September 17, 2013
Guest: Kathleen Parker, Donna Edwards
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Why?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this mass killing in Washington, where we`re
still looking for a motive and an explanation of how the shooter got this
kind of access.
Later in the show, we`ll get to the power of women in the Democratic Party.
Does the defeat of Larry Summers mean they have veto power?
Another pair of questions. Does the Russian role on Syria prove that Obama
is just downright lucky? And is the right wing extreme enough to sabotage
the American economy?
But let`s get to Pete Williams first. We`ve got 12 people murdered. Do we
know the motive? Pete, thanks for joining us.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the motive, I think, is going to
be -- take several more days to try to figure out, Chris. We are learning
more about precisely what was going through, apparently, the mind of Aaron
Alexis, and it is clear why officials were saying in the last 12 hours or
so that his condition was rapidly deteriorating.
We know that just last month, he called the police in Newport, Rhode
Island, where he was working as a contractor up there. He told them that
he had checked into a hotel after being in two other hotels and moving
around because, he said, he kept hearing voices coming out of the walls or
the ceilings or the closet in these rooms, and he was trying to get away
from the voices.
He thought that they were people that were following him. He worried that
the voices were people that would cause him harm. He said somebody was
using what he called a microwave machine against him to send vibrations
that were disturbing his sleep. Shortly after that, he sought treatment
for psychiatric problems at a VA hospital.
Now, that was just last month. Then he comes down to Washington, D.C.,
some time in late August, starts working at this naval facility, and then
drives in yesterday with -- carrying a shotgun in a bag, we`re told.
That`s how he got it past security. He had a valid pass as a contractor to
get into the Navy Yard and into the building.
We`re told that he went up to the fourth floor, went inside the men`s room
on the fourth floor, pulled the shotgun out of the bag, came out and
MATTHEWS: Did we know anything about how he did get through clearance? I
mean, it would seem to me when you get a job with the Navy, even if it`s
what you call a wage (ph) board (ph) job, that you would have to go through
some kind of character references, people saying he`s OK, somebody, a
previous employer, somebody saying, This guy`s a good guy, he`s reliable,
he shows up for work, he`ll do the job. Who did that?
WILLIAMS: Right. Right. Well, by the way, the people that we understand
law enforcement have talked to have said they never had any complaints
about his work, that he seemed to be doing well on the job, although
friends of his in Texas say that he would sometimes complain that the
government wasn`t paying him enough, that he wasn`t getting the respect
that he thought he should deserve, that he was a victim of racism.
But in terms of the clearances, according to Jim Miklaszewski at the
Pentagon, who`s been looking into this all day, he got his clearance, his
secret clearance from the Navy in 2008. Now, that sounds like a big deal,
and it is, unless you consider that about five million people have a secret
clearance. So it`s a low-level secret clearance. It`s good for 10 years.
Now, he had had one run-in with the police in 2008 when he got the
clearance. Four years earlier, he had had a run-in with the police in
Seattle after he shot the tires out of a car. But he was never convicted.
And he had two other run-ins with police in Georgia and Texas. None of
those ever ended in convictions.
So either the military at the time he got his clearance in 2008 either
wasn`t concerned or wasn`t aware of that encounter in Seattle, and then the
additional run-ins don`t jeopardize the clearance. And the VA tells us
that it would have been illegal for them to report that he sought
So he kept his clearances. And then when he came to work for the private
contractor, they verified a couple of times that he had the clearance, but
it was -- they were accurately told that he did.
Now, a couple of members of Congress are now saying, We need to look at
this, he should have never have gotten those clearances.
WILLIAMS: The secretary of the Navy today is ordering an investigation
about how security clearances are granted and reviewed. So it certainly
has become sort of a main point about this case, about how he was able to
get that pass that allowed him onto the Naval Yard and into that building.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s so amazing that he had all these problems, psychiatric
problems, you know, imagining people -- paranoid behavior, I guess you`d
call it, where you think that people are getting into your head
electronically. And yet he -- none of that information ever got to his
So anyway --
MATTHEWS: Thank you for -- Pete, thanks for joining us tonight --
WILLIAMS: You bet.
MATTHEWS: -- Pete Williams of NBC News.
Joining me right now is MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan and Brian Levin,
a professor of criminal justice at California State University in San
Ron, thank you for coming on. By the way, at a press conference today, Dr.
Janis Orlowski, who was so human the other day, the chief operating (sic)
officer of Medstar Washington Hospital Center, the place that some of the
victims were taken, had some moving words about the type of violence we saw
here. Let`s watch. This is something remember.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JANIS ORLOWSKI, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, MEDSTAR WASHINGTON HOSPITAL:
There`s something evil in our society that we, as Americans, have to work
on to try and eradicate. There`s something wrong here. When we have these
multiple shootings, these multiple injuries, there`s something wrong. And
the only thing that I can say is we have to work together to get rid of it.
I`d like you to put my trauma center out of business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Dr. Orlowski was asked about that statement on the "TODAY"
program. Let`s watch. This is "TODAY" on -- today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ORLOWSKI: I just spoke from the heart. I am sick of this. And I must
have touched a chord in America because I`ve had a number of people who`ve
called, who`ve e-mailed, who`ve, you know, Twittered. And they`re sick,
like I am, of this senseless violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ron, this country -- you know, I don`t know whether we talk
about gun control automatically, like we all go to our usual battle
stations, either pro Second Amendment or questioning the need for -- or
urging the need for gun safety laws. And yet we know there`s something
else out there. I mean, I was just looking at the stats today. Almost --
over 30 percent of the people who are killed in this country are not killed
with firearms. There`s a rage.
RON REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right.
There is. The "it" that she referred to is the question here. What is
this "it"? Why are we such a violent nation, 11,000 murders a year? You
contrast that with, say, Great Britain, where in 2000, they had 39 gun
murders. We had 11,000 gun murders. Granted, we`re six times bigger, so
if they were our size, they`d have 240 gun murders. But 240 versus 11,000.
And we -- you`re right, we always look to guns, the AR-15, this gun, that
gun, or violent movies and violent video games. But those are symptoms.
The cause, the "it" that she referred to, the underlying one, is the thing
we really need to address here.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think?
REAGAN: I don`t know. I don`t have the answer to what that "it" is, but
we are a violent society, an extremely violent society, right from the top
to the bottom. From our foreign policy to our lowest, basest
entertainment, we seem to be thrilled by violence and death. And it`s
destructive, to say the least, and it`s infected our entire society.
MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me go to Brian Levin on this, who`s studied this.
Brian, what is it? Because I think there`s a plus side to our cowboy
mentality. I love our independence. I love -- I love getting on the open
road with my car. I love a lot of the freedoms of this country. We enjoy
them as our birthright.
What is this dark side of freedom, this dark side of -- that makes us want
to kill people? So many people want to kill so many people. In fact, they
want to kill a lot of people at once, fast.
BRIAN LEVIN, CTR. FOR STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM: Yes. And I think
you`ve hit on it. And look --
MATTHEWS: What is it?
LEVIN: Well, I think it`s accessibility -- not the ubiquity but the
accessibility of firearms to troubled people who either have cognitive
issues or who are angry and shouldn`t have these.
We also have a problem with people who are detached from community and the
institutions that we used to be close to, schools and churches and things
like that. I also think we have to treat mental illness better. And also
the media -- the media glorifies outrageous behavior, and we make folk
heroes out of people like the spree killer we had here in southern
California earlier in the year!
MATTHEWS: What are we going to have -- what are we going to have, daily
inspections of people to see if they`re psychologically all right? People
are allowed to be loners in this country. You can go live in a shack, if
you want. You can live completely alone, if you want. You can live on a
cash economy. You don`t have to have a checkbook or a credit card. You
don`t have to have a cell phone. You can live in this country pretty
freely, if you want to, by yourself.
Are we going to check up on every loner on and see if they ought to be
seeing someone or because they might start shooting at everybody?
This guy was showing up for work. We just learned that. He was making it
at the workplace, doing his job 40 hours a week. And yet on the weekends
or whatever, he was going up to hotels, thinking that people were chasing
him. And that was leading up to this breakdown that led to the horror of
the other day.
How do we stop that?
LEVIN: Well, I think Mr. Smerconish, who was on your network earlier, made
a good point. Look, we have information out there. You have to register
to get a driver`s license and drive a car. So if you`re going to get a
security clearance and you`re going to get a firearm, at least there should
be some reasonable regulations, and of the kind that President Reagan
pushed back when he was president could not get passed today.
So magazine size is important, and semi-automatic handguns. We tend to
concentrate on AR-15s and that kind of thing. Even among the mass
killings, semi-automatic handguns are the most common. So I think
reasonable regulation and addressing mental illness, some waiting periods,
could do a lot.
But let`s remember that even as murders and violent crime has declined
precipitously over the last 20 years -- almost half -- mass murders have
not. And I think that tells us there`s something very wrong here.
MATTHEWS: Well, the sick thing here -- well, I don`t want to use the word
"sick" because I don`t even know what it means sometimes, Ron.
But the coincidence of these guns that are available, where you can shoot,
Click, click, click, click, click, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, and
you can shoot a lot of people really fast, as we saw in Newtown, and at the
same time, this impulse of rage, which is almost synchronized with the
machinery of the gun. Let`s get the rage over with fast. Let`s do a lot
of shooting and spraying in this urge that seems to go with the -- with the
firepower. That`s what`s frightening about it.
REAGAN: One of the --
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) shoot a lot of people really fast, people they don`t
REAGAN: One of the -- one of the smartest things we could do is impose
some sort of waiting period for purchasing a gun so that you can`t just go
out, background check or no, and just buy a gun right away. You should
have to wait a couple of weeks before you take delivery of that gun, you
know? What`s wrong with that?
We`re not saying you can`t have a gun, but wait a couple of weeks. That
would be --
MATTHEWS: And what --
REAGAN: -- a cooling-off period for the angry rage-filled person that
maybe they wouldn`t be --
MATTHEWS: OK --
REAGAN: -- so rage-filled by the time they took possession --
MATTHEWS: OK --
REAGAN: -- of their weapon.
MATTHEWS: Ron, you`re so close to this --
REAGAN: And limit the magazine size!
MATTHEWS: Let me go to you, Brian. Back in 1968, when Bobby Kennedy was
shot and killed by a handgun, I did something as a young guy. I wrote a
letter to my congressman. Nothing happened. Not just because I wrote one,
but I imagine hundreds of thousands other people wrote letters. Something
stops us from real gun safety measures in this culture. It`s not new, it`s
old. It`s cowboy -- the down side of being a cowboy, whatever -- what is
it? You tell me. You`ve got a minute here.
LEVIN: I would --
MATTHEWS: What causes us to avoid real gun safety measures, which, as Ron
said, are common sense in any other culture?
LEVIN: Because we have lobbying groups like the NRA which even go against
their own membership with respect to magazine size and waiting periods!
These are reasonable regulations, and what these lobbying groups do is say,
No, Obama`s getting your guns. Forget it. That`s it. They`re reasonable
And even Scalia, who wrote the Supreme Court decision in the Heller case,
said the right to bear arms, while individual, does not mean you have the
right to any type of firearm at any time.
Magazine size reductions and waiting periods are reasonable regulations
that Congress should take the word of the American people on. And they
won`t because it`s done on a district-by-district basis, where the NRA
pumps a lot of money in!
MATTHEWS: OK. You can argue that. Let me tell you what I`d say
(INAUDIBLE) argue, something like that. People say like they teachers,
they don`t like teachers unions, but the unions are representing the
teachers. They say, oh, AIPAC is too hard-line, and yet the people who
support Israel support AIPAC. And I think the people who buy guns who care
about the 2nd Amendment support the NRA.
So you can say what you want about the leaders, but it tends to -- they`re
leaders for a reason, because people follow them. These groups are
professional, Brian. They know what they`re doing. The hearts and minds
of the gun owners are with these guys, like Wayne LaPierre. You don`t have
to like the guy.
LEVIN: They`re playing on the fear and distrust that we have in the
government. So the government isn`t us, it`s an alien being.
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
LEVIN: And the fact of the matter is, the American public is in favor of
reasonable regulations --
MATTHEWS: OK --
LEVIN: -- of the kind that President Reagan wanted!
MATTHEWS: OK. Last look (ph), quickly, Ron.
REAGAN: That`s right. They`re playing on male insecurity, too. A lot of
insecure males out there feel that their manhood depends upon them having a
bigger and bigger weapon. And let`s be careful when we talk about cowboys.
You know why the shootout at the OK corral happened? Because the cowboys
came into town and refused, as the regulations required, to turn their guns
in to the sheriff while they were in town. That was a common law back in
the 19th century in the Wild West.
MATTHEWS: Was that --
REAGAN: They didn`t do it --
MATTHEWS: Was that Burt Lancaster or --
LEVIN: -- Wyatt Earp went and shot them.
MATTHEWS: Was that Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas or Ronald Reagan? Which
one of those guys?
REAGAN: I think it was Burt Lancaster.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think it was Burt Lancaster. Thank you very much, Ron
Reagan, himself. And thank you, Brian Levin, for joining us with the very
sad, tragic situation we still have in this country and will have for a
Coming up: Back to politics, luckily. Larry Summers`s withdrawal from
consideration to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve tells me one
big thing. It`s only part of the story, but it`s a big part. Politically
active women in this country -- politically active women -- may now have
veto power in the Democratic Party. Maybe.
Plus, the luck of Obama -- put an apostrophe into O`Bama. That deal
between the United States and Russia to safeguard Syria`s chemical weapons
means President Obama avoids a war he didn`t want to fight, and it saved
him from a devastating political defeat in the Congress. Think about luck.
And how should the president deal with the coming war with the Republicans,
the ones on the right who want to send this country and the global economy
into a tailspin by defaulting on the American debt. Amazing stuff going
on, coming up in the next couple weeks.
Finally, a clever new campaign ad in which an openly gay Massachusetts
lawmaker, a state rep, comes out to his father. Politically.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL SCIORTINO (D), MASS. STATE REP., CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: I`m Carl
Sciortino. And I`ll never forget that conversation with my dad --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s me.
SCIORTINO: -- where I had to come out and tell him --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait for this.
SCIORTINO: -- that I was a Massachusetts liberal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he`s proud of it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Much more on that in the "Sideshow" tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: The Washington Nationals took the field today just blocks form
the site of the shooting yesterday at the Navy Yard. The Nats played the
Atlanta Braves in a makeup game originally scheduled for last night.
Before the first pitch, both teams observed a moment of silence in honor of
the 12 victims of the shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The perception that Mr.
Summers might have an inside track simply had to do with a bunch of attacks
that I was hearing on Mr. Summers preemptively, which is sort of a standard
Washington exercise, that I don`t like.
I tend to defend folks who I think have done a good job and don`t deserve
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There`s no such thing as a shoo-in in
Washington, but Larry Summers came about as close as they get. Over the
summer, it was widely reported that Summers was clearly President Obama`s
top choice to run the Federal Reserve, a post which Obama called one of the
most important policy makers in the world.
As you saw in that clip, however, the president`s been a vocal defender of
Summers. Overseas newspapers were even reporting that Summers would be
named to the Fed as early as today.
But a growing opposition of liberal Democrats, led first by women, had
other ideas. A majority of female Democrats in the House came out against
Summers, favoring Janet Yellen, who holds the number two spot at the
Federal Reserve. Influential senators like Elizabeth Warren, a prominent
Democrat on the Banking Committee, also moved to block a looming Summers
And grassroots groups launched an all-out lobbying war against Summers,
calling him a sexist for incendiary comments he made back in 2005, when he
said that biological differences helped explained why women were
underrepresented in certain fields. Here are his exact words. "In the
special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic
The collateral damage of those words may have been too great to overcome.
Yesterday, President Obama announced that Summers had withdrawn his name
Kathleen Parker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning political columnist, and Ed
Rendell of course is an MSNBC political analyst and former governor of
I`m going to let ladies first here, because that`s what the topic is. And
I don`t think it`s the only reason. There`s a lot of question marks, a lot
of them about deregulation, about his involvement or guilt for what
happened with the financial shutdown back five years ago and everything
else. But what we heard in the beginning after coming out of Harvard, he
was president of Harvard one day. Next day he is not president of Harvard
because of those words.
KATHLEEN PARKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That`s right. And I at the time
defended him, and I still think he was treated unfairly.
I`m a believer in allowing people to say things that they may later
retract. Have we ever said anything we regretted, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Lots of times.
So, yes, I think it was -- maybe he misstated. He later said he did.
MATTHEWS: Did he misstate?
PARKER: Well, there are lots of ways -- look, there are lots of ways to
say men and women have different interests. They have different
inclinations. There`s no question.
PARKER: Well, intrinsic aptitude was a poor choice of words. He`s now the
Paula Deen of feminist politics, women`s politics. He will never be able
to -- I don`t think they will ever forgive him and it will always be held
against him. And he`s recognized that I think and just decided to throw in
MATTHEWS: So, you think he got a bad rap?
PARKER: I think it was unfair. It was 2005.
Here we are all these years later. I`m a big advocate of hiring the best
person for the job. Now, Yellen may be for other reasons the right choice,
but I think it was wrong to disqualify him on that basis alone. It`s sort
of -- it`s a form of fascism that I disapprove of.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about politics. Ed Rendell is a Democrat and
he knows the base of the Democratic Party. It has a large support group
But if you look at the numbers the group that really dominates the
Democratic Party are women. Let`s look at the number here, Governor,
because I think this is a fair explanation. Constituency politics is fair
politics. Look at this here. In 2012, Obama among men only got 45
percent. The other guy would have been president -- rather -- 45 percent,
he only got. The other guy got 52 percent. I don`t know who these other
people were voting for, but somebody was voting for other people.
The fact of the matter is that if -- Mitt Romney would be president right
now if just men got to vote, if we didn`t have a 19th Amendment.
MATTHEWS: OK. Now, women, of course, voted for the president with a 10-
First of all, Governor, explain why women vote Democrat more than
Republican. And why is that -- if you think so -- a legitimate reason for
him to be concerned about organized political opinion by women`s groups
which was certainly out there on the Larry Summers front?
ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, no question. First of all, the
president got six -- more than six out of 10 of his votes were cast by
women. Women tend to vote Democrat, one, because Democratic policies on
family issues like child care, like education tend to be more family
friendly generally, and obviously there are exceptions.
Secondly, the Republican Party has made or members of the Republican Party
have made some terrible mistakes in state legislatures throughout the
country. Individual Republican candidates for Senate and for the House
have made statements which make it at least clear to some women that the
Republican Party doesn`t have the better interest of women at heart.
Now, that may not be the agenda of the party as a whole, but if you look at
state legislature after state legislature, what`s gone on in this so-called
war against women, it is not farfetched for a woman to conclude that the
Republican Party or elements of it are not hospitable to their interests.
MATTHEWS: Suppose Governor Corbett, who is being challenged by Allyson
Schwartz, were to say I don`t think she can do the job, the congresswoman
from Montgomery County, because she`s not as good at math and you know
budgeting is a big part of the job here of governor.
Do you think that guy would get elected, would have a chance of getting
reelected? You smile, but these things are almost mortal sins in politics
to assume a difference in I.Q. between the genders. You say we all make
mistakes. Is that a mistake?
PARKER: I don`t think Summers was saying there`s a difference in I.Q.
MATTHEWS: Intrinsic aptitude.
PARKER: If you talk to any woman who has worked with him, including Sheryl
Sandberg, the executive at Facebook who wrote "Lean In," she sings his
praises and said he`s worked diligently for women`s causes, for women and
girl`s education, et cetera, et cetera.
I think you have to also -- you have to balance the words out with the
deeds. I`m just saying. No, you can`t say things like that and get away
with it, clearly.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s right. Look what happened -- with -- Democrats
like Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, are looking to
reshape big issues. This is the other side of the politics, like the
The women`s issues, the economy has become a woman`s issue, like especially
a woman`s issue. Pelosi at an event this summer unveiling her economic
agenda for women and families. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We the members of
Congress of the House Democratic Caucus are so proud to announce an
economic agenda for women and families. When women succeed, America
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PELOSI: It is about unleashing the power of our nation`s women and in
doing so strengthening the middle class, the backbone of our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is the Democratic Party incapable of saying an economic issue is
good for both genders? Do they have to retail it to the women?
PARKER: Well, I couldn`t agree with her more.
MATTHEWS: What does it mean, though?
PARKER: What is good for women is good for the country.
MATTHEWS: Is this pandering? Is this pandering?
PARKER: Of course it`s pandering.
MATTHEWS: OK. You said it. I didn`t.
PARKER: Nancy Pelosi wants her House back.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And that`s how you get it back?
And the Democratic Party is hostage to these women because are you going to
say no to Nancy Pelosi? No. Didn`t she handle health care nicely? Yes.
This line about women -- excuse me. When women succeed, the country
succeeds, this is what we preach all around the world in developing
It`s a very smart argument. And it also happens to have --
MATTHEWS: Governor, it`s a funny question. I expect a funny answer here.
But you may take this serious because you are a pol.
Do you think if Larry Summers who has an I.Q. of about 170 or something had
said women are actually smarter in certain field than men, you go through
the humanities or the social sciences or something, they`re actually
smarter, do you think he would have gotten in any trouble with the men?
RENDELL: No, first of all, because it`s true, Larry. I mean, Chris, it`s
RENDELL: Women are much better at certain tasks than men.
MATTHEWS: I will tell you one thing they are better at, multitasking. I
can tell you that in two seconds. They are able to think of two things at
the same time.
RENDELL: They`re much more focused. They`re much more focused. They`re
much more dedicated to tasks. There`s no question.
If you give me as an administrator a man and a woman of equal intelligence,
I will almost always take the woman, because I think women are better at
carrying out tasks, getting things done, dedication to those tasks. That`s
not a -- that`s a statement of fact. Look, I think Kathleen is right. I
think Kathleen`s the smartest conservative in America. And I think she`s
right about what she says.
MATTHEWS: Talk about pandering.
RENDELL: Pandering, there you go.
RENDELL: But I think she`s right when she says that Larry Summers should
not be judged on that one statement. He should be judged on the totality
of what he did with women.
And I would be very interested in hearing Sheryl Sandberg say, hey, Larry
Summers has ultimate respect for women. He respected me. He respected
other women in the workplace. I think that`s important. I think we have
gotten too hung up on one statement taken out of context.
And, by the way, that`s an idiotic statement. For a smart guy, that`s
about as dumb a statement to use those two words. And you focus on those
words. He said aptitude. You know, Kathleen, he said aptitude. There`s
no getting around that. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
PARKER: Girls seem to have an intrinsic aptitude for communication and
reading and writing skills, where boys are suffering in schools. We would
not reject that proposition.
We want to explore and figure out if it`s true and then fix it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. By the way, women are better at consensus.
Anyway, thank you, Kathleen Parker.
MATTHEWS: That`s the deal I got I got here. My deal here is the limited
Governor Rendell, thank you,sir.
And, thank you, Kathleen.
Welcome to HARDBALL.
PARKER: Thank you. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: It`s so great to have you on.
MATTHEWS: Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.
PARKER: I`m so excited about this.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. We will talk about that a lot in the next few weeks.
PARKER: I hope so.
MATTHEWS: Up next, we have got that great new campaign out there where a
self-described Massachusetts liberal comes out to his Tea Party father.
That`s next in the "Sideshow." And this is HARDBALL, the place for
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the "Sideshow."
Democrat Carl Sciortino is running for the House of Representatives seat
recently vacated by Senator Ed Markey in Massachusetts. And the 35-year-
old candidate who is openly gay just released a clever I think new ad that
co-stars his father. Got to see this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL SCIORTINO JR. (D), MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I`m Carl
Sciortino. And I will never forget that conversation with my dad.
CARL SCIORTINO SR., FATHER OF CARL SCIORTINO JR.: That`s me.
CARL SCIORTINO JR.: Where I had to come out and tell him.
CARL SCIORTINO SR.: Wait for this.
CARL SCIORTINO JR.: That I was a Massachusetts liberal.
CARL SCIORTINO SR.: And he`s proud of it.
CARL SCIORTINO JR.: Dad`s in the Tea Party.
CARL SCIORTINO SR.: Damn right.
CARL SCIORTINO JR.: Here`s me one that drives him crazy.
CARL SCIORTINO SR.: He wants to go to the Congress and take on the NRA and
the Tea Party.
CARL SCIORTINO JR.: I won`t give up on an assault weapons ban, also the
right to choose, equal pay for women and equal rights for, well, everybody.
CARL SCIORTINO SR.: He`s been like this for 35 years.
CARL SCIORTINO JR.: It`s why I approved this message.
And I still love you, Dad.
CARL SCIORTINO SR.: Me too, son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
We have them both on HARDBALL Thursday, Carl Sciortino Jr. and Sr.
together. Be sure to catch us Thursday.
Finally, Vladimir Putin may have saved President Obama on Syria. But many
Americans are still distrustful of the Russian president, who is known for
his strong-arm tactics. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of
California recently recounted a time when he was strong-armed himself by
Putin in a drunken arm-wrestling match.
Here`s how he told the story.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: We all ended up going to this, the
Irish Times pub afterwards.
And we were having a little bit too much to drink, I guess. But, anyway,
we started arguing about who won the Cold War, et cetera, and so we decided
to settle it like men do when they have had too much to drink in the pub.
So we got down to these arm-wrestling matches. And I ended up being paired
off with Putin. And he`s a little guy, and -- but, boy, I will tell you,
he put me down in a millisecond.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Up next -- what a strange story.
Up next, that deal on Syria between the United States and Russia saved
President Obama from a devastating political defeat in the Congress. Is
this yet another case of the luck of Obama? By the way, put an apostrophe
in that Obama. I think he is lucky.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
President Obama is pushing for tougher background checks after the massacre
at the Washington Navy Yard. In an interview with Telemundo, the president
says there are gun safety laws that need to be passed to prevent those kind
More than 2,000 people have been airlifted out of flood-ravaged town in
Colorado. About 600 are still waiting to be evacuated. Eight people have
And electrical wiring damage by superstorm Sandy is blamed for the massive
fire that destroyed the boardwalk in New Jersey -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Is the commander in chief -- and this
was the whole debate a week ago -- he said, I`m going to strike militarily
without the U.N., without Congress.
Now, whether that`s a good policy or not, but, you know, this is
stabilization by accident and maybe another case of Obama good luck. We
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Obama good luck.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was "The Washington Post"`s Bob Woodward talking about the diplomatic
breakthrough with Russia regarding Syria`s chemical weapons. He was on
"Meet the Press" Sunday.
The accidental diplomacy appears to have rescued the president, the
American president, from a foreign policy embarrassment. Look at these
numbers. The latest "Washington Post"/ABC News poll released today shows
an overwhelming majority of Americans support the deal struck between the
U.S. and Russia to eliminate Syria`s chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, backing up that number, 61 percent of respondents say that
they`re opposed to military strikes by the United States on Syria. With an
all but certain defeat in Congress awaiting the president on a vote for
authorization to use force and massive numbers of senator and House members
reluctant to cast a vote on the topic, the deal may have saved the
president from a political defeat. But it`s also what the American people
Talk about perfect synchronicity.
Congresswoman Donna Edwards is a Maryland Democrat and Richard Wolffe is
the executive editor of MSNBC.com and the author of the great new book "The
Message: The Reselling of President Obama."
Richard, I want to give you the first shot at this.
I believe there is such a thing as luck I have seen in certain lives. I
know there`s such a thing as bad luck. I have been to Vegas. You can have
long streaks of bad luck. This president looks like he was really in a
corner in the campaign at certain points and certainly now with regard to
Syria, where nobody wanted to go to war on the left or right, it seemed,
except a few in the middle. And yet he got out of it.
And it looks like the public doesn`t even want to go back into a fighting
zone even if they don`t collect all the chemical weapons, according to the
new polling. Your thoughts.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
Yes. Napoleon said luck was the policy he most valued in his generals.
And this president created a lot of bad luck. He boxed himself in with
this whole congressional vote. He didn`t have to do that. And he got a
stroke of luck in pulling himself out there. And frankly so did John
But one thing that isn`t lucky is seizing the opportunity. And they did
seize the opportunity to help themselves out of this mess, a mess again
partly of their own creation. But they have stumbled themselves --
stumbled their way into a much better position.
What`s striking is, if you have a policy that is ending up in the right
place and you cannot communicate that, does that remind you of anything?
It`s like health care. You have got massive support for the individual
pieces of the policy, but, overall, people don`t get it. It`s like the
And this is a path we have seen time and again with this president. The
real question is why.
Well, let me ask you that. Congresswoman, you have run for office. You
know there`s such a thing -- maybe you don`t -- as luck. And this fella,
the president who I like, generally speaking certainly like, and I have to
tell you I didn`t know where he was going a few days ago. I saw him
walking into the jaws of defeat before the United States House and maybe
even the Senate.
And what do you know? The secretary of state drops a line about if they
give up all their weapons, Lavrov goes along with it, and we all of a
sudden have a deal with the Russians. We haven`t had a deal with the
Russians in decades, it seems.
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, you know, I don`t know about the
luck quotient. What I do know is that the frame work -- the idea for this
deal has been in the works for about two years, it`s just that Russia
never, ever, ever came to the table to say we`re going to move forward on
it. I think, you know, to the extent that the president may have, you
know, stumbled into it, definitely the groundwork was laid over two years.
I look, you know, for example, at the Organization for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons that enforces the chemical weapons ban. For more than two
years where the United States is a member of the executive council, they`ve
actually been pressing Syria to do exactly what it has done.
And so, I`m glad that the president frankly was able to take advantage of a
good opportunity. And I think frankly that it was the threat -- the
credible threat of force that the president put on the table that brought
us to the point that we are.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with that? I`m not sure I do, Richard. I didn`t
think there was a credible threat of force, because anyone reading the
American newspapers knew that the Congress was unlikely to give him that
power to use those weapons.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it was the credible threat of weaponry and attack
that got the Russians involved and got the Syrians at least play ball for a
couple days there?
WOLFFE: I don`t think there`s any question. This deal wouldn`t happen
without the credible threat of force. But it wasn`t the credible threat of
force that the president had in mind when he said at least before he was
going to go for the vote. There was going to be a missile strike. They
were going to take action.
And so, if you`re going to build this up as a credible threat of force,
you`d of done it differently. If you were going to rely on the Russians
having paved the way for two years, I`m sure those conversations were
happening. But you don`t cancel a summit for a Russian leader if you`re
going to work with him.
So, they have -- they have stumbled their way into a good position. But
you have to be honest. It didn`t have to be this painful.
It`s like the Pennsylvania primary all over again. It didn`t have to be
this dragged out and this painful.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look --
EDWARDS: Well, I think I agree it didn`t have to be this painful, that`s
for sure. But I`m glad we`ve gotten to where we are.
MATTHEWS: Me too.
When it comes to the use of force, though, the numbers of the new
"Washington Post" poll today were much closer, 47 percent say the threat of
force has brought Syrians to the table, 44 percent say the diplomatic
solution fails the United States, we should take military action, compared
to 48 who do not approve.
So, here we are, Congresswoman, still in a position with the American
people -- this sort of makes the case about luck -- that people don`t now,
even if the Syrians don`t play ball, even if they don`t collect weapons,
the Americans still don`t want to attack. So, it`s still unpopular cause.
EDWARDS: I think that`s true, but I think this is where it`s going to
require a lot of presidential leadership. I know I have been having town
hall meetings and conversations with my district about this issue. Who
would have thought?
But the fact is that`s what has to happen with the American people. We are
both wary and weary -- wary of the Russians and weary of war. But we`ll
see what happens over this next week and a really compressed time frame for
Syria to do its part and for the Russians to help them do it, whether or
not we have to put this back on the table again.
And I think what the president knows is that he wants to keep up our force
posture in the region to make certain that Syria and Russia both are at the
table really to play ball.
MATTHEWS: I still don`t think we should attack.
Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Donna Edwards.
And thank you, Richard.
WOLFFE: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Good luck with the new book.
Up next, what President Obama needs to do to deal with the right wing, bent
on destroying the country just to spite him, it seems.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Two weeks from now, a fond look back to when politics worked in
this country. The publication of my first person account of the great
liberal Tip O`Neill`s heroic battle with President Ronald Reagan. It was
my own coming of age when I experienced the fight between a progressive
speaker and a conservative president right there in the back rooms of the
U.S. Capitol. It`s where I learned most of what I know about how this
country is actually run.
"Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked" coming October 1st, from Simon &
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The right wing of the Republican Party is threatening to tank not just the
U.S. economy but the world economy in their endless quest to nullify
President Obama`s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. In the
coming weeks, we`re going to see how reckless these Republicans can get.
Today, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew described what a dangerous game they`re
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK LEW, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Some in Congress seem to think they can
keep us from failing to pay our nation`s bills by raising the debt ceiling
right before the moment our cash balance is depleted. Trying to time a
debt limit increase to the last-minute could be very dangerous.
Make no mistake: if Congress does not act and the U.S. can suddenly not pay
bills, the repercussions could be serious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Even "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page today says these
Republicans are on a suicide mission noting, "Their demand is that the
House pair the must pass or the debt limit with defunding the health care
bill. Kamikaze missions rarely turn out well, least of all for the
The problem is these Republican kamikaze pilots, so-called, have all of us
in the jump seat.
Chuck Todd is NBC News political director and chief White House
correspondent, and host of "THE DAILY RUNDOWN" here on MSNBC at 9:00 in the
morning Eastern Time. And "The Washington Post`s" Chris Cillizza is an
Chuck, I want to start with you.
You know, when you -- I was with Jack Lew`s speech this morning, the
treasury secretary, down at the Economic Club in Washington. And his
message repeated over and over again was this people on the right have got
to understand that defaulting on the national debt, on the debt of this
country is not an option. It`s just going to cause economic horror.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I know that`s his message
and the problem -- the message disconnect is for a lot of these
conservative Republicans, the ones that want to use the debt ceiling as
leverage, the ones that want to try to go after the health care law, using
both the budget resolution and the debt ceiling to do this, there is not a
penalty -- political penalty for them in their districts for doing this.
In fact, there is a political penalty if they don`t.
If they don`t seem, if they seem to be capitulating to the elites or to the
establishment or just assuming that, well, because Jack Lew says it`s so
it`s so. And that is --
MATTHEWS: What happens in the event of the default?
MATTHEWS: -- where are the cataclysms and markets dropping in Tokyo
because we can`t pay our debts anymore?
TODD: My point is, is that I think for some of those folks, it may take
the actual market to use -- to use the markets as a sledgehammer for
Boehner to finally find the votes in the house Republican conference. It
may take a shut down, a default, even for a couple of days, a couple of
weekends for the markets to react or overreact, if you will, like they did
during the TARP vote, for them to be able to change the equation.
Because right now, these guys don`t see any political penalty. In fact,
the political penalty they see is not standing their ground on these
MATTHEWS: Well, my question I guess to Chris, and I go back to you on this
as well, Chuck, in politics, you need a way out, you need a trap door, you
need to get a way. (INAUDIBLE) confront your enemy, but then say, OK,
here`s your way out.
Does Boehner have the way out here, Chris? It seems to me he`s got the
right on his right, the Obama people in the center-left and left, they`re
in all in totally different worlds -- living in totally different worlds.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, THE WASHINGTON POST: He has no obvious way out, Chris. I
think for a while, I think his one possible way out is he`d made his mind
up about whether he wants to serve as speaker or be in the House down the
road after this election. I don`t think he`s done that.
If he decided he wanted to -- look, I`m going to retire, I think it`s
important that we get our fiscal house in order, I`m going to work with the
president on it, we`re going to, you know, bring a bill up with Democratic
votes, yes, there is a path there. He`s not going to do that. I think he
has not made up his mind with what he wants to do with his political
And there isn`t an obvious good option. Look, we`ve seen this play before.
2000 -- summer of 2011, everyone said don`t come up close to the debt --
MATTHEWS: They didn`t stop the government from paying its debt --
CILLIZZA: And that`s what -- we don`t know yet, because, look, we have
seen the farm bill.
CILLIZZA: The fiscal cliff, there`s less impact clearly, but we have seen
Boehner sort of undermine and unable to deliver.
CILLIZZA: The question is, is there a deal that can be cut that says yes,
I can bring along X number of Republicans and deliver on it. Past evidence
suggests maybe not.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here he is, here`s the dispatch from the bizarre world of
the RNC chair Reince Priebus. He said President Obama wants the government
to go into default. Here he is he was with Hugh Hewitt, what a meeting of
the minds that was on a radio show. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HUGH HEWITT: I don`t think the country realizes we have a minute to the
break, that we`re on the brink of a shutdown orchestrated by the president.
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIR: Yes, I think you`re exactly right. I think he
wants this thing to happen, a shutdown of the government. I`m totally
cynical on the thing. I think that`s exactly what he wants.
I, in fact, think he`s got a bunch of Democrats that are sick and tired of
it as well because they`re sitting in red states and they`re nervous as
anything that they`re going to get stuck with Obamacare and then they`re
going to have to go out there and defend it. I think it`s going to be a
problem in the end, though, Hugh, for the Democrats.
I don`t think -- I think he`s being cute by half.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Does he think people are as stupid as those arguments that he`s
making? I`m not saying he`s stupid. That`s a stupid argument, Chuck, to
say that Democrats want to kill Obamacare. Every Democrat in the country
has been promising since I was born health care.
They`ve finally delivered health care. They don`t want to trash it. They
don`t want to dump it into the trash can of history. And yet the
Why would he make up this malarkey about how Democrats secretly want to
TODD: Well, and he wants -- he`s having to say, because, you know,
Republicans know and Republican operatives that any shutdown they`re going
to get blamed for. Any default they`re going to get blamed for. They`re
trying to soften the blow with their base and they`re trying to do these
things. So, I think that`s what Priebus was doing there.
TODD: But I want to go back to something, you say -- when it comes to
Boehner and he negotiating style, remember, the president arguably, you can
look back on it during the first debt ceiling showdown, he basically
blinked, right? He said, fine, we will negotiate over the debt ceiling.
I`ll give you this.
TODD: And then during -- and that`s what Boehner is counting on, that if
he lumps it all together, debt ceiling, budget resolution and frankly
sequestration year two all in one place, that the president will blink,
that he will be the responsible adult in the room.
I don`t think he`s going to blink this time. I think the president is
intent on saying no. I`m going to call your bluff this time.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think it`s time to General Eisenhower. Just don`t bluff
them, tell -- no deal, no deal. It`s like over Berlin, don`t give it away.
Thank you, Chuck Todd and thank you, Chris Cillizza. We`ll be right back
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
Earlier tonight, we discussed the real possibility that President Barack
Obama benefits from that elusive gift called "luck."
When I see what the right-wing faction in the House of Representatives and
its corporal`s guard in the Senate is up to, I think there`s a case to be
made for just that.
Suddenly, there appears on the horizon the one force that could unite the
Democrats, send them to the ramparts, excite them about the very challenges
that lie ahead.
By threatening Democrats with a default on the federal debt -- a threat
that would become real if they don`t kill the Affordable Care Act -- the
zealots on the right have found the one sure way to unite, mobilize and
excite the Democrats as they were in 2008.
This is the bizarre reality that lies behind the events coming in October.
By pushing to kill the Affordable Care Act, they are trying to kill the
Obama presidency. And that attempt could cost them their one chance to
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" 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.>