Date: May 18, 2015
Guest: Anne Gearan, David Brooks, Rich Sommer, Bryan Batt, Ted Johnson,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Will Iraq kill Jeb Bush?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Fighting over the weekend has put Iraq back on the front pages. Special
forces killed a top ISIS figure, while ISIS forces took back Ramadi.
Meanwhile, back here in the States, the presidential candidates toss and
turn. Will someone tell them why we fought that war? Will someone tell
us? And will the voters ever like someone who wants to double down on a
terrible bet to begin with?
Elsewhere in home front politics, Hillary Clinton heads left. Is this the
smart move? Is it smart to leave the center open to the Republicans? Or
could she be right that the Republicans are too far right themselves to
grab the center?
Later in the show, David Brooks of "The New York Times" will talk about
character, and a great Hollywood roundtable will join us here to talk about
the last seconds of "Mad Men."
First, I`m joined by MSNBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann. After weeks of
fighting, as I said, the Iraqi city of Ramadi fell to ISIS militants
yesterday, causing 100,000 Iraqis to flee for their very lives.
Ramadi is 60 miles west of Baghdad. There it is on the map. It served as
the headquarters for the Iraqi military in Anbar province.
Also this weekend, U.S. special forces pulled off a daring raid into Syria,
killing a high-value ISIS leader and taking his wife into custody after an
intense firefight. There were no American casualties. The target of that
operation was Abu Sayyaf, the terrorist operative who helped manage the
illicit sale of oil and gas for the terror group ISIS.
The success of the raid came as welcome news to many in this country. Jeb
Bush used it as an opportunity to slam President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: It`s encouraging that one of the
senior ISIS leaders has been killed, if it`s been confirmed, and kudos to
the special forces, the best in the world.
Having said that, this administration created the void that created this
emerging caliphate that is far bigger than anything that`s existed, before,
and there is no long-term strategy on how to deal with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Evan Kohlmann joins us right now. Even why -- is it smart or is
it even true?
EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, look --
MATTHEWS: I should start with, is it true to say that the reason we have
trouble with ISIS is that we didn`t fight Iraq war long enough?
KOHLMANN: I mean, it`s chutzpah. It`s chutzpah in a way I can`t even
begin to describe Look, there are plenty of legitimate criticisms you can
make of President Obama`s strategy in Iraq, particularly now in the wake of
the fall of Ramadi.
But let`s not be -- let`s not make a make here. Let`s be very clear.
There is no doubt whatsoever what created the void and the power vacuum
that led to the creation of ISIS, which, by the way, happened back in 2006
when President George W. Bush was in power. And that was the 2003 invasion
of Iraq under false pretenses.
And again, the invasion of Iraq was not merely a failure of intelligence.
In fact, that`s only really a small part of it. It was a failure of
leadership. Anyone who does not recognize that, you have to wonder whether
or not someone like that would make a good leader for the United States.
But more importantly, how could the brother of George W. Bush say that,
when it`s quite clear the power vacuum was the invasion of Iraq and it was
the terrible de-baathification campaign that was sponsored and pushed by
the president, by Dick Cheney and by others?
So you know, especially right now, if you`re out there and you`re telling
people here in the United States that the U.S. needs to get reengaged in
Iraq, and you can`t recognize that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was one of
the single greatest foreign policy, strategic, military blunders of
American history, you do not deserve to be president. And that`s it.
MATTHEWS: Can`t ask you any more than that. Evan Kohlmann, thank you for
joining us. Joining us right now, of course, we have Ron Christie is
coming here now. He worked for Vice President Dick Cheney, and of course,
we`ve got David Corn. Thank you (INAUDIBLE) to have you.
MATTHEWS: I`m jumping ahead because I want to -- because I thought he said
everything he had to say and I didn`t want to keep going and very -- let me
go to you, Ron Christie. Should we have stayed in Iraq longer? That seems
to be the Bush argument. We came out too soon. We let ISIS be created.
It seems to me the American people hate the idea of a ground war in Iraq
RON CHRISTIE, FMR. DICK CHENEY ADVISER: I think there are two different
issues here, Chris. One, I think in 2009, the Bush administration had laid
the framework, the ground work of working with al Maliki. It was safe in
Tikrit, relatively stable. It was safe in Ramadi, relatively safe there.
And If you look at what happened in the vacuum of removing our U.S. forces
from Iraq that was undertaken not by the 43rd president, by the 44th
president, I think you saw a lot more chaos.
So no. Do we want to have another ground war? No. But I think the status
of forces agreement --
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. What were our soldiers supposed to stay
there for, if not to fight?
CHRISTIE: Our soldiers should have stayed there --
MATTHEWS: To fight.
CHRISTIE: No, they should have stayed there --
CHRISTIE: -- to provide assistance, to provide intelligence --
CHRISTIE: -- and also --
MATTHEWS: I think you`re trying to get it both ways.
CHRISTIE: No, I`m not trying to get it both ways.
MATTHEWS: You`re saying they should have been there as soldiers --
CHRISTIE: Wait a second, David. Let`s see. What happened in Korea? Did
we immediately leave Korea? No.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You`re missing --
CHRISTIE: Did we immediately leave after World War II? No.
CORN: -- the big picture here --
CORN: The Iraq government, in essence, asked us to leave when Bush and
Cheney were in control of the government and the U.S. military forces.
They did not negotiate a status of forces agreement, which would be
necessary to keep our troops there. They couldn`t do it. They kicked the
can down the road, and Obama came in and he couldn`t do it, either.
And they turn around and say, Ah-ha! The problem is that you didn`t keep
troops in. I mean, Evan had it exactly right. You know, people today, Why
should we relitigate what went on in 2003? Because it was the most
consequential foreign policy decision of the past 12 if not 24 years.
And so it`s -- Fox News, Megyn Kelly, was the one who asked Jeb about this.
I mean, I hate to say this. Life`s not fair. But when your last name is
Bush and you want to be president, this is a question you have ask -- have
to be asked, and you have to answer it.
He couldn`t answer the question. And now he`s coming up with a completely
made-up version of history that everything was fine until January 20th,
2009. You know, before the war, people said -- a lot of people said,
Listen, you go in there, you`re going to create chaos. There will be
MATTHEWS: OK --
CORN: Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld Cheney all said, Nothing we have to worry about.
It`s going to take care of itself.
CHRISTIE: Facts matter, my friend.
CORN: They do matter.
CHRISTIE: And the fact of the matter is that when the Bush administration
left -- you can relitigate the war all you want, but it was relatively calm
in Iraq. They did have a democratically elected --
CORN: -- 200,000 civilians had been killed in the five years up to that
CHRISTIE: Well, you`re just talking about --
CORN: I mean, that was sectarian violence --
MATTHEWS: How do you deal with the fact that most of the leadership of
ISIS today are people that were thrown out of the Iraqi military by U.S.
policy? How do you live with that?
CHRISTIE: I don`t have to live with that. I think that you have to do --
MATTHEWS: How do you accept that fact?
CHRISTIE: I don`t accept that fact! I think --
CORN: Well, who`s --
MATTHEWS: Who`s to blame for that fact?
CHRISTIE: Hold on, guys.
MATTHEWS: Who`s to blame for that?
CHRISTIE: I think the fact of the matter is -- who`s to blame for that?
CHRISTIE: I think the fact that you`re going to blame the people, A, in
Iraqi government who allowed them to come into power. And B --
CHRISTIE: I`m going on blame this administration, Chris. I am going to
blame this administration --
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. De-baathification was the policy of the Bush
CHRISTIE: Correct. You asked me --
MATTHEWS: I asked you --
CHRISTIE: You asked me what I thought led to the rise of ISIS.
MATTHEWS: Who leads ISIS?
CHRISTIE: What led to the rise of ISIS --
MATTHEWS: Who leads it? The military guys who were thrown out of the
CHRISTIE: A bunch of terrorists is --
MATTHEWS: No, no. That`s --
CHRISTIE: They`re actually not terrorists, Chris. They`re not terrorists.
MATTHEWS: Who are they?
CHRISTIE: ISIS? The most brutal --
MATTHEWS: I said they`re being led by the generals of the army that were
thrown out of --
CHRISTIE: And I`m saying that they`re terrorists that are terrorizing the
MATTHEWS: Why are you challenging a fact?
CHRISTIE: But Chris, it`s a fact --
MATTHEWS: Whose policy was it to throw these people out of the Iraqi
government? Who`s --
CHRISTIE: Well, you could --
MATTHEWS: Just answer one question, and we`ll move on.
CORN: In 2003.
MATTHEWS: Whose policy was to it get rid of all the Sunnis in the
government, throw all the people out of the government and send them out
into the countryside to join ISIS? Who did that?
CHRISTIE: The coalition of nearly 39 countries around the world --
CORN: No, it was Paul Bremer.
CHRISTIE: -- including the United States.
CORN: It was the neocon --
CHRISTIE: You guys want to rewrite your own facts.
CORN: No, it`s -- these are not --
CORN: Wait a second!
CHRISTIE: How can you --
CORN: De-baathification was ordered --
MATTHEWS: -- Jeb Bush`s multiple choice responses on the Iraq war.
That`s all you can call them. They seem to have jarred everybody in the
2016 field. Today, "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman said that the
2003 invasion was not a failure of intelligence, as many Republican
candidates have been saying, but a failure of leadership.
Quote, "The Iraq war wasn`t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on
the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded
Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public
justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified
pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into the war."
In the column, Krugman cites how the term WMDs was used to conflate
chemical weapons with nuclear weapons, how the Bush administration
insinuated that Iraq was somehow behind the 9/11 attacks, and how
intelligence agencies were pressurized to justify the war.
It seems to me that`s a pretty tough column.
CHRISTIE: I think it is a tough column.
CHRISTIE: And I don`t agree with it. I don`t think you can say that the
Bush administration lied their way to get into a war, not when you have
people of the likes of Senator Clinton, who voted for the use of military
force. Was she lying then? I mean, why don`t we ask the question --
CHRISTIE: -- and she was looking at the intelligence --
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the reason we went to Iraq was the claim of
a nuclear war -- weapons? Do you think that was the reason we went in
there, that we thought they had nuclear weapons?
CHRISTIE: I think --
MATTHEWS: Do you think --
MATTHEWS: Answer one straight question!
CHRISTIE: I can answer the question. I think President Bush believed that
there were --
MATTHEWS: That`s not an answer --
CHRISTIE: -- weapons of mass destruction.
MATTHEWS: No, did he believe there were nuclear weapons in that country?
CHRISTIE: You`d have to ask him.
CORN: Chris --
MATTHEWS: No! Wait a minute, you`re a guy at Vice President Cheney`s --
CHRISTIE: I also worked for George Bush --
MATTHEWS: No, but Dick Cheney said --
CHRISTIE: -- and I can`t say to you whether or not he --
MATTHEWS: So you don`t know whether Cheney was telling the truth. No, he
said they`ve reconstituted their -- their -- their nuclear weapons.
CORN: Let me -- let me --
CHRISTIE: You asked me whether I thought George Bush took the country to
war on nuclear weapons, and I said you`d have to ask him.
CORN: Let me simplify this because --
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what that means.
MATTHEWS: He said that`s why we went to war.
CHRISTIE: -- your question!
MATTHEWS: Was he telling the truth?
CHRISTIE: Of course he was telling the truth!
CORN: No, he wasn`t.
MATTHEWS: Let`s look now. Let`s look now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Iraqi dictator must
not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons
and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. We`re concerned that Iraq is
exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So he has the weapons and he has the delivery system. You`re
saying he didn`t think that was the truth?
CHRISTIE: Of course he --
MATTHEWS: Why`d he say it?
CORN: But wait a second --
CHRISTIE: Of course he believed that`s the truth. That`s why he went to
the United Nations and --
MATTHEWS: Was it the truth?
CHRISTIE: Oh, was it the truth? That`s what he believed to be true.
CORN: This is not about what George W. Bush believed. Dick Cheney and
others, including the president, got out time and time again, they made
statements that were not based on failed intelligence, they were based on
A good example is when Dick Cheney got out there and said Iraq has aluminum
tubes that they can use for a nuclear weapon program. That wasn`t bad
intelligence. All the experts inside the U.S. government said that those
tubes were not being used for this, but yet Cheney went out there and made
And so he was not telling the truth. He had reason to believe that that
was not good intelligence. He came out and said again and again that
Mohammed Atta had had a meeting in Prague with Iraq intelligence, even
though the CIA and the FBI said that wasn`t true!
MATTHEWS: OK, here`s --
CORN: I can give you --
MATTHEWS: Here`s more of this.
CORN: -- many examples of --
MATTHEWS: -- being skeptical here about what the leaders --
MATTHEWS: -- Cheney and Bush believed. Let`s hear some more of what
Cheney believed, or said he believe. In March of 2003, right before Vice
President Dick Cheney said that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted its
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we know he`s been
absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he
has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Has re -- has, in fact, re -- so this claim that they had
nuclear arms doesn`t show up anywhere in the intelligence. Where did you
CHRISTIE: I didn`t find it.
MATTHEWS: Well, who did find it?
CHRISTIE: I`m a domestic policy adviser --
CHRISTIE: -- not a national security adviser.
CORN: Well, why didn`t he --
MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he just say something?
CHRISTIE: The whole point is that we have to trust that our leaders and
our government --
MATTHEWS: OK --
CHRISTIE: -- are trying to do the best they can to protect America. And
I believe George Bush and Dick Cheney did. I don`t believe they lied --
CORN: Why did they say things --
CORN: Why did they say things that were false again and again and again?
It wasn`t they were reading bad intelligence given to them, they were
ignoring intelligence given to them --
CORN: -- no basis in the intelligence!
CHRISTIE: That`s -- that`s your belief.
CORN: No, that`s not my belief! That is a fact!
MATTHEWS: -- some of your candidates here -- let`s take a look at Marco
Rubio today in his discussions with Chris Wallace. Let`s take a look at
Marco Rubio -- we don`t have that. We`re going to get that.
My concern is that the same mentality that got us into the Iraq war is
still out there now, the people that don`t want to have negotiations with
Here it is right now. Here`s Marco Rubio, the latest Republican to talk
about -- to show how difficult it is to deal with these past statements on
Iraq, saying on Fox News yesterday that the invasion of Iraq was not a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The world is a better
place because Saddam Hussein is not there.
RUBIO: But I don`t understand the question you`re asking because --
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": I`m asking you, knowing as we do -
WALLACE: -- as we sit here in 2015 --
RUBIO: But that`s not the way -- presidents don`t -- a president cannot
make a decision on what someone might know in the future.
WALLACE: I understand. And that`s what I`m asking you. Was it a mistake?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to go into Iraq based on the
information he was provided as president. Today, we know -- if we -- if
the president had known that there were no weapons of mass destruction at
the time, you still would have had to deal with Saddam Hussein, but the
process would have been different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Why were the people in the administration like Wolfowitz and the
others talking about going into Iraq from the very beginning of when they
got in the White House, long before there was a 9/11, long before they
started talking about WMD? Why did they want to go to Iraq?
CHRISTIE: You`d have to ask --
MATTHEWS: It seems like it was a deeper reason --
CHRISTIE: You`d have -- you`d have to ask them. You can`t properly ask me
that. I can`t get in their minds and tell you what --
MATTHEWS: I`ve always thought WDM was a cover story.
CORN: I can explain that. For years, Paul Wolfowitz and other members of
the neocon movement had talked about getting rid of Iraq, that there`d be
democracy throughout the region that would help Israel.
And they came to believe, actually, a very bizarre conspiracy theory that
al Qaeda didn`t matter, that actually, Saddam Hussein was behind all the
acts of violence, the `93 World Trade Center bombings, the bombing of the
USS Cole in 1999.
And they came in the -- they came into the White House with that
perspective. So when people like Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism
adviser, said, Listen, we got to do something about al Qaeda, Wolfowitz
really said bin Laden doesn`t matter. They wanted all focus on Iraq up
until 9/11. And then they saw that as their opportunity to bounce (ph),
even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
MATTHEWS: I know. And you know what -- (INAUDIBLE) reason I care about
this issue, why I keep going back to the strain of how we got into this,
because there`s a consistent pattern. And the people that wanted that war
in the worst way, the neocons, so-called, Wolfowitz, certainly Cheney and
certainly all the people that write op-ed pieces seemed to say we had to go
into that war, and they came up with reasons why we had to fight it.
It`s the same crowd of people that wanted us to go overthrow Bashar Assad
and go into Syria and fight that war. They`re the same people who don`t
want to negotiate at all with the Iranians, don`t want any kind of
rapprochement with the Iranians. They want to fight that war. They`re
willing to (INAUDIBLE) go in there and bomb. They have a consistent
impulsive desire and to make war on Arab and Islamic state in a never-
ending campaign, almost like an Orwellian campaign they will never outlive.
That`s why I got a problem with that thinking, that you say you don`t get
to the bottom of. We got to get to the bottom. Why did they take to us
Iraq? Because that`s the same reason they want to take us into Damascus
and why they want to have permanent war with Iran. My concern continues.
Ron Christie, David Corn, thank you both.
Coming up -- as the Republicans shift right, especially in foreign policy,
Hillary Clinton is tacking left except on foreign policy Is the right wing
out there stirring trouble, by the way, among the Democrats, trying to bait
progressives like Elizabeth Warren against Hillary Clinton? (INAUDIBLE)
troublemaking going on over there. That`s coming up right away.
Plus, character. Who`s got it in politics today? Best-selling author and
"New York Times" columnist David Brooks is going to be with us tonight.
And everyone`s got something to say about the last night`s last seconds of
the finale of "Mad Men." We`ll get to that big-time with a Hollywood
roundtable, including a couple of stars from the show. That`s going to be
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Jeb Bush is looking out for his right flank. This
weekend, he said he doesn`t believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional
right. And Bush told the Christian Broadcasting Network that marriage
between a man and a woman is a sacrament, and regardless of how the Supreme
Court rules next month, he will be a stalwart supporter of traditional
marriage. Bush said it`s hard to fathom why thousands of years of culture
and history are being changed at, quote, "time warp speed."
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When CEOs make 300 times more
than the typical worker -- there is something wrong when a third of all
black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes.
It is time to end the era of mass incarceration. We can`t wait any longer
for a path to full and equal citizenship.
ROBBY MOOK, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: What voters are looking for is someone
who is going to be a champion for everyday people. And for young people,
that`s debt-free college. That is finding that job after you graduate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know who came up with that. Hillary Clinton looked
great in those. We know where she stands. But whoever came one that
phrase everyday people should think of something else to do for a living.
Anyway, that was Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, Bobby Mook,
throwing a little red meat to the Democratic base, and I think effectively.
And since her announcement to run for president last month, in fact, the
campaign has gone to the left. Think about it, bashing Wall Street pay,
rallying African-Americans on prison reform, rallying Hispanics on
immigration, going all the way on immigration and citizenship, hinting at a
major progressive overhaul of student debt, which is very popular with
And today she hit the stump in Iowa, where she renewed her attack on Wall
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. We know
that. The top 25 hedge fund managers together made more money than all the
kindergarten teachers in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this is all big news, of course.
Front page of today`s "Washington Post" is all about Secretary Clinton`s --
quote -- "tack to the left," that Clinton is running as the most liberal
Democratic presidential front-runner in decades.
How far is too far? Well, the front page of "The New York Times" over the
weekend reported that Republicans are trying to bait the progressive wing
against Hillary Clinton in an effort to push her further left. Why is she
doing this? Is Hillary Clinton a lefty, or isn`t she?
Howard Fineman is the global director, editorial director of The Huffington
Post, and Anne Gearan reported that front-page story in "The Washington
Anne, this is a tough one. I`m going to ask to you get into this, to
penetrate it. I have found Hillary Clinton to be a moderate Democrat. I
know that is not a popular term. In other words, people who work hard and
play by the rules, make abortion right -- abortion safe, legal and rare.
Always appealing to the people on the center-left and slightly closer to
the center and even to appealing to people in the very center.
Why -- is she not there anymore? Was she not there? What she really?
ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": She is really constitutionally a
pragmatist. And that actually means --
MATTHEWS: A political pragmatist or policy pragmatist?
GEARAN: Both. But, for the most part, that does mean that you end up in
the middle of things, right, because you are going to try to compromise and
figure out what deal might actually be done.
And usually that deal ends up being in the middle. However, on foreign
policy, her reputation for being hawkish is -- makes it seem, I think, on
some of the liberal issues -- I mean, excuse me -- on some of the social
issues that she seems more liberal even than she might seem in other
respects, because people are sort of automatically in their heads comparing
to it, hey, wait a minute, she voted for the Iraq War.
How is she not, Howard, a traditional Democrat we grew up with like Hubert
Humphrey, guns and butter, liberal on all social issues, liberal on civil
rights issues, any kind of social issue, very liberal on spending and
things like that and government role activism, and hawkish on foreign
That`s the person we grew up -- Scoop Jackson, Henry Jackson, Hubert
Humphrey, Walter Mondale. That was hitting all the points in the party.
But where is the profile in courage there? Where`s the gutsy statement,
you know what, I`m not with the crowd on this one, I`m not with the
movement here, I`m on my own here, like Bill Clinton did with Sister
Souljah or he did with NAFTA.
Bill always singled himself out and said, yes, I`m with you with most
stuff, on this baby, I`m different. She hasn`t done that.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hillary is not
that kind of politician, I don`t think.
FINEMAN: My sense of it is, from hearing John Podesta, the campaign
chairman, kind of sketch this out, is that they`re main --
MATTHEWS: You talked to him?
FINEMAN: Yes. Their main tactical concern, I think, correct me if I`m
wrong, Anne, is trying to create passion, especially among young voters,
whose passion really drove Barack Obama`s campaigns, especially in --
MATTHEWS: But that was about him.
FINEMAN: Just wait a minute. But they`re looking at issues and ways to do
And I think, on social issues, they`re going to go way left in traditional
terms, as Anne was saying, whether it is gay marriage or immigration, in
fact, social issues broadly defined, gay marriage, immigration,
incarceration, punishment, militarization of the local police, that whole
range of social issues.
Hillary is going to go way left. I think she is going to be somewhat more
cautious on economic issues. Yes, the rhetoric about -- but, on foreign
policy, she is going to stay cautious, stay cautious.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go with that. Suppose she says road to citizenship,
a path to citizenship. Bottom line, you`re going to here, you`re going to
legal. Not only that. You are going to be a first-class citizen. You`re
going to a real American if you follow the rules. OK?
MATTHEWS: Then you go about incarceration. The trouble with incarceration
is, you get into the justice system. If a young man breaks the law, what
do you do? You don`t just say we are going to give you a pass because it
is a first offense. That`s been tried.
You got to come up with something more sophisticated that works, because if
he is back on the streets, commits the crime again, you haven`t solved any
problem at all. You have just created one more crime situation.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t there a price to pay if you`re Big Bird, if you`re Mayor
de Blasio in New York, and you`re running in Colorado, you`re running in
Nevada, you`re running in Ohio? Does that sell? Does this very liberal
GEARAN: They`re betting that it sells for long enough, that during the --
MATTHEWS: Through November 16.
GEARAN: Well, during the primary period here.
MATTHEWS: She has got the primary.
GEARAN: She`s got to -- she can`t look like she`s taking that for granted.
She got -- from their perspective, she`s got --
MATTHEWS: Oh, that`s interesting. You think she has to tack left,
tactically, to catch up to Elizabeth Warren.
GEARAN: Certainly, Elizabeth Warren is in their rear-view mirror.
MATTHEWS: And people are going to buy an Elizabeth in a second? They`re
going to buy somebody who is patently imitating the other person? They`re
going to buy that on the left?
GEARAN: No. I actually really don`t think Elizabeth Warren is going to
GEARAN: And I think that -- but I also think that for right now, there`s a
passion and a sentiment that she represents, which to an extent Bernie
Sanders is now inheriting. And that`s a no-vote to Hillary Clinton. And
that`s bad for her.
MATTHEWS: OK. If she runs against Bernie Sanders and Webb and Martin
O`Malley, you think it is very important for her to go left.
GEARAN: It is important for that --
GEARAN: And it`s also important because she has got to piece together some
version of the Obama coalition.
GEARAN: And each one of these issues speaks to some different part of that
FINEMAN: And I think, as Anne reported, and as John Podesta said they have
got to get the millennials excited. Social issues, climate change, that
kind of thing, and they will tack left on the theory that it`s not going to
kill them in the general election. On that issue, it won`t kill them in
the general election.
MATTHEWS: There`s one thing missing in this thinking. And it may be
because of who she is as a person. The key was Obama coalition was
opposition to the Iraq War. Hillary Clinton is not credible on that. She
voted for it and she still comes across as a hawk.
FINEMAN: That is not the number one issue, Chris.
FINEMAN: The young people, first of all, the youngest of the millennials,
if you believe the polls, foreign policy isn`t even on their radar screen
right now. They don`t feel threatened. Paradoxically, they don`t feel
threatened. That`s not the number one issue with them. It`s not.
GEARAN: And there is no other external issue that is a driver.
FINEMAN: Climate change -- by the way, climate change is a lot bigger deal
for the youngest millennials than terrorism is.
MATTHEWS: Can I break it to you? It is with me.
FINEMAN: I know.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Howard Fineman. I can talk softly with my friend.
Howard Fineman, Anne Gearan, great front-page story. Stirs a lot of
Up next, character, which of the 2016 presidential candidates have it --
has it and which ones don`t? David Brooks of "The New York Times" joins us
on his great new book, "The Road to Character."
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It is currently a "New York Times" bestseller, "The Road to Character," by
"New York Times" columnist David Brooks. In it, he says the big me
generation needs more honesty and humility. Brooks explores the lives of
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, social activist Dorothy Day and Five-Star
General and Secretary of State George C. Marshall, and how life`s stumbles
can ultimately be the building blocks of personal success.
David Brooks joins us now from Los Angeles.
David, I was especially taken by Ike. And, in fact, what I always like
about Ike -- and I want to know if this is what you think of it his
character, from reading the book. Character is constancy and sticking to
what you really believe no matter how much the wind blows against you. And
Ike didn`t take us into Indochina in `54. He didn`t take us into Suez in
`56. And he didn`t go along with the clamor for more weaponry in the late
`50s. He fought against the industrial -- military industrial complex
being pushed by Kennedy, Jack Kennedy, and Rockefeller.
He was constant in his character. Tell me about your views as you have
shaped the book.
DAVID BROOKS, AUTHOR, "THE ROAD TO CHARACTER": Yes, well, I would say that
that constancy started from the fact that he had an inner core that was
even below politics.
He had a problem with -- we think of him as this garrulous country club
guy. But at night during the war when he was president, he was up nights,
anxiety attacks, blood pressure spiking. He was a hater. He was filled
with anger and anxiety. But he knew he couldn`t rule from a position of
anger and anxiety. He had to project cheerful confidence to do the job.
And so he defeated himself; he defeated his own anger; he defeated his own
And he created a persona which was steady and constant. And that inner
constancy led to a policy which was balanced and moderate and not
MATTHEWS: You write in your book about how Dwight Eisenhower`s mother,
Ida, taught him to tame his feelings. You write in that Eisenhower chapter
-- quote -- "Individuals are strong, but they`re not self-sufficient. To
defeat sin, you need help from the outside."
So let me ask you about Marshall, because you know, the guys who got credit
for winning the war against the Nazis, of course Ike got it in Europe, and
of course Zhukov on the other side, the Red Army side. But Marshall was
this guy who was held back in Washington by FDR and he did the staff work
and he made it all work.
BROOKS: Yes. He was the organizer of victory, as they called him.
And he decided that he was ambitious, but he was going to combat that
ambitiousness by never putting himself above the cause of the Army. So in
1943 or so, Roosevelt says would you like to run Operation Overlord, the D-
Day invasion? And Marshall would have loved to have done it. It would
have been a great command.
But, instead, he had this code for himself. And the code was, I will never
put myself above. And so he said my own personal ambitions should have no
bearing on your decision. You do what`s best for you, what is best for the
country. Roosevelt asked him four times. Four times, Marshall says, it is
not about me. It`s about you.
And Roosevelt obviously took the chance to give the job to Eisenhower. But
that`s what made Marshall who he was. He was probably the most admired
person, not only people who didn`t know him far away, but people who knew
him up close.
BROOKS: There`s a great scene where he is dying, he`s in his 80s.
Churchill comes to see him. He sees Marshall shrunk down. And Churchill
is the hospital door just weeping, because this great big powerful man has
been shrunk down. But that`s the reverence people had for him.
MATTHEWS: Good for you to write that.
Last week, you said this about Jeb Bush, by the way, and his dizzying
stumbling over the Iraq War. Here`s your -- what you said --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PBS NEWSHOUR")
BROOKS: Well, I sort admire him personally, a little fraternal loyalty
there. And I`m sure he was torn on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So what`s character when you`re a brother of a president and
you`re a son of a president and people have a hunch about you?
My hunch about Jeb was always he was more his father`s son than his
brother`s brother. But apparently the way he`s been sort of walking this
out, his view of the Iraq War experience, that he`s much more close to his
sibling. How do you do that? How do you look at a character there, not
just political positioning, and how those go together, those two?
BROOKS: I think what you have to do, and what we look for in politicians,
is there something they won`t sacrifice for their career?
I have a friend who hires a lot of people. And one of the things he asked
in every job interview is, name a time you told the truth and it hurt you.
BROOKS: And he wants to see they can put their character above their
professionalism. And that`s something frankly I look for in politicians.
Chris, you and I, look, talk to a lot of politicians. The problem is, they
get so into the public and the public campaign, every meeting is about
them, they`re the product they`re selling, they get hollowed out inside.
And if we have our next president someone who is hollowed out inside, they
will just tack with the wind, they will do whatever seems convenient at the
moment. And the long commitments will just vanish away.
And so that`s the thing I look for over this campaign.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I love that scene in "Man for All Seasons" where Thomas
More said to his buddy who wasn`t sticking with him, where is the you in
you? Where is the part that doesn`t go with the wind, the part that --
BROOKS: Yes. One of my favorite characters is Frances Perkins, who was
secretary of labor under Roosevelt.
BROOKS: She saw a fire, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
BROOKS: She watched hundreds of people die. And she spent the next 50
years of her life with a long obedience to the same director, worker
safety, worker safety. She organized The New Deal. And she did that. And
she could have lost everything, she was not going to compromise on the core
MATTHEWS: Well, we need those profiles in courage. Thanks so much.
"The Road to Character," it always sells. Your books always do well. This
one is doing great, well, as it should. David Brooks, thanks for joining
BROOKS: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next, after that famously controversial "Sopranos" ending, of
course, the hottest show today, "Mad Men," goes out on top. It really was
on top last night. Everyone has an opinion on what happened last night,
especially in the last few seconds.
The roundtable, a Hollywood roundtable joins us next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC
Authorities found no evidence of gunshot damage to the train that derailed
near Philadelphia, but they have not ruled out an object hitting that
train; 170 people remain in custody in Waco, Texas, following a brawl
between biker gangs that left nine people dead. Bond is set at $1 million
President Obama traveled to Camden, New Jersey, and praised its community
policing. He announced a ban on transferring certain military equipment to
police, saying it can -- quote -- "alienate and intimidate residents" --
now back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MAD MEN")
ELISABETH MOSS, ACTRESS: Don, listen to me. What did you ever do that was
JON HAMM, ACTOR: I broke all my vows. I scandalized my child. Took
another man`s name and made nothing of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Don Draper confessing his sins in last night`s series finale of
"Mad Men." The episode is actually stirring a lot of conversation
everywhere today. "Mad Men" offered a kaleidoscopic finale. Let`s watch a
bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New day. New ideas. A new you. Oohm!
CROWD (singing): I would like to buy the world a home and furnish it with
love, grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves, I`d like
to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I`d like to buy the world a
Coke and keep it company --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, did Don Draper lose everything only to discover his gift?
And one of the greatest bits of advertising genius of the 20th century?
Richard Sommer played Harry Crane on "Mad Men." He`s here. It`s great to
Bryan Batt played Sal Romano. Sal, we love you, buddy.
Ted Johnson, editor of "Variety," and Autumn Brewington is the editor at
"The Wall Street Journal."
OK. I`m Catholic. What I found in the movie was a period of confession to
Peggy, the one person he really had a commitment to. He valued. Looked up
to him and he offered up his sins for the first time in the show. He
messed around on his wife. Ruined relationships, covered up who he was,
hadn`t made much of himself morally in his life.
He made a confession, out of that came this absolution, and to me his
recovery and a comical sense, he went back to commercializing even the
crazy thing going on the left coast in those days.
AUTUMN BREWINGTON, WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITOR: I think "Mad Men" talked to
us about things that were material and things that are meaningful. And
ultimately, what we see from Don is that what is material is meaningful.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, that`s a thought.
Let me go -- let me got to Brian on that. Brian, my friend, you
disappeared in a phone booth down in the Village somewhere. We were all
worried about you. What`s happened to Sal, the poor guy?
BRYAN BATT, ACTOR, "MAD MEN": Who knows? I would like to think Sal doing
OK down in the Village.
MATTHEWS: So, what do you think about this -- my Catholic theory on this
whole thing that this confession, and there`s kind of an absolution, and
there`s sort of commercialized the whole damn thing and makes some money
off of it?
BATT: I think you might have a point. I saw the episode. I`m filming a
new series, "Scream." I was rushing from the set to watch the finale else
and I was really taken back because I was expecting something completely
different. So, in "Mad Men" was so dark and this had so much hope in it.
I love when Don had the great scene when he was hugging that man that was
breaking down. You could see he was really empathizing with him. But then
last twist. Somehow, because Peggy gives that little germ, don`t you want
to work on Coca-Cola? Then the next thing, that impish grin, that knowing
grin that only Don can do.
BATT: Then you that song. Oh, he`s back. That`s what I felt. That`s
what I felt.
You know, so brilliantly matches and manipulates his audience. And what
you think is going to happen doesn`t happen. I just loved it.
MATTHEWS: Well, Rich, here`s a scene from your character. Harry Crane.
Here he is, plus the final scene between Pete and Peggy. Let`s watch it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICH SOMMER, ACTOR: Let`s go. I`m starving.
VINCENT KARTHEISER, ACTOR: She`s not coming. She has work to do.
SOMMER: Don`t do that. Do you know who I was supposed to have lunch with?
ELISABETH MOSS, ACTRES: Someone important.
SOMMER: Doesn`t mean anything mean anything to you?
KARTHEISER: Here. This will hold you over. I`ll meet you by the
MOSS: He acts like we`re the three musketeers. We`ve never had lunch. I
just wanted to say that I`m very happy for you. And everyone will miss you
who doesn`t hate you for getting that big job.
KARTHEISER: You`re doing fine. Keep it up. You`ll be a creative director
MOSS: God, that sounds like a long time.
KARTHEISER: I`m telling you. It will happen. They have to get used to
the idea. Someday people will brag that they worked with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Unbelievable. There are moments like that, where I just I`m
overwhelmed where I say how can this guy who has been such a dink all
through it for six years come through as the wonderful comment he can give
to somebody. Someday, people are going to talk about having worked with
you, to a woman who had always been insecure about her creative ability.
RICH SOMMER, ACTOR, "MAD MEN": You know, I think often about the opposite
trajectories that Harry and Pete had. Harry started as this nice sort of
relatable guy and ended where he ended in that quote that whack and mild
cigarillo, and Pete starting as the villain and ending as the most
magnanimous guy perhaps in the finale at all.
And I think it was -- it was just fun to watch that journey. That Vincent
created with Matt on Pete.
MATTHEWS: Yes, how about your guy? Because you were Mr. Television, you
were like Fred Friendly. You`re introducing everybody. You`re saying I
bring in half the money in this company. Why don`t I get any respect?
You`re the new guy. The new talent really.
SOMMER: Well, he was the new guy but he was the only one who knew anybody
else. He knew that he could let it swing in that office because they
couldn`t get rid of him. He was the guy with the contacts.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I thought you`re also the guy with the computer, the big
computer that you brought in.
Let me to go Ted Johnson before I wrap this up.
Ted, some people find happiness in work. I certainly do when I come to
work every morning. I`m very lucky to have this position in life. And I
think Don gets happiness in work, Peggy gets happiness in work, Joan found
happiness in work. And others, Betty was never into work really outside
the home. And then Roger ends up having fun in fun. His happiness is in
happiness in a French restaurant with an older woman his age.
It`s so interesting. Some people need work and love it. Some people need
something else. I love that.
TED JOHNSON, VARIETY: I think that`s one of the gifts of this show. Is
that you had this fun loving atmosphere on top of some serious life issues
that it dealt with week after week. And I think that is what really drew
people to it. It was the interweaving of these characters in their lives.
Their work lives and their personal lives.
But at its heart, as we saw with the finale, this show was a show about
advertising. And it ends with that Coke ad. I just thought it was kind of
genius because here you had Don Draper, you had the hope of a new and
improved Don Draper. But in the end, he proved to be at his heart a
huckster, who was not above taking part of a new age movement and use it
against to market the soda pop.
MATTHEWS: You know, when I was in the Peace Corps, we listened to Coke
ads. And one of them was in Zulu. So, (INAUDIBLE). So, it went al around
the world. Things get better with Coke if you don`t know Zulu.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.
And up next, what did "Mad Men" say about our time? We`ll talk about
gender issues. You`re going to have to carry the (INAUDIBLE)
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Chris Christie is out there. He`s still pushing the possibility
of running for president. He`s up in New Hampshire today where he gave a
speech about foreign policy and questioned President Obama`s leadership on
global issues like the rise of ISIS, Russia`s belligerence and what he
called the Iranian menace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: All these things are happening
because American power is in retreat and we backed away from the principles
that made us the source of strength and stability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Christie also broke with Rand Paul, calling for a full
extension of the Patriot Act. He said, when it comes to fighting
terrorism, our government is not the enemy.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Let`s talk about these characters on "Mad Men," because it seems like Joan
and Peggy, the two great women. Tell me about Joan because she never until
the end used her last name until she had her own company it seemed.
BREWINGTON: That`s true. She was a very smart woman who felt all along.
She had to use every asset to her disposal. And, you know, by the end of
the show, we saw her realizing that she was happy working. She could have
retired. She could have gone off --
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) in those days. That`s part of her deal.
BREWINGTON: Yes. And she had a man. And she realized that --
MATTHEWS: What about Peggy? Peggy seemed like somebody, no matter how
confident, and actually brilliant she is portrayed to be as a copywriter,
she wanted approval of men still.
BREWINGTON: She did. She grew up on the show and she was very smart and
she was hardworking. But ultimately, she needed a relationship to be
satisfied in life.
MATTHEWS: Rich, tell me about dealing with women on the show. When you`re
playing this part, you were playing it in the last `60s, early `70s.
You`re rougher than a guy would be today I would think, in dealing with
relationships in an office place. You`re thinking?
SOMMER: Well, I hope so, for sure.
I know times I was most accosted on the streets. People had a lot to say
about them all the time on the street. But the most accosted I never got
was when Harry didn`t hire Joan back in season two or so when he first
started the TV department. And Joan read scripts for him and she was
smart, and she had good ideas, and he said, wow, you`re right. I do need
someone to help me in this and then he hired a man and --
MATTHEWS: Just because it had to be a man?
MATTHEWS: Just because it had to be a man.
Sal, my friend, in the age when nobody was out. Nobody was out. You had
to play a sort of macho Sinatra type character, for all those episodes,
over the top, heterosexual enthusiasm at every -- like you`re saying, va va
voom, every time you saw a woman. What was it like to play that character,
that a gay guy has had to play back then apparently in the `60s?
BATT: You know, everybody at some point in their life has to pretend to
fit in in some way, shape or form. And he had to do it to survive. So,
yes, when guys were making jokes about gals and all that stuff, he had to
play along in a big way to keep his job. Back then, you can be fired for
being gay and guess what, you still can be. So, we have a long way --
we`ve come a long way but we have a long way to go for equality in this
MATTHEWS: How about Don who was with you in the sense he helped you keep
your private life to yourself after the fire in the hotel. And next, just
when you think he`s going to be a good guy. Don does it again. He comes
out -- he accuses you, assumes you`re promiscuous.
BATT: Yes, but it was also in conjunction with a client. So, his hands
were kind of tied. It wasn`t all on Don. I`m going to pass on that one.
BATT: But, you know, that`s how things would have happened back then.
And, unfortunately, like I said, they can still happen that way now.
That`s what I love about the show. It held a mirror up to the country and
said look how far we have to come and have to go.
MATTHEWS: OK. Ted, back to you -- one of the heroes of the show is young
Sally Draper. I mean, of all the characters that come out that just blow
you away. This young girl still in prep school, boarding school. Looks
like she`s going to be the rock of her family, with her mother dying of
And it`s not like a soup, it`s real. Her beautiful mother with all her
vanity is trying to hang in there. And daughter comes in and takes over --
JOHNSON: I think what`s amazing is the transformation of Sally Draper and
how she adopts to a very tough domestic life. I think it`s a testament the
actress who plays here. I mean, it`s not an easy role. She grew up on
I think that is -- she`s a stand-out performance. I think we have to watch
her in the future definitely. But also, I love how this final episode
ended, because it was on this hopeful note that Sally Draper, her two
brothers were going to make sure things were OK for them.
MATTHEWS: What a night for all of us.
Thank you, Rich Sommer. Thank you, Bryan Batt, for being part of this
wonderful American event. Ted Johnson and Autumn Brewington, thank you as
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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