December 11, 2013
Guest: Kathleen Parker, Michael Scherer>
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Mutiny of the wacko-birds.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Columbus, Ohio.
Let`s start tonight with this. Well, it looks like some of the wacko-birds
didn`t get the message. Remember how the right wing, in fact, the entire
Republican Party, took that nasty hit during the October government
shutdown, how it`s been the one time in a long time that the president`s
party seemed to be up there with the angels, the Republicans down there
with the political devils?
Well, some on the right didn`t get the message, deaf to the public outroar
(ph) over lost government services, blind to the damning poll numbers from
the fall fiasco of people watching the U.S. government shut down, services
denied people, while federal employees got paid for staying at home.
They`re now out there all over again, demanding no deals, no compromise, no
budget agreement. Let`s do the whole dance all over again.
So what`s driving this urge to shut things down again? What`s driving
these people like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio to this dance of death, this
partisan monster mash when even John Boehner is yelling, Stop the music?
Steve Schmidt`s a Republican strategist and Howard Fineman is the editorial
director of the HuffingtonPost. Both are, of course, MSNBC political
Well, before the ink was even dry on Paul Ryan and Patty Murray`s minimal
budget agreement, conservatives went for the kill. Tea Party groups like
Heritage Action, the Koch brothers` Americans for Prosperity, the Club for
Growth and Freedom Works all slammed the deal. Some of them were ambushing
it before they knew what was in it.
In Congress, firebrands like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio lampooned the deal
as a huge mistake. And there are now at least 33 House Republicans
objecting to the deal`s sequester relief. So what`s notable here is that
the anger within the party has turned squarely on their own, Paul Ryan.
And it`s not just the typical far right that`s attacking him. Fiscal hawks
like Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are blasting Ryan as a sellout. Here`s
Coburn on "MORNING JOE" during an exchange with former Bush and McCain
strategist Nicolle Wallace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: See, he has led to make a compromise that
sells out what actually needs to be done.
NICOLLE WALLACE, FORMER BUSH AND MCCAIN STRATEGIST: But you just called
Paul Ryan a sellout! I mean, I feel like --
COBURN: No. No.
WALLACE: -- if you, Paul or me --
COBURN: I didn`t say that. I didn`t say that. I said he was told to lead
a compromise. A compromise is going to give up your principle. He said
last night on the TV that he doesn`t think people have to give up core
values. We gave up core values!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And here`s Mark Levin going after Ryan shortly after the budget
deal was announced.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MARK LEVIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is really Mickey Mouse. And I
don`t mean to be offensive. I just want to -- you`re claiming --
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), FMR. VICE PRES. CANDIDATE: (INAUDIBLE) oversell
LEVIN: We`re facing a fiscal disaster in this country! I know you know
this. You`ve told me this. Hold on. Hold on. I just want to get my
question out -- a fiscal disaster in this country, and we`re talking about
$23 billion over 10 years. The debt goes up to $17.3 trillion in the next
few months. It`s almost $100 trillion unfunded liabilities. Where the
hell are all these cuts?
RYAN: Hey, Mark, elections have consequences.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Steve Schmidt, it seems like most of the people in the House of
Representatives and in the Senate and the Republican Party generally saw
the poll numbers. The only time your party got in trouble was when you
shut down the government, put a lot of federal employees at home collecting
paychecks that bothered everybody, especially Republicans, who like to see
people work for their pay.
And now some of these people -- not a majority, but we think maybe 33 in
the House, at least, are ready to rebel against what looks to be a minimal,
harmless budget deal.
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, you
know, the fact that we were able to accomplish a budget deal here is, you
know, in and of itself a remarkable achievement at a time where the parties
have been unable to do even their ministerial functions, one of which is
producing a budget.
Look, the budget doesn`t solve the country`s fiscal problems, which are
significant and which are severe. I am scared to death about the fact that
we`re $17 trillion in debt and it`s going higher. This is a minimal
budget. It has deficit reduction in it.
At the end of the I day, you know, the fact of the matter is elections do
have consequences, and one of the consequences of the election is you try
to get the best deal you can get. And I think that`s what Paul Ryan`s
accomplished here. When you look at some of these conservative groups,
they had the fund-raising letters out before they had any ability to
analyze what was actually in the deal.
So the politics for-profit wing of the Republican Party is at it again to
the detriment of the wing of the party that actually has to play a part in
governing the country. And that`s what you`re seeing here play out for us.
MATTHEWS: I want to stick with you on this. Are you amazed to see that
the speaker of the House, who has a big responsibility for raising money
himself, directly shot at them and said what they`re really up to, these
groups I mentioned, like the Koch brothers -- they don`t have to raise
money, they spend money -- Freedom Works and the other groups -- that
they`re mad because they know this is a way that if you`re mad at a budget
deal to show your anger, and you can raise a lot of money on it.
And that`s not the interests of the Republican Party being done there, but
the interests of the fund-raisers. I`ve never heard Boehner step up and do
this. This is pretty gutsy by him, to go after the fund money, the rich
people in the party.
SCHMIDT: Well, I -- there`s a lot of evidence to suggest that he`s been
thinking it for a long time. It`s good that he said it. And so when you
look at the recent history of the Republican Party over the last couple
years -- look, when you appease this crazy behavior, do you get more of it
or less of it?
MATTHEWS: Well said.
SCHMIDT: And I think maybe one of the lessons is that -- is that -- is
that you`ve got more of it. So now you`re starting to call it out with the
hope maybe that you get less of it.
MATTHEWS: Well, I want Howard to respond to this. After following the far
right`s lead in the last round of budget talks and the shutdown, which shut
down the government, and further damaging the Republicans` image, Speaker
John Boehner exploded now at the mention of their opposition to this budget
Here`s Boehner being very un-Boehner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the most major conservative groups (INAUDIBLE)
blasting this deal, are you --
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You mean the groups that
came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?
QUESTION: Yes, those groups. Are you worried that --
BOEHNER: They`re using our members and they`re using the American people
for their own goals. This is ridiculous. Listen, if you`re for more
deficit reduction, you`re for this agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard, I`ve been waiting for that Boehner for, well, many years
now, and I just -- I know we`ve all seen it now. That`s the Boehner we`ve
been rooting for, somebody to be a leader.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes,
well, Chris, I think far from ending the civil war within the Republican
Party, I think the events of the last 24 hours have just made it all-out
And I think that Paul Ryan has staked out a position as a pragmatic
conservative, a guy who disagrees with Chris Christie over in New Jersey
who says Washington can`t do anything, who`s going to try to show by doing
a deal with Democrats that you can get some deficit reduction, that you can
make some incremental progress, and still by his lights stick to your
And I think John Boehner has basically just had it. I think that this
thing is going to pass, if it is going to pass, with a lot of Democratic
votes. He`s basically telling that conservative wing of the Republican
Party, the Jim DeMint wing, the Koch brothers wing, to just get out of
town. He`s going to pass a bill with Democrats, if he has to. And it`s
And interestingly, Paul Ryan is in the photograph, in the video with John
Boehner, and I think that was significant that Paul Ryan was willing to
take the step he did because I don`t think he`s given up on his own
national ambitions, either.
MATTHEWS: Steve, this division between the -- what you might call the
establishment -- I guess that`s as good a word as any -- in the leadership
and then the right wing on the other side, it looks like their line of --
the line of division has moved a bit. Now you`ve got Paul Ryan in the
establishment circles. You`ve got Coburn outside with the redhots.
It is moving around or people are jumping from side to side, but it means
what Howard just said, that this civil war is red hot right now. It isn`t
going away right in your party.
SCHMIDT: No, it`s not going to go away, and it`s going to play out over
the 2016 election. But look, Chris, this isn`t an ideological fight within
the Republican Party. The fact of the matter is these groups, in the name
of conservatism -- and they`ve taken conservatism and they`ve defined it
not by issues but by tactics --
SCHMIDT: -- and by extreme rhetoric and by who`s the most nutty person
yelling the loudest, the craziest things in the room at any given time.
And they`ve divorced conservatism from prudence, from pragmatism, from its
attenuation (sic) to reality.
And so it`s great that John Boehner and other leaders are saying, Enough is
enough here, because we need to have a healthy Republican Party in this
country to help solve some of the problems that have been built up over the
time. And it`s true that but for the Senate Conservative Fund and these
other groups, the person that Paul Ryan would be negotiating with would be
the Republican Senate budget leader because we would have a majority in the
Senate but for the five U.S. Senate seats we`ve given up over the last two
election cycles --
MATTHEWS: Well, don`t you --
SCHMIDT: -- because of all of these nutty candidates.
SCHMIDT: Steve, don`t you now regret that you solemnized the marriage
between the responsible Republican Party of John McCain and Sarah Palin
SCHMIDT: How`d I know you were going to go there!
MATTHEWS: Well, of course I`m going to go there!
SCHMIDT: -- self-evident. You know, it`s -- you know, look, it`s been
self-evident for some time that, you know, when you look at some of these
folks, whether it was her, whether it was a Christine O`Donnell in
Delaware, we shouldn`t define who is and who isn`t a conservative --
SCHMIDT: -- on your capacity to suspend disbelief and say that these
people are -- have the capacity to be in the United States Senate. But
look, I mean, this has been self-evident for years, for years, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Yes, at least I got my thrill up my leg --
MATTHEWS: I got my thrill up my leg from Obama. You got it from Sarah
MATTHEWS: It`ll never go away --
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at Paul Ryan, by the way, fighting back
against the far right. This is Congressman Ryan talking with NBC reporter
Frank Thorpe (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK THORPE, NBC NEWS: Did you ever think that a piece of legislation
that you were responsible for would be called not conservative enough?
RYAN: It`s -- it`s a strange new normal, isn`t it.
RYAN: It`s funny, isn`t it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that funny. Ryan impresses me. There`s a good running
mate, by the way, Steve. But Ryan seems to understand the irony of somehow
being pushed off the crazy car. He`s not in the crazy car anymore. He`s
getting hit for it.
SCHMIDT: Yes. Absolutely. Look, you know, now Paul Ryan, all of a
sudden, is a RINO. And you know, the number of people, you know, that are
increasingly kicked out, you know -- and this is DeMint-ism in full
flourish, right, the notion that I, Jim DeMint, get to decide who is a
conservative. It`s defined on agreement with me, not any, you know,
particular issues, or you know, what has traditionally been what we define
And so when you make conservatism a cult of personality, this is what you
get. And we have now good conservative leaders, impeccable conservative
leaders now being painted with this brush. And it does great harm to the
Republican Party, but it is good that John Boehner and others are finally
starting to push back against it.
MATTHEWS: Howard, last word quickly. I don`t think you or I could overdo
or outdo what we just heard there. But go ahead. Your thoughts.
FINEMAN: No, I`m just -- I`m just looking, you know, at what other
Republican leaders are going to come forth and really take this on. I
mean, in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell should just -- Hey, just do it. He`s
being attacked mercilessly by Matt Bevin, the Tea Party candidate down
there. I know that Mitch McConnell thinks that what the Tea Party is doing
is crazy politically. He should flat out get out there and say so. Why
MATTHEWS: Yes. We`ll see which way he goes.
FINEMAN: Why not?
MATTHEWS: We don`t know which way he`s going to go in the next 24 hours.
FINEMAN: Right. No.
MATTHEWS: He may go with the Tea Party and --
FINEMAN: He may.
MATTHEWS: -- trash the budget deal.
FINEMAN: He may.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll see -- watch him in the next 24 hours, whether he`s
going to go with the wacko-birds or stick with the leaders. Anyway -- or
be a leader. Thank you, Steve Schmidt for that brilliant exposition, and
Howard Fineman, as well, as always, sir, with you.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You are the best.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: we know President Obama`s poll numbers are down. Who
doesn`t? But with an improving economy and a functioning health care Web
site, it`s possible that things could well turn around.
Also, the Republican Party is teaching candidates how to talk to women.
Maybe the party should start by changing policies that have them losing
Plus, you probably saw those pictures of President Obama chatting with the
Danish prime minister. Talk about harmless.
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with the need for progressives to go big,
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Democrats have some ground to make up for next year`s
midterm congressional elections. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to our new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Republicans now
have a 2-point lead over Democrats on the so-called generic House ballot.
It`s 44 percent for the Republicans, 42 percent who say they`ll vote for
the Democrats. Well, that`s a 10-point swing from just two months ago.
After the shutdown, which made the Democrats look good, Democrats led that
generic poll by 8.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the country`s unemployment rate
is at its lowest in five years. Americans` confidence in the economy is
improving, and the health care Web site is working better. And yet the
president`s approval numbers remain under water.
In five separate recent polls, including the latest NBC News/"Wall Street
Journal" survey, the president`s job approval ranges from a low of 38
percent in the Quinnipiac poll to a high of just 45 percent in the Pew
survey. In every case, his disapproval rating is, of course, higher. Even
more troubling for the White House, Americans say their trust in the
president, personal trust, has decreased.
Well, the president`s obviously in trouble. And like Ronald Reagan and
Bill Clinton (INAUDIBLE) they`ve pulled themselves out of troughs like this
before. Anyway, the question is, how does the president do it? How does
he get out of the hole?
Chuck Todd`s the political director and chief White House correspondent for
NBC News, and David Axelrod is an MSNBC senior political analyst and a
former senior adviser, of course, to President Obama.
Gentlemen, I want to start with David Axelrod, who`s been there and has
maintained ties, I believe, at least with some of the people over there.
The president -- it seems to me one of the rules of politics, which you
know pretty well, and certainly Chuck does, it`s the topic of what people
are talking about that drives the numbers.
Is there any way in the short run the president can focus (INAUDIBLE)
people on something besides the incremental, hopefully, improvement of
DAVID AXELROD, FMR. OBAMA SR. ADVISER, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, I
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) something else.
AXELROD: I think that -- first of all, I think that`s already happening by
dint of the fact that the Web site is improving. You know, one thing about
this poll is 58 percent of those people who said -- who were asked about
what`s framing their opinion said that it`s health care. Well, that`s
because the majority of coverage over the last several months has been
about health care.
If that subsides and other things take precedence, then I think that will
help improve his situation. The good news about this poll from the White
House perspective, if I were sitting there and thinking about it, is that
so much of this is tied to health care. If they can get past this juncture
and improve on the performance of this Web site, get past these stories and
refocus on the economy, I think there`s a good chance that a year from now,
we`re going to be having a different conversation.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Chuck, you and I know that the news is driven by things
that go wrong. You don`t cover non-traffic accidents, you cover traffic
CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: Right.
MATTHEWS: That`s what we cover. So by the nature of it, is there any way
you can distract from something that`s still a problem with people? If
it`s a pain or it`s difficult or it`s too bureaucratic or whatever,
dysfunctioning (ph) to some extent, how does the media -- how does the
White House move the conversation to something else?
They can`t do it to Iran because Iran`s over there. How they -- can they
do something with, say, a fight over minimum wage, trying to get it up over
10 bucks? Can they do that and drive the story that way?
TODD: Look, I don`t think they can force a change of subject, right? I
think the way they create the environment to have a different conversation
is by simply making the health care implementation work better and better
They obviously got better news today as far as the enrollment figures are
concerned for November. What you hear about where things stand, even now
in December, is going to be even a better -- they`re going to be behind the
eight ball a little bit. I don`t think they`re going to get to a million
enrollees by the end of the year. But it`s possible they`re moving in the
right direction. Sure looks like it, based on enrollment data.
But Chris, I don`t think they can just simply throw something else and hope
that it`s a shiny metal object here. I think they`ve got to clear the
decks with health care.
TODD: I think they`ve got to make their staff all focused on getting it
done. Yes, I think the minimum wage is a potential wedge for them, but I
actually think the Republicans will cave quickly on this because I think
they`re not that stupid on this issue.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think that`s smart, lay down on that one. Anyway, one
area where the president has clearly taken a hit is on question of trust.
In the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Americans were asked to rate
the president on the qualities of being honest and straightforward -- 37
percent rated him good, 43 percent rated him poor. And that`s it.
If you look at where he was on these issues in January, you see he`s taken
a big hit, and those numbers have essentially been reversed.
You know, I do think this is a problem, and I -- and I support the
president, or he agrees with me or I agree with him on a lot of these
issues, obviously, David. But the question of that claim he made, that if
you have a health insurance policy you`re happy with, you`ll get to keep
it, was a pretty simple, broad promise.
He hasn`t been able to keep it. It`s not there. Is there any way he can
fix that? I noticed he`s doing things like our interview last week, which
I -- I`m glad he did, certainly, and getting out there. Is part of that
just getting out with young people especially and showing he`s there to
answer their questions, or what?
I think part of it is being honest about it, and he has been honest about
it. Part of it is getting it fixed as best as you can. There is no doubt
that that is the core of the problem when you come to this measure, and I
think he was ill-served, because I`m sure, when he said what he said, he
believed it. When they put the grandfather clause in, he believed that
that would take care of these kinds of transitional problems.
It didn`t. And I think the real lesson here is, don`t ever speak in
absolutes, because there`s always going to be an exception, and that
exception is going to be an example that your opponents lift up.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of his answer to my question last week when I
asked him about his management of the White House? There doesn`t seem to
be a clear chain of command with a strong chief of staff and then people
taking orders, and that chief of staff being able to kick butt all the way
down the line, so there was personal unique accountability on things like
He pushed that aside and said, no, it has to do with the organizational
structure of the government which he inherited or he blamed it on the
Republicans. What do you think of that? You worked there. Was there a
clear line of authority for the president on down, where things got done or
people got fired or got in trouble or got frozen out or something?
AXELROD: Well, when I worked -- well, first of all, when I worked there,
Rahm Emanuel was the chief of staff, and I would say there was a clear line
of command. And I think that people who stepped out of line knew -- knew
that there were consequences.
AXELROD: And I will say this. I think Denis McDonough is a very, very
good man. And he`s brought a lot of order to that operation, so I do think
there is a sense of there`s someone in charge. He meets with the president
first thing in the morning. He meets with the president at night.
MATTHEWS: What about Zeke Emanuel saying that there needed to be a CEO in
charge of the health care rollout and there never was one?
AXELROD: Well, I agree with this. I think that there should have been
perhaps a more prominent presence within the White House. They folded the
White House Health Care Office at the beginning of the year into the
Domestic Policy Council.
I`m not sure that was the right move when Nancy-Ann DeParle left the White
House and others left. And she really was -- even though she was deputy
chief of staff was the de facto person on health care. There should have
But what did Hubert Humphrey say? The would have club and the should have
clubs are the biggest clubs that there are, and you don`t want to be a
member of them?
MATTHEWS: I know.
But, Chuck, Chuck, get in on this.
Chuck, do you think there`s a clear sense, like there was in the -- you
weren`t there, but a clear line of authority almost like a military chain
of command in the White House, where nobody gets in the way, there`s a
clear line, the boss is the boss, he`s the president, he has a chief
operating officer? And there wouldn`t be all this mess we`re talking about
the last several months. There wouldn`t be the health care screwups if he
had a clear line of accountability, where months ago, if not years ago, he
would have known the problems and fixed it because somebody would have been
talking directly to him and he`d be vetting what they`re saying.
TODD: Well, I think it`s 100 percent.
David hit the nail on the head with the Nancy-Ann DeParle. There was
nobody in the West Wing that owned health care. There was somebody that
owned health care politics, but there was nobody in that West Wing that
owned health care implementation until it was too late.
And that, of course, in hindsight is the real mistake. Yes, there are
problems at HHS, and at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid and all that.
You -- there are clearly structural, government bureaucratic issues. But
that was the whole point of creating the White House health care -- Health
Policy Office was to get through that.
TODD: And then they dismantled it when they actually needed it. Right?
They had it when it was a political -- and they used it as a political
So I think David just obviously -- he knows better being on the inside.
That was the initial mistake. But to go back to Denis, look, he is a more
hands-on chief of staff. I don`t know -- is he -- he very much more is in
the mold of Rahm Emanuel. He knows everything that`s going on. Jack Lew
was not that guy. But he`s not --
MATTHEWS: You`re missing my point.
TODD: I know what you`re looking for. He`s not a fire guy.
MATTHEWS: I will tell you what I`m looking for.
We only get to vote for one person in the White House. We only have one
person there that responds to us, that answers to us. That`s the guy we
elected president in this case. He is responsible for health care. He has
to have a direct line to somebody that is responsible to him, not down
through Sebelius and the CEO and the COO of the CMS and maybe somebody who
used to work on the policy staff at domestic policy.
No, no. He was elected. He should have been on top of this right from the
TODD: Of course.
MATTHEWS: And that`s the issue I keep getting at. You`re chief executive,
Mr. President, not just chief of staff or chief of state.
Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd. Thank you, David Axelrod.
Up next, after his plagiarism scandal, Rand Paul is back out there giving
credit where credit is due, even to a character in "Popeye," Wimpy.
Remember him? Gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today. Didn`t
have to button up that baby, Senator.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
With this Congress trying to be one of the least productive in modern
history, it`s no wonder that it has a 13 percent approval rating. Those 13
percent must be the just-say-no crowd, by the way. And now it seems some
members would rather pass the buck instead of passing bills.
Here`s what -- here was Jon Stewart`s analysis of that last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Now, you might
wonder which political party bears more responsibility for nothing getting
done. And obviously each side is blaming the other. But here`s a little
The party that`s more responsible might be the one that defined its mission
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We should not be judged on
how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that
STEWART: Ask not what your country can do for you.
STEWART: Ask what you can stop your country from doing.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it seems, though, that at least one senator has got his
staff working overtime.
Rand Paul`s office has gone to great lengths to footnote his speeches and
press releases, after dealing with plagiarism charges last month.
His latest release on the budget negotiation shows just how cautious he`s
become. It cites the "Popeye" cartoon as a source. And here`s the quote.
Quote: "There is a recurring theme in Washington budget negotiations. It`s
I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
Well, as you can see, a footnote below attributes the reference there to
the "Popeye" character J. Wellington Wimpy, otherwise known as simply
Anyway, Senator, you created this problem yourself. How`s that for self-
Next up, if you were watching the memorial service for Nelson Mandela
yesterday, you probably saw the sign language interpreter standing
alongside the podium. But as those of you who know sign language quickly
discovered, the guy was faking it. He was translating the speeches into
Well, the South African government is investigating right now how the
pretend interpreter gained access to the stage. The deaf community is
Meanwhile, some Republicans say they are angry over President Obama`s
handshake with Cuban President Raul Castro. You can call it only the
latest outrage from the right.
Here`s how Conan O`Brien it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CONAN")
CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Here`s the real interesting thing that
happened at the memorial today. President Obama shook hands with Cuban
dictator Raul Castro.
It was big, yes. Or, as FOX News reported it, foreign communist shakes
hands with the leader of Cuba.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And then there`s this. "The New York Post," not a particular
friend of President Obama, poked fun at his exchange with the Danish prime
minister yesterday. They also featured yesterday`s selfie with the
president, the Danish prime minister and British Prime Minister David
Cameron, and series of pictures showing the interaction between the
The president`s defenders were quick to note with great concern that the
photo play was overhyped. The photographer himself warned not to jump to
conclusions -- quote -- "I thought the world leaders were simply acting
like human beings, like you and me."
This is hardly a controversy. As Jonathan Capehart put it well in "The
Washington Post," it`s a "non-troversy."
I`m with Jonathan.
Up next: how to talk to women, Republican-style. This is going to be fun.
That`s ahead. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. I`m Veronica De La
Cruz. And here`s what`s happening.
NBC News has learned there is an urgent situation emerging on board the
orbiting space station. One of two cooling loops has failed, and it may
require a space walk within one to two weeks.
New documents show, in the second before an Asiana flight crashed July, the
pilot trainee was confused about his airspeed and the controls. Three
people died in that crash.
And after thousands of people filed past Nelson Mandela`s flag-draped
casket today, a solemn ceremony was held before the sunset.
I`m Veronica De La Cruz -- now more HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, Republican politicians have admitted themselves they have got work to
do with women, whether talking to female voters or female constituents back
home or meeting female challengers on Election Day.
Anyway, the House Republican Congressional Committee has been holding
sessions with aides to incumbents since this summer, which Politico wrote
about under the headline "GOP Men Tutored in Running Against Women," a
headline that almost sounds like a joke, but it`s no joke.
The new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll numbers should give the party pause.
On party I.D., what you say a member of, which party, 42 percent of the
respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 37 percent as Republicans,
not a big problem there for Republicans, 42/37, just down five.
But among women, 50 percent, half of the country, identifies itself -- of
the women, identify themselves as Democrats and 32 percent as Republican,
an 18-point split there.
Well, today, conservative-leaning "Washington Post" columnist -- she tends
to be a little moderate conservative, I would say -- Kathleen Parker writes
of the GOP report, "Even though well-intended and much-needed, the idea
that men should get coaching on how to talk to women so as not to offend
them is sort of 1950s-ish prep schoolish, as have been some of the
suggestions directed their way."
Case in point, she singled out Iowa Republican Senate candidate Mark
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mark, this past week, we learned that John Boehner apparently is
training his members how to talk to women. So, we begin this morning,
what`s the biggest difference between men and women?
MARK JACOBS (R), IOWA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I think you have to
connect with women on an emotional level. And with a wife of 25 years and
an 18-year-old daughter, I have had a lot of coaching on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined by Kathleen Parker to respond to that little tidbit
and the "New York" magazine`s John Heilemann. He`s co-author of "Double
Down." Both our MSNBC political analysts. Lucky for us.
Kathleen, thank you. This thing about -- what do you think of that line we
just heard from that guy? I mean, even that kind of thing, to me, it`s
tricky business even talking about this, but your thought?
KATHLEEN PARKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, I`m going to try
not to cry while I explain things.
PARKER: But it seems, you know, this has got binders full of women written
all over it.
In light of what the Republicans have been through and what the numbers
clearly indicate, their problem with women, you know, this move to sort of
talk to them about how they should approach women, this idea that women
have to be approached emotionally, now, that`s just one man as opinion.
And I, of course, know what he meant, that when he`s with his wife and his
daughter, he just says yes, dear, and everything`s fine.
PARKER: And that`s actually a good rule of thumb, but it`s just silly.
And the idea that women can`t be approached the same way would you approach
a man at work, the idea being that we`re all there to do a job, is just
beyond -- it`s Neanderthalish and insulting.
MATTHEWS: John, it seems there are two different vocabularies and ways of
speaking. There`s the way men and I -- men like you and I talk, we may
talk on a train together, we may talk wherever, at a bar together.
And we talk about how we get along with our spouses or girlfriends or
whatever. And there`s a certain kind of comedy that goes to that among
men. And then there`s the way you have to approach these things in public
and the way you have to show respect in public. And women -- and women,
too, it`s the same with them, I assume.
And when you make comments like you got to be more emotional in dealing
with women and women are more emotional, you`re just walking into trouble,
it seems to me.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, walking right into the --
walking right into the worst kind of stereotypes.
I actually think, Chris, that the whole -- that that -- that conundrum
points to the bigger problem, which is, talking to voters as if they`re
intelligent people, whether they`re men or women and talking to them about
issues in a way that`s intelligent and is meant to appeal to them in terms
of their head seems to me to be a good rule of thumb when you`re talking to
any voter, whether they`re a male voter or a female voter.
HEILEMANN: And the problem that Republicans I think seem to have with
women is much more a problem of policy than it is a problem of
communications or of manners.
MATTHEWS: Me, too.
You know, Kathleen, this is troubling, but women live longer than men.
Women take care of their parents when they age much more than men do. They
focus on the needs of their parents and sometimes the guy`s parents when
they`re in their 70s and 80s or 90s if they`re lucky. They focus on what
shots the kids have had more than the men do. They focus on the teachers
quality much more than the men do. They help with the homework more than
the men do.
Obviously, talk education, talk health care, talk Social Security, talk
Medicare, that`s policy. That would be a smart approach to women, as a
guy, I would say, speaking logically.
PARKER: Well, absolutely, Chris.
And, also, by the way, women are working in great numbers.
PARKER: They care about taxes. And they care about health care and they
care about all of the things that any citizen of this country cares about.
They care about military readiness, economic policy, fiscal matters. So,
it`s just not even remotely accurate to think that women have only certain
interests. And by the way -- I think that`s right --
MATTHEWS: They`re not as gun crazy, right?
PARKER: I`m not so sure.
MATTHEWS: Are they? I didn`t know. I didn`t think so. That was an
PARKER: Yes. Be careful.
MATTHEWS: Look at this -- here`s where we can agree on something,
Kathleen. You and I got these discussions. Very interesting sometime.
Catch this -- on Monday, Rush Limbaugh, who can unite us all, was ripping
on the history, "The Daily Caller" headline, liberals want to stop men from
checking out women about a new study on objectification of women, when he
suggested this approach.
Here`s Rushbaugh. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: You got to have to fun with this kind of stuff,
as you know. So, let me offer, first suggestion -- you find yourself
staring, casually glancing at a woman, but you know that it`s now socially
taboo. You shouldn`t be doing it. And you think everybody is noticing you
doing it and condemning you in their mind. You walk up to the woman
saying, would you please ask your breasts to stop staring at my eyes?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, let`s just aggregate what he`s doing there. He`s obviously
appealing to his radio audience. I guess he`s -- they`re mostly men. I
guess he`s assuming they have a certain attitude that would find this funny
because Rush has a huge audience and he wants it to grow.
So, what`s he talking like that for, Kathleen?
PARKER: Well, he`s definitely talking to the guys. You know, I think Rush
has a shtick. He probably knows that that`s annoying to woman and that`s
why he says it. He gets off on that. And there`s a time when he was
But I feel like his remarks recently, starting with Sandra Fluke and
escalating from there, you know, he goes out of his way to be mean-spirited
and derogatory towards women in very personal ways, and I think it`s no
longer funny, for sure, the idea that he has a large base that finds that
interesting and abusing is disconcerting to me as a woman, but also as
anyone who`s concerned with the level of civility in our public discourse.
He`s not helping, and he really could help so much.
MATTHEWS: John, speaking strictly politically and electorally, is there
any sign that the Republicans are going to make up what looks like an 18-
point gap in voter identification with women?
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don`t particularly see
it, Chris, and I think it`s another case where Republican who have done
poorly in 2012 with members of the coalition of the ascendant, the growing
parts of the American electorate, they have not improve there had posture
with minorities, they`ve not improved their posture with minorities. They
have not improved their posture with Latinos in particular.
But, you know, the Rush Limbaugh thing is actually worth focusing on for a
second, because you really do have -- in a party, in a Republican Party
right now, he is among the most visible and vocal members of the Republican
Party, identified broadly by a lot of people and the public as a leader of
a huge part of the Republican Party. He says those things and no one in
the Republican Party stands up and says, you know, you`re wrong.
And in this case, maybe it`s not that big of a deal, but if you think back
to one of the things that Kathleen Parker just mentioned, Sandra Fluke,
where he stands up in the middle of a presidential election and calls her a
slut, and no one in the national Republican leadership repudiates him,
including the presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, that`s a big problem for
Republicans, and it makes a lot of women feel as though the party is
tolerant of views that express hostility towards a whole -- more than 50
percent of the American electorate.
MATTHEWS: And that`s why I make an exemption there for not being a media
critic. I don`t like media critics, certainly people in the media
criticizing other people. But Rush Limbaugh is more powerful than almost
any Republican I can think of.
And the proof of that is, if you make a comment against him, you are
kowtowing and bowing to him and scraping him and kissing his butt within 48
hours, and that shows how powerful he is.
By the way, I think he will have to pay for calling the pope a Marxist.
I`m surprised he hasn`t had to do that yet.
Anyway, thank you, Kathleen Parker. It`s great to have you on. And, John,
we miss you. You`re great.
And we`ll be right back after this.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Democrat Katherine Clark won yesterday`s special House election
up in Massachusetts. Clark cruised to victory, winning a seat held by now-
Senator Ed Markey by 34 points over her Republican opponent. Clark will be
the 60th Democratic woman in the House. That number`s growing, that
number, and the 82nd overall.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
"Time" magazine`s just released its person of the year award, and it`s the
Catholic Church`s leader, Pope Francis.
When I interviewed President Obama last week at the American University,
the president seemed somewhat beaten down. But when I mentioned Pope
Francis, he came alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back at the HARDBALL college tour to American University.
You know, Mr. President, your remarks the other day on economic justice, to
me, as a Roman Catholic, was so resonant with what the Holy Father Francis
has been saying. Talk about that common Judeo-Christian or even further,
Muslim, background to the belief where you have a social responsibility, a
moral responsibility to look out for people who haven`t made it in this
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, there`s no great
religion that doesn`t speak to this. At root, every great religion has
some equivalent of the Golden Rule, some equivalent of the idea that I am
my brother`s keeper and my sister`s keeper. I think Pope Francis is
showing himself to be just an extraordinarily thoughtful and soulful
messenger of peace and justice.
I haven`t had a chance to meet him yet, but everything that I have read and
everything I have seen from him indicates the degree to which he is trying
to remind us of those core obligations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But not even the universally popular pope is spared ugly attacks
from the right wing.
Michael Scherer, by the way, is Washington bureau chief who joins us now.
He`s from "Time" magazine.
And, of course, Jonathan Capehart is an MSNBC contributor, and opinion
writer for "The Washington Post."
Gentlemen, this didn`t come as a big surprise.
To you, Michael, you were there. Was this a close call or was this clearly
MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME MAGAZINE: No, it was actually a close call. And
there really -- it was down to two people for quite a while. Edward
Snowden, the NSA leaker, being the other one, both came out of nowhere this
year. No one knew their name last year. Both are influencing the way
billions -- literally billions of people are living in different ways. So
they`re doing it in different ways but the pope edged it out. It was a
very tough call.
MATTHEWS: Well, how did you make this decision between Mickey Mantle and
Willie Mays? How did you decide?
SCHERER: The final decision was my boss, managing editor Nancy Gibbs`
decision, and we laid it out for her. It wasn`t my decision. I was the
author of the Snowden piece, the runner-up piece.
MATTHEWS: OK. I see.
SCHERER: But I made the case, other people made the case. We talked about
it. And she decided --
MATTHEWS: OK, make your case right now, this is fascinating. Why do you
think it was Edward Snowden and not the pope who was man of the year? You
SCHERER: I didn`t say that was the case I was making. I think you can
make cases for both of them. And I actually Nancy made the right decision
here. I think what you`re talking about is one person influencing in a
very dramatic way the way the world thinks about technology and democracy.
And I think Snowden will change from here on out the way people think about
these issues. And you`re going to have very real changes in Congress next
year, changes at the U.N., changes in the E.U., in the way the laws are,
changes in what U.S. intelligence says. The biggest contribution is people
think of their cell phones as tracking devices. They didn`t do that
before. And once that information is out, it never goes back.
If you`re talking about the pope, though, you`re talking about a totally
different type of influence. He is changing the conversation around the
church, around issues like income equality, around conversations in the
developing world, around homosexuality, which is an enormous thing if you
live in Africa, or you live in Latin America, where homophobia is still
rather dominant. He`s making that far more difficult. And he`s bringing
the world`s conversation back to this idea of poverty and helping the poor,
and income inequality.
And I think that`s enormous as well.
MATTHEWS: Jonathan, take sometime here. Match up with that. Your view
why the pope was the winner, why he should be the winner?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think Michael
laid out most of the case. I would add to that, that what the pope has
done in terms of his telling the church to -- you know, don`t obsess over
social issues such as homosexuality or abortion as happens here in the
United States, focus on the tenants of the church, not so much as focusing
on inequality and helping the least of these.
I have to tell you on top of that, because of the pope`s message, his all
inclusive message, the welcoming message, he has made the church accessible
to those who have been turned off by the church over the past few decades,
and those who tuned out because they think the church has gone away from
Now, Chris, I`m not a Catholic. I`m not Roman Catholic. But I have to
tell you when Pope Francis speaks, I listen, because I know from reading
his interviews and reading some other things about him that he is someone
who would welcome me with open arms into the church. He views from
everything that I have read, every individual, every soul as someone who
should be reached out to, and someone who should be invited into the church
as opposed to excluded from the church.
MATTHEWS: You know, I think Groucho Marx was wrong. I think people will
join a club that will accept them as a member. And I`m dead serious. It`s
nice to be accepted and not rejected.
MATTHEWS: And it`s also nice to be urged on, to be a better person and not
being rejected as a person.
MATTHEWS: Michael Scherer, congratulations for that discernment.
And thank you, Jonathan Capehart for your usual humanity here.
And we`ll be right back after this.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let me end tonight with this:
I`m out here in Columbus, Ohio, speaking at the Museum of Arts tonight.
And tomorrow, I`ll be in New York at the 92nd Street Y, and Saturday, back
home at the big Barnes and Noble at noon in Bethesda, Maryland.
My multi-city tour for "Tip and The Gipper" is about to end and what I have
learned out here in the country is how much people who come out to see and
hear me want to see politicians, progressives, as well as those on the
right get their acts together.
That number, we show you Congress` low approval rating, is real. People
who care about this country, who watch this program and programs like it,
who know we can do better are determined from the president on down, words
and promises need to be put into actions and achievements.
Let`s face it, we can sit here and blame the Koch brothers, I like to do
that, and Citizens United and gerrymandering, and all the bad stuff coming
from the right. And you know, nothing that they have done can match the
frustration and anger of what those in public office have done to reduce
the hope we have for change in this country, good change.
We know the facts, the health care bill was great history, great
progressive success, but the raw has been what it has been. You give it a
We know that one reason things are not getting done, is not just the
Republicans always saying no in Congress, but the failure to truly
challenge those Republicans with big progressive ideas, big legislative
proposals, like a big American building program, highways, bridges,
tunnels, fast rail. That will bring this country up to Europe and Asia and
drive the jobless rate down, the real jobless rate down to about 4 percent,
where it belongs. Why not?
If the Republicans in Congress are going to say no to everything, why not
give them something big to say no to. As I like to say to my graduate
students, especially minorities, don`t say no to yourself, make them say no
to you. That`s the message from me and I got the message from the country.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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