May 29, 2013
Guests: Lizz Winstead, Dana Milbank, Judith Browne-Dianis, A.B. Stoddard
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Fall of a Viking.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Michele Bachmann is quitting the
Congress. What is it with these people? Is it Congress? Is it the right
wing? What gives? Sarah Palin was the vice presidential nominee of the
Republican Party in 2008. Remember "Game Change"? She was the game
change. Then she quit, left the governor`s office halfway through her
term, her only term. How do we read this?
Then Jim DeMint, the guy who was ruling (ph) the whole right wing of the
Republican Senate, the wing to the right of Mitch McConnell, and that`s
half the party, he quit to go run a think tank. It`s not a bad think tank,
but it`s also not the United States Senate.
So what gives here? Is it the House? Is it the Senate? Or is it the
right? Where are these right-wingers headed, into the sunset or to some
elephants` graveyard? Oh, yes. Is this good news really, or are they
being replaced by far nastier people like Cruz and Paul and Lee?
Well, there`s a scary thought, David Corn, to take that up, Washington
bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine, and Alex Wagner is the host of
"NOW" on MSNBC.
In the year 2008, not so many moons ago, on this show, Michele Bachmann
said the president of the United States harbored anti-American views. And
she called for an expose on whether any of her Democratic colleagues in
Congress shared those anti-American views. And it was, in fact, her debut
on the national stage, and it was right here on HARDBALL
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I absolutely --
MATTHEWS: So you believe Barack Obama may have --
MATTHEWS: -- anti-American views?
MATTHEWS: And how many people in the Congress of the United States do you
think are anti-American? You`ve already suspected Barack Obama. Is he
alone, or are there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues as
BACHMANN: What I would say -- what I would say is that the news media
should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish
the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in
Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Never got around to that expose.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, today Michele Bachmann called it quits. Her reason --
well, self-imposed term limits, apparently. That`s what she says. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: Our Constitution allows for the decision of length of service in
Congress to be determined by the Congress people themselves or by the
voters in the district. However, the law limits anyone from serving as
president of the United States for more than eight years.
And in my opinion, well, eight years is also long enough for an individual
to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district.
And rest assured, this decision was not impacted in any way by the recent
inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my
former presidential staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that explanation is hard to swallow since she had already,
Michele Bachmann, begun airing a TV ad this month, 17 months before the
next election, for the next one next year. Somehow, she made a mind -- a
change of mind the last few days.
Well, earlier this month, I diagnosed her problem as a lack of
effectiveness. She spent her career in Congress avoiding doing anything
substantive. Instead, she proudly boasts this month to once again getting
the House to cast a symbolic vote to kill "Obama care," by the way, for the
Here`s what I said after that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Look, I`ve been watching these for years. I know what her
problem is. Her poll person`s telling her -- her pollster`s telling her
she`s got wickedly bad numbers on the issue of effectiveness. All she does
is give right-wing speeches. She`s trying to prove she`s doing something,
which she isn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Alex, boy, do I love it when I`m right, you know?
MATTHEWS: You figure after all these years in this business, I get an
instinct listening to certain words and figuring out what`s the particular
problem I`m diagnosing. And regardless of party label, this was a person
in trouble at home.
You know, you can give a lot of great speeches. You can go to -- you can
do C-Span until you fall down. But in the end, you`ve got to serve the
district. I got a sense they were thinking she wasn`t helping them.
ALEX WAGNER, HOST, "NOW": I think you --
MATTHEWS: Back home in Minnesota.
WAGNER: I think you were absolutely right, Chris. Romney won her district
by 15 percent. She won it by 1 percent. She knew she had a tough uphill
climb. The FBI had got into the investigation regarding her use of
campaign funds. Today, an Iowa court has set a trial date for a lawsuit
alleging that she stole an e-mail distribution list from a home schooling
group. Michele Bachmann was in hot water.
But more to your point, Chris, I think she represented a strain of elected
officials who don`t feel like they need to actually do anything once
elected into office. They are there to demagogue. And it sort of dawned
on her, as it dawned on, I think, Jim DeMint, and to some degree Sarah
Palin, that they can be sort of incendiary national figures without
actually holding office.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They can --
MATTHEWS: No, I have to start -- I want to blow the whistle right there.
I don`t think either party is more honest than the other party. And I
don`t think one party violates campaign laws any more than the other does.
So in the end, I say this may be a factor, but she`s innocent until proven
My problem with her was I`m not sure she was any good for anything --
CORN: Well --
MATTHEWS: -- that she never did anything good for the country.
CORN: Well --
MATTHEWS: That`s a problem with (INAUDIBLE)
CORN: Well, someone asked me earlier today, what will be the impact of
this decision of hers. And the answer really is not much. She was not
truly a player on Capitol Hill. She gave --
MATTHEWS: Why did we think, or a lot of us thought she had some wind in
CORN: Well, she --
MATTHEWS: Because she`s -- she -- remember, she announced she`d won the
Iowa caucuses for president?
CORN: She did represent a slice of the American electorate, people who
don`t believe in evolution, people who do worry that Obama is a socialist
dictator who`s going to put people in re-education camps, people who wonder
about black helicopters. I mean, she represented this sort of very --
CORN: -- paranoid right-wing fringe, which is not insignificant in
American public life. But when it comes to what happens in Washington, and
as we saw on the presidential campaign trail, at the end of the day, they
don`t matter that much.
MATTHEWS: Alex, respond to this. She, of course, made some very wild
statements, like investigate Congress for anti-American attitudes. Well,
today "The Washington Post" fact checker, who`s a good guy, Glenn Kessler,
wrote, quote, "As one of our colleagues put it, the entire fact checking
industry may have to hold a national day of mourning. Bachmann is not just
fast and loose with the facts, she is consistently and unapologetically
For example, last year she went on the "TODAY" show with an astonishing
allegation that she said, or claimed, she picked up randomly from a woman
she bumped into. And this is really irresponsible. Catch this one. It`s
not about politics. It`s about health care. And it`s important, but it`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here
in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter
took that -- took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from
mental retardation thereafter.
It can have very dangerous side effects. The mother was crying when she
came up to me last night. I didn`t know who she was before the debate.
This is the very real concern, and people have to draw their own
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, she did, certainly. She drew a conclusion from bumping
into somebody, she doesn`t even know if it`s a mother. Anyway, in March,
she took to the House floor to warn Americans they should be afraid of
"Obama care," another responsible statement by Michele Bachmann.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: The American people, especially vulnerable women, vulnerable
children, vulnerable senior citizens, now get to pay more, and they get
less! That`s why we`re here because we`re saying, let`s repeal this
failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, that looks a lot, Alex, like those floor displays they
do when nobody`s on the House floor, you know, late at night, special
orders. And it looks like she`s actually debating somebody. I noticed the
seats were all empty.
WAGNER: Yes, well, who`s going to -- I mean, she was an enemy of science,
Chris. Not only the vaccine. She said carbon dioxide was a harmless gas.
She said the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the highest levels of our
government. The currency that Michele Bachmann traded on was fear
mongering and distortion.
And I think if there is one -- there are two good things about today. One
is that we get to play the greatest hit reel of Michele Bachmann`s
outrageous, incendiary comments.
MATTHEWS: I got one coming, too.
WAGNER: And the other one is, look, you know, you can`t sell this to the
American people over and over again. I mean, I do believe there is a place
for truth in politics.
MATTHEWS: That`s hopeful.
WAGNER: And eventually, people like Michele Bachmann are not taken
seriously and they are shown the exit door.
CORN: Well --
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look -- along those lines, David, look at
this. Here`s Bachmann. She was making history in that paranoid conspiracy
sort of sounding statements about the U.S. government, as always. It`s
always the U.S. government`s the bad guy. Back in 2009, Bachmann told a
Minnesota radio station that a bill trying to expand Americorps -- it was a
Ted Kennedy bill, at`s a volunteer program, we all know, like the Peace
Corps at home here -- was really going to lead to brainwashing and
education camps like in Cambodia.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WAGNER: I believe that there`s a very strong chance that we will see that
young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concern is
that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for
young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy
that the government puts forward, and then they have to go and work in some
of these politically correct forums.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So she put it all in one sentence, right? Let`s get it
straight. A very strong chance --
CORN: Very strong chance --
MATTHEWS: -- that we`re going to see young people put in mandatory
service to go into Americorps --
MATTHEWS: -- and a real concern that we`re going to have re-education
camps, obviously referring to Cambodia.
MATTHEWS: And they`re going to be forced in those, and they`re going to
have to go out and get trained in philosophy that the government puts
forward. And then they have to work in some sort of politically correct
She puts it all together, an entire life of being controlled by the
government like you`re maggots or something!
CORN: Let`s -- and let`s take --
MATTHEWS: It`s unbelievable, the way she talks!
CORN: Let`s take -- let`s --
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) if anybody thought she was telling the truth, you`d
be scared to death!
CORN: Well, let`s -- and let`s take -- but let`s take a step back. Chris
CORN: She -- not only is she a member of Congress, she was the head of the
Tea Party caucus. So the Tea Party people in Congress thought she had
something going here. And John Boehner today --
MATTHEWS: Let`s get quote from Boehner. You are so funny!
MATTHEWS: Here`s the Boehner quote. "Thanks, Michele Bachmann, for your
years of service." Fine. Her comes the best part. "A courageous voice
for freedom in the people`s house."
CORN: She was on the Intelligence Committee!
CORN: She was --
MATTHEWS: -- requirements for getting on that committee?
CORN: I think you have to ask. But --
CORN: But it`s amazing that with these views, she could go as far as she
did. But she had a national base. One reason she kept her seat pretty
easily up until the last election was that she had millions of people
across the country -- tens of thousands, who gave her millions of dollars.
And I think she really --
MATTHEWS: Hey, let`s try this out --
CORN: She`s going to make more money now.
MATTHEWS: Do you ever go shopping for your family at Safeway?
CORN: Yes, sure.
MATTHEWS: OK, you go out milk at 11:00 o`clock --
CORN: Food shopping --
MATTHEWS: OK. I don`t know, Alex. I guess you do up there. I mean, you
go by the checkout counter. And you see stuff. It`s just --
MATTHEWS: Jack Kennedy -- who by the way, his birthday is today -- alive
in Poland. They have a sort of a --
CORN: Meeting with aliens!
MATTHEWS: -- and he`s behind -- he`s behind, like, a curtain. He`s in
Poland. They had to make it original. And they -- this nonsense -- that`s
the world in which Michele Bachmann lives, Alex.
WAGNER: I mean, and Chris --
MATTHEWS: The world in which people are willing to buy anything by her.
WAGNER: Let`s be clear. Who knows about re-education? It`s Marcus
Bachmann that may have engaged in reparative therapy for gay people. I
mean, this is --
MATTHEWS: OK, well --
WAGNER: -- part and parcel of something her husband did, which is to
brainwash gay people into being straight again, or whatever she couched it
as, whatever sort of psychiatry she thought Marcus was practicing.
I mean, at the end of the day, Michele Bachmann was someone that was very
educated at the knee of conspiracy theorists and far right-wingers. And I
will go back to this point that I was trying to make earlier. I just don`t
think that flies in the national conversation. John Boehner --
MATTHEWS: I know.
WAGNER: John Boehner is probably more elated than any of us.
MATTHEWS: She won the Iowa presidential caucus.
CORN: No, no. There`s a --
MATTHEWS: Let`s try to remind ourselves now --
WAGNER: That`s true. It is true.
MATTHEWS: -- that we`re so wise. She won it.
WAGNER: But Chris --
MATTHEWS: When she first went out for president, I thought, being a woman
-- I think everybody`s thirsty for a woman to be a presidential candidate,
a real possibility. There is a real edge (ph) of this country that says,
Wait a minute, the time has come. That gives a little bit of wind to your
CORN: Yes. Sure.
MATTHEWS: -- if you`re a woman. Let`s face it.
CORN: She -- listen --
MATTHEWS: A little. Let`s take a look at this poll here --
CORN: She had an opening.
MATTHEWS: What will Michele do next? In her mind, the possibilities are
endless. Let`s watch -- in her mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: Looking forward after the completion of my term, my future is
full. It is limitless. And my passions for America will remain. And I
want you to be assured that there is no future option or opportunity, be it
directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won`t be giving
serious consideration, if it can help save and protect our great nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know whether that was a great grandfather clock or
something, that clanging. What is that?
CORN: It was music. It was like drug ad music that they`re running behind
WAGNER: It was -- it was somewhere between a campaign ad and an in-flight
safety video, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Oh, by the way, she won the Ames, Iowa, caucus. I went further
than her history. But for the straw poll, for a while there, it looked
like she was going to win the whole thing.
Anyway, let`s not be so sure of the future of any one of these people. By
the way, we`re going to talk next about Jim DeMint, who left the Senate.
And who else has left -- Sarah Palin left. They just keep taking French
leave, these people. Can we still say that, French leave?
CORN: But they make a lot of money when they do this, too, as I --
MATTHEWS: I think they go to the elephants` graveyard. Anyway, thank you,
David Corn. Thank you, Alex. You always outdo me.
WAGNER: Oh, hardly!
MATTHEWS: I`m getting scared here!
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Now that Michele -- no, I never lie. You really do
outdo me sometimes. On those occasions, I always salute.
Anyway, Michele Bachmann is exiting stage right, of course. Where does
that leave the Tea Party and the right wing in the country? These people
are just leaving, but they`re being replaced by an even scarier group of
Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee from Utah. They`re even further
editions (ph) of the Tea Party. You can`t get rid of these people.
Anyway, Democrats keep control of the Senate next year? We`ll see. It
will be because of African-American votes that they do, if they get to the
polls like they did in 2012. And with Barack Obama not on the ballot in
2014, that could be a bit harder.
And take a look at this extreme ad by the man who vowed to make Barack
Obama a one-term president, Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe it is illegal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t believe it is.
RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the president does it,
that means that it is not illegal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the president believe? Does the president
believe that would be illegal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The law here? Well, the law`s irrelevant?.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: By the way, we checked with McConnell`s campaign out in -- what
state is it, Kentucky? He apparently voted for Nixon twice. Anyway, you
saw Richard Nixon in that clip. McConnell is trying to be the president --
to President Obama and tie him to the IRS kerfuffle, and he`s also throwing
a long ball because he may be in trouble back home in Kentucky. His
numbers are not good back there.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the power of the African-American
vote and power of JFK`s memory. As I said, it`s his birthday today, May
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Big news up in Rhody. The independent governor of Rhode Island
is now a Democrat. Lincoln Chafee made the switch today to give himself a
better shot of winning reelection in a state that President Obama carried
by 27 points.
Chafee has gone full circle politically. He started his career as a
Republican, of course, in the U.S. Senate, like his father. He became an
independent as his party lurched to the right. Now he`s a Democrat. Even
so, his poll numbers aren`t strong. He might not win the Democratic
primary, but he might win it.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Michele Bachmann`s departure leaves
Republicans without their lightning rod, of course. But does it also leave
Tea Partiers without an elected star quality leader? She joins Sarah
Palin, Jim DeMint and Allen West as big-name Tea Partiers who failed --
actually, peeled away.
So does that diminish the power of the far right, or just usher in a new
era with young guns like, oh, the friendly Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Mike
Lee of Utah?
Dana Milbank is a smart guy. He`s with "The Washington Post." He delights
us all with his deep mind and frisky wit. And of course, Lizz Winstead is,
of course, the brilliant co-creator of "The Daily Show," which I think gets
more brilliant every day.
Let me ask you -- thanks for joining us, Lizz. This -- what do you make of
Michele -- the disappearing people. They go away. They take French leave,
an old term. They just -- governor of Alaska. It`s not the biggest state
in the union in terms of people, but you were elected. You did take an
oath. And then you split.
And with Bachmann, she`s talking last week about running for reelection.
She`s doing ads. All of a sudden, she says, I`m up against an eight-year
term limit, which I`ve just discovered.
DeMint goes from being a United States senator -- he could be there from
life from that state. I guess he`s South Carolina. And you know what? He
leaves and goes to the Heritage Foundation, which is not a bad place for
the right wing, but it`s not the United States Senate.
Why are they running and hiding, question mark? Or going to Fox?
LIZZ WINSTEAD, "DAILY SHOW" CO-CREATOR: Who is that to?
MATTHEWS: That`s to you, Lizz.
WINSTEAD: Oh, OK. Well, I think there`s nothing more brave and patriotic
that looking at something when it`s really hard and quitting because that`s
what they all did. You know, we`re in a really hard time.
And I think that they look at their own, like, intellectual heft, and
realize they don`t have the chops. And so they got to get out. You can`t
tell me that a Sarah Palin or a Michele Bachmann or Jim DeMint has the
chops to look at the financial crisis we`re in, jobs, you know, what`s
going on in foreign policy, and that they are the ones that can fix it.
They got elected on an emotional rage. And they have to back out, I think.
MATTHEWS: You mean they really are humble?
WINSTEAD: No! I think that they really --
WINSTEAD: Yes, humble. I think they realize --
WINSTEAD: -- they absolutely don`t have the skill set.
MATTHEWS: I never would have thought of that one.
WINSTEAD: They don`t have the skill set.
MATTHEWS: You know, Dana, that`s one motive I have. That`s a motive.
I know, to recognize it yourself. A lot of people in Congress don`t
recognize it on left and right. I`m sorry.
DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, the
humility caucus has few members these days up on the Hill.
MATTHEWS: Of genius.
MATTHEWS: But let me ask you about this. Let`s talk about the transition
we`re looking at.
I have grown up with the memory, or not -- I`m sorry -- the historic memory
-- I was not aware at the time, although my mom when I would come home was
watching the McCarthy hearings. I think she was rooting for McCarthy,
But the -- Joe McCarthy seems to have been reincarnated in Ted Cruz. They
even look alike. I mean, that`s not really fair to say that. But they do.
They have a certain aspect, a certain mean, if you will, a certain
nastiness, an edge. And I see Rand Paul`s replacing his father on the hard
right, and this Mike Lee further right than Bob Bennett in Utah, further
right that Orrin Hatch.
MATTHEWS: It seems like almost like some sort of insect farm where the
bigger, badder insects are replacing the little ones.
MILBANK: Well, there`s a whole lot of turnover in a lot of places.
And some of them are just as goofy characters as before. Like, in the
House, you have Louie Gohmert, instead of Michele Bachmann.
MATTHEWS: Yes, the birther.
MILBANK: He tells Attorney General Holder that he`s casting aspersions on
his asparagus. OK. What do you do with that?
So, there are -- there is just an unending stream of goofiness. And that
never has gone away and please, God, never will go away from the United
MATTHEWS: For your good.
MILBANK: For my benefit.
But there is a darker strain here. Mike Lee, an amiable guy, Rand Paul, an
intellectual -- Ted Cruz is a very interesting case, because he is making
his name very much the way Joe McCarthy made his name, with outlandish,
unprovable allegations, throwing them out there, getting attention.
Well, he looks like it. It`s superficial. He`s the same age as McCarthy.
But that`s not why I call him tail gunner Ted, because he`s using those
same kind of tactics. People will see that that works. You`re going to
get more outlandish allegations.
MATTHEWS: You know, I think -- I think we`re looking at --
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Lizz. I`m sorry.
WINSTEAD: I was just going to say, these people have never -- when a
flyswatter is fine, they always use an anvil.
You know, they never really look at a problem with any kind of nuance.
Everything is horrible. Everyone`s motivation is ugly and dark and
ruthless. And you hear those words, infestation, the Muslim infestation,
from these people constantly.
MATTHEWS: Well, the smirk is what gets to me, this attitude of like I`m
better than you, you`re no good, your -- maggots is not a bad word, but
idea they`re no good and the idea that the right wing of the right-wing
Republican Party -- now, my concern is the voter will go to the voting
booth in 2016, not a million years from now, and really have no choice.
They will have to vote Democrat just because what will happen is, the
Republican Party will put a ticket together which will have at least one of
these crazy people on the ticket. It`s very possible that Ted Cruz will be
on the ticket. It`s very possible that Rand Paul will be on the ticket or
one of these people.
And it`s not at all possible, it seems to me, that it`s going to run a
ticket of two moderates. Think about that chance, zero, a Chris Christie
with even a Rubio. That`s a moderate ticket by today`s standards.
MILBANK: I --
MATTHEWS: The Tea Party is pushing them so far over.
MILBANK: I think that is true. But I think the Republicans are beginning
to hear that Bob Dole message of closing shop for repairs now.
And that`s why there is some bit of good news for the Republicans in the
Bachmann departure. She`s not leaving just because she`s tired of it,
there`s some eight-term -- you know, eight-year term limit.
MATTHEWS: She cooked that up today.
WINSTEAD: She was going to lose her election next year. She only won by
1.2 percentage points last time in a pretty good Republican district.
Now the FBI, the FEC, Ethics Commission all looking at her presidential
campaign -- she was going to lose that campaign. But I think it --
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m still for innocent until proven guilt, myself.
MILBANK: It suggests that even in a Republican district, people will reach
a point where they have had enough of this.
And that`s possibly good news for the Republican Party and everybody else.
MATTHEWS: You know, Lizz, the face of the Democratic Party right now is
probably a bit of a blur. It`s probably a combination of the president and
the Clintons, both of them.
It`s probably -- you think who`s Mr. and Mrs. Democrat or Ms. Democrat,
you would say Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. That`s --
they`re the big faces. Who are the big faces on the right? And that --
they`re not the old moderate Republican Party. They don`t have even a game
-- they`re not even in this game.
And the question is, if you have a party so far to the right, what`s that
do to democracy? What kind of choice do you have? You don`t make a
choice. You just vote common sense and vote against them.
WINSTEAD: Well, and they keep grasping.
It`s like -- when you watched the primary on the Republican side, you know,
every one of those people was the front-runner for, like, at least two
days, you know?
MATTHEWS: That`s true.
WINSTEAD: And when you watch the rising stars of these parties, that`s the
same way. It`s these new guys that everybody loves for five minutes.
And it`s like, can we get to know these people, see how they legislate, see
if they can actually bring people together? They never want to do that.
They`re just grasping at straws, like insane people who are drowning.
MATTHEWS: You know, I want to thank you both for coming.
And, by the way, I was thinking about how brilliant Stewart is, your guy,
WINSTEAD: He`s brilliant.
MATTHEWS: And I thought this through a lot, why these guys are the best
comedians in history.
You take three of the greatest, and they all have sort of a point of view,
Jack Benny, Johnny Carson and this guy, and all three of them got their
best laughs by deadpanning, because you know what they were thinking. They
just -- they have taught you through their careers, brief careers in some
cases, so you just laugh your butt off at them at just when they just --
they just pause.
That`s the brilliance, the brilliance of just silence, looking at the
camera. Not a political thought. But I do think about these things, Lizz,
all the time.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
And, by the way, the public --
WINSTEAD: The confidence of knowing, yes, the confidence of knowing --
MATTHEWS: The confidence of knowing who they are, it works.
MATTHEWS: They have taught us who they are.
WINSTEAD: It does.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Dana Milbank.
And that`s why I think that Jon Stewart is a brilliant political satirist.
Lizz Winston -- Winstead.
Winston tastes good.
Lizz Winstead, thank you.
MATTHEWS: And, of course, Dana Milbank, who I read often.
Coming up, take a guess, which political party plays fast and loose with
the truth three times as often as the other? Well, maybe there is a
difference. The results of a new study by PolitiFact next in the
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, and now time for the "Sideshow."
First, which party do you think wins in the truth issue? Do you suspect
Republicans tell more false claims than Democrats? Well, now you have got
proof, if you believe that. According to a study of PolitiFact ratings by
George Mason University, in President Obama`s second term, Republicans have
received the infamous Pants on Fire rating three times more often than
Democrats, three times, while Democrats get twice as many entirely true
grades than the GOP.
So, the Democrats are better at being truthful, not as awful as Republicans
at not being. Anyway, perhaps the tide will turn for Republicans, though.
A top offender includes the retiring Michele Bachmann, who PolitiFact
reports today received Pants on Fire or false in her first 13 fact-checks
on their site, 13 in a row.
Next: President Obama had to clear things up last night when he spoke at a
celebration for Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage people for the
month honoring them. Turns out the aunt -- or aunt -- of former "American
Idol" contestant Jessica Sanchez had put him in a bad spot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank everybody
who`s here, the incredible warmth of the reception.
A sign of the warmth is the lipstick on my collar.
OBAMA: I have to say, I think I know the culprit.
Where`s Jessica Sanchez?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Jessica -- no, it wasn`t Jessica. It was her aunt. Where is she?
OBAMA: Auntie right there.
Look at this. Look at this.
OBAMA: I just want everybody to witness. So, I do not want to be in
trouble with Michelle.
OBAMA: That`s why I`m calling you out right in front of everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, lucky he had witnesses for that.
Next, who says Congress doesn`t do anything? You might not have been
impressed with the work product of the last Congress, which passed just 240
bills in the last two years altogether. But they could agree on one thing,
post offices; 46 bills, nearly 20 percent of those bills -- 20 percent of
the post offices were naming local post office branches. According to the
Congressional Research Service, that`s what Congress does, names post
offices, at last something everyone can agree on.
And finally tonight, who can forget the iconic image of a cowboy-hat-
wearing man pushing a wounded bombing victim away from the marathon site
last month? There it is, that picture. The victim, Jeff Bauman, lost both
legs as a result of his injuries. But last night, he reunited with the
cowboy-hat-wearing Carlos Arredondo, so they could each throw out a first
pitch at the Sox game. Wow. Coming up -- what a sight.
Coming up: Democrats need to get out the African-American vote to keep
control of the U.S. Senate. And that`s a fact. And that explains why
Republicans have tried to make it harder and harder for African-Americans
to get to the polls. And that`s ahead, the big fight.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
JACKIE DEANGELIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jackie DeAngelis with your CNBC
Well, stocks down across the board today, the Dow dropping 106, the S&P
losing 11, the Nasdaq down 21. The Nasdaq, meantime, has agreed to pay a
$10 million fine, this stemming from SEC charges that it botched Facebook`s
IPO launch last year.
And Sallie Mae says that it will split into two separate companies. One
will manage existing student loans. The other will make new student loans
and take deposits.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
African-American voters have become a force to be reckoned with in this
country and a constituency to be courted, of course. A recent Associated
Press study of the 2012 election proves their increasing power. Catch
this. And don`t forget it. The headline sums it all up, "In a First,
Black Turnout Rate Surpasses White Turnout," pointing out that while blacks
make up just 12 percent of their -- of the eligible voters of the country,
they made up 13 percent of the total 2012 votes cast.
Stop the prompter for a second. This is a big deal. This isn`t about
voters that are registered voting. This is about people 18 and over who
are citizens voting, a tremendous turnout by the black community. Anyway,
the study sums up the significance of this, saying -- quote -- "Overall,
the findings represent a tipping point for blacks, who for much of
America`s history were disenfranchised and then effectively barred from
voting until passage of the Voting Rights Act of `65."
And the black vote could be the determining factor right now looking into
the future. But look at these trio of Southern Democratic senators from
states with large black constituencies that nevertheless don`t go for --
didn`t go for Obama last year. These are red state where you have blue
Look at it there. There is Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu
and of course Mark Pryor of Arkansas. And given the fact that Republicans
need to pick up six seats, they`re targeting those very people. And the
African-American votes are going to decide whether they stay in the Senate
or probably the Senate gets to shift to the Republicans.
Joining me right now, he knows all about this stuff, Pulitzer Prize-winning
columnist for "The Washington Post" Eugene Robinson, who is nationally
syndicated, and Judith Browne-Dianis of the voting rights organization the
Advancement Project, the two best possible people to talk about this.
First of all, the stunning fact -- it`s stunning because I grew up in
Philly, where you had racial division up the kazoo for many years, and
still does. And the black vote, because of Rizzo being seen as the enemy
of the black community drove up the vote. He was the registrar in history.
Everybody was saying, if he`s mayor, I`m going to show up and vote to
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, exactly.
MATTHEWS: And in a way, I think Reince Priebus and the boys with their
multi-multi-dozen-state efforts to keep the blacks from the voting booth
aroused -- well, you tell me.
ROBINSON: Well, no, I think the voter suppression efforts drove up the
I think they ticked people off, and they made people more determined to
show up at the polls. You saw that effect particularly in a state like
Ohio, for example, which was sort of ground zero. They really thought they
had something going in Ohio. And it turned out that they didn`t at all,
because the black vote was -- was greater than the white vote
It`s an incredible thing.
ROBINSON: For a guy who grew up in the South, when black people couldn`t
vote, it`s extraordinary.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, it is.
ROBINSON: It`s extraordinary.
MATTHEWS: Judith, talk about this. Talk about this. There`s three unique
things going on here. One is that the black vote is at least keeping its
own in terms of showing up, which is the key. Woody Allen said 90 percent
-- 80 percent of life is showing up.
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: If you don`t show up and vote, you ain`t voting. And you can
only complain then. You can still complain if you vote, of course.
BROWNE-DIANIS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And that`s fair enough.
The other thing is that the effort to try to screw the black voter in every
way, no Sunday voting, shorter hours, more paperwork, photo I.D., go
downtown and get a photo, anything that will slow down the black vote --
and then this other thing here is this need on the part of the Democratic
Party for black votes and a black constituency that just wouldn`t believe
in them, not just vote from them, believe in them.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Right. Right. Right.
I mean, we went into 2012 --
MATTHEWS: Put them together.
BROWNE-DIANIS: -- thinking and -- right. We went into 2012 talking
about an enthusiasm gap in the black community and that black voters
wouldn`t turn out.
The GOP decided that they were not going to take a risk at that. And what
they wanted to do was change the rules to make it harder for black voters
to turn out, so that we wouldn`t get the turnout that we had in 2008. But,
lo and behold, black folks decided, we are not going to allow this chance
to pass us. We are not going to allow people to take away our vote.
I mean, I voted in Maryland. I waited in line for seven hours. That`s in
BROWNE-DIANIS: And the conversation was about voter suppression and the
fact that we died for the right and that we`re not going to allow anyone to
take that away. And so, as we move forward, we see the turnout up.
MATTHEWS: Do you live in a black community or a mixed community? Was that
-- do you think there was something going there?
BROWNE-DIANIS: I live in a black community, in Prince Georges County, and
seven hours in line. And literally that`s what people were talking about.
And so as we move into 2014 and 2016, the GOP is going to double down on
its efforts to make it harder for black voters to turn out because they now
understand the strength of our vote.
And the Democratic Party better make sure that they don`t take black voters
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a big question. What did you make of -- this is
such a tricky question for a guy like me that`s white to ask, because I
want to get a reaction, but I`m always curious when I`m doing this show.
What do you make of Obama`s statement down at -- it wasn`t Spelman. It was
down at Morehouse.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: At the Morehouse, yes.
MATHTEWS: What do you make of this sort of self education, bootstrap kind
ROBINSON: First of all, it`s not new. It`s something that he`s said
ROBINSON: It was just ironic the different interpretations of that speech.
MATTHEWS: What`s your stand on this? What`s your stand?
ROBINSON: Other people heard, you know, racial grievance is what the --
MATTHEWS: Well, some people say he`s pandering to the white folk because
the whites love to hear this stuff, but --
ROBINSON: Well, it`s a message that he`s consistently given. I think it`s
part of the message that -- that it`s certainly appropriate for him to
give. It`s also appropriate, I think, for African-Americans and for others
to ask, OK, well, that`s great. What are you doing to, you know, to help
recreate the rungs of that ladder that we`re supposed to climb.
MATTHEWS: What do you think, Judith, this is something that I didn`t talk
about but I`m curious about, because I watch this stuff from my
perspective. I have a mixed view of it, too. I think, it depends who
you`re talking to.
BROWNE DIANIS: I do, too.
MATTHEWS: Especially end up talking to the choir, one of the best schools
in the country, Morehouse. He really had no problem. These people were as
energized and as academically driven as anybody in the country. Don`t go
to them talking about how they don`t believe in books or anything like
Your thoughts. It`s tricky stuff.
BROWNE DIANIS: That`s right. You know, yes, this was a trick question,
that I wasn`t expecting. But, I mean, I have mixed views on it, too. It
was a tough love message. And really, you know, I think that he missed an
opportunity to talk some about the structural barriers that young people,
young black men, especially, really do see as they move forward in this
And so, I think it was a missed opportunity --
MATTHEWS: What are those, by the way?
BROWNE DIANIS: Those young men --
MATTHEWS: What are those structural barriers?
BROWNE DIANIS: Well, I mean, from mass incarceration to schools that are
under-resourced, to -- you know, he could have talked about jobs, and the
need for more jobs, and the black unemployment rate. And really kind of
hit home on some of the challenges. And whatnot only he, but the
Democratic Party, are doing in order to make sure that the black community
is strengthened and that we come back and bounce back in this bad economy.
MATTHEWS: That`s why I`m glad you`re on. I`m glad we`re talking about
this because I think jobs is the thing. Education and jobs go together
like a horse and carriage. You got to put them together.
ROBINSON: If I could add one thing to that discussion. I don`t speak for
the White House, but I do happen to know what the White House would say in
response to that, which is that, yes to all those -- to all those things.
And that`s absolutely right. There are these structural impediments. But
it`s important to give a message of reality.
So, what`s going to get through this Congress? What`s going to -- you
know, what money is there to spend?
MATTHEWS: What world are you going to live in?
ROBINSON: Right. In the real world, fair or not, it`s on you. And so,
that would be the response --
BROWNE DIANIS: That is true.
ROBINSON: -- I`m confident from the White House.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m glad we`re having this conversation. As somebody once
said of Bill Clinton, everything you think is true.
Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson. Thank you, Judith Browne. I have to
lighten things up here sometimes.
BROWNE DIANIS: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the most negative man in the U.S. Senate goes where few
others would dare. That is a tricky question for us all.
Howard Fineman is joining us to talk about what Mitch McConnell is up to
now. He`s something, isn`t he?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: I`ve got some new polling out today in the Virginia governors
race. Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
According to a new PPP poll, Democrat Terry McAuliffe holds a 5-point lead
now over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. It`s McAuliffe, 42, Cuccinelli, 37.
That`s a good news for McAuliffe.
The bad news is as that voters get to know the candidates better, more are
becoming undecided. The poll found voters have higher negative opinions of
both candidates than favorable ones. It`s a tough race down there.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is throwing the kitchen sink at a
yet to be declared opponent as he tries to keep his Senate seat out in
Kentucky where his popularity is less than stellar.
The latest entry is a web video from his re-election team. It`s called
Team Mitch. By the way, it telegraphs just how hard, how hard he intends
hammer the administration`s IRS woes in the 2014 race. Let`s watch Mitch`s
worst. It`s coming up here in this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: No president from either
party is more powerful than the Constitution.
REPORTER: Invoked her Fifth Amendment right and refused to answer
LOIS LERNER, IRS OFFICIAL: I will not answer any questions or testify
about the subject matter of this committee`s meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t know at that time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not aware of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know. I don`t know. I have no memory of
anyone doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t know that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not personally responsible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe it is illegal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t believe it is.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: When the president does it, that means
that it is not illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Inconvenient.
MATTHEWS: Joining me, "The Huffington Post`s" Howard Fineman, great man
himself, who`s also an MSNBC contributor; and A.B. Stoddard, associate
editor and columnist for "The Hill" newspaper.
Thank you both.
Howard, you`re so humble. It`s all true.
You know what I think? I think it`s so interesting, this race.
The guy is so unpopular, the only way Mitch can get re-elected, I call him
Mitch, favorably, is that he has to say, OK, you don`t like me. I can see
know you don`t like me. I`m not even at 47 percent. But those government
people are so bad, you need a nasty guy to protect you.
FINEMAN: Yes, well, this is a triple play here. It`s the first thing that
you said. Secondarily, he`s still worried about a challenge from the Tea
Party candidate in the Republican primary. I don`t think there`s going to
be one, although the Tea Party in Kentucky where I used to work are e-
mailing me and telling me all the time, don`t worry, we`re going to have a
Tea Party --
MATTHEWS: You worked for Louisville --
FINEMAN: Worked for the Louisville paper.
MATTHEWS: You didn`t work for the Republican Party?
FINEMAN: No, the Louisville paper.
FINEMAN: They said, no, we`re going to have a Tea Party candidate. Mitch
McConnell`s first tactical imperative is not to have a Tea Party opponent.
So this is a very heavy Tea Party-type of ad --
FINEMAN: -- against the IRS, against the intrusive government.
MATTHEWS: Is Kentucky that right wing that they want to go to the right
wing of Mitch McConnell? Ha!
FINEMAN: Well, yes, but then going -- but then in the general, yes, I
think, look, Kentucky is a state that gets a lot of government services but
also paradoxically doesn`t like the government.
A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: I think it`s a couple of things. He`s telling a
primary challenger not to come near him. But I really think he`s actually
locked that up and he`s pretty safe in the primary.
But what he`s also doing is telling the Democratic Party that hasn`t been
able to field a candidate against him, look, you`re going to have to defend
the president. There`s all these scandals bubbling up, and it`s going to
be really toxic for you. Don`t come back here because I`m going to fight
back hard. I think it`s helpful.
MATTHEWS: What about the secretary of state?
FINEMAN: The Hillary Clinton part of it?
MATTHEWS: No, who`s the one who`s running --
FINEMAN: Well, Alison Lundergan Grimes who is at this point seems to be
the most likely person to be drawn in the Democratic is actually doing
pretty well in the polls in matchups against Mitch, even though she only
has 50 percent name ID in the state.
MATTHEWS: How`s Kentucky on women?
FINEMAN: Well, there`d been women -- there`s been a woman governor.
There`s been -- has there been a -- yes, Martha Lyne Collins has been the
FINEMAN: There`s been lieutenant governor, so statewide officeholders. I
don`t think that`s a problem at all.
Alison Lundergan Grimes` problem is that she doesn`t have a lot of
experience, but the flip side of that is, she doesn`t have a whole lot of
record for Mitch McConnell to tear apart, which goes to A.B.`s point, which
is that Mitch McConnell is going to run against Obama and the Democrats,
whoever the Democratic nominee is.
MATTHEWS: Smart move.
Ashley Judd, would she have been a better candidate?
STODDARD: I don`t think so. I don`t think so. But all of this statewide
officeholders are Democrats. They`ve kept themselves away from the
national Democratic Party and separated from Washington.
STODDARD: She runs from -- if she runs for the Senate, she`s going to have
to answer to Senate Democratic policies and President Obama, and they are
going to tie her to that. She`s been a delegate. She has some ties to the
national party that the other Democrats in Kentucky don`t have.
And so, look, she`s been looking into this. She`s certainly having the
right conversations. It`s entirely possible that she jumps in, but at this
point, she is looking at the record. When people run against Mitch
McConnell, if they have statewide ambitions later on, she has a path to
perhaps the governor`s office one day. Their careers end up ruined and
they don`t end up running again.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about you first is time. Let`s talk about Mitch
Now, I guess it`s OK, if you`re very right wing, to support someone who
says my number one job is to screw this presidency, make sure it`s a
disaster, nothing gets done. Nothing gets done.
That seems to have been solved. They started to meet -- the House members
met the night that he was inaugurated president in 2013 -- `09, that
January, five years ago and said, let`s make sure this guy gets nothing
Is that something voters really want to see in the presidency or the leader
of the opposition? This person will make sure nothing gets done.
STODDARD: Mitch McConnell is going to tell Kentucky voters in the general
election that this president`s health care law is unpopular. It`s going to
create tremendous anxiety. It`s going to shudder small businesses, it`s
going to take your doctors away, it`s going to raise your premiums. The
economy is not going to recover. He`s had five years.
President Obama`s approval rating has stayed steady so far but we`re
looking at a midterm election where once again the Democrats have to defend
the implementation of Obamacare, which right now the administration itself
is worried about.
STODDARD: Mitch McConnell is counting on President Obama being unpopular.
MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you one fact that is important, the economy. Now, the
market went down a little bit today, but it`s been zooming.
Housing -- I`ve been talking to some experts, including my new guy advising
me, I got to tell you, housing is getting under control. We thought it was
The American economy is very strong, it`s robust, it`s coming back. Now,
it`s still a jobless economy as far as I could, 7 1/2 percent is not good
enough, unemployment. But it is booming. It is moving, rather.
And I wonder by next year, if this keeps going, all of the conversations we
are having are off the board.
FINEMAN: Well, I still spend a lot of time in Kentucky and the economy is
not booming in Kentucky.
FINEMAN: The other thing is that the Democratic governor has decided to
implement Obamacare in the state. In other words, you`ve got Democratic
officeholders that are going to try to implement Obamacare. I think it`s
I think that the Democrats are nowhere in presidential election years. I
think it`s going to be very difficult to defeat Mitch McConnell and I think
Mitch McConnell`s basic stance is, we`ll take the federal government`s
money but we don`t like the federal government is the kind that sells in
MATTHEWS: -- focuses on jobs.
MATTHEWS: He`s going to be playing defense like this and I don`t think
it`s going to work. I go back to what I said for a long time. A Democrat
should be for jobs, jobs, jobs, whether it`s the black community or anybody
in Kentucky. You`re always stronger, even if you fail, if you`re fighting
Anyway, thank you, A.B.
MATTHEWS: For coming on.
And, Howard Fineman, thank you.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
I`m profoundly impressed by the power of the African-American vote this
early century, the ability to get to the polls despite effort to keep
people from getting there is a solid good thing for this country. It`s a
display of civil energy that promises to enliven this country politically,
people that vote to control things, people who don`t get to complain about
And the big Republican mistake for the last 50 years was to take the wrong
side on the civil rights struggle. The irony is, they had it right back in
the early `60s. It`s when they adopted the so-called Southern strategy
history that history changed on them, came back and bit them, and will keep
on biting them until they change again, back to the party of Abraham
Well, today is a special day also in our country`s history. May 29th is
the day that John F. Kennedy was born. There`s a book out there which I`m
proud to say I wrote, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero". It`s about the man
himself, what he was like to sit with in a room, and what he was like to
tens of millions of our fellow Americans is this: he was the president.
He, Jack Kennedy, who put the presidency on the side of civil rights. It
was he, 50 years ago, who called civil rights as old as Scriptures, as
clear as the American Constitution. It had never been said before he did
it. He, Jack Kennedy, our elusive hero.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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