June 17, 2013
Guests: Christopher Murphy, Steve Rigell, John Brabender
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Before we get into another war, shouldn`t we have a
vote or something?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. We Americans enjoy our traditions -- the
U.S. Open up in Philadelphia this weekend, the NBA championship heading
back to Miami, the Stanley Cup. We had another tradition, remember? It`s
called democracy. It`s called giving the people -- yes, the people out
there beyond Washington and New York the final say in whether we get
involved in a war or not. You know, I`m talking about the people who
aren`t on the Sunday TV shows, who don`t hold the big megaphones of power,
who don`t get to the blow the bugles of war.
Who voted to send weapons to the rebels fighting the government in Syria?
Did you? I didn`t. Who voted to commit an act of war against a government
with whom we do have diplomatic relations, a government -- a government we
recognize as the legitimate government of Syria? Did the Senate we elected
vote to do this? Did the House of Representatives vote?
The big shots say we should pay no mind to what the people in the country
think. Bill Clinton even said the other day that presidents shouldn`t bow
to the pollsters. But forget the pollsters. What are they telling us
about what the people think?
Is it important or not that just one in five Americans wants us in the
business of arming rebels in the Mideast? Is that important or not? Are
the people considered so out of it that we just go skipping off to Syria
with guns, ammo and whatever else? Do the people think what they think
matters? Is that how it works today?
Well, again, back to where I started. We have traditions in this country.
And I liked the one where the people have to be convinced of getting into a
war, excuse me for living, before we get into a war. We should decide it
up front. You get a better idea of how to run a country that way.
Anyway, joining me right now is Senator Christopher Murphy of Connecticut.
He joins us at first.
You know, I have to ask you this, Senator Murphy, your views on this. I
have never seen a slip-slide into a war situation so easily, so delicately
that nobody even thinks of having a vote in the Congress, even, just we`re
taking sides. We`re going to send guns.
People are going to get killed. That`s what guns are used for in war. And
nobody gets to vote.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: You know, people paper over this
in part because the president has said that he`s not going to put boots on
the ground, meaning he`s not going to put American soldiers there.
But there are serious national security consequences to arming these
rebels. You know, first and foremost, this is an enormously complicated
proxy war. Already on the ground there, you have the Russians and the
Iranians. We wouldn`t be declaring war on the Russians and the Iranians,
but we would effectively be fighting them on the ground.
Second, he has not ruled out a no-fly zone, which would put American lives
at risk because you`re talking about having to take out very complicated
Russian-built air defense systems.
And then lastly, you know, this isn`t a six-month engagement. This isn`t a
one-year engagement. Even if you are successful at toppling Bashar al
Assad, which I have doubts about, you then would own this government and
the reconstruction of Syria for perhaps a decade to come. That`s a, you
know, $100 billion-plus investment for the U.S. taxpayer.
We should absolutely have a discussion about this in the United States
Senate and in the United States House of Representatives.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the question. We`re sending guns because we want
to stop the bloodshed. We send in guns because we want to end the war.
And all the guns do is continue the war. All they do is keep it going a
little bit longer.
Then I say to myself, Well, maybe it`ll end the war faster. And no one
thinks small arms is going to end this war any faster. It`s just going to
kill more people with blood on our hands. And then I go, Oh, he`s aiming
it for some kind of phony war, where nobody really gets hurt, it`s sort of
a stalemate, like in 1939 to `40, in World War II when it first began, the
so-called phony war, where nobody really shot at each other.
Well, is that what he`s aiming for? Do you know what the president`s
aiming for? I can`t figure it out. A transition peacefully where Putin
(sic) goes off to Russia or perhaps to Iran? How does this thing end,
according to the president? What is he telling you people?
MURPHY: Well, listen, I mean, I acknowledge that the president is in an
impossible situation here. If he does nothing, it appears that he is
essentially endorsing the murder of civilians. If he does something he
MATTHEWS: Who says that?
MURPHY: Well, listen, I think there`s a lot of pressure on him to try to
stop this bloodshed. But you have to both identify a problem...
MATTHEWS: Excuse me!
MURPHY: ... and a solution, Chris. And I...
MATTHEWS: Iran and Iraq fought each other for eight years and we cheered
from the sidelines. Nobody ever said we should stop the bloodshed. It
seems like we have particular wars we want to get involved in.
The only war that`s going on in the Middle East, that has gone on for
centuries, is between the Shia and the Sunni. We take the Sunni side in
this war. We took the Shia side in the Iraq war. We`re irrelevant except
for providing guns. It`s not our war.
MURPHY: Well, listen -- listen, you`re arguing my points here. I`m simply
identifying that you`ve got to show that there`s a problem and a solution.
My contention is that we`re going to make this worse, not better. I was
one of three votes against giving the president the power to arm the rebels
in the Foreign Relations Committee, against 15 on the other side.
Here`s another problem. You identified the fact that you can`t just give
them automatic weapons. That`s not going to turn the balance. But if you
give them more serious weapons, then, you know, al Qaeda is allied with the
people that we`re supplying weapons to. If you give them more serious,
more high-powered weapons, they could just ending falling into the hands of
people that want to do enormous damage to us.
MURPHY: I mean, this thing is so hyper-complicated, it deserves a lot more
debate than we`ve had so far.
MATTHEWS: And nobody sane is talking about giving them Stinger weapons --
Stingers to go after helicopters because that`s what we did with the
mujahedeen who became al Qaeda.
Anyway, after a two-hour bilateral meeting today, President Obama and
Russian president Vladimir Putin essentially agreed to disagree on Syria.
Here`s what the president said after the meeting. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With respect to Syria, we do
have differing perspectives on the problem, but we share an interest in
reducing the violence, securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they`re
neither used nor are they subject to proliferation, and that we want to try
to resolve the issue through political means, if possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re just watching the president talk in tactical terms
about chemical weapons and all, but I`ll tell you, I didn`t see Putin
joining in there. I don`t know what common ground we`ve got with Putin on
this except we start shooting at his defense systems over there and his
people, as you point out, Senator, that`s a shooting war between us and the
Russians, something we`ve avoided since 1945. In fact, we`ve always
MURPHY: Well, and listen, you know, what normally happens here, right, is
that you have a rebellion. Often sometimes, they go without as much
bloodshed as we`ve seen here. And then you have a civil war. And this is
about as complicated a civil war as you get, one in which the Iranians and
the Russians are not going to run away from. Jabhat al Nusra, who thinks
they have played a big role in the weakening of Assad, is not going to walk
away from this fight.
And so the United States could potentially be successful in getting the
rebels over the hump, but then there`s going to be a follow-on civil war
that the Russians could be involved in, the Iranians could be involved in,
al Qaeda could be involved in.
And you mentioned at the outside, you know, what is the plan here? What
are we really trying to accomplish? And if we`re trying to accomplish a
U.S.-friendly permanent government in Damascus, that is a 10-year
commitment that could involve American deaths and certainly involves
billions and billions of dollars.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Thanks
so much for coming on.
Fore more, we`re joined now by Congressman Steve Rigell, a Republican from
Virginia. Thank you, Congressman, for coming on. You represent Virginia
Beach and some other big places down in Virginia, not far.
REP. STEVE RIGELL (R), VIRGINIA: (INAUDIBLE) in uniform than any
MATTHEWS: OK, so you`ve got -- you`ve got -- you`ve got skin in the game.
MATTHEWS: What do you think about this going to war with no vote? I`ve
seen a -- they had a little vote over in the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. It went 15 to 3, but it`s never come to the floor. Apparently,
it`s not coming to the floor.
RIGELL: Well, I applaud Senator Murphy. I thought the way he articulated
is wise. I introduced and the House passed last week an amendment to the
National Defense Authorization Act that really made clear that the
precedent that`s being set by the administration -- and Chris, I think that
what happened in Libya is instructive to us. We launched 221 Cruise
missiles and over 700 JDAM munitions into Libya. And that didn`t rise to
the level of triggering the War Powers Act? And what level of force must
we exert before that should be in play?
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, what do the people think? Are the people -- I mean,
I look at this poll here, we`ve got here. It`s a Pew Research poll. It
guess it leans a little left sometimes. We noticed that. But here it is,
20 -- this isn`t exactly a close call.
RIGELL: Well, look...
MATTHEWS: Twenty percent support -- favoring -- favor backing these so-
called anti-government troop -- in other words, the rebels -- 70 percent
oppose. So one in five are for us arming the rebels.
RIGELL: Right. There`s so little what appears to be common ground here in
Washington, but there is common ground here. The American people are a
good people. It`s a noble desire to stop the bloodshed in Syria. Over
93,000 have been killed. Look, that`s a burden on any person`s conscience,
a thinking person`s conscience.
But this idea that we just have to go out and proactively engage in these
things, it`s hurt us as a country. And what I`m asking for and what the
amendment said was, basically, that from the framers to the current
administration -- and look, it`s not partisan, but what happened in Libya
is instructive. And I think that we`re kind of headed there on the
slippery slope with where we`re going with Syria.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the president`s chief of staff. This is
what Denis McDonough had to say on this right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENIS MCDONOUGH, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We have to be very discerning
about what`s in our interest and what the outcome -- what outcome is best
for us and the prices that we`re willing to pay to get to that place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One other...
MCDONOUGH: We`ve rushed to war in this region in the past. We`re not
going to do it here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there we go again and here we go again. There he is with
analysis that bears (ph) up, like you said, this pattern of slippery slope.
Everybody understood why we went to Afghanistan. We went there because
that`s where the attack came from on 9/11. Iraq I never understood, but we
did vote on that.
RIGELL: Well, look, Chris...
MATTHEWS: There was a real vote, which I have to go along with. That`s
how we do things in this country. Then we slipped into Libya. No vote on
that. And now we`re -- we`re already on the edge now of slipping into a
war in Syria. No vote on that.
RIGELL: That`s correct.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what kind of vote we`re going to have on Iran. I
don`t know what that kind of situation`s going to be.
RIGELL: Well, the people`s house, the House of Representatives, passed
this amendment with the bipartisan support. And this is, I think, a good
indication of the will of the American people. So as noble as the
president -- his mission might be now and his desire to stop the bloodshed,
I think we ought to limit our support to humanitarian support...
RIGELL: ... put pressure on Putin, put pressure on the new president of
Iran to not send in those 4,000 Revolutionary Guards.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Scott Rigell of
Coming up: The Republican clown show is back in town this week with the
Faith and Freedom Coalition featuring people like, well, Sarah Palin, who
actually sounded pretty smart this weekend, Herman Cain and Rick Perry.
Well, they`re themselves. But carnival barkers aside, after two straight
presidential losses, the GOP needs to figure out whether it`s a party of
libertarians, Christian conservatives or pragmatists or it might be out of
power for a lot more than eight years.
Plus, here`s the tension in the GOP over immigration. On one side, you
have Lindsey Graham saying the party needs immigration reform because it`s
into a demographic death spiral right now. On the other side, you have
Representative Steve Stockman of Texas saying if reform does pass, the GOP
can kiss Texas, Florida and Arizona good-bye, like it said good-bye to
California. Who`s going to win this tough fight within the GOP?
And is the case being made for anti-terror surveillance? Is the case
really being made or not? We`ll get to that debate tonight.
"Let Me Finish" tonight with where I started. Shouldn`t Congress have to
vote before we get into another war?
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Another new poll from Massachusetts shows Ed Markey there, the
congressman, making good progress there in the special election for the
Senate next Tuesday. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to a new "Boston Globe" poll, Markey has an 11-point lead over
Republican Gabriel Gomez, Markey 54, Gomez 43. Last week, Markey had a 7-
point edge in the Suffolk poll. The election`s next Tuesday. We hope to
be up there to cover it.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN, FMR. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This train is running
full speed down the tracks toward socialism and toward communism. Yes, I
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: I fear that where we`ve come
to in America, where our administration won`t make one phone call to save
our men and women in a embassy in Lebanon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, welcome back to HARDBALL. Another "oops" from Rick Perry
there, whose dig at President Obama lost a bite when he mixed up countries
that start with L, Lebanon and Libya. Anyway, Perry, Herman Cain and a
cast of the whole GOP all-stars turned out for Ralph Reed`s Faith and
Freedom Coalition this weekend. At times, it looked like a rerun of the
2012 GOP primaries.
And Sarah Palin was there in full force with her own foreign policy advice
for the president in Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: We`re talking now more new
interventions. I say until we know what we`re doing, until we have a
commander-in-chief who knows what he`s doing, well, chief (ph) in these
radical Islamic countries that aren`t even respecting basic human rights
where both sides are slaughtering each other as they scream (ph) over an
arbitrary red line Allahu Akbar -- I say until we have someone who knows
what they`re doing, I say let Allah sort it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Red line, Allahu Akbar -- anyway, wading bravely into the GOP
crosswinds was former Florida governor and potential 2016 contender Jeb
Bush, who tried to use reason to make his case for Republican action on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Demography is destiny. And if that`s
the case, if that`s the case, then we`re going to have fewer workers taking
care of a larger number of people that have -- that the country has a
social contract with, to be able to allow them to retire with dignity and
We cannot do that with the fertility rates that we have in our country.
We`re below break-even today. One way that we can rebuild the demographic
pyramid is to fix a broken immigration system. Immigrants create far more
businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years.
Immigrants are more fertile and they love families and they`re more -- they
have more intact families and they bring a younger population.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, less than 24 hours after Governor Bush spoke there as you
just saw him, Sarah Palin couldn`t resist taking a jab at him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: And let`s not kid ourselves in believing that we can rebuild our
majority, by the way, by passing a pandering, rewarding-the-rule-breakers
still-no-border-security special-interest-written amnesty bill.
PALIN: And I think it`s kind of dangerous territory, touchy territory to
want to debate this over one race`s fertility rate over another. And I say
this as someone who`s kind of fertile herself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You can`t beat that, can you?
Anyway, avoiding the whole event, New Jersey governor much mentioned 2016
candidate Chris Christie, well, instead sat down for a discussion with
former president Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative up in
Chicago. Well, this party`s got a lot to figure out right now if it hopes
to pick a candidate who can win in 2016.
And joining me right now are two great observers, David Corn, Washington
bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine, and Joy Reid, managing editor of
TheGrio. Both are MSNBC contributors.
I want you both to reserve your attitudes...
MATTHEWS: ... just a little bit here and try to use your ingenious
political instincts and try to see into the belly of the beast, if you will
-- Joy, especially. I want you to see into that -- into the -- into the
stomach of the Republican Party and find out what its gut is saying to it
now, as it`s sort of halfway almost toward another season to pick (ph)
because as we all know, within the next year, this thing will be hot and
heavy for the presidential already. It`s not too early to ask about it.
I see the party sort of divided along this spectrum. On the left, if you
will, sort of center for most of the country, is Chris Christie. And then
moving right, I see -- let`s see, I see Rubio, Bush and Walker, sort of
Republican Republicans. Then when you go further on, I see Paul -- Rand
Paul and Cruz. And then further over, I see Santorum.
And so it does seem to be a -- hold this up there, please -- hold this up
there because it`s so wide, Joy. I want people to look at it as you talk
and try to figure out where the magic mean is, the golden mean is. Is it
somewhere around Walker? Where do you find sort of the median of the
Republican Party in terms of ideology these days?
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Chris, first of all, I
just have to make an observation. Is it just me or is Sarah Palin`s hair
getting bigger, like, literally every month? I mean, it`s huge.
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.
REID: But beyond Sarah Palin, I actually don`t think the Republican Party
has a magic mean. I still think the Republican Party is three pieces.
It`s a three-legged stool. It`s the base. It`s the Archie Bunker win of
the party that you just saw. You know, the Sarah Palins of the world
appeal to them.
And then you`ve got the Wall Street part of the party, the sort of upper
crust part of the party to whom a Jeb Bush or a Chris Christie might
And then you have got the evangelical wing of the party, which is probably
the most frustrated part of the party, because they have been getting
promises for the longest. They have been told since the `80s that,
eventually their desires, the things that are important to them, like anti-
abortion legislation, are going to get done, and they never got done.
So, you have got these three pieces of the party wherein it is the Wall
Street part of the party that keeps picking the presidential candidates.
And the other two have had it. So, I don`t really know that there`s a
mean. I actually think the three parts are just in three pieces.
MATTHEWS: You have just defined the Republican Party of my entire
lifetime, because starting after World War II, when they picked Dewey and
Eisenhower and Nixon -- and only Goldwater was the exception, then back to
Reagan. But, generally, it`s been people like Mitt Romney.
MATTHEWS: It`s been an establishment candidate.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: But in that three-legged stool you have just defined rather
well, I think, only one stool is establishment. Only one stool thinks
REID: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: The other two vote their guts.
MATTHEWS: I want to go back to you on the gut question, David Corn.
MATTHEWS: The gut question is, will the ticked-off, if you will, part of
that party, the Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, we don`t care if we win, we just want
to be the right party, will they finally win it this time?
CORN: Well, not all legs of the stool are created equal.
It`s not an even stool. If you look at what happened last time around, the
Tea Party wing, the evangelical wing -- leg -- the angry two legs were a
lot bigger than -- when it came to votes out there and the energy than the
establishment one. Mitt Romney still managed to slide past those guys.
CORN: But, you know, the problem is not with the candidates, as much as it
is with the base of the party.
As angry as they were in 2012 -- and I think Joy`s right -- they`re as
angry or more angry in 2016.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
CORN: So that mean, that little -- that nice graphic that you had up there
is going to be pulled further to the right.
Now, to me, the big question, though, is, last time around, the people who
appealed to that, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, a lot of those folks were
kind of off the crazy train.
CORN: This time around, if it`s going to be Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, people
who you and I disagree with, but are not as nuts, at least in presentation,
as the Herman Cains of the world, or even Rick Perry, so will they be able
to finally match the base with somebody with some degree of legitimacy and
win the nomination?
MATTHEWS: I agree with you.
They`re not the wing nuts out there, because they are more closer to what
is the gut of the Republican Party now. We just had the James Carville on
the other day, who is very smart. And Carville said if you go out in the
country and talk, man or woman of whatever background, and you talk like
Ted Cruz to especially Republican audiences, they`re going to go crazy. I
hate the government. I don`t trust the government. Nobody is good in it.
They`re all a bunch of bums. I hate the IRS. I hate this, blah, blah,
And he says that sells.
Your thoughts, Joy.
REID: Yes, no, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: That that will sell, that a Ted Cruz, if he is a legitimately
natural-born American, whatever the terms are defined as this time around
by the birther crowd and he`s considered in by the same standards, by the
way, he would be considered out if he was held to the same judgment as the
birther crowd on Obama, but if he is considered in, Carville thinks he
REID: Yes. And I think Ted Cruz is sort of a fascinating character,
because the other dirty secret within the Republican Party is who the meat-
and-potatoes wing of that party is mad at right now.
Yes, they don`t like Barack Obama, but they`re mad at their own political
wing. They`re mad at the guys who think that they`re smarter than them in
Washington who keep picking people like Mitt Romney. And Ted Cruz has
MATTHEWS: So, you`re saying Jeb Bush can`t win?
REID: I think Jeb Bush cannot get the nomination because he`s seen as one
of those other establishment guys, whereas Rubio and Ted Cruz are competing
right now to sort of split the middle, between being plausible enough for
independents and still being able to speak to that win.
REID: And Rubio is starting to lose it. But he is starting to lose it,
because immigration is something that base is saying, hell no. They don`t
REID: And Ted Cruz has captured that.
REID: And he`s also a smart guy, so he`s able to nuance what he`s
something, so he still sounds intelligent -- quote, unquote -- "to the
So, Ted Cruz is interesting. I think Rand Paul is trying to do the same
MATTHEWS: Well, actually, I would go the other way. I think if I were
trying to pick a really good candidate for the Republicans, I would be
looking at Rubio, because, like both parties, you try to go center-left and
MATTHEWS: You try to find a way of building a broad support for you and
use your brains and learn how to deal with the other side.
MATTHEWS: Rubio is trying to deal with Democrats on something that has to
get done for the Republicans. Who else is trying to get it done?
CORN: But, Chris, you know there are two -- there are two completely...
MATTHEWS: I know.
CORN: There are two completely different realities clashing here.
One is the Republican reality and the other is the rest of the world.
MATTHEWS: But you can`t say that because these polls are so close.
CORN: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: Every time there`s a R.-vs.-left, right-vs.left vote in this
party, you know how close it gets.
CORN: Yes, but when it comes to picking a nominee, the Republican Party is
not interested necessarily -- a lot of the people, a lot of the primary
voters are not interested in finding someone who can win and cut the
difference and negotiate the way Marco Rubio can, which is why I think Ted
Cruz can sort of play both ways.
MATTHEWS: By the way, let me ask you a final question.
OK. If it looks like Hillary is running, will they just go off and have a
good time the way the Democrats do when they can`t win?
CORN: Oh, no.
MATTHEWS: Like, I have been at a bunch of conventions. You never have more
fun than when you`re with Democrats who know they`re sure going to lose,
like in New Orleans -- I`m sorry -- like in San Francisco.
CORN: In `84?
MATTHEWS: And where were we, in Georgia somewhere.
CORN: In `88.
REID: They`re going to try to move heaven and earth to stop Hillary
Clinton. And you`re going to see a civil war like nobody`s business.
MATTHEWS: Will they try to beat her?
CORN: Oh, yes.
REID: I think they`re going to try.
And I think the establishment will want a Rubio, but the base is -- if that
immigration law passes, the base is going to be really mad at Rubio. And
Ted Cruz has made it its mission to undercut and take Rubio down.
MATTHEWS: Well, if that`s passed, that means the majority of House
Republicans voted for it. Just remember, that`s the catch-22.
If Rubio wins, that`s because a majority of the House Republicans voted for
it, because there`s no way that`s going past the House without the Hastert
rule, a majority of Republicans.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn.
Interesting combinations going on here -- Joy Reid. I might have actually
slowed you down for a second there.
MATTHEWS: Up next, Vladimir Putin pockets a Super Bowl ring, I think. I
heard the guy he took it from tell me about it.
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now to the "Sideshow."
Remember nightmare moment when the 2007`s Miss Teen USA competition -- when
the contestant from South Carolina stumbled her way through a question
about why 20 percent of Americans can`t find the U.S. on a world map?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people out there in our nation don`t have maps.
And I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and the
Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should -- our
education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. -- or should help
South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will
be able to build up our future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, now we turn to this year`s version of last night`s -- last night`s
Miss USA Pageant, the topic? Equal pay for women in the workplace. Things
got a little rocky for Miss Utah.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American
families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to
earn less than men. What does this say about society?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we can relate this back to education and how
we are continuing to try to strive to figure out how to create jobs right
That is the biggest problem. We need to try to figure out how to create
education better, so that we can solve this problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Hmm. Anyway, something of a brain freeze, I guess.
Anyway, it`s not like this kind of thing is new. Last year, several of the
contenders couldn`t quite recall the name of our beloved vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. What`s his name? This is so bad. I
just read an article in "The New York Times."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The current vice president of the United States is
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know anything about politics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know. I`m serious, blanking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: World peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: About 50/50 there.
Anyway -- anyway, despite her fumble over the equal pay question, by the
way, Miss Utah did make it to third runner-up.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson also got caught answering a question about
workplace discrimination recently. The results were different, but not
necessarily better. At the Faith and Freedom`s Coalition conference last
week -- we told you about that -- a reporter from ThinkProgress asked
Johnson, Senator Johnson, about his position on the Employment Non-
Discrimination Act, which would prevent employers from firing someone just
because they`re gay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: The Senate this summer is going to be taking up the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal to fire someone for being
gay. Do you know if you will be supporting that?
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: All I can tell you, in my own business, I
was -- I had a policy of total nondiscrimination. And we had gay and
lesbian individuals working for us. And...
QUESTION: Do you think it should be a law, though?
JOHNSON: Again, I don`t particularly like the federal government telling
anybody to do anything.
QUESTION: What about for women or minorities?
JOHNSON: We have got to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, with that logic of his, wouldn`t Senator Johnson be
against the Civil Rights Act, because it told you, you couldn`t
Anyway, next, the Super Bowl focus -- tiff between the United States and
Russia comes full circle. I heard this story from Robert Kraft, by the
way, the owner of the New England Patriots. And it just came out in the
newspaper again. He talked about the time he let Russian President
Vladimir Putin try on his Super Bowl ring from 19 -- from 2005.
"I took out the ring, and I showed it to Putin, and he had put it on. And
he goes, `I can kill someone with this ring.` I put my hand out and he put
the ring in his pocket. And three KGB guys got around him and they walked
And Kraft later said that even though he wanted the ring back, the Bush
administration asked him to let it stand as a gift and avoid controversy.
I heard Mr. Kraft share that story myself at the Suffolk University
commencement address several weeks ago. What a story. I`m sure Putin is
Up next: The deep division amongst Republicans over immigration reform,
it`s either going to kill the party, some say, or save the party, some say,
depending on which Republican you`re listening to.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Sue Herera with your CNBC "Market
The Dow surged 109 points, the S&P up about 12, and the Nasdaq jumped 28.
Homebuilder sentiment, it soared in June to a seven-year high, a signal
that builders are viewing the housing market pretty favorably.
A planned stock split for Google is expected on the horizon after the
Internet giant settled a lawsuit with shareholders this weekend. And
Netflix shares jumped after the company struck a new deal for original
content with DreamWorks animation.
And that`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- and now back to
HARDBALL and Chris.
MATTHEWS: This is a great topic.
Lose now or lose later, that`s the choice Republicans say they`re facing on
the issue of immigration reform. Think about it. On the one hand, there`s
a demographic reality out there threatening the future of the party, you
could say. Minorities populations, including Hispanics, are skewing
heavily in favor of Democrats. Immigrant populations are booming, of
course. So is their share of the population.
That`s why conservatives like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are urging
the party to do something to curry favor to that voting bloc, to be
political about it. Do nothing, they say, and you can basically kiss the
White House goodbye in 2016 and well beyond.
But doing something means a more immediate backlash from the conservative
base, of course, those supporting that bill. One that can actually make it
to the president`s desk would likely result in a voter backlash from
conservative Republicans out there.
So, lose now in 2014 or lose later in 2016, that`s a narrow look at it.
Which is it going to be?
John Brabender is a Republican strategist and MSNBC political analyst, and
Howard Fineman, editorial director for the Huffington Media Group and of
course an analyst for MSNBC.
I find this fascinating, but I`m going to play a little bit skeptical here.
I know that the Republicans face a problem with minorities and Hispanics
going back to the votes they have cast and also class politics.
Minorities, immigrants tend to not be very wealthy. Republicans are
portrayed, fairly or not -- I think fairly -- as the party of the better-
off on all kinds of issues, and on civil rights not as good as they used to
So, there`s reasons why people who are new to the country or here illegally
would have a certain attitude about the Republican Party. But it seems to
me if you get more Democrats, because you are going to get more Hispanic
voters, you saw what happened in California. They became Democrats. So,
how do the Republicans win this thing either ways? Is it a catch-22, to be
blunt? Not -- we`re talking about not the moral issue, but the blunt
JOHN BRABENDER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and that`s the problem.
There`s a policy issue and there`s a political issue. And the political
issue is not as simplistic as people think that it is. I mean, if you look
at this, most Hispanics, less than 50 percent of Hispanics, say if the
Republicans do something, I will consider voting for them.
BRABENDER: Less than 50 percent.
But the second thing to understand too is, among the Hispanic group, most
people will say economics at least an equal amount to immigration reform is
why they would vote for a candidate. And what we think in this
oversimplistic Washington world is, if we just do some immigration reform,
all of a sudden, we`re going to get this -- the support from the Hispanics.
And it`s not going to happen that way. And the base very well may be
MATTHEWS: Howard, let`s look at this politically.
In 2014, this is where I see there`s a conundrum coming up this year, all
those Anglo districts. The world is a stupid word, but if you`re not
Hispanic in this way we talk, then you`re Anglo. Obviously, not everybody
But if you`re in an Anglo district which is 80 percent Anglo and you`re
Republican, why would you vote for immigration reform, I mean, to be blunt
about it? In political terms, what`s the plus?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let`s look at
FINEMAN: ... who is the human fault line of the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: Senators now who have a big stake, with a lot of --
FINEMAN: OK. A senator, he`s a Republican senator up for re-election next
year. He takes the big view that he wants the Republican Party to grow.
He wants the Republican Party to reach out to Hispanics. That`s why he
became a member of the gang of eight with Marco Rubio to work on this
But the other problem that Lindsey Graham has is he`s very likely to face a
Tea Party challenger next year in the Republican primary in that very
conservative state of South Carolina. So he was looking at the gang of
eight as a kind of protection program for himself. Get the thing off the
table, get it done, ride Marco Rubio`s coattails to some kind of
The problem is the first thing Marco Rubio said once he put out his bill,
you know what, it`s not strong enough on the border. I got to make it
stronger on the border and Lindsey Graham is going don`t say that. You
were my protection. Now what?
So, Lindsey Graham has got to come out for tougher border enforcement. The
Republicans have a very tough time squaring the internal politics of the
Tea Party in 2014 and their national political landscape in 2016. And
Lindsey Graham is the perfect example of it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s the people talk on this. Let`s hear Graham, here`s
Senator Graham, one of the architects of the gang of eight, the real effort
to try to get immigration reform. He delivered a dire reform to
Republicans looking to block the problem. Let`s listen, this is really
serious politics here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If we don`t pass immigration
reform, if we don`t get it off the table in a reasonable practical way, it
doesn`t matter who you run in 2016. We`re in a demographic death spiral as
a party and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic
community in my view is pass comprehensive immigration reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: By the way, I think he`s speaking not exactly but that`s a lot
what the John McCain thinks about.
The problem is 2016 looks pretty far away, however, if you`re facing re-
election in 2014, as Howard just said. For House Republicans, doing
nothing is perhaps the better option. That`s the thinking of some
"The Washington Examiner" reports that, quote, "One GOP strategist noted,
House Republicans are likely to suffer a greater voter backlash in 2014 if
they back the wrong immigration reform bill than they would if they simply
did nothing on the issue." It seems to me that you`ve got examples here.
What happened in California when you got in 1986 bill that was passed
legalizing 300,000 people who all became Democrats apparently?
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, the real problem is not just
that it`s reform. It`s comprehensive reform. There`s a big difference.
A lot of people think politically next year, the Democrats are in big
trouble because they did comprehensive health care. Democratic strategists
would tell you, the very nervous come October, people aren`t going to like
what they got. Same thing with immigration, if they would have just picked
the sweet spots that everybody agrees with and the Republicans made a clear
case that that`s where --
MATTHEWS: But Democrats and the liberals and the Hispanic groups will not
support a bill that doesn`t have a path to citizenship, which is the
hardest pill for your party to swallow. They will not support it, your
party, but not the Democrats.
BRABENDER: That`s the problem. That`s the hang-up. So we`re either going
to lose everything and get nothing because of that or you`re going to see
MATTHEWS: OK. Listen to this guy, here`s Steve Stockman, a conservative
Republican from Texas. He warned that the immigration bill passes, if it
does, I like the way people talk, you can kiss my state of Texas good-bye
for Republicans as well as Arizona and Florida. It will be just like what
happened in California as I said after the `86 amnesty bill.
We should note the `86 amnesty bill signed into law granted legal status to
some 3 million immigrants, many of whom were in California. Some 700,000
illegal immigrants became citizens through the provision for agriculture
workers alone. That`s according to the center for immigration studies.
And California, by the way, last voted Republican back in `88.
FINEMAN: I know, but this is a nation of immigrants. It`s a cliche but
it`s true. And the Republican response -- correct me if I`m wrong, John --
can`t be, you know what? Those people are never going to vote for us.
Let`s build a wall a mile high.
You can`t do that. You have to have policies and he`s right about
economics being one. Health care was another. The Democrats in 2012 used
Obamacare, which was not popular elsewhere, used it in the Hispanic
community. That was their big outreach.
So, the Republicans can`t stand in the door and say no. They`ve got to
figure out a way to get those people.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to my old (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: Whatever bill we pass ought to stop the people racing across the
border. It ought to be legalized. It ought to be on paper, like any other
country including Mexico does it this way, you know, working papers. If
you don`t have working papers, you don`t work in the country. Nobody wants
to hear that, because the unions what they want, the Latinos what they
want. The Democrats want the votes, Republicans want cheap the labor.
And nobody wants a really good law we`re proud to enforce. That`s what I
want. Something we`re proud of as a country.
We`re letting people in here as liberal as any country in the world but
we`re going to keep it on the brooks.
Do you hear that, John Brabender?
BRABENDER: Well, I don`t think we`re going to get there like you there
(ph), but I think Howard said something very, very important. The
Republicans are going to be in a death spiral until whether you`re
Hispanic, white American, whoever, that we are fighting for hard working,
middle class blue collar Americans who feel we understand their lives and
are going to fight for them instead of always being taxpayers for the rich
or corporations. It`s all one big muddle in the middle.
MATTHEWS: That sounds like Rick Santorum`s campaign for 2016. I just
BRABENDER: And we were so happy when you sent the donation in this
MATTHEWS: Thank you. I do like Rick Santorum personally. I like that
case you`re making, by the way. I do like it. It sounds like Hillary
Anyway, thank you, John Brabender, still working for the team.
And Howard Fineman.
Up next, can the case be made by the way after all this government
surveillance -- this weekend they began to make the case this has saved us
from maybe a dozen serious attacks. I think the people are still listening
to this evidence. They want to see a balanced program, I think. I don`t
think we`re black and white on this baby.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re coming back in a moment to talk about the actual good
case, if there is one, for government surveillance. We want to hear that
side of it.
HARDBALL, back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back to a hot story.
NSA leaker Ed Snowden is back in the headlines today. The 29-year-old
self-described whistle-blower answered questions in a live online chat on
"The Guardian" newspaper`s Web site. Snowden insisted the government has
much more access to personal information than it claims, saying, quote,
"The reality is this. They can enter and get results for anything they
He defended his decision to leak, writing, quote, "I did not reveal any
U.S. operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where
the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals,
and private businesses because it is dangerous."
Snowden also pointed the finger at President Obama personally, writing,
quote, "Obama`s campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would
lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. He
closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and
expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political
capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in
Guantanamo where men still sit without charge."
In the wake of Snowden`s leaks, intelligence officials have disclosed
additional information about the programs, including what are its benefits.
Last week, NSA officials say these programs have helped thwart dozens of
attacks in 20 countries.
So, is Snowden unwittingly making the case for big surveillance or not?
Michael Isikoff is NBC`s national investigative correspondent. Eugene
Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post",
and, of course, an MSNBC political analyst.
Michael, I`ve known you forever. You`re a great, fabulous, investigative
reporter. Maybe this isn`t your area to ask you about. But the country is
in a quandary here. We know we`ve been attacked. We know we will be
attacked as long as we live.
We know the only power comes in knowledge. We need that knowledge, and yet
we value very much our cowboy American independence and privacy.
What are -- are we getting to the information from both sides of this
argument that is going to help us make that decision where to draw the
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well,
first of all, we have clearly learned in the last couple of weeks a lot
more about these super secret programs.
ISIKOFF: How they operate, the legal authorities, because of the leaks of
Snowden. And I think there is going to be an extensive debate about how
productive that`s been. The intelligence community has declassified a lot
and spoken much more openly about these programs, trying to make the case
that they have been helpful in thwarting terrorist plots.
MATTHEWS: Were you surprised as an expert that we are --
MATTHEWS: What were you surprised by? Were you surprised by the PRISM?
ISIKOFF: The fact that they were using this Patriot Act provision 215 to
collect records of every phone call in the country that everybody had made
is not something we had ever known, not something that was ever
contemplated or discussed when they passed the Patriot Act. And in fact,
the public statements --
MATTHEWS: So you thought the Pfizer courts would never give that broad of
ISIKOFF: They have given that broad authority.
MATTHEWS: You were surprised?
ISIKOFF: I was surprised that they had done so, and I was surprised that
the government had never publicly acknowledged this was happening. It`s
hard to know how merely letting the public know that this program was
operational, that we were collecting these numbers was going to tell the
bad guys anything --
MATTHEWS: Anybody in the journalism world knows about everything. You
just do. As an editor and columnist, were you surprised at the breadth of
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I was stunned. I had no idea it
was that broad. And as Mike said, the idea that a provision in the Patriot
Act that was never designed for this, for anything this broad was secretly
interpreted by a secret court after a secret request from the government to
broaden it, to cover everybody`s phone calls, the records of every phone
call is I think stunning.
MATTHEWS: Were you surprised --
ROBINSON: Now we can have a debate about the effectiveness and the
usefulness of collecting this kind of data. But you can`t have that debate
if you don`t know about it.
MATTHEWS: Grownup people may cost benefit analysis every day of their
lives. Can we afford this dinner? Can we afford this trip? Can we afford
this vacation? You make these decisions. It`s like. When you look at the
defense the last several days, do you think it`s developed enough to
ISIKOFF: I think I and a lot of other people want to know more. And I
think there`s been pressure on them to know more.
Look, they have given a couple of examples like the foiling of the Zazi
plot in New York where they said these programs were key to thwarting it.
You know, then you get pushback from others, including citing court
documents shows actually British intelligence --
MATTHEWS: What about Snowden`s argument good police work could have gotten
these cases broken?
ISIKOFF: Yes, I think there is some reason to think that might be the
case. Until you get full sunlight on this, you can`t make --
MATTHEWS: Political question. How do the American people make their
Congress people, Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, get their
hands on this? So even though the average American isn`t voting on it,
somebody they trust is? Because apparently, they haven`t been voting.
I don`t think this is a voting issue for most people. I mean, from the --
ISIKOFF: That`s fair to say. Well, it will be at some point.
And just from my sense at it. Now, at some point it might be. As we -- as
it sinks in how much data --
MATTHEWS: I think very young people are likely into this one. I got to
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, Michael, I`m just getting the sign.
Michael Isikoff, Eugene Robinson, this is going to continue this
conversation. And it`s great American conversation. They don`t have this
argument in Russia.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight where I began.
If we`re going to get involved in another war, this time in Syria, how
about have Congress vote on it? What do you think?
Isn`t it reasonable if people are going to die because of this country that
the people of this country have a say in it? I`m not asking for an
election, just for the elected members of Congress to be forced to put
their names to it. There ought to be a vote in the Senate and the House on
the simple question whether the United States should send guns, ammo, and
whatever else to the rebels fighting to topple the government of Syria.
And another thing: should we be committing acts of war against a country,
in this case Syria, with whom we have diplomatic relations? Shouldn`t we
have to make a decision here? Shouldn`t the elected Congress be making it?
Or should we just let people in Washington do what they feel like doing?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>