April 26, 2013
Guests: David Ignatius, Steve McMahon, Rick Tyler, Sam Stein, Robin Bronk,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Dogs of war.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" with this. War -- bombing people, shooting down airplanes,
breaking into houses. I can think of what we mean when we so casually say,
Let`s go, let`s get in this thing, and all the rest of the rah-rah and
drum-beating that gets us out there killing people and getting killed
Who are these people that want this stuff, predictably yell for it?
Always, it`s the same ones -- McCain, Kristol. Say the name of a country,
and their conditioned response is war, America go to war. Let`s not be
afraid to use our strength, all the neocon babble. Let`s not apologize for
our strength. Let`s have a muscular foreign policy, all the metaphors for
war that has us stuck once again in a country whose name we dare not
pronounce a decade later.
I spent all day yesterday at the George W. Bush library. Not once did I
hear the word Iraq. Not once. If this crowd is so proud of the wars they
push, why are they so afraid to remind us of the last one, or even
pronounce the word?
David Corn`s Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine and David
Ignatius is with "The Washington Post."
Gentlemen, I want to start with David Ignatius. The White House -- you`ve
just come back from the Middle East, sir. What is happening? Are we going
into this war, Syria?
DAVID IGNATIUS, "WASHINGTON POST": I think the first thing to say is that
the White House is being very careful in weighing the evidence of chemical
I was just in Israel. I sat with the Israeli commanders as they presented
their evidence, as they said nearly 100 percent solid in their minds that
Syria has used chemical weapons. So the question is why is the White House
waiting when President Obama said this is a red line?
And the answer is that, properly, as you were stressing, he wants to be
sure of the evidence and also to be sure that he can take it to the U.N.
and international forums to have legitimacy for whatever the U.S. does.
The bottom line for the U.S. continues to be trying to get the Russians on
board in a negotiated settlement, which will require the most solid
evidence that Bashar al Assad has crossed not just Obama`s red line but
Vladimir Putin`s, as well. And that`s where they are this afternoon.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the president`s spokesman (sic) today. Let`s
listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Knowing that potentially
chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria doesn`t tell us when they
were used, how they were used. Obtaining confirmation and strong evidence
-- all of those things we have to make sure that we work on with the
I`ve been very clear publicly, but also privately, that for the Syrian
government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that
will change my calculus in how the United States approaches these issues.
So you know, this is not an on or off switch. This is an ongoing challenge
that all of us have to be concerned about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: David, if the government of Syria, if the Assad regime, were
using chemical weapons consistently or in any way as part of a strategic
effort to save themselves, wouldn`t there be a debate? Why is this so
fleeting, this evidence? Why is -- if it was there, if this is part of
their strategy, like we used in World War I, both sides, and didn`t use in
World War II -- if they`re being used, why is there a complication here?
IGNATIUS: I think the evidence is solid. France, Britain and now Israel
have all said that they believe the weapons were used on March 19 and on
some other dates. And we`ve had indications from Secretary of Defense
Hagel that the U.S. supports that.
The point is, Chris, do you have evidence that you can take to the country
and take to the world that won`t lead people to say later this was a rush
to war based on fragmentary evidence, as in the case of Iraq? That`s not
so easy with chemical weapons.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the letter
that the White House sent to Congress yesterday was really interesting in
terms of their use of language. They said, We have evidence that leads to
these initial assessments that chemical weapons were used on a small scale,
but we want corroboration.
An assessment is just that. It`s an assessment of the evidence before you.
Corroboration is, it`s beyond, you know, a shadow of a doubt. And so they
want to move in that direction before they take any steps. Also, I think
one reason -- and David probably can speak to this, as well -- I`m not sure
there are a lot of good options...
MATTHEWS: Right, well, let`s go through them.
CORN: ... once you -- once you get...
MATTHEWS: When we -- when we...
CORN: ... up to, across that red line.
MATTHEWS: When we say we`d like to get the Russians and the Chinese, of
course, to -- not to veto in the Security Council as permanent members, and
actually have a formal U.N. action, fine, if it`s a U.N. action. Of
course, it always ends up being us out on point, but if it`s a U.N. action.
Short of that, David, what can we do? What would the president be forced
IGNATIUS: The U.N. action would be for a negotiated political transition.
The Russians would finally say, Yes, we agree, Bashar al Assad must go, and
then the mechanisms that have been prepared by former secretary general
Kofi Annan would go forward.
MATTHEWS: Would they take the Assad family to Russia?
IGNATIUS: They might. That`s been discussed in the past. But on the
question that you ask, if the Russians refused to support a negotiated
IGNATIUS: ... the U.S. is going to have to take action, I think. And so
they`re looking at a menu of options, and you can imagine it. It ranges
from Syrian command and control facilities, facilities associated with this
chemical weapons program, the special units that have been the scourge of
the Syrian population in this war. Those are all very heavy...
MATTHEWS: You mean bombing missions.
IGNATIUS: ... heavy-duty military operations.
MATTHEWS: Bombing missions.
IGNATIUS: Well, they might be bombing. There are various ways you could
do it. But they`re big operations, and they`d require precisely the kind
of major commitment the U.S. has wanted to avoid.
CORN: And it...
MATTHEWS: What would be our right to do that, to go into -- I mean, I --
this has gotten to be so practiced now, I guess it`s an odd question, but
I`m going to keep asking it.
MATTHEWS: What`s the right of the United States -- we live in North
America here -- to go over to the Middle East and pick out a country -- we
don`t like their weaponry, fine, their use of chemicals, fine. That`s a
values judgment. What is our international right to go into a country like
that and start bombing the hell out of them?
IGNATIUS: Well, it`s hard for...
MATTHEWS: Because we`re going to be killing people, not the Assad family.
IGNATIUS: I think it`s hard to argue that the U.S. and its personnel are
threatened. Presumably, what would happen here is the Arab League -- which
Syria is a member, and the Arab League seat of Syria is now held by the
opposition -- would pass a resolution condemning the use of chemical
IGNATIUS: ... and citing the evidence the U.S. has prepared, and then
would call on the international community to take action. So you`d have
that as a basis of legitimacy.
CORN: It`s sort of the Libyan model.
MATTHEWS: But we would be deputized by the Arab League to do the action.
IGNATIUS: Well, and perhaps by a broader coalition. I mean, if the
Russians block U.N. action, the kind of mandate the Obama administration
would want will be impossible.
CORN: But there`s sort of the legal framework which the administration,
Susan Rice, worked through in terms of the Libya operation. But then
there`s also the question of whether any of this stuff that David listed...
MATTHEWS: Well, Libya was the ideal.
IGNATIUS: There was a U.N. resolution.
CORN: There was. Yes. But whether any of this can work -- Syria`s a lot
different. Their anti-air operations defenses are a lot more sophisticated
than Libya. It would have to be a much bigger, more robust, more
aggressive military action to have an impact, particularly if you`re
targeting the chemical weapons, which could be -- if they are there, they
could be anywhere.
So figuring out how to come up with an effective military response, even if
you get the U.N. or the Arab League on board, is also a really big
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the American situation. As I mentioned, John
McCain, often the hawk in these discussions, said it`s pretty obvious the
president`s red line in Syria has been crossed. Last night on FOX, he went
further. Let`s watch Senator McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It`s a shameful chapter in American
history, and I hope that this new revelation of chemical weapons will move
the president to do what he should have done two years ago. From the
statement that`s coming out of the White House, I`m not sure they will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There he is, "shameful." What do you expect if the Assad
government falls in the next several months, or within the year, say? Who
IGNATIUS: One of the issues that the administration has been most focused
on is this day-after issue...
IGNATIUS: ... because Assad will not continue to rule Syria for much
longer. The administration finally, in the last week, has in place a
program to build a strong command and control within the opposition. I was
told today that we and our allies are prepared to spend a billion dollars
on this program going forward. And the idea is to train up, you know,
hundreds of people every month and flow them into Syria so you begin to
have some framework...
MATTHEWS: Are they our people?
IGNATIUS: These are people that we`re working with...
MATTHEWS: Are vetted.
IGNATIUS: We are working with a moderate general, General Idris, who the
U.S. has high confidence in.
MATTHEWS: Are you confident as an analyst that you think that we could
actually win this war, have the right side win?
IGNATIUS: Chris, I think the best outcome here is a negotiated settlement,
but that requires Russia to get off its...
IGNATIUS: ... off its backside. If -- failing that -- I have talked a
number of times to General Idris. I talk almost every day to his people.
And they have a vision of a future Syria that Americans would be
IGNATIUS: They`re not jihadists. They`re not extreme. They want to keep
the country together. So I think the administration feels...
IGNATIUS: ... it`s finally found an ally.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m a big fan of...
MATTHEWS: My question is Abdullah with the security forces, intelligence
forces are great. Is he able to get those Syrian fighters, those regime
fighters, fighting against the regime, to come and train?
IGNATIUS: Yes. They`re now...
MATTHEWS: In Jordan?
IGNATIUS: They`re now coming...
MATTHEWS: They`ve been able to get them in there?
IGNATIUS: They`re coming in increasing numbers into Jordan...
MATTHEWS: OK, because they were resisting that. Anyway, military action
against Syria, as you mentioned, won`t be a cakewalk, at least according to
former CIA officer Bob Baier. He told Politico, quote, "It would be like
walking into a giant lawn mower -- into a giant lawn mower blade. This is
worse than Iraq in terms of putting troops inside Syria`s borders. It`s
more chaotic and more likely you will lose a lot of troops."
So there`s -- he -- Bob Baier`s a respected guy, and he`s addressing troops
on the ground. Is anybody on our side, in our corner, was it McCain,
anybody saying, Put in the troops, paratroopers, go in and fight?
CORN: When they talk about...
MATTHEWS: On the ground.
CORN: WHen they talk...
MATTHEWS: David? I want David Ignatius here first.
IGNATIUS: So yes, there`s been a lot of military planning for different
kinds of units, without going into the specifics, that would go in, in the
event that we decided to take military action. The problem is, you`ve got
a lot of additional things to do, like take out Syrian air defenses. It`s
a big operation.
MATTHEWS: It`s war.
IGNATIUS: It is a war.
CORN: John McCain is calling for setting up a safe zone. And the only way
to do that is to put troops on the ground. It`s a big country. They have
a big military, the Syrians. They`re much more organized than the Libyans
So I think there`s no way they sort of have what McCain has in mind without
sending troops in. And I think one of the things is when you listen to him
talk and the hawks talk, it`s as if, you know, there`s only one choice,
which is just to go in. They don`t even sort of differentiate between the
different types of military options...
MATTHEWS: I know they don`t.
CORN: ... to a great degree. It`s just, like, we got to get in there, we
got to get in there. And you know, it`s not clear it`s going to be an easy
win or if there`s even a great strategy on how to get from here to there.
And while there are people to work with, you know, I still worry about --
you know, we worked with mujahedeen. And you know -- you know, there`s
chaos if you don`t get this transition...
MATTHEWS: Which became al Qaeda.
CORN: If you don`t get this transition through the U.N., which is
obviously the ideal solution, any type of conflict, even if you`re backing
the right guys, doesn`t mean there aren`t other guys there who will take
advantage. It could lead to a civil war. Right? I mean, it`s very --
it`s very iffy.
IGNATIUS: David is right. To make one final point, Chris. It`s, in a
sense, not in our interests for this to end suddenly tomorrow with Assad
going because the opposition really isn`t strong -- the moderate
IGNATIUS: ... isn`t strong enough. You`re creating an Iraq-like vacuum,
and the jihadists are the strongest fighters. You know, three or four
months from now, that`s not going to be true.
And on Senator McCain`s argument that you can do a no-fly zone easily, I`m
told by U.S. officials that`s just not so. You`d have to move the Patriot
batteries that are in Turkey almost to the border. They`d be vulnerable to
Syrian air attack. You have to be prepared to defend American soldiers`
lives on that border, which requires all kinds of...
MATTHEWS: Has any war ever been easier than we thought it would be?
IGNATIUS: No. Never.
MATTHEWS: That`s right. Thank you. That`s all I want to know. It`s
always an underestimation. Thank you, David. I respect you a lot, and you
guys (ph), too.
MATTHEWS: You, as well. Thank you, David Corn, David Ignatius.
Coming up -- I`m still where I`m always at, against a war if we can avoid
Anyway, "We`ve had enough Bushes" as president. What a great line. I
think that may be the quote of the year, "We`ve had enough of the Bushes."
How about the Clintons? How about the Kennedys? How about the Cuomos? He
might be running, too. Do we still like political dynasties? Well,
somebody wrote this. I didn`t. Some people like political dynasties.
Plus, Congress steps in to help the FAA avoid more furloughs for air
traffic controllers, furloughs brought in by the sequester that have led to
flight delays across the country.
So let`s get it straight. It`s all right to kick kids out of Head Start or
turn away cancer patients, which is going on right now, but when rich
people who can afford to fly get inconvenienced, time to act.
This is HARDBALL -- where Hollywood descends on Washington for the biggest
party of the year tomorrow, the White House correspondents dinner. Actress
and activist, the Sharon Stone, will be sitting in David Ignatius`s seat in
just a few minutes.
MATTHEWS: And something you hear every night on this program could
eventually be a thing of the past. That`s in the "Sideshow" tonight.
And this is HARDBALL -- yes, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Senate`s failure to pass new gun safety laws is
spelling trouble for some senators who voted against it. Take New
Hampshire`s Kelly Ayotte. She the only no vote in the whole Northeast on
the Manchin-Toomey background checks compromise, and her polls are
suffering because of it -- 44 percent of New Hampshire voters approve of
the job Ayotte`s doing right now versus -- oh! -- 46 percent who
disapprove. That`s down a net 15 points from last fall.
But take a look at this new poll number on Pat Toomey. Good news for him,
48 percent of Pennsylvania voters now approve of the job Toomey`s doing.
That`s the highest favorability he`s had in three years in office. By the
way, he`s even with Bob Casey now. The background check deal was smart
politics for Toomey. I said it here. It`s going to save that seat for
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to see your son Jeb run?
BARBARA BUSH, FMR. FIRST LADY: He`s by far the best qualified man, but no.
I really don`t. I think it`s a great country. There are a lot of great
families, and it`s not just four families or whatever. There are just --
there are other people out there that are very qualified, and we`ve had
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "We`ve had enough Bushes."
Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Barbara Bush with what was perhaps the
line of the year politically. Americans like to talk about dynasties,
political dynasties, the Kennedys, of course, I guess Cuomo in New York
because Andrew wants to be president, and the Bushes, of course. And then,
of course, the Clintons` very active dynasty, Hillary if she runs in 2016.
Somebody pointed out here on our production team, Chelsea Clinton will be
the only one be able to answer the question, What did your presidents do?
Well, they were both presidents, which is quite a distinction.
Anyway, Hillary`s without question the Democratic front-runner right now
for 2016. Everybody knows that. And Jeb Bush is certainly a Republican
contender. Is the country ready for a Clinton versus Bush campaign? And
should we be looking for, as Barbara Bush said, other people out there?
Well, I`d say. This is a democracy, after all.
Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist and Rick Tyler -- are you a
younger -- are you a real lower-case democratic or are you one the upper-
case Democrats who likes dynasties?
MATTHEWS: Because I think Hillary`s got a special case because we`ve never
had a woman president. That`s the wind at her back. And it should be her.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She is not a dynasty candidate. She
is a candidate who`s earned it in her own right. Now, she happened to have
perhaps gotten a little bit of a boost...
MATTHEWS: Ambassador to Great Britain or France? Which one do you want?
MCMAHON: I`ll take either.
MCMAHON: I`ll take whatever`s available.
MATTHEWS: ... you`re bidding for right here.
MCMAHON: Ireland. How about Ireland?
MATTHEWS: You got it. OK. So she`s earned it?
MCMAHON: Well, I mean, she has earned it. She got a boost...
MATTHEWS: OK. Couldn`t you say the same thing -- I agree with you.
Shouldn`t you say -- couldn`t you say the same thing about Andrew Cuomo,
who`s been a pretty good governor of New York, one of the few popular
governors around the country?
MCMAHON: Yes, I think you -- I think you could.
MATTHEWS: He`s earned it, too.
MCMAHON: I think you could.
MATTHEWS: So what`s our principle here? What`s your principle as a
RICK TYLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think...
MATTHEWS: You guys are middle class.
TYLER: I agree with you and...
MATTHEWS: Republicans don`t like dynasties.
TYLER: I agree with you and Barbara Bush. And I do agree with -- it`s a
meritocracy. I mean, if he`s got, as you say, talent, then they should
run. And if they don`t, then people will kick them out.
MCMAHON: The question really isn`t whether or not he`s qualified to be
president. He was a reasonably good governor in Florida. The question is
whether the American people will tolerate another Bush.
MATTHEWS: See, that`s what I think what the mother was talking about.
MCMAHON: I think Barbara Bush was absolutely right about that.
MATTHEWS: I think she was on the nail (ph) saying, Look, every election
has a number of candidates. They tend to pick themselves, by the way. We
don`t pick them. And then we choose among those guys who pick themselves.
(INAUDIBLE) indicates that Hillary her -- herself.
They pick themselves, and then we say, OK, which one of you who thinks you
ought to be president we will pick? We don`t` pick them.
TYLER: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: We don`t go looking for them.
MATTHEWS: They come themselves.
MATTHEWS: OK, so they come forward. But there`s another personality in
every presidential election, the times, the feeling of the times, what we
want. After Carter, we wanted strength. After Nixon, we wanted
cleanliness, right? After W., we wanted brains. We always wanted
something we don`t have in the previous president. You`re laughing. Am I
MCMAHON: No, you`re right.
MATTHEWS: Am I wrong?
TYLER: Keep going. You`re doing fine.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MATTHEWS: Well, thanks for patronizing me.
MATTHEWS: But the fact -- the fact is, what do we want now? I think we
want a woman as a president. I just feel it. Women my age have expressed
that to me in all different tones, positively and negatively, but they want
this to happen.
MATTHEWS: Rick, you on this. It`s got nothing to do with political party.
TYLER: No, I think...
MATTHEWS: Don`t you hear it out there?
TYLER: I think the country would be thrilled to nominate a woman. And I
think that would be fine.
But Hillary I think has a big problem. I think Benghazi, frankly,
MATTHEWS: What did she do wrong?
TYLER: Well, a lot wrong.
MATTHEWS: Well, just give me it short.
TYLER: Well, she left people in Benghazi who had less security than our
guys in Paris did. And there does not seem to be any direct line of
command that she was -- there`s no accountability. And we never heard from
her, other than to say what difference does it make what happened? It
makes a lot of difference. I think that if -- in her campaign, that would
MATTHEWS: So, you believe there was actual cable traffic between her and
the -- Tripoli?
TYLER: Or if there wasn`t, then why wasn`t there? I think it`s a big
MATTHEWS: You mean she was in charge personally of the safety of Chris
Smith when he decided to go visit the Benghazi facility?
TYLER: She was in charge of that embassy, yes. The buck stops with her.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I didn`t understand how you mean that.
MCMAHON: If you did word association for Hillary Clinton, it wouldn`t be
MATTHEWS: Well, it would be in some quarters.
TYLER: It would be in her primary.
MCMAHON: In the far right of the Republican primary field, there would be
a lot of talk about Benghazi, just like there was -- just like there was a
lot of talk about immigration and some other things in the far right of the
Republican nominating process.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s get back to this -- let`s get back to this --
gentlemen, I`m sorry, we`re going to be here all day on that thing. I know
you guys love this baby, this Benghazi thing. And I -- fair enough. It`s
part of the business of arguing what happened.
And we have to worry about security. And everybody loved Chris Smith. I
have heard wonderful things about this fellow.
Look, do we believe in democracy or do we believe in dynasty? It`s a
simple question. Why don`t we just designate these children at birth if we
really believe in democracy -- really believe in royalty, which they do
over in Britain, which is an absurdity. They will take a guy like Prince
Charles of no known ability and say he should be the next king when he`s
Are we going to start doing it with Chelsea? They`re all around here, all
these kids. They`re all working as correspondents here and there. They`re
all doing something. They have been designated in their teen years as
being future presidents.
Why don`t we give them a couple years and see if they can show something?
Fair enough. Chelsea may well show something. But why don`t we wait a
couple years until they actually do something before we say, oh, it would
be great if they`d be president someday or be congressman? And I`m looking
at the Kennedys. They have had mixed bag of people running for office.
Patrick was OK for a while. He had problems and he quit.
Joe Kennedy was very popular in Cambridge for years. But a lot of the
Kennedys that ran for office -- Caroline didn`t work out as a candidate. I
don`t think she wanted to do it really. I think Max Kennedy running in the
-- that didn`t work out. All the Kennedy people, Pierre Salinger, Kenny
O`Donnell, Teddy Sorensen all lost. John Culver ended up losing. Tommy
ended up losing.
There`s no magic in these connections, I don`t think.
MCMAHON: There`s no magic in the connections. But think about it for a
second. They get to come up to the plate and take a swing. Some of them
hit a ball and get elected. And they do pretty well.
MATTHEWS: So it is a meritorious system. It should be.
MCMAHON: Well, they get an advantage to the plate. But no one is going to
hold the bat for them and let them hit the ball.
George Bush -- I`m never going to defend George W. Bush policy wise, but he
got elected governor of Texas twice. You can`t be a dumb man to do that.
MATTHEWS: Right. He`s a good politician.
MCMAHON: He made bumbling mistakes.
MATTHEWS: No, he`s a good politician.
MCMAHON: He`s a very good politician.
MCMAHON: Jeb Bush actually is probably a better politician, but he will
never be president because his brother screwed it up.
TYLER: But, look, I mean, you know, first thing in politics is name I.D.
TYLER: And so they`re going to have that.
And, quite frankly, I mean, the Kennedys and the Clintons and everybody has
given the press fascinating stories to cover. We like to cover their
MATTHEWS: The "People" magazine coverage.
TYLER: Sure. Sure. And people like to know about families and they like
to know about -- so we watch them come.
But in the end, I think you`re right. I think the American people sort it
out and they`re for democracy.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the hot fight coming up. Ted Kennedy`s
seat, which is also Jack Kennedy`s seat, is up next Tuesday. We had the
upset by Scott Brown in a special. Anything can happen in a special. We
all know that because very interesting electorate.
We got Eddie Markey running up there, who is the dean of the delegation.
He`s a liberal. Lynch is a little more working guy, voted against
Obamacare, voted -- he`s pro-life, against abortion rights. It`s a
different -- they just put out a -- Lynch`s people just put out a robo-call
which -- a group of them supporting them, it wasn`t them, but it was
somebody supporting them. They have had to recall it, according to "The
"All of us share the shock and sorrow of the recent events in Boston."
This is the robo-call. "But, as Americans, we`re not going to let the
perpetrators of this tragedy or anyone else stop our democracy from moving
forward. Wouldn`t it be great to have a real working person representing
you in the Senate, not just another millionaire, someone who truly
understands the day-to-day problems facing regular working families?"
OK. That segue, as we say in our business...
MCMAHON: Stupid. Stupid.
MATTHEWS: Yes, they went from the tragedy up there which united everybody
to a cheap opportunity to exploit hell to try to get some votes.
MCMAHON: And, ironically, the candidate that they support that they would
like to win is going to be damaged because of their stupidity for bringing
something that`s completely unrelated...
MATTHEWS: Some guy who works for the ironworkers apparently put this robo-
MCMAHON: This is a sign of a pathetic, losing campaign. And it`s a sign
of a bunch of pathetic losers that are supporting it, frankly.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of all this?
TYLER: I couldn`t agree more.
MATTHEWS: Well, that makes it simple. Thank you. Good enough.
The guy who was thinking he was helping Lynch ain`t helping him any.
Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon and thank you, Rick Tyler.
Up next, what were President Obama and former first lady Barbara Bush
chatting about at the Bush Library? I found that the most fascinating
combination and conversation, anyway -- and combination.
Jimmy Kimmel has some guesses as to what they may have been talking about.
I love this stuff when they get right on it. That`s coming up in the
"Sideshow" in about a minute.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
Look at this, guys. Look at it. Then Michelle tries to get in on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE")
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": There was a very high-profile
dedication ceremony for George W. Bush`s new presidential library. Former
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did the introductions for the event.
And while she was doing that, former first lady Barbara Bush was whispering
to President Obama and making him laugh. Let`s listen in on what she was
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The governor of Texas,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is he?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s funny.
RICE: The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my. He tried to eat my hair once.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He probably thought it was cotton candy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is brilliant.
Anyway, back to HARDBALL. Well, we`re in the "Sideshow."
Hold on to your seats for this one. Karl Rove rates the presidency of
George W. Bush. Well, where does George W. Bush rate, according to the --
in the comparison to, say, Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and of course, Ronald
Reagan? Well, here`s Rove with ABC`s Jonathan Karl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: Where does Karl Rove, historian, rate President
KARL: You put him up there among the best presidents, among the not so
great? Where do you put him?
KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Look, the
greats, you can`t touch.
ROVE: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, FDR, the greats.
But, yes, I put him up there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I put him up there.
MATTHEWS: There you have it, W. coming up just shy of the greats. I would
personally put him, George W., in a category all by himself.
Next, former Congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul
took a dive back into politics this week and endorsed Georgia Republican
Congressman Paul Broun, who is now running for the U.S. Senate. Ron Paul
says he and Broun share a commitment to keeping tabs on the Federal
Reserve, that`s one of their focus issues, and another common bond, their
thoughts on evolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: And I have come to understand that all that
stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang Theory, and all
that is just lies straight from the pit of hell.
RON PAUL (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think there -- it is a theory,
the theory of evolution. And I don`t accept it, you know, as a theory. I
just don`t think we`re at the point where anybody has absolute proof on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, Ron Paul has a fellow science skeptic going to bat for him.
Finally, here`s what`s that hits close to me, the Philadelphia accent, not
the greatest one, actually, or as it`s pronounced in Philly, Philadelphia.
I know firsthand how this thing works. Could I get a glass of water? Or
one of my personal favorites, attitude or beautiful.
Anyway, a University of Pennsylvania professor says the Philly accent could
eventually be a thing of the past. Oh, my God. For part of the study the
professor and his assistants took a poll of kids and adults at
Philadelphia`s science museum, of course, the Franklin Institute.
According to the Associated Press -- quote -- "They conducted hands-on
demonstrations, including one that asked, does mad rhyme with sad? Well,
most youngsters answered yes, as in mad and sad, while many adults said no,
pronouncing mad as" -- my favorite anyway -- "meeyad," or as I to say, St.
Joe`s, or Villanova. "My boyfriend goes to Villanova." That`s Philly.
Anyway, the piece also offers advice to anyone unfamiliar with the accent -
- quote -- "Not sure if you`ve heard the Philly patois? Listen to TV
commentator Chris Matthews or Jim Cramer and you`ll hear it `leeowd` and
Up next, Congress steps in to stop the furloughs of air traffic
controllers, furloughs caused by those sequester cuts that led to big
flight delays around the country. So, Congress has no problem fixing the
sequester when it affects the rich, but not when it hurts the poor. And
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Amanda Drury with your CNBC "Market
A mixed finish for stocks, with the Dow gaining 11 points, the S&P falling
two and the Nasdaq shedding 10.
Well, the government says the economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in
the first quarter. Economists were expecting 3 percent growth. Consumer
sentiment slipped a bit this month, as Americans worried about the jobs
And Chevron reported earnings that beat forecasts, but revenue fell short.
Shares rose about 1 percent today.
And that is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide. Have a great
weekend. Now it`s back over to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s no surprise that nearly all human affairs boil down to whose ox is
gored. But got a striking example in this adage right here this week. We
have talked about various ways some of the most vulnerable Americans have
been hurt by those automatic across-the-board spending cuts called the
sequester. Well, remember this "Washington Post" headline from earlier in
the month: "Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients.
Blame the sequester."
And Huffington Post listed 100 places across the country where cuts are
already hurting Sacramento schools, which will see special education cuts
and a West Virginia program to end poverty that stopped all new projects
until September. But this week, when frequent fliers were inconvenienced,
now, that got Congress moving with lightning legislative speed.
The Senate, then the House passed a bill that would ease flight delays by
putting furloughed air traffic controllers back to work. Well, today, on
the House floor, Maryland`s Steny Hoyer was outraged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: And while I want to end
these delays for passengers in Maryland and across the country, I will
oppose this bill because it fails to address the whole impact of sequester.
Let me share just a handful of examples of how the sequester will affect
Americans. Education, Head Start, 70,000 children will be kicked out of
Head Start. Nothing in this bill deals with them. Four million fewer
Meals on Wheels for seniors, 600,000 people dropped off WIC. Nothing in
here for them. Unemployment insurance, emergency unemployment insurance
cut 11 percent for two million out-of-work Americans. Nothing in here for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is managing editor of TheGrio, Joy
Reid, and Huffington Post`s Sam Stein, who fired off this tweet on this
issue -- quote -- "Head Start kids should start complaining about the long
tarmac delays they`re dealing with." Hmm.
Anyway, let me go back to Joy and then to Sam.
Joy, it seems to me Republicans and Democrats are not partisan when it
comes to 30,000 feet. Once you`re up that high, everything`s cool.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, I did notice -- I love to look at voting
patterns, like you I`m sure do. And I`m studying Black Caucus members, big
city liberals. Those are the ones that voted against this deal, which gave
a great break to the fliers and screwed the people on the ground.
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, absolutely.
It just goes to show you one of the many ways in which our Congress
increasingly battles for the rich. They don`t have a problem passing
legislation when it help well-off people, people who can afford a plane
ticket or people who are traveling for business. And that`s essentially
what Congress is down to. They`re serving the interest of the well-to-do.
And, by the way, a lot of them are well-to-do. I think our Congress is
something like 50 percent millionaires. So, it`s just one the many reasons
that people are frustrated with this government. They can`t do anything
for ordinary people and they often tend to screw the little guy because
they`re always doing what`s best for the rich.
MATTHEWS: What year were you -- how old were you when you took your first
flight? I will tell you mine.
REID: Fifteen. But I went on a scholarship to Europe. I went --
basically, I was a public school kid that traveled with a bunch of private
school kids on a trip to Europe. And I was 100 percent on scholarship.
MATTHEWS: You got a scholarship to an airplane ride.
I got -- I went trying to get a grad school deal as a senior in college at
Holy Cross. That was the first I had ever been near an airplane.
Sam Stein, you were probably ahead of us. But ,anyway, I won`t ask you the
SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: But you`re making a good point here that I might not have
Whenever you get a bipartisan group of people looking out for the better-
off, for people with clout, you can say sequester.
MATTHEWS: But had they brought up the same bill for, say, Head Start or
for cancer victims, people that are trying to get treatment, it probably
would have gone down, right?
STEIN: Oh, absolutely.
And not only that. There is no bill in the works. There is no political
movement behind such a bill. This thing happened so fast. It was just on
Monday when these furloughs began to take place and the delays started.
And within five days, you had a replacement already there. The Head Start
furlough -- the Head Start cuts, the Meals on Wheels cuts, the cancer
clinics rejecting patients, those have been going on for weeks, with no
Now, there`s a bigger problem here beyond just the inequity here. There
was a strategy in place to try to get this all dealt with.
It was all the suffering would happen across the board, no one would
exempt. Everyone would suffer. And, therefore, lawmakers would realize
they have to do a broad fix. Once you start exempting people like air
travelers from this, then all of a sudden, there`s no collectivity to it.
Now all of a sudden, everyone is in it for their piece of the pie and a
likelihood of a broader legislative fix to sequestration is much more
lessened by it.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: What`s next to get a break, do you know? What`s the
STEIN: This is actually the second one. Keep in mind, we had a break from
meat inspectors as well already. So, it usually happens when people start
to feel the cue.
Now, keep in mind, the two biggest issues in terms of D.C. attention with
sequestration have been on flight delays and prior to that, it was on tours
at the building behind me, at the White House. Both of those happened to
effect lawmakers. Lawmakers take flights and lawmakers deal with
constituents who want tours of the White House.
So, it seems to me just by logic here that if it has a direct impact on
lawmakers, it will get legislative attention.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And, you know, it gets back to the more philosophical
question which I love. People say they don`t like government. Fine.
Nice. Nice libertarian sentiment which is harmless if you don`t act on it.
I don`t know anybody who wants ptomaine (ph). I don`t know anybody who
wants to open a can of tuna. We used to call it tuna fish. I still to do,
and find out it`s rotten and smells, because they do like inspectors, they
do like people keeping track of us up in the air at 39,000 feet. Somebody
cares about our safety like the FAA. So, people really do like government
when it affects them personally.
Isn`t that why the meat inspectors are first in line? Because people eat
meat. And, secondly, when they get in that airplane, they don`t want any
questions about safety -- Joy.
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: No, absolutely. And the times when I`ve actually
heard ordinary civilians complain about sequester, it`s always been in
airports, where people are saying, you see that? This delay is because of
the sequester. People are feeling it that way. Again, that is up with
Look, the reason people say they don`t like government is, by and large,
people forget what government is. They forget that having the police and
the fire department, having these public work is government. People don`t
really make the connection between the meat inspectors and people making
the drugs that you`re taking are safe. People just don`t make that direct
connection to government until you start to withdraw some of the benefits
of government then people are reminded what it means to dislike the
The government isn`t some kind of amorphous thing. It`s a lot of the
things that make your life safer, more convenient and a lot of people take
it for granted.
MATTHEWS: I think the doctor in Philly could have used some regulation,
REID: There you go. That was hurting poor people, too.
MATTHEWS: Exploitive action and self-interest that doesn`t reflect any
public interest at all. Anyway, thank you, Joy Reid, and thank you, Sam,
for bringing this to my attention. This is a hot one and tells you about
Anyway, up next, it`s the biggest party weekend here in D.C. Tomorrow is
the White House correspondence dinner. The stars are already in town.
We`re going to be joined by Sharon Stone, who needs no introduction.
She`ll be right here.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Yesterday, we told you how Hillary Clinton would dominate the
New Hampshire primary if she decided to run for president. Well, it turns
out she`d dominate November as well, turning a traditional swing state deep
blue. According to a new poll from PPP, Hillary would defeat the top
Republican contenders by double digits.
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
Against Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, she`d -- Hillary would win by 11
points, 52-41. Paul was the leading vote-getter among Republican
contenders in New Hampshire.
And against Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Clinton`s lead is 14, 52-38.
President Obama carried New Hampshire last time around by six points.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Hollywood descends on the nation`s capital for the biggest party of the
year, tomorrow night`s White House Correspondence Dinner. Lots of stars in
town, including the great Sharon Stone. She starred in "Basic Instinct,"
"Bobby," and, of course, "Casino", the 1995 film that earned her an Oscar
nomination and a Golden Globe. Here she is in that, in "Casino."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: I should have never married him. He`s a Gemini.
Triple Gemini duality. Gemini is the snake. You can`t trust the snake. I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Sharon Stone is right here now along with Robin Bronk,
who is, of course, the president of the Creative Coalition. I love the
Creative Coalition. I just had (INAUDIBLE) with you guys, great. What a
great group of people.
You know, I`m always amazed by people who are known by people in the
glamorous world of movies and then you meet them in real life and you
realize that they don`t just think about movies. That they`ve got this
interest they`re really into. I know that part of the business.
You`re always reading, always keeping up. People always watch shows like
this and Rachel. You`re really into public affairs.
MATTHEWS: And you are.
STONE: Well, we are, because I think what we`ve learned by being in this
business, what a good thing it does for you and what a good thing it can do
for the community. Certainly now with the Creative Coalition, we`re here,
and we`ve been today, speaking to all kinds of people in D.C. and we were
just up speaking to a lot of people from the White House, we know that when
arts affects your life and affects the community, the kind of great returns
that it does. We know that kids who get arts stay in school.
We know that kids who get arts are three times more likely to graduate from
school. We know that kids who get arts are less likely to go to prison.
Kids who have been in prison are less likely to go back to prison. If they
have arts programs.
MATTHEWS: Meaning by arts, what, music? What do you have?
STONE: Music, acting, theater, writing, painting. Any -- writing. We
know that kids who get access to arts, this is a kind of attention that
helps them to stay clean. helps them to stay sober, helps them to stay out
of crime, helps to stop teen pregnancy. We know all this kind of stuff
helps kids to be the best they can be.
And in many communities, it stops escalation of crime. We know that it
costs more to keep kids in prison that it does to send them to Harvard. So
it really is an economic -- what`s the word that we like?
ROBIN BRONK, CREATIVE COALITION: Arts. It`s an economic vaccine for our
MATTHEWS: Yes, look, I talk about it with plays, especially at Sundance
(ph), a great movie. I came out with a feeling biggerness, biggerness about
being a person. Life is bigger, I feel more noble that being a person when
I go to good play.
There is something about it. This is not intellectualism. And everybody
within a community theater are being to something a dinner theater,
whatever, any time you see people really perform at a high level and it`s a
good story, you come out and say, God, this life is really important.
BRONK: And there`s something to be said for having heart. But you know
what, we`ve been on Capitol Hill all day with our group from the Creative
Coalition and everyone is whipped up by STEM, science, technology,
engineering, and math, and we`re whipping them about STEM, you got to put
the arts in there because you can`t have great mathematicians, great
technologists, great engineers without the arts.
And we were saying before, we all know that it takes a village but art is
what makes a village. You need the arm to steam everything else ahead.
MATTHEWS: You know, Reagan, you may not like Reagan politically, I think
he`s great in many ways and disagree with him in many ways but Reagan
started in college acting. It`s about everybody I know in the newspaper
business or in TV or anybody that knows anything, started in high school or
college, they`re editors of papers like I was. And that`s where you learn
how to do stuff.
I`ve said to people, the extracurriculars are where you come from, Sharon -
MATTHEWS: You don`t say, I got a B in biology and it changed my life. No,
it`s -- I was in my school play and it changed my life. Or I was in the
school paper, all these guys in Crimson, in Harvard, they run this business
sometimes, at least they do in the heavy papers.
STONE: Yes. And I think, you know, someone said a great thing today.
They said that when Churchill was at war, someone said to him, we need to
cut the arts to put the money in the war and he said, if we do, then what
are we fighting or?
MATTHEWS: You know, I`ve said that before, too, and people say he didn`t
say it, but >> let`s keep saying it.
BRONK: (INAUDIBLE) Churchill.
MATTHEWS: I`m a Churchill buff, as you are, too.
Let me ask you about this dinner tomorrow night, because I met my wife,
which changed my life for the better, if I could say, by a thousand
percent, at one of these black tie dinners. In fact, the great thing about
these black tie dinners is you don`t know who you are meeting because
everybody is dressing the same. And it`s only when you go out in the first
date you realize where they`re going to wear a suit or blazer or khakis.
You don`t know who they are.
STONE: All the things are out, right?
MATTHEWS: These are amazing things. We`ve got Spacey come in tomorrow.
We`ve got Streisand. Who are you sitting with?
BRONK: I don`t know yet.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I knew that just being on television and having a
certain percentage of people know who you are, like I`m lucky to be, a
certain percentage. Some people don`t know who I am. Fine.
But when you`re you, what happens is the guys with the plastic autograph
books, they find out where you are and they wait like a hoard of people and
you can`t hold them back. I had to do this to get you out of that room.
STONE: You were great.
MATTHEWS: I was a blocking bag.
STONE: You were a tough guy.
MATTHEWS: And you wrote me a letter from somewhere saying that I was
butch. I thought I don`t know how to use that word, because I got you out
of that room.
STONE: It was great.
MATTHEWS: Glad to be your hero.
BRONK: See how the arts changes people`s lives.
MATTHEWS: No. Explain.
BRONK: So here are people who are Sharon`s fans who are inspired by her
and they feel good after they see her. To us, you`ve been waiting around
in the rain and the cold just to have a glimpse of Sharon.
But clearly you have inspired people. You`ve changed lives. And that`s
why the creative coalition exists, because it`s using the power of the
entertainment industry to promote issues for the social good.
MATTHEWS: And I like the people in your business, a woman (ph) as you, who
get involved in it and some of them are just people -- future players on TV
shows and they got really into this thing, I met them at Sundance. It`s
STONE: Well, you know, your producer was a substitute teacher at my high
MATTHEWS: Ann Plante (ph), the great senior producer here.
STONE: And she came to my high school and she helped us put on a play.
She put on "Our Town" and that was a big inspiration for me and gave me a
lot of focus.
MATTHEWS: Was that in the `70s?
STONE: Yes. Gave me focus on what I wanted to do. She left the small
town I left and ended up producing your show. So that employs lots and
lots of people here.
She`s one of the people. She`s inspired me. We`ve also employed thousands
of people on the various things that we do. The arts employs so many
people, it`s one of the biggest exports that we have in America. It`s a
BRONK: Next to agriculture, it`s the biggest export. It`s one quick stat,
you were talking about Sundance, the (INAUDIBEL) Sundance, when it first
started, a couple hundred thousand dollars to start. Now, Sundance brings
in $70 millions to Utah over 10 days.
STONE: For every dollar spent on the arts, it brings in $7.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks. You know who else came from a little town of
Pennsylvania, in Indiana, Pennsylvania?
MATTHEWS: Jimmy Stewart. See, you`re not alone. Little town of
Pennsylvania produces this greatness.
Sharon Stone, thank you for coming on HARDBALL.
STONE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Robin Bronk.
And when we return, let me finish with some thoughts on that big battle up
for the Bay State to fill the Senate seat of Ted Kennedy, before him Jack
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
Massachusetts has a good chance next week to continue the tradition of
Senator Edward Kennedy. It`s quite an opportunity. After all, he was
quite a senator.
I remember his older brother Jack in the Senate back in the 1950s. He was
asked to help select the five greatest senators in history. And had Jack
been able to look forward in time, he would have included in that list of
five his younger brother.
And this is a bi-partisan assessment. Ask the conservatives in the Senate
today who they were most proud to work with on a piece of legislation. It
Fortunately, Massachusetts, as I said, has a solid chance to continue the
great tradition of the Kennedy brothers. Edward Markey, the dean of the
delegation, is running in the primary and most voters know where he stands
on the issues. He`s where Ted Kennedy was on a woman`s right to choose,
where Kennedy was on his career-long mission: the need for fair, decent,
and affordable health care. He`s solid on those crucial matters and will
probably be decisive with voters.
Markey is also a focused legislator in the environment, especially on safe
and clean energy. And this is going to be a great election up there --
this Tuesday -- an opportunity to carry on a solid, noble progressive
tradition in the Bay State.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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