July 22, 2014
Guest: Jonathan Gruber, Chuck Schumer, Wayne Slater, Lloyd Doggett,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: "Obama care" under attack.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in San Francisco.
"Let Me Start" tonight with the big news of the day in politics. Today,
two U.S. circuit courts of appeal went to war over President Obama`s number
one legacy, health care. One in Virginia said the country could go ahead
with the plan. The other, the one in the District of Columbia, declared
the health care system illegal. It said it can no longer provide subsidies
to millions of people on federal exchanges who need help with their health
care insurance, and therefore, the government can no longer require people
to even participate in the plan.
The big question is, which of these court rulings will win out? Will the
D.C. appeals court carry the day with its argument that the law that
created "Obama care" denies subsidies to those living in states that refuse
to set up their own health care exchanges? Or will the Virginia court
prevail with its argument that the provision limiting subsidies to state
exchanges was the legal equivalent of a typo?
Well, if the argument against "Obama care" wins, perhaps in a ruling by the
U.S. Supreme Court, it would mean that the critics of the president have
destroyed the president`s historic health care plan and confiscated it from
the tens of millions of people now enjoying it because of a two-step
choreography, first by getting 36 states to refuse to set up health care
exchanges as prescribed by the health care act, and then having the failure
to set up the exchanges itself lead the courts to kill the subsidies in
those states, and therefore, the requirement that people join "Obama care"
in the first place.
What we are watching in today`s court cases is precisely the attack to the
heart that its critics have long hoped for.
Jonathan Gruber is an MIT professor and was a key health care adviser on
both "Romney care" up in Massachusetts and President Obama`s Affordable
Care Act. And Joy Reid is, of course, my colleague and the host of "THE
REID REPORT" here on MSNBC.
Let`s go to Jonathan. Jonathan, was this a typo, saying that only if you
had a state exchange could you get a subsidy and therefore be required to
participate, or was it some significant policy decision not to include
states that didn`t have exchanges?
JONATHAN GRUBER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Chris, it is unambiguous this
is a typo. Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this
law has said that it`s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the
federal states. And why would they?
Look, the law says that people are only subject to the mandate if they can
afford insurance, if it`s less than 8 percent of their income. If you get
rid of these subsidies, 99 percent of the people who would get subsidies
can no longer afford insurance, so you destroy the mandate.
Why would Congress set up the mandate and go through all that political
battle to allow it to be destroyed? It`s just simply a typo, and it`s
really criminal that this has even made it as far as it has.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s make -- let me be devil`s advocate for a few
minutes. Could the Congress have assumed that all the states were going to
set up exchanges, and they were wrong because the Republicans were
recalcitrant, so damnably, you might argue, troublemaking in not doing so?
GRUBER: Well, Congress certainly assumed more states would set it up than
did, but Congress explicitly allowed for federal backup, and they -- and
you`re right, Republican opposition has caused many states to turn to that
federal backup, which is fine in general. The federal backup, after
initial glitches, is working fine. But it`s literally insane to think that
because of a typo in the law, which happened simply because Republicans
obstinacy would not let the bill go to conference -- that that typo would
bring down the law is just a failure of democracy.
MATTHEWS: Joy, the critics of the president, especially those on the hard
and nasty right, are doing jumping jacks over this. They love this because
it verifies what they said was wrong with the bill in the first place. I
don`t know if that`s true or not, but they certainly are happy to see this.
What`s your view of the law here? Do you think there`s a credible belief
or prediction right now that this could croak health care?
JOY REID, "THE REID REPORT": Well, you know, I think, first of all, Chris,
this strikes me as a very political decision on the D.C. circuit by the
conservative -- it was just three members of that nine-member panel, that
And a lot of the legal thinking is when it gets to the larger panel, which
is more liberal, this won`t stand, which means to me that it`s very, very
political and it`s finding a way to -- essentially, as you said, to gut the
law because it is unimaginable that -- as Mr. Gruber said, that after all
that fight, all that torturous fight in 2009, that Democrats would write a
poison pill into their bill.
That said, I`m a little surprised that Republicans are so giddy about this
because I think what they`re missing is that when people in those 36
states, who hear this same exactly story on their local news at night,
tonight -- what they are going to hear if they now have insurance through
"Obama care," is that their insurance is in jeopardy. And you`re talking
about middle class people who earn enough income at work to be able to
afford -- to be able to qualify for the subsidies in the first place.
So what you`re essentially cheering then is that what, eight, nine, ten
million people, most of whom are not getting it from Medicaid expansion,
most of whom are getting it through the exchanges -- so you look at states
like Georgia, states like Louisiana, states where the Affordable Care Act
has been a part of the political conversation, you`re not just saying,
We`re not going to give it to Medicaid recipients. You`re saying to that
middle class person that has insurance, Your insurance is in jeopardy. I`m
not sure that`s good politics for the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Well, me talk to you about the court ruling first, and we`ll get
to the politics in a second. The first thing is the court (INAUDIBLE)
Don`t tell me you`re shocked by the fact that there`s a partisan ruling.
We had President George W. Bush because of a partisan ruling by the Supreme
REID: No, I`m not surprised...
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that a fact?
REID: No, I`m not surprised by it. It`s unfortunate. And I think one of
the reasons that people have started to lose trust in the federal court
system, in the Supreme Court is that what they do does appear to be so
It was a surprise to me, quite frankly, when John Roberts joined four other
members of the court to uphold the Affordable Care Act because the
political pressure from the hard right is so much for shredding this law,
getting rid of this law, getting rid of not just the mandate, the whole
thing. They want the whole thing gone. And not even pragmatically because
people do tend to, you know, want to have health insurance, but they want
it gone because they want to erode this part of the president`s legacy.
So no, I`m not at all surprised that three conservative members on this
court decided to take a shot at the law. I don`t think they will succeed,
necessarily, when it gets to the big court. That`s where it`s going to be
a problem. But even that failure in the larger court will expose this as
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to Jonathan on what`s being tried here. What the
Republicans -- and they`re Republicans -- are doing is saying that a bill
written by Democrats, passed by Democrats, with very little Republican -- I
MATTHEWS: Did they get any votes? I don`t even remember. I don`t think
they got any votes.
GRUBER: No Republicans.
MATTHEWS: And so how could they argue that a bill written by Democrats
somehow had its own death knell written into it? It doesn`t make any
sense. Why would Democrats putting the bill together in both House and
Senate -- why would they ever put into it a little a poison pill that said,
Oh, if you don`t have a state exchange, then you can`t give subsidies and
you can`t have and individual mandate, therefore the bill is dead?
Why would they do that? Where`s the logic there?
GRUBER: You know, someone wrote today a very clever thing, which is
whenever we fight about the Constitution, we always wonder, Well, what did
the framers really mean? Well, in this case, we don`t have to wonder. We
know what the framers of this law meant. We can ask them. We can go to
the people who wrote this law and say, Did you ever intend this as a poison
pill, or is it just a typo? And every single one of them say it`s just a
So there`s no mystery here. There`s no wondering about original intent in
writing this law. This typo -- this is just a typo. And if the courts
pass this and if it eventually makes it to the Supreme Court, we`re talking
about seven million Americans who would become uninsured because of this
typo, if they really interpret it that way. It`s just crazy.
MATTHEWS: OK, look at the Republicans. They`re out doing their dance of
death again. Ted Cruz, of course, led the charge, or the dance, here
zeroing in on the D.C. ruling as a, quote, "repudiation of `Obama care` and
all the lawlessness that have (sic) come with it. Every last word of
`Obama care` must be repealed." That`s the hardest right, right there.
The RNC chair, Reince Priebus, who often dances to their tune, said -- he
said the decision is another reminder that "Obama care" is not working for
too many Americans. How is that connected? It`s time to start over on --
as if they have a plan on health care!
And they were quickly followed by House Speaker John Boehner, who`s getting
sadder every day, who said today`s ruling is also further proof that
President Obama`s health care law is completely unworkable. It cannot be
Joy, I sometimes think that Speaker Boehner is a POW forced to write these
statements. I mean, I don`t know what he`s talking about. There is no
replacement plan. There is no alternative. He ought to know it. Reince
Priebus ought to know it. Four or five years now, they`ve had a chance to
write an alternative to health care. They haven`t come up with it. They
don`t have one. It isn`t repeal and replace, it`s nothing.
So as Jonathan just said, if this goes down because the courts go hard
right, all those people on health care now are back to where they were with
nothing, with -- facing, you know, existing conditions problems, and the
young adults not getting coverage. All the things they love about this
REID: Yes, and the -- and Republican -- first of all, those are such
warmed-over talking points. They didn`t even say anything new. This is a
new ruling, but the talking points are all the exact same thing that
they`ve been saying, you know, for years.
And the other issue is I just don`t understand how it`s good politics to
say to someone, I promise to take away your health care. I vow to come in
and take back what you have. One thing people don`t like is to lose what
And the issue with the Affordable Care Act has been that 80 percent of
people get insurance through their employer, so it doesn`t affect them.
It`s easy to dislike a law that has nothing to do with you. The concept of
it doesn`t sound good, but you`ve got insurance.
If you`re one of those eight million people that have insurance, the idea
of a Tea Party politician saying, I promise to take that from you
(INAUDIBLE) make me vote for you, that`s going to make me want to vote to
get rid of you. It`s going to make me want to vote against you. And I
think the politics are terrible for them!
MATTHEWS: Joy, I don`t want to break your heart, but these guys and these
women in the United States House of Representatives are not worried about
the general electorate, which is still of mixed mind on health care. It
may be (INAUDIBLE) but it`s a mixed mind. They`re talking about the one
third of their party that votes in primaries.
MATTHEWS: They are certainly not worried about the general elections
because of gerrymandering and other facts, there are no more general
elections for the House. It`s very hard to lose a general election in
November. So all you`re worried about is the primary right-winger in the
Republican Party, and they`re playing right to them with this thing.
REID: Unless they`re in the Senate. Unless they`re running for reelection
statewide. I think that definitely holds true for House districts that are
running for reelection. But if you`re -- if you`re Mary Landrieu, this is
a good thing for you because you`re now having another case that you can
make to the voters in Louisiana that this is a bad deal.
If you`ve got that insurance -- and the South is where the uninsured people
live. They live in the South. They`re in Georgia. They`re in Virginia.
They`re in Arkansas. These are precisely the states where the insurance of
people who`ve got it now are in jeopardy.
And look, look at Mississippi. Races can get a whole lot closer when
there`s an issue on the table of you taking something from people that
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, you still have your "hope" poster up on the wall.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think the Supreme Court does, necessarily. Thank you
very much, Jonathan Gruber, for your expertise with "Obama care" and with
"Romney care," which I think was pretty good, actually -- "Romney care."
Anyway, Joy Reid, thank you.
REID: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, a report from overseas on the growing humanitarian
crisis in Gaza, hundreds of people dead. And then we`ll talk to a top
Democratic senator on the refusal of Hamas to even accept a ceasefire.
Plus, let`s look at Texas governor Rick Perry`s ordering of a thousand
National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexican border. What a joke! The
Central American children want to surrender! They`re surrendering! You
don`t need guns there and soldiers. So is Perry trying to send a message
to Central America? What? Or is (ph) the Republican caucus voters in Iowa
got their ears open for this character?
Also, his adversaries in Congress are calling President Obama weak or even
complicit in the downing of that Malaysian airliner. But -- good question
-- why hasn`t he been stronger in placing the blame where it belongs, on
one man, Vladimir Putin?
Finally, why are vampires showing up at fund-raisers for Senator Cruz?
Well, that`s, of course, in the "Sideshow."
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new polling on some of the hot Senate races
around the country. And for that, we check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard,"
starting in Iowa, where a new poll from Gravis and the conservative
magazine "Human Events" finds a tight race between Democratic U.S.
congressman Bruce Braley and hog castrator Joni Ernst. It`s Braley 44,
Ernst 43, too close to call there.
Next to Colorado, where Republican U.S. congressman Cory Gardner has a 2-
point lead over incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Udall in the latest Quinnipiac
poll. It`s Gardner 44, Udall 42, again very close. Finally, to Michigan,
where a new Eric MRA (ph) poll finds Democratic U.S. congressman Gary
Peters now leading Terri Lynn Land by 9 points. It`s Peters 45, Land 36.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back. Israel`s shelling of Gaza from air and sea
continued today and into the night. Israel says it is targeting terrorists
and rocket launchers, but the civilian death toll is rising. Here are the
casualty figures as of right now, and as you can see, Palestinians have
suffered a significantly greater number of deaths than Israelis.
Also today, our country`s FAA took the dramatic step of placing a 24-hour
ban on all U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv due to the explosion of
violence over there. European airlines Air France and Lufthansa followed
suit and suspended their flights to Israel, as well.
In the meantime, Secretary of State John Kerry intensified diplomatic
efforts in the region, meeting with Palestinian and Egyptian officials in
Cairo today, trying to reach a ceasefire in Gaza by resuscitating a truce
proposal rejected by Hamas militants just a week ago.
For more on the bloodshed in the Middle East, let`s go to Tel Aviv and NBC
News Tel Aviv bureau chief Martin Fletcher.
Martin, what is the Israeli population response to these rising civilian
death figures in Gaza?
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, well, when you speak to people
here, there`s a sense of horror at the pictures, respect for the -- respect
for the dead. One has to say that. They regret the deaths, that`s for
But at the same time, what they keep saying -- they keep saying is that,
Look, what we`re doing to the -- to the Palestinians, we`re not doing on
purpose, but they would dearly love to do that to us. And therefore,
there`s a groundswell of support for the army and for the government here
to finish the job with Hamas. So I think the army and the government has
time, as far as the Israeli public is concerned, to finish this.
But of course, there`s great pressure growing on Israel because of the
civilian deaths to stop the fighting and to reach a deal with Hamas. But
of course, what Israel says there is that, We accepted a ceasefire a week
ago, Hamas rejected it. So now all eyes are on the -- Secretary of State
Kerry and the U.N. secretary general and their attempt to bring about a
MATTHEWS: How will Israel be better off after this is over, if they
achieve their mission, if they`re able to knock out the rocket launchers
and basically capture them, if they`re able to seal off the tunnels where
terrorists were able to enter Israel with explosives? Is that the goal?
Is it a tactical goal or a long-term goal they`re aiming at here?
FLETCHER: Well, first of all, those are two very big ifs because Israel is
struggling to achieve either of them at the moment, and that`s why the
fighting`s becoming more intense. They`re not that interested in a
ceasefire at the moment. And the fighting looks like it`s going to be
going on for some time. So those are two great, big ifs.
But Israel`s ultimate goal in this campaign is clear. The prime minister
keeps saying the same thing. He`s saying Israel will keep fighting until
they`re able to achieve what Netanyahu called sustained calm for the
Israeli people. That means no more rockets, destroy all the tunnels. But
as I said before, those are two very, very tough conditions.
Hamas is fighting back in a way that has earned the respect of the Israeli
army, the Hamas proving itself to be very good at urban warfare, full of
surprises. Those tunnels are much more extensive than Israel -- than
Israel expected. They`ve discovered, they say, about 15 tunnels. They
believe there are several dozen more.
And bear in mind also that in the first two weeks of the fighting, the
Palestinians were able to fire about 130 rockets at Israel a day. After
the ground invasion, they continued with that rather, although it`s true
that the last couple of days, the rate of rockets from Gaza into Israel has
But as you mentioned earlier, one did land one mile from the -- from Tel
Aviv airport, and that has led to this snowball of airlines that are
canceling their flights to Israel, which is a major blow for Israel and a
major success for Hamas.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, NBC`s Martin Fletcher over in Tel Aviv.
Joining me right now is U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.
Senator Schumer, how does the United States play a role when it is clear
that the Netanyahu government and Israel wants to get something done before
the fighting stops, and the Hamas people on the other side in Gaza who have
been firing rockets continue to do so? It`s as if both sides want to
continue this fight until some point is achieved. So, what can the United
States do to stop them?
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, as Martin Fletcher mentioned,
there was a peace offered by Egypt, that cease-fire, rather, that Israel
accepted a week ago. Hamas rejected it.
Israel has now accepted two cease-fires offered by Egypt, which everybody
regards as a sort of down-the-middle, neutral arbiter, and Hamas has
rejected them. More to the point, what other country would stop in the
middle of a military operation if rockets were coming from that country to
their country and say, oh, let`s have a -- let`s sort of ignore it and let
them fire at us again in a few weeks?
What the Israeli public is demanding, what any public under these
conditions would want is that the Israeli armed forces finish the job. Get
rid of the rockets. Finish the tunnels.
SCHUMER: And then see what can happen in Gaza.
But the -- any government`s obligation, first obligation is to protect its
own citizens. And that`s all Israel is doing. I think all they ask is
that the world not have a double standard. The way Germany would respond
if Berlin were attacked, the way France would respond if Paris were
attacked, the way the U.S. would respond if Washington or any other city
were attacked is all Israel wants, which is to make sure it doesn`t happen
MATTHEWS: And congratulations. I said so last week. And I really believe
you were right in a column you wrote for "The New York Post" last week,
where you said Israel`s justice pursuit of justice in regard to the killing
of that Palestinian kid and perhaps burning him alive, that was so much at
odds with the way the Palestinians handled the killing of the Israeli three
SCHUMER: Yes. Well, I think most Israelis and most American supporters of
Israel, Jewish and Gentile alike, feel there is a massive double standard
To say both Israel and Hamas are equally to blame is wrong. Hamas fired
the rockets into Israel. Israel is trying to defend itself. Hamas uses
civilians as shields and puts these rockets in all kinds of places where
civilians are. Israel tries to protect its civilians and have them far
away from this.
And, as you said, when the three Israeli boys were kidnapped and murdered,
there were cheers and parades. The mother of one of the suspects said, I
hope it`s my son, whereas in Israel, those fanatics, the Jewish fanatics
who killed the Palestinian boy were condemned. And they will be in jail
for a long period of time.
This idea that there is moral equivalency or even as so many of the
newspaper writers seem to write, oh, both sides are at fault, is just
wrong, wrong, wrong.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk what is going on in domestic politics here. You
wrote an op-ed today in "The New York Times" calling for an end to the
partisan primary system in favor of what you call a top two primary system.
You wrote -- quote -- "The partisan primary system which favors more
ideologically pure candidates has contributed to the election of more
extreme officeholders and increased political polarization. It`s become a
menace to governing. A top two primary system would encourage more
participation in primaries and undo tendencies toward default extremism.
It would remove the incentive that pushes our politicians to kowtow to the
factions of their party that are most driven by fear and anger."
So, it`s interesting that you point out that both parties suffer from the
fact that the 10 percent at either end, left and right, are the ones that
show up in primaries, when the others don`t and therefore dictate the
ideology of the party.
Chris, yes, I get asked all the time what accounts for all this
polarization? And probably the number one thing that accounts for it is
the primary system, where the 10 percent on the far right vote in
Republican primaries, the 10 percent on the far left vote in Democratic
And it`s very hard for people to move to the middle, more so in legislative
bodies like the House or the state legislatures, not the Senate,
thankfully, where there is redistricting. And in 90 percent of the
districts, you never -- the only contest you face is the primary.
Republican candidates and officeholders just lean right. Democratic
officeholders lean left. And getting things done in the middle, which used
to happen all the time, doesn`t.
The top two primary system forces the candidates to go to the middle for
some votes and, to boot, independents, who now in most states can`t vote in
any primary, could vote in the primaries. In the states that it`s
happened, we have had governing in the middle.
The classic is California. Jerry Brown has been able to run a middle-of-
the-road government. The legislature has backed him up in what used to
with be one of the most polarized legislatures in the country before the
people put this system in place on -- through initiative on their ballot.
MATTHEWS: Well, I like the idea. And thank you so much, Senator Chuck
Schumer, calling for some kind of new way of picking candidates so they
don`t all come from the far left or the far right.
SCHUMER: Hey, our system is -- our system is racked with polarization.
This is a good way to end it.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
SCHUMER: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: why vampires are supporting -- speaking of the far
right -- Ted Cruz. That`s next in the "Sideshow."
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": President Obama
was giving an interview recently. And get this. He said that he thought
Joe Biden would be a good president.
FALLON: When asked why, he was like, because he would make me look
FALLON: That`s the real truth. I mean, not going to lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."
President Obama has been criticized for his actions in the wake of the
downing of the Malaysian Flight 17, especially with how he has handled
Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian media, meanwhile, says the
White House, the White House was too quick to blame their country for the
Here`s what "The Daily Show"`s Jon Stewart had to say about it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The White House has found guilt before any
investigation, just like Hussein and his weapon of mass destruction."
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": That`s going to
leave a mark.
STEWART: You invade one country under a pretext that you learn almost
immediately was false and then quietly change the pretext and pretend you
never made the mistake in the first place, and they never let you forget
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Can`t they just let it go?
Anyway, next, vampires invaded the George W. Bush Presidential Library in
the latest episode of HBO`s "True Blood" this week. If you missed it -- I
did -- two of the characters went undercover to a political fund-raiser
for, believe it or not, Senator Ted Cruz. Here is the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TRUE BLOOD")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Of all the horrible things I have seen in the last
hundred years, this could be the most disturbing.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It`s fun because we`re together.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: No, it isn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, even vampires weren`t that impressed with that crowd.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next, Rick Perry sends the National Guard to the
border. Is this pure P.R.? Yes.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
President Obama arrived about an hour ago in Seattle. He`s on a three-day
fund raising trip to the West Coast and that includes stops in San
Francisco and Los Angeles.
Crews are making progress battling a massive wildfire in Washington State
that`s burned nearly 400 square miles so far.
And polls closed a short while ago in Georgia, where Republican voters are
choosing a Senate candidate in a runoff election between Congressman Jack
Kingston and businessman David Perdue -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Today, I`m using my executive authority as
governor of Texas and activating the National Guard. It is code-named
Operation Strong Safety all along the border region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was of course Texas Governor Rick Perry announcing today -- or
actually yesterday -- that he has ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to
the border with Mexico in an operation which will cost $12 million a month.
Anyway, the deployment comes as an influx of unaccompanied children, more
than 50,000 so far, continue to stream across the border from Central
America. Yet, while Perry`s decision may have the look and the feel of a
bold stroke, anyway, there is little evidence that the National Guard
troops can actually do anything to alleviate the real problem.
First they don`t have the authority under the law to stop, detain or arrest
anyone crossing into this country illegally. And, second, the children in
this case are willingly turning themselves in already. They`re not trying
to evade the authorities. We don`t need soldiers with guns pointed at
Anyway, the governor explained his rationale earlier this month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: They are not under the law allowed to apprehend any
of these children that are crossing, are they?
PERRY: Well, the issue is with being able to send that message, because
it`s the visual of it I think that`s the most important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s the visual, he says, admitting it even.
But in an interview with "The Washington Post," the Bush-appointed former
chief of the National Guard, H. Steven Blum, appeared to be skeptical of
the whole idea -- quote -- "Until mission requirements are clearly defined,
it can`t be determined whether this is an appropriate use of the Guard in
this particular case. If you`re talking about search-and-rescue,
maintaining the rule of law or restoring conditions back to normal after a
natural disaster or a catastrophe, the Guard is superbly suited to do that.
I`m not so sure that what we are dealing with in scope and causation right
now would make it the ideal choice."
Well, get the feeling -- I get the feeling that Perry is less interested in
impressing Central American children than those voters out in Iowa.
Anyway, joining me right now is Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of
Texas and Wayne Slater, who is the senior political writer for "The Dallas
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I have been watching Governor Perry. And I have been watching
his attempt to deal with the visual. He now wears glasses on television.
He got rid of that snappy blazer with the gold buttons he used to wear.
He`s trying to look like a serious grownup. And here he is admitting it`s
all visual, this sending the border guys and women who have no authority to
arrest anybody, stop anybody, pursue anybody, do anything, because he says
it would make a good visual.
I`m wondering who he`s sending the picture to. Is it the voters of Iowa or
some bad guy down -- or a good parent down in Honduras? Who is he sending
DOGGETT: Chris, I think those new glasses may make him look more
thoughtful. They may or may not have improved his memory. But they
certainly haven`t improved his vision.
He doesn`t understand this problem. He`s even been willing to welcome
nuclear waste to Texas, but not these children so desperate to escape
abuse. I think that really the taxpayers of Texas are just being asked to
pay once again for his rather grandiose political ambitions.
Our National Guard is very skilled, it`s highly trained, but not to do the
job. He`s not so much about boots on the ground. That`s what he wants to
project. These Guard members, after they get their training, may provide
pencils on the table or a wrench at the garage. But they are not going to
be doing anything that we couldn`t do through other means.
And it will, of course, disrupt the lives of many of these Guardsmen who
served our country so well abroad.
MATTHEWS: Well said.
Let me go to Wayne Slater, who is always good on this.
Wayne, what strikes me is he`s trying to offset the fact that he looked
soft a while back in the last election for offering what seems reasonable
to children who are brought here illegally in this country to Texas. He
was proposing that they get in-state tuition, which is a great deal for a
family of modest means, as you all know. You know it. I knew it.
I got in-state tuition at a college once. So, let me ask you this. Is
this just to make him look Mr. Tough?
WAYNE SLATER, COLUMNIST, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": He`s got a Perry
problem and he`s got a Republican problem.
And, frankly, I think yesterday`s announcement was a sweet spot where he
dealt effectively with both of them on the political terms. The Perry
problem was just what you said. Last time he ran for president, some on
the right, the far right, the Tea Party, thought he was much too soft on
And so he was able to suggest that now I want to toughen up the border.
And that`s a good thing for him to -- thing to project. The particular
Republican problem is -- and I think Perry threaded the needle really well
-- on the one hand, they want to look tough on the border, but they don`t
want to look mean in a way.
And by saying I`m just going to put a bunch of military on the border, and
he`s leveling -- he`s lifting himself to the level of the president,
saying, I look tough, but I`m not here to hurt the children.
I thought it was frankly a very smart political...
MATTHEWS: I disagree. I think it`s part of the problem we have had all
along with immigration policy. It`s all pretense. We hire people
illegally because they are cheap when they come in and desperate. At the
same time, we put more people on the border to pretend we are going to stop
them from coming in.
Meanwhile, we create this giant magnet of illegal jobs, low-paying jobs.
To me, it`s like putting your -- one foot on the pedal and one foot on the
Anyway, let`s look at what Perry said.
SLATER: No, no, I`m talking -- wait a minute, Chris. Chris...
SLATER: ... I`m talking about politically. And you know what I`m talking
about. I`m talking politically.
As you suggested, in Western Iowa, this is going to play. Last weekend, he
was in Iowa. He pre-figured...
MATTHEWS: Well, then they`re stupid out there if they fall for this.
They`re stupid. Why would anybody fall for this claptrap?
We are telling them right now these guys on the border that he`s putting
there can`t stop a kid from coming in, especially when the kid comes in
with hands up, and he`s surrendering, this 10-year-old surrendering right
when he gets there. What`s the purpose of seeing a guy with a rifle
wearing fatigues? What`s the goal?
SLATER: No, there isn`t any. It`s window dressing. You`re right.
Let`s take a look back at what Perry said in 2011 in that debate on FOX
News Channel -- well, it`s FOX -- in paying the in-state college tuition
for children of illegal immigrants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: But if you say that we should not educate children who have come
into our state for no other reason than they have been brought there, by no
fault of their own, I don`t think you have a heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Lloyd, Congressman, why would that be a bad thing to say in the
Republican Party, what he just said there?
DOGGETT: Well, there is such a fear and hate with regard to some of the
immigrants. I think a failure to recognize that these are desperate
children coming to our shores seeking refuge, but it seems to play very
well in the Republican Party to say they`re not our kids, not our problem,
when they are our problem and we ought to be recognizing their unique
circumstance and defend existing law and see that it`s properly
I`m encouraged that the Senate is apparently beginning to move some
appropriations to fund full enforcement of our laws, including the justice
system for these children. And that measure apparently includes no changes
in the existing law, which should be forced to prevent track trafficking of
MATTHEWS: Well, Wayne, do people hate Hispanics who are uneducated, more
than they hate Hispanics who are educated?
WAYNE SLATER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Well, that will be the kind of test.
And we`ll see at election time, both nationally and these various states.
But ask yourself this: the Perry idea, the idea that was embraced and will
be embraced in Iowa and South Carolina and northern Florida basically says,
"I`m going to militarize the border." It ain`t popular on the border, not
with the sheriffs and others. "I`m going to send people that can shoot
children" -- not that they will -- but have the authority to shoot children
but not ask for their papers.
But whether you think they are stupid or not -- and I know what you`re
MATTHEWS: No, stupid if they buy this. No, stupid if they buy this.
SLATER: I think it`s a heck of an applause line. I have seen Perry do it
before. I think others are going to say the same kind of thing.
If they really wanted to solve the problem down there in a bipartisan way,
they would approve a portion of the billions that the president has asked
for to deal with the humanitarian aid and deal with beefing up the border.
But to do that you have to embrace Barack Obama and Republicans don`t want
to do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, if they fall for the fact that the guy who said
oops because he couldn`t remember the government agencies he wanted to get
rid of -- and there`s only three of them, if they fell for the fact that
he`s now wearing glasses and he must be smarter, they might fall for this
Anyway, U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett, thank you, sir.
And thank you as always, Wayne Slater, who is trying to figure this out
like I am.
Up next, President Obama`s two-front conflict -- Vladimir Putin on one side
and Republicans who blame him, the president, for what`s going on in
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Forty-five years ago this week, hundreds of millions of people
around the world watched as Americans landed on the moon. Today, at the
White House, President Obama welcomed Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, as
well as the widow of Neil Armstrong.
Aldrin, Collins and Armstrong first reached the lunar surface during the
Apollo 11 mention in 1969.
The president called the moon landing a seminal moment in the history of
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an opportunity for
me to extend on behalf of all the American people our deepest condolences
over the loss of family and friends and to assure the Dutch people that we
will work with them to make sure that loved ones are recovered, that a
proper investigation is conducted, and that ultimately justice is done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, President Obama today. In this case speaking at the
Dutch embassy in Washington where he also signed a condolence book for
those victims of Flight 17.
In eastern Ukraine, after days of delay, the bodies of the victims were
finally released by the pro-Russian rebels, along with the plane`s black
But in Russia, according to "Reuters", Vladimir Putin had some strong words
for the U.S., accusing our government of indirectly pulling the strings in
Ukraine and trying to bully Russia.
Meanwhile, there was an emotional reminder of the tragedy last week and the
frustration and anger that families feel. The father of one victim shared
with NBC News this open letter he wrote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, Mr. Putin, leaders of the
separatists, or the Ukraine government, for murdering my loved and only
She was shot out of the sky.
Regards, Elesmiek`s father, whose life is ruined now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this afternoon, U.S. intelligence officials briefed
reporters on the evidence so far they have in the case. According to NBC
News, they said Russian-backed separatists -- here is the key word --
probably fired the missile that brought down Flight 17. But they don`t
have definitive proof yet. It was likely a mistake by inexperienced
people, they said. And while they said Russia created the conditions for
what happened by providing those weapons to the rebels, there`s no evidence
of direct involvement by the Russian government in the actual downing of
Michael Weiss is a columnist for foreign policy and editor of "The
And Joan Walsh is editor at large for "Salon" and an MSNBC political
Michael, what strikes me is we`re not yet in the position politically of
firm ground, that the president -- although he`s made negative comments, of
course, about Putin who deserves them -- he`s not sure that we have the
kind of rock solid evidence that he can stand on. Is that your sense?
MICHAEL WEISS, THE INTERPRETER: I think they actually know more than they
are letting on at this point.
WEISS: I think what the U.S. is doing is trying to provide the rock solid
I mean, you have to understand, Chris, what the Kremlin is doing right now
-- I mean, you mentioned that the U.S. and Ukraine, according to Vladimir
Putin`s government, are responsible for downing this plane, they are
throwing so much misinformation and so much propaganda out there, that they
are forcing the United States to respond to it.
In fact, Marie Harf at the State Department today had a press conference
and she was asked to rebut claims that she probably hadn`t even heard yet,
that had been put forward by the Russian government five days after the
So, I think the U.S. is actually being very wise to take its time and
deliberate on the evidence and intelligence that it has.
But, again, if they`re saying they probably -- it was probably the
separatists using Russian-supplied material, look, as far as I`m concerned,
nobody has seriously alleged that the separatists or Russia intended to
shoot down a commercial airliner out of the skies of Ukraine. I mean, that
would be the most idiotic thing the Kremlin or People`s Republic of Donetsk
could have attempted to do. In fact, we have on record, and social media
backs it up, the separatists immediately after this incident claimed credit
for downing what they said was a Ukrainian military cargo plane. They shot
down a few of those before, including Ukrainian helicopters.
It was only until the separatists arrived at the crash site, saw 300 dead
bodies, and Malaysia Airlines written on the remains of the plane, that
they realized that they screwed up. I mean, this was reflected also, by
the way, Chris, in the intercepts of communications not just between the
separatists and each other, but between the separatists and Russian
military intelligence basically saying, uh-oh, you know, we got the wrong
So, yes, I mean, you can argue Russia didn`t have a direct hand in this.
But the indirect hand, and the culpability for arming and backing these
guys, many of whom, by the way, again, are still Russian military
intelligence officers -- I think that`s indisputable at this point.
MATTHEWS: Well, according to conservatives at home, the president`s
response to Putin has been weak, cowardly, naive.
Let`s watch the usual fuselage of attack here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: What did Secretary Kerry not say, what is the
administration not doing that you think must be done?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: One, he didn`t call Putin the
thug that he is. There`s a battle of wills between the KGB colonel and the
community organizer and the colonel is winning.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It`s just been cowardly. It`s a cowardly
administration that we failed to give Ukrainians weapons with which to
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: We have 300 people shot out of the sky likely by
one of our biggest enemies, you know, and the president is raising money.
You know, what`s next? He`s going to put golf flags since he plays golf
180 times at half-mast? I mean, where is presidential action here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Missing in action.
LT. COL. RALPH PETERS (RET), U.S. ARMY: I keep hoping that this will be
the time when he will man up, when he will take a stand, when he will
represent America and recognize our goodness and the evil, the true evil
that Vladimir Putin is inflicting.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Allen West, the former congressman, went further, blaming the
president`s weakness, the word he used, as being partially responsible for
what happened. The former congressman and FOX News contributor, if that`s
the right word, wrote, quote, "The blood on Vladimir Putin`s hands was
poured by Barack Obama who was indirectly responsible, accountable, and no
different than Neville Chamberlain`s weakness in the face of the 20th
average maniacal dictator, Adolf Hitler."
Joan, I`m so glad you`re on the show tonight. And whatever question of
doubt, if there is any, about who did this, means nothing to the right
wing. It`s all about this weird notion of manlihood, macho, some -- I
don`t know what the right reference, testicular -- whatever you call it.
What are they talking about? They`re not talking about facts or leadership
or statesmanship or anything to do with the world. It`s all about this
manhood weirdness thing they`re focused on. Why is Lindsey Graham focused
on that? Why are these guys like Allen West focused on that? Why are they
talking about this sort of testing the guy`s manlihood? Why do they do it
Explain, if you can.
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Because it`s all they understand.
And with this president, you know, they`ve got the Obama insult generator,
Chris, and for domestic stuff, he`s a tyrant and a king and a dictator.
But on international stuff, he`s weak, he`s a coward. And now, he`s got
blood on his hands. I means, Allen West is just a terrible, terrible
But we know that this situation, as Michael as said, is much more
complicated than this. Right now, Vladimir Putin has created a nightmare
for himself. You know, these rebels are crazy. They`re asking him to
annex the eastern Ukraine. He`s now shown to the world that these people
that he`s backed are willing to desecrate death sites, they`re willing to
steal from people that they killed. It`s just awful.
And there is -- it seems to be, and Michael knows more than I do about
this, that there`s an opportunity or President Obama is hoping for an
opportunity to strengthen the spine of our European allies who don`t want a
no-fly zone on their eastern border.
You know, I just don`t see that we can do anything else right this minute
but wait for more resolve on their part. If it doesn`t come, that`s a
different ball game, and then we`ll see what happens.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think we need more evidence apparently and we need more
resolve from the Europeans to lead them. But I do think the president at
some point in the next week or so has got to come out firm with the facts,
hopefully with the facts -- I don`t think he can speak until he gets them -
- and let them know they made the mistake of Putin`s life.
Anyway, thank you, Michael Weiss, and thank you, Joan Walsh.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this show -- and that`s the right
word for it -- that Governor Perry of Texas is putting on at the
This is simply the latest use of performance art to address a serious
question of national integrity, a serious country and serious public
officials would take action to regulate entry into sovereign territory. It
would not leave the decision up to the exploiters on this side of the
border looking for cheap labor or exploiters on the other side seeking to
evade or exploit U.S. law.
Governor Perry is not a serious official. He just sent 1,000 U.S. National
Guardsmen to the border with no other mission than to stand there. They
can`t stop people from entering the country illegally. They have no right
to arrest anyone who does. They are there as a, quote, "visual", as he
himself put it, a symbol.
A symbol of what? Of our refusal to do anything about illegal immigration?
To pass a law, a progressive American law that we`re proud to enforce? A
symbol of what a clown act we can put on in the face of young people openly
surrendering themselves to the authorities?
Those kids don`t need uniformed soldiers standing there watching them with
guns. They`re surrendering. Hasn`t anybody noticed it?
It strikes me that the governor known for the word "oops" is showing us
what the word looks like in action.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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