Guests: Dee Dee Myers, Jack Kemp, Arlen Specter, Evan Bayh, Peter Turnley
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The day after Labor Day, and it‘s back to school, back to work, back to Congress. And the presidential candidates are back to the campaign and what promises to be eight weeks of hell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think this whole thing does come down to one letter. George W. Bush. “W” stands for wrong -- wrong directions, wrong choices. And it‘s time to put it right.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No matter how many times Senator Kerry flip-flops, we were right to make America safer by removing Saddam Hussein from power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And the U.S. military death toll in Iraq reach a somber milestone, 1,000 American soldiers dead. Plus, we‘re going to talk about the upcoming legislation based on the recommendations of the 9/11 commission with Senators Arlen Spector and Evan Bayh.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Fifty-six days to go before election day, and President Bush is enjoying a bounce in new polls taken after the Republican convention. According to the new Gallup poll, President Bush now leads Senator Kerry by seven points, 52 to 45. Before the convention, the president‘s lead was 3. And according to the newest Zogby poll, President Bush leads by 2 points, 46 to 44. That‘s a switch from before the Republican convention, when Kerry led 48 to 43.
We‘re joined right now by former Republican vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp, Dee Dee Myers, who served as President Clinton‘s press secretary, and MSNBC contributor, Mike Barnicle, who‘s a columnist for “The Boston Herald.”
Let me start with Jack Kemp. Congressman Kemp, almost vice president Kemp, what do you make of that lead? Is that about right, somewhere—in a spread now of somewhere between 7 and 4 for the Republican candidates?
JACK KEMP ®, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no way of knowing. I put a lot of trust in the Zogby poll. He‘s done a lot of good work over the last 10 or 15 years. But the real question is, where is the Electoral College? What are the battleground states? What is happening in those states which have so much of an impact on the Electoral College vote?
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Mike Barnicle on this. It looks like, if you go with the Zogby, it‘s a 4-point spread. Does that sound more realistic to you than the double points—the double-digit points we were seeing right after the convention?
MIKE BARNICLE, “BOSTON HERALD,” MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, Chris. Actually, the double-digit leads sound more realistic to me. I am amazed that in the space of four short weeks, the Republicans have managed to make John Kerry the issue in a campaign year when we are approaching 1,000 deaths in Iraq, when people are very anxious about the war in Iraq and even more anxious about the economy here at home and he‘s the issue. What‘s up with that?
MATTHEWS: What‘s up with Massachusetts being the best training ground for politics in America?
BARNICLE: Overrated. Always has been overrated. You know that.
MATTHEWS: Well, how many time can it be overrated before it‘s stupid to believe it?
BARNICLE: Well, how many times are we going to have to hear the silly phrase that John Kerry is a great closer? You know, it‘s getting to the point where even if he is the best closer in the history of closings, it‘s going to be too late for him. The debates might end up being too late for him. I figure he‘s got about 10 days to get this thing on track.
MATTHEWS: Do you mean that‘s as bad as saying he‘s Irish?
MATTHEWS: Another belief system for a while there. Let‘s go to Dee Dee Myers. It looks like the numbers are close here among the most recent voting here, the most recent—these are likely voters, Dee Dee. These are pretty good screens.
DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right.
MATTHEWS: Four points in the Gallup and seven in the Zogby. Average it out to about five or six. Does that sound right to you for the president‘s party?
MYERS: Yes, it definitely feels like President Bush got bounced out of his convention, a bounce out of the entire month of August. They‘ve been incredibly focused. They managed, mostly through their convention, to turn this into a campaign that was not only referendum on John Kerry, as Mike Barnicle just said, but also a referendum on the war on terrorism. Either you‘re against terrorists and for President Bush, or you‘re not.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s an old rule of California Republican politics, Jack Kemp, that said that voters can only think about three things when they go into the voting booth. Make sure they‘re all about your opponent and they‘re all negative. Well, look at the chock-full list now we got on Kerry. He‘s indecisive. That‘s an easy sell right now. He‘s unreliable in war, in anti-war protesting and in Senate voting. And three, he‘s an elitist snob. They‘ve pushed all three pretty effectively, and it seems to me he has to now fight his way out of those three perceptions, doesn‘t he?
KEMP: Yes. Yes, Mike is right. He put himself in a bind, though, right from the start. Bob Dole, I think it was on another network, when he said—Senator Dole said he told John Kerry not to go there. When Kerry came out and saluted and said, Reporting for service and made Vietnam his raison d‘etre for being the commander-in-chief, he put himself in the position of having the laser-light focus of both the Republican Party, frankly, as well as all the veterans who were opposed to the things he said after the war. It‘s not what he did in the war. He is a hero.
KEMP: But it‘s his judgment after the war.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask Dee Dee about these three charges against Kerry which have been consistently made for months now, not just in August, that he‘s indecisive, he voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it, he was for the war and the resolution, against supplying the troops, that he‘s unreliable because there are so many questions raised about his war service, questions—attacks about his anti-war testimony in the Senate in 1971, and the fact that he just seems so damn aloof.
MYERS: Yes. I think you‘re right. Those have all been effective attacks against Senator Kerry. He hasn‘t done as good a job as he should have or needed to in rebutting them. I don‘t think it helps to see pictures of him wind surfing. I mean, why not a game of pick-up basketball someplace?
MYERS: I mean, he does play other sports that actually involve other people at times. So...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Hockey.
MYERS: Yes. Hockey. I mean, we saw a little bit of that a year ago, but maybe—I don‘t know, maybe when the weather turns cold in December, it might be a little late by then. But look, I think...
MATTHEWS: Dee Dee, you‘re so good. How about half-ball on a—how about half-ball on a stick in South Philly?
MYERS: Yes. There you go!
MYERS: There you go. But listen, I don‘t think it‘s too late for him to—I mean, he may have trouble completely refuting some of those attacks, but it‘s not too late for him to have a more consistent line on Iraq, why he voted the way did he, and then to be able to pivot off that and talk about, we spent $200 billion on this war, $200 billion...
MYERS: ... that‘s not being spent on health care or job creation or protecting the environment...
MYERS: ... other things people care about. You know, why is George Bush getting a free ride on this? Kerry needs to both be more aggressive, as he is the last two days, going after the Bush record, and then pivot and talk about where he want to take the country.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, let me give you an idea of—Mike, here‘s my theory. You can‘t go at him directly on the war right now because so many people have lost kids in this war right now. They don‘t want to hear it‘s a bad idea right now. But they do want to—are open to, as they always are—you don‘t have to be Michael Moore to believe this—that the government is capable of lying to you. Hit him on the fact that Medicare premiums have gone up. He said everything was going swimmingly at the convention. Hit him on the fact that these new jobs in Ohio and places like that are 7 bucks an hour. They‘re not the jobs that were lost out there a couple years ago in the recession. Hit on the fact that the tax cut goes to the top 1 percent. Hit him on the fact that all the estimates are that the middle class has lost out on the tax cut and the economy‘s unevenly recovering.
Why don‘t they go—I‘d open him up like a tuna—a can of tuna fish. I‘d systematically find the weak point and then sear off the top of that can. Then I‘d hit him on misleading us weapons of mass destruction. It looked to me like today and yesterday that Kerry‘s out there trying to win the—trying to hit a home run before he hits a single.
BARNICLE: Chris, that‘s great. You can do it. He can‘t. One of his problems—and you would understand this as a Holy Cross graduate and connoisseur of language—the difference between listening to John Kerry and listening to George Bush is the difference between reading Elmore Leonard and James Joyce. The language of his campaign is so lame that he can‘t connect. He has not yet connected with the American voter. You listen to the president of the United States, whether you agree or disagree with Iraq, his language is directly—the direction of his language is direct.
On Iraq, sure, it‘d be great if John Kerry could go to Medicare, unemployment. Things that truly concern the average American family, concerns me. But I think right now, he‘s got to get there through Iraq because what we‘ve seen in the past month is, through the—through the swift boat advertisements, that‘s a blood libel on a fellow, a fellow decorated in Vietnam. And if he can‘t stand up and rebut that himself, a blood libel, how can he get to really hammering the president on the issue?
MATTHEWS: Jack, does he have to start there, with the profound issue of terrorism and how valiant he was in service?
KEMP: Well, he‘s got to—he‘s got to rebut, as Mike said, the charges of the swift boat veterans. But look, the economy is—we have problems, and the abound (ph). But the economy—unemployment rate is 5.4 percent? It‘s going down. More people are working today than ever before in the history of the country. Real after-tax wages are up, albeit not as much as Jack Kemp would want or Chris Matthews or anybody else would want. But the economy is on the right track, albeit with more things left to be done.
And when Bush in his speech talked about expanding an ownership society—owning your own job, owning your own education, owning your own retirement account, owning your own health savings account, he has touched on something that takes the Republican Party, at least, back to the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, ownership, the Homesteading Act, 40 acres of land that you own. So it seems to me that he‘s hit upon a very good future for the American people, particularly poorer Americans.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘ll see about those wages are coming back. According to the latest Gallup poll, 51 percent, an absolute majority, say the biggest issue is not the economy, it‘s terrorism and Iraq.
Coming up, the latest campaign ads in the presidential race. We‘re coming back with Jack Kemp, Dee Dee Myers and Mike Barnicle.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re back with Jack Kemp, Dee Dee Myers and Mike Barnicle.
And with eight weeks until the election, the thunder of the campaign and the ad war is getting louder. Both President Bush and Senator Kerry have released new, even harder-hitting ads. HARDBALL election correspondent David Shuster join us now with more.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL ELECTION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, this is the time when both campaigns are pouring it on, hoping that their newest ads will break through and resonate with those voters who may be just beginning to pay attention to this election.
(voice-over): The latest campaign charge from John Kerry is that President Bush says one thing and does another. And so Kerry‘s newest television ad relies on part of the president‘s convention speech, a speech watched by 27 million people.
BUSH: I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor America‘s seniors. Now seniors are getting immediate help.
ANNOUNCER: The very next day, George Bush imposes the biggest Medicare premium increase in history, while prescription drug costs still skyrocket. The wrong direction for America.
SHUSTER: The administration did unveil a 17 percent premium increase the day after the Republican convention, and with the media and most seniors in Florida focused on Hurricane Frances. But by law, the premiums are set by the Department of Health and Human Services without any White House involvement. And to suggest President Bush imposed the increase is misleading, though it was arguably misleading for Mr. Bush to suggest Medicare was fine the night before a premium increase.
Nonetheless, the Kerry ad strategy has become far more aggressive. On Tuesday, to dovetail with his comments this week about Iraq...
KERRY: It‘s the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time!
SHUSTER: ... Kerry plans to release an ad charging President Bush with misleading the nation.
For his part, the president‘s latest campaign ad also focuses on health care and a second-term agenda.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allow small businesses to band together to get insurance rates big companies get.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tax-free health savings accounts families own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.
SHUSTER: The problem for President Bush is that he had much of the same agenda four years ago. And despite Republican control of the White House and Congress, these initiatives have gone nowhere.
Meanwhile, another Bush ad is hammering John Kerry‘s record on taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He voted to raise taxes on Social Security benefits -- 98 votes for tax increases.
SHUSTER: But an independent ad watch group says the Bush numbers are wrong. The Annenberg Public Policy Center says 43 of the Kerry votes actually would not have increased taxes because the votes were for budget bills.
While both the Bush and Kerry campaigns are in the midst of spending $5 million each this week on their own ads, some independent groups are in the fray, as well. And tomorrow a Democratic group will unveil an ad featuring a former lieutenant colonel in the Alabama National Guard who will claim that he looked for a young man who was supposed to be there in 1972 and was not, a young man named George W. Bush. The Democratic group is called Texans for Truth.
And Chris, as you know, that‘s a take-off from the Swift Boat Veterans for Group, the group that was taking out ads against John Kerry—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, David Shuster.
We‘re back with Jack Kemp, Dee Dee Myers and Mike Barnicle. Here‘s some personal attacks. These aren‘t done for video, these are actual statements made today by the vice president and a return response from John Edwards, the senator from North Carolina who‘s running as vice president.
This is what Dick Cheney, the vice president of the United States, said today about the possibility of the election of John Kerry as president. “It‘s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2, we make the right choice because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we‘ll get hit again and we‘ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.” In other words, we‘ll have another 9/11 if you vote the wrong way. That‘s the danger.
Here‘s John Edwards‘s response. “Dick Cheney‘s”—notice he doesn‘t say the vice president. “Dick Cheney‘s scare tactics today crossed the line. What he said to the American people was, If we go to the—if you go to the polls in November and elect anyone other than us, and another terrorist attack occurs, it‘s your fault. This is un-American.”
MATTHEWS: Does this—this is really—this is more than spitballs here.
BARNICLE: Oh, that‘s—yes.
MATTHEWS: This is serious business.
MATTHEWS: And we‘re accusing the guy of starting a—if you put the other guy in, we got a war on our hands.
BARNICLE: It would seem to me that with the new team of advisers and preppers or whatever coming on to the Kerry plane, Dick Cheney just would seem to me would be an inviting target off of what he said today. I could see a candidate like John Kerry, or John Edwards, having a town hall meeting in a small town in Ohio or Michigan or Wisconsin, someplace where a member of the police force or the fire department had been taken from the home town and the National Guard and was over in Iraq, or God forbid, someone had died, and raised the question with Dick Cheney‘s face up on a slideshow behind them, saying, I bet this person who was either dead or in Iraq would have loved to have had one of the five deferments that Dick Cheney got to get out of the last war.
But they won‘t do it.
MATTHEWS: Dee Dee—I know. They‘re not ready. Why won‘t they do it? Quickly. Why won‘t they fight?
BARNICLE: I don‘t think—I think they got lulled into thinking they had this thing won about four weeks ago, and they haven‘t been dope-slapped back into reality yet.
MATTHEWS: Well, speaking of bad intelligence, huh?
KEMP: They already accused Dick Cheney of taking those five deferments. After the president‘s speech on Thursday night, John Kerry went out to Springfield, Ohio—I think it was Springfield, Ohio—and gave a speech attacking Dick Cheney. Now, I think what Dick Cheney meant to say is that we are safer today, and I think that‘s a legitimate argument.
MATTHEWS: That‘s not what he said.
KEMP: He‘s saying—no, no. I‘m saying it‘s what he meant to say.
MATTHEWS: He‘s saying we won‘t get hit again...
MATTHEWS: He‘s saying we won‘t get hit again if they win again.
KEMP: I don‘t agree with that.
MATTHEWS: Dee Dee, how can promise the American people...
MATTHEWS: ... that you‘ll only get hit if the Democrats win?
MYERS: Well, you can‘t. I mean, it‘s complete—you know, it‘s hyperbolic. It‘s pretty bad. But I disagree with Mike that going after Dick Cheney‘s failure—whatever, his five deferments from 30 years ago is not the way that John Kerry‘s going to win this. People don‘t want to fight about Cheney‘s past.
MYERS: A lot of people already know that.
MYERS: What they want is somebody who‘s going to tell them how they‘re going to—he‘s going to make their lives better.
BARNICLE: It‘s about the future.
MYERS: It‘s about the future. And President Bush isn‘t really talking about it. He‘s talking a little bit. As Secretary Jack Kemp—you forgot that title—Secretary Kemp pointed out, the ownership theme I think is powerful. But I think John Kerry, if he could make it, has a more powerful argument to make.
BARNICLE: Yes, but is it not outrageous, what the vice president said...
MYERS: It‘s unbelievable.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you...
MYERS: And I think he should focus on that, but not on the war records from 30 years ago. That‘s a loser for Kerry. He needs to defend himself, Mike, you‘re right.
BARNICLE: I‘m easy. I‘ll go with you, Dee Dee.
MYERS: That‘s what I like about you.
MATTHEWS: Dee Dee, let me ask you a question, and a human interest here, as well as political. How‘s the president doing, the former president, Bill Clinton? And what role do you think he‘ll play between now and November 2?
MYERS: Who‘s that to?
MYERS: Oh, sorry. Gosh, I think, you know, the—I don‘t know who‘s more upset, John Kerry or Bill Clinton, that Bill Clinton‘s going to be off the campaign trail for the next four or five weeks, at least. He thinks he‘ll be back in three or four weeks. That‘s probably a bit optimistic. But as we can see, as long as Bill Clinton has got enough strength to talk on the phone, he‘s going to have a role in this campaign.
MATTHEWS: Ha! You‘re right! You‘re right.
MYERS: And that‘ll be, what, a day or two from now?
MATTHEWS: Jack, I expect a Lazarus-like recovery. And when he hits South Florida, hits Philadelphia, and does something in North Philly or something in Cleveland, look out. It‘ll certainly be the most rousing moment of the campaign.
KEMP: Bill Clinton on the campaign trail will totally subliminate the message of John Kerry. John Kerry won‘t get any attention.
MYERS: That‘s what Republicans said about the convention. Everyone said, Oh...
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s going to be like...
MYERS: ... Bill Clinton‘s going to...
MATTHEWS: I mean, I think it‘s going to be like Ike and Nixon back in ‘60. I think he‘s going to be gangbusters. We‘ll talk about that. I think Bill Clinton coming back from this very dangerous or tricky surgery is going to be more devastating as an ally than if he had never had this heart problem. That‘s—we‘re getting too political here, but I mean that.
Anyway, Dee Dee Myers, stick with us. Mike Barnicle and Jack Kemp, stick with us. By the way, you have a lot of titles, sir, Mr. Secretary.
MATTHEWS: And later: Will any of the changes suggested by the 9/11 commission be actually adopted by the government? I‘ll ask Senators Evan Bayh and Arlen Specter, who are proposing all the elements in the plan to be executed into law.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Jack Kemp, Dee Dee Myers and Mike Barnicle.
Mike, we‘re at the ridicule stage of the campaign. And the president is brilliant at it. He dusted off John Kerry the other day, as well as FDR dusted off Tom Dewey with his dog, Falla (ph), in that speech. He said he‘s changed his mind again. Now he says we shouldn‘t have gone to war. It‘s working, isn‘t it, that ridicule.
BARNICLE: Oh, yes. It is. It is, Chris. You can see it. I was surprised in New York that when the presidential motorcade left the Garden and came down 34th Street through Herald Square, where you were, that John Kerry wasn‘t tied across the hood of the presidential limousine...
BARNICLE: ... like a deer up in Vermont. I mean, he—they just gutted him one side and down the other. And the ridicule does work, especially from George W. Bush because he has that kind of appeal, I think, to people.
BARNICLE: People look at him, say, He‘s a regular guy. He‘s speaking regular language. And that‘s kind of funny, what he said about Kerry. And John Kerry trying to be funny is a little disconcerting.
MATTHEWS: I remember I was walking somewhere with him, Dee Dee, one time during the—we were at a town meeting with him out in Albuquerque, the president. And I said something about Gore, and he said, yes, he‘s a beaut, ain‘t he?
MATTHEWS: It‘s the way he talks, like, He‘s a beaut, ain‘t he, is like the way people talk!
MYERS: Right. And so sometimes I think people are so comfortable with the way he says things that they forget to listen to what he says.
MYERS: and I think...
MYERS: ... that really redounds...
MATTHEWS: ... the problem, isn‘t it!
MYERS: ... to Kerry‘s detriment. What‘s that?
MATTHEWS: That‘s called salesmanship.
MYERS: Yes, it is, and he‘s a terrific salesman. I think people underestimated him four years ago. And we‘ll see what expectations are for him going into the debate. You know, everybody around here knows that George Bush is no pushover, that he‘s a very good debater for exactly this reason. He talks regular talk, and he can make fun of you without ever laying a glove on you, exactly.
MYERS: So—or without looking like he‘s hurting you. And I think Kerry, you know, has the Gore problem. He looks arrogant. He can talk in language that...
MYERS: ... you know, most regular people haven‘t heard.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to a—I‘m sorry. Let me—I only have a second. Let me go to a great salesman, you, Jack, because you can sell the Republican argument, entrepreneurialism and tax cuts, better than anybody. What do you make of this new line, W. stands for wrong?
KEMP: Oh, it‘s lame.
MATTHEWS: It‘s high school, isn‘t it?
KEMP: It‘s totally lame. It‘s like...
MATTHEWS: What could it possibly mean?
KEMP: It‘s like the national Democratic candidate who walked into a bar in Lackawanna, New York, the toughest steel working town in America, or one of them, and ordered a Chardonnay.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I think that was Sarge Shriver...
KEMP: Didn‘t work.
MYERS: I think it‘s OK...
MATTHEWS: ... get the point.
MYERS: I think the “W” line‘s OK.
MATTHEWS: I like this football...
KEMP: Oh, I think...
MATTHEWS: I like the wind-surfing line by Jay Leno the other night, said, Even his sports rely on wind direction.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Dee Dee Myers, Mike Barnicle, the great Jack Kemp.
Up next, Senators Evan Bayh and Arlen Specter on Congress‘s action on recommendations made by the 9/11 commission. They want to meet all the recommendations.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Congress is gearing up for a legislative stampede before the presidential election this year. And high on the agenda is fixing up the intelligence system. Today, Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, along with John McCain and Joe Lieberman, announced a bill that would implement all the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
Senator Specter and Senator Bayh are here with us right now.
The big question, Senator, national intelligence director, a counterintelligence center, why are they the solution?
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER ®, PENNSYLVANIA: Because we need to have someone in charge.
Had all of the information been under one umbrella, 9/11 could have been prevented. And, finally, the 9/11 Commission has produced enough public interest and public concern and public pressure to finally get the job done that we should have done when we enacted the Homeland Security Bill. Many of us tried. And now it is going to get done.
MATTHEWS: You ran for president once. If you were president of the United States—I‘m sure you‘ve thought this through as a senator—and you had some suspicions. You are reading the “New York Times” or “The Philadelphia Inquirer” and you see something weird about Pakistan, who do you call to check it out in the middle of the night when you want to know what‘s going on, get some dispatch? Who is your guy or your woman? Is it the national intelligence director or is it the CIA director?
SPECTER: Well, today, it‘s the CIA director. You don‘t have a national intelligence director. If we had a national intelligence director, that would be the person.
MATTHEWS: But wouldn‘t he say immediately to you, Senator Specter, I think it is a hell of a question; I don‘t know the answer; let me check with the CIA director? Wouldn‘t that be just more layers of relationship?
SPECTER: Well, no. He is in charge. And the main function he has is to drive a tough whip to make sure that the FBI and the CIA and the Department of Defense share information.
SPECTER: You have tremendous cultures of concealment there, Chris.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what I‘m getting to. Would you get the horse‘s mouth? Would you get the stuff from the horse‘s mouth if you go to a national intelligence director? He has got a nice office. He‘s at the top of the big pyramid of bureaucracy. But below him is the CIA director, who knows what‘s really going on.
SPECTER: He has got to whip him into shape. The CIA director knows what‘s going on in the CIA, but he doesn‘t know what is going on in the FBI or in the Defense Department.
SPECTER: And it is up to the national director to raise hell with them and to make sure they share the information and to make sure he has the critical information.
MATTHEWS: Who is the president‘s confidante on intelligence under the new system you recommend, the 9/11 Commission recommendations? Who would be the president‘s No. 1 confidante on intelligence matters?
SPECTER: It would be the national director. That would be—he would be or she would be the person to answer the president‘s questions.
MATTHEWS: Does that disturb you, Senator Bayh, that would be basically hearing from a guy who would have to hear from another guy on what is going on in the world?
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: The current system that we have, Chris, is very much that way.
You call the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and he says, Mr. President, I‘ll tell what you I know. But there are 13 or 14 other agencies that I‘m not really involved with. I have got to double-check with them first.
BAYH: Now we‘ll have one go-to guy, who will say, look, I‘m in charge of coordinating, setting priorities, allocating resources for the entire intelligence community, so that the president can go to one person. Today, it is too diffuse.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about military intelligence. When you talk to people who have been in the military, they talk about G-2, their intelligence officer. And you‘re out in the field. You‘re in Iraq. You‘re in Afghanistan and you are the head field guy in that command system. And every day you‘re checking with the G-2. What do you hear about the enemy? What are they up to? What do you hear about what we‘re up against here in terms of order of battle?
Would that person report to the Defense Department or would that person report to this new national intelligence director, the guy in the field, the G-2 in the field, the actual intelligence officer in a military capacity?
SPECTER: The tactical intelligence is going to stay with the Department of Defense.
SPECTER: Well, it‘s going to stay there.
MATTHEWS: So, in other words, he would report up the line.
SPECTER: He would report to the secretary of defense or the people in the Defense Department. When you have tactical intelligence, you don‘t have counterintelligence. You don‘t have an examination of the spies or an examination of the saboteurs or terrorists. You have information which is in the field.
And the 9/11 Commission and most of the recommendations have been to leave tactical intelligence with the Department of Defense.
MATTHEWS: Who would the DIA, the head of defense intelligence, who would he would report to, the defense secretary or the national intelligence director?
BAYH: Under the 9/11 Commission proposal, Chris, he is dual-hatted.
He would report to both the national
MATTHEWS: Who is the guy that can hire and fire that guy?
BAYH: The head of the Department of Defense hires him. But the national intelligence director allocates the budget to move money around. On a personnel basis, though, the secretary of defense has the ability to hire and fire.
MATTHEWS: But he could keep a guy he likes.
BAYH: Well, look, I have to say
MATTHEWS: I‘ve worked in bureaucracy. I‘m just telling you, the problem is, who is the boss?
MATTHEWS: And who is the president‘s chief adviser?
BAYH: Arlen mentioned this at the press conference today. The 9/11 Commission‘s report is excellent. It is a good starting place.
I personally think there are some things that we can improve. And I think Pat Roberts has been a little bolder on this by saying that they shouldn‘t dual-hat them. You should have the national intelligence director controlling both the budgets and the ability to hire and fire. The dual-hatting, it‘s something that we could make work, but it does make it a little fuzzier.
SPECTER: At the government affairs hearings, I said I thought the dual-hatting is not sensible. They talked about leaving the counterintelligence bureau in the FBI and have that person report both to the national intelligence director and to the director of the FBI, and I think that‘s wrong.
SPECTER: I think he ought to report just to the national intelligence director, not—I don‘t think dual-hatting will work.
MATTHEWS: Dual-hatting means you have got two bosses.
SPECTER: You are serving two masters.
BAYH: Potential for confusion.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that we can solve this in terms of reorganization, you first, Senator Bayh. Is it a reorganization challenge? Or is it—you know, you‘ve experienced—you‘ve all seen top, really good bureaucrats. In the early days before things got a little screwy, And Edgar Hoover was a hell of a bureaucrat. Joe Califano was a hell of a bureaucrat. Sargent Shriver, in a different way, a softer role perhaps.
You need a really good boss. Isn‘t that the solution? You need a Bill Casey, a real spook who is also a hell of a kick-ass bureaucrat leader? Don‘t you need some magical great person?
BAYH: Well, you got to do both.
BAYH: You have got to have not only a good person, a good leader.
You have to have a good structure for that person to operate in.
BAYH: You shouldn‘t have to choose one or the other. So the right personnel are important, but the right structure, critically, Chris, collecting more information.
BAYH: We can have the best structure and the best people in the
world, but if we‘re not collecting what we need to know to defend the
country, they won‘t be able to do their jobs
MATTHEWS: Who would have the most prestigious position, Senator Specter? Would it be CIA director, FBI director or a national intelligence director? Who would be the most impressive figure?
SPECTER: National intelligence director would be the guy. Look here, Chris. We had an FBI report out of Phoenix, a suspicious guy who wanted to fly a plane, wasn‘t interested in takeoffs or landings.
The CIA had those guys in Kuala Lumpur, didn‘t tell INS.
SPECTER: You had Moussaoui out of the Minneapolis office.
If all of this had been under one umbrella, we would have all the pieces together, and somebody saw it all and viewed it all together, there was a blueprint for 9/11.
MATTHEWS: Why did George Tenet, the CIA director, know that the morning of and say I hope it‘s not that guy taking flying lesson when he was having breakfast with David Boren, the former senator from Oklahoma, Intelligence Committee chair, and the president didn‘t know it?
SPECTER: Well, that‘s a question only George Tenet can answer.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that fascinating to you? That morning, his instincts, his synapse said, I hope it‘s not that guy. So whatever week bureaucracy we had, there was one smart guy. Unfortunately, nothing got done.
It‘s a hell of a quest. Thank you, Senators, for coming on, Senator Specter, Senator Bayh.
Coming up, Patrick J. Buchanan, longtime conservative, on why he says America‘s political right was wrong.
And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing. Just log on to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, Pat Buchanan on why he says the political right wing has gone wrong.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
MSNBC political analyst—and he‘s a lot more than that—Patrick J. Buchanan is the editor of “The American Conservative” magazine and author of the new book “Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency.”
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what happened is,
the neoconservatives who have matured and are very bright moved themselves,
Chris, into positions of real influence and power in the
MATTHEWS: Give me the list.
BUCHANAN: I would say, well, at the Pentagon, you have got Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith. They‘re the key players over there.
MATTHEWS: You‘ve got John Bolton over at State.
BUCHANAN: Bolton at State.
And outside, you have got the neoconservatives have basically captured conservative magazines, “National Review,” “Commentary,” “Weekly Standard, and “New Republic,” although that‘s more neoliberal, and the editorial page of “The Wall Street Journal” under Bob Bartley and under Gigot was very neoconservative.
MATTHEWS: How‘s a neoconservative—I mean, I think I know. Give me your definition. What is the difference between an old conservative like you and a neoconservative?
BUCHANAN: Well, one thing is, we all came out of the Goldwater movement and the Goldwater, Reagan—and the old ones go back to Bob Taft. And they‘re basically Johnson, Humphrey, liberal Democrats, Scoop Jackson, liberal Democrats, who came into the conservative movement and they were with us. And we were sort of united in the Cold War.
MATTHEWS: Fighting the communists.
BUCHANAN: Anti-communism united us.
BUCHANAN: And when the Cold War ended, some of us said, look, our war
is over. We‘re going home. And they believe that you need an outside
enemy and they believe that it is our golden opportunity to use American
power to—this is our unipolar moment, they say, to impose American views
and values on the entire world, prevent any
MATTHEWS: Why do they believe that might makes right? Why do they believe because we have the greatest military in the world, we have the right to dictate forms of government, policies, whatever, outside of our country?
BUCHANAN: They are Democratic imperialists in the sense that they
believe democracy is the ultimate form of government, Fukuyama thesis that
the whole world is going to come to embrace it and we ought to use this
MATTHEWS: That‘s what Napoleon thought.
BUCHANAN: Well, Napoleon had his own view, quite frankly, of the world. Exactly. Bring the French Revolution and its ideas to the entire world.
BUCHANAN: There‘s some of that, what Dean Acheson called messianic globaloney there.
But there‘s no doubt that is their goal. And for us who are older conservatives, we‘re with Washington and Quincy Adams. Stay out of wars that are none of our business and bring our troops home. And if our country is threatened, if our interests are threatened, if our honor is impugned, then you go strike them. It is very much—the Powell doctrine is very much a conservative policy.
MATTHEWS: Right. Well, I‘ve read it many times, but it hasn‘t been honored by this administration, has it?
BUCHANAN: Well, in Afghanistan, we did the right thing. They came after us. We went and got them. President Bush, like his father, built this tremendous alliance of everybody virtually vs. al Qaeda and succeeded.
But, in Iraq, when the president got up and said, the axis of evil speech, I heard it. I said, what are we doing? And these are awful regimes. But none of them had anything to do with 9/11. None of them wants war with us.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about a critical notion.
Maybe I picked this up in the Peace Corps. I don‘t know where I
picked it up. But I have a tremendous respect for the power of
nationalism. We were talking before we went on the air about the American
Revolution and how we showed our nationalism against the British troops,
and then the
MATTHEWS: ... troops, the greatest military power in the world, because we were willing to fight against them, our forbearers. Why do the neoconservatives not seem to recognize the power of that kind of nationalism, even when it shows its face—it shows its face in Fallujah and Najaf and places like that, where people just don‘t want us around?
BUCHANAN: It‘s not only nationalism. It is religious fundamentalism married to nationalism.
People do not want to be told how to live, even if we believe we have
got a superior idea. There are tremendous numbers of Iraqis. I‘m sure
they say, look, we really would like the Western style of life. But the
people who are willing to fight, bleed and die prefer to get us out of
there. Even in Africa—you were in Africa in the Peace Corps—quite
frankly, I think that Ian Smith ran a better government than this
MATTHEWS: Well, let me just tell you something I know about African nationalism.
The average African, if I can dare speak for him, would rather have his country run not so perfectly well, like keeping the trains on time.
MATTHEWS: He would much rather have that than have a bunch of white guys stick around to run the place.
BUCHANAN: We take our thug...
MATTHEWS: Not thug necessarily, but our guy.
BUCHANAN: Our guy who is our color, who is our race, who is our religion.
MATTHEWS: That‘s normal.
BUCHANAN: That‘s naturally normal.
MATTHEWS: Do the neoconservatives understand that we‘ll always be up against a local force, whether it‘s military, terrorist or just political, as long as we try to enforce our will on other countries? Do they get it?
BUCHANAN: Obviously, they told the president this would be a
cakewalk. We‘re coming into a rose garden. They will rise up and welcome
us with flowers. Democracy will break out in the Middle East. This is a
world—they have got 1,400 years of Islam there. And their institution
MATTHEWS: Let‘s get a fact check on you. Were you for the Iraq—for the Vietnam War?
BUCHANAN: Oh, yes, I supported Vietnam.
MATTHEWS: All the way to the end?
BUCHANAN: Yes, I supported
MATTHEWS: Well, why didn‘t you respect Vietnamese nationalism?
BUCHANAN: Well, because we were not fighting Vietnamese nationalism.
The South Vietnamese, there are a million Catholics there
BUCHANAN: ... the north. They didn‘t want communism. They fought to the end.
BUCHANAN: They lost a higher rate of casualties than the Confederacy.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you, do you think we should have gone to Iraq the first time in ‘91?
BUCHANAN: I opposed that.
BUCHANAN: For the simple reason I think in the long run...
MATTHEWS: It was a coalition.
BUCHANAN: Yes, I know it was a coalition. I opposed it because I think in the long run, Kuwait is going to be owned by Iran and Iraq. And I would prefer Iraq, because that‘s the balance of power I think we‘re going to have there eventually.
We‘re leaving the Gulf, Chris, just like the Brits left Gulf of Mexico.
MATTHEWS: Were we right to go to Iraq this time?
BUCHANAN: No, I don‘t believe so.
MATTHEWS: How is it going to turn out?
BUCHANAN: I don‘t know. I pray that Rumsfeld
MATTHEWS: We have lost 100, we have lost 1,000 people so far.
BUCHANAN: We lost 1,000 guys, 6,000 wounded. There‘s 20,000 Iraqis dead.
I hope it works out the way Rumsfeld predicts. I hope there‘s something—but I‘ll tell you, I‘m not optimistic. I think, to win, you‘re going to have to take back Fallujah and Ramadi.
MATTHEWS: Who are you going to vote for?
BUCHANAN: Who am I going to vote for?
BUCHANAN: I certainly could not vote for Kerry. I haven‘t made up my mind.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to vote for the president that has adopted this philosophy that you despise?
BUCHANAN: Well, I‘m in a red state. The president is going to carry
it. I haven‘t made up my mind. My magazine is conflicted all over the
lot. We haven‘t made any decision whom to endorse. I haven‘t decided
MATTHEWS: Is there a chance you would vote for Bush, even though you disagree with him?
BUCHANAN: Oh, yes. There is a chance I would vote for Bush. There is a chance I would vote for Peroutka. And I like Ralph Nader.
BUCHANAN: Peroutka, the Constitution Party.
MATTHEWS: OK. I‘m sorry. We‘re going to have him on some night.
BUCHANAN: It‘s a Buchananite party.
MATTHEWS: I fairly respect your views, Pat. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I say this often on this show. I‘m beginning to say it more often. Patrick J. Buchanan.
When we return, we‘ll talk to photojournalist Peter Turnley, just back from Iraq, on the cost of war.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The Pentagon has announced that the United States military death toll in Iraq has reached 1,000.
Photojournalist Peter Turnley covered the war in Iraq and many of the families who have lost loved ones. And his latest photo essay is in “Harper‘s” magazine.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Peter, about these pictures. They‘re so profound. There‘s a picture here in the new issue of “Harper‘s” where you‘ve taken this picture of a woman, a bereaved Arab woman, with an Arab woman, another Arab woman in black and then a gentlemen, an Arab guy to her left, to her right.
Then right next to it is an American picture of three people with the bereaved and the medal—the woman who is the widow. Tell me about why you put them together like that.
PETER TURNLEY, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Well, as a photographer, the thing that has always been important to me has been to try to truly express the realities of war that I see.
I‘ve been concerned after having covered the war in Iraq in ‘91 and now this latest war in 2003, that the war that did I see was not the war that the American public has seen. That‘s been the impression that I‘ve had when I came back from both conflicts.
MATTHEWS: Why not, with all this embedding of American journalists with the troops? Why aren‘t we seeing the truth?
TURNLEY: Well, I chose in both cases to not be embedded and to not be a member of the pool system. I‘m not per se opposed to there being a certain number of journalists that are a part of that.
But I feel it‘s very important that there be also an independent voice, an independent expression. I think one of the things that many people don‘t realize is that when you‘re embedded with a military unit, the people of the country actually assimilate you as being a member of that unit. And it is relatively difficult or impossible to linger on the battlefield, to go to hospitals, morgues, to report the aftermath of battle.
And for me, as much as the military conflict and the actual military affairs, I‘ve been always very interested in the way that war affects the people of a country.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s look at a picture on that very point. One of your pictures in this spread in the August issue of “Harper‘s” magazine is this picture where there‘s a number of Arab people, an older gentlemen, perhaps middle-aged, a bit older, a young, a very small child, and some other people, are casually almost, brutally just walking past the street seeing a dead person near the curb on the side of the street and ignoring it almost. What is that about?
TURNLEY: Well, one of the things that struck me when I went into Iraq in 2003 at the very beginning of the war, I was—I went into southern Iraq. And for the first six weeks until the day Baghdad fell, I was in southern Iraq.
I saw many, many scenes where young children in small villages or in towns around Basra, where, suddenly, their daily reality was to see shooting, mortar shelling, death. And it struck me that as—I made a mental comparison in my mind with the childhood of, say, a young American kid or a young French kid. And I was thinking, what would this do to the mind-set of a 13-year-old, where suddenly the reality of their daily life was on a daily basis to see death and destruction?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at this picture of a Marine specialist—rather, Specialist Brinley (ph) who died—fought for his country and died for his country in Iraq. That‘s a stark picture. That‘s an open casket of a guy in uniform who looks alive. That looks like the real loss when you see a guy alive in a casket, so lifelike.
What did that picture—what did you want to get across with that picture at a church?
TURNLEY: Well, this photograph was taken in a high school auditorium in a small town called Pryor, Oklahoma.
And the casket had been brought in for the funeral. I had made a series of trips across the country to photograph the funerals of American soldiers. There was one point where it became sort of public knowledge that the Pentagon didn‘t want images taken of caskets coming back from the war. And it seemed to me from my now rather long and vast experience of covering war, soldiers themselves and families have told me so often that they really want people to know what happens in war.
They want people to know the risks and the dangers and the courage that they themselves and their children are going through. And so I actually thought that as opposed to this statement that the Pentagon had put out that it was out of respect for the families, that, actually, I felt like many of the families probably would like people to know what had happened to their children.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘ve never seen the heroism of war or the cost of war so placed together in a picture as this picture here of this young man, heroic young man. It is an amazing picture. And if anybody has a problem with this picture, they probably have the problem with the war and maybe they should think about it.
Anyway, thank you very much, Peter Turnley, a great photo display about the costs of war in Iraq in this month‘s—in the August issue of “Harper‘s” magazine. Thank you, Peter.
TURNLEY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: In case you missed it, I was on “The Daily Show” Friday night with Jon Stewart.
Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)
JON STEWART, HOST: Why is it so hard in this day and age for people such as yourself to question the politicians? Because they‘re so unaccustomed to it? I saw other people on other shows, when the talking point were questioned, they would go, what are you, a surrogate?
No. I would like you to be honest with us, like everybody flipped out when anybody questioned them. And it happens so infrequently, I think they don‘t know what to do.
MATTHEWS: And they spend about an hour of national television time destroying a guy, saying he not only shouldn‘t win the presidency. He shouldn‘t be, you know?
MATTHEWS: And, at the end of that, I dare to question his assassination of this guy.
MATTHEWS: And I‘m the bad guy. I‘m playing hardball. These guys are playing hardball.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This is going to be a big month here at HARDBALL. Here‘s a look at some of the great guests coming here in just the next few days. Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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