Date: November 13, 2014
Guest: Rep. Jim McDermott, Kellyanne Conway, Leslie Sanchez, Chris
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Should we just get out of Iraq?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
George F. Will today called the 2003 invasion of Iraq, quote, "the
worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history." What does it say about the
last 11 years of blood, death and anger that this country`s most respected
conservative thinker believes the initial decision the worst in our
history? Well, to me, it says we need to rethink -- all of us, left, right
and center -- this belief that we, the United States, can plant ourselves
militarily in the Mideast and change the course of events.
Certainly, we need to rethink if we can improve them, and certainly,
we need to realize, because we`ve been there, that we can make things much
worse, that we can take a troubling menace like Saddam Hussein and sit (ph)
ourselves down next to a horror like ISIS. The question now is whether we
should spend more money after bad, good money after bad, double down on our
(ph) more (ph) billions, risk more lives by sending more troops into Iraq,
knowing that the country itself is not ready to face the hard test before
Howard Dean`s the former governor of Vermont and Jim McDermott is a
congressman from Washington state.
There are currently 1,400 U.S. troops in Iraq. The number could rise
to about 3,100. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee
today, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, raised the
possibility that he could recommend U.S. troops be part of combat
operations now with Iraq sometime in the future. Let`s watch the general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, U.S. ARMY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: There are some
places along the path that I think will be fairly complex terrain for them,
including, for example, Mosul.
I`m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those
forces in Mosul and long the border would need to be accompanied by U.S.
forces, but we`re certainly considering it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Governor Dean, your view on keeping troops in Iraq, in
fact, doubling them at this point?
HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FMR. GOVERNOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
support the president`s attacks on ISIS from the air. But if there was
ever a lesson from Vietnam in particular is you cannot fight for people who
won`t fight for themselves.
The Shia army is a disaster. The Shia militia is not a disaster, but
they are terrorists. We ought not to have troops on the ground. I
understand a few advisers. I get that. The idea of American troops going
into combat is a huge mistake. Our allies, our reliable allies there, are
the Kurds. They`ve been at this a long time. We have a great relationship
with them. They`re not bosom buddies with Iran, which is always a mistake.
I think this president better watch out. I think -- I`m supporting
him on ISIS. I`m not going to support a bunch of advisers, and I`m most
certainly not going to support combat troops in Mosul.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Congressman McDermott on this. Your view.
Right now, we have a choice. Do we support the president`s decision to
double the number of troops as so-called advisers with Dempsey out there
saying today they may go into combat?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Well, Chris, I think the Congress
-- the president will make a serious mistake if he does not insist that the
Congress take a vote on this issue. We have to have a debate in the
Congress over this issue, otherwise they have set the trap for him to be
out there by himself making decisions. And for two years, it`ll be his
war. And I really think that we have to be very, very careful.
Like the governor, I think the 30,000-foot drones are one thing, but
you cannot make that work. You have to have people on the ground that you
can trust. And that means we`re going to have to use the Iraqi army, which
has certainly turned out to be a very paper-thin operation. If we`re going
to put advisers in to stiffen them up, it`s a very slipper slope to get
what to -- what the general was just talking about in terms of putting
troops on the ground. I`m afraid...
DEAN: Chris, can I just...
MCDERMOTT: ... that we`re going to wind up...
DEAN: Can I just throw something...
MCDERMOTT: ... in a full-scale battle...
DEAN: I`m sorry.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Governor.
DEAN: Can I just throw something in here really quickly? The major
mistake that was made which left the opening for ISIS was Maliki, who`s
basically a stooge of the Iranian government, who we empowered, use Shia to
suppress the Sunni. If there is going to be any liberation and getting
away from ISIS, I we`re going to have to have a Sunni army, which I don`t
think Maliki or his successor or the Iranians intend to tolerate.
This is a mess (ph). I don`t mind trying to get rid of ISIS. They`re
a very, very dangerous group of people. I do mind getting enmeshed in this
ridiculous zoo that`s going on, this political -- you know, I said 11 years
ago this was going to split this country up into three, and it already has.
We do not need to have our troops on the ground in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Does it impress you, then, that the government in Baghdad
has, in fact, named a Sunni to be head of the military there, the defense
minister? You don`t think that`s going to do the job of integrating their
DEAN: That -- that alone is not enough. That alone is not enough.
They`re going to have to have a real Sunni army and they`re going to have
to support that army, and that`s not what this pro-Iranian government in
Baghdad has been willing to do.
MCDERMOTT: That`s the other...
MATTHEWS: Well, gentlemen, let`s take a look at -- let`s take a look
at this thing by "Washington Post" columnist David Ignatius yesterday. He
ran through the progress report of his on the Iraqi government yesterday.
-- Baghdad previously oversaw government contracting, where millions
of dollars went missing. On the issue of sectarianism, the new interior
minister is the former head of the group called the Badr Corps, a group
seen by many Sunnis as little more than a Shi`ite death squad. In terms of
military training, the U.S. spent upwards of $20 billion in the last decade
to train the Iraqi army. The results, the military collapsed in the face
of ISIS`s aggression. And by the way, another 500 of them ran the other
The government also has been slow to reach out to the Kurds, though
there are reports today of a big deal there. And the new prime minister of
Iraq has also failed in terms of regional outreach. This government`s
close to Iran, of course, by definition. But as Ignatius notes, he has
yet, the new prime minister, even traveled to Saudi Arabia.
Congressman McDermott, when you talk to your fellow members, the
progressives and everyone else up there, if there were an up and down vote
on whether we double our complement of advisers on the ground in Iraq,
would it pass in the House?
MCDERMOTT: I think...
MATTHEWS: This House right now.
MCDERMOTT: I think it would be very, very tough to get the votes to
get it to pass. I think that we all -- one of the things that`s not been
talked about yet is the whole Iranian impact. If we don`t finish those
negotiations on nuclear power with the Iranians and get them in, in a
positive way, in this situation to pull back on all the mayhem that`s
coming from the Iranian side, from the Shia side.
You are going to continue to have people switch and go and fight with
the ISIS. You`ve got a lot of -- a lot of Sunnis are fighting with ISIS
that don`t like them, don`t want to be with them, but they see no
alternative. Baghdad is executing them and Iran is standing by. And they
have no one else to fight with but ISIS. So you`ve got to get Iran to pull
back in this whole thing.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think there still is a government of Iraq. I don`t
think, gentlemen, that this notion we have of a tri-partite country of
Kurds and Sunni and Shia exists anymore. What makes you think that it`s
more real than ISIS is real? I think ISIS looks like it`s becoming a
country, Howard Dean, Governor Dean. It looks like ISIS is going to be
around for a while, whereas this so-called government in Iraq we keep
deluding ourselves into thinking exists is a Shi`ite government which is
basically an agent, a satellite of Iran, it looks like to me.
DEAN: Right. I think that`s right. And let`s not forget that Iraq
never was a country. We drew a bunch of -- we didn`t, the British and the
French drew a bunch of lines in, I think it was 1920...
DEAN: ... maybe 1921 -- yes, and created this country which is not a
country. Saddam Hussein held it together by sheer brutality and
oppression, and when Saddam went, the country -- the same thing`s going to
happen in Syria, by the way, is happening in Syria.
I do not think, however, that ISIS is going to hold territory. I do
think that if we can get the Turks to be a little more helpful in allowing
the Kurds to put together a decent army and we support that army, we can
push ISIS back. It would be very, very dangerous for ISIS to control
territory. You`d be in the same position as al Qaeda was in Afghanistan,
which they used as a base to train the people who killed 3,000 Americans in
New York in 2001.
So we do have some business there, but the business has to be self-
defense in our own interests, not trying to straighten out Iraq. We missed
that boat a long time ago when George W. Bush sent all our folks over there
MATTHEWS: Well, speak of the devil, this weekend, George W. Bush, as
you mentioned -- he went out there and was asked about the Iraq war. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Do you have any regrets about
that, Mr. President?
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I have
regrets that -- that...
SCHIEFFER: I mean, do you ever feel that maybe it was the wrong
BUSH: No, I think it was the right decision. My regret is that a
violent group of people have risen up again. This is al Qaeda-plus. And I
put in the book they need to be defeated. And I hope we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman McDermott, not against that man personally, but
his notion of what`s going on over there is so deluded. What do you think
of what you just heard? Like George Will, who`s got a brain on his
shoulders and actually reads books all day and thinks has decided after a
while that this is the worst decision that this president and -- we`ve ever
made as a country. Now you have a guy coming on saying, Oh, no, this has
been great. This is really what we wanted over there, and then sign (ph) -
- find some way of finding al Qaeda in this whole mess because they always
are thinking al Qaeda -- al Qaeda was created after we got in there in
Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq.
So does anybody -- does he read the newspaper? I don`t know what he
MCDERMOTT: No, he...
MATTHEWS: Except what the neocons feed him. Your thoughts.
MCDERMOTT: He was run (ph) by Cheney and the neocons to get into this
war. It was never a war we should have gotten into. I agree with George
Will totally. I said he would lie to us to get us into this war, and he
did. And he got us in and had no idea what he was opening up. He was
opening Pandora`s box.
MCDERMOTT: And he didn`t understand the Kurds. He didn`t understand
the Kurds and the Turks and all of what`s going on. He didn`t understand
the Iranians, that giving the power to Maliki -- all of that was one
mistake after another because he had no concept of what he was getting into
when he brought those troops in there.
They just said, Mr. President, we have to go and get Saddam Hussein.
He could understand that because his father had a kind of a thing with
Saddam, but otherwise, he had no understanding of what he was doing.
MATTHEWS: Well, his father warned him not to go in. He made it very
clear, we go in there, we destabilize the whole region, we mess it up, just
like we all were told, Don`t topple the government of Assad because once
that government goes down, something worse is going to follow it. It`s
amazing how many times we ignore the lessons of the experts.
Anyway, there`s a disturbing new video out right now. It`s on line.
It`s from a leftist anti-American group over in Turkey, and members of the
group confronted and assaulted American sailors who had just disembarked
from their ship in Istanbul this Wednesday. The group recorded the scene,
which included attempts to put a put a plastic bag over the head of one of
the sailors. Let`s watch this craziness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You declare that you`re a member of U.S. army, and
now because we define (ph) you as murderers, as killers, we want you -- we
want you to get out of our land!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are using (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go home, Yankee! Go home, Yankee! Go home,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Governor Dean, what do you think of that? I mean, it bugs
me as an American to see our guys humiliated. These are regular sailors.
They`re not -- they`re not used to that kind of gladiatorial street
fighting, obviously. It`s humiliating.
DEAN: One of the things that has not been written about is the de-
democratization of Turkey. Turkey`s done very, very well in the last 35,
particularly in the last 15 years. But the president of Turkey, Recep
Erdogan, is now becoming more and more authoritarian.
We don`t know who those thugs were. We don`t know if they`re -- I
doubt they were leftists because Erdogan persecutes the leftists. They
could very well have been his own people.
So Turkey is not as stable as it used to be. I don`t know what to
make of that video because we really don`t know a lot about how it
happened. I agree that when you see the troops humiliated -- you know,
Turkey wouldn`t be an independent republic without the United States
because the Russians would have pushed in there, as well. So I don`t like
to see that, but it`s very complicated and we don`t know just exactly who
those people were.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, they claim over there that they are the
leftists. They were enemies of the government. Anyway, just remind
ourselves Turkey`s a member of NATO. They`re supposed to be on our side.
We`re supposed to have a common defense effort over there.
Thank you, Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, former DNC
DEAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott. I follow
everything you say.
Coming up: What`s President Obama`s reaction to last week`s Republican
victory? He`s going to the left, it looks like. He`s got a new deal with
China on climate change. He`s ready to veto the Keystone pipeline bill,
and he`s about to go big on immigration. We know these things. It`s all
going to rile up Republicans. This is getting hot.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, catch this. Elizabeth Warren`s got a big new deal, a
big new role with the leadership of the U.S. Senate and their (ph)
Democrats. Warren will be the new liaison between Democrats in the U.S.
Senate and groups in the party`s progressive base. It`s a newly created
post that helps bring the Democratic leadership some star power.
Warren is one of the biggest draws, of course, in the Democratic
Party. And Harry Reid has been engaged in private talks with her to
elevate her role within the caucus.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Voters sent one hell of a
message in last week`s elections. Message received, was the response of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So to everyone who
voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two thirds of voters who
chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was nine days ago, and since then, President
Obama has been attacking the right, and many think veering left. Some say
he made a huge statement by coming out in support of the left`s stance on
net neutrality. The White House says he`s ready to veto a Keystone
pipeline bill if it comes his way, which some in the Democratic Party will
And he sent the right wing also into a tizzy by negotiating a huge
climate deal with China the other day requiring the United States to slash
our CO2 emissions by more than 25 percent. And he`s about to walk into the
hard right`s lions` den with an executive order legalizing perhaps five or
so million illegal immigrants. That would be a huge win for the Hispanic
base, of course. In fact, "The New York Times" reports today that
President Obama could make an announcement as soon as next week that could
legalize five million people.
And late today, Speaker John Boehner told reporters that the
Republican conference will go to war to stop the president on this. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We`re going to fight
the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path. This is the
wrong way to govern. This is exactly what the American people said on
election day they didn`t want. And so all the options are on the table.
We`re having discussions with our members and there are no decisions been
made as to how we will fight this if he proceeds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Chris Kofinis is a Democratic strategist and Leslie
Sanchez is a Republican strategist and was a White House adviser under
President Bush. Sorry what I said about Bush earlier, only for you,
because it happens to be true, but let`s move on here.
MATTHEWS: We won`t go over old territory, like wars we shouldn`t have
fought, that even George Will says was the worst decision in U.S. history!
But let`s talk about the stuff to come. You start off here, Leslie.
What do you think will be the Republican reaction, and will it matter to
what the president seems clearly to want to do in terms of immigration,
legalizing, basically giving out or issuing green cards, basically -- you
can live in this country, work in this country, have Social Security, live
like an American, in effect, although you don`t quite get citizenship --
for five million people, about half the people here without documents.
That`s an extraordinary reach by the EO, executive order. Will it -- what
will it do to Republicans when they see that happen next -- perhaps next
LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, thumbing your
nose at Congress, especially after the biggest Democratic realignment since
probably, what, 1928 and Al Smith, is not the smartest political move, but
it is that, a political move, not a move to govern.
And I think it is reasonable to expect that this is going to make it
politically impossible for Boehner to get the kind of votes he needs to
have comprehensive reform or really pass meaningful legislation with the
president. It is just going to really stop the process.
And that is fundamentally why I think you see the president in
defiance, moving very hard on the left, not only on Keystone, which
basically put a nail in the coffin of the Senate race in Louisiana, and all
these other things, is to start in a campaign mode, as opposed to a
MATTHEWS: Let me go back -- let`s go to Chris on this.
Chris, let`s start with something rather small-bore compared to
legalizing five million people. Let`s talk about Keystone pipeline, which
to me has a lot more heat to it than the importance of it, but that`s all
right. The environmentalists care about it. If that gets approved and the
president vetoes it and they try to override the veto and they fail to
override the veto, that is a heavy burden on the president to have
personally stopped the Keystone pipeline development, isn`t it?
If he vetoes that and they can`t override that, you don`t get the two-
thirds plus one vote in both houses, doesn`t that put an incredible
historic pressure on him as the cork in the bottle here?
CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It does. Not only that. I
would say if you look at in terms of where we go for the next two years, we
still have a few Blue Dog, if you will, centrist Democrats left, like my
old boss Senator Manchin and others.
You`re going to push them in a difficult place. And I think part of
the problem here and where the president really faces a kind of delicate
dance and a delicate balancing act is, you have got to send a message
obviously to your base. You want to energize them, but at the same time
you have got two years where you have got to work with the other side.
If you make it so difficult right now during this lame-duck session,
then the next two years is going to be -- is going to make the last two
years look like a picnic.
MATTHEWS: Well, Chris, why would you want to energize your base in
November after an election when you got two years to go? What will that
energy go to? Good Christmas shopping? What are you going to get out of
them now? The election is over.
MATTHEWS: They didn`t show up. He admitted two-thirds of the people
didn`t show up. Why does he want to energize them now, rather than before
an election, when they might have voted?
KOFINIS: Yes, listen, I`m not saying it was the right decision.
KOFINIS: I think this is more about I think his legacy.
But I will tell you, my concern is when I look at the polls and I look
at what happened on election night, there were a lot of messages being
sent. One of them was to both parties, figure out how to work together.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think.
KOFINIS: I think what you have seen from both sides, and particularly
I would say from the Republicans coming out and saying we`re going to
appeal Obamacare again, you have seen this reluctance to figure out a way
to work together.
I think the president I think can do this. He can do this because he
believes in and it may be the right thing to do, but it will complicate
things to work together. And that may not be the right message to be
sending to the American people. It may be a great message to the base, but
that`s not going to necessarily help you going into the next two years.
MATTHEWS: Well, according to the new Gallup poll, as you are alluding
to there, taken after the midterm election, just 36 percent want the
president to make the -- have the most influence over the direction of the
country. More than half, 53 percent, want the influence to go to the
Republicans. That`s a 17-point margin.
Let me go back to Leslie on that.
That does suggest that the message coming out was the one we got in
the numbers. We saw who won. And it seems like when they are asked to put
that into narration form, they said, yes, what we`re saying is we want the
Republican Congress to call the shots.
But let me ask you, following up on what you said, taking it at good
faith what you said a few minutes ago. Do you think there is a plausible
root legislatively for the new Republican-controlled Congress to pass an
immigration bill that would pass muster with moderate Democrats and
moderate Hispanics? Would there be such a bill? Is it feasible.
SANCHEZ: I do. I do believe. I believe so.
I think there are a lot of areas Republicans and Democrats agree upon.
And I think if the speaker is allowed to present forward a bill that looks
and focuses on border security first -- and we have had this debate for 10
years on the Hill. But realistically can you get that hundred votes.
Maybe he is at 70, 80 right now. You can get closer to a tenable number
where Democrats and Republicans can come together and focus on that part.
And, of course, we need to do something about the individuals who are
here that are undocumented. Some want to work here. Some want to become
legalized residents. Some want citizenship. But it is not like the
president`s approach where he is saying blanket amnesty.
That is a distinction, Chris, that is going to come up for the next
two years. Is it open borders, open amnesty, or it closed borders, many
gates, and a select few get citizenship? There is a reasonable approach.
To do so in this manner though it would really jeopardize a lot of the
speaker`s ability to get...
MATTHEWS: I hate to beat the dead horse here. Why doesn`t the House
just pass the Senate bill? It`s a good bill. It`s got teeth in it.
SANCHEZ: For exactly the reasons you said. They don`t believe that
there is enough in there on border security, border enforcement.
KOFINIS: That`s not the reason.
MATTHEWS: You know what I think they don`t like? They don`t like the
fact that it actually stops illegal hiring. And I think a lot of
businesses want the cheap labor. That is what I think, because it`s got
real teeth in it.
SANCHEZ: I think we should continue to put pressure -- I agree with
you. Put pressure on interior enforcement and on those employers, so you
can have a good, livable wage.
MATTHEWS: I`m with you on that part.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Last thought, Chris.
KOFINIS: The reason -- the reason why the Republicans did not pass
the immigration -- the Senate immigration bill was because it was pure
politics. They didn`t want to do it because they thought it was going to
hurt them in the midterm elections.
At the end of the day, if I was advising the president, I would say,
you know what? Call their bluff. All right? Say, all right, we`re in a
lame-duck session now. Pass the Senate bill. You have a chance to do it.
If there is a difference between the two bills, we can work it out, there
is still time.
They won`t do it. So I think the president right now is making a very
dramatic statement. But the notion that somehow Republicans right now
coming out and saying, we`re really passionate about immigration, where was
that, where was that the last two years?
MATTHEWS: Why don`t we have an Alison Lundergan Grimes-style election
in the House, where everybody gets to vote on immigration reform, but
nobody knows how you voted?
That would be great, because I think that would pass.
SANCHEZ: Yes, that would be great.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Chris Kofinis. It`s great to have you on.
Leslie, it`s great having you on again, Leslie Sanchez coming on.
Coming up, another chapter in the presidential bromance between --
there he is -- with Bill Clinton and George W. next in "Sideshow." Talk
about an uneven mental balance there.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL and time now for the "Sideshow."
Well, "The Daily Show" weighed in a controversial surrounding the
mayor of Minneapolis, who has been accused of flashing a gang sign during
the get-out-the-vote event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Community organizers were on the ground in their
neighborhoods canvassing to encourage people to get out and vote. One of
the volunteers, the woman you see here in a purple hoodie sweatshirt, is
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.
She`s posing for a photo with another volunteer.
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": You know what?
That`s awesome. It`s grassroots democracy at its finest, or to put that
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a photo of Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges,
arm in arm with a man, flashing what law enforcement agencies tell us is a
known gang sign for a North Side gang.
STEWART: That is a gang sign.
STEWART: All this time, I have been the lead-in for a notorious gang
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I always knew that Colbert was a troublemaker.
Anyway, speaking of Stephen Colbert, he`s still in a celebratory mood
following the midterm election Republican wave, of course, but he did raise
concerns as to who the Democrats will tap as the future of the party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a huge problem for the Democrats. It`s not
just that the farm team is being depleted. It`s the farm team to the farm
team in the statehouses.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Yes, Democrats have lost
their farm teams. Now who will they turn to when Hillary blows out her
knee at an Iowa pancake breakfast.
COLBERT: She will be on the D.L.
COLBERT: Farm teams are crucial to developing future leaders.
Remember, just two years before he ran for president, Barack Obama was an
Illinois state senator. Who could have imagined that today he would be in
the White House wishing he was an Illinois state senator?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I bet there are times Barack Obama misses the old days in
Anyway, finally, former President George W. Bush released his new book
this week about his father titled simply "41." It`s already receiving some
positive notice, if not from here.
Former President Bill Clinton tweeted out this image with the message,
"Received my copy of `41` by 43, George W. Bush. Touching tribute."
Well, President George Bush responded on his Instagram account with
the message: "Thanks, 42. Hope you like your book about your pal 41."
But Bush continued the presidential lovefest by referring to Clinton
with the hashtag #brotherfromanothermother. Isn`t that all cute?
Up next, it`s the east vs. the west, the shirts vs. the skins, the
establishment Republicans vs. the red hots. The campaign for 2016 is on.
Plus, the right wing has a problem with Bruce Springsteen after Tuesday`s
concert down in the Mall here for America`s veterans. It`s full speed
ahead now to the roundtable.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger with
There is a new report on the Secret Service failures that led to the
September 19 breach at the White House. It shows one officer who was in
charge of a dog, was not listening to his two-way radio, did not have his
earpiece in, and was in a van talking on a cell phone. That night, Omar
Gonzalez jumped the fence carrying a knife and made it to the East Room
before he was tackled.
And NBC News has learned another Ebola patient is headed to Nebraska
Medical Center. The patient is a surgeon who was working in Sierra Leone
before becoming sick -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the roundtable, of
We are going to dig into the big questions, including the debate over
the war in Iraq. Should we continue it? Plus, President Obama`s defiance,
he`s veering left after a midterm Republican wave. We know all that. And
the competing conferences, if you will, if the Republican 226 -- actually
Here`s the way I see it breaking down. You have got the Eastern
conference, Republicans, and they`re more gritty, big city kind of
Republicans. They`re big money, more centrist and more secular. And right
now, that is dominated in many ways physically as well by Governor Chris
Christie, who is giving off new signs that he is running, like he`s not
going to quit governor when he runs for president. So, I guess that means
he`s running for president.
Then you have the Western conference. This conference is
characterized by Christie conservatives. They`re pro-family and pro-life.
And right now the conference is dominated by, as of the other day, Mike
Huckabee. It`s pronounced differently by the people over on FOX. We will
get into the Republican Party`s competing conferences for 2016.
But joining me right now, the HARDBALL roundtable tonight.
MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, Republican pollster and senior
adviser to Newt Gingrich`s 2012 campaign -- I hope she likes that tag --
MATTHEWS: And NBC News senior political reporter, a straight arrow
reporter, Perry Bacon.
Perry, what do you think about this debate now? Because I think it`s
starting. Somebody called me the other day and said, why are we still in
Iraq? And then I read David Ignatius` piece the other day, which really
laid out they`re not -- they`re sectarian. They`re never going to be an
inclusive country again, with the Kurds and the Sunni and the Shia getting
together. They`re corrupt. They`re not going to reach out to their
neighbors. There`s nothing -- they run every time there is a fight.
Why are we still sending advisers over to Iraq?
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The short
answer is the beheadings.
The president was very reluctant to go back in there in the first
place and basically we in the press and the conservatives pushed him there
to begin with. I think the answer to that is the beheadings are in
people`s memories still, and ISIS is in people`s memories still.
MATTHEWS: So if they want to stop the war over there, stop beheading
our people, we will pull out?
MATTHEWS: Kellyanne, that`s cynical, but I think it is true. I mean,
I think the reason we`re even -- it`s America first, don`t mess with us and
we will try to forget about you.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: America first, peace through
strength. And I side with Perry on this.
Seeing these beheadings of innocent Western citizens on your laptop
will really galvanize and crystallize public opinion among a sleepy, war-
weary country. And I think the political dichotomy between interventionist
and isolationist really gives very short shrift to the way most Americans
look at that.
They are war-weary, but they at the same time don`t believe that you
can disengage. They also, Chris, in large margins, tripartisan margins, if
you will, believe that it is better to fight it over here than fight it
MATTHEWS: I have heard that argument. It`s a good one for some
Let me ask you this, Howard. I think we`re one massacre away from
just pulling out. Suppose the troops we have now in Anbar province,
there`s a couple others, what if some of those troops get overrun? I don`t
know how much -- Kelly is right. It is war-weariness, up against the very
graphic picture of our people being beheaded. What happens when the
picture is a massacre?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you may be
I think it will be enough is enough is enough is enough. Chuck Hagel,
the secretary of defense, was on the Hill saying two things...
FINEMAN: ... saying two things today. Number one, we`re going to
stop at 3,000, 3,000 troops for the foreseeable future.
But he also said it is going to be a multiyear effort to confront or
at least contain the Islamic State, ISIS. So what he is telling the
American people is, we will keep it on maintenance level. It will be sort
of low maintenance level. Don`t worry about it too much. We have got just
enough troops there to keep that kind of massacre from taking place.
Whether that can actually work or not, I don`t know. If those troops
were not there, ISIS would be -- might be overrunning Baghdad right now.
Colin Powell said, famously, if we break it, we own it. And it is broken
into pieces, Kurdish, Sunni, Shiite, Islamic State, four pieces.
MATTHEWS: And we`re stuck with that.
FINEMAN: And we`re stuck with that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about the president since the election,
You go here.
The president is clearly headed towards an E.O., executive order,
legalizing what looks to be basically giving green cards to five million
people. That`s roughly half the people in this country illegally.
What`s going to happen if he does that?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: There`s going to be huge
blowback not just by the Republicans but by Democrats. He is misreading
the election results, and more importantly, he`s misreading the way many of
the Democrats who are running in purple states approach this issue. Point
out to me any embattled Democrat in a competitive U.S. Senate race this
year, Chris, who said, I am for the president on executive amnesty.
Seventy-four percent of Americans --
CONWAY: They prefer that you work with Congress. I also think he is
making very difficult decisions, screwing the pooch for anybody who runs in
2016, because --
MATTHEWS: OK, Perry, that`s all true. I accept all that. Why then
is he feeling the pressure from his back to do this?
MATTHEWS: The base is pushing him.
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS: I don`t --
MATTHEWS: We heard them.
BACON: That`s true, I don`t think it`s base. I think this is what he
wants to do. I think climate change and immigration, he wants to deal with
before he leaves office. These are priorities for him. These are
priorities for him. He feels like he hasn`t done enough of them yet. I
don`t think --
MATTHEWS: He wants this on his Wikipedia.
BACON: These are policies that -- he wants to --
MATTHEWS: I hate to say Wikipedia --
FINEMAN: I also think that from a practical, political point of view
he doesn`t necessarily agree with Kellyanne. I think people around him are
CONWAY: I had a better election --
FINEMAN: I know you had a better election, he had a pretty did one in
2012 and 2008.
MATTHEWS: What are his people telling him?
FINEMAN: Well, they`re telling him -- bring it on, you know, we can
argue about the constitutionality of executive orders or Kellyanne, what
does he call it? Executive amnesty?
CONWAY: Probably what Mary Landrieu is calling it tonight.
FINEMAN: Dictatorial amnesty --
CONWAY: That`s Keystone pipeline Mary Landrieu is calling it tonight.
FINEMAN: OK. So, what Obama and his people are thinking it`s fine.
It`s ironic for constitutional lawyer to be thinking this way, and say,
fine, let them argue about the Constitution. I`ll take the people.
CONWAY: Why doesn`t he act like Bill Clinton?
FINEMAN: I`ll take the votes in 2016. I`m going to take the votes in
MATTHEWS: What`s Bill Clinton saying?
CONWAY: What Bill Clinton would have said, is this is a guy who
worked with Newt Gingrich to balance the budget, to pass welfare reform, he
moved to the center.
MATTHEWS: Where is the center?
CONWAY: The center is nowhere near executive amnesty.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about your party now. You`re in center
screen right now. Let`s move to 2016, as I said, Chris Christie is the
eastern conference leader of the Republican Party right now. Here is why,
he won`t resign as New Jersey governor if he runs for president.
Therefore, he`s running for president.
He just had a hugely successful election as chair of the Republican
Governors Association, giving him a big national profile. He raised over
100 million bucks, plus this morning after his party`s midterm victory,
Christie appeared on five national -- he is a full Ginsburg, as they say,
five shows in one morning, he is in, think. Anyway, that`s my judgment.
Mike Huckabee is the western conference leader because the minute he
shows any interest, all of a sudden, he is the guy up there on the
Christian right. Here`s why? Today`s "Washington Post" reports, he,
Huckabee, is putting together a political team. He`s leading an overseas
tour to Krakow, London and Southern California, well -- I don`t know what
Southern California has got over there.
Obviously, he is thinking about John Paul II -- I love this accepting
our church -- and Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan, a trio of crowd
pleasers for the right. And the clearest sign he`s running, his upcoming
book is called "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy", in which he explores today`s
Anyway, Kellyanne, I`m trying to set up, because I think -- please
don`t fight me over the concept. The old establishment wing tends to be
East Coast, tends to be very hawkish like Rudy Giuliani. The center part -
CONWAY: How did he do?
MATTHEWS: That is what I mean. But the establishment wing always
ends up winning for some reason in your party, almost always. And then
have you the culturally conservative crowd, which are very pro-life, very
anti-gay, same-sex marriage. And also, I even say, hawkish, but not
hawkish the way East Coast party is, but they are hawkish. So, I`m
wondering, explain -- do you think it is two conferences --
CONWAY: Well, the --
MATTHEWS: -- Christie get to the finals, and also a guy like Mike
Huckabee get to the --
CONWAY: Those are great questions. By the way, I think both lanes
will be very crowded. I think you`re going to end up with all the
conferences of every major league sport, everyone who is thinking of
running probably will.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I want. That`s your key message. Why is it
all of a sudden crowded?
CONWAY: It`s crowded because people recognize that after eight years
of any one-party rule, people generally look for something different.
MATTHEWS: They couldn`t have figured this out eight years ago?
CONWAY: No, they did figure out eight years ago.
MATTHEWS: Why is Hillary more beatable?
CONWAY: Hillary is beatable for a couple of reasons. She`s not
relatable and accessible. 2014 is really the year of the relatable women.
All these women who ran and ran as Republicans, pull me up from the
bootstraps, know what it`s like --
CONWAY: Nobody not is like (INAUDIBLE).
Hillary Clinton makes 200 grand a speech. The average woman`s
household in this country is $50,000, a quarter of that a year. She said
she hasn`t driven herself anywhere since 1996. We`re going to run against
her as populist. We need somebody who is relatable, who`s not wealthy, and
who`s not going to give her the (INAUDIBLE).
You know why Hillary supporters --
MATTHEWS: So, everybody is thinking like that in your party?
CONWAY: Well, the smart people are. But, you know why --
CONWAY: May I just say one thing? Perry is going to love it. I said
it him over the phone. You know why --
CONWAY: Do you know why the Hillary Clinton supporters are pushing
for Jeb Bush? Because they want nine months from now all of us to be
talking about do you want the third bush or a woman? Not a fair fight.
She needs somebody less known --
MATTHEWS: So, you`re against Jeb?
CONWAY: A generation young -- no, I`m not against Jeb, I`m making the
point she needs somebody less known to beat her.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back with more of genius, genius here. It`s
really interesting. I think some of it was partisan, but maybe not.
We`ll be right back. The right wing`s latest beef with Bruce
Springsteen to light things up tonight. The Boss, going after him.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to the Boss. Bruce Springsteen on the receiving end
of some criticism from the right wing.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with our round table, Howard, Kellyanne and
While the conservatives are outraged it seems this week over the song
that Bruce Springsteen performed at the Concert for Valor on Veteran`s day
in this city Tuesday night. The song he played was "Fortunate Son", the
Vietnam era rock anthem by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It`s a critical
take on America`s elite, many say, and those who had political connections
and were fortunate enough to avoid the Vietnam draft.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, SINGER (singing): Some folks inherit star-spangled
eyes. They send you down to war. And when you ask them, "How much should
we give?" All they answer is more, more, more. It ain`t me, it ain`t me.
I ain`t no military son. It ain`t me, it ain`t me. I ain`t no fortunate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that ripped the scab off. Many in the right thought
took history with the fact that Springsteen played that particular song on
Here`s what "Weekly Standard" magazine wrote about it. "The song, not
to put a too fine a point on it, is anti-war screed, taking shots at the
red, white and blue. It was a particularly terrible choice given that
`Fortunate Son` is moreover, anti-draft song, and this concert was largely
organized to honor those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq."
FINEMAN: I don`t buy it. First of all, it`s a great song, as a song.
That`s the first thing. It`s great rock music.
Number two, what a great country? Is this a great country or what?
You had a lot of different people out there singing a lot of different
things from Jennifer Hudson doing "The Star-Spangled Banner", the full
spectrum of culture the last 30, 40 years.
Also, I studied the words again of "Fortunate Son", and, also, "Born
in the USA", which is another song that he sang. In neither song do the
people say, we`re not going. They didn`t say screw this, we`re not going.
They went. That`s the point. They went. Whatever the flaws of
American society were or are, whatever the inequalities, whatever the
special privileges, they went. They chose to go, circumstances might have
forced them, but they went.
And in a way, those songs are about pride and patriotism. They`re not
about we hate America. They`re not. They`re about the fact that you do
your duty for your country, even if it`s unfair. Even if it`s unfair in
some ways, you do it. And you sacrifice.
So, in that sense, I didn`t think -- I think the people just don`t
understand the context. They don`t understand the history and they have a
pre-determined conclusion, and they`re not thinking in a sophisticated way
about it. At least not thinking like me.
MATTHEWS: Well, no, because you and I lived through the draft. It`s
a different time. I don`t think the draft is a current issue. Charlie
Rangel wants it, but most people don`t want it back.
PERRY: Do you think Bruce Springsteen wanted to offend veterans on
Veterans Day? Of course not.
Everything is not political in America, even though we treat it that
way. Everything is not a political debate. And this concern definitely
was, like Howard said, it was a unifying event that stayed that way.
MATTHEWS: Yes, a lot of people like the battle hymn of the republic.
They live in the South. I mean, not everything is about what`s happening
CONWAY: It was a terrific concert. I have to tell you, I`m not a
conservative who agrees with this sentiment because I watch the entire
concert with my children ages 10, 6 and 5. I let them stay up to watch it,
because they recognized some of those artists who they don`t associate with
mommy, (INAUDIBLE), politics, whatsoever. And I told them how nice it was
that these artists, all of whom have been very successful, according to
their version of the American dream, gave up their time and their talent to
honor the veterans. It`s very important.
FINEMAN: And it`s diversity of opinion, too. What better way to
celebrate what veterans sacrificed for than that? We`re a big enough
county to take a protest song about some conditions in this country and the
fact that people served, regardless of that.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, thank God, a lot of people right now are
serving are watching what you just said.
CONWAY: It was for them.
MATTHEWS: And they`re going to appreciate what you said on
Thank you, when it gets redrawn. Thank you, Howard Fineman. That`s a
wonderful moment. I hope that`s on YouTube for a long time.
Kellyanne, it`s great to have you on. You`re a little bit of trouble
but you`re OK.
And, Perry Bacon, thank you.
When we return, let me finish with a big push towards war in Iran.
Iran, these are past wars (INAUDIBLE). We`re talking about future wars.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this big push toward war in
Iran. It`s clear that many on the hard right want us to attack Iran,
delivering a death blow to its nuclear sites. Does anyone doubt that this
the message they deliver day after day after day? Does anyone doubt they
want to destroy the talks between the U.S. and Iran over ways to avoid that
No. This is a life or death piece of war rivalry. Those like
President Obama and Secretary Kerry working their hardest to find a route
to peace, some lockable restrain on the Iranians between where they are now
in production of nuclear weapons. Those on the other side are pounding
away on the op-ed pages, their favorite battlefield, to undermine support
for the talks before they have a chance at bearing fruit.
The worst fear of the hawks is that a deal will be struck that stops
Iran on its root to a bomb, a moment of success that would free the world
of an unchallenged nuclear attack, free Iran to focus on the development of
its economy, free to join the modern world of nations.
Well, anyone who doubts the stakes or the fire power of this debate
should read the lead column in today`s "Wall Street Journal." And in it,
the argument that a preempted U.S. strike at Iran could terminally damage
Iran`s nuclear program. And not only that, the author suggested as a
preliminary to bombing Iran, the United States should overthrow Syria,
since overthrowing Iraq did so much good in slowing Iran`s nuclear program,
this added attack on an Arab country would do even more, they argue.
We have to keep track of these people. First, they got us to
undertake the invasion and overthrow of Iraq, George F. Will today called
the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history. Now, they want us to
keep overthrowing Arab governments and killing anyone who gets in our way
to do what they did to Bashar Assad what we did to Saddam Hussein, and
helped do to Moammar Gadhafi.
This has all worked out so well, hasn`t it? We knew the dirty work.
The overthrowing and all the killing and everything goes to hell in a hand
basket, then we do more dirty work, all the time hearing the hawks pushing
us onto the next country, all the time winning the hatred of the world.
Read what these guys have to say because they have a frightening influence
on the people who we elect to Congress.
I opposed the Iraq war from when I first began hearing whispers of it
from that Camp David meeting after 9/11. Now, we`re hearing how effective
a U.S. attack on Iran would be, how successful a war would be with Syria.
What makes you or me think that any of these armchair officers would ever
be part of the actual fighting?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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