October 6, 2014
Guest: Lena Sun, Dr. Tom Geisbert, Steve Elmendorf, Rep. Mark Pocan, Susan
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: A fight on all fronts.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in Philadelphia.
Four big battles in the news tonight. One, with African countries in
chaos, the U.S. gets thrown into the front line in the Ebola fight. Two,
the United States Supreme Court refuses to fight gay marriage success.
Looks like 30 states now will honor same-sex marriage.
Three, why can`t Democrats get some respect for fighting the jobs war, even
with a quarter million new jobs last month and 10 million new jobs since
the Bush meltdown? That`s what I want to know. Four, the big fight
between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on whether to blame Islam itself for the
terror wars and why I`m with Affleck because knocking someone`s religion is
the way to start or escalate a fight. It`s no way to cool one.
On the Ebola front, a freelance cameraman working for NBC in Liberia ho
contracted Ebola is now back in the U.S. He landed this morning in Omaha,
where he`ll undergo treatment. His parents today said he was scared but
enormously relieved to be back in the country.
Meanwhile, the Liberian man being treated down in Dallas for Ebola took a
turn for the worse over the weekend. Thomas Eric Duncan is in critical
condition. He`s now receiving an experimental drug to fight the disease.
And by the way, the Dallas DA`s office is talking about filing criminal
charges against him for lying in order to board that plane to come here.
Thanks to Duncan, by the way, there are 48 people now being monitored in
Dallas for signs of Ebola. That includes 10 people who had direct contact
with the Liberian visitor. And today, a nurse in Spain was confirmed to
have the disease. A hospital employee, she reportedly came into contact
with a Spanish missionary who was being treated at the hospital. In
Monrovia, Liberia, today, the U.S. military began construction of a field
hospital to treat sick medical personnel. They will also build 17
emergency treatment units over there for the public with a hundred beds in
each. So that`s 1,700 beds they`re putting together.
For more, I`m joined by Lena Sun, a health reporter for "The Washington
Post," and Dr. Thomas Geisbert, who`s an expert on infectious diseases like
Ebola at the University of Texas.
By the way, late today, President Obama said officials were working on
additional protocols for screening passengers in the U.S. -- or coming to
the U.S. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re also going to be
working on protocols to do additional passenger screening both at the
source and here in the United States. All of these things make me
confident that here in the United States, at least, we -- the chances of an
outbreak, of an epidemic here, are extraordinarily low.
But let`s keep in mind that as we speak, there are children on the streets
dying of this disease, thousands of them. And so obviously, my first job
is to make sure that we`re taking care of the American people. But we have
a larger role than that. We also have an obligation to make sure that
those children and their families are safe, as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Lena Sun right now. Thank you for this reporting,
Lena. And I`m trying to figure out about how we look at this. I guess if
we`re complete nationalists, we could talk like Donald Trump and say, Close
the door to any travel. Very few people think like that. Is this one of
those things that isn`t about nationalism, it`s about being a human being
and us all being vulnerable to it, and if we don`t deal with it in West
Africa, we`re going to have to deal with it here?
LENA SUN, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes. Exactly. I mean, this is a global
health crisis, and you`re needing to treat this at its source and the
outbreak is in Africa, not by freaking out here in the U.S. I mean, this
is one case in Dallas. Over 3,800 deaths have been reported in the three
countries hardest hit, and those are underreported.
And a lot of the basic treatment is within the capability of the world to
do. They just need to pour a lot of resources in, according to the global
health experts. And that hasn`t been done. And if that is done and they
can get it in time, you could dramatically cut the transmission and spread
of this disease.
MATTHEWS: Well, one reason for the freaking out, as you call it, is
probably the thought that I had, which was that the president said it was
unlikely to come here. Was that a wise statement for him to make?
SUN: Well, you know, I think you have to do the math, right? Back in the
end of July, there had been 2,000 cases reported and there were two cases
that were then sort of going to other countries. One was to Nigeria and
one was to Senegal. So if you do that math, that`s a ratio of 2,002 going
out. So that`s a ratio of 1 case for every 1,000 cases. And it`s very
easy to see how if you have tens of thousands of cases and people are not
getting properly treated or isolated and protected, then it is going to
I think that when it comes to the United States, the United States -- and
Dr. Geisbert probably can speak to this -- has a much stronger public
health system. Hospitals give better care. You get IV fluids. You`re
monitored. It`s much better health care than what folks in West Africa
have, where their countries have been ravaged by civil war and they don`t
have the basic health care in the hospitals.
MATTHEWS: Dr. Geisbert, follow up on that. How are we better off than the
countries in West Africa? In the reporting today, it seemed like there was
a lot of chaos over there. These countries are living, in many ways, on
their operational budget. They can only meet current costs. They can`t
put money into infrastructure. I`ve seen that all over Africa.
And it seems like this is an example where they can`t build up a tremendous
store of potential resources to use in emergencies because they`re living,
to use an American phrase, hand to mouth. They live paycheck to paycheck
over in those countries.
DR. TOM GEISBERT, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: Chris, that`s correct. I mean,
these are great points. You`re looking at Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia.
You`re talking about three of the poorest countries on the planet earth.
And so it`s the poor public health infrastructure there that`s really
contributed to these outbreaks.
So they really don`t have the resources. They don`t have the hospitals.
They don`t have the staff. And as sad as it is, the humanitarian efforts
that have taken place there -- I mean, they`re running out of simple things
like gloves and gowns and masks and things like that. And all of these
things contribute to the outbreak and make it worse.
I mean, I was very glad that the president announced that the U.S. military
was stepping in to provide, you know, mobile hospitals and things like
that. I worked for the Army at Fort Detrick for 23 years. They`re great
at this. They`re trained to do this. They know how to do this.
And really, this is the key to stopping this outbreak, stop it over there
on the ground, break the chain of transmission, get people back coming to
those hospitals, you know, reestablish that infrastructure, or support it,
and that`s really the best way to control this outbreak.
MATTHEWS: Well, Liberia`s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said back in
August that part of the reason for the spread of Ebola in her country had
to do with misinformation and culture. She said, quote, "We have been
unable to control the spread due to continued denials, cultural burying
practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for
the warnings by the government."
Is that all part of -- I mean, every country has its cultures. I`m not
knocking anybody`s cultures. But apparently, the way in which they treat
the dead, it`s so personal, it`s so in contact, so physical, that it`s very
hard to break people from religious tradition, Doctor.
GEISBERT: That`s part of the problem. I mean, historically, these
outbreaks have occurred in Central Africa. They`ve been a little bit
smaller, smaller villages and cities. And you`ve had some organizations,
the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, humanitarian aid organizations like MSF -- they bring a lot of
skilled people. They go in. It`s a sad situation for that area, but they
isolate the cases, they identify the contacts, and the outbreak burns out.
I mean, you`re talking about fairly high case fatality rates.
The other thing that they`ve done a tremendous job of in Central Africa is
educating the public. So they do, you know, public education, public
awareness. You know, I`ve been over there several times, and they teach
people, you know, Don`t do this. Don`t touch the body during the burial
process, things like this.
This is a new problem to West Africa, and I think that that`s, in part,
contributed to the magnitude of this outbreak.
MATTHEWS: Well, today, Texas governor Rick Perry -- we all know him --
said the government had to do more to control the entry of people with
Ebola into this country. Let`s watch Governor Perry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Washington needs to take immediate steps to
minimize the dangers of Ebola and other infectious diseases. To begin
with, customs officials and border patrol agents at all points of entry
should immediately be directed to conduct enhanced screening procedures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Lena on that for the last word. Lena, what should
we be doing, from your reporting? I don`t know if you`re completely around
this yet, but what should the United States be doing at the airports, in
hospitals? What`s the lesson of the last couple days?
SUN: Well, I think for hospitals, I think the lesson has been that even
though there has been guidance and protocols and there have been a lot of
discussions since this first came on the American radar when the two
Americans were flown back -- I think hospitals are finding that the
practical challenges are very different than just having to know how to do
You know, most places can do the isolation. But then it comes down to, OK,
how big of a room do you need? Do you need to have room for a bed? Do you
need to have room for a bed and laboratory equipment? Do you need room for
a bed, laboratory equipment and medical care?
And what about training? And hospitals are doing now are they`re trying to
get lessons from Emory Hospital and the University of Nebraska, two
hospitals that have taken care of Ebola patients, to learn from them.
And on the screening, I think there is some discussion -- I think the
president said that there was going to be more screening protocols.
MATTHEWS: That`s right.
SUN: But I think, if you think about it, if you`re in Liberia and you have
means and you get sick and you`re worried that you are not going to get
good care in your country, then you have -- then maybe you would just get
on the plane and lie and fly to someplace where you could get good care.
So I guess that goes back to what public health officials are saying, is
that if you can get the good care in the place where the outbreak is --
MATTHEWS: Well said.
SUN: -- and get it under control and get people to trust you and
understand that you`re not there spreading the disease, then you go a long
way to helping to curb the outbreak.
MATTHEWS: We have a long way to go culturally to prove our own good will.
And you`re right, what good is it if we set up a situation where we`re
forcing people to lie their way to this country? Then we have the kind of
situation we had with Mr. Duncan and having to run down all the possible
contacts he made in those days when he wasn`t being treated.
This is new territory for us. I think we got to be big picture, but I
agree with both of you, we can`t just be nationalistic about it. We have
to be -- not one world, but certainly, it is our world.
And thank you, Lena Sun, for joining us from "The Washington Post," and Dr.
Coming up, a big victory for supporters of same-sex marriage today, I mean,
a huge victory after the Supreme Court denied appeals from five states
seeking gay marriage bans. That means 30 states, three fifths of the
country, now allow marriage equality. And that looks like it`s going to
stay on the books.
Plus, with unemployment now under 6 percent and the economy gaining steam -
- a quarter million jobs last month -- President Obama and the Democrats
take some credit? No. We`ll get to why in our roundtable. Why don`t they
get any credit? It`s like Rodney Dangerfield.
We`re also going to look ahead to the midterm elections coming a month from
tomorrow and some new poll numbers that have Democrats around the country
feeling -- this is right -- a bit more upbeat, not a lot more, just a bit.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this battle for the Senate with all its
excitement and craziness, a castrator who`s going to decide this -- a
castrator of hogs is going to decide this election?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s your chance. Tomorrow on HARDBALL, we`re going to
give you an all-star assessment where things stand now in the battle for
the U.S. Senate four weeks before the midterm elections. You get the best
take on how things will turn out. That`s tomorrow night.
And tonight, we`ve got new polling and who`s winning now. Let`s check the
First to North Carolina, where the HARDBALL team is going to be this
weekend, talking to voters and following the campaign. I`ll be with them.
A new NBC News/Marist poll of likely voters shows Senator Kay Hagen, the
Democrat, up 4 points over Republican challenger Thom Tillis. It`s Hagen
44, Tillis 40. Not there yet.
Anyway, in Iowa, the NBC/Marist poll has Republican Joni Ernst -- that`s
the castrator -- up 2 over Democrat Bruce Braley. It`s Ernest 46, Braley
44. And this is the tough one Democrats figure they need to win.
Next to Kansas, where independent Greg Orman leads incumbent Republican
senator Pat Roberts by 10. It`s Orman 48, Roberts 38. And the one and
only question there is which party would he organize with or caucus with if
the Democrats end up with 49, Republicans with 50? Then and only then
would his vote be decisive in the battle for control.
Finally, to Kentucky, where a new "Louisville Journal" poll of likely voter
shows Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, believe it or not, up 2 over
Senator Mitch McConnell. She`s turned things around there, at least
briefly. It`s Grimes 46, McConnell only 44. And that`s five weeks ago,
that poll had McConnell leading by 4. She`s picked up 5 points in a couple
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Today, by declining to take up the
issue of gay marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court set in motion a tidal wave of
action. At this time yesterday, gay marriage was legal in 19 states plus
the District of Columbia. Well, this morning, the Supreme Court rejected
appeal cases from five states, meaning that lower court decisions that
struck down bans on gay marriage go into effect immediately.
That means the court`s action instantly makes gay marriage legal -- gay
marriage, same-sex marriage -- in the following five states, Utah,
Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana and Virginia. And as a result of today`s
action, marriage will soon be legal in six other states that are included
in the federal appeals court rulings left standing today. They are Wyoming
-- do you believe it, Wyoming? -- Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South
Carolina and West Virginia. And that`s a dramatic change.
Gay marriage will shortly be legal in 30 states plus D.C. thanks to the
Supreme Court`s decision today, or refusal to take up the cases. In
Virginia, same-sex marriages were performed mere hours after the Supreme
Court action today. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dearly beloved, we have gathered to together to join
this woman and this woman in the holy state of matrimony.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is Steve Elmendorf, who`s chairman of
the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund -- he`s also a Democratic strategist --
and U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan, who`s a Democrat of Wisconsin, where
today, Republican governor Scott Walker threw in the towel. He conceded
the battle over gay marriage. He said it`s (INAUDIBLE) quote, "For us,
it`s over in Wisconsin."
Congressman, what do you make of that sort of like throwing the sword over,
turning the sword over in this battle by the governor?
REP. MARK POCAN (D), WISCONSIN: Well, you know, all year, he`s been
fighting this, taking this to every level to try to fight the court
decision that said it was unconstitutional to not allow marriage equality.
But now he`s listening to the Supreme Court. This is a good thing.
And while we`ve had a really big victory today for a lot of people across
the country, we can`t spike the ball yet. There`s still a lot we have to
do around employee non-discrimination, making sure that kids don`t commit
suicide and have higher levels of homelessness, LGBT youth. A lot of work
still to do, but this is a big victory.
MATTHEWS: Well, just following up on that logic, for a gay kid who
believes he`s gay, say, in his young teenage years, when it comes to him or
her, the knowledge that marriage is now equal, that you can have a same-sex
marriage -- will that alleviate that pressure of social isolation?
POCAN: You know, it`s a huge thing because we all know -- people go to
weddings. You know what people are who are married. You know what
families are. And when you`ve got that definition allowing all people to
be treated equally under the law, that really defines all treatment equal
under the law. So it`s really a big thing for that youth who`s facing
But you know, we`ve still got work to do, but this is certainly a huge
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Steve Elmendorf because, like you, Steve, I worked
in Democratic politics all those years as an operative. And you were, too,
all those years. How do you -- are you surprised that in the space of a
dozen years, from the first time Massachusetts did this by court ruling,
and then you`ve had three states actually vote for it by popular
referendum, that we`ve come to this point of 30 states, a majority of
states, dramatic majority, having marriage equality?
STEVE ELMENDORF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It`s a dramatic step, Chris, and I
got to say, I`m surprised at how quickly it`s happened. And I think the
reason it has happened is people get married, and people around them see
that their lives are better and that nothing`s changed in the world. Like,
all the bad things that the anti-marriage people say is going to happen
I remember talking to our friend Barney Frank about six months after
Massachusetts had marriage. And I said, what`s going on up there? And he
said, you know, there`s nothing new. People are getting married, and their
kids are getting married, and their co-workers are getting married, and
everybody likes it.
MATTHEWS: I saw Barney at an HRC event back in Philadelphia here at the
And I was the straight guy in the room. And a number of other straight
people were there. Terry Gross was there. And Barney would talk to the
young people there, the young gay couples that were there and young people.
And he said, keep hope. Things are changing.
I thought that was such a powerful message of hope in a way that really, in
this case, Steve, was appropriate, because it`s true. The country has
changed its heart in many cases.
ELMENDORF: It is -- it`s a huge deal.
And in all these states where people are going to get married, it just
sends a signal up and down, all across Oklahoma or Utah or Wyoming that
it`s OK to be gay, and that it`s good to be gay, and that it`s a joyous
occasion when two people get married, no matter what their -- whether
they`re LGBT or not.
MATTHEWS: When did -- did you come out at a certain point in your life?
Or did you just sort of let it come out gradually? Or did you make a
statement? Do you remember? You of course --
ELMENDORF: Yes, I remembered -- I remember.
You know, when I grew up, when I was in college, you had to make a decision
to let other people know you were gay. And by making that decision,
hopefully you changed some people`s minds. But it wasn`t -- in 1982, when
I was in college and did it, it was not an easy thing to do, because you
got a lot of bad reactions.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, it`s a better country.
Anyway, Republicans are grappling with the political reality that the
country, especially young people, are moving toward gay marriage
acceptance, even support. This Pew poll of just Republican tells the
story. And 61 percent -- that`s more than three in five -- of Republicans
age 18 to 29 favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.
It`s with poll numbers like that in mind that House Speaker John Boehner
will visit California this week to raise money for an openly guy Republican
Here`s part of a campaign ad, by the way. Pay attention to the first two
images. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: He believes in equality and diversity and is a defender of our
personal freedom. The power of people over partisanship, it is a strength
rarely shown in politicians, but it exists in all of us. He believes in
us, in San Diego. Who is this man?
Carl DeMaio, a new-generation Republican, a reformer, our next congressman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman, thank you for joining us tonight. I haven`t had
you on before.
Tell me how you think this is working with your colleagues. When you
wander through the Democratic Cloakroom, I`m sure that`s more hospitable,
but either cloakroom. Do you have a sense that your colleagues know that
this is the future, if not the present?
POCAN: No question.
You know, I think people are realizing that hate doesn`t sell anymore.
When Scott Walker and Michele Bachmann are saying this isn`t an issue, I
think we have reached that threshold that people understand, you know,
really equal treatment is the way the society is.
I think a poll I saw was 81 percent of the people under 30 believe in
marriage equality. So they`re just coming around to accepting where the
rest of society`s at. And that`s a good thing. But I think when I`m in
Congress and I talk to folks, it really -- I have had Republicans come to
my office when the Supreme Court decision came out last year.
And I had a Republican come up to me and say, why don`t you and your
husband fly out to his district and he would officiate my ceremony?
Because he wasn`t sure if I would be recognized under the law living in
That`s a big thing. And I think society is already there. Elected leaders
are finally catching up with where the people are.
MATTHEWS: What do you think is the percentage of voters who have family
sympathies, family identities, family relationships that are pro-marriage
I mean, if you just add up the parents of gay -- I try to do the math
sometimes. Parents, cousins, brothers, sisters, it would seem to be a
pretty strong group of people that have an immediate family connection with
the desirability and the celebration really of a gay relationship.
POCAN: Well, hijack absolutely.
And I think that`s why we have had such fast success is that, while for a
while, people played on the fear, but once more people came out, you said,
well, that`s my cousin, that`s my son, that`s my neighbor. And you know
what? We`re just as boring as everybody else. We`re not that myth that
people somehow happen to have of what a gay person was.
MATTHEWS: Well, we can talk about that, because I do believe, Congressman,
that the imagery of the very sort of buttoned-down regular sort of couple
coming down the steps from a church or whatever, a justice of the peace`s
office, is a very comforting picture for a lot of people.
I think Steve may have said it, I really believe that picture, that it`s
just like us. You know what I mean? Well said.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Steve Elmendorf. And congratulations on your guts
all those years.
And, Congressman Mark Pocan of Madison, Wisconsin, and elsewhere nearby.
Anyway, up next, that hot fight between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck over
Islamic fundamentalists. This is one of the weird -- I shouldn`t say weird
-- one of the important debates we have seen on television.
And take a look at this. It`s Bill Clinton who`s back in his home state of
Arkansas campaigning for Democratic Senator Mark Pryor. Clinton will do
four events with Senator Pryor today and tomorrow.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."
In his "60 Minutes" interview late last month, President Obama acknowledged
that the United States had underestimated the threat of ISIS in the Middle
East, explaining that the terror group was able to use social media to
recruit new followers.
Well, the folks at "Saturday Night Live" thought it was ironic that the
president whose own social media campaign helped him win the presidency in
2008 was so slow to recognize how effectively social media could also be
used by ISIS. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: With all due respect, Mr. President, you had a
historically effective social media campaign in 2008. How could you be
worse at social media than a band of terrorists in a desert in Syria?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Steve, you don`t understand. These terrorists have
nothing to do. They can be tweeting all day.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: They have also started co-opting popular hashtags to
trick people into reading their messages of hate.
For example, "One day the black flag of ISIS will fly over the White House,
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Or this one. "We will destroy the infidels, hashtag
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Next up, a controversial debate over the religion of Islam
erupted on HBO`s "Real Time" this weekend, pitting Bill Maher and author
Sam Harris went against Ben Affleck, whose new movie "Gone Girl" came out
Specifically, they argued about whether the Islamic State faith itself
plays a role in fomenting acts of violence that are contrary to Western
notions of liberalism, like freedom of speech, religion, and equal rights
While Affleck argued that criticizing an entire religion is unfair, Maher
and Harris, both of whom are atheists, said in effect that too much
tolerance is like turning a blind eye. It was an unusually blunt and hard-
fought debate. And it`s exploded now on social media
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER")
SAM HARRIS, AUTHOR: We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where
every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry
towards Muslims as people. That`s intellectually ridiculous.
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: Well, hold on -- are you the person who officially
understands the codified doctrine of Islam? You`re the interpreter of
HARRIS: I`m actually well educated on this topic.
AFFLECK: I`m asking you -- so you`re saying if I criticize that -- you`re
saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing.
HARRIS: I`m not denying that certain people are bigoted against Muslims as
people. And that`s a problem.
AFFLECK: Right. That`s big of you.
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": But why are you so hostile
about this concept?
AFFLECK: Because it`s gross, it`s racist.
MAHER: It`s not. But it`s so not. It`s so not.
AFFLECK: It`s like saying, you`re a shifty Jew.
MAHER: You`re not listening to what we are saying.
AFFLECK: You guys are saying, if you want to be liberals, believe in
liberal principles, like freedom of speech --
MAHER: Right. Right.
AFFLECK: -- like we`re endowed by our forefathers with inalienable
rights, like all men are created equal.
HARRIS: And we have to be able to criticize bad ideas.
AFFLECK: Of course we do. No liberal doesn`t want to criticize bad ideas.
HARRIS: But Islam at the moment is the mother lode of bad ideas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This is hot stuff. We`re going to have more on this fight which
is apparently hot now on the social media between Bill Maher and Ben
Affleck coming up next in the roundtable.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
A nurse in Spain has become the first person to contract Ebola outside of
Western Africa. The woman helped care for two priests who caught the virus
while working in the outbreak zone.
A 19-year-old from Illinois is charged with attempting to provide support
to terrorists after trying to join the militant group ISIS.
And Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has been suspended by USA Swimming
following his second arrest on DUI charges. His suspension will last six
months -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER")
HARRIS: And we have to be able to criticize bad ideas.
AFFLECK: Of course we do. No liberal doesn`t want to criticize bad ideas.
HARRIS: But Islam at the moment is the mother lode of bad ideas.
AFFLECK: Jesus Christ.
HARRIS: You don`t understand my argument.
AFFLECK: Your argument is like, you know, black people --
HARRIS: That is not my argument.
MAHER: No, it`s not. It`s based on facts.
I can show you a Pew poll of Egyptians. They are not outliers in the
Muslim world, that, say, like, 90 percent of them believe death is the
appropriate response to leaving the religion. If 90 percent of Brazilians
thought that death was the appropriate response to leaving Catholicism, you
would think it was a bigger deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As we have shown you, Friday night`s heated exchange there between Ben
Affleck and Bill Maher, along with Sam Harris, has set up a hot debate
about the prevalence of radicalism within the Islamic faith.
Plus, why aren`t the president and the Democrats singing happy days are
here again when it`s comes the economy?
We are going to get to it with the roundtable tonight, Eugene Robinson,
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post." Susan Page is
also Washington bureau chief in this case for "USA Today," and Howard
Fineman is editorial director of The Huffington Post Media Group. Three
Let me start with Gene.
What do you make of this debate on television about whether Islam, the
religion, is basically a problem, is basically a problem with terrorism and
violence? That`s the argument they were making.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s only like three non-
Muslims talking about Islam and talking with a familiarity with the
religion that frankly they don`t have.
So, you know, as a debate, per se, I don`t put a lot of stock in it or take
it that seriously.
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": Well, in a way, we have
been having this debate for 13 years since 9/11, right, with some people
blaming the Islamic religion for terrorist attacks, and others arguing that
of course there are a lot of Muslims that -- to whom that totally doesn`t
apply and is wrong.
So it`s not -- this doesn`t strike me as some fresh new line of inquiry
that we were hearing.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I actually think
it`s important, Chris.
I think that debate on "Bill Maher" was important because Bill Maher is a
popular show in the mainstream of American sort of intelligent public
commentary. I thought it was kind of extraordinary.
I think what Sam Harris said was outrageous. You don`t call a religion of
1.6 billion people on the planet the mother lode of bad ideas.
MATTHEWS: I`m with you.
FINEMAN: You just don`t. I don`t claim to have read the entire Koran. I
have read a fair amount of it.
I have lots of Muslim friends. And I know something of the religion. And
I think it`s fair to say that terrorism, that ISIS, that the people that
we`re responding to do not represent a great historic Abrahamic religion,
and if I were a Muslim, I would be completely outraged, however worried I
was about a bad face of my faith being shown.
MATTHEWS: And, you know, I think there`s a big difference in the role that
I play and all four of us play and the role a comedian plays. And he can
have fun being a social critic or whatever he wants to be.
FINEMAN: Yes, but he wasn`t be a comedian then.
MATTHEWS: -- large number of people.
MATTHEWS: When you say stuff like this, you`re basically condemning a
religion. And that`s a loser, because all it will do is rile up people
against you and it won`t change a single person`s religious commitment.
FINEMAN: Well, also, it`s not true. Also, it`s not true.
ROBINSON: It`s also not true. That`s correct. It`s a ridiculous
MATTHEWS: Well, the fact is all -- we all read the Bible, the Old
Testament especially. There`s lots of violence in there about --
ROBINSON: Yes, a lot of smiting, a lot of smiting going on in the Old
MATTHEWS: That`s right, and death to your enemy and all that.
ROBINSON: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s talk about the economy, something we`re on
stronger ground on, all three of us, none of us being Muslim.
Anyway, as E.J. Dionne wrote in your paper today, "The Washington Post": "A
party controlling the White House could not ask for much more from economic
numbers than the Democrats got on Friday`s job report, issued a month and a
day before the midterm elections."
And, boy, was he right. The unemployment rate fell below 6 percent, first
time since 2008`s great recession. He added a quarter million new jobs in
September, the government did. We have now got 55 straight months of job
creation, totaling more than 10 million new jobs in this recovery since
But neither the president or the Democrats are getting any credit. Only 43
percent of the president`s -- President Obama`s handling -- are for
President Obama`s handling; 53 disapprove of it.
And when you ask Americans which party would do a better job handling the
economy, Republicans have a 10-point edge.
I want to go to Howard on this baby.
MATTHEWS: Why can`t the Democrats do a little -- a little spiking the ball
in the end zone, a little bit of hot-dogging here? These numbers are
really good. I know not everybody`s benefiting, but don`t you play your
strengths in politics? Don`t you play the positive?
FINEMAN: Well, you took part of my answer in your question, Chris.
FINEMAN: Yes, I think that part of the problem is, one part of the problem
is that people generally don`t feel that much better either about their
current situation or their future situation, because the vast middle class
has seen no increase in their real net income over the last 10 or 15 years.
It`s not just Obama`s fault, but it`s partly that. So, it`s dangerous to
The other thing in is, in these midterm elections, virtually every Democrat
is running as far away from Barack Obama as fast as they can. They don`t
want to be identified with him. They often don`t want to be identified as
Democrats. They`re running on individual issues. They`re running on
abortion, they`re on women`s rights --
FINEMAN: It`s a vicious cycle, because if you don`t talk about the
president, if you distance yourself from him, you leave him open to further
attacks, which is exactly what the Democrats have done for the last six
PAGE: But, you know, Howard, you know what --
MATTHEWS: In all those years that Roosevelt was trying to bring the
country back from the Great Depression to the `30s, all the way up until we
get into the war, of course, with war production, the economy wasn`t a lot
better. There was a lot of people unemployed, double-digits to the end of
the `30s. And yet all the time he was keeping people confirmed in their
hope by saying, we got something done here, we got something there, happy
days are here -- something`s working.
Why do you not want to beat the drum for the success you`ve had if you want
to have more success? It just seems to be American to do that. Your
PAGE: Well, you know, one thing President Obama has not been really
effective at doing I think is making his own case. For one reason, as the
number -- we got those good unemployment numbers on Friday, we also got the
numbers on median household income, which were just completely stagnant as
it has been for the past five years.
And you know what`s not a great political argument, it`s the argument that
it could be a lot worse, which is one of the arguments that President Obama
would have to make, because it could be a lot worse. It was a lot worse in
2008 and 2009. We avoided -- we avoided another Great Depression. But
it`s hard to make that a great selling point.
MATTHEWS: Here`s how Bill Clinton did it, guys. Watch how Bill Clinton
did it -- same situation, 10 million new jobs, he ran for election in `96.
He touts the creation of those 10 million new jobs which Obama has created
and here`s how he did it.
Let`s watch the ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: Ten million new jobs, family income up $1,600. President
Clinton and Al Gore cut the deficit 60 percent, sign welfare reform,
requiring time limits, taxes cut for 15 million, balancing the budget.
America`s moving forward with an economic plan that works.
MATTHEWS: Gene, I like the music.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: There you go. I mean, run that
ad again. And look, if you`re a threatened Democrat incumbent, and I won`t
name names, but if you are on, then don`t even mention President Obama.
Say, I did it. Say, I brought this to you, constituents, and look,
unemployment is down to 5.9 percent.
FINEMAN: And I also say, I think that Barack Obama and the White House
have done a lousy job of using the best communications they can. Just
having the president go to some industrial plant somewhere in the Midwest
and hold a photo op is not the way you communicate these days.
I think for all of his social media savvy in the campaigns, they`ve dropped
the ball in terms of -- from what I`ve seen in social media, in terms of
really pushing this message out to targeted voters. I don`t see them doing
it. I also see them wasting a lot of time running against the Koch
I`m sorry. At least to me, campaigning against the Koch brothers is
idiotic because the Koch aren`t on the ballot, I`m sorry.
You know what? I was thinking of what W. would be doing right now if he
had tripled the Dow. If it had been going from like 6,500 to 17,000 on his
watch, you think of the most amazing running back and what kind of stuff
that goes -- the calisthenics that goes on in the end zone, can you imagine
what that president would be doing with the tripling of the Dow, with 10
million new jobs.
One thing Republicans know how to do is celebrate themselves. I think
Democrats need to remember, happy days are here again, high hopes, don`t
stop thinking about tomorrow, our Democrat songs -- Democratic songs.
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is coming back with a look at the midterms now
just a month away tomorrow. We`re going to spend the hour tomorrow night
with an all-start cast trying to figure out which party has got the upper
hand in the battle for control of the Senate. It`s going to be close and
we`ll get a preview of that, next, coming here on HARDBALL tonight.
Before we break, here`s some of the sights and sounds of one of the key
races, the match up between Senator Mark Udall out in Colorado and
Republican challenger Cory Gardner. They debated today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CORY GARDNER (R), CO SENATE CANDIDATE: Policies of this campaign that
are at issue, that are on debate right now, the president just said it
yesterday, his policies are on the ballot. And that`s what we are going to
be discussing today, the policies of the president and the fact that Mark
Udall has voted with them 99 percent of the time.
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: Congressman Gardner didn`t answer the
question. He has the tenth most partisan record in the House of
Representatives. His record is out of the mainstream. It`s in the
extreme, and that`s the contrast that you have in this race.
MATTHEWS: A little personal note here. I was doing a radio interview a
few days ago, talking about my book "Tip and The Gipper: When Politics
Work". It`s coming out in paperback this Tuesday. That`s tomorrow.
I was taken aback however a little when the host of the radio show on asked
me how Tipper Gore and Ronald Reagan began their relationship. Tipper Gore
and Ronald Reagan. Did they even have a happy? I don`t think so.
So, anyway, better not tell Nancy if they did. What`s that radio person`s
question about? Tipper Gore? Does that tell you how history fails to
leave its impact, how young people come along with no word on what came
before. How Democrats and Republicans did things long ago and got along,
they got things done. They found ways of working together across the
"Tip and The Gipper" is out tomorrow in paperback. It`s the best example
I`ve come across of what`s missing today.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with a roundtable -- Eugene Robinson, Susan Page and
What do you make of this race now for the Senate?
I want to start with Howard on this baby. The United States Senate race, a
lot of people are talking about what`s going on in Kansas. And I figured
the really relevance there is, if it ends up 49 Democrats, 50 Republicans,
this guy gets to decide whether Democrats get 50 and with the vice
president`s vote control the Senate. That`s the only time it matters in
Kansas, as far as I can figure.
FINEMAN: Yes, but I think it`s symbolic, Chris, of the unsettled state of
the race. Everybody has assumed in sort of the default setting of
conventional is, that the Republicans have the upper hand and that`s true
if you look at the overall polls. If you start looking at some of these
individual races with a month to go, the incumbents or the Republicans are
often way under 50 percent, nobody`s running away with anything in this
really sour year, which is what I think is going to lead it all to come
down to the wire.
MATTHEWS: So, you don`t think there`s a big sweep right away to 10 seats
or something like that?
FINEMAN: Right now. At one point, I did. I don`t see the sweep and I
think the reason is, like Kentucky, which is what I know best, Mitch
McConnell, an incumbent Republican, is horribly unpopular in his home
state. And that to me is also representative of the fact that people can`t
stand politics. They don`t like politicians. This is not an election of
hope. This is an election of the least of these, and that makes it
unpredictable in the end.
MATTHEWS: Susan, what do you make of the fact that Alison Lundergan Grimes
is now ahead in the poll. After all that drubbing she`s been b taking from
the incumbent, from Mitch McConnell, I mean, drubbing, personal insults,
and here she is back on top.
PAGE: Well, we say that, but she`s two percentage points up in a robocall
So I would say, let`s look at the broad trend, which has been a very close
race and one in which Mitch McConnell has possibly a slight edge, gotten a
little bigger, and not taken one single poll of people of 500 people who
punch numbers on their phone as the last word.
It does show that there`s still a close race there. And that is astounding
against someone with the political history of Mitch McConnell and lack of
political history of Alison Grimes.
You know, one thing about the Kansas race, maybe one thing it tells us is
there`s an appetite for somebody what`s neither a Democrat nor a
Republican. Even a state like Kansas, my home state, where, you know, nine
of out 10 people are Republicans, there`s an appetite for independent
candidate. Maybe that`s the lesson that people --
MATTHEWS: How do you decide, Susan, if you`re a Democrat, this guy will
vote for the Democrats if it`s decisive, it`s 49-50. How do you know he`s
going to come with you?
PAGE: I don`t think you know -- I don`t think you know that he`s going to
do that because is that something of a Democrat history. It`s not -- he
insist that`s not who he is. And I think he`ll go with whichever party
gives him the bigger deal, because I would think we`ll be calling him
Chairman Greg Orman --
FINEMAN: You know he`s more likely to go with the Democrats that Pat
Roberts is. So, you got to go with those percentages if you`re a Democrat.
MATTHEWS: Gene, is this a weird race or what? It`s going to come down to
-- if the Democrats hold the Senate, or hold it for the following reasons.
They`re able to get this guy to organize with them. He runs as an
independent, he becomes a Democrat. That gives him 50.
But to get there, they have to win in Iowa, everyone thinks. So, that
means the castration woman, who`s only really known really as the hog
castrator is going to decide the Senate control. This is a strange
election, it`s that close.
ROBINSON: Yes, well, we`ve had some other strange, recent elections. But
this one is strange because it is so undecided or unclear this late in the
cycle. A few months ago, everybody thought that it was either going to be
a narrow Republican but clear Republican victory or Republican sweep. And
now, as we go into the heart of election season, you can`t be sure of that.
You really can`t be sure that they get it at all and nobody really sees the
way it`s building that some people thought --
FINEMAN: Chris, what`s helping Joni Ernst is everybody at first only
thought of her as the hog castrator. It turns, that lowered expectations
big time. But she`s actually performed pretty well -
MATTHEWS: In the debate.
FINEMAN: Yes, she has. She`s surprised people.
Again, their expectations were very low. And that state has to some extent
I think trending culturally, those of us who go to Iowa all the time for
caucuses and so on, it`s been trending somewhat more conservative
culturally, I think.
MATTHEWS: I stick my neck, I still think it`s going to be an eight-seat
pick up for the Republicans. I think they`re going to win, not a sweep.
They`re not going to win New Hampshire. They`re not going to win Michigan.
But they`re going to get pretty far along this road.
I just think the mood of the country is for change right now and they`re
upset. I don`t think it`s for anything in particular, it`s against.
Susan, what do you think? Is it positive or negative going to that voting
PAGE: I think that it`s going to be -- I think Republicans likely take the
Senate, absent some development we don`t foresee right now. And if they
pick up eight seats, isn`t that a sweep? That sounds like a pretty robust
Republican victory to me.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But I`m just astounded that this guy, Scott Brown, can
waltz across the border, end up in an another state, after beaten in a
nearby seat, and actually be in contention against a pretty popular
incumbent, Jeanne Shaheen. This is the reason why I think the sweep is
still possible, I mean a real sweep. Although I think Michigan looks good
for Gary Peters.
Anyway, thank you, Eugene Robinson. Thank you, Susan Page. A lot more on
this tomorrow night. And, Howard Fineman, my buddy, thank you, sir.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Make sure you tune in tomorrow night to HARDBALL when we
dedicate the whole hour to an all-star show on those close U.S. Senate
races around the country. You don`t want to miss this one. We`re a month
out tomorrow, when no one is looking at, we`re looking at.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
Tomorrow night, we`re going to look at the battle for the U.S. Senate, with
all its excitement and craziness. Could it really come down to a candidate
in Iowa bragging about her ability to castrate hogs? Could it?
Well, the fact is, this election of 2014, it comes a month from tomorrow,
packs a lot of political dynamite. Should the president lose control of
the Senate and continue to suffer minority status in the House? He would
be at the mercy of the Republican Congress. They can spend their days
investigating him and trying to destroy Obamacare. They can do absolutely
nothing on immigration. They can have a jolly time simply roasting the
Democrat and the White House. They could get a real kick out of the next
And then -- but then, what would become of such a performance? Will that -
- what usually comes of such a performance. They will look like the bad
guys. They will look like a party that seeks power in office merely for
the chance that gives to wreck destruction and score political points.
They will look like the alternative party, the brand X party. The party
you vote for just to say no.
And meanwhile, all the time, the next two years, the Republican Party is
advertising itself as a no party. The voters out there in the country,
will be evoking a leader and a party they want to say yes to, to hope for
deliverance from a tough time, the opportunity to leave in a country that`s
heading for better times.
So, here`s a thought for the Republicans. Don`t bet on the party determine
to fly the flag no to rally the American people to say yes. A month from
now, they may settle simply for relief from something they don`t like.
Three Novembers from now in 2016, they`re looking, yes, once again, for
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" right now.
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