updated 12/12/2013 3:04:35 PM ET 2013-12-12T20:04:35

HARDBALL
December 10, 2013
Guest: Ryan Grimm, Michael Tomasky, Steve McMahon, Cynthia Tucker

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Doubling down on Ted Cruz.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

"Let Me Start" with this. Better yet, don`t get me started! How crazy is
crazy? Last night, we showed you the list of right-wingers out to knock
off good old conservatives in the Senate next year. You haven`t seen
nothing yet.

Last night, just about deadline time, a real nutball -- I mean, as crazy as
crazy gets -- threw his beanie in the race for Texas senator. As if one
Ted Cruz isn`t enough, this fellow, Steve Stockman, wants the Lone Star
State to double down. He wants the Republicans there to dump John Cornyn,
the number two Republican in the Senate after Mitch McConnell, and replace
him with him.

Stockman, lest you forget him, is a prime member of the birther crowd,
still playing to the racists out there who bark that the president is
somehow a usurper, some sort of Manchurian or Kenyan or Indonesian
impostor, who, as Donald Trump darkly suggests, no one knew in high school,
whatever the hell that`s supposed to mean.

Stockman`s also right up there with the real-life loony toons when it comes
to impeachment. He`s cooked up a book on the subject and delivered it to
every member of Congress. He`s also a fan of the Branch Davidians --
remember them? -- warning that the raid at WACO was just a leading
indicator that the black helicopters are coming.

He says we could reduce the number of abortions in this country, by the
way, with arming unborn babies with guns, or at least says that if they
were armed with guns, that would prevent abortions, an argument that really
leaves you wondering about the nature of the man`s thinking process.

Let`s put it this way. This guy Stockman makes Michele Bachmann sound like
Madam Curie. Here`s Stockman`s argument, by the way, on why he accepts Ted
Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother, as eligible to run for
president while refusing to accept the legitimacy of President Obama, who
was born in Hawaii.

Quote, "One of the things I always questioned was the documentation of the
president, whether that was fraudulent. But I don`t question Cruz. Ted
came right out and said, Here`s the documentation."

Ed Rendell`s the former governor of Pennsylvania and MSNBC news political
analyst and Joan Walsh is editor-at-large of Salon and an MSNBC political
analyst.

I don`t get it, Governor. Why would they knock off a guy named John
Cornyn, who`s the second most right-wing senator in history, perhaps, but
certainly today, and replace him with a guy who`s a thoroughgoing nutjob,
meaning -- I mean that quite literally. Why would you say the president`s
a foreigner, an undocumented alien? Why would you keep pushing for
impeachment? And why would you say something like, if unborn children or
fetuses had guns, they wouldn`t be aborted?

I mean, what does that stuff mean? What kind of thinking is that?

ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It means that that
person is deranged. Congressman Stockman is either the best actor in the
world and playing to this base that he thinks is going to get him
somewhere, or he`s deranged. And I lean towards the second. He`s just off
his rocker.

But what`s amazing here, Chris, is that someone like the Club for Growth --
and you and I may not agree with them, but they`re obviously pretty
successful people, they`ve made a lot of money -- would not back John
Cornyn. Up until now, they`ve stayed out of the race.

Well, by staying out of the race, if Stockman wins the primary and we get
the current mayor of San Antonio or Henry Cisneros to come back and run for
Senate, we would beat Stockman by 5 to 10 points in the general election.

All they`re doing is setting themselves up for failure. And to what end?
It doesn`t make any sense at all, and it`s an embarrassment. It`s an
embarrassment for the Republican Party and it`s an embarrassment for any
group that wants to talk seriously about where the government should be
going.

MATTHEWS: Joan, just a first crack at this guy. I mean -- I mean, some
people are right-wing and some people we disagree with.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

MATTHEWS: I disagree with, you disagree with, but they`re balanced,
mentally balanced.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: This guy, who honestly -- he`s still pushing the birther line.
Despite all the documentation, all the evidence, and no counter-evidence,
he`s out there saying the president is an undocumented alien, basically, in
his latest argument. Somehow, he snuck in from Kenya or wherever,
Indonesia--

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know what he believes, basically. He also should be
impeached. By the way, if he`s not even the legitimate president, I guess
you don`t have to impeach him.

And then he`s got this gun craziness. He`s backing Branch Davidian against
the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as if they`re the black helicopters.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: Any case he gets, he goes with the nuts.

WALSH: Yes. This is a real test. This is going to be a really fun race
to watch. It`s really a test of, is somebody too crazy for Texas? And I
believe that he is too crazy for Texas.

Now, Governor Rendell is right. It is very interesting. Now, the Club for
Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund, they haven`t come out for Stockman
yet. There`s a real question about whether they`ll do so because even
they`ve got to know this man is crazy. But they haven`t come out -- they
have not endorsed the incumbent. How conservative do you have to be to get
their endorsement--

MATTHEWS: Yes, well--

WALSH: -- in Texas?

MATTHEWS: -- do you think the Koch brothers are -- maybe they`re already
in. I`m always amazed when somebody jumps into the race at the last hour,
I always figure somebody just popped him with a ton of money. What else
would change your mind the last day except somebody like the Koch brothers
or Adelson from over there in Macao or--

WALSH: Maybe.

MATTHEWS: -- wherever he`s making his money--

WALSH: Maybe. We`ve seen things that crazy. We have no evidence of that,
and I don`t even think they`re that crazy. The guy`s got $82,000 in his
bank account. Look, he was knocked off in the `90s. He ran and won--

MATTHEWS: OK--

WALSH: -- for Congress. He served one term. He was knocked off back
then.

MATTHEWS: Well, one reason he was dumped off by the voters, even in that
right-wing district -- after the 1993 confrontation of the Branch Davidian
compound in Waco, Texas, in which four ATF agents and about 80 members of
the cult died, elements of the far right entertained dark conspiracies
about the federal government`s motives.

Congressman Steve Stockman played right into those dark currents. In an
essay at the time, he wrote, quote, "These men, women and children were
burned to death because they owned guns that the government did not wish
them to have. Waco was supposed to be a way for Alcohol -- Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Clinton administration to prove the
need for a ban on so-called assault weapons."

Stockman has also appealed to the black helicopter crowd, as I said, by
accusing the president of working with the U.N., the United Nations, in an
effort to confiscate all our guns. Quote, "There`s no doubt President
Obama and his anti-gun pals believe the timing has never been better to ram
through the U.N.`s global gun control crown jewel. Registration is the
first step toward outright confiscation, and this treaty sets the stage for
confiscation on a global scale. "

He`s referring to a treaty signed by the U.N. that would regulate global
arms trade in an effort to stop weapons and military equipment from getting
to the terrorists and dictators. It does not require registration or
regulation inside countries.

Meanwhile, he compared (ph) to (ph) President Saddam Hussein after he
introduced gun control legislation with children in the audience. Here he
is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: We`re asking the president to go through
the process, if he thinks his bills are good, his law is good, then he
should go through Congress, not just issue a -- he`s not a king. Using
children reminds me of Saddam Hussein when he used kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK, Governor, remember when Saddam Hussein patted that little
kid on the top of his head? It was one of the sickening sights in history
because we knew he was a killer and crazy. Here`s a guy comparing the
president of the United States to Saddam Hussein at his worst moments.
What is this hatred about? And do you think it`ll sell?

RENDELL: Well, there are two things wrong with this. Number one, this guy
is deranged, and I do not believe it will sell. And number two, John
Cornyn is a rock-ribbed conservative. He`s not Dick Lugar. He`s not Lisa
Murkowski. He`s not Mike Castle.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WALSH: He is as -- almost as conservative as it can get. Where do you
draw the line? Where do you draw the line and say someone`s conservative
enough? You know, there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

And if a major campaign -- if Stockman gets significant support, then it is
maybe the death knell for the Republican Party. They can`t survive if they
keep acting like this.

What they`ve got to do is freeze this guy out. Make sure he gets no money
and make sure that John Cornyn has a fairly easy route to winning the
primary. If they don`t, it`s literally self-destructive.

MATTHEWS: Joan, why doesn`t the Democratic Party seize upon the fact that
the Republican Party is making itself a happy home for some of the nuttiest
people in the world? And luckily for the country, people like -- I forget
her name out there in Nevada-- didn`t make it, and the woman in--

WALSH: Sharron Angle and--

MATTHEWS: -- yes, and the woman in--

WALSH: Christine O`Donnell.

MATTHEWS: Christine O`Donnell didn`t make it.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: And Mourdock didn`t make it, Akin didn`t make it. They put up
four people that are definitely closer to the fringe there.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: And they didn`t make it. But at some point, it`s -- I always
say to young people you only get one reputation. Be careful. That`s all
you get is one.

WALSH: True.

MATTHEWS: And once you get a reputation for crazy, you`re going to be
crazy and everybody`s going to think you are. So be very careful about
what you do in your life and what you say.

And I think that the question is, when is the Republican Party just going
to be swamped, there`s so many of these people that they can`t say they`re
not us?

WALSH: Well, right. I mean, this guy makes Christine O`Donnell look like
Dick Lugar. You know, he really is a dangerous person. And I think it is
a test. As you say, young people are afraid of the Republican Party
because they`ve seen these people time and again. They haven`t all won.
Some of them have won. Ted Cruz won.

But you know, it`s also a test for Ted Cruz because I guess -- I saw his
spokesperson say, Well, you know, Senator Cruz has said he`s going to stay
out of the Republican primary process. He shouldn`t just stay out of it.
He should come down on the side of the incumbent, who is incredibly
conservative.

MATTHEWS: He`s not going to do that.

WALSH: Staying out is not--

MATTHEWS: You know where he`s running. Come on. You know what he`s up
to.

WALSH: I know, but I`m saying--

MATTHEWS: He`s going to the crazy.

WALSH: That`s fine. That`s fine. I can still say what he should do as a
decent person.

MATTHEWS: OK, what can you say, by the way, about a guy -- this is
Stockman -- whose campaign bumper sticker read, quote, "If babies had guns,
they wouldn`t be aborted," or who ridiculed transgender people on a right-
wing radio show. Let`s listen to his fun here, so-called.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STOCKMAN: It`s amazing what they`re saying is covered by "Obama care." If
you decide to become transgender, you can also get that covered, so--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good to know.

STOCKMAN: (INAUDIBLE) your show.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Here he is. And there he is, by the way -- here he is going
after the rodeo clown, likes this guy in Missouri who mocked the president
at an event that one audience member likened to the atmosphere of a Klan
rally. Stockman bashed the left rich (ph) reaction. He invited the clown
to perform in Texas.

Quote, "They want to crush dissent by isolating and polarizing anyone who
questions Obama, even if it`s a rodeo clown with a harmless gag -- - the
idea to create a state of fear and make people afraid to trivialize Obama."

And of course, he invited, well, whackjob Ted Nugent to be his guest at the
State of the Union speech this year. In a statement, Stockman said, Quote,
"I`m excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House
chamber to hear from President Obama."

Your thoughts, Governor?

RENDELL: There is no end to this guy`s derangement. I mean, he is racist.
He`s clearly sick. There`s something wrong with him. And the stunning
part about this is -- you`re right, Chris, I had had independents come up
to me, friends of mine who are independent, come up to me and said, Look, I
don`t think President Obama`s done a good job. I like Romney. But I can`t
vote for Romney because his party is full of crazy people.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RENDELL: And that -- this is just adding to that. It creates a huge
problem for the moderate Republicans. They`re in trouble because people
are beginning to believe that this party is becoming taken over more and
more by outright nutjobs.

MATTHEWS: You know, Joan, last thought. We thought -- a lot of people I
knew thought that Jim DeMint was as bad as it could get.

RENDELL: No!

(LAUGHTER)

WALSH: We were wrong.

RENDELL: Close!

WALSH: There`s always a new bottom, Chris. We keep being wrong about
that.

MATTHEWS: Oh, God! You know--

WALSH: We keep thinking we hit bottom, and then we were wrong.

MATTHEWS: If the Democrats can`t build a case against this party, they`ve
got some weak leadership.

Anyway, thank you, Ed Rendell, and thank you, Joan Walsh.

Coming up: Who could possibly vote against a ban on undetectable guns that
can slip through airport security? Republicans in the Senate, that`s who.
It sounds like someone no one would think of, but believe it or not, it`s
true.

Plus, in honoring Nelson Mandela in his speech heard around the world,
President Obama today addressed three audiences, South Africans, Americans,
and perhaps most important, himself.

Also I`ve been saying for a long time if he`s going to save his presidency,
President Obama needs to have strong people around him, not yes men and
floaters. Now finally, he may be listening to that.

And we told you last night that Rick Santorum somehow managed to compare
"Obama care" to -- guess what this week? -- apartheid. Maybe he was having
fun at President Obama`s expense, but Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show" just
had a lot of fun at Santorum`s expense.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Senator Patty Murray, the Democratic chair of the Budget
Committee, and her Republican counterpart in the House, Paul Ryan, have
reached a budget deal. The two-year deal would partially repeal some of
the sequester cuts, the next round of which were due to kick in in January.
And while it`s not a grand bargain, it would reduce the threat of another
shutdown, another government shutdown, in 2014.

Still, it faces opposition from both sides of the aisle. Some Republicans
don`t want to roll back sequester cuts, while some Democrats worry that the
deal doesn`t include an extension of unemployment insurance.

Be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back. The people on the far right have made it their
mission, of course, to defund, derail, destroy or kill anything and
everything on the present`s agenda. In addition to shutting down the
government, repeated efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act and an
historic campaign to block presidential appointments, they`ve now gotten to
the point where they want guns on airplanes.

That`s right. It might sound crazy even for the far right, but as the
Associated Press reports, GOP senators rejected an effort by Senator Chuck
Schumer, Democrat of New York, to strengthen the ban on plastic firearms by
requiring that such weapons contain undetectable metal parts. Some plastic
guns meet the letter of the current law with a metal piece that can be
removed, making them a threat to be slipped past security screeners at
schools, airports, I guess the U.S. Capitol, and elsewhere.

In an interview with the AP, Schumer had a simple and powerful response.
Who in God`s name wants to let plastic guns pass through metal detectors at
airports or stadiums? What`s important here is that plastic guns aren`t
science fiction anymore. Thanks to new technology like 3D printing of
plastics, they are frighteningly real.

Michael Tomasky is a special correspondent with the DailyBeast and Ryan
Grimm is the Washington bureau chief for the HuffingtonPost.

Gentlemen, thank you. Michael, this may be a case like this campaign of
Steve Stockman down in Texas of jumping the shark, of just going too far
with the crazy gun nut-ness, where anybody with a gun out there fighting
deer or killing deer out in Pennsylvania wants anybody getting on an
airplane -- their mothers riding on it, their kids are riding on -- to have
a gun!

I don`t get it. Why would anybody want a guy on a plane with a gun? If
Mohammed Atta had a gun, the whole thing would have been lickety-split.
They wouldn`t have needed box cutters.

MICHAEL TOMASKY, DAILYBEAST: It`s total madness. But you know, according
to the National Rifle Association, Chris, it`s an expansion of a gun law.
The Senate OKed the approval of the existing law as it was written for the
last 10 years. But this would have constituted -- what Chuck Schumer
wanted to do would have constituted an expansion of a gun law. I think 95
percent of America would say it`s a completely rational expansion. But it
was an expansion.

So any kind of expansion to the NRA is no good. And so they had to block
it and they had to nix it. And so I guess, you know, people are going to
get on planes with guns. And then I guess the NRA is going to say after
they did -- after Sandy Hook that, Well, everybody on planes should have
guns.

MATTHEWS: So everybody should be in a Wild West show. By the way, I want
to get to you, Ryan Grimm, on this because they can also get into the U.S.
Capitol. Does anybody think about that? They have metal detectors. They
can get in the White House. They have metal detectors, too. Maybe
something more, but that`s their main line of defense.

Everywhere in the country, in schools or everywhere else, we try to keep
guns out by using metal detectors. If you can do it -- just like John
Malkovich did in that movie, "In the Line of Fire," if you can make a gun
out of plastic and sneak in a little piece of metal a little later on, a
barrel, for example, you can get in with a loaded gun and kill anybody you
want, or everybody.

Your thoughts. Why is it politically expedient for anybody, including the
NRA, to play this game, or play this card?

RYAN GRIMM, HUFFINGTONPOST: Well, it probably isn`t in the long run. And
I think you`re right that they might have jumped the shark on this one.
You know, there`s sort of a compromise going on. You know, the country
allows guns to, you know, be -- you know, the country to be awash in guns,
hundreds of millions of them. But at the same time, we say, OK, well,
we`re going to screen certain events and certain places. You know, we`re
not going to have guns on planes, in stadiums, in the United States
Capitol, you know, or a business that decides that it doesn`t want to allow
people to bring guns in. That`s sort of the deal that we`ve made with this
gun-owning culture.

But this upends that deal. And the NRA is saying no. You know,
essentially, they`re saying that they`re -- that they`re against screening,
that they`re OK with allowing people to carry guns even in places where
society has decided that we don`t want guns, such as on airplanes. So you
know, this -- you know, it`s going to -- it`s going to take a while but--

MATTHEWS: Why screen? Why would you screen -- why would you screen, Ryan,
if you don`t want to screen for metal? Why do we even bother having a TSA
putting our shoes off, taking our shoes off, and taking our wallet out,
taking our hats off, all that process, if you can just scoot through there
with a gun that`s just as good as a metal gun?

GRIMM: No. That`s right. And -- you know, so you either support
screening for weapons to make a plane safe, or you don`t. You know,
there`s really no point in screening for some guns but not other guns
because, as you say, it`s only a matter of time that somebody who wants to
bring a plastic gun on a plane will do so.

MATTHEWS: I`m sure the terrorists are watching right now, in fact.
Michael, you mentioned the NRA`s statement. Let`s take a look at their
statement on this issue because it makes one thing crystal clear. When it
comes to the far right, there`s no such thing as common sense or
compromise, particularly the issue of on gun control.

Quote, "We would like to make our position clear. The NRA strongly opposes
any" -- which they write in all capital letters here -- "expansion of the
Undetectable Firearms Act. The NRA has been working for months to thwart
expansion of the UFA by Senator Chuck Schumer and others."

Apparently, Chuck Schumer is like a big red flag for these people.

TOMASKY: Sure.

MATTHEWS: And even if he comes out for apple pie, they`re not going to be
for it.

TOMASKY: Oh, absolutely.

And Chuck is one of the leading guys on gun control issues going back to
his time in the House. I`m sure you remember, going back to the 1980s and
1990s. So anything that Schumer wants to do, the NRA is just going to say
no. And it absolutely doesn`t matter what it is.

And, you know, Chris, we`re -- we got this anniversary of Sandy Hook coming
up next week. And we`re going to have to talk about all that again, and
relive all that. God forbid we`re going to go into a situation where
something really serious happens before we have to address this and see
that Schumer was right and then try again to push it through the Senate,
and probably watch it fail again, because nothing will change these
people`s minds, because they fear the NRA so much.

MATTHEWS: Last word from you, Ryan.

This seems to be part of a general hold the line, like no judge
appointments no matter what -- whatever trick they can use, and, more
importantly, no deal on the budget, even if it threatens another government
shutdown. There`s a group out there on the hard right that doesn`t want to
ever be caught dealing with Obama on anything.

GRIM: Right. Right.

And the specifics vary depending on the particular issue. This time, it
happens to be the NRA that`s wagging the party. But, on different issues,
it`s -- it`s different powerful groups. But it`s consistently the same
thing.

Anything that could get through the Senate and get signed by the White
House is almost by definition anathema to enough of the wing of the
Republican Party that it that -- that it doesn`t have a chance in the
House. And that`s where we are for the next year.

MATTHEWS: Mike Tomasky, it seems like this is a strange kind of politics.

It`s like said you`re as much a follower -- somebody once said, you`re as
much a follower of somebody if you always do the opposite as a person who
does the same. I mean, you`re dictated too, basically.

TOMASKY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They would only take this wacky position on guns on airplanes,
plastic guns, if Obama supported it. That`s the only way they know how to
vote or think. Just do the opposite.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

TOMASKY: That`s all it`s about. That`s all it`s about.

And one of these days maybe, hopefully, a Republican is going to take on
the NRA and is going to beat them or is going to beat, say, an NRA-backed
primary opponent, and then maybe this political situation will change. But
it`s not going to change until then, until some of them stand up to the NRA
and win.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, Michael Tomasky. Great reporting here.

And thank you. Thank you for your analysis, Ryan Grim.

Up next: Jon Stewart lays into Rick Santorum for comparing the Affordable
Care Act to what else this week, apartheid.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."

Last Friday, we reported to you that former presidential candidate Rick
Santorum compared South African apartheid to Obama`s health care plan.

Well, last night, he got the full treatment from Jon Stewart. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Apartheid is not
Obamacare.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: The systemic subjugation of a race of people is different from
the establishment of subsidized health care exchanges.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: The fact that that insurance is now mandated, again, gets us
nowhere close to apartheid level injustice , in any way, shape -- I cannot
stress this enough.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: So let the world go forth to a new generation of Americans,
wherever people gather, on whatever it is Americans read--

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: -- apartheid, injustice-wise, greater than, by a large amount of
degrees, Obamacare.

If I may shout it from the hilltops--

(MUSIC)

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART (singing): Obamacare is not apartheid!

(LAUGHTER)

(SINGING)

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Next up: Despite being stripped of his powers, Toronto Mayor
Rob Ford isn`t gone from office.

Here from last night is the latest update on him from Jimmy Kimmel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE")

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Mayor Ford made a somewhat
unwelcomed appearance at the annual Santa Claus Parade in Etobicoke on
Saturday.

Of all the hilarious things Mayor Ford has done over the past year, this to
me -- this might be my favorite. Watch this. Look at how he passes out
these candy canes. He got a -- he just--

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: He`s dumping -- he`s -- he throws them as if he`s feeding pigeons
or something.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: There you go, kids. There you go.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: What the hell?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Finally, everyone knows the dysfunction in Washington has
reached new depths, but now there`s a fascinating way to visualize just how
bad it`s become.

"The Economist" magazine recently published a study of political
polarization in the Senate done by a computer science student at Harvard
named Renzo Lucioni. Using data from each session of Congress since 1998,
Lucioni created a model to graph the voting relationship between senator of
Democratic and Republican parties.

Well, the result looks something like this. Here`s the model of the 101st
Congress. Each blue dot there represents a Democratic senator, each red
dot a Republican senator. See how they`re together? The lines connected
to note the instances when one senator has voted with another. And the
model graphs those dots closer to the middle.

The more the overlap, the greater the bipartisanship in that particular
session of Congress. So they`re all united there. When we fast-forward,
however, you will notice that the chart varies from year to year. Over
time, the dots gradually split along ideological lines. The red gets
separated from the dark and from a tightly knit sphere into two distinctive
clusters on either side.

And the increasing trend towards polarization becomes most apparent over
the last decade from 2003 through President Obama`s administration to the
present. The 113th Congress appears as you might expect, split down the
middle, or, as "The Economist" describes it -- quote -- "Though America`s
political polarization has become a fact of life, it`s never been so
graphically, as a diseased brain with few neural pathways between the two
hemispheres."

Up next: President Obama`s tribute to Nelson Mandela today was aimed
squarely at three audiences, South Africans, Americans, perhaps most
important of all, himself.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.

The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee says he will delay passing any
new sanctions against Iran. President Obama and Secretary of state John
Kerry argued against sanctions.

A winter storm in the Northeast has forced schools and government offices
to close in Washington, D.C. Up to four inches of snow is expected parts
of New England.

A family missing for two days in the snowy mountains of Nevada have been
found alive. The two adults and four children are hospitalized in good
condition -- now back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over 30 years ago, while
still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place
in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to
my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable
journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of
Madiba`s example, he makes me want to be a better man.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Of course, Madiba is the nickname that people use with Nelson Mandela.

And speaking of Nelson Mandela`s memorial -- memorial service today,
President Obama had an enormous worldwide audience, of course. And there
were messages in the speech you could hear for many listeners, most notably
his American critics, the South Africans themselves, and even himself.

And it was clear the president took lessons from Mandela`s words and
actions personally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Madiba disciplined his anger and channeled his desire to fight into
organization and platforms and strategies for action.

Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that
standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. "I have
fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination.
I`ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all
persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an
ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an
ideal for which I am prepared to die."

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Cynthia Tucker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist
and visiting professor of journalism at the University of Georgia.
Jonathan Alter is an MSNBC analyst and an author.

Let me ask you, Cynthia, about this term here, when he said Madiba,
referring to -- in the familiar name to Nelson Mandela, he said he
disciplined his anger and channeled his desire to fight into organization
and platforms and strategies for action.

Was he talking about himself as well? That`s my hunch about a little bit
of anger there behind the president, the way he must feel about the poll
numbers and things like that right now.

CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Absolutely, Chris.

You know, he has to be reassessing where he is in his second term. He had
so many hopes, so many goals starting out, a successful rollout of the
Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, doing something significant in the
Middle East. And much of that seems to be going poorly at the moment.

And so he has to draw strength from looking at the example of Nelson
Mandela, who was in prison for 27 years. Does Obama get angry? Of course
he does. He`s human. He must get angry. We don`t see very much of that,
but he -- again, he`s reflecting on the fact that Nelson Mandela learned to
channel his anger for constructive purposes.

So I think that there are many ways that he draws on Nelson Mandela`s
example for strength as he`s trying to overcome these many obstacles in his
second term.

MATTHEWS: There does seem to be something, Jonathan, that is sort of
existential about the president these days. It showed itself a bit in the
interview last week, without being--

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- and getting into psychobabble.

But he was reflective in a way he normally isn`t -- publicly, I mean, -- in
talking about what he`s been up against, the resistance he`s felt.

ALTER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And he doesn`t use words like racism, because it`s always hard
to pinpoint it. But you know he`s talking about the fact that people that
were totally rejectionist to him from the day he was elected.

ALTER: Yes. I think he does draw strength from Mandela`s example, as he
has ever since he was a college student at Occidental College and became
involved in anti-apartheid demonstrations and gave his first public speech
against apartheid.

So, when he was getting ready to go into politics and public life, he
wasn`t looking to J.C. Watts or Edward Brooke, you know, conventional
African-American politicians. He was looking to Nelson Mandela and Martin
Luther King, who didn`t go into politics, maybe Harold Washington, the
mayor of Chicago, where I am now.

But, you know, he was very focused on movement politicians who all did have
to discipline their anger, as he said. That`s an important line for
understanding who Barack Obama really is. You know, there was a political
reason all these years why he`s been such a cool customer. He knew that if
he was ever seen as an angry black man, it would hurt him badly
politically.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

ALTER: But -- so that was the political calculation.

But then there was a deeper sense of who he needed to be to be the man that
he wanted to be. And that`s where Mandela comes in, this -- you know,
under enormous pressure, great persecution, he kept his cool. He did not
rise to the bait. He maintained his dignity.

These are profound life lessons for Barack Obama, and we could see that in
that speech today.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think there`s so much about him today.

But, anyway, he`s also -- unmistakably also talking to an American audience
back home, which was on television all day today, including his critics.
Let`s listen to him in a part of the speech today down there in South
Africa in that big soccer stadium where it`s really sending a message I
think back to the people listening and watching here at home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for
their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like,
or how they worship, or who they love. That is happening today.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No
matter how right, they must be chiseled into laws and institutions.

As he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new
laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let me get back to Jonathan.

One of the messages he sent home here that a lot of the right-wingers don`t
like, including some conservatives--

ALTER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- is shaking hands with Raul Castro, who is running Cuba right
now.

What do you -- what do you make of that? It came from the usual quarters
of Marco Rubio, of course, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen down in Florida, but
also John McCain, who -- who compared it to Chamberlain shaking hands with
-- with Hitler.

ALTER: Well, first of all, you know, the mistake that Chamberlain made was
not shaking hands with Hitler. It was giving away Czechoslovakia.

MATTHEWS: Right.

ALTER: You know, you have to shake hands with your adversaries, even your
enemies.

That is one of the main messages of Nelson Mandela`s life. Imagine trying
to live Nelson Mandela`s message at his funeral. Oh, that`s so outrageous
that Barack Obama would do exactly what Nelson Mandela was trying to teach
people to do.

So, anybody who reacted badly to this has no idea of Mandela`s true
message, has no understanding of what he stood for, and really, you know, I
can see, you know, some right wingers reacting this way.

But for John McCain and Marco Rubio to do so is really disappointing. It`s
almost politically thick, historically dense.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, I don`t like Castro one bit or his
brother.

ALTER: No, I don`t either.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Cynthia Tucker and Jonathan Alter.

I`ve been saying, by the way, for a while, that President Obama needs to
change his presidential operation inside. Now, it looks like he sees the
problem himself. And that`s ahead.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Dick Cheney`s doing what Dick Cheney does best. He`s conflating
one issue with another. Listen to why he says the deal with Iran isn`t a
good one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: In Iran, we`ve got a very, very
serious problem going forward. A deal now been cut, the same people that
brought us "you can keep your insurance if you want" are telling us they`ve
got a great deal in Iran with respect to their nuclear program. I don`t
believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And the guy talking there is the guy that brought us the Iraq
war. Never forget it.

Anyway, is it bad for the president he told the country he could keep our
health care? What`s that got to do with this?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Did you have -- do you have that -- let`s look forward here. Do
you have a relationship with your cabinet that you have a system of
cracking the whip, that they follow through, they execute as you envision
they should? Or do you work through as COO like Mr. McDonough? What is
your system?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Generally speaking, my
theory has been, number one, that yes I`ve got a strong chief of staff, but
I`m holding every cabinet member accountable and I want to have strong
interactions with them directly. Number two is I have an open door policy
where I want people to be bringing me bad news on time so that we can fix
things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, a clip from my interview with President Obama just
last week at the American University where I pressed the president to
explain his role as a manager -- the structure, style, and chain of command
that he depends on to implement this decision. So, it`s difficult to
discern a chain of command at this White House.

Last month, a former official in the Clinton White House, Bob Stone, told
"The L.A. Times", quote, "It seems to me that this White House has no chain
to the top, even just the conventional "protect the boss" standard that
ought to be in place everywhere. When something is about to burst, you
warn the boss. That`s both a management issue and a political issue."

Well, the president`s numbers are sinking fast as we know, and he`s
desperately trying to save his presidency with three years to go, President
Obama is adding a more senior now, an experience presence to the command
structure, former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, Democratic
strategist and Mr. Fix-it, John Podesta, who ran President Obama`s
transition back in 2008 when he was first elected. He`s returning to the
White House in a title called counselor.

Chuck Todd is NBC`s chief White House correspondent, political director,
and the host of "THE DAILY RUNDOWN" on MSNBC, of course.

And Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist.

Gentlemen, thank you.

What`s wrong with the White House structure? I think there is something
and there`s a lack of a chain of command -- a kind of a regimental thing
where everybody does their job or they`re out and it`s enforced by a tough
chief of staff. I don`t see that. I see a lot of floaters and
presidential favorites. Now, I see more added with titles like counselor.

Does he need more counselors? Or does he need a chain of command that`s
clear and strong, Chuck Todd?

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s funny.
You single out an issue that some others have been concerned about. Are
there going to be too many chiefs here? Too many people who among staff
think of themselves as principals among the staff a little bit? Not
necessarily get er done people.

Now, that`s not been an issue with Denis McDonough. He is considered, if
there`s a critique of him internally, it`s that he`s too hands on. He gets
involved in too many things. If something`s going wrong, if somebody
doesn`t know how to shovel a driveway, he doesn`t say, hey, you don`t know
how to shovel, let me tell you how to do it. He just says, you know, just
give me the shovel, and I`ll do it.

So, he`s almost too stretched is the criticism that you hear.

MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t he fire -- why doesn`t he fire people that aren`t
delivering? Why doesn`t he go to the president say, this person, whether
it`s Kathleen Sebelius or one of her COOs or somebody else hiding in the
bureaucracy, they`re not doing the job. We`ve been embarrassed.

I`m telling you, it`s reached the point. And you`re in there, you know it.

TODD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: That this screw-up of the rollout is probably a bigger story
than passing health care at this point. I don`t think it`ll be that way in
history, but right now, it is.

TODD: Right now it is. But this is -- this comes from the top. This is
not what President Obama does. When somebody is going to be fired, it`s
done so two or three months later. It`s the whole no drama Obama.

I think that -- I`m sorry. Maybe I`m wrong about this, but I`m watching
the body language and I`m watching how things are working when it comes to
the current HHS secretary. And I`ll be surprised if she`s there in four
months, but this is not something they`re going to do today because they
don`t believe in doing it into a story.

Now, let me tell you --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I ask them tonight, is there a unique accountability in this
White House like there is in every campaign you have ever covered or I have
been in, one person is in charge of the press. If there`s a bad story,
it`s that person`s fault. If the wrong person gets in to see the boss,
that person`s at fault.

Is there a strict unique accountability, say, on health care -- was there
one person in charge of making that rollout work and that person was known
to the president, was briefing the president on a daily basis, or a weekly
basis or whatever, and either didn`t give him the full story or blew it
themselves personally for not having the full story?

TODD: The impression I get is that person did not exist. And so, there
isn`t a --

MATTHEWS: That`s Zeke Emanuel`s critique by the way.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: That`s right. That person didn`t actually exist. Eventually, it
became Denis, OK?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: He became the guy that say, OK, we`ve got an issue here. But let me
tell you about what the John Podesta hire means and what it doesn`t mean.
He is not a chief of staff in waiting. Anybody who thinks that that`s what
he is, doesn`t understand the relationship between John Podesta and Denis
McDonough, they`re very, very close. They`re very tight.

But I see Podesta coming into the West Wing almost week, probably more so.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: I at least see him there because he`s there to speak and deal with
Denis, if anything, it`s a mentor-protege relationship. Podesta`s
expertise, if you look at what he was able to do in the late part of the
Clinton second term is figuring out how to use the executive branch and how
to get around Congress. Remember, he didn`t have a congress to work with
too well in the last two years, they were busy trying to impeach him,
impeach President Clinton.

So, instead, they worked on how to stay relevant using the executive
branch. That`s what John Podesta is best at. That`s the role I think in
many ways he`s going to play for the president and play for Denis.

MATTHEWS: When it came to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, there
was a vacuum of leadership, as you just mentioned. I asked the president
about that vacuum which Chuck just mentioned last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the chief executive, you.

OBAMA: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And let`s talk about a lot of these young people came here to
study government and how it can be run. There`s all kinds of theories of
how to be presidency of the United States. There`s the spokes of the wheel
method which Kennedy used, where he had a direct contact with his cabinet
secretaries or speechwriters, everybody all the time.

Then, there was the strong chief of staff, sort of the military command
system of General Eisenhower`s president. And, of course, Ronald Reagan
did it superbly with a great chief of staff, a strong one, Jim Baker. Zeke
Emanuel, who worked with you on health care said the other day is there
should have been a CEO assigned by you personally with unique personal
responsibility to oversee the rollout of health care and there wasn`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Steve McMahon, politically, this is bounding all over the
country. You look at the poll numbers, you`ve seen them. They`re not
about to get better any day soon apparently.

And here`s the question: does the president recognize the importance of
execution, not policy, execution?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, he absolutely recognizes the
importance of execution. And I think inside the White House, everybody
there now gets the message.

You asked earlier, Chris, why Kathleen Sebelius or someone in her
department didn`t get fired as a result of this. And the answer I think is
because --

MATTHEWS: The person who doesn`t exist. They can`t fire a man or a woman
who hasn`t been assigned to the direct relationship to the president.

MCMAHON: That`s one possibility. The other possibility is that, you know,
until two weeks ago, and it changes filibuster rule, anybody you fire over
there who doesn`t have a Senate confirmation can`t be confirmed. I think
everybody there gets the message --

MATTHEWS: But don`t blame it on the other side. This is one you cannot
blame on the Republicans.

MCMAHON: You can`t blame the rollout on the Republicans, but you can
suggest why more heads or any heads haven`t rolled.

MATTHEWS: Really? Steve, really? Do you really mean that? That you
can`t get rid of somebody who hasn`t done their job because the other side
might make it harder?

First, you don`t pick staff -- you don`t need Senate confirmation for White
House staff. Let`s get that straight.

MCMAHON: For HHS, for Kathleen Sebelius`s job.

MATTHEWS: If that was the person. If she was the one directly
responsible.

MCMAHON: Well, it was her department.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. OK. So, we blame it on the organizational charts
of the U.S. government, that won`t work either.

Chuck Todd, last word, I guess you have to be very brief, half a second,
half a minute here. Do they know the problem, or are they fixing it?

TODD: I think they know the problem, I don`t know if they`re fixing it. I
think this is -- you`re not going to sit here -- this is not a shake-up and
it should not be seen as a shake-up. It`s a tinkering.

MCMAHON: Agree.

TODD: I think -- I don`t know -- I think this will calm House Democrats
and Senate Democrats down a bit. But I don`t know if they are fixed their
political problem. I think, right now, House and Senate Democrats still
believe that the White House doesn`t understand the political pickle that
these guys are in.

MCMAHON: It does buy us some time. Between Podesta and Schiliro, who also
just came in, who used to be on Henry Waxman`s staff, buys them some time
with House Democrats.

MATTHEWS: Buys you time. But just remember, when Reagan got in trouble
with Iran Contra, much more severe, of course, than the screw-up here, it
was something really wrong, he got rid of Don Reagan and brought in Howard
Baker and Ken Duberstein. You have to make big changes sometimes.

Thank you, Chuck Todd.

TODD: All right, brother.

MATTHEWS: To get your job done and save your legacy.

Thank you, Steve McMahon, as always for the politics.

We`ll be right back.

MCMAHON: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.

I`m about to end a 16-city book tour for "Tip and The Gipper: When Politics
Worked". I think it`s the perfect gift for HARDBALL folks because it
reminds us that politics, smart aggressive politics not only works for the
country but it actually can be a joyous event to watch.

I spent six years of my life working against Ronald Reagan, and yet look
back on that half dozen years. It`s the time when people who disagree,
like my boss and hero Tip O`Neill could get things done for the country.
Call it nostalgia if you want, Mr. President, it worked, I know, I was
there.

My tour of the country is taking me to so many audiences I can`t believe
it. I was supposed to be in Cincinnati tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers
but amid all the snow at LaGuardia today, we watched that plane being
repaired but not in time to get us out of here to Ohio.

Tomorrow evening, I`ll be out in Ohio, at the Columbus Museum of Art to
talk to what I`m told is going to be a big sold out crowd out there. I`ll
be there, and then back here in New York Thursday night at the influential
92nd Street Y, along with David Gergen, who worked on the other side back
in those O`Neill-Reagan days. It should be quite a back and forth between
us.

Christmas is coming fast. The holidays are all around us. I hope you get
a chance to go out yourself, go through the snow and get some copies of
"Tip and The Gipper". I worked very hard to get it all the way.

It really happened to remind those of us my age and to teach the younger
people out there, that political grown ups can get things done. They can
save Social Security, create fair taxes and even end the Cold War, even if
they come at these challenges from different directions.

Yes, it`s a great story. I`m happy to see it done. I want you all to
benefit from the hard work. "Tip and The Gipper", the story of my
political growing up out there in the store right now or on Amazon right
now, waiting for you to get it, read it and share it.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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