September 23, 2013
Guests: Rep. Michael Grimm, Dee Dee Myers, Don Borelli, Ted Johnson, Alicia
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Dangerous Cruz.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. A big story on Hillary Clinton tonight
and that terrorist attack in Kenya, but I want to say a word about this Ted
Cruz guy. Not since Joe McCarthy have we seen a senator with such sinister
self-assuredness. The senator from Texas knows who and what he hates. He
hates everything about President Obama. His goal is to exterminate the
entire Obama record, reject everyone Obama nominates for office.
Demagoguery, however -- and history shows it -- -while dynamite for the
short game in politics -- there`s always a crowd when someone`s about to
explode -- doesn`t make for a good career move. Soon people discover that
you are essentially a negative force, primarily interested in attacking
whatever, whoever you see out there in front of you.
Cruz wants to kill the Affordable Care Act, which was legitimately enacted
into law. He wants to bring the American government to a halt, renege on
the national debt in order to get it removed. This is how he wants to be
known. This is a brand he wants to establish for himself, even if it tears
the government apart.
U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm is a New York Republican. Thank you for
Let me just get something straight. I don`t think I`ve met you more than
once or twice, Mr. Grimm, but I want to ask you about some certain
questions that have been raised on this show recently.
First of all, do you believe that President Barack Obama was legitimately
elected president of the United States twice?
REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: Yes. Of course.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the Affordable Care Act was legitimately
passed by both houses of Congress with a 60-vote supermajority in the
Senate and signed legitimately by the president?
GRIMM: Yes, during --
MATTHEWS: So it`s a legitimate --
GRIMM: During the super-majority that the Democrats had. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: And it is a legitimate part of the law of the land right now.
GRIMM: Yes, no, it was enacted into law. You know, I think some of the
delays, and so forth, are in question. But overall, yes, absolutely. It
was certainly enacted into law.
MATTHEWS: OK. And yet -- I want to know your position on this. There are
those in your party -- I think 30 or 40 -- who are pushing it, but others
who are going along, that believe this. They believe the United States
government should stop, if necessary, to get that bill defunded, or in
other words exterminated. And the other people -- in fact, a good number
of them -- also want to go further and say the United States government
should basically default on its debt if necessary to make sure that "Obama
care," as it`s been called, is destroyed.
Is that your view?
GRIMM: No. I don`t think shutting the government down, defaulting on our
debt, not honoring our obligations to our military veterans and seniors
does anyone any good.
So I -- you know, I have disagreed with Senator Cruz. I think he has
dialed up the rhetoric to a point where it`s actually hurting the
Republican Party. It`s not good for our party. It`s not good for America.
But at the same time, I do want to emphasize --
MATTHEWS: Is he a fraud?
GRIMM: -- there is a discussion --
MATTHEWS: Peter King calls him a fraud. Is he a fraud? Do you think he`s
for real or -- I think he`s for real in a terrible way, a terrible way
meaning someone who believes that, My way or the highway, to the point of
destructiveness, and not exactly interested in republican government, which
is to represent the people generally and the government to keep it going.
But do you think he`s a fraud, or do you think he`s the real thing, a real
-- a real -- well, radical`s not a bad word for him, I think.
GRIMM: Well, you know, I`ve said this before. I think when he came out
and basically put up his hands and said, It`s up to the House now to do it,
one -- I think it`s a cowardly act, number one. And it showed he wasn`t
being honest with the American people. He always knew that they did not
have the votes in the Senate, so he wasn`t being forthright. And again,
that certainly doesn`t help the Republican Party.
But more importantly, it`s not about Republicans or Democrats. It`s about
the greatest nation in the world. It doesn`t help our society move
forward. It doesn`t help our seniors, our veterans, or anyone else. It
doesn`t -- you know, it`s just not productive, the rhetoric needs to stop.
That doesn`t mean we don`t need to have a serious discussion because -- you
know, what we miss in this, when you have someone like Senator Cruz railing
the way he does, is you miss the legitimate arguments, which is, you know,
seven million Americans, according to the CBO will lose their -- their --
their sponsored health care as it is now. The 15,000 spouses that worked
for UPS -- you know, their spouse works for UPS, will no longer have the
coverage they once had.
So those are legitimate arguments, and they need to be protected, too, and
their voices need to be heard. And that`s one of the reasons, you know,
I`m on your show, is to talk --
GRIMM: -- to speak to them. You know, their voices need to be heard, as
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) By the way, I hope things are going a little better
than (INAUDIBLE) in your area. Staten Island especially got hit so hard by
Sandy. I want to talk to you about that later as we get later into the
MATTHEWS: Let me bring in Steve Schmidt right now. Steve, thank you for
joining us. I mean, you know, it`s fascinating, the whole thing. I mean,
I have never seen a guy like Cruz. I think he makes Rand Paul seem tame.
But this idea of basically jamming the other house, attacking them, forcing
them -- well, without doing anything really himself except talk.
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, no, it is remarkable to
watch. And at least now you see the congressman doing it, you see many
other Republicans doing it. But it`s well past the hour where this type of
stuff needs to be confronted. And we need to have a fight inside the
Republican Party where we can take conservatism`s good name back because
what Ted Cruz is doing is neither conservative or principled.
It is radical and opportunistic. This is a disaster for the Republican
Party. I think it`s all about him running for president in 2016. He sees
a lane (ph) of people who are motivated by one thing, opposition to the
president at all costs. They don`t care if there`s not a single policy
idea, a single solution to one of these country`s problems.
We have more than a few of those folks in the Republican Party, and we`re
going to need to have a contest where we have the solutions-oriented
conservatism that has worked in the past put up against Cruz-ism. And as
you know, Chris, because you were there, Ronald Reagan would be appalled by
MATTHEWS: I know.
SCHMIDT: He was a pragmatist. He was a problem solver. He wasn`t a
default-ist. He wasn`t like one of these guys like Cruz.
MATTHEWS: Well, Ted Cruz`s position could be confused. Now, this gets a
little tricky but it`s interesting to members of Congress, certainly. The
funding bill he supports, which is now in the Senate, he wants to
filibuster. That`s how he explained it this week -- in other words what
came over from the House, he wants to fight for, which defunds "Obama care"
as part of this continuing resolution. Yet he says, Let`s filibuster it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It should be an easy decision for Senate
Republicans to stand united and to support House Republicans. And I`ll
tell you, any vote for cloture, any vote to allow Harry Reid to add funding
for "Obama care" with just a 51-vote threshold, a vote for cloture is a
vote for Obama care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator Tom Coburn explained what the problem with that position
is. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: It`s not a tactic that we can actually
carry out and be successful. And I am sure that the Senate is going to
move that bill forward. You know, the ironic thing, Bob, is, is that the
answer now in the Senate by those who proposed the strategy is to
filibuster the very bill they said they wanted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you -- back to Congressman -- Congressman Grimm about
this thing. Do you understand how crazy this is? Cruz is now saying to
filibuster the very bill you guys sent over so it can`t be debated, can`t
even come up.
GRIMM: Well, again, this is the problem -- and look, there`s a reality, a
harsh reality for the Republican Party. We have our own internal struggle
and challenge that we have to deal with. And you know, I have many
conservative principles, but at the end of the day, I was elected to govern
and to use my skill set as a leader to try to bring people together.
This is the United States of America. And when I was in the Marine Corps,
the Army, the Navy, Air Force, we had all our differences and squabbles,
but when it came game time, we all went together as team USA. And that`s
what the Republican Party has to do.
And when we deal with this, these growing pains to unite, and we should be
uniting our party, that also means reaching across the aisle and getting
things done together as team USA. And it is -- and Senator Cruz is really
hurting the Republican Party from working among themselves, but also
working to stop any of the bipartisanship that really needs to be done in
this country if we`re going to get anything of substance passed through the
House and signed on the president`s desk.
MATTHEWS: Now, Steve, I didn`t do this just because you`re on this show,
but I know you`re going to like who is really siding up here with Ted Cruz.
Senator Cruz does have a supporter. Sarah Palin -- remember? She was
governor of Alaska until she quit? Well, she wrote an op-ed for a right-
wing Web site as follows.
"If the Senate doesn`t get behind Ted Cruz`s efforts to defund `Obama
care,` it won`t be because of any failure on Ted`s part. It`ll be because
there aren`t enough -- or weren`t enough principled leaders to stand with
him. And that would be a tragic loss, not for Ted but for America. It`s
time for the Senate to put itself on Cruz control" -- that`s cute --
"ignore the peanut gallery pundits. They`ve written my political obituary
so many times, I`m practically Lazarus. Now they`re trying to destroy Ted
Cruz. Good luck with that, you weasels. Oh, and a little reminder to
Republican senators up for reelection in 2014. Moose season ends soon,
allowing more time on one`s hands. So we`ll be watching your very votes
carefully this week."
So Steve, what do you make about the power you`ve created in this woman,
this Frankenstein`s monster, this woman from Alaska that can threaten every
single Republican senator in a primary fight?
SCHMIDT: Well, look, this isn`t new news. For the last couple of years,
we`ve had this wing of the party running roughshod over the rest of the
party, tossing out terms like "RINO," saying, We`re going to purge, you
know, the moderates out of the party, that, you know, it`s all of the
people that she`s attacking in her statement.
We`ve lost five U.S. Senate seats over the last two election cycles. And
fundamentally, we need Republicans, whether they`re running for president,
whether they`re in the leadership of the Congress, to stand up against a
lot of this asininity.
And you finally see it with Ted Cruz. Maybe he was the one who`s gone on a
bridge too far. And as we come up against a potential default, potential
government shutdown, wise people understand the political consequences for
the Republican Party, maybe we`ll start seeing our elected leaders stop
being intimidated by this nonsense, have the nerve, have the guts to stand
up, say, Enough is enough, this isn`t what the Republican Party`s about, to
fight to take conservatism`s good name back from the freak show that`s been
running wild for four years and that I have deep regret, in my part,
certainly, in initiating.
But it`s time for Republicans to again embrace what made us successful in
the past, which is a big tent party that has solutions to the problems that
face the country.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to the congressman, who`s been elected out of New
York City. And of course, Staten Island and Bay Ridge and places like that
are more conservative than other parts of New York City. But I do think
you represent that moderate Republicanism, maybe not even as liberal as a
Nelson Rockefeller, but mainstream Republicanism.
I notice that a lot of Republicans from the Northeast, people like yourself
and Pat -- Pat Meehan and Tom Fitzgerald, people like that, voted against
those big cuts in food stamps. I mean, it seems like there -- there is a
separation going on here between the middle-of-the-road Republicans and the
hard right, sir.
GRIMM: Oh, there`s no question. I mean, this has been brewing for a
while. This has been brewing all through the last Congress, and now it`s
finally boiling over because the reality is, this is not what the
Republican Party represents. It`s not all or nothing. It is supposed to
be a large tent.
I came here to actually solve problems, and that`s what Republicans do very
well because I think one of the differences between, you know, a pragmatic
conservative as opposed to a liberal is the fact that we look at things in
where we are today and how do we solve today`s problem, not the world we
want to live in but the world we`re actually in.
And I`m proud to say that I`ve been proud of that, but we do get coopted
by, you know, the far, far right that isn`t constructive and isn`t willing
to work with anyone. It`s an ideology, and ideologies are dangerous. And
we have to be pragmatic and we need to govern and lead. That`s not what
Ted Cruz is doing, and it`s hurting the Republican Party.
But it`s time -- I think it is time that we confront it head on, and that`s
what you`re seeing now. And overall, I think that`s a good thing for the
party and will be a good thing for the country because it will get resolved
one way or the other.
MATTHEWS: First Steve and then the congressman. How do you see the next
couple of weeks going from here to, say, the end of October, where there
will be a back-and-forth, the Senate will reject the House version, the
House will reject the Senate version. Something will have to get done by
October 1st or the government shuts down.
Then over the hours that commence then, that last minute, 11th or hour,
1:00 o`clock, when it`s past midnight, fix it, fix it, bale it together,
hold it together, then you have another big fight over the -- over about
the debt ceiling sometime in October.
How`s this end for the Republican Party, do you think?
SCHMIDT: Look, if the government shuts down, I think it`s going to be
politically very bad for Republicans. Republicans will pay the price.
Certainly, probably, the president`s numbers will come down, as well. I
think you see that in the Pew poll that`s out today. People in the country
will blame everyone.
The much more serious issue is the potential default. And what I worry
about is a "Guns of August" scenario. When you walk that close to the
edge, even though it should be able to be avoided in terms of going over
it, sometimes an accident happens. Sometimes you slip over the edge.
And a default -- and so many members on the Republican side in Congress
believe that the United States for the first time in its history -- this
radical notion that the reserve currency of the world, that we can default
with no consequence, no global economic problems that arise out of that is
And so I worry deeply about the implications for the country, the economy,
and politically, just be a disaster of epic proportions for the party if we
default and people`s savings are wiped out. We see turmoil in the stock
market. It will be very, very bad.
And it puts the Democrats in a position where, potentially, they could get
the House back, and they`re certainly not at that place now. It would be
one of the great self-inflicted political wounds of all time, building on
our self-sabotage that led to the loss of the five U.S. Senate seats over
the last two elections.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Grimm, you`re in the House. You sit in there in the
caucus. You`re with the leadership. You`re with the people in the
(INAUDIBLE) You meet them socially. You bump into them at lunch.
Do people share that prospect. Do they understand the stakes here as Steve
laid them out?
GRIMM: No, I think the vast majority of my conference understands that a
government shutdown doesn`t help the party, but more importantly, doesn`t
help our country. Look, we are struggling with the recovery right now.
Unemployment still hovers over 7 percent. So as so many people are not
working -- you know, my district got devastated by Sandy. There`s a lot of
small businesses that haven`t opened, so there`s a lot of people struggling
just to make ends meet.
The last thing we need to do is revert back out of a struggling recovery to
a downslope toward another recession or possibly even a depression. So I
wholeheartedly agree that that`s untenable. But again, less so for the
party. I`m more worried about our country moving forward. And I think the
overwhelming majority of Republicans get that.
This is more, I think, right now what we`re liking to see is calmer minds
will sit down at the table and look at things like sequester, look at
things like the debt ceiling --
GRIMM: -- and see if we can combine certain things to sweeten the pot
to, again, possibly delay --
MATTHEWS: I think you`re right.
GRIMM: -- delay "Obama care" because there are some very strong issues
that we have. Again, 15,000 people, spouses from UPS, are not going to
have the coverage they once had.
MATTHEWS: OK --
GRIMM: That`s a serious issue we do need to talk about.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, U.S. Congressman of New York City, and thank you,
Coming up: The big cover story of "New York" magazine is called "Hillary in
between." So let`s read between the lines of the story and find out where
she gave away more than she may have realized. This is a moving forward
here, a notch forward toward her campaign.
Also, that bloody attack on civilians in Kenya. If terrorists can
perpetuate (sic) a heavily guarded mall like the one in Nairobi, what
prevents them from doing the same thing here? I thought about it all
And Washington has always been is fascinated by Hollywood, but now it`s
Hollywood that`s fascinated with not just Washington but us. And if you
saw the Emilys -- the Emmys last night, you`ll know what I`m talking about.
Jeff Daniels, by the way, won for playing a guy like me.
Finally, President Obama has taken some heat from Republicans over his golf
outings, and now a former president has come to his defense.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: According to a new CNBC poll, 44 percent of Americans say
they`re opposed to funding -- I`m sorry, opposed to defunding the
Affordable Care Act. That number shoots up to 59 percent when the issue of
shutting the government down or defaulting is included.
Meanwhile, a new Pew poll asks whether people want their elected officials
to stand by their principles, even if that means a government shutdown. In
total, only 33 percent say they do, 57 percent say they want their
representatives to compromise. Among non-Tea Party Republicans, those
numbers are about the same. More than half say they want compromise.
Big surprise here -- I`m just kidding -- among Tea Partiers, 71 percent say
they want no compromise at all, stand by your principles even if it means a
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
On Friday, we told you about the report in Politico that a Hillary claimed
2016 presidential campaign is all but certain. Well, today, in our first -
- her first interview since leaving the State Department, Secretary Clinton
was asked by "New York" magazine`s Joe Hagan about whether she wrestles
with running for president. Clinton said she does, according to the
article, but -- quote -- "I`m both pragmatic and realistic. I will just
continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence -- influence --
influence me making a decision one way or the other."
Well, it`s the first time we have heard from Hillary Clinton herself in her
own words say that she is actually actively considering another run for
So, let`s read between the lines and see whether we can figure out what
Hillary and her team are really planning for 2016.
MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman is the editorial director of course
of The Huffington Post Media Group, and Dee Dee Myers was White House press
secretary and I believe to be the first woman ever to be press secretary
for a president. She was under President Clinton.
Thank you so much.
Howard, this is what we live on. This is our meat and potatoes here.
MATTHEWS: And the reason I think this is worthy of discussion is, first of
all, it`s New York and New York has a special feel of course for Hillary
Clinton and feeling for her. It`s home cooking up there. They love her
and they want her to run. The New York media is her home base media, and
she has fed them. She has fed "New York" magazine.
What does it tell that you she`s fed them a real interview in which she
talks about the elements, the factors that she`s considering on the way to
making a decision by -- which in effect is saying I`m making a decision
about whether to run for president and I`m looking for ways to get past
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s probably
more important that she gave the interview than it is anything that she
said, per se, in the interview.
But, to me, it was all pretty unexceptional, and she`s looking at it.
She`s thinking about the factors. I mean, I happen to think based on
people I talk to that she`s running. I don`t think there`s any doubt that
But the fact that she`s beginning the long dance with the media and with
the political establishment now --
MATTHEWS: Isn`t this part of the rollout?
FINEMAN: Yes. This is -- let`s put it this way. This is untying the
bands on the rug that will eventually be rolled out.
MATTHEWS: OK. For the people who -- if there`s one person watching who
doesn`t understand why people do this in politics, why are you coy in
politics? Why don`t you just say to people, look, I always wanted to be
president since I was 13 years old? I married a guy that wanted to be
president. I have been sort of competing with him the whole time. Here`s
my chance. Of course I`m running again.
Politicians never admit that they`re ambitious.
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I disagree with
my friend Howard on this, because I think she actually said the truth. She
MATTHEWS: Oh, Dee Dee.
MATTHEWS: Dee Dee, why does the official word from the people around her,
talk to this other person who will tell you --
MYERS: Because the people around her who actually talk to her actually
talk to her and know her mind. She hasn`t decided. Why is that so crazy?
MATTHEWS: Why am I arguing with you? You know more than I do, except this
point. What you don`t know more than me is the strategy.
How come, Howard, she told the reporter in question, Hagan --
FINEMAN: Joe Hagan.
MATTHEWS: -- to go talk to certain people and each one of those people
have said she`s running?
FINEMAN: Well, I think you just answered your own question.
MYERS: See I have a different view.
MATTHEWS: The official word is unofficially she`s running.
FINEMAN: The fact is, I think the default setting is obviously that`s
she`s running, for all the historical and personal reasons that you
mentioned, Chris, and that Dee Dee well knows.
Something could get in the way. Something could change it. But everything
I see and all the people I know tell me that functionally the decision has
been made. It`s just a question of reaching certain points where she could
opt out. It`s not a question about whether she wants to do it or in fact
in my view whether she`s going to do it.
MYERS: You know, I think that what was interesting, I think the fact that
the interview was also really interesting that she did it. And I think it
suggests a more confident with the press Hillary Clinton.
This would have been 10 years ago a complicated decision and they would
have had to wrestle over it and gone back and forth. This time, she said -
- I think she said, look, I`m still making up my mind. I`m just going to
tell Joe Hagan that I`m still making up my mind.
He is a terrific reporter. He talked to a lot of people. You know you
can`t control those stories once they`re out there. He reported what the
lay of the land is. Some people think she`s running, other people close to
her say they`re not sure. I think she`s -- that`s where she wants to be
right now. She wants to have a little time and a little space. She wants
to look at the landscape. She wants to think about it.
She may very well may get there. The forces of history are with her.
MATTHEWS: How many dollars would I have to give you right now for you to
give me one dollar if she doesn`t run? How many dollars would I have to
give you for you to give me one dollar if she doesn`t run?
MYERS: Chris, I will give you a dollar --
MATTHEWS: No. I`m talking about many millions I would have to give you,
find somewhere, raise the money to give you, because you know she`s
MYERS: I don`t know that. I don`t know that.
FINEMAN: Getting away from that, the important thing to me --
MYERS: You don`t know that.
FINEMAN: The important thing to me in the interview if you look at it is
what it says -- and I think Joe points this out -- as to one of the things
she will say about her knowledge and her experience and her qualifications,
which is that she`s been even ever closer to decision-making and has been
involved in the kind of global decision-making as secretary of state,
having been in a room with the president of the United States as a
decision-maker, as a member of the Cabinet, not just as a spouse.
FINEMAN: I think there are a couple passages in the interview and in the
story where you can see the outlines of one of the sales points that she
would obviously use if and when she actually runs. And I think that`s
important and important to think about.
MATTHEWS: Let me be honest with you about what I think.
MATTHEWS: I think once you get very close to the presidency, whether
you`re a first lady or you`re a secretary of state or you`re vice
president, you do get a sense that -- because you sit there when the
decisions are made. And sometimes you`re right, sometimes you`re wrong.
But your batting average is probably pretty good if you`re a pro.
And you probably figure, you know, I could have made those calls. I could
make the big decisions. It`s -- Muskie got close. People I respect on my
left got close. And they all said, you know, I think I can do that.
And it`s natural with an ambitious person to go to the next step. That`s
why I`m arguing with you.
MYERS: Yes. Well --
MATTHEWS: Logic tells me from all my experience in college and high school
the guys that all ran for student council president would never say, I`m
running because I want to run. They would all say, well, some of the guys
got together and thought I ought to run.
There`s this game that goes on I was trying to get you to admit to, but you
won`t admit to the obvious political gamesmanship, the gamesmanship.
MYERS: Because you won`t admit to the audience the human element of this,
which is she has worked as hard or harder than anyone in this town for more
than 20 years.
She`s got a little time off now, and, by God, she`s enjoying it. And you
know what? There`s life beyond electoral politics.
MATTHEWS: OK, not for her. Let me ask you this.
MYERS: Disagree. You haven`t seen her, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. Forget Hillary
Clinton. Is there in fact -- the first question I put to you, but you
immediately went to the ramparts on this.
Is there not a game that is played by all politicians, male, female,
Democrat, Republican, right, left, and center, to pretend they`re not
MATTHEWS: They all play that game.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MYERS: That doesn`t -- that doesn`t -- those aren`t mutually exclusive.
MATTHEWS: That would include Hillary Clinton if she were one of the people
in the world.
MYERS: Yes, but it doesn`t mean that she`s not decided. The two things
are not at all mutually exclusive.
MATTHEWS: No. It just means that she`s one of many -- no, I`m just saying
she`s one of many politicians. She`s a politician, right? Is she a
MYERS: Of course.
MATTHEWS: OK. Then it fits the mold. We have just done a syllogism. If
she`s a politician, she behaves like politicians, therefore, she is one.
MYERS: Boy, that makes a very interesting -- it`s all totally deductionist
MATTHEWS: But you`re at the ramparts. You`re defending her against even
thinking about running for president.
MYERS: I am defending -- no, I`m not saying she --
MATTHEWS: OK. Do you want her to run? Do you want her to run?
MYERS: Yes, of course I want her to run. I hope she does.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
Dee Dee Myers on defense.
MATTHEWS: Up next, look who`s defending President Obama for playing golf?
I hope it`s a golf-playing former president.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: It`s all going according to my plan.
SPACEY: I was promised the hosting job this year and they turned me down.
SPACEY: And they said they wanted someone more likable.
SPACEY: Really? Look at that parade of blabbering buffoons.
SPACEY: They couldn`t host a child`s birthday party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome to the "Sideshow."
That was Kevin Spacey breaking into his "House of Cards" character, Frank
Underwood, at last night`s Emmy Awards. While the Netflix series itself
earned only one Emmy, politics won the night with shows like "Veep,"
"Homeland," "Newsroom," and "The Colbert Report" taking home a third of the
total awards. We will have much more about this, the intersection of
Hollywood and politics, later in the show.
Finally, George W. Bush is coming to President Obama`s defense on a
sensitive subject, his golf outings. You may remember that the president`s
critics have been up in arms over President Obama`s frequent trips to the
golf course. But today the former President W. spoke out in his support on
The Golf Channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I would
see our president criticized for playing golf. I don`t. I think he ought
to play golf.
QUESTION: Why is that?
BUSH: Well, because I know what it`s like to be in the bubble. And I know
the pressures of the job. And to be able to get outside and play golf with
some of your pals is important for the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Bush should know. He took a lot of criticism himself when
it came to this sport. Who can forget this infamous golf outing which took
place less than a year after 9/11?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We must stop the terror. I call upon all nations to do everything
they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you.
Now watch this drive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think other presidents might have avoided having that part put
into tape. Anyway, he wasn`t that lucky.
And we will be right back right after this.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I`m Milissa Rehberger.
President Obama is in New York and is set to address the United Nations
General Assembly tomorrow. Later, he will meet with Secretary-General Ban
Also addressing the U.N. tomorrow is Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. It
is still not clear if Rouhani and President Obama will meet face to face.
And a South Carolina man has won the $400 million Powerball jackpot, but he
doesn`t want to be identified. South Carolina is one of only six states
that lets winner remain anonymous -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, late today, Kenya`s interior minister said security forces over there
were now in control of that mall that terrorists seized on Saturday. The
terror attack has been a bloody reminder that large-scale attacks remain
part of our world.
It was carried out by the Somalia`s Al-Shabab terrorist network group, an
offshoot of al Qaeda. At least 62 people were killed and hundreds have
been injured. The mall looks as though it could be in a suburb of any
American city, perhaps making it an even more enticing target for
terrorists hoping to make the greatest impact.
Evan Kohlmann is an NBC terrorism expert. And Don Borelli is a former FBI
agent the New York joint terrorism task force.
Evan, it just struck me watching this -- and I have spent a lot of time,
our family has -- and way back from the Peace Corps days over the last 34
years, I have been over to Africa a lot. This struck home to me. It just
hit me that here`s a country like Kenya, a country like Kenya that is
trying to be our ally, trying to be pro-Western, trying to modernize
against years and years of primitive economics, breaking through, having
areas of success like that mall, and that very iconic success story was
EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes.
And, look, that`s exactly what the purpose was. The purpose of this attack
was designed to stun and shock people. And part of it is because of the
fact Kenya is an enemy of Al-Shabab, and part of it is because Al-Shabab
has not been doing too well lately. And this is a way of redirecting its
focus, of rallying its troops, of getting al Qaeda behind it, of giving it
new purpose and new direction.
And the problem is, is that unfortunately the same thing could have also
achieved if they had launched an attack targeting the United States. And
since this was such a simple attack and relatively basic, the concern is
that they could potentially do something like this, targeting Americans
deliberately, and not just in Kenya, maybe even within U.S. borders.
MATTHEWS: I can`t think of a good word to say about Somalia, Don. And
maybe it`s because of the impoverishment and the terrible governments they
have had over the years for decades.
But you think about what they do in terms of poaching and killing elephants
just for the tusks, going in the country -- the piracy at sea. Everything
that happens bad in that part of the world is Somali. What is the problem?
Why are they exporting hell to good countries like Kenya?
DON BORELLI, FORMER FBI AGENT: I think the problem is just the lack of a
good standing central government, one that has control over not just part
of the country, but all of the country.
And we have seen that the best friend of terrorists are these kind of
lawless areas without really a central government presence. We have seen
it in Mali. We have seen it before in areas like Afghanistan. We have
seen it in Pakistan and some of the other tribal areas. So the lack of a
good functioning government with rule of law and security and all those
things, this is the breeding ground for terrorism.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Evan.
Look at -- when you look around the world, what does this tell you in terms
of our vulnerability here in the States?
KOHLMANN: Well, look, I mean, the problem is, is that Al-Shabab, even
though they`re not very terribly sophisticated, they are very good at
recruiting Americans, or at least comparatively so. They have not
recruited hundreds, but they have recruited more than al Qaeda. And they
have gotten guys --
MATTHEWS: Who do they recruit? Give me the profile of people they
recruit. Are they Somali ethnics? Are they people -- who are they?
I mean, look, you have got Somali -- people of Somali origin or Somali
descent in places like Minneapolis. You also have people like Omar
Hammami, who was just killed in Somalia this week, a kid from Alabama, from
Mobile, Alabama, who has no tie whatsoever to Somalia, other than he
thought it would be a really cool place to go and wage holy war.
MATTHEWS: Well, had he been down and out in terms of -- was he in prison,
that guy? What was his background? What was his -- where did he get
recruited? Where did he get recruited?
KOHLMANN: This was a guy who was dating the prom queen in high school. He
was the head of the soccer team.
All of a sudden, he had a personal crisis. He had a crisis of conscience.
And he felt that he needed to explore his family roots, and he decided to
convert from Christianity to Islam, which is fine. But then, all of a
sudden, he traveled abroad.
MATTHEWS: Well, what were his family roots? What were his family roots?
KOHLMANN: This is interesting. His father is of Syrian origin but his
mother is an evangelical Christian.
KOHLMANN: So, he comes from a diverse background. He`s not someone who
grow up, you know, being fed hate and intolerance, quite the opposite.
Something very terrible happened within this kid and he started issuing rap
songs from Somalia about murdering people.
And he started teaching Americans from Minneapolis going over there about
how to murder people. He was actually running training camps for Americans
who were going to Somalia to join Shabaab. So, it`s not just Somalis. And
I think that`s part of the problem is, Somalis are the victims here.
MATTHEWS: This is all fascinating and scary to any American, but are the
people being recruited do not have any Middle Eastern background at all?
KOHLMANN: Yes, there are. There are people from San Diego, from
Minneapolis. There was a guy named Zach Chesser from northern Virginia,
just outside of Washington, D.C. who tried not once but twice to get to
Somalia, was stopped both times by the FBI on the airplane. The second
time he was carrying his infant daughter with him, because he perceived
that if he was carrying a baby with him, nobody was likely to think he was
So, yes, I mean, Zach Chesser, the greatest achievement of his life before
trying to go to Somalia was the fact he was the break dancing champion of
his high school. So, yes. I mean, you have some very unusual people. But
it`s enough that it presents a security concern and a threat to Americans
not just abroad but really back at home as well.
Let me go to Don on this. How much hate America is involved in that, just
pure America enjoining anybody that`s against us?
DON BORELLI, FORMER NY JOINT TERRORISM TASK FORCE: Well, I tell you what.
Chris, I`ve spoken with a lot of youth in Minnesota from Somali descent.
And a lot of -- it`s really not the "hate America" message that`s enticing
some of these young people to join the ranks of al-Shabaab. They`re kind
of recruiting tool is more nationalistic.
I had one young man pose the question to me, said, look, if you had foreign
troops invade Washington, D.C., wouldn`t you want to take up arms against
them? And that`s the way they feel about what`s going on in their homeland
of Somalia. Their issue is that you have the troops from Uganda, from
Kenya, from Ethiopia that have basically, you know, put boots on the ground
in their land of ancestry.
MATTHEWS: I see.
BORELLI: And so, they feel like it`s their mission to take up that cause.
In a lot of cases, it`s not the same message that core al Qaeda is using to
recruit. It`s more of a nationalistic message.
MATTHEWS: I`m much more concerns and scared about people who recruit to
the Somali cause who are not at all related to Somalia.
Anyway, thank you so much, Evan Kohlmann. We`re going to unfortunately
back to this topic again.
KOHLMANN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And Don Borelli.
Up next, Washington`s fascination with Hollywood is now a two-way street.
And last night`s Emmy Awards proved it.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: After years of decline, the number of illegal immigrants coming
to this country may be on the rise again. Pew Research estimates that as
of March of last year, there were 11.7 million illegal immigrants here.
That`s up from 11.5 million the year before that.
The population of illegal immigrants in this country peaked actually back
in 2007, just before the economy collapsed. And today, fewer illegal
immigrants are from Mexico. They still make up most or just over half of
all illegal immigrants, but their numbers are on the decline actually.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back. It was a big night last night for Washington-based
shows on the Emmys. Yesterday, many of the top shows nominated have
explicitly political themes. Everything from "Scandal" to the "House of
Cards" to "Veep", "Homeland" and, of course, "Newsroom" -- one close to our
One of the surprise winners was Jeff Dennis, who plays the cable news
anchor Will McAvoy. Let`s listen to his acceptance speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF DENNIS, ACTOR: I didn`t expect this. I usually don`t win anything.
The last thing I won was a few years ago for "Squid and the Whale," I won
the best actor over 50 from the AARP.
With all due respect to the AARP, this is better.
The great American playwright Lanford Wilson said, whatever you do with
your career, make it matter, make it count. Aaron Sorkin makes it matter
and makes it count.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well said.
Anyway, the Washington is portrayed in modern shows is far from the
romanticized version we saw on "The West Wing" back in the `90s. The new
shows themes are violent and Machiavellian in the case of "House of Cards"
and "Scandal", or banal and comedic in the case of "Veep".
So what`s changed? What`s changed about reality?
Ted Johnson, senior editor at "Variety", and Alicia Quarles is a
correspondent for E! News.
Thank you both for joining us.
This isn`t all fun, but it will be part fun. Let me ask you, Ted. It used
-- a friend of mine Jerry Raption (ph) who makes movies have said, years
ago, he said, you can`t do a movie about politics. It has to be called a
thriller. But now, people love "House of Cards". And I think a hell of a
lot of people I know like "Newsroom", and these other slows like "Veep" are
But what`s going on? Why are people -- are they going to vote more? Do
they think voting is more consequential? They believe more in democracy?
Are they watching these for some prurient reason?
TED JOHNSON, SR. EDITOR, VARIETY: Well, I would say that these shows still
are thrillers. They`re soap operas. I think that`s what`s changed,
especially in the entertainment community. I think there`s a much more
cynical view of the political process, as there is in the rest of the
country, than there was in the days of "West Wing."
MATTHEWS: What`s that mean? I know what skeptical means. What does
cynical mean? I think that term`s used a lot. What does it mean here?
They think what`s different than what they used to think?
JOHNSON: I think right here, it means that you have these stories that are
from their very creation from the notion that Washington is corrupt and
that these are people, characters who are operating within that system.
ALICIA QUARLES, E! NEWS: And also, it`s art imitating life. If you look
at things that going on, like Petraeus, like Anthony Weiner, like John
Edwards, you can`t make this stuff up. Hollywood couldn`t write a better
So, if you don`t laugh about it and make it art, you would cry over it,
because it`s just --
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m going to argue with that.
MATTHEWS: I watch "House of Cards" religiously, and it`s not about cheap
little buying people off, it`s about killing people. It`s exciting.
QUARLES: It is.
MATTHEWS: Iit`s not about corruption, it`s about violence.
QUARLES: It`s about violence --
MATTHEWS: It`s a totally absurd notion of Washington, people going around
killing each other. That`s an absurd notion as far as I`m concerned. It`s
not about petty corruption, stealing from the cash register, it`s about
killing another guy as a congressman because he`s in your way, Alicia.
That`s a serious business that`s different than reality.
QUARLES: That`s an extreme version, though.
MATTHEWS: It`s not reality.
QUARLES: If you look at a show like "Veep," which is sarcasm on it. I
mean, there`s different versions of it. I mean, obviously, it`s not going
to be completely reality, it is Hollywood, but --
MATTHEWS: Is "Veep" about corruption?
QUARLES: It`s about corruption. It`s about mundaneness in what goes on
MATTHEWS: Is it about corruption?
QUARLES: It`s not purely about corruption.
MATTHEWS: Is it about stealing things? OK, why do you keep saying it`s
about corruption if you can`t pot to examples of corruption in these shows?
Ted, your turn.
QUARLES: Ted, you want that? I got it.
MATTHEWS: Point to the corruption. You use terms like cynical and
corruption. Help me out with the English here. What`s corrupt in these
JOHNSON: Well, I would agree with you, this is the point I want to make --
MATTHEWS: Then say it. Don`t make me force you to say it.
JOHNSON: Yes, there are murders.
JOHNSON: Yes, there are murderers in these shows, but that is what sells.
You know, I would argue that that is what makes "House of Cards" addictive,
because it`s so outlandish. If they had a show that was just about
corruption on there, you probably wouldn`t have people binge viewing on
JOHNSON: It has to take it one step further. The cynicism has to be taken
to the next step.
QUARLES: What about "Scandal," too? The entire show is based on events
from a real-life person. The show is about scandal, it is about
So, there`s your example right there, hit show doing extremely well, and
it`s all about, guess what, real things that happen in D.C.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`ve never seen it. I`ve watched, here`s the ones I
watch. I watch "House of Cards." I think it`s fantastic. I think it`s
really Richard III, basically, in modern costume.
I think "Newsroom" is pretty darn accurate in certain ways. I think
"Political Animals" was spectacular. It was about the Clintons.
Anyway, HBO`s "Veep" is a comedy about an insecure vice president and the
ambitious staffers around here. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won last night for
best actress in a comedy series, and she accepted partially in character
with the assist of her co-star, Tony Hale, who plays her ever-present body
man. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Emmy goes to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, ACTRESS: Thank you so much! This is so much good
fortune. It`s almost too much to bear. I`d like to thank our --
TONY HALE, ACTOR: Your family?
LOUIS-DREYFUS: My family.
LOUIS-DREYFUS: Brad Hall and Henry Hall and Charlie Hall, my children are
here this evening.
HALE: You love them so much.
LOUIS-DREYFUS: And I love them so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Alicia, that is great shtick, isn`t it, playing the part?
QUARLES: It is great shtick. You`re missing out there, you`re missing
out. In fact, there is an excellent piece in "The New York Times" by
Ashley Parker, and it really breaks down why D.C. loves this show and why
it`s just getting bigger ratings than "Girls" on HBO. It`s because of that
satire, because of the fact that it pokes fun at D.C. and kind of lifts the
veil off of politics.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go with another show. I think "Newsroom" is closer to the
old model "West Wing," Ted, much more earnest, much more idealistic.
JOHNSON: Yes, but I would say that it is still -- I would still say that
Aaron Sorkin, the creator of this show, is still cynical. I`m going to use
that word again, cynical about the news business.
I think that he is in his essence, you know, has moments in the show where
he is trying to blame the news business for some of the problems,
especially this instantaneous cycle we`re in.
QUARLES: Exactly --
MATTHEWS: But the whole theme this year is about making a mistake, going
with a story like -- what was it called --"Tailwind", where they got the
story completely wrong about the military, and these people are so grief-
stricken, they all want to quit over it because they felt like they had
betrayed the audience and their profession. I thought that was very
idealistic most of the show, Ted.
JOHNSON: I think that this actually was a much stronger season this year
than last year --
MATTHEWS: So, it wasn`t cynical.
JOHNSON: -- by having this kind of ongoing story line. Well, what`s
cynical about it is the propensity for news organizations to make a
mistake, to have a story --
MATTHEWS: That`s cynical?
JOHNSON: -- that seems to be too good to be true. Absolutely.
QUARLES: Also, Chris, you`re never going to go back to these political
shows that were idealistic like "The West Wing," because we live in a time
now of Twitter, of Instagram. People have instant access to any scandal
that goes down and your TV shows have to reflect what society`s seeing.
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope we live in idealistic world of "West Wing" and I
hope we live in the idealistic world of "Newsroom." And, by the way, it`s
not a cynical show. It`s very idealistic.
And if there`s one knock on it I`ve heard, it`s too earnest, it`s too
believing in the people. It believes in the best values of people have
about getting to the truth of the viewers. That`s why I love the show.
Ted, you and I are in different businesses. And thank you, Alicia, you`re
in the different -- you`re in the entertainment business. Anyway, thank
QUARLES: Oh, please.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Alicia.
We`ll be back after this it .
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
I like what Jeff Daniels said last night in receiving the Emmy, quote,
"Whatever you do with your career," he quoted a playwright, "make it
matter, make it count."
I have to say that there`s an element of "Newsroom" that concurs with that.
It`s the way Jeff Daniels` character personified the importance of he`s
broadcasting each night. Not just the news but the angle he`s taking on,
the values he`s exemplifying.
It`s the same idealism that made "The West Wing" such a success. People
want to believe in it. And if they can`t believe so easily right now in
our politicians, they do want to believe in those keeping an eye on them,
and that`s our job here, and it`s my honor.
I`m glad Jeff won playing not me personally, but someone like me. It`s a
standard we need, I need, right up there where I can see it.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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