December 10, 2014
Guest: James Woolsey, Glenn Carle, Marie Harf, Clarence Page, Susan Page,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Where are you on torture?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Tonight reminds me of a rule in politics. If you have to change the name
to something else, like they start referring to something as "revenue
enhancement," they`re trying to hide the truth. What they`re really
talking about but don`t want to say is "raising taxes." And when Dick
Cheney talks about "enhanced interrogation techniques," you damn well know
they`re talking about torture.
Well, tonight, we`re not talking right or wrong. We`re all pretty much
knowing where we stand on that one already. Let`s talk about one simple
issue. Does it work? If in a terrible situation when the country has a
lot on the line, including lots of lives, should a president give the go-
ahead to his intel people and give it a try or not? That is tonight`s
question. Is there a plausible case, based on human instinct, human
history, what we call common sense that giving someone pain gets them to
tell the truth, or gets some people to tell the truth?
Glenn Carle is a former CIA officer and author of "The Interrogator." R.
James Woolsey was director of central intelligence for this country from
1993 to 1995 and is the current chairman of the Foundation for Defense of
I want to start with the former director of CIA, James Woolsey. Jim, does
it work? Does torture work? Should it be in the manual of options for
JAMES WOOLSEY, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: No, not torture. But there`s a very
legitimate question whether something like waterboarding is, in fact,
torture. Legal scholars such as Andy McCarthy and others have made a very
strong case that it is not. And if it is torture, it`s a rather odd kind
because we perform on it a lot of our special forces by way of training,
and several journalists and authors volunteered to be waterboarded so they
could write about it a year or two ago.
So I think you need to be careful about the definition. There are some
things that are clearly torture -- pulling out somebody`s fingernails. And
no, we should not do that. And that is, I think, quite clear to all of us.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me get your clarification on the other types, keeping
people from sleeping for up to seven days, stress situation where they`re
standing in some position for days, if not hours or further. Were there
other techniques in that sort of category? You wouldn`t call any of that
WOOLSEY: Well, if there is no permanent damage, I think one has to look at
the circumstances. If the question is, can you save 3,000 people, as died
on 9/11, by making somebody not sleep for a couple of days, a lot of
people, I think, including me, would say that that is reasonable. To do
something physically permanently damaging to someone, that really is
clearly torture, no.
MATTHEWS: But if it worked, why wouldn`t you do it?
WOOLSEY: Well, I think there are limitations that we all ought to see to
what we do in order to defend ourselves. But in defending ourselves
against killing thousands of Americans by flying planes into buildings, I
think probably the balance is going to be for a lot of people, including
me, that something like waterboarding may be acceptable, if only barely so.
I`ve got to say I don`t hold that view really strongly because the man I
most admire for his assessment of these issues is John McCain --
WOOLSEY: -- and John McCain clearly says waterboarding is torture. And
so I think this is a close call and a difficult and important question.
It`s important to have a debate about it. But my problem with all of this
is not that people can`t be on one side of this or the other. My problem
is that it is public because that, I think, is seriously damaging to the
United States and our ability to work with other intelligence services.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Glenn Carle. Your view on this, sir, as an
experienced member of the intelligence community yourself. Go ahead.
GLENN CARLE, FMR. CIA OPERATIVE: Yes. Thanks. Whether waterboarding was
torture or not was pretty clearly decided by the United States after World
War II. In the Pacific theater`s equivalent to the Nuremberg trials, the
United States prosecuted, convicted and then punished dozens of Japanese
intelligence officers and soldiers for what was found to be a war crime,
which was waterboarding.
The reason it`s done to American intelligence officers and to military
personnel, the Sear training that the director referred to, is because --
it`s an important part of training. I went through it myself. We are at
risk of being captured, kidnapped and then tortured. And so the training
is to teach us what it is like in a controlled environment, how bad it can
be, and to learn ways that you can maintain some shred of your
individuality and not go crazy. So it`s training to protect us from the
effects of torture.
The sick transmogrification occurred after 9/11, when what was torture
resistance training was turned into an interrogation to obtain
intelligence, which is not what it does at all. It breaks people. It
doesn`t obtain intelligence. And that`s clearly known by the military, by
the intelligence community and by our JAG corps, the legal corps of the
military and the United States government, up until after 9/11 with this
MATTHEWS: This -- - this is what`s hard for me to imagine. And Jim,
you`re the expert, I guess, and certainly, you had the responsibility for
so much of these decisions in your time as -- as director of the CIA. But
you know, if you -- if somebody`s afraid of snakes, for example -- I`m not
a big fan of them. If somebody said to me, You`re going into a snake pit
if you don`t answer some simple questions right now about where your unit
was, what kind of a -- how did the machine operate, people -- most people
would -- a lot of people would crack under that.
You say they wouldn`t or they would? You`re just saying you shouldn`t do
that. You just -- as a normative thing, we shouldn`t be thinking about how
to scare the hell out of somebody.
WOOLSEY: No, I`m not opposed to mind games. I think that`s what a lot of
interrogation is. And some of them are really very shocking, and so forth.
But I think if the question is, can you keep somebody from al Qaeda from --
who knows about, like -- as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did, who knows about
forthcoming attacks, if you can find out enough that you can stop that, is
it OK to scare people? I`d say sure, it`s OK to scare people. Is it OK to
pull out their fingernails? No.
MATTHEWS: Because it wouldn`t work?
WOOLSEY: Well, working is not the only criterion. It`s also --
MATTHEWS: But if it`s 3,000 people, why wouldn`t you pull out some
WOOLSEY: I think there need to be some clear lines. And pulling out
fingernails is clearly torture and --
WOOLSEY: -- we shouldn`t do that.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) work. See, this is my problem. If it does work,
why would you have a line to stop at, because if you could save 3,000 lives
at the cost one life even, wouldn`t you go for the 3,000 to save them from
jumping off a 100-floor building? That`s what it came to.
WOOLSEY: I think there have to be some lines for all of us in this very
difficult world of distinguishing between what we would do in order to
protect the country on the one hand and what the ethical considerations are
on the other. Where I draw it is at --
WOOLSEY: -- permanent physical damage and something like fingernail
pulling out. I do not draw it at preventing people from scaring Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed when he`s being interrogated.
MATTHEWS: Right. I respect that. Let me ask you this. Do you think it
does any advantage in terms of deterring the other side from doing it?
We`re up against some -- you know the customers we`re up against more than
I do, the people like al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Do they -- do you
think they care what our limits are when they make their own determination
what to do to people, when they behead them and make them sit there in
front of a video camera --
MATTHEWS: -- in total humiliation?
WOOLSEY: No. What they`ll do is use any evidence, including from the
Senate Democratic committee members -- they`ll use any evidence that comes
out publicly as a rationalization for their doing what they`re going to do
anyway. They are not going to slow down in beheading people or raping
women or crucifying families, as -- which they do now --
MATTHEWS: I know.
WOOLSEY: -- because we go one way rather than another. That`s not what
drives them. What drives them is they want a caliphate. They want to
establish their empire and have it grow, and they`ll do anything to make
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the Justice Department lawyer who wrote the torture
memos, if you will, that authorized the interrogation letters -- methods,
challenges any president in the same circumstances to not use the
controversial interrogation methods. Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN YOO, FMR. DEPUTY ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think that any
president in that circumstance, given the information either as the CIA
presented it or as Senator Feinstein thinks it should have been presented -
- an American president, I think, still would have ordered these
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Mr. Carle. As an expert, do you believe they
CARLE: Oh, of course they don`t work. You know, and Mr. Yoo and I went to
the same university and he was a summa graduate and I certainly was not,
but I seem to have imbued the meaning of the American Constitution a little
more clearly than he did.
You don`t define yourself by what your enemies do and try to do and how
they will react to yourself. You affirm who you are, and you do what you
need to to protect yourself. Director Woolsey agree on most of these
points, I think.
The fact is, the premise, the question is, Would you do it, seems to assume
that it does work. But it does not work. The FBI has known this --
MATTHEWS: Well, why was it used in the field over in Vietnam --
CARLE: -- for many, many years --
MATTHEWS: -- and over again? You see ARVN people, South Vietnamese
people, fighting as our allies with water hoses in people`s mouths, the
suspected VC, probably VC people, to get some instant battlefield
information, some intel for their G2s (ph) to use right then in battle, in
CARLE: Yes, and which is probably wrong, and they spent their --
MATTHEWS: Did it work?
CARLE: They spent a good part of the Vietnam war bombing their own towns
as a result of it. Another critical component in intelligence work is you
have to -- you don`t just get someone to talk. If he says something from
whatever means you use, you then have to evaluate it. You don`t simply
take information and go off and act upon it. There`s never been --
MATTHEWS: Well, why did they do it so much? Why was it done so much? It
seems like it was done a lot.
CARLE: You`re talking about waterboarding, our practices --
MATTHEWS: No, we`re just -- simple tortures in the field to get --
CARLE: -- through history. Yes, well --
MATTHEWS: Yes, in the Vietnamese war.
CARLE: Humans are less human than we`d like to imagine ourselves. And a
lot of this comes down to an atavistic hostile action towards the enemy,
towards the other. It`s a chance to put your heel on his throat. And do
you imagine that you can coerce something --
MATTHEWS: OK --
CARLE: -- out of someone because you can force someone to bend down by
using physical strength. But you have to, as an intelligence officer,
evaluate the information you obtain and --
MATTHEWS: I understand.
CARLE: -- there`s no assumption -- there`s no certainty that the
information obtained by breaking someone`s arm is going to be more useful
than by using traditional methods, which the FBI has used for decades very
MATTHEWS: OK, thanks so much, Glen Carle, for joining us. And Jim
Woolsey, thank you so much, Mr. Director, for joining us.
WOOLSEY: Good to be with you.
MATTHEWS: This is a tough debate. It`s a tough one.
Coming up, President Obama says he`s concerned there could be a backlash
around the world from the release of the CIA torture report. Iran`s
supreme leader is now calling America -- catch this -- a symbol of tyranny
against humanity. How`s that for a joke?
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is a great one. Which presidential candidate do the
country`s millionaires, regardless of party, say they support? Hillary
Clinton! In a new poll from CNBC of people with assets over a million
bucks, 31 percent say they`d vote for the former secretary of state in
2016. Jeb Bush came in second with the support of 18 percent of the
country`s millionaires, followed by Chris Christie at 14.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. How is the release of this torture
report from the Senate Democrats playing overseas, especially in the Middle
East? It`s made headlines around the world, of course, but as the
Associated Press reports, the news has been greeted with a collective shrug
in the broader Middle East, surprisingly, where it merely reinforced a
long-held view of American brutality. So they already didn`t like us.
Still, the president and other senior officials have said they`re concerned
about potential ramifications down the line. But he defended the release
of the report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the things that sets
us apart from other countries is when we make mistakes, we admit them. And
I think that, as I said in my written statement, there are a lot of folks
who worked very hard after 9/11 to keep us safe during a very hazardous
situation, at a time when people were unsure what was taking place.
But what was also true is, is that we took some steps that were contrary to
who we are, contrary to our values, as some of the tactics that were
written about in the Senate Intelligence report were brutal, and as I`ve
said before, constituted torture in my mind. And that`s not who we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Secretary of State John Kerry backed the release of the
report, but he also defended the broad intelligence community, saying,
"It`s important that this period not define the intelligence community in
anyone`s minds." In other words, it was a particular time after 9/11.
With regards to the enhanced interrogation program, Kerry said, "It was
right to end those practices for a simple but powerful reason -- they were
at odds with our values. They`re not who we are, and they`re not who or
what we had to become because the most powerful country on earth doesn`t to
have choose between protecting our society and promoting our values."
Joining me right now is the deputy spokesperson for the United States State
Department, Marie Harf. Marie, thanks for joining us. And I`m -- this is
the tough question. You say we didn`t -- we shouldn`t have done it. We
did do it. We`re open about it. But if there`s another situation like it,
why wouldn`t we do it again? I mean, the world must assume we will do it
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: Well, the president --
MATTHEWS: We`ll practice these torture -- Jim Woolsey can deny the word
"torture," most people say, Look, it`s torture of some kind of.
HARF: The president`s been clear that as long as he is president, we will
not use these. And the CIA director in his statement yesterday said the
same thing. So that`s why people can know we won`t.
MATTHEWS: Suppose we have somebody in custody, and we have reason to
believe there`s something coming, maybe not 9/11, but something pretty bad.
And we know this guy, or woman perhaps, knows it all. What do we do?
HARF: There are other ways to get information out of detainees. And when
the president came into office, he both banned these techniques and also
laid out other ways that we --
MATTHEWS: How do you do it fast without torture?
HARF: Well, there are experts who I think can speak to that better, but
there are ways to do it. If you look at the --
MATTHEWS: Could you bring them on the show? Because I`d like to know the
HARF: Well, if you look at the Army field manual, if you look at other
ways we have of gathering intelligence, there are ways to do it without
resorting to these techniques that the president banned. There are.
MATTHEWS: Well, there was a strong reaction to the report by world leaders
here, both friends and foes alike. Afghanistan`s new president, Ashraf
Ghani, said the report was shocking. Quote, "It violates all accepted
norms of human rights in the world." That`s pretty strong.
The U.N.`s -- actually, commissioner for human rights said Americans could
be held accountable. The convention lets no one off the hook, neither the
torturers themselves nor the policy makers nor the public officials who
define the policy or give the orders.
Germany`s justice minister told journalists, quote, "The CIA`s practice of
torture is gruesome. Nothing justifies such methods. Everybody involved
must be legally prosecuted."
And those were our friends. A tweet from an account associated with Iran`s
supreme leader called the United States government, quote, "a symbol of
tyranny against humanity." You can take that for what it`s worth.
A spokesman for China`s foreign ministry said, quote, "We believe that the
U.S. side should reflect on this, correct its ways and earnestly respect
and follow the rules of related international conventions."
And North Korean`s foreign minister called on the United Nations to take
action against America due to the inhuman torture practiced by the CIA.
You know, a lot of that to me is BS from some of these people. These are
torturing nations by themselves. But our friends are pretty tough on us.
So what does that mean?
HARF: Well --
MATTHEWS: The European countries that I don`t think practice torture.
What`s that mean to us?
HARF: A couple things. The secretary and other officials have been
calling around to our partners around the world explaining to them, Here`s
why we decided to release it. Here`s why we don`t do it anymore. And
quite frankly, speaking to some of those countries, I would put our record
up against Iran`s --
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.
HARF: -- or China`s --
MATTHEWS: That`s easy.
HARF: Can you imagine any of these countries, Chris, coming out and openly
talking about their intelligence services, or any other country, even some
of our friends?
MATTHEWS: Well, my worry is that we`re making --
HARF: I can`t imagine it.
MATTHEWS: -- it look so easy to be a prisoner of the United States.
HARF: Not at all.
MATTHEWS: They`ll say if all that is -- if all they`re going to do is
waterboard you, all they`re going to do is make you stay up for six or
seven nights and not go to bed or put you in isolation for a while,
solitary for a while -- other countries do a lot worse to us when we get
HARF: Absolutely. And what I would say is, the president --
MATTHEWS: I mean, the Islamic State doesn`t exactly have the Geneva
Convention working over there.
And that`s what makes us different. That`s what makes us different from
these groups, and it`s what makes us different from these other countries,
that just because we can do things doesn`t mean we should, that, as
Americans, we would put our record up against anyone else`s because we
think we should do things differently. This isn`t in line with our values.
And that`s he ended them.
MATTHEWS: Good for you. Good for you. See how I test you? You`re saying
things that make me proud
Thank you, Marie Harf, on behalf of the State Department and John Kerry.
Today, Senator Mark Udall called for the resignation of CIA Director John
Brennan. This is getting tough here at home. Let`s watch the lame-duck
senator from Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: Torture just didn`t happen, after all.
Contrary to the president`s most recent statement, we didn`t torture some
Real, actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still
employed by the CIA in the U.S. government. They are right now people
serving in high-level positions at the agency who approved, directed or
committed acts related to the CIA`s detention and interrogation program.
It`s bad enough not to prosecute these officials. But to reward or promote
them and risk the integrity of the U.S. government to protect them is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by the editorial director for The
Huffington Post, Howard Fineman, who is in Pittsburgh, I believe, and
Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" David Corn. Both are MSNBC
Howard, how do you think the president is handling this? Because I don`t
think he`s been definitive. I haven`t been either. Of course, I`m not the
president. But I don`t have to be definitive, because I keep wondering, is
there more here that I ought to know about torture and whether it works?
But the president hasn`t really come down. Has he? Maybe he has. Has he
and said we`re never going to do it ever, ever, ever again no matter what
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he`s been as
definitive as he can be in this situation, Chris, I think.
The big test for the president, I think, is not his early statements, which
are hard to argue with, I suppose. But if and when people try to demand
that people either be fired, as Senator Udall just said, or prosecuted,
either in the United States or by -- under the accords of the Geneva
Convention by international criminal courts, that`s what the United Nations
That`s what other people are saying.
FINEMAN: You can easily dismiss Iran and the others. But if international
bodies decide to make an issue of this, then the president is probably
going to have to say no way. And at that point, he will be taking a
MATTHEWS: So, he doesn`t want to be a judge or allow himself to be used as
a case to be made against our own people.
MATTHEWS: Americans hate the idea of our ever being judged outside this
country, as you know. We hate that idea.
FINEMAN: That`s why he is being -- that`s being very careful not to use
the word torture, except to say torture in my mind. He is saying in his
personal opinion, in some circumstances. He is not making an official --
he is stating an official act, making an official statement, because the
whole world legal community is watching this now and getting ready to
MATTHEWS: Do you think the rest of the world thinks what we`re describing
as torture and most of the people around here think is torture is torture?
Do they think about of that in a movie, for example, or some graphic detail
of history, the Nazis or somebody like that, even the Japanese in World War
II, the way they treated prisoners?
Do you think there`s anything equivalent? I just watched "Unbroken" last
night. There`s nothing like that in this report. Constant beating of
prisoners, that kind of thing. Your thoughts.
FINEMAN: Well, Chris, it`s just that the standards have changed when the
whole world is watching.
The high ground now in the battle of the future is social media. It`s
pictures. It`s video and anything that can be a propaganda victory. Those
other countries, leaders of those other countries in my mind are saying --
and what I have been told via the State Department is, they worry that the
videos, their very vividness and ubiquitousness makes up for the fact that
they aren`t as brutal as some other things that have been done in history.
If you look at a picture, you`re not thinking about history. You`re not
thinking about context. You`re looking at the picture in front of you and
those things are very, very damaging to the standing of the United States.
MATTHEWS: David, should the president say it doesn`t work? This debate
here, I wanted it tonight to be about does it work or not? In other words,
right or wrong, we already have our views on that.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the report, if you read
all 520 pages of the 6,600 pages, tells you that it doesn`t work. It is
And it doesn`t get results. And, again and again, we have seen this. I
think the president has a bigger problem than whether to say or not that it
works. What he has to deal with is this complete breakdown, a complete
breakdown in the congressional oversight system.
If you read the report, what is stunning to me is the amount of times the
CIA is accused of having lied, of having lied to the president himself back
in the time, to the Justice Department, to the military.
MATTHEWS: But does it work? Does torture work?
CORN: But the report says clearly that it doesn`t.
MATTHEWS: In these cases, it didn`t.
CORN: In this case, it doesn`t.
CORN: And if you want to start comparing it to what the Japanese and the
Nazis did back in the day, that`s really not the benchmark now, is it?
It`s whether -- you can argue whether it is moral. But the report over
thousands of pages makes the case.
MATTHEWS: We just had Jim Woolsey on right now, who was director of
central intelligence under Bill Clinton.
MATTHEWS: And he said it wasn`t torture.
So, we`re still arguing whether it is or not.
CORN: Well, some people are.
Under the conventions of the Geneva Conventions, it is torture. In fact,
after World War II, the U.S. prosecuted German war criminals for water-
boarding, calling it torture. Only in the last 10 years have the neocon
crowd, the Bush-Cheney crowd tried to say that this isn`t torture.
But keeping someone standing and awake for 180 hours? You can do the math
how many days that is. That is torture in almost any official description.
FINEMAN: Chris, there are two levels here.
One of them is world opinion. And, as you say, you can talk about what
everybody else has done. But when you see the vivid pictures of the video,
it is a powerful thing in terms of worldwide opinion. And we are held to a
higher standard and we should be in the United States.
The other thing is international law, as David says. There are Geneva
Conventions here. There are international courts. These are things that
are going to have to be dealt with now that this is on the table.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. I wanted this out in the open. I`m trying
to get the answers.
Howard Fineman, David Corn.
Up next, the Republican clown car keeps chugging along, but some of its key
passengers are waving goodbye to Washington. Michele Bachmann, for
example, Steve Stockman, a birther from Texas, and some of the rest of them
are going away. They`re retiring. We have got some of their craziest
moments to sort of celebrate on their departure. And they`re coming up in
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
Among the many lawmakers leaving Washington for good this month, there are
several on the hard right who deserve some special recognition for the
crazy things they have said over the years.
So, tonight, we`re paying tribute and farewell to some departing members of
the right-wing clown car.
First up, Kerry Bentivolio, the one-term congressman from Michigan, one-
termer, who lost his primary in August. He was the guy who said at a
campaign event that he dreamed of impeaching President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: If I could write that bill and submit
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it.
BENTIVOLIO: Excuse me.
It would be a dream come true. I feel your pain. I know -- I stood 12
feet away from the guy and listened to him. And I -- I couldn`t stand
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, previously, Bentivolio had made a living as a Santa Claus
impersonator. Many questioned his state of mind after he said this in a
legal deposition. "I have a problem figuring out which one I really am,
Santa Claus or Kerry Bentivolio. All my life, I have been told I`m Kerry
Bentivolio, and now I am a Santa Claus. So, now I prefer to be Santa
Figure that one out. So, I guess he still has a job prospect back home.
We`re also saying farewell to Paul Broun, the three-term congressman from
Georgia, whose literal interpretation of the Bible led many to question why
he belonged in the House Committee on Science. After all, Broun famously
called evolution a lie from the pit of hell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: All that stuff I was taught about evolution,
embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the it of hell.
I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in
Washington, D.C., and I will continue to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think he is in a natural history museum.
Anyway, actually, he won`t continue to do that since he lost his bid for
the U.S. Senate this year.
Last but hardly least is Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas, who ran a
quixotic primary challenge against incumbent Senator John Cornyn this year.
Most recently, Stockman advanced the theory that the government was
purposefully allowing Ebola to spread in this country.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: I would not be surprise that the reason
that you see a lack of response is so that it becomes a real crisis and
then things can be used to correct the crisis. This current government
uses crisis to advance their philosophy and their agenda.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Yes, we created Ebola.
Anyway, in his final months, Stockman continued to solicit candidates for
an internship in his office. However, the job description came with this
warning to applicants. "Vapid granolas who fear guns, hate babies, are
ashamed of America and think Islamic terrorists and illegal aliens are just
misunderstood will not be comfortable here."
Hmm. Talk about chutzpah.
Be sure to watch HARDBALL tomorrow night, when we will say goodbye to the
queen of the clown car, U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who was
created here on this program, I believe.
Anyway, up next, the three key characteristics you need for running for
president, we are going to talk about them, motive, passion, and
spontaneity. Any successful president candidate needs to say why they want
the job, they need to show the passion for getting it and the ability to
think on their feet. We are going to run through the 2016 contenders to
see who has got the right stuff in a minute, actually.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Seventeen-year-old Malala Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize earlier
today. She is the youngest person ever to win the award.
Meanwhile, "TIME" magazine unveiled its person of the year, the Ebola
fighters, including Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to be infected
with the virus.
Snow is still falling in parts of Upstate New York, as a winter nor`easter
lingers. The storm dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas, while
others saw severe flooding.
And calling himself the big elf, President Obama and the first lady
delivered toys donated by White House staffers to Toys for Tots. They say
there is still time to donate -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
And last night, I closed HARDBALL with the three keys to success that any
candidate for president must have, motive, passion, and spontaneity.
Hillary Clinton must ask herself if she possesses these three factors
before she makes a second attempt at the White House.
Ted Kennedy was asked why he wanted to be president back in 1979, and his
answer raised big questions about his motivations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Why do you want to be president?
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I`m -- were I to make the
announcement to run, the reasons that I would run is because I have a great
belief in this country that it is -- there`s more natural resources than
any nation of the world.
There`s the greatest educated population in the world, the greatest
technology of any country in the world, the greatest capacity for
innovation in the world, the greatest political system in the world. And
the energies and the resourcefulness of this nation I think should be
focused on these problems in a way that brings a sense of restoration in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it took him 71 words to get to the word that really was
the answer, restoration of Camelot.
Anyway, with -- the long list of potential GOP candidates looking to run
for president in 2016 must also ask themselves the same questions. Why do
they want to be president? Do they have the passion to campaign for the
job and love it all or do they have the spontaneity needed to be a
presidential candidate itself?
I want to look at a few of them tonight, including Hillary Clinton, Jeb
Bush, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Jim Webb.
And joining the roundtable tonight, in fact being the roundtable, is
Clarence Page, an opinion writer with "The Chicago Tribune" and a grand
fellow, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," which
everybody on the road always reads, and Sahil Kapur is congressional
reporter for Talking Points Memo.
Gentlemen and lady, let`s get to this. I`m going to start with Susan.
Hillary Clinton, motive. Why does she want to be president? Can you tell?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": I think I would like to
have her answer that question hopefully in fewer words than Ted Kennedy
She has got hard work. She has got persistence. She has got intelligence.
MATTHEWS: And motive.
S. PAGE: But does she have motive?
MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s what I want to know.
S. PAGE: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Clarence, she`s been running for class president most of her
life. She`s like most politicians. As Mitch McConnell said, I have a
caucus of class presidents. They all have some kind of ego.
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": That`s right.
MATTHEWS: But what`s the motive? What do you want to do when you get
C. PAGE: Yes. Yes.
I think she -- she does have a vision for what she wants to see in America.
She has to articulate it now as to just what it is.
And the thing about her is that she compromises so often in her vision that
it may come off as a bit murky. But there is certainly an unwritten,
unspoken motive in wanting to be the first woman to hold that job.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think it might be.
CLARENCE PAGE: That`s important.
SAHIL KAPUR, TALKING POINTS MEMO: She is extremely ambitious. I would
compare it sort of her husband Bill Clinton.
MATTHEWS: What`s the motive?
KAPUR: I`m not sure. I agree with Susan. I like to see (INAUDIBLE). She
wants to be president. She should be a very good president. She is
competent in many ways.
MATTHEWS: Let`s be fair. Let`s go to Jeb Bush. Is it a family business?
CLARENCE PAGE: Well, yes.
MATTHEWS: Is that it? You got excited about a family business?
CLARENCE PAGE: That`s important though in terms of, does he think that the
country can be best run by him? By -- not just a Bush but by him. I think
he does. I think for the same reason that he wanted to be governor of
Florida. But that`s something again, he is going to have to articulate it.
MATTHEWS: What is it? Rich people want to be --
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: I don`t think family business is a good enough
reason. I don`t think wanting to be the first woman or breaking ground in
that way is good enough. You contrast it with Bill Clinton, who actually
had a very clear motive. He had a clear vision for changes he wanted
especially in domestic policy. Policies he had been thinking about for a
long time. He had that, you know, going away.
MATTHEWS: I think so. I think --
SUSAN PAGE: These two do not -- they have not articulated --
MATTHEWS: I think Clinton want to be for the people. They weren`t quite
cool. They weren`t Ivy Leaguers. They were regular people who worked hard
and played by the rules, the way he put it.
Sahil, what`s Jeb up to? What`s his motive in life?
KAPUR: I think he`s done everything else.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go to somebody who does have ideas. Rand Paul, his
CLARENCE PAGE: Yes, he wants to refashion America along line --
CLARENCE PAGE: More libertarian --
MATTHEWS: Individual rights.
SUSAN PAGE: He has a vision that he really believes in. You can tell
because when you --
MATTHEWS: By the way, you have to question his position on the `64 civil
rights bill, because there`s again a question of social values versus
SAPUR: He wants to end the drug war. He wants to push back on the
national security state. He wants to change the way America views --
MATTHEWS: Speaking of motive. I have my position on this. Ted Cruz, what
does he want besides Gotterdammerung?
MATTHEWS: What does he want to do? Bring down the house? What does he
want to do?
CLARENCE PAGE: That`s not really clear except --
MATTHEWS: Is it positive?
CLARENCE PAGE: Well, I think this is his limit, though. I think he has
shown, he is motivated to want to bring the Tea Party philosophy, if you
will, to the floor --
CLARENCE PAGE: But that`s not good enough to win over mainstream America.
MATTHEWS: I think he thinks Obama is Castro. I think he thinks he is a
SUSAN PAGE: You disagree with that point of view. But that is at least a
point of view. So, there is an animating principle here that motivates
MATTHEWS: OK, we don`t have much time for these guys. So, we`re going to
limit it to four.
Let`s go back to Hillary Clinton on passion. You know, I want to show this
thing by Churchill, I see, the clang of the debates and going in the
carriage from debate to the next, and full houses of people yelling and
roaring at you, the media. Does Hillary like that? Does he have a passion
for that? Bill does.
CLARENCE PAGE: Well, I`ll tell you, she went through that unusually long
primary campaign against Barack Obama in `08 and still had energy left at
the end. I think she`s got --
MATTHEWS: Does she get an appetite for it?
SUSAN PAGE: She proved herself in that because she stuck around, and she
became a better and better candidate, and more and more authentic.
MATTHEWS: Does she have a passion for it?
SUSAN PAGE: I think she does would she rather not run?
MATTHEWS: Would she rather not run or just be?
SUSAN PAGE: No, I think she wants to run.
MATTHEWS: She wants to get it the normal way. Not to -- she`s going to
SUSAN PAGE: I don`t think she has the option of not running because that`s
not how we do things.
MATTHEWS: Does she had a passion to be a politician?
KAPUR: I think so. And I think the issue that has animated her most, I
think as secretary of state and before and will and the presidential
campaign is gender equality.
MATTHEWS: I think some people like politics --
MATTHEWS: I think Ed Koch loved being a politician.
CLARENCE PAGE: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: I think some people love the ego, the whole fun it.
Let`s talk about spontaneity, which is a really unfair thing, because some
people have it, and they`re not necessarily good people. The ability in a
split second when somebody says, you know, whatever happen to your teddy
bear, the one you have as a kid? Where is it right now? I`m just asking
Clarence, my friend, help me out there. Spontaneity like the way Tim
Russert asks the tough questions in the debate. Where are you on illegal
immigrants or undocumented people in New York getting driver`s licenses?
Oh, my God, I`ve got to decide between, Spitzer, what he wants to do, what
the Hispanic community wants, and what the general electorate wants? In
that split second, I`ve got to make up my mind. Hillary Clinton, she got
spontaneity. Bill did.
CLARENCE PAGE: Bill did it. But who can beat him on qualities like that.
The thing about spontaneity is, the whole campaign nowadays has tried to
whittle away spontaneity. Everybody is so guarded now because of the fear
of making a gaffe. That`s what happens.
MATTHEWS: You remember guys, they`re not great politicians. Bob Dole
always had a quick answer. Ted -- Jack Kennedy created the daytime press
SUSAN PAGE: John McCain, quick.
MATTHEWS: Quick in his feet.
SUSAN PAGE: If you`re nervous about yourself, if you`re trying to always
figure out what the repercussions of what you`re about to say, you cannot
manage today`s campaign.
MATTHEWS: Do you know what Kennedy said about Nixon? He doesn`t know
which Richard Nixon to be in any point.
KAPUR: I think spontaneity will be a challenge for Hillary Clinton. I
think on some issues, you see, you know, you start to see that there
process working on your mind about all the constituencies that are going to
matter and at some point, to trip her up like on marriage equality when she
was asked when she came around. She didn`t really have --
MATTHEWS: Terry Gross was being awful tough though.
KAPUR: She was.
MATTHEWS: Most of us moved social when that thing. We didn`t sit down in
a little cave and decide where we stood on same sex marriage. We listened
to everybody else. We filled it out.
SUSAN PAGE: So say that.
KAPUR: It`s fair to ask when you came around.
MATTHEWS: This idea that somehow basic human value that`s been around
3,000 years is ridiculous. She just said, you know, 20 years ago if you
ask me, my answer would be different.
CLARENCE PAGE: Not allowed to change your mind these days.
MATTHEWS: Who`s got the most of this? Who`s got the best of motive,
passion, spontaneity? I dare you to answer that one.
MATTHEWS: I love spontaneity, that`s where we`re in the business of doing,
asking that question nobody wants to have thrown at them.
The roundtable is staying with us.
It`s why the Republicans want to run their own debates next year.
Anyway, up next, Congress reaches a spending deal, but House Republicans
have jammed into it a cute little provision to help Wall Street. And guess
who`s charging to stop it, charging to really to take it down. Elizabeth
Warren, this is going to be one great fight.
The deadline, by the way, for keeping the government going is tomorrow. Is
this going to cause a shutdown?
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, as Move On and Democracy for America are considering
trying to lure Elizabeth Warren into the presidential race, another key
progressive says he`s ready for Hillary. Howard Dean, a former Vermont
governor and presidential candidate, she`s in an op-ed in "Politico" today
that Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person in the United
States to serve as president. If she runs, I will support her.
Not the first time Dean`s voice support for Hillary Clinton, but it`s
noteworthy considering that it comes as those other progressive groups are
pining for Elizabeth Warren.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, the race to avoid another government shutdown is at its breaking
point. Today, House Speaker John Boehner declared that he reached a
breakthrough, a deal just one day before the lights could go out on Capitol
Hill. That deal is being criticized by some on the left as one giant
Republican hostage list. It includes a bunch of partisan giveaways, sugar
plum, if you will, including one for Wall Street which rolls back a key
banking regulation enacted after the financial crisis back in 2008 and `09.
The spotlight has now turned to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. She
flexed her muscle today calling for her colleagues to reject Boehner`s deal
to fund the government. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We put this rule in place
because people of all political per situations were disgusted at the idea
of future bailouts. And now, no debate, no discussion, Republicans in the
House of Representatives are threatening to shut down the government if
they don`t get a chance to repeal it.
I urge my colleagues in the House, particularly my Democratic colleagues
whose votes are essential to moving this package forward, to withhold
support from it until this risky giveaway is removed from the legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
We`re back at the roundtable, Clarence, Susan and Sahil.
Clarence, you start on this. It looks like this is her chance, you know,
the galloping horse of history is riding by. She jumps on this horse now.
She fights this guy, Boehner, who is buckling to the worst elements in the
party, which is basically -- hold the government hostage right before
Christmas so you can help out Wall Street. And there she is, the champion
against Wall Street, ready to charge.
CLARENCE PAGE: Right. Well, she`s not jumping on this horse now, because
this has been her horse all along.
This provision would remove the protections that we now have against the
public having to bail out Wall Street for its gambling. That was probably
the biggest irritant to come out of that crash of `08, and now they have
this little provision in the bill to try to slip this in past the
Democrats. And Elizabeth Warren is leading the charge now.
Barney Frank is out there, too, by the way.
MATTHEWS: He issued a press release from retirement today.
CLARENCE PAGE: Absolutely. You know, this is a very important element.
SUSAN PAGE: You talk about motive, passion and spontaneity, Elizabeth
Warren has that on this issue.
CLARENCE PAGE: That`s right.
SUSAN PAGE: And that makes her a pretty potent opponent for Republicans to
have on this. And, boy, talk about tight wire, you know, no net, funding
the government a shutdown.
MATTHEWS: Well, everybody is going to be watching the rest of this week,
Sahil, and it`s almost like she`s the good knight versus the bad knight,
Ted Cruz, when it comes to talking across the capitol to the other body and
telling them what they should be doing. This is like Ted Cruz caucusing
with the House red hots.
KAPUR: Right. I`m glad you brought that up, because this is the big
difference between Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz wants to be a
firebrand, front and center on everything. Elizabeth Warren picks her
spots. This is something she knows inside out. This is something she
helped pass in the bill and this is something she`s been --
MATTHEWS: That`s how you become a great senator, from my experience.
That`s how you become a great senator.
SUSAN PAGE: And a presidential candidate.
KAPUR: Pick the stuff you know.
MATTHEWS: How about just being a great senator? Can`t we -- can we just
celebrate somebody who is doing their job like Elizabeth Warren right now,
at a key moment? Why do --
CLARENCE PAGE: You got to think long term, Chris.
KAPUR: And the interesting thing is this has spooked a lot of Democrats.
A lot of Democrats didn`t know this provision was in there and after they
heard Warren, and now, they`re seeing the intensity on the left. They`re
not really sure --
MATTHEWS: So, all this crapping around with derivatives and betting on if
this, if that, if that, and all that game playing on Wall Street, they want
to go back to that. They want to do this. She`s saying and she`s blowing
SUSAN PAGE: And, you know, I suspect most members of Congress don`t really
understand how this works, regulation of derivatives. She understands and
they know she understands because this has been her issue from -- this is
the issue that launched her into the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much. Maybe we`ll help spot it for the
people out there.
Thank you, Clarence Page. Thank you, Susan Page, and Sahil Kapur from
"Talking Points Memo".
When we return, let me finish with a question I have for voters. It`s
going to be a tough one. It`s going to attack the right. You may not be
surprised, but you`ll probably love it.
The place for politics, back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a question I have about voters.
What are people thinking when they send someone like Michele Bachmann to
Washington? Are they doing it to send a message of contempt for the place?
Does voting to her feel like throwing a grenade into this city? Does it
feel good to know that you`re simply causing disruption like lobbing a
monkey wrench into the engine gears?
Tell me, are you serious, or is it a way to let off steam? Like the guy in
that movie "Network" who kept bellowing, "I`m sick and tired. I`m not
going to take it any more". Is it like that? Does it feel a little better
to leave the voting booth at the local school or neighborhood center
knowing you threw a rock at the establishment?
Like one of the poor kids from the bad neighborhoods who only means of
self-expression is spray painting graffiti up under the train tracks so
passengers will see it and thought about on their morning commute? Is that
what you`re voting for? People like Michele Bachmann, and the rest of that
clown car, is that what`s about? Is it?
Well, I`ve got a better idea. Find yourself a true blue conservative who`s
trying to come up with a better way of running the government, a Rand Paul
or a Scott Walker or John Kasich, and hope they get their voices heard the
way Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan or Jack Kemp did. Don`t waste your
vote backing people who don`t reflect your conservative thinking, only your
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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