Date: May 14, 2015
Guest: Sen. Mark Warner, Harold Ford, Howard Fineman, Ethan Hawke, Andrew
Niccol, Ben Goldberger, McKay Coppins
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: His brother`s keeper.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.
Could a brother of Herbert Hoover have been elected president after
the Great Depression? Could a brother of Richard Nixon have been elected
president after Watergate? Could George W. Bush`s brother get elected
after W was hoodwinked into invading Iraq, the worst foreign policy
decision of modern times?
Well, this is the meat of the matter of Jeb Bush`s desperate, awkward
efforts to free himself from W`s disaster. Finally today, after year -- or
actually, days of pussy-footing lately and deer in the headlights dread, he
tried to finally divorce himself from his brother`s historic catastrophe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Knowing what we know now, what
would you have done? I would have not engaged. I would not have gone into
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, finally. And now, now that he`s divorced himself
from the neocons` 21st century power play, which was the Iraqi invasion, he
has them to contend with. And you have to ask yourself, why have Paul
Wolfowitz as your foreign policy adviser, which Jeb does have, if you`re
going to boot his most notorious policy advice?
Why listen to a guy who ruined your brother`s presidency and caused
the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and over 4,000 Americans dead
-- why let the same obsessed group of ideologues back into the White House
if you`re finally will to agree they were the culprits of this country`s
horrid policies of the previous administration?
I`m joined now by MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele, former
chair of the Republican National Committee, as well as Democratic
strategist David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama.
And by the way, this appears to be Jeb Bush`s final answer, I guess,
to the question that`s been dogging him all week.
MATTHEWS: On Monday, he said, yes, he would have invaded Iraq. On
Tuesday, he said he didn`t know. On Wednesday, he said he wouldn`t answer
the question. Well, here`s Jeb Bush`s evolution this week on Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: Knowing what we know now, would you have
authorized the invasion?
BUSH: I would have.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: So in other words, in 20/20 hindsight, you
would make a different decision.
BUSH: Yes. I don`t know what that decision would have been. That`s
a hypothetical. But the simple fact is mistakes were made.
I respect the question, but if we`re going to get back into
hypotheticals, I think it does a disservice for a lot of people that
sacrificed a lot.
I would have not engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: David Axelrod, explain that. You`ve dealt -- you had to do
some flackery in your life. You had to deal in defensive. Here`s a guy
clearly on defense. But didn`t he know that this would be the one
paramount, guaranteed question of his presidential campaign? What did you
make of the Iraq war, your brother`s war?
DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I`m glad
I didn`t have to flack this.
AXELROD: But secondly, you have to wonder, given all of the time that
they`ve been spending preparing for the campaign that still hasn`t been
announced, why he wasn`t prepared for that.
Now, I take him at his word. He may have not heard the opening clause
in Megyn Kelly`s question on -- I guess it was Monday night, but then he
should have gotten to the answer very quickly the next day. And this drip,
drip, drip is exactly what you can`t do in campaigns.
The one thing I would say, Chris, is these -- campaigns are hard, OK?
And this may seem like a simple thing -- it does to you and me and maybe to
Michael -- but you can`t judge how this is going to evolve for him over
time. This isn`t a very encouraging start for him, but this is a long
marathon, not a sprint. And you know, he`ll have to learn from this.
MATTHEWS: As usual, you`re being kind, David. You`re being kind.
I want to try -- I`m going to try Michael on this because you`re way
too kind. Look, I want to know, every politician, that includes Secretary
Clinton -- I want to know exactly what their gut was about the war with
From the beginning, it looked to me like a phony case, like the hawks
wanted to go to war, they come up with this WMD thing to sell it. In fact,
they used the phrase WMD because they didn`t want to say "nuclear" because
they didn`t think they had the nuclear weapons, but they wanted to suggest
they did because that would get us scared into the war.
I saw the whole thing happening for two years. It was clear from the
beginning, when Wolfowitz started pushing at Camp David right after 9/11
and Dick Cheney and the neocons pushed this from the beginning, long before
there was talk of WMD, they were pushing for this damned war they wanted.
They wanted this war in the worst way.
I want to know where Jeb was on this on all this. If he`s going to be
president, at least get a look from people who are in the center-left or
the center, he`s got to explain where his gut was. Does he really believe
this wasn`t an ideological war that was foisted on his brother, who was
unaware and got talked into the war? Or what does he think?
He`s got to damn well answer that question or people shouldn`t take
him seriously because everybody who watches this show thinks about it a
lot. How did a smart country like ours get dragged into a stupid war?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey,
MATTHEWS: And we want to know it.
STEELE: And Chris, if he gave an answer like Hillary Clinton, where,
you know, he said, you know, I made a mistake and I would not do that now,
does that solve the problem?
MATTHEWS: Not to me, it doesn`t.
STEELE: Well, then, that`s the point. I mean, so there is a segment,
maybe, of the population that stands where you are, but I think -- I think
the one thing people are looking for...
MATTHEWS: Most are with me. Overwhelmingly...
MATTHEWS: ... terrible war.
STEELE: Look, I -- you know, I don`t know -- I don`t even know,
Chris, what answering that question would do for you or how to be satisfied
on that. I think the real more important question in the context of that
is, Where do you go from here? How do you see use of...
MATTHEWS: ... question. Michael, you know the answer. He could have
said, I made a -- my brother made a big mistake...
STEELE: Well, that`s my point.
MATTHEWS: ... because he was having a weird conflict with our father.
If he had brought in James Baker and brought in General Scowcroft, the
realists and the smart people, they would have said, No way in the world
should we respond by 9/11, an attack by a bunch of Saudis and al Qaeda
people, by attacking another country!
MATTHEWS: ... baddest thing in history!
MATTHEWS: And yet he went to the ideologues who wanted to go to war
in Iraq, and then to Libya war...
STEELE: Well, Chris...
MATTHEWS: ... and then to Syria. He wanted that crowd around him.
That`s a big question.
STEELE: Chris! Calm for a second. Do you think that...
MATTHEWS: I`m not going to calm because we`re letting this thing...
STEELE: I know you aren`t.
MATTHEWS: ... become a joke...
STEELE: But let me tell you...
MATTHEWS: ... and it`s the most central question in this campaign.
STEELE: But that`s -- the central question...
MATTHEWS: Are we going into another stupid war again? Go ahead.
STEELE: The central question isn`t necessarily located in the past.
The central question is, given the fact that you`ve brought these
individuals to your table to advise you, how does this shape your foreign
MATTHEWS: OK -- OK, let me go back to David. Just analytically here,
if you agree that the past team was a joke and a disaster and a bunch of
crazy zealots who wanted to fight anybody in the Arab world on any circuit
-- like Groucho Marx -- I`ll fight anybody in the house for a dollar --
that kind of crowd of people, and then you bring them back in -- when I saw
the name Wolfowitz -- I don`t want to single him out. Why not bring back
Scooter Libby? Why not bring back Dick Cheney? Bring the whole gang,
fight the whole rest -- Michael Ledeen -- bring them all back!
Bring -- you know, Frank -- what`s his name, the Irish neocon...
MATTHEWS: ... whatever his name is. Bring Frank McGaffney (sic) over
-- Gaffney -- bring him back in! Why not bring them all together? Go
ahead, David. Bring `em all back!
AXELROD: Well, I don`t know, Chris. First of all, I want to know
what you think about this.
MATTHEWS: What I think is...
MATTHEWS: ... the biggest mistake of our modern history. And you
know what confounds me? That we let a president of limited rhetorical and
intellectual ability lead this country into that country. That is the
AXELROD: Well, let me say this. Let me say this. I worked for a
candidate for the United States Senate who ultimately became president of
the United States, who stood up when it was very hard to stand up in the
fall of 2002 and say he opposed the war and say why. And everything he
said he feared then has turned out to be true. So my feelings about this
are not different than yours.
It is concerning that Jeb is reliant on a guy like Paul Wolfowitz, who
was so complicit in that very tragic decision.
From a strategic standpoint, listening to his answer to Megyn Kelly, I
think that what he is thinking is, if he`s in a general election with
Hillary Clinton, it`s offsetting penalties because they both can say, you
know, they would have done it then.
But as you say, there are larger questions, and Michael is saying it,
as well, about how you would deal with the future because some of these
very same people are eager for war again...
AXELROD: ... right now.
STEELE: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: They`re dying to go into Syria. Anyway, Governor Bush was
also confronted yesterday by a 19-year-old student who asked him why he
blames President Obama, and not his brother, for the rise of ISIS in Iraq.
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVY ZIEDRICH, STUDENT: Your brother created ISIS through the Iraqi
BUSH: All right. Is that a question?
ZIEDRICH: You don`t need to be pedantic to me, sir.
BUSH: Pedantic? Wow.
ZIEDRICH: You can just answer my question, which is...
BUSH: So what is the question?
ZIEDRICH: My question is, why are you saying that ISIS was created by
us not having a presence in the Middle East...
BUSH: Because by the time...
ZIEDRICH: ... when it`s countless pointless wars where we send young
men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism. Why are you spouting
nationalist rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?
BUSH: We respectfully disagree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, that`s a pretty good point, Michael. I mean, I
thought the debaathification program was a disaster. You took the entire
army of Saddam Hussein, mustered them out, took off their uniforms...
MATTHEWS: ... left them with their guns, in most cases, and access to
ordnance, and said, Go away, your future is dead here with the Iraqi state.
And they went out and found another opportunity for their military careers,
which was ISIS.
I mean, that`s a fact. That was a policy that was a disaster. That
guy used to walk around with the combat boots with the fancy suit, whatever
his name was, who was our -- our -- what do you call it? I don`t know what
you would call him, a viceroy over there for the years of the occupation.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.
AXELROD: Well, no, I think that there`s legitimacy to the reality
that, you know, hey, a vacuum was created by this policy. We went in and
we got it done initially, but then there was no, What do we do after we win
the first week? And I think this vacuum that was created, some would argue
exacerbated by the approach of the president to withdraw the troops out of
MATTHEWS: Are you serious about that last...
MATTHEWS: Do you really mean, Michael, we should have stayed there
STEELE: Let me finish the point! Let me finish the point. You asked
me a question about how he could link it to Obama. I`m giving you that...
MATTHEWS: I liked the first part of your answer...
STEELE: I know you do.
MATTHEWS: ... then I interrupted you because the last part didn`t
seem worthy of the first part. You had it...
STEELE: No, I`m just saying...
STEELE: Chris, the last part of the answer is what it goes to,
exactly what Jeb Bush and others have said. That -- that`s what I`m
answering. So I`m not saying it`s right or wrong. You asked me the
question, Why did he do that? I`m just saying that they`re saying that
that vacuum was exacerbated by the policies of this administration. That`s
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK. OK. We have the record, David. I think the
president was elected on this issue because he stood out against John Kerry
and Joe Biden and all the rest of them, Chris Dodd -- they all voted for
the war authorization. But in Hillary Clinton`s case, I think she really
did cut her losses by saying, I was wrong. She didn`t specify. She simply
said, I was wrong, plain and simple.
And however she was encouraged to make that statement in her book, you
know, "Hard Choices," is think is going to basically -- if she gets elected
president would be largely because she was willing to make that call.
AXELROD: I think it`s important that she did that. Let me just say,
relative to what that young women said to Jeb Bush the other day, when
Obama announced that he opposed the war in October of 2002, one of the
things he said was that he was concerned that the war would unleash
sectarian strife in that region and would make America the focal point of
AXELROD: And both those things turned out to be true. These were not
MATTHEWS: I know.
AXELROD: And so as you point out, this was the worst foreign policy
decision of our time. And it is important for all the candidates to
separate themselves, or explain why they embraced that decision, and that`s
why this week was such an awkward and uncomfortable week for Jeb Bush.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And I think we need to remember that it was a
decision. It wasn`t everybody had the wool pulled over their face or
anything. Ted Kennedy, the late Ted Kennedy, who many people revere as a
legislator, certainly said this was his proudest achievement in his entire
Senate career. And he`s one of the great senators in history. He said,
voting against that war authorization was his finest achievement, his
So it was a vote of conscience. Some people got it wrong. Thank
you so much, Michael Steele. It`s great tussling with you, and you
are fairly good flack when you have to be.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Axelrod, an excellent flack, when he has
Coming up -- the empire strikes back. The biggest fight in the
Democratic Party right now is over trade. It`s a philosophical fight.
While Elizabeth Warren won the first round -- she clearly did this week --
President Obama may be on to winning the bout. He won the fight today.
Plus, the debate over drones. This is a hot one. America is
increasingly relying on them to kill suspected terrorists. And the new
movie "Good Kill" explores the politics and the morality of drone warfare.
Ethan Hawke, the film`s star, is going to be with us tonight.
And after that deadly train crash in Philly, House Speaker John
Boehner doesn`t want to debate funding for Amtrak. Boehner says it`s,
quote, "stupid," to even ask the question of funding. Is he crazy? But
who`s to blame for the fact that trains in this country are so far behind
the rest of the developed world, apparently in safety, as well?
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this trade fight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the death toll in the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia
has risen to eight. This morning, authorities discovered the body of
another victim in the wreckage of the first passenger car.
Meanwhile, the attorney for the train`s engineer says his client, 32-
year-old Brandon Bastian -- or Bostian, rather, of New York City, suffered
a concussion in the wreck and says he doesn`t remember what happened. But
the attorney says the engineer cooperated fully with police, consented to a
blood test, which is important, and surrendered his cell phone, also
Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter -- a great man, by the way -- says
officials believe that they`ve now accounted for all 243 passengers and
crew members who were thought to be on board that day.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Obama versus Elizabeth
Warren -- this rivalry continued to escalate. Today, President Obama won a
key vote in the U.S. Senate to advance his trade agenda. The victory was a
comeback success, of course, after Senator Warren led a successful revolt
against an earlier vote this week in spectacular fashion, by the way, by
rallying nearly every Senate Democrat against their own president.
Well, this has become a nasty public fight, of course, and as a sign
of how ugly things have gotten, Democratic senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio
has accused President Obama of acting sexist towards Senator Warren, for
calling her Elizabeth.
Well, the White House is calling on Senator Brown to apologize for
that accusation. By the way, the president called her Elizabeth again
today. He also calls his vice president of many years Joe, just for the
Anyway, last -- just in the last hour, President Obama held a press
conference where he dismissed those accusations, insisting the fight with
Senator Warren, who is quite a figure in the Democratic Party, is not
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The issue with respect
to myself and Elizabeth has never been personal. I mean, I think it`s fun
for, you know, the press to see if we can poke around at it when you see
two close allies who have a disagreement on a policy issue.
But there are a whole bunch of some of my best friends in the Senate,
as well as in the House, some of my earliest supporters, who disagree with
me on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Mark Warner is a Democrat from Virginia. He
voted today in favor of advancing the White House trade agenda, after
voting against it on Tuesday.
Senator Warner, I have been making the case on this program -- I`m
going to make it again tonight -- that trade is a healthy debate for the
Democrats, including the progressives. This idea that all progressives are
against international trade, I`ve never bought, and the latest polling --
we`ll show the poll later in the program -- is pretty substantially pro-
trade among Democrats, and ironically, a bit anti-trade among Republicans.
They don`t like the word "free," apparently. Democrats love the idea of
free trade, at least intellectually.
So explain to me why this is such a bad beginning of the week for the
president with you folks, and it`s getting to look a lot better today on
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Well, Chris, first of all, I don`t
think it was a bad beginning of the week for the president. What we did
yesterday, virtually all the Democrats -- and I`m very much supportive of
trade -- said if we`re going to move forward on a trade agenda, we also
have got to make sure that we have strong enforcement provisions.
At first, the Republican leadership wasn`t going to bring up the
enforcement legislation, as well. We got that guaranteed, passed it
overwhelmingly today, because let`s face it, I`m pro-trade, but I`ve also
recognized in the past we lost a lot of jobs in the `90s, textile and
We`ve not always done as good a job as a country enforcing our trade
laws as we should, and we want to make sure we`ve got the strongest
enforcement provisions possible.
MATTHEWS: Do you think we`ll get a bill?
WARNER: I think we`re going to get a bill.
I think that, clearly, with 95 percent of the world`s customers
outside of the American economy, with 40 percent of the world`s customers
in the countries that are involved in the so-called TPP around Asia, some
country is going to set the rules. And is it going to be us or is it going
to be China?
And, honestly, I believe this trade agreement has got stronger labor,
stronger environmental, stronger human rights provisions than any past
trade agreement. And sometimes I think what happens is, people distinguish
or fail to distinguish between countries where we have trade agreements,
where we have actually got a net surplus, for sometimes overall trade,
like, for example, with China, we have got a huge deficit.
But in terms of Asia, I would rather have us set the rules than China,
and I think the TPP will allow us to do that.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this tussle between the president and
Secretary -- and Senator Warren? I think calling her Elizabeth, I don`t
know. I want to try to explain it. He was trying to show that they`re
personal friends. He calls Joe Biden Joe all the time. I don`t think it`s
a putdown, but what do you think?
WARNER: Chris, I don`t get it. He calls me Mark. I call him Mr.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well said.
Thanks very much, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.
According to a new NBC poll I mentioned, by the way, Democrats are now
bigger advocates for free trade than Republicans, despite what you hear on
this and other networks -- 43 percent of Democrats say that free trade has
helped the U.S. That number has grown by 17 points since last November.
And 26 percent of Democrats say free trade has hurt the country.
So, the anti-traders are in the big minority than Democrats; 33
percent of Republicans say free trade has helped the U.S. vs. a little
more, 36, who say it`s hurt. So, figure that one out.
Harold Ford is going to help us do it. He was a Democratic
congressman from Tennessee. And Howard Fineman is global editorial
director of The Huffington Post.
Gentleman, two cerebral presences join us now, you two.
MATTHEWS: And I just want to clear the air. Listening to this
network, you would think that every progressive is lined up and closing
down the borders. Let`s go back to buying `63 Plymouths. No more trade
with Japan or Korea or Germany. No more buying clothes from the Far East.
We`re going back to the way it was when South Carolina produced all
our textiles and Detroit produced all the cars. And nobody believes that.
HAROLD FORD (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: In fairness to the
president, he calls Prime Minister Cameron David also.
FORD: A couple things. This is a solid deal so far. The framework
that has come forward, Senator Warren ought to be provide of. The concerns
that she and progressives raised early on about enforcement and even about
potential currency manipulation are being addressed, have been addressed.
MATTHEWS: Does that mean she will vote for the bill?
FORD: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: I know. She won`t. She won`t vote for the bill.
FORD: The concerns she`s raised about labor and environmental
concerns, we have learned from previous trade deals. I have voted for
trade deals in the Congress. This bill that -- this framework, at least,
is better than anything we have seen before.
And finally I think the most important thing we have learned from
previous trade agreements is that American workers have been hurt. This
bill, this framework at least, lowers barriers, foreign barriers into
markets we`re not in and allows our goods to be sold and more goods to find
a way into these markets. This is a good thing for American workers.
And for those who have concerns, who have raised them, I would just
ask my friends, including Sherrod Brown and others, you have raised
concerns, they`re being addressed one by one. Is this deal perfect? No.
No deal is perfect. But if we don`t strike a trade agreement, the kind of
arrangements and the disadvantages that come from trade, if we don`t do
this, will worsen, as the president made clear after his meeting with the
Gulf leaders just a few hours ago.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well said
Let me go to Howard on this.
How do you see this one? I see it as a political fight more than an
analytical fight. I think the pro-union guys and women, Elizabeth Warren,
on the Democratic hard left, if you will -- I think that`s where she wants
to place herself -- are willing to say, we`re against trade, we`re against
global -- we`re against globalization. We`re sort of, at least
intellectually, somewhat towards the Occupy movement. We think it`s been
bad for the regular people.
HOWARD FINEMAN, GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, THE HUFFINGTON POST:
MATTHEWS: And they`re going to identify themselves pretty black and
white on this thing.
FINEMAN: That`s right. Well...
MATTHEWS: I think Harold`s pretty right. He says they`re trying to
improve the bill. I will believe it when I see it. They can improve it.
Will they vote for it when it`s improved? I think in the case of Sherrod
Brown, who openly argues the case for protectionism, I don`t think he will.
FINEMAN: Well, Chris, I think what`s happened is, in a way, for most
Americans, as that poll is showing, we have gone from viewing the economy
from the shop floor, if you will, to the shopping mall, in other words, to
the Wal-Marts, to the big box stores, to the places where middle-class
people who are suffering from a lack of increase in their real income can
try, desperately, to make up for that, with cheaper goods. They look at a
MATTHEWS: Less expensive goods, not cheaper.
FINEMAN: Oh, excuse me. Less expensive goods.
MATTHEWS: No, I mean that, because I don`t think they`re getting
shoddy goods from overseas.
FINEMAN: No, no, no, no, that`s right, no, but less expensive goods
to try to make up for the fact that their real wages have not increased.
People understand that.
And that`s why they`re of mixed opinion about this, and why even
Democrats are moving in the directions, as I say, of the shopping mall view
of the world.
FINEMAN: But the other thing is what you say about the emotions about
corporate -- the corporate world, the fact that we have this tremendous
gulf between the richest and the rest, bigger than it`s been since anytime
since the Roaring `20s and so forth, the Occupy movement, as you say, the
fact that Citizens United is allowing unions, yes, but corporations with a
lot more money to spend unlimitedly.
People are looking for some way to strike out, and to fight back, and
this is it. And this is the fight that they have right now, and this is
the one that they`re going to pick and the one that they`re going to pursue
to the end. And that`s really what Elizabeth Warren is up to.
MATTHEWS: Nobody does it better than Howard. Howard, that is so well
said. It`s about feeling and the holistic view of where we`re going. It`s
not just one thing, like trade.
FORD: Democrats recognize that lower-priced goods at the Wal-Marts
and Targets across this country are benefiting them and benefiting the
MATTHEWS: By the way, Brooks Brothers sells a lot of Chinese, too.
FORD: There`s no doubt.
But, to Howard`s point, I would say to the progressives, if we`re
worried about income inequality, which I am and I think which every
Democrat is, the uneven distribution of opportunity, let`s focus on those
things that will actually raise wages. If we`re serious about...
MATTHEWS: Yes. How do we do that?
FORD: Well, first of all, it`s a travesty in my mind that this
president and Democrats in the Congress and the Senate have not changed
these laws about how hedge fund managers enjoy a better tax freedom than
people who go to work each and every day.
MATTHEWS: Carried interest.
FORD: It`s -- right, carried interest. It`s unbelievable to me that
we have not figured out ways, with all these Republican governors or states
that elected Republicans last cycle, they raised the minimum wage in those
states, including Arkansas. The fact that we have not found a way in which
to do that, and finally...
MATTHEWS: And you`re talking -- you`re working New York finance and
you`re doing this.
FORD: But I`m American, Chris. And I want to see people do better.
The country does, everyone does better when wages...
MATTHEWS: Do you think Senator Schumer is going to take this lead on
FORD: He`s been the leader on currency manipulation.
MATTHEWS: No, about -- no, carried interest.
FORD: I have not seen it yet.
MATTHEWS: See, I`m getting you to smile. I`m getting you to smile.
FINEMAN: Trick question, Harold. Trick question.
FINEMAN: Chris, I`m surprised that Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown
and the others haven`t tried to hook this trade deal up with what Harold
Ford is talking about, both in terms of the special corporate -- special
income tax breaks, and also the minimum wage.
FINEMAN: I mean, they should say, fine, you want this trade -- you
want this trade bill, we want a $11 -- we want a $10.10 or whatever minimum
MATTHEWS: OK. Where are the legislators, people who think like this?
Quid pro quo. You want this, we will give you that, but give us something.
FORD: It`s called governing. It used to be called governing.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what happened, why you`re so right. You`re so
much smarter, you guys, than the guys running the Hill right now. I don`t
They would rather go down heroically, I`m afraid, the Elizabeth Warren
crowd and Bernie Sanders. We will lose Adlai Stevenson and everybody will
love us. No, why don`t you get a deal that works for the people? That`s
my motion. I move that.
Howard Fineman, thank you. Harold Ford, thank you.
Up next, the political and moral debate over. Actor Ethan Hawke stars
in a new movie, "Good Kill." And, boy, this is a good movie about the
morality of drones. You won`t like drones after you see this movie. And
he will join us in a minute.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, the use of drones created a new frontier in modern warfare, and
since their introduction, they have been used extensively against suspected
terrorists in the Mideast. And while the technology allows our soldiers to
stay out of dangerous war zones, the Air Force recently acknowledged that
they`re facing a shortfall of drone pilots, because pilots are getting
There`s a new movie out that opens tomorrow in New York and L.A..
It`s called "Good Kill." And it gets to the heart of this reality, the
morality or immorality of drone warfare itself.
Ethan Hawke plays Major Tom Egan, a drone pilot, an Iraq war veteran
who carries out remote drone strikes from a Las Vegas military base. And
when he`s assigned to take orders from the CIA, his missions become even
less morally defensible.
Here`s a clip from the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GOOD KILL")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: How do you know where he`s going to be two
seconds from now, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You don`t throw the ball where the receiver is.
You throw it where he`s going to be.
ETHAN HAWKE, ACTOR: I lead him by a crosshair. One Minnesota, two
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Isn`t it supposed to be Mississippi, sir?
HAWKE: I`m from Saint Paul. Lead him by another half.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We are cleared hot. Master arm on, weapons hot.
HAWKE: Three, two, one. Rifle.
Time of flight, 12 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, earlier, I spoke with actor Ethan Hawke, the star of
"Good Kill," as well as his director, Andrew Niccol.
MATTHEWS: You couldn`t be hotter on this show. This is exactly what
we argue about here. In fact, younger people, like my kids and my son and
my daughter-in-law, who`s a lawyer, are very much against drone warfare. I
defend it, because it seems to me the alternative to going in on the
ground, with 4,500 guys getting killed.
And, also, I wish we had it during Vietnam. Maybe we could have
knocked off General Giap and a few guys and we wouldn`t have had to fight
Your view of it after working on this film, because you`re really in
HAWKE: Yes, I think being against drone warfare is a little bit like
being against the Internet. There`s nothing to be against. It`s
happening. It`s going to happen. It`s the most powerful tool that the
military has probably ever had.
You could say it`s really not about it, but about our responsibility
to it. And there was one military adviser that we had who likened it to
the possibility that -- it`s a little bit like sitting on your front porch
with a .22 shooting off the heads of dandelions, and thinking you have got
de-weeded your garden. There`s no dandelions that you see anymore, but
wait a season.
HAWKE: And they will all be back.
MATTHEWS: That`s why, when you cut the lawn, you can just create more
MATTHEWS: The morality here, Andrew, is that the -- first of all,
they`re killing guys they`re pretty sure are terrorists, 99 percent,
whatever. Then they`re killing what are called signature targets, where
there might be terrorists in that neighborhood. And then the CIA has got
them shooting crowds of people that crowd up, bunch up the way that al
Qaeda people do.
It gets more and more morally and, to me, militarily indefensible,
these targets. Is that what`s going on?
ANDREW NICCOL, DIRECTOR, "GOOD KILL": I didn`t make any of this up.
Like a word like proportionality, I`m such a bad guy, we need to kill
me so badly, that we can kill the two of you as well, I didn`t make that
up. That`s not my word.
How about when they -- when your character is a decent guy? He`s a
warrior. He`s a pilot. He wants to go out and fly airplanes to take
risks, because he thought personally taking risks sort of justifies
HAWKE: Well, there`s a certain integrity of the war hero, right?
When you put your life on your line for your beliefs, you have the courage
of your convictions.
One of the things that this drone pilot is going through is the fact
that he doesn`t have any skin in the game.
HAWKE: So he feels more like an assassin from 7,000 miles away, and
he doesn`t have any pride in that.
MATTHEWS: And that`s what these pilots in real life are facing. They
don`t -- they go back to this sort of -- it looks like a locker. It looks
like one of these places where you put your old furniture, and you go in
this trailer, and you go in there and shoot people from...
NICCOL: Seven thousand miles away.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And then you go back to cooking on the grill.
NICCOL: Right. It was -- I left it out of the movie, because it was
so outrageous, but some of the younger drone pilots will actually fly by
remote control, do a 12-hour shift fighting the Taliban. Then they will go
back to their Vegas apartments and play video games.
HAWKE: All night long.
MATTHEWS: Where they`re killing imaginary people.
HAWKE: Yes, imaginary people, exactly.
NICCOL: Exactly. So how -- not desensitizing.
MATTHEWS: You have got a couple characters. There`s always
characters in movies you don`t like. That`s how movies have conflict and
You have got a couple of colleagues in that truck who don`t mind
knocking people off, who justify it. They make fun of your -- of the
female colleague you have got. When she raises moral objection, they call
her, what, Jane Fonda. And what`s -- have you come across guys that just
don`t care they are knocking off people without any kind of conscience?
HAWKE: I think you`re wrong -- I think you`re wrong to think that
they don`t have a conscience or that they`re -- they`re just seeing it from
a different point of view.
They`re seeing it from the point of view of, they really want to win
the war, and they feel this is the way to win the war. And to overthink
your conscience, then you may as well get out of the military, that their
job is to fight for us, and that this is the best tool and the best avenue
to do the fighting. I didn`t see them as unconscious at all. They just
were very morally unambiguous. They were certain. They had a certain...
MATTHEWS: You`re telling me those are likable guys?
MATTHEWS: I know what a movie does. You`re taking sides, on your
side, and the woman officer`s side against those guys. It was your guys`
conscience. You have conscience.
HAWKE: My character does.
But, for me, what was most interesting about the character I played is
not some kind of ethical conscience, which he does have, but he`s kind of
in grieving for aviation.
MATTHEWS: Yes, the old ways.
HAWKE: If you meet these pilots and these guys, these guys, young
people, grow up dreaming of flying these planes. They dream of -- there`s
a pride in that. You know how hard is it to land, what is it, an F-18 on
an aircraft carrier? Much harder than...
MATTHEWS: A night landing in a rough seas, it`s a great description
of it. Here`s another clip from the movie "Good Kill."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GOOD KILL")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Is that real? You ever get to, like, fly in a
war or something?
HAWKE: Blew away six Taliban in Pakistan just today, and now I`m
going home to barbecue.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It is that strange.
HAWKE: It`s that strange.
NICCOL: It`s schizophrenic.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You walk out of a door, and you know -- they used to
talk about the guys fighting in Vietnam on weekends and coming back to
Saigon. This is even more dramatic.
NICCOL: No. I mean, you fight the Taliban for 12 hours. Then you go
home to wife and kids.
MATTHEWS: OK. We`re going to be debating this as long as this movie
is running, I will bet.
HAWKE: Well, a lot longer than when this movie is running. The real
question is where -- how we will feel about this movie 15, 20 years from
now, about how many UAV, you know...
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s to your credit you`re raising it right when it`s
happening, the public debate. And it`s one of those movies, you wonder,
like, how did they get the beret right in "Wag the Dog"? How come they
knew the girl hanging out with the president was going to have a beret on?
This is so today.
Thank you and congratulations, Ethan.
HAWKE: Thanks for having us.
MATTHEWS: "Good Kill" opens tomorrow in New York and L.A.
And thank you, Ethan Hawke. And thank you, Andrew Niccol.
Up next: Don`t ask House Speaker John Boehner about funding for
Amtrak. He says the train system has all the money it needs.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This did not used to be
a partisan issue. Building roads, building bridges, build airports, sewer
lines. This is how America became an economic superpower was investing in
our people, investing in infrastructure, doing it better and faster and
bigger than anybody else did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Obama in remarks early this evening out of Camp
David, and aftermath of the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia that left eight
people now dead and more than 50 passengers injured, the president wants
America to think big when it comes to restoring America`s aging
infrastructure, which by the way is the worst word in history --
infrastructure, it excites no one.
But this morning, House Speaker John Boehner was dismissive when a
reporter asked him whether now`s the time to cut funding for Amtrak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Are you really going
to ask such a stupid question? Listen, you know, they started this
yesterday and it`s all about funding, it`s all about funding. Well,
obviously, it`s not about funding. The train was going twice the speed
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: On the edge of tiers, that man. Anyway, he insisted
Amtrak`s got all the money it needs. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: It`s hard for me to imagine that people take the bait on
some of the nonsense that gets spewed around here.
(END VIDEOI CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill on
Wednesday, cutting millions from Amtrak`s 2016 funding on a party line
Let`s bring in the roundtable. Joan Walsh is editor at large of
"Salon", Ben Goldberger is with "The Nation", he`s editor, the way, he`s
the nation editor for "Time" magazine, which is a lot bigger than being an
editor at "Nation," and McKay Coppins is the senior political writer for
"BuzzFeed" -- sorry about that. You love "Nation".
JOAN WALSH, SALON: I do.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s start with this thing. It seems to me that when
there`s a crash and something goes wrong because of the bad rails or old
rails or too many twists and turns, but the fact is, no matter what that
engineer did, and I think he`s got problems explaining it, but why does a
train have to go slower than the traffic going past it? You can drive on
95 going up and down East Carter at 65 to 70 miles an hour. That train can
only go 55, because the track is more dangerous than a highway.
WALSH: Right. We`ve been on the train watching cars pass us, right?
So, if you`re on this corridor, and I was almost -- I was supposed to be on
the train that derailed. I got on the last train that got out that night.
So, for the speaker, you know, I don`t want to clutch my pearls --
MATTHEWS: Has he ever been on that -- has he ever been on that train?
WALSH: That`s a really good question. I don`t want to clutch my
pearls and say, oh, that language -- but come on, that language! He`s
talking not just to a reporter, but to the families of those eight dead
people. I mean, how do you say that that`s a stupid question when you know
that we do have braking technology that could have made a difference?
MATTHEWS: They have this thing called the PTC, which would have
stopped -- a dead man`s switch, basically.
MATTHEWS: There`s a lot to find out here. But let me ask you, I want
to ask you this thing, you know, I think the rail is the great answer for
the East Coast. Anyone who thinks we need more cars on the highway or
anyone who this is we need more airlines flying back and forth from D.C. to
LaGuardia is crazy. It`s too crowded up there and too crowded on the
Whereas trains, run a few extra trains, it doesn`t cause anymore
problems, and it should be the safest means of transportation. Why isn`t
it? It is in Europe, in Germany, in France. They go 300 miles an hour
there. You don`t get it moving. I was just in China, it`s unbelievable.
Why can`t we do it?
BEN GOLDBERGER, TIME MAGAZINE NATION EDITOR: Well, the Chinese spend
something like $128 billion a year on their rail system. We spend under $2
But the public actually agrees with you. Amtrak ridership has soared
in the last 20 years. It`s an at all-time high. And that Northeast
corridor is packed to the gills. It is the only profitable section of
Amtrak, because the demand has absolutely soared.
MATTHEWS: I would like to go back to the 20th century, I mean, the
train. I would like to be able to go to Chicago in a reasonable ride. It
would be a great ride to go to Chicago. It would unite this country. It
wouldn`t be flyover country. It would be one country again.
Rail could bring us together. Culturally, it would be the best thing.
St. Louis would boom, and Cincinnati, all those train stops, all those rail
heads would be back in business big-time, if we were united by rail,
instead of flyover, looking down on the people, the everyday people. I`m
sorry. That`s what Hillary calls them, the everyday people. I don`t know
what that means, exactly.
MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED: What you hear Boehner and conservatives
responding to here is they`re saying, don`t politicize a Congress, don`t
take this crisis, but the fact is we don`t talk about these issues --
MATTHEWS: When do you --
WALSH: Exactly, exactly.
COPPINS: I mean, let`s also be honest. It`s not like --
MATTHEWS: Can you imagine the average hearing on Amtrak two weeks
WALSH: Right, no one showed up.
COPPINS: Nobody would show up. No reporters would show up. And
actually, I think it helps Amtrak`s case that it happened in a place on a
train that all of us have taken. Lots of people in national media have
taken, so as long --
GOLDBERGER: And congressmen and senators --
WALSH: And Joe Biden.
Can I make another point? I mean, when you talk about uniting the
country, that is a beautiful idea. And we all love that idea, but we have
a situation right now where there are 180 congressional districts, where
nobody takes the train ever. Not Amtrak, and two-thirds of those are
represented by Republicans. And they don`t care about us. I mean, it
makes me sad to hear about it.
MATTHEWS: So they treat trains like Hispanics? We don`t have enough
in our district to worry about them.
WALSH: Exactly. We don`t care about immigration. Don`t care about
MATTHEWS: Train rides -- I used to say that Ted Kennedy could beat
Jimmy Carter anywhere on the Amtrak route, because it is more liberal.
Anyway, thank you.
Why do I think of these things?
The roundtable is staying with us.
Up next, Jeb Bush tried to escape from his brother. Maybe this is the
great escape of all times. If he gets away from that war, he may be in
business. If he doesn`t, he`s cut.
We`ll be right back to talk about Jeb`s brother and his war.
MATTHEWS: You know, we rarely show you sports plays on this show, but
I think this is one for the history books. It happened last night in my
hometown of Philly. The Phillies were up 3-2 with one out in the ninth
inning. The Pirates hit a fly ball that went foul.
And watch what happened. Phillies right fielder Jeff Francoeur pegs
the runner at home play with the game one the line. That is one throw of a
lifetime. Look. Watch. Look at that! Have you ever seen a throw like
that! And he got the guy. No cutoff for that guy. And it just shows you
that in baseball, like in politics and in life, you never give up.
And we`ll be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: We were all supposed to answer
hypothetical questions. Knowing what we know now, what would you have
done? I would have not engaged, I would not have gone into Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I would not have gone into Iraq. It took him a while to
Joan, Ben, and McKay.
McKay, tell me why he`s had this hard time to separate himself from
the ideology that took us into Iraq.
COPPINS: Well, it`s -- I have a story coming out tonight where I talk
to a half dozen former George W. Bush officials, neocon hawks, very pro-
Iraq war at the time and still are. And they breathe two issues. One -- I
mean, it`s obvious that there`s still a lot of pressure from
neoconservatives and Iraq hawks who don`t want him to, you know, wholly
disown the Iraq.
The other issue is that they -- and they were all asking this
question, when he was asked, you know, to put out a list of his foreign
policy advisers, he came out this lengthy, kind of unwieldy list of 24
policy advisers --
MATTHEWS: But it had a few hard rights in it.
COPPINS: It had a lot of neoconservatives. And actually, I`m told
that he had to scramble at the last minute to add people from the new
generation. Initially, it was all --
MATTHEWS: So, what do you think he is? Do you think he`s his brother
or his dad?
COPPINS: I think he`s probably, in his heart, angling more toward his
dad, but I think there`s still many political pleasures within his party
and, frankly, familiar pressures to not disown him.
MATTHEWS: The weird about this is the father/son thing?
WALSH: Yes, to both of them.
MATTHEWS: He railed against his father. We all know W. was the
rebel, in a way that may have sort of led us into the war. We don`t know
this psychological stuff.
WALSH: Right. We can`t get inside his brain.
But I mean, I think you`re making a great point. This may well be
what he thinks. We don`t know what he thinks. But he was an early
signatory to the project for a new American century document.
MATTHEWS: "W" was?
WALSH: No. Jeb was. Jeb was.
There are a lot of people in his orbit. Dick Cheney never said he
made a mistake. They would do it all over again. They knew that WMD was a
pretext in the first place.
MATTHEWS: Whose sales speech, Ben? It`s going to be an issue in the
campaign. It`s the reason that Barack Obama is president over Hillary
Clinton. We all know that central fight that he had, she wasn`t willing to
push away the war issue. He was. He was clean.
GOLDBERGER: The amazing thing about it is he wasn`t prepared for the
question. How could he have not seen this coming? One can`t keep the
family legacy. It`s just not possible.
MATTHEWS: What do you think they`ll ask him about? Iraq.
COPPINS: It was the first question he should have been asked.
MATTHEWS: I don`t get the -- he`s out there raising money, he should
be out there raising his brains.
Anyway, thank you, Joan Walsh, Ben Goldberger, and McKay Coppins.
When we return, let me finish with this trade battle.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this trade fight.
We had gotten the idea listening to talk to television that Democrats
are against trade, that their thinking and attitudes are strictly in line
with Bernie Sanders or Sherrod Brown. They`ve got the idea that shutting
down the borders and making selling stuff to otherwise would be a better
way to go since the days of President Kennedy. I`ll give you an example of
a country that runs like this -- Cuba.
The fact is, the Democratic voters of this country, the voters, not
the people who act on television like they speak for voters, are far more
inclined to back free trade with the rest of the world. Forty-three
percent of us say the trade has helped the United States, 26 percent of
Democrats say it has hurt us.
The great irony, again, if you`ve been listening to the debate on TV,
is that the Republicans are big boosters of free trade. The fact runs
counter, 33 percent of Republicans say free trade has helped the United
States, 36 percent of regular Republicans say it has hurt us.
Perhaps this explains the relative quite of so many on the usual vocal
right wing to push the president`s trade policy. In any case, today, the
United States Senate voted to move forward with the trade debate with more
than a dozen Democrats voting with the majority. We will see how it goes.
The reality we have learned is that there are pluses and minuses to
the U.S. joining the world in trade. That means we have to look at the
trade deal as it emerges, have to judge it, have to debate it, and respect
the other side of the argument and avoid the bullying and intimidation that
kills honest and open discussion, and stop pretending progressives are
anti-trade because the hard evidence is they are not.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for begin with us.
And tomorrow night, we have the guy who knows what`s going to at the
end of "Mad Men" Sunday night because he wrote it already.
"ALL IN", by the way, with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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