Date: September 19, 2014
Guest: Gen. Russel Honore, Nancy Armour, Dan Shaughnessy, Simon Marks,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Night of the generals.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Does this new war in Iraq and Syria make sense to you? Does it sound
right to you that a campaign of air strikes alone will bring down a zealous
army of 30,000-plus fanatics, that our pilots can kill enough of those
ferocious warriors to get the rest of them to give up the fight?
Also tonight, the pollsters get it wrong over in Scotland. The people
over there vote overwhelmingly to stay in the U.K.
And Roger Goodell takes questions on violence by NFL players, but
comes up with no answers today. So why is he talking? Is this a PR
Lastly, a look at the great Bill Cosby, who made history again and
again and again.
But I start tonight with the big questions about this new war we`re
fighting in Iraq and Syria against ISIS, this the up in the air war. What
if a pilot gets hit, gets shot down. Won`t they have to come in low
enough, by the way, to spot and hit their targets? And doesn`t coming in
low create a far fatter target for missiles and anti-aircraft fire against
us? And what if these pilots -- or the enemy gets hold of one of our
pilots. What then? And who do we expect to race into the area we have
just leveled and grab control? Which army`s going to grab the positions we
bomb into submission?
Again, does this new American war in Iraq and Syria make sense to you
personally? The American people tell pollsters they don`t think it will
succeed. And my question is, should we be fighting a war we don`t think is
going to work from the very outset?
All the bombing raids will achieve, I think, is to tell the world that
ISIS is standing up to the United States. And doesn`t that make ISIS the
heroes on the other side? Doesn`t it increase their recruitment? Doesn`t
that allow them to match every casualty we inflict on them?
Howard Fineman is editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and an
MSNBC political analyst, and Russel Honore is a retired U.S. army
I want to start with General Honore. What do you make of an air war
where we`re sort of counting on some people on the ground, a tribesman down
there in Iraq or -- and eventually in Syria to somehow go in and grab the
land? How do you see this working?
GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, air power has a strength
of its own. And the air power -- this is not your grandfather`s air power.
We have 24-hour surveillance with drones, drones that have missiles on
them, as well as the strike aircraft that come in in packages (ph).
Your assumption that a pilot could get shot down is correct, and we
have a method for going in and sending search and rescue teams in to get
them. We also could coordinate, depending on the circumstances, with the
available ground forces, either from Iraq or the Kurds that could go get
But anything could happen, Chris. I think people need to feel assured
that where we are now is not where we might be in a couple weeks from now.
I think the strategy, the way it`s been portrayed, one of using air power,
by trying to use that first -- I think the discussion by General Dempsey
that that`s his recommendation, that he made his best recommendation to the
president -- the president has the option to change later.
Look, as long as the "why" is consistent, and the "why" is ISIS has to
be stopped and they cannot be allowed to form inside Iraq and Syria, where
they become a dominant country. Number two, the "what" has to be done.
They have to be degraded and they have to be controlled. And the third,
the "how" -- how it`s done has been described by the president with a
restriction on boots on the ground. That could change based on
And remember, Chris, we got two campaigns, one in Syria, one in Iraq.
Both of these are complex at best, but you got two great generals, you got
Dempsey and you got Austin. When I was on the joint staff as a two-star,
Dempsey worked for my boss and Austin worked inside of my division. So
both of them have been there before. And there was a little lady over at
the White House named Susan Rice at the time. She had the Africa desk at
the State Department.
So you got a team of people who`ve been there and done this before...
HONORE: ... and they will work with the president and get the effect
that they need to get.
MATTHEWS: General, I`ll get right back to you in a moment.
Anyway, the president has said again and again -- has said again and
again -- American soldiers will not play a ground combat role. No boots on
the ground, he keeps saying. He repeated that, by the way, that promise
again last night. Let`s listen to the president on how he`s limiting this
type of campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American forces
that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.
Their mission is to advise and assist our partners on the ground. So I
told our troops yesterday we can join with allies and partners to destroy
ISIL without American troops fighting another ground war in the Middle
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But earlier this week, the president`s top general, just
mentioned, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey, gave a very
different take. He said there could come a time, as General Honore said,
when we would recommend boots on the ground. He would. Let`s listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, U.S. ARMY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: My view at
this point, is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I
believe that will prove true. But if it fails to be true, and if there are
threats to the United States, then I, of course, would go back to the
president and make a recommendation that may include the U.S. of military
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the position we`re getting from -- actually,
from just -- not just General Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs,
but the (INAUDIBLE) reports others have that view. Quote, "Flashes of
disagreement over how to fight -- how to fight the Islamic State are
mounting between President Obama and U.S. military leaders. The Pentagon`s
eager to retain the option of deploying small numbers, at least, of special
operations forces at the front lines to help the proxy troops" -- that`s
the tribal troops, or the other troops -- "to call in air strikes from
Howard, we`re seeing a little bit of a difference here, but it`s been
profound and consistent. The generals -- I don`t know if the right word is
hawkish. Maybe they`re more hawkish. Are they? Or are they simply saying
to actually win this war, we have to go about it more grandly, with real
action on every front?
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, as our other guest knows for sure, generals don`t like to be told
what they can`t do. They don`t like to be told what`s off the table
because their number one duty is not only to execute the mission, but to
protect their troops. And for that purpose alone, there are going to be
boots on the ground, I`m convinced.
The real argument here is over how you define what a combat mission
is. The president said there will be no combat mission. That doesn`t mean
there won`t be a lot of boots on the ground and that they could get drawn
into something that by any other definition would be combat.
FINEMAN: And I`m not entirely sure that either the White House or the
Pentagon minds that this is a public dispute here. It`s not a vicious
MATTHEWS: How does it help the president to be seen as being
criticized by his generals?
FINEMAN: No, I think that the general is doing him a favor by
expanding the definition of what could be allowed without technically
violating what the president is committing to by way of a combat mission.
MATTHEWS: General, help us with the definitions here. You know what
we`re -- you`re talking about -- it seems to me, if you have advisers like
we had in Vietnam in the early years, the early` 60s and late `50s, they`re
in there advising, meaning they`re working in combat. They even come out
on some of the firefights that are nearby. They`re encouraging and
training as they -- they don`t just stay back at the base, do they? What
does it mean to be an adviser? Does it mean you don`t go near the
HONORE: Well, no, you get close enough to advise at the brigade
level, you`re inside artillery range, which means you are giving them the
technical means to be able to call for fire, be able to call for jets,
being able to call for a bomber.
But Chris, let me tell you this, is that we`re evolving in this as we
go. But remember the old phrase that Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite
might have used to describe a Friday night on the eve of a war has changed.
The biggest thing happening in America tonight is high school football.
Tomorrow it will be college, and on Sunday it`ll be pro. The American
people are going about their business. They`re expecting the president and
the military to handle this. The country is not under serious threat of an
That being said, they want us to do this, get it done with the minimum
amount of exposure of our troops, get the job done, get this where, inside
of Iraq, the Iraqi government with their neighbors can handle this and get
these guys pushed back into the box into Syria.
That being said, I think if there`s any discussion as to what we`re
going to do and how we can do it, let`s leave that in the mind of the
enemy, ISIS, to figure out what we`re going to do. A little ambiguity is
MATTHEWS: Do you think that`s the president`s plan here, to keep it
ambiguous when he says no troops on the -- no boots on the ground? He
doesn`t mean no special ops?
HONORE: You know, the discussion we`re having is not one that has not
happened before. Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago it was between
Washington and his Congress. In World War II, two presidents and multiple
generals. The same thing in the Korean war. So the idea that how we`re
going to do it is of discussion -- the healthy thing, we know this
discussion is going on. When it`s unhealthy is you don`t know that
discussions are going on, and that`s when we really make bad mistakes.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well...
HONORE: ... everybody get on the same page.
FINEMAN: I agree with that.
MATTHEWS: General, I`m a big believer we didn`t have enough
discussion before this stupid Iraq war started back in 2003 because the
generals, it seemed to me, were very skeptical at the time. It was the
ideologues around George W. Bush that were -- including Dick Cheney, the
VP, pushing that war. The generals knew it was a strange thing to jump us
into a country that was a secular, non-threatening country, just because we
didn`t like the guy`s face, basically. We get rid of Saddam Hussein.
And then we find ourselves with this scattering and craziness of ISIS
and al Nusra over in Syria. We keep bringing down governments and letting
them be replaced with anybody that`s over there, and we`re not there.
I want to ask Howard one thing about this question. We just had Buck
McKeon on this morning. He`s Armed Services. He`s a -- he knows his
stuff. He`s got a point of view. He said if we had kept a residual force
in Iraq, we wouldn`t be facing this. But that doesn`t answer the problem.
That creates the problem. If we kept a residual force of military men,
they`d be fighting ISIS right now!
FINEMAN: Right. And...
MATTHEWS: So why...
FINEMAN: And you would give -- and in the president thinking and I
think in the Pentagon`s thinking, as well, if you keep your troops in
there, if you keep taking the lead, if you`re the point of the lance...
FINEMAN: ... the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shias and so on are
never going to take the lead. They`re...
MATTHEWS: They`re going to watch Friday night football!
FINEMAN: They`re never going to take the lead themselves.
FINEMAN: So I -- and I think that General Dempsey, I think the
Pentagon basically agrees with the president that the others have to do it.
FINEMAN: They`re not just proxies, that others have to do it. What
General Dempsey is saying publicly, though, is, Look, it`s going to require
more American troops than you think. We don`t want them to take the lead
anymore than you do, Mr. President. But I`ll say this public, he said,
it`s going to take -- it may well take more...
FINEMAN: ... troops than you think it`s going to. And I think he`s
trying to set expectations for that. General Dempsey is.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Baghdadi`s thinking he`s losing over there
right now, the ISIS leader? Do you think he`s -- I think he`s in good
shape. He`s got us engaged in attacking him, which makes him look good.
At the same time, we`ve said we`re not going go all in. We`re not going
all in against him.
FINEMAN: Well, I -- not having been on the receiving end of an
American air strike, I`m not sure. But those are pretty...
FINEMAN: As the general said, those are powerful things...
MATTHEWS: ... Honore. Thank you, General Russel Honore, for joining
us tonight. Howard Fineman, as always, sir. Thank you both, gentlemen.
Have a nice weekend.
Coming up, with Friday night football -- I love the way you played out
American life (INAUDIBLE) general (INAUDIBLE) back to the world we live in,
if we`re lucky!
Anyway, the NFL commissioner concedes this afternoon, I got it wrong.
Roger Goodell faced the music today a bit. I still don`t know what he`s
arguing. I can`t figure out what he`s say8ing in the wake of the league`s
bad behavior here, which he`s talked about again and again with no
Plus, no country of their own. After a dramatic campaign, the
Scottish people went to the polls yesterday in huge numbers and decided to
stay part of the U.K. -- after all that. And we had Alan Cumming (ph) on
last night very passionately saying they shouldn`t do it. Sean Connery,
you took a loss on this one. Anyway, the pollsters had predicted a close
outcome. It was anything but. the pro-independence movement lost by 10
points! That`s a wipeout!
And 30 years ago, one of the most famous TV fathers ever made his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL COSBY, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: You are afraid to try because you`re
afraid that your brain is going to explode and it`s going to ooze out of
COSBY: Now, I`m telling you, you are going to try as hard as you can.
And you`re going to do it because I said so. I am your father. I brought
you in this world, and I`ll take you out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And there`s a new biography of the great Bill Cosby. Its
author, Mark Whitaker (ph), says "The Cosby Show" paved the way for the
election of Barack Obama. And he`ll be here shortly.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the central fact of this war in Iraq and
Syria. When we go into that part of the world, we know we`re going to
eventually come out. And when we do, the people that remain there,
including ISIS, are going to call the shots, not us!
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new numbers in the Colorado Senate race.
Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
A "USA Today"/Suffolk University poll has Republican congressman Cory
Gardner a point ahead of Senator Mark Udall, the Democrat, 43-42, among
likely voters. And take a look at the latest Quinnipiac poll from out
there. It has Gardner with an 8-point lead over Udall among likely voters,
Gardner 48, Udall down at 40. That seems to be trending toward Gardner.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. After going silent for 10 days,
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media late today. In that
time, by the way, the plague of violence in the league has gone from bad to
worse. In addition to those horrible images of Ray Rice knocking out his
wife, the league has been confronted by new charges of other players
engaging in violent acts, including, of course, against children now.
And the latest came Wednesday, when Arizona Cardinals running back
Jonathan Dwyer was benched after he was arrested on a charge of aggravated
assault. "The New York Times" reported, according to court documents
released Thursday, back in July, Dwyer headbutted his wife, fractured her
nose and threw a shoe that hit his son`s stomach. Dwyer also threatened to
commit suicide if his wife contacted the police.
Well, late today, Goodell responded to the storm that has engulfed the
league and him personally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Have you considered resigning at any point throughout this?
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I have not. I`m focused on doing my
job and doing the best of my ability. I understand when people are
critical of your performance. But we have a lot of work to do. That`s my
focus. We`ve been busy in the last couple weeks. We have results to show
for it. We talked about some of them in my statement. But I`m proud of
the opportunity that we have to try to make a difference here and do the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Nancy Armour`s a sports columnist with "USA Today"
and Dan Shaughnessy, of course, as everyone knows, writes for "The Globe."
Thank you, Nancy. Tell me. You`ve been tough. Make the point. Why
did he have the damn thing today anyway? What was the point, besides PR
and some kind of notion of timing and letting the heat out? I didn`t hear
anything from the guy today. What did you hear, anything worth coming up
and calling this big press conference?
NANCY ARMOUR, "USA TODAY": I`m still trying to figure out why he was
there in the first place, either. I -- I -- he said really nothing new.
He basically -- right off the press release that they sent out this
morning. And he apologized a lot, which, that`s great.
But yes, there was -- there was nothing concrete. There was nothing
that said, We know we have to get a handle on this and here`s how we`re
going to do it. But they`re going to call in a lot of experts, and they
are going to get this right.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of this Mueller thing? It looked to me
like a classic put the story to bed -- create a committee, they go out and
buy word processors and hire lawyers and stenographers and everybody and
they organize -- they take forever, when you could do in two hours, go
through the NFL headquarters and ask every woman executive who calls
herself an executive, who is an executive, and says, Did you get this tape
sent to you or not?
It takes an hour to do that, an hour! And he`s having a -- this is
PR! It`s timing. It`s the old trick, bury the ball, let it sit there
until the thing cools down. I`m not saying politicians don`t do it. Bill
Clinton did it when he got in trouble with Monica -- cool down, don`t tell
the truth as long as you can. Finally, when it`s cooled down, let the --
the word gets out and you`ve survived.
Dan, what do you think of this -- maybe you have a different view.
DAN SHAUGHNESSY, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": I`m not going to disagree with
anything you`re saying there, Chris.
And, again, they can ride this out. Ratings were up last week. It`s
a great television program. It continues to be that. People want to see
their games. They want their fantasy football. They want to bet on the
games. They want to watch TV.
SHAUGHNESSY: The product stays there.
His job -- he works for the owners. He`s out there today taking the
bullets for the owners. I would like to see all 32 owners have their own
individual press conferences and try and answer some of these questions.
He took all the hits today. He`s hired by them. And I agree with all the
stuff you said.
MATTHEWS: And $44 million a year, $44 million a year to take the
SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, $44 million.
MATTHEWS: And I just thought he was -- he was charming enough.
There`s no reason to hate the guy. But I don`t think he answered any
Anyway, the league`s sponsors appear ready for a reckoning. Catch
this, Anheuser-Busch, of course, Budweiser, Pepsi, McDonald`s, Campbell`s
Soup, Visa, Marriott and other, which spend hundreds of millions on the
league, have all sent warnings to the NFL.
By the way, I should note that my wife is the executive V.P. of
Marriott, just to make everything clear here.
And here`s what beer giant, Anheuser-Busch, told the NFL the other
day. "We are not yet satisfied with the league`s handling of behaviors
that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have
shared our concerns and expectations with the league."
Dan, back to you. Let`s talk about how the world works. I`m not -- I
know money talks. We have heard that from Ozzie Myers in the old days.
MATTHEWS: I think he went back to bartending after this.
But here`s -- money talks. Is it that the fans of football, who are
intense and pay for the tickets and have the season tickets and go out
every there Sunday and watch it every Sunday, they don`t seem to be changed
in their viewing habits, of course.
MATTHEWS: But the other people out there, who just buy beer or go to
hotels, or whatever, buy Campbell`s Soup, those people seem to be talking
through their -- the money people. And that message is getting through.
I guess that`s why he had the press conference today, to take the
SHAUGHNESSY: I don`t think the league loses anything with those
people. Those aren`t the fans to begin with.
And I think these sponsors, that`s all great posturing. It`s great
P.R. for them. In Minnesota, it did affect what the Vikings did with
Peterson. It did. Corporate Renaissance, they reacted to people pulling
SHAUGHNESSY: I haven`t seen Campbell`s Soup or the $1.2 billion
Anheuser-Busch, they -- they sent a nice P.R. delivery, and made a threat,
but they are not going to pull away. And until they do, nothing happens.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to back Nancy.
I mean, what could work? I mean, I guess he`s talking he didn`t even
know what the definitions are today, Roger Goodell. Every time someone
asked him a question, he says, well, that`s the kind of thing we have to
look at or that`s what we need to fix here.
MATTHEWS: It`s like, he couldn`t even start with, well, on a scale of
one to 10, what`s worse, drug use or knocking out your wife? How many
days` suspension for drug use and how many days` suspension for a real
knockout punch to wife or turning your kid into what looks like a grilled
hot dog using half a tree branch on the kid?
Don`t they need to come up with a code of what`s not in, what is not
acceptable and write it down?
ARMOUR: Yes, they do. They do.
And that`s why I`m kind of curious as to wondering what they have been
doing for the last 10 days, because that`s what I was expecting, that he
was going to come out and say, we`re going to do this, we`re going to do
this. If you do this, you get this amount of games. If you do this, you
get this amount of games. When you get arrested, you`re coming to New York
to sit down with me.
But we got none of that. There`s no more clarity now than there was
two weeks ago.
MATTHEWS: He said something like -- Dan, he said something. State
laws differ. Is that his cover story? Federalism -- federalism is his
SHAUGHNESSY: Yes. Everything is being put off. There`s the whole
due process issue. There`s the Players Association.
Again, they are just riding this out. And they will be able to ride
it out. I believe that, and they know that.
MATTHEWS: Well, what about -- let me tell you about the culture. let
me ask you about the culture. Guys go to college, they play football. And
the old thing was they even to -- remember the old -- you`re not as old as
me, Dan. You come into Holy Cross a lot of later than me.
SHAUGHNESSY: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: But I got to tell you something. It used to when you were
watching pro football on Sunday, which in Pennsylvania, for example, Penn
had bigger crowds than the Eagles on Sunday.
MATTHEWS: Football was -- pro football has overtaken college
But the whole idea was, really a collegiate kind of person. You went
to college, you got some polish, some education, then you went pro. Right?
That notion that you somehow lost some of the bad habits, some of the
street corner behavior, is that still true? Is that too hard a question?
Is that too ticklish a question?
SHAUGHNESSY: Well, it goes into several levels, Chris.
I don`t really think this is an indication of people playing a violent
game who can`t turn that violence off when they get home.
SHAUGHNESSY: I think this is a societal issue. I`m not sure it`s
that much more reflective in the NFL than it is in society. But they have
got players with problems. That needs to be addressed and those guys need
to be sanctioned.
MATTHEWS: But the idea of going to college, Nancy, was to sort of
disciplined you, not -- do your homework, go to school, put a suit coat on
before you went to a game. That whole idea of sports as being a
gentleman`s game, is that gone? Be tough. Is it gone? Is sports for
gentlemen now or not?
ARMOUR: Yes, because it`s be -- it`s become a semi-pro game at the
college level. And there are some programs that still kind of do it the
But look at what Florida State is doing with Winston. How many
chances has that kid had? How many mistakes has he made?
MATTHEWS: How about UNC, where nobody was going to class? How about
ARMOUR: Well, yes.
MATTHEWS: I went to grad school there.
MATTHEWS: They didn`t -- this professor didn`t even make them come to
MATTHEWS: Talk about a gut course.
ARMOUR: Yes. So, some of that has been lost.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Nancy Armour, thank you. We have a problem here.
Nancy Armour, thank you. And, thank you, Dan Shaughnessy, great writer.
SHAUGHNESSY: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next, a word to the wise for the vice president. Be
careful who you use as a model when praising bipartisanship in Congress
before a women`s group. Anyway, a senator who has been accused of sexual
harassment by 19 women probably isn`t your best example, Mr. Vice
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL, and time for the "Sideshow."
As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo campaigns for reelection this week,
he`s facing some pretty far-out accusations in the latest series of attack
ads. His Republican opponent created a new Web ad to parody what he`s
calling Cuomo`s negative campaign. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Andrew Cuomo, unicorn killer. Cuomo locked Santa in a
NARRATOR: Humpty Dumpty? Cuomo shoved him off that wall.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: He`s the worst man in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: He`s a monster.
NARRATOR: If Andrew Cuomo can make up stories about Rob Astorino, two
can play that game.
New Yorkers need jobs and tax relief, Governor Cuomo. How about
talking issues for a change?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I hate those ads.
Anyway, yesterday, Cuomo actually responded to one of those made-up
charges, saying: "I have not murdered any unicorns. I`m against it."
Well, I`m glad he cleared that thing up.
Anyway, next up, Vice President Biden spoke this morning about how
today`s Republican Party is a far cry from the Grand Old Party of old,
which knew how to compromise in order to get things done. But he made the
mistake of praising former Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon as an example of
that kind of bipartisan cooperation.
The problem is, Senator Packwood was forced to resign from the Senate
back in `95, after 19 women accused him of making over-the-top sexual
advances. Worse yet, Biden was speaking at the time to the DNC`s Women`s
Leadership Forum, an audience that included Hillary Clinton, when he
praised Packwood. Here were his comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was Republicans
who expanded access to the polls. It was Republicans in the Judiciary
Committee that did Motor Voter. It`s Republicans that were involved, guys
like Mac Mathias and Packwood and so many others. It wasn`t Democrats
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Packwood. Be careful who you use as exhibit A.
Up next, if you`re going to be going by predictions in Scotland, the
country should have declared its independence last night in that historic
vote. Well, that`s not what happened, as a majority chose to stay part of
the United Kingdom overwhelmingly.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
President Obama has signed a spending bill that includes an
authorization allowing the U.S. to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in
a bid to weaken ISIS. French fighter jets carried out their first
airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq, destroying a weapons and fuel depot
outside of Mosul.
And Vice President Biden spoke earlier at a women`s forum, where he
urged men to stand up against domestic violence. The event coincided with
the launch of the administration`s campaign against campus sex assault --
back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, the Scottish independence movement suffered defeat in
yesterday`s historic vote. According to all the major polls on Election
Day, this vote should have been a razor-sharp decision. Three big polls
had the race neck and neck. The yes vote was said to be getting at least
47 percent at minimum. Anyway, the final result was anything but tossup.
The independence movement was handed a surprising 10-point defeat last
night; 55 percent voted against independence, just 44 for it.
As "The New York Times" writes, it was a loss not only for the pro-
independence movement, but also for the pollsters.
Who got it right? The bookies did.
Anyway, Simon Marks is the chief correspondent of Feature Story News.
And David Corn is the Washington bureau chief with "Mother Jones" and
MSNBC, a political analyst as well.
Thank you, David, for coming on.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure thing.
MATTHEWS: And thank you. Thank you, Simon.
I always like this betting stuff, because when Intrade was around, you
could actually see which way an election was going without listening to the
pollsters, who were all over the place. Why were the bookies right in this
case and the pollsters really suggesting a very tight election, which it
SIMON MARKS, FEATURE STORY NEWS: Well, I must confess a bias, Chris.
My grandfather was a bookie. So I have got a bias right there from
MATTHEWS: A track accountant, an accountant.
MARKS: A track accountant. Exactly.
Look, this was volatile, there`s no question about it. It was seen as
a foregone conclusion six weeks ago, and then the polls narrowed in the
last six weeks.
MATTHEWS: It looked like a win for independence.
MARKS: It looked like a win for no, a clear win for no.
MATTHEWS: For no.
MARKS: Then the polls narrowed, and there was that one poll last
weekend that said yes could get there.
But the pollsters were clearly not being told the truth. And it
wasn`t just the pollsters. I had four colleagues of mine on the ground in
Edinburgh for the last 96 hours. They said that no voters were scared
publicly to say that they were going to vote against independence for fear
of possible repercussions from yes voters, so passionate was that campaign
in the last few days.
MATTHEWS: So they were even afraid to talk to pollsters?
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this thing? Because I was surprised
because I have been reading it all. And I thought the U.K. was going down
last night, David.
CORN: That was the impression one got from the hyperventilated
coverage, because there seemed to be so much passion on...
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a big story. Don`t attack me for
CORN: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: If the United Kingdom comes apart in two, that`s a big
CORN: No, no, no, listen, I thought it was a great story. I was
riveted by all this. I`m not using that in a bad way, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Yes, you were. Hyperventilating is a direct shot. Come
CORN: No, it wasn`t.
But thing is -- and this happens often in America, too, that when they
-- when pollsters try to poll referendums, they tend to find that people
usually are more willing to say yes to change in a pollster, to a pollster,
than they are to vote for it.
There`s often a gap between polls when it comes to changing the status
quo. I think it reflects to a certain degree when you get to that moment
about flipping the switch to do something dramatic, some people then end up
being more cautious and going back to the status quo.
MATTHEWS: How about depending on -- how about depending on the accent
of the person calling? I always think that if you -- people that do the
polling in this country, I always think they hire people with sort of posh
accents, perfect standard English, and it always appeals to the liberals,
right. Hey, buddy, what are you going to vote in this election? You might
get a more conservative reaction.
MATTHEWS: But what about 16-year-olds? Because how do you poll a 16-
year-old who`s never voted ever?
MARKS: That`s a huge issue.
The voting age in Scotland on the initiative of the Scottish
nationalists who are in government in Scotland was lowered to 16 for this
referendum. Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland, thought that was
going to help him get a yes vote through.
MARKS: How do you poll 16-year-olds? They clearly were making up
their minds at the last minute. They clearly aren`t used to...
MATTHEWS: And there`s a lot of group think in kids.
CORN: The great thing about this poll, though, was, you know, you
look at the polls that are going on now in America about the Senate races,
and the pollsters try really hard to figure out who`s voting. And if you
don`t know who`s voting, you can`t come up with an accurate poll.
But in Scotland, everybody voted, 85 percent of them. They didn`t
have to come up with their models. They just had to really ask enough
people 16 to 85 and find out. They didn`t get it right. But I have to
say, it -- watching from over here, it was a great political science
experiment, a foundational issue that was debated for two years.
It was -- people in other parts of the world take up weapons and fight
over these sort of issues. But yet, in Scotland it was a great debate and
it was a great campaign.
MATTHEWS: Well, three cheers for Gordon Brown. I think Gordon Brown
is a great man.
Anyway, polls won`t work if you ask the wrong people, apparently. The
House`s former majority leader, Eric Cantor, for example, here suffered a
shocking loss back in June to a Tea Party challenger that no one had ever
heard of. In fact, the polling back then showed that Cantor was going to
cruise to victory by 60-38. Look at this number, 62-28. That poll wasn`t
MATTHEWS: And I hear, I hear, Simon, that Eric Cantor has not spoken
to his pollsters since. No wonder he was eating in Washington.
CORN: Has he paid them? That`s the question. Has he paid them?
MATTHEWS: I don`t know. He shouldn`t.
Anyway, the poll failed to capture an angry and fired-up Tea Party
base among their likely primary voters. Cantor lost by 12 points.
MATTHEWS: What a revolting development.
Let me ask you. But let`s take a look at this thing here. We have a
new poll out in United States that says one in four Americans would vote
for secession, David. Is that just crankiness on the right? I mean, do
they really want to take Nevada out of the country? Do they want to take
New Jersey out of the United States?
CORN: Well, I think a lot of people...
MATTHEWS: What`s this about?
CORN: There may be people outside of Texas who would like to see
Texas secede. I mean...
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK. Oh, we get to vote on that one?
CORN: I know. But I think -- I think there is a crankiness. You
know, you look at the sort of attitudinal polls about Americans, and
despite the fact that unemployment is down and there are other positive
signs, they are in a really bad frame of mind. Secession, whatever, sure,
let`s try it. One out of four would say. One out of four also believe,
you know, Barack Obama is a Muslim. So, 38 percent of America can`t name
the three branches of government. We`ve learned that this week, too.
MATTHEWS: You`re an elitist.
MATTHEWS: This headline is gaining a lot of attention. Angry with
Washington, one in four Americans open to secession. I wouldn`t read the
wording of this.
Anyway in the "Reuters" poll, 24 percent say they support the idea of
their state peacefully withdrawing from the USA. At least its peaceful.
MATTHEWS: People are out of their minds.
SIMON MARKS, FEATURE STORY NEWS: But Scotland was a Rorschach test
here for a whole different variety of different people. The streets of
Scotland were crawling with people from Catalonia in Spain, Kurdistan, I
mean, this was seen as a real study, not to mention the guys in Wales who
were watching and going, wait a second, what`s going on here? I mean, this
was a test case.
MATTHEWS: What would you have called the country? You couldn`t call
it the United Kingdom a Great Britain and Northern Ireland if it wasn`t
including all of Great Britain, the island.
MARKS: You would have ended up calling it the slightly less Great
Britain, or you would have called it England, depending on your political
MATTHEWS: What do you think of this stuff, David? I`m against all
atomization. I don`t know why the Catalans have to have their own country,
why the Basque have to have their own country, why the Flems don`t like the
Walloons. I worry about this. I look in Canada, I want it to stick it
together. I don`t want the French speaking province to become its own
country. It will tear everything apart.
Why do people see secession is the natural instinct when they don`t
think they`re happy in life?
CORN: Well, I think, really, you know, there`s an element of
tribalism. There`s also an element of real self-autonomy and control. If
you feel you`re getting a bad deal from the guys back in the capital,
you`re on the wrong side of the ledger, then you want to secede. But I
think what`s going to happen now in Great Britain or not so Great Britain,
you`ll have some dissolution of powers back to Scotland and to Wales and to
Northern Ireland. The union will exist, will survive, but people who want
more say over their own localities, they`re going to get that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. I`m not sure local government is more
honest than national.
CORN: That`s another question. That`s Chicagoans.
MATTHEWS: I have never thought that was clear. Anyway, it could be.
Thank you, Simon. It`s great to have you on. We only have you on
when there`s something terrible going on.
Thank you, David. It`s great. I don`t know where you are, but thank
you for coming tonight. Have a nice weekend.
Up next, he was one of the greatest TV dads of all time. A look at
the legendary career of Bill Cosby in this great new book.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: New polling out of Massachusetts has Democrats with the
edge in the Senate and gubernatorial races.
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
Senate Edward Markey has a 26-point lead over Republican Brian Herr,
according to the latest "Boston Globe" poll of likely voters, 53-27.
The race for Massachusetts governor, much closer. Martha Coakley has
a slight lead over Republican Charlie Baker. It`s Coakley, 39-36.
Keep your eye on that race. Baker could win this thing.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When you look at her, I was stunned, because when she first
hit the national stage, people thought -- attitude, militant, she`s going
to say something.
BILL COSBY, ACTOR: Why not? And she should say something. She
should say a lot of things. I enjoyed what she said.
Somebody asked her about being black, and I think she had -- I`ll just
paraphrase it. She said, I worry about my husband leaving the house every
day. And there was a big ooh.
And I think that people who don`t understand don`t want to understand.
I think that people should know that there are things against African
American people, still. There are things that ought to be fixed that are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
That was Bill Cosby, of course, back in March of 2009 here on
HARDBALL. I was talking to him about the new First Lady Michelle Obama,
and the issue of race of course.
Well, 30 years after the premiere of one of the most ground-breaking
sitcoms ever, "The Cosby Show," a new biography is out on Cosby. It`s
called "Cosby: His Life and Times". The book traces Cosby`s journey from a
Philadelphia housing project to his break-out role in the 1965 television
series "I Spy", to his starring role in "The Cosby Show," a show that
changed the depiction, many believe, of the black family, and some say
helped clear the path of the first African-American president.
Mark Whitaker is with me. He`s the author of the book, "Cosby: His
Life and His Times", he`s also former Washington bureau for NBC News.
MARK WHITAKER, AUTHOR, "COSBY": Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I think the thing about Cosby, he wasn`t the first African
American to have a TV show. But the first one that really worked. "I Spy"
was a winner. And "The Cosby Show" was super. He knew how to win.
What`s his drive? Because here`s a guy who drove himself from North
Philly, not far from where I grew up, into temple, he went to the magnet
school, the smart kids` school, central high, you know? He was one of the
few minorities in that school. Everything he did he drove by himself.
WHITAKER: You know, when he talks today about kids in the inner city
and, you know, he`s gotten a lot of criticism for the way that he talks
about them and stressing the themes about education, responsibility, and so
MATTHEWS: From black.
WHITAKER: Yes. But what he`s really talking about is his own life
story. He grew up poor in a housing project in north Philadelphia.
Although he had a very high IQ, he was a bad constituent. He dropped out
of school, joined the Navy.
And it was only in the Navy that he started to develop the habits of
discipline and hard work that he would carry through his adult life. He
gets into Temple University barely on a track scholarship, with a combined
SAT of 500. He really credits the navy and his experience at temple of
turning his life around. So he`s talking to those kids saying life isn`t
hopeless for you, either, if you embrace these principles.
MATTHEWS: So, he lost his son in that tragic murder case. It was a
hold-up, his son`s car broke down early in to morning, a Russian guy came
along and was convicted of killing him.
Did that do anything to make him feel that life`s precious and kids
ought to take their lives more seriously?
WHITAKER: I think so. Look, I mean, you know, he privately expresses
his views. I talk about this in the book as he`s first taking off about a
lot of these themes. But, you know, losing, his only son, I mean, Innes
was the apple of his eye. His only son, his hero, you know, a kid who had
turned his own life around when he discovered he was a dyslexic, a story he
carried into the "The Cosby Show" with Theo story..
He`s on his way into getting a doctor and an education from Colombia
when you know, he`s on vacation in L.A. and he gets murdered in his tragic
MATTHEWS: You know, his car broke down and some guy came along and
WHITAKER: Yes, exactly. You know, I tell the story in detail in the
WHITAKER: But, you know, Cosby responds in three ways. One is work.
I mean, he`s always been a hard worker. But one of the reasons he`s still
on the road almost every week performing and that`s his way of coping with,
you know, the tragedy that he`s experienced.
But, you know, I think that this sort of preaching that he`s doing, to
the black community now, a lot of them is to give some meaning to Ennis`
death, which is so sensitive.
MATTHEWS: I saw him a couple years ago at one of Reverend Sharpton`s
events. And a lot of black ministers there. He tore into them. He said,
you know, the drug dealers, they don`t go to the Muslim neighborhoods.
They go over the Christian neighborhoods because the Muslim have chased
WHITAKER: Yes. But, you know, one of the things, though, for all the
controversy, he`s talked the talk, but he`s also walked the walk. I mean,
I described him in the book going into some really hard neighborhoods in
Baltimore and in new haven and so forth, talking to gang bangers, you know,
gathering people on the street to talk about how we have to get guns out of
the street. We have to get kids into the school.
So, you know, say what you will about his views, he`s willing to go
and directly into those neighborhoods to talk to people.
MATTHEWS: America is a strange place on race. I mean, I root for it
to change. I think it has changed. My generation has changed. Therefore,
our kids have changed dramatically. I think about "The Cosby Show".
People have always made an exception in the white world for blacks being
very successful in sports and music, you know?
For some reason, those are the areas. OK, you guys can be the
superstars. But "The Cosby Show" seemed to be outside that. It wasn`t
about being a great jazz musician or a great athlete. It was about being a
great dad. That was what was so interesting about it.
WHITAKER: Well, you know, I call it quietly revolutionary, that show,
in two ways. One was Cosby was trying to show people that they had more in
common than, you know, than their differences.
MATTHEWS: Between white and black.
WHITAKER: Yes, white and black. But, also, he was trying to hold up
an image to the black community. And to say instead of being victims, you
know, we can have intact families where there`s laughter. Where there`s
romance. Where we send our kids to college, where by the way, we also
honor black culture, because there was a lot of jazz and black art and, you
know, the role of the historically black college, the spin-off show that
Cosby got made as a result of that show.
But, you know, the person who was quietly behind all of that, too, was
his wife, Camille Cosby, because there was a point, I told the story in the
book when they were developing that show, originally, Cosby thought his
character should be a limo and his wife should be a Latino handywoman.
MATTHEWS: A working guy.
WHITAKER: The producers were arguing that it would be more universal,
and also in a way funnier if they were highly educated, but were still
struggling with the usual frustrations of raising kids. And it was Camille
Cosby who sided with the producers and said, no, they`re going to be a
successful, professional couple.
MATTHEWS: What was the black-white ratio of watching that show? Was
it typical with more African-American --
WHITAKER: You know, that show was so popular. It got numbers. It
averaged 35 million viewers, up to 60 million viewers it was the number one
show in every single demographic.
MATTHEWS: Look at this book. It looks like it`s part of the success
of Bill Cosby. Look at his book, everybody. This is something to get this
weekend. If you still go by a bookstore in a weekend, like we always do in
Saturdays, get this book. Really. It`s about America and how it`s
Anyway, the book`s "Cosby: His Life and Times" by the great Mark
Whitaker. Thank you my colleague for joining us tonight.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
As someone who opposed both earlier wars in Iraq, it`s no surprise to
you that I don`t get this latest one. Whatever else is said, whatever
other information you pick up, the central fact is this: we go into that
part of the world, we know we`re going to come out. And when we do, the
people that will remain call the shots, not us.
This was true for the crusaders, it`s true for us. We go in and kill
a lot of people. We come out and the people who remain take charge.
There`s a claim out there that if President Obama had found a way to
have the Iraqi government allow us to keep troops in that country of Iraq,
we wouldn`t have had ISIS. Oh, yes? Does that mean U.S. soldiers would
have fought them off? We, the Americans, would have gone at them and
killed them all?
If so, you are making my argument. As long as we stay, we can control
things. As soon as we leave, these who remain, do. Unless we are willing
to stay in Iraq indefinitely, we have to face the reality that those who
remain will run the show.
And don`t for a second think there`s any chance of us staying in a
place like Iraq. That government wanted us out of there. Out. Whatever
fears they might have had about insurgence, their number one concern was
getting us packed and on the next plane.
So, this fundamental facts guys, my thinking in these matters, Iraq is
not our place, it is the place of the Iraqis. They will decide the
struggle. All we can accomplish by bombing ISIS is to get them stirred up
and ready to retaliate. And we know how that looks.
If we cannot beat them, someone needs to explain the mission. And if
it`s revenge from the beheadings, I get it. Don`t expect it to stop with
And that`s HARDBALL for now. That`s for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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