOR, "THOSE ANGRY DAYS: Right.
MATTHEWS: And he said the only people that want us to fight are the
British, the Roosevelt administration and the Jews, as he put it. Not
American Jews. Not Jewish-Americans. He made them sound like some foreign
group, and that`s what I think was his crime -- certainly his political
OLSON: I think that was his political downfall, that speech basically did
him in, in terms of the American people and how they viewed him.
MATTHEWS: The respectability.
MATTHEWS: And Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt -- who I`ve come to admire
more as I`ve gotten older. I grew up in a Republican family. My dad
always had these strange views.
But I just wonder if we could have gotten through the `30s and `40s without
FDR. But he did want to get us into war. He was pro-British.
OLSON: He was very pro-British. I`m not sure he actually wanted America
to go to war in terms of sending troops. There`s no question he wanted to
save England. But he was somewhat cautious and hesitant in those two
years, 1939 to 1941, that I write about. He wasn`t quite as bold in that
period in terms of foreign policy as he was in domestic policy in the early
MATTHEWS: One of my heroes on the Republican side has always been, because
I like his style, is Wendell Willkie.
OLSON: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: He gave Roosevelt the best fight he ever had in `40. And in
your book, beautiful things about Willkie. He didn`t try cheap shots.
He supported Roosevelt on Land Lease helping the British. He could have
gone the other way, an isolationist like Lindbergh. He supported him on
conscription, on the draft. He did wondrously when he got the nomination
after winning it in Philadelphia, gave all the assistance he could to
national unity. Amaziog.
OLSON: It was incredible. He actually did what he thought was right for
the country. And he stood up for the best interest of the country instead
of, you know, for himself and for partisan advantage. I mean, the
Republicans -- the Republican leaders hated him because of that, because of
his support of Roosevelt.
MATTHEWS: He`s like Chris Christie today, right?
OLSON: Even more so, absolutely more so. I mean, he truly believed we had
to save England, and he didn`t care if it was Franklin Roosevelt`s policy
or not. He was going to support it.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the feeling at the times.
MATTHEWS: Did you have people who really were yelling at each other at
this time, people that really -- these big rallies, American First rallies,
nobody realizes it today. Before Pearl Harbor, people screaming, we will
not go to war. We`re being pushed into war.
MATTHEWS: On the other hand, you had people, Jewish people perhaps
especially, a lot of people are worried what was going on Europe, liberals,
scared to death of what Hitler was up to. He`d begun to do it. We had --
made the long knives and all that stuff, (INAUDIBLE), you know, it has
already been evidenced he was heading towards real -- what do you call it,
OLSON: Right, right. There was enormous divisiveness in this country. I
mean, it reminds me of today, those angry days -- these angry days. I
mean, the country was deeply divided politically on this issue. Isolation
MATTHEWS: If we hadn`t been attacked by the Japanese in December of `41,
would we have gone to war?
OLSON: That`s a really good question. I`m not sure we would have gone to
war immediately. I think we would have been drawn into the war eventually.
MATTHEWS: How about if Germany hadn`t declared war on us? Would we have
declared war on them?
OLSON: I don`t think so. Again, not right at that point. Roosevelt held
You know, some of his advisers wanted him to declare war along -- on
Germany, along with Japan. But he said no. And so we waited for three
very long days until Hitler declared war on us.
MATTHEWS: Thank God.
OLSON: Yes, thank God. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Hitler, thank God he was stupid as well as evil. I mean, to do
that when we could have avoided a war with us is just -- I don`t even want
to think about it.
OLSON: It was the stupidest thing he did in the whole war.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think invading Russia was up there, too.
OLSON: Well, it certainly was.
MATTHEWS: He was a bad, evil -- well, he`s the worst.
Anyway, thank you so much. Lynne Olson, you are a great writer. By the
way, I don`t do this a lot.
This person can write beautifully and make you love history. And that
history about World War II is never going to be that fascinating to me.
Anyway, thank you.
The book is called "Those Angry Days." It`s all about what we fight about
when we really have something to fight about. Lynne Olson is the author.
When we return, let me finish with the inevitability of Hillary Clinton.
How`s that for -- just kind of a jinx. I don`t intend it to be. How she`s
going to make both parties react differently in the next couple years.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
I have to tell you: it is something watching this 2016 presidential
campaign get underway.
Don`t you love watching Bill Clinton doing his thing? There he is, out
there, shaping the battlefield, rewarding old supporters, burying old
opponents, sounding the bugle -- get on board if you can; get out of the
way if you can`t.
James Carville said it here this morning on MSNBC, there`s never been such
a prohibitive candidate for president so early on as Hillary Clinton is
today. While that may not be a bit -- that may be a bit of an
overstatement -- you`ve got to figure George Washington was a good bet
after defeating the British. It`s not off by much.
My sense is the mere prospect of Hillary being president is enough to drive
the Republicans helter-skelter. They`re running in all sorts of
directions: Paul, Bush, Rubio, Christie -- each of whom represents a
totally different route for the party.
Don`t underestimate Rand Paul, by the way. He`s just the kind of candidate
parties do run when they`re up against someone like Hillary Clinton. When
the Republicans couldn`t beat Lyndon Johnson after the Kennedy
assassination, they ran Barry Goldwater. When the Democrats couldn`t beat
Richard Nixon after he`d been to China, they ran George McGovern.
It`s not that they didn`t believe in those men; they just didn`t believe
they were the best bets to win. So anything can happen.
But ever since Hillary Clinton made her move on same-sex marriage, it`s
been the political reality for both parties.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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