updated 11/4/2004 10:22:01 AM ET 2004-11-04T15:22:01

Guest: Evan Thomas, Debra Saunders, John Thune, Katrina Vanden Heuvel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Americans reelect President Bush and give him a majority vote mandate for the next four years.  And a defeated John Kerry calls for the healing to begin.  But is it the Democratic party that‘s mortally wounded by this loss?  Live from Democracy Plaza in New York‘s Rockefeller Center, let‘s play HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL‘s post-election coverage from Democracy Plaza in New York‘s Rockefeller Center.  Americans voted yesterday in record numbers and reelected President Bush with a clear majority of the vote.  The challenger, John Kerry, gave his concession speech this afternoon. 


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My friends, it was here that we began our campaign for the presidency.  And all we had was hope and a vision for a better America.  It was a privilege and a gift to spend two years traveling this country, coming to know so many of you.  I wish that I could just wrap you up in my arms and embrace each and every one of you individually all across this nation.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 


MATTHEWS:  Within the hour, the president met with supporters in Washington. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent.  To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it.  I will do all I can do to deserve your trust.  A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation.  We have one country, one constitution, and one future that binds us.  And when we come together, and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America. 


MATTHEWS:  To figure this all out I have with me a post election panel including MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan, “The Nation” magazine‘s Katrina Vanden Heuvel.  And MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  Pat, you start.  I want you to critique the concession speech by John Kerry and the president‘s acceptance speech. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  John Kerry‘s speech was in two words, gracious and wise.  Let me add another word, necessary.  It was a wise thing he did not to challenge these Ohio ballots, to say let the counting go on but concede it to the president of the United States.  I thought he was gracious.  I think he would have hurt himself very badly had he come out and made a defiant statement.  I think he did the right thing.  I think the president did the right thing in reaching out to the opposition.  This is a clearly divided country.  The president has a mandate to stay the course but I‘m not sure for what else.  He has a clear decisive victory that his father did not win. 

I think, though, that the problems that, on the president‘s doorstep, Iraq, Falluja, the problem of lost jobs, these all endure and continue, and so I think we‘ll be very soon, back to business.  But it was a tremendously exciting election.  It is a clear, personal victory for the president of the United States and regrettably, for Senator Kerry, it was gracious.  It was a clear defeat for liberalism and John Kerry. 

MATTHEWS:  Katrina Vanden Heuvel, your critique of both performances

by the man who lost the election and the man who won it.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”:  I think in John Kerry‘s concession speech, we saw what was wrong with his candidacy.  Today I spoke to many liberals and there was grieving.  There was anger.  This country last night was two nations and two turnouts.  Progressives turned out extraordinarily.  But yes, the Republicans beat progressives, beat the Democratic party at the ground operation.  But there isn‘t a mandate for President Bush.  If it had been one or two points difference, Kerry would have won.  And I don‘t think President Bush has a conservative governing consensus.  What we heard today was a man who has divided the country.  He talks the talk now but I don‘t think he‘ll walk the walk.  He may well stay the course because of the objective factors he faces.  The debacle in Iraq.  The staggering trade deficits, the job losses, the economy in tatters.  I don‘t think he has a mandate and I think you‘ll see a very deeply divided country standing up and fighting.  You‘re going to have almost a nonpartisan civil war in this next period.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Ron.  Your assessment of both speeches.

RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Katrina is right.  Kerry was very gracious and I think he obviously had no choice.  He had to concede.  It was the right thing to do, the necessary thing, as Pat said.  But we are in a divided country.  There is no clear mandate.  More people than ever voted for a presidential candidate before, voted for John Kerry.  Now, more still voted for George W. Bush.  And Mr. Bush said that he wanted to earn the trust of the people who had voted for John Kerry.  How is he going to do that?  Is he going to lay off Anwar (ph)?  Is he going to fund stem cell research?  Is he going to knock off privatizing Social Security?  What is he going to do exactly to earn our trust? 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s look for signals to that with David Gregory who‘s at the White House.  NBC‘s David Gregory.  What are you hearing from the group over there?  Is there going to be some sort of rapprochement between winner and loser? 

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  I think it may be just a little too early to tell.  We know that there is room here for the president to try to reach out in some form.  I remember hearing, as Ron Reagan just quoted the president today, a similar line in his speech four years ago.  In Austin, after the bitter recount.  And we know that this president even after that trauma for the country, did consider what he had just a narrow victory in 2000, as a mandate.  And he continued to lead in such a fashion.  I think that the more telling line today was when the president praised Karl Rove as the architect, the architect of what they hope will be a permanent Republican majority.  They are going to try to reach that with the values debate, with the shrinking of the federal government, the costly Social Security reform.  I think it is going to get very divisive very soon in this town. 

MATTHEWS:  Give us a sense from your perspective, covering the president, what it was like to be the president, to be around him the last couple of days. 

GREGORY:  Well, it‘s interesting.  I was on Air Force One yesterday as he voted in Texas.  I noticed that he was subdued.  I thought the first lady‘s smile looked incredibly forced.  The campaign aides had a very brave face.  We knew from people who were talking to them and others in the campaign, that they were increasingly worried.  As he touched down yesterday at Andrews Air Force Base in the afternoon, the president got the first word about exit polls being disappointing, that had Kerry up throughout the battleground states.  He said to his confidante, Karen Hughes, well, the numbers are what they are.  I‘m surprised. 

And then the evening continued to roll out.  I mean, there was a sense, his father said at one point as things were looking up, I feel good about this thing now.  But he had been deeply pessimistic about it.  They really noticed the turn around last night as the night wore on.  And then it turned again to real frustration.  Both with Senator Kerry for not conceding, with the networks for not calling the race for them.  And so as I said tonight on nightly news at 5:00 a.m., the president had to go to bed and victory would have to wait.  When it came, it was pretty sweet. 

MATTHEWS:  Does it bother the president, or the people around him, that this is a duplicate of four years ago in the sense that the president won re-election by getting the states he got last time, the red states, but bolstering the turnout in those states of his people.  Cultural conservatives as well as regular Republicans.  He didn‘t manage to penetrate into the blue areas so far.  Isn‘t that a lack of success, really to not be able to unite the country, blue and red? 

GREGORY:  I think there are different ways to look at this depending on where you sit.  You watch the president campaign around the country.  Both he and his supporters would argue that it is the blue that is more on the literal and figurative fringe here.  And that it is the red states that are more mainstream in this country. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a hard arithmetic argument to make if almost 50 percent of the country opposes you.  I‘m thinking of all the other presidents who have won re-election from Roosevelt to Ike to Nixon to Reagan.  They all swept the country.  They all won in New York.  They all won California.  They won the big areas of the country east and west.  Even if they were conservative Republicans.  This is the first conservative Republican who has been brought back in the presidency without winning the country.

GREGORY:  And let‘s remember something here.  All this talk about consolidation obscures a central theme down the stretch of this campaign.  George W. Bush didn‘t want to talk about himself as much as he wanted to talk about John Kerry not being tough enough, not being trustworthy enough.  This was about riling his people and reminding them about all the things they disliked about John Kerry and in effect what they disliked about blue America.  That is not a very inclusive campaign.  And it‘s going to make it all the more difficult as he sets out an agenda that is far-reaching.  That is bold.  And it is not a shy agenda here for the second term.  Nor was it a first term agenda.  And that‘s why I think you‘ll see more division. 

MATTHEWS:  Pat Buchanan wants to say something. 

BUCHANAN:  David, I want to say, look.  There‘s no doubt about it, this was a vote against, by the red state folks who gave the victory to George Bush, it was a rejection of blue state America.  It was a rejection of their values, their attacks on the president.  And quite frankly, many folks in the red states and everybody wants to be gracious after this is over, just could not abide the idea of John Kerry, his views and values, beliefs and history, being president of the United States. 

And the idea, it seems to me, that somehow the folks who won should now surrender part of whatever mandate they have to the folks who lost.  I can tell you, what we‘re hearing on this panel, people out there in red state America are finding it very offensive. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But I think it is a mistake to adopt the television stereotype of the red and blue states.  Because many of these states are divided, evenly.  Now yes, there is a cultural overlay.  But that‘s where John Kerry should have used the two Americas.  There is a moral template to that which he never really deployed. 

REAGAN:  Look at the state of Iowa which will probably ultimately end up being a red state.  But it is so close at this state. 

BUCHANAN:  It is the only blue state that he may have gotten. 

REAGAN:  That he may have gotten.  But is it a red state or a blue state? 


MATTHEWS:  I wouldn‘t call Iowa bicoastal.  Anyway we‘ll be back.  Thank you very much David Gregory.  The panel stays with us.  And when we come back, one of the big victories for the Republicans in the U.S. Senate was in South Dakota.  We‘re going to talk to the man who won that election of Tom Daschle, John Thune.  A big win there for him.  Maybe he‘s the big winner in the U.S. Senate.  I think he is.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.



JOHN THUNE, ® SOUTH DAKOTA:  When you finally get to the finish line, it is like, you know, relief.  And especially when you get an outcome like this one.  But I have not done some things I normally do this time of year.  So I have a date with my 12 gauge in a corn field.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with our final night from beautiful Democracy Plaza.  All good things have to come to an end.  I have with me a big winner, a big winner from this election.  That‘s Senator elect John Thune from South Dakota.  We have got joining us—Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Ron Reagan and Pat Buchanan. 

Let me ask you, sir.  What are you talking about?  The 12 gauge?  Was that a metaphor or was that for real?  I‘m serious.  I think you were making fun of John Kerry‘s goose hunting or something. 

THUNE (via telephone):  Well actually, I think hunting images were a big part of the campaign this year.  But no, it had nothing to do with that.  Actually in South Dakota, the pheasant season opened a couple weeks ago and I‘m normally out there.  This year, because we were campaigning 24-7, I didn‘t get a chance to go out.  So, that was a serious statement that hopefully here in the next few days, I‘m going to get a chance to go out on the beautiful prairie in South Dakota and do a little pheasant hunting. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you clean and eat these birds when you get them? 

THUNE:  You know, they‘re wonderful, Chris.  They‘re great eating bird.  And do I clean them and you bet, absolutely.  We cook them up.  It is a great game bird.  If you ever come out to South Dakota, we‘ll take you out. 

MATTHEWS:  I sort of read and smoke cigars on weekends.  I‘m not into bird killing.  But let me ask you about Daschle killing.  I watched your campaign two years ago.  And I noticed that you lost a heartbreaker for the United States Senate.  And afterwards, you didn‘t complain, you didn‘t say there was hanky panky on the other side, although you could have.  I read a wonderful piece by Byron York about it.  You probably read it in the Weekly Standard.  Do you think that was part of your success?  Just the fact that you were a gentleman last time? 

THUNE:  Well, you know, we decided that if it was supposed to happen 2 years ago, it would have.  And the best thing to do is live to fight another day.  So, we moved on.  At that point, I didn‘t know I would be getting back into the ring to take on Senator Daschle.  But as things progressed last year, we made a decision late last year and early this year to take a run at it again. 

And I think there was probably, maybe, some benefit to that.  I think if we had contested it 2 years ago, we might still be fighting it.  It is one of those things that would have drug on for a long time.  And I decided that wasn‘t in South Dakota‘s best interests.  And hopefully, that may have had a little impact on the race this time. 

MATTHEWS:  How many people in South Dakota do you know on sight? 

THUNE:  We have about 754,000 -- how many do I know on sight? 


THUNE:  When you‘ve been around the state for a while and around politics for a while, you do get a chance to shake an awful lot of hands and meet an awful lot of people.  It seems like the number of votes that are cast in an election like the one last night, although this was a record turnout.  Somewhere along the line, Senator Daschle and/or I have probably met a good number of those people. 

So, it is a small enough state where retail politics really matters.  And you have to get out there and press the flesh and be a part of the lives of people in South Dakota. 

MATTHEWS:  You were a House member for a while.  Of course, you probably came back on the plane to South Dakota back and forth with Tom Daschle.  You got to know each other.  Were you friends before this race?  Or how would you describe your relationship?  And what is that like to go head to head, one guy loses in a race for a career kind of move like this? 

THUNE:  Well it is a hard—it‘s hard in a small state.  This could have gone either way.  We were fortunate enough to win.  We were fortunate enough to kind of catch the wind toward the end. 

You know, Senator Daschle and I served together.  He was in the Senate when I was in the House.  And we had very professional working relationship.  Our staff worked together on issues of importance and mutual interests to South Dakota.  You know, I think in a small state, when you have a small delegation, they‘re are going to be political differences.  But where the substance of the issues that are important as far as South Dakota is concerned, you have to work together.  And I expect to continue that pattern in the Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  When you decide to take on the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate, did you call up Tom Daschle and say, Tom, I have to break the news to you.  I‘m going to take you on. 

THUNE:  I didn‘t give him a call.  It wasn‘t like a courtesy call.  I guess I probably could have done that.  But, you know, when I decided to run, there was a lot of speculation about it leading into it.  And I think that Senator Daschle and his campaign had been campaigning pretty vigorously for some time.  They‘ve been on television since July of 2003  maybe trying to avoid a campaign. 

But I think they maybe saw it coming.  When we finally did decide to get to the race and it got engaged, it was very competitive hard fought campaign from start to finish. 

Like I said, last night, I think every South Dakotan owes Senator Daschle a debt of gratitude for a very long and distinguished career of public service.  But it‘s time to turn the page and we want to get the Senate functioning and moving forward again.  And bring about positive change there. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, senator elect John Thune.  I‘ll call you Senator.  And you‘re welcome on HARDBALL.  Please come back and join our world.  We love to have Republican conservatives come on.  And often times defeat liberals from New York and places like that.  It‘s always fun for us.

THUNE:  Well, it‘s always good...

MATTHEWS:  We‘re tough though, I want to warn you.  This was a nice interview.  There‘ll be worst ones coming down the road.  Just watch “Saturday Night Live” to get an indication of what‘s coming your way. 

THUNE:  I have and it‘s always entertaining to watch your show, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much. 

THUNE:  All right.

MATTHEWS:  That was John Thune that just won the United States Senate seat from South Dakota, defeating—what a big defeat, defeating the top Democrat in the Senate. 

Up next, HARDBALL post election post election correspondent, David Shuster, takes a look back at some of the most famous concessions speeches of history.  Your watching HARDBALL live from Democracy Plaza on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Today‘s speech by John Kerry is yet another reminder of this amazing democracy of our—these are our fans out here.  Look at them all.  Look at them all.  All good things have to come to an end, and this has been fantastic.  Anybody who hasn‘t been to New York lately doesn‘t know how great this city is.  Look at it—look at these people.  This is America out here. 

With more on concession speeches, here is HARDBALL post election correspondent, David Shuster, with the history of interesting concession speeches.

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT:  As you know, the concession speech has a long tradition in American presidential politics.  And history shows it is almost always been both dramatic and inspiring. 


RICHARD NIXON ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My congratulations to Senator Kennedy. 

BARRY GOLDWATER ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I have no bitterness, no rancor (ph) at all. 

HUBERT HUMPHREY:  I have lost.  Mr. Nixon has won. 

GEORGE MCGOVERN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We will shed no tears because all of this effort, I am positive, will bear fruit for years to come. 

KERRY:  I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

SHUSTER (voice-over):  It was an emotional moment for Senator John Kerry.  And a moment every candidate dreads. 

AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And I do have one regret.  That I didn‘t get the chance to stay and fight for the American people over the next four years. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Election central in New York, NBC News reports election night, 1960. 

SHUSTER:  For the loser of the presidential election, there may be no task more daunting than the concession speech.  In 1960, Richard Nixon was quick with a smile even as his wife Pat fought back tears. 

NIXON:  Once the decision is made, we unite behind the man who was elected. 

BETTY FORD, WIFE OF GERALD FORD:  It‘s been the greatest honor of my husband‘s life. 

SHUSTER:  In 1976, Gerald Ford lost the first election of his life and he also lost his voice.  Prompting his wife Betty to deliver his speech for him. 

JAMES CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I promise you four years ago, that I would never lie to you so I can‘t stand here tonight and say it doesn‘t hurt. 

SHUSTER:  But perhaps no loss is harder to swallow than that of the one term president. 

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I believe I have upheld the honor of the presidency of the United States. 

SHUSTER:  If nothing else, Kerry can take heart in the fact that for the next four years, he will continue to serve in the U.S. Senate.  Some candidates are not so lucky. 

BOB DOLE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I was thinking on the way down in the elevator, tomorrow will be the first time in my life, I don‘t have anything to do. 

GOLDWATER:  Being unemployed as of January the 3rd or thereabouts, I‘ll have a lot of time to devote to this party. 

SHUSTER:  And as for the Kerry supporters across the country...

KERRY:  There‘s so much written about campaigns and there‘s so much that Americans never get to see.  I wish they could all spend the day on a campaign and see how hard these folks work to make America better. 

SHUSTER:  The count down in 2008 begins today. 

MCGOVERN:  I want every single one of you to remember...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do not despair.  Despite...

H.W. BUSH:  Do not be deterred, kept away from public service. 

DOLE:  But stay involved and keep fighting the good fight. 

KERRY:  God bless America.  Thank you. 


SHUSTER:  John Kerry with the ultimate concession speech of this presidential campaign.  There will be another one from somebody else in four more years.  I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David.  When we come back, what about the media coverage of this two-year long election.  We‘ll ask “Newsweek” Devon Thomas. 

Plus, Republican election attorney, Ben Ginsberg.  You‘re watching HARDBALL live from Democracy Plaza on MSNBC.  Look at that kid and two flags. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL, live from Democracy Plaza in New York.

The Republicans won last night.  The Democrats lost.  Well, how did the media do?  We‘ll ask “Newsweek” editor Evan Thomas and Debra Saunders.  She‘s the columnist with “The San Francisco Chronicle,” where I used to work. 

Let me go—Debra, there you are.  You‘re always interesting.  I can‘t quite figure out your politics.  You seem to be an iconoclast of sorts, although, in San Francisco, anything but a liberal is trouble. 

DEBRA SAUNDERS, “THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE”:  Call me the token conservative.

MATTHEWS:  All right, let me ask you—I know.  I‘ve heard that from the paper.

Let me ask you, Debra, the media coverage of this campaign, was it fair? 

SAUNDERS:  Well, it wasn‘t always fair.  There were times that people were asking Bush, what mistakes have you made?  And they weren‘t asking Kerry that. 

I mean, Evan Thomas had that off-cited remark of, conservatives are always talking about how he said that a lot of journalists were rooting for Kerry.  And that‘s certainly something that I saw a lot.  On the other hand, every day, I see journalists trying to do stories down the middle and just tell it like it is.  And I thought last night was a good example of that. 

MATTHEWS:  You thought the coverage election night was pretty straight?

SAUNDERS:  I think it was very straight.

I think that, after the debacle of 2000, when Florida was called for Gore too early, that everybody in the business realized that they had done wrong and they tried to do right and did a good job last night.  You guys did a great job last night. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Debra.

Evan, you saw—I hate to—well, I don‘t hate to do it.  Why not?  You‘re a media critic now.  You made some comments recently.  Do you think there was a skewing of the coverage, any kind of—any kind of negative bias of the press toward the president? 

EVAN THOMAS, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK”:  Yes.  I can‘t prove it.  I think it‘s subtle. 

MATTHEWS:  Where do you see it?

THOMAS:  I think it‘s subtle.  I‘m a lousy media critic, because I ought to be able to give you chapter and verse. 

I just know a lot of people in the media, and most of them don‘t like Bush and they do like Kerry.  And I just can‘t believe that doesn‘t effect...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they work it?  Do you think they work it?  They work their beliefs in at the job, in other words, try to nail the president and push up Kerry whenever possible. 

THOMAS:  Well, of course they deny it.  And then these are a lot of excellent journalists, who do try.  But, inevitably, some of this is going to creep in. 

And where it shows I think is how out of touch mainstream media is with most of America.  There is a red-blue divide.  And most of the media types live in the blue part.  They live right here.  And they went to fancy schools and they dress a certain way, look a certain way.  And they‘re not terrifically in touch with the rest of us. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think if the media like “Newsweek” and “The New York Times” and maybe NBC News were located in Omaha or in Salt Lake City, and the people who worked for those organizations grew up in those neighborhoods, we would have a different media? 

THOMAS:  Maybe.  Possible. 


THOMAS:  Henry Luce tried to pull—move “TIME” to Cleveland. 


THOMAS:  And that is what they did.  They moved “TIME” to Cleveland in 1930 or something.  And it lasted about a week, really.  They moved “TIME” to Cleveland and it lasted about a week.  And then they all wanted to move back to New York. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Do you really think it has as much to do with geography as like... 


MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking because I know I do think—I do think that. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You do, really?

MATTHEWS:  So I will propose that.  Because I don‘t think you live in your environment. 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s a tautology.  You live in your environment.

And I look at that map and I am profoundly affected by that map.  And I was asking last night—I‘ll change the subject right now.  You go to anywhere else in the world and you try to explain that map we‘re looking at.  You go to India and explain that map, they‘ll say, oh, yes, I know that country.  It is called India and those are Pakistanis on both sides of it.  It looks like that.


MATTHEWS:  This country is geographically divided along cultural lines. 


MATTHEWS:  And it is so transparent.  In Pennsylvania, by the way, even in a state that‘s blue, it‘s only blue because of Philly and Pittsburgh.  The rest of the state is red.


VANDEN HEUVEL:  As someone once said, it is like Mississippi running between Alabama. 


MATTHEWS:  I said, when I was growing up, we went on a religious retreat in Catholic school.  And we went off to a retreat center out in the middle of Redding somewhere.  And there was country western music.  We used to call it country western, country music on the jukebox.  It is a different culture, Pat.  You know this.

BUCHANAN:  Well, sure.  Look, there are red journalists and blue journalists.  Let‘s face it. 

And the big media—and I can tell you this.  Conservatives have always believed that and they believe in it their heart, that they‘re out to bring down people like Bush and that‘s why a lot of us basically side with Bush.  It‘s sort of our tribe, if you will. 


MATTHEWS:  It‘s your contrarianism.

BUCHANAN:  How else do you explain—I mean, Dan Rather, with due respect, using these palpably forged memos in an attack ad?

Not only that, but this guy, Jeff Fager, CBS, they‘re going to drop the of 380-ton explosive story 30 hours before voting? 


BUCHANAN:  Don‘t tell me they‘re not trying to torpedo the president of the United States. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  How do you explain a mainstream media which took slanders and pumped them up into a running news story, while failing to hold this administration accountable to exaggerations and outright lies?


VANDEN HEUVEL:  The swift boat veterans, that was slander and it was treated as an ongoing news story. 


BUCHANAN:  It was truth.  It was raw truth.


MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s slow down for a second, because I think everyone will recognize the charge you made.  They‘ll say Rather and they‘ll get what you‘re saying.  And they‘ll get the 380 tons timed a week before the election. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  The swift boat thing, I think, is simply argumentative on both sides.  I don‘t think there is—well, how do you say there‘s one thing that‘s true and one thing is not true, when all these guys...

REAGAN:  Everybody that was on that boat with him tells the same story.  And it‘s not the swift boat story.  Those men are liars.  They‘ve been doing this for years and everybody knew it. 


BUCHANAN:  Two hundred and sixty veterans, veterans, POWs, decorated guys. 


REAGAN:  Who were not there on the river. 

BUCHANAN:  They were on the river.

REAGAN:  Not there in that combat. 

BUCHANAN:  Some of them were right there in every inch of...


REAGAN:  Not on that boat, they weren‘t.

BUCHANAN:  Gardener was on the boat.  But we‘re not going to—we don‘t need to go into that. 

REAGAN:  One guy. 

BUCHANAN:  We disagree. 

REAGAN:  Yes, we do.  Yes. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Chris, what about—do you think the mainstream media held this administration accountable for its exaggerations and misrepresentations? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that will take a year for me to explain what I think of the media about this war, because I don‘t think they covered the damn war. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Debra, bring her in here.

What‘s your thought out on the West Coast about this?  Is there a sense in your newsroom that the media, the San Francisco media, like the New York media, are tilting things? 

SAUNDERS:  Well, you know, I certainly feel that way.  I‘m sure my co-workers would disagree with me. 

But, of course, this is San Francisco.  It‘s a very pro-Kerry place.  And most of the people around here were pushing for Kerry.  A lot of people were very stunned at the results.  They just weren‘t in touch with the fact that there‘s a lot of people in this country who had problems with the whole tone of this campaign.  It was so nasty.  The idea of blaming Bush for every single thing that went wrong in Iraq I think cut against how a lot of people looked at it. 

And if you looked at the polls, you couldn‘t have been surprised at the results.  So—and I think your point, Chris...


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to this point.

I‘m sorry, Debra.  I want to respond to something about this war.  We weren‘t supposed to debate the war before the war.  That was unpatriotic.  During the war, we were all embeds.  And after the war, we were told, that‘s Monday-morning quarterbacking.  When was this country allowed to debate this war?  And I never thought the rationales for the war were legitimate, nor were they the real rationales for the war.


MATTHEWS:  You know how you know that?  Because the president said afterwards, they weren‘t essential to the case for going for war. 

REAGAN:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  So they weren‘t the real war. 


BUCHANAN:  We were against the war and we wrote against it every two weeks, and they did it every week.  We were in the... 


REAGAN:  But the mainstream media for the most part were rah-rah the whole way.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  We were questioning.  We were not cowed by charges of being unpatriotic or un-American. 

MATTHEWS:  I think the media bought the whole phraseology of the argument.

BUCHANAN:  Big media.

MATTHEWS:  They bought weapons of mass destruction as a phenomenon. 

REAGAN:  Big media, yes.

BUCHANAN:  Big media.

MATTHEWS:  In fact, it was a push to get it into our heads the idea of nuclear weaponry in the hand of a madman.  It was all a very clever piece of agitprop and the major media did not challenge it. 


BUCHANAN:  All right, major media, I agree with you. 


VANDEN HEUVEL:  “The Nation” challenged it every day.

BUCHANAN:  A lot of small publications did... 


MATTHEWS:  See, Evan, what you started here?


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Evan Thomas of “Newsweek” magazine. 

BUCHANAN:  You‘re responsible.

MATTHEWS:  And Debra Saunders, thank you very much for coming to us from San Francisco from the good old “Chronicle.”  We‘re going to keep using you.  You‘re great.


MATTHEWS:  Up next, after failing to win the White House and losing ground in both houses of the United States Congress, what is next for the Democrats?  The knives are out.

And don‘t forget, check out on Hardblogger, our election blog Web site, at HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.


CROWD:  Let‘s play HARDBALL!  Let‘s play HARDBALL!

MATTHEWS:  That‘s our crowd at there at Democracy Plaza, also known as Rockefeller Center.  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We‘re back with our panel.  And we‘re joined by Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg, who is also an NBC News analyst.

Ben, I have to tell you, one of the good things about this election result is it is clean and clear and lawyer-free. 


MATTHEWS:  Your thoughts on that.  Thank God we don‘t have to watch a bunch of lawyered-up candidates go at each other for three or four weeks.  Is that good for America?

GINSBERG:  I think it‘s very good for America. 

This was an election that was decided by the voters.  Me and my fellow members of the hourly billers don‘t have to go out.  It is the first Wednesday in the last five elections I‘ve actually been in Washington on the day after.  So it‘s good.

MATTHEWS:  Is the greatest antidote to having a lawyerly argument for weeks after a campaign this simple fact of a clear majority? 

GINSBERG:  Yes, sure. 

And this one, I think it was especially true, just because the popular vote margin was so great and also because the same party picked up so many seats in the Senate, gains in the House, good elections in the governors as well. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about the Democrats problem.

You stay with us, Ben, with your thoughts.  But I want to talk about the Democrats‘ problems right now.  There‘s no way to read this as a success, is there, Ron? 

REAGAN:  No, not really.


MATTHEWS:  I mean, losing a bunch of seats, four seats net in the Senate, losing a bunch more in the House, losing to anonymous people in the House, losing to name brands in the Senate, and to have your best candidate you can come up with basically knocked off. 

REAGAN:  The Democrats should take a lesson from the Republicans. 

There are more votes out there. 

For all the enthusiasm in this election, still only about 55 percent of the electorate voted.  That means that 45 percent of the people are unrepresented.  And I‘m sure that there are people out there.  But the Democrats have to begin standing for something. 


REAGAN:  Stand for something and stay there when you decide to stand on it.  If you don‘t like—if your idea of a good time isn‘t going out killing and tormenting small animals, don‘t put on the camo. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, that sounds like the left-wing argument for the Democratic Party to move left. 


REAGAN:  If universal health care is left-wing—and it is.

MATTHEWS:  The other argument is the neoliberal argument—we don‘t use the phrase anymore—that says, if you‘re going to win, you‘ve got to move over to the center.  You have got to get people who feel moderate in their politics, who are not ideologues. 


MATTHEWS:  Katrina, do you buy Ron‘s argument, launch a left-wing campaign?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  What I think was exciting about this year, it is not 1972, because Democrats were wiped out.  We now have a kind of shadow Democratic Party which arose in this election. 

The energy, activism, the ground operations were very strong.  This progressive infrastructure is emerging.  Yes, it is also like 1964 in that, yes, Democrats need to go and reassess where they stand. 


MATTHEWS:  You realize, of course, Katrina, that everybody in the red map out there, the part of the country, looks at and said you were the enemy.  You are a lefty from New York. 


MATTHEWS:  You run “The Nation” magazine.  And they say, you are the reason I...


MATTHEWS:  Where out there are you popular?  Where are you selling magazines?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Remember what I said at the beginning?  I think many of those red states are evenly—are closely divided. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, what‘s your circulation for “The Nation” in the Dakotas, for example, or Montana or Wyoming?  How many magazines are you selling out there? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I hope after the show, millions, Chris.  But, seriously, seriously...

MATTHEWS:  The name of your magazine is “The Nation.”  If you‘re out there and you feel lonely for any kind of fellowship from the left, this is your magazine. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But, seriously, I think some of the issues we all care about are mainstream issues in this country.  Put aside the choices supported.

But what about affordable health care, the economic populism that Kerry could have pumped up?  Those were not used effectively in this race or spoken of as...

REAGAN:  The environment, a real energy policy.


I don‘t think those are marginal issues.


MATTHEWS:  Those are winning issues?  OK.

REAGAN:  They‘re not left-wing

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Or values.

MATTHEWS:  Why have the Democrats been talking about national health insurance, which I think is a good idea, if we can do it right, since Harry Truman, to no effect?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Because you have more lobbyists for the health care industry than members of Congress in Washington, D.C.


REAGAN:  Yes. 


VANDEN HEUVEL:  That‘s one reason.

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t the voters, when offered an opportunity to vote for the party that offers them national health insurance, vote for that party?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Because—you want me to tell—another reason is, you have a media which treats universal health care as a marginal idea.

If people saw on their screens something that is real, they wouldn‘t think they were as atomized or isolated as they are in so many parts of this country. 

REAGAN:  Yes, but in Thomas‘ magazine—“Newsweek,” right? 

THOMAS:  Yes.  


REAGAN:  Just making sure. 

Jane Bryant Quinn this week had an excellent article on universal health care in your magazine.  She spelled it out.


REAGAN:  Well, she put it in a moral context.

MATTHEWS:  Patrick, watching this from the right, the old right, do you see the Democratic Party ever getting back into the White House with a crystal-clear liberal agenda? 

BUCHANAN:  Let me say this. 

Look, Nixon won 49 states.  Reagan won 49 states.  Bush, running for reelection, has not picked up a blue state yet.  I think the great Republican era that began in about 1968, after Goldwater, when we cleaned out the party, I think it is coming over the hill downhill.  Demographics, we were talking about that, is on the side of the Democratic Party.

MATTHEWS:  But all the conservative areas of the country have gone for Bush. 


BUCHANAN:  Chris, the old Reagan-Nixon coalition is, frankly, dying, my friend. 

MATTHEWS:  Where? 

BUCHANAN:  It is dying physically in terms of people. 

MATTHEWS:  But what states—which states did that...


BUCHANAN:  Arizona, New Mexico.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  The Southwest. 

BUCHANAN:  Look at Colorado.


BUCHANAN:  Look at the Southwest.  It is Hispanicizing rapidly. 

Chris, if you take a look at the Republican Party, it is predominantly a white party, my friend.  And the White House folks in this country...


MATTHEWS:  So your point being it should not be that anymore. 

BUCHANAN:  No.  The Republican Party, its voters are diminishing and dying out.  And the folks out in the...

MATTHEWS:  Is that a good thing or a bad thing? 


BUCHANAN:  It is a terrible thing, but it is inevitable. 

MATTHEWS:  But I‘m just asking you, where did the Republican Party fail in this country? 

BUCHANAN:  Where did it fail?  Look, we are losing—we lost states we used to carry. 

MATTHEWS:  Like what?

BUCHANAN:  California, Nixon carried it five times, Reagan four time. 


THOMAS:  I think you‘re asking the wrong question.  I don‘t think this is a Democratic, Republican.  The question is whether there is going to be a rise of a third party. 

Dean showed that—actually, Joe Trippi showed that...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

THOMAS:  ... with the Internet, you can raise a whole lot of money just sort of out there separate from the party. 


THOMAS:  So I think that the thing to watch for is whether the Democratic Party is going to split party or the Republican Party is going to split apart and there is going to be a new third party based on the Internet, based on...


REAGAN:  Based on real progressive ideas. 


VANDEN HEUVEL:  ... reform in this country.  You have a duopoly system. 

BUCHANAN:  Exactly. 


BUCHANAN:  You have got to one of the two big parties.  The third party will sink the party that‘s closest to it, like Perot sank the Republicans. 


THOMAS:  I think the Democrats are in danger of sinking, of dying, of splitting party and out of the ashes of that, some new party arises. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Oh, I think the Republicans are more in danger of that. 


THOMAS:  I think they both are.


THOMAS:  The ball to keep your eye on is the destruction of the party. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  We would be better off if we had a multiparty system, because, at the moment, we have a downsize politics of excluded alternatives.  I would be for it, but you need radical reform. 

REAGAN:  But the Democrats do have an opportunity here.  They won‘t take it, by the way.


REAGAN:  They‘ll tack to the right.  They‘ll tack to the center. 


REAGAN:  But they could become an actual progressive party.  But they won‘t. 


MATTHEWS:  You think the impulse of the party will be to move right?

BUCHANAN:  No, the natural impulse, when you have a narrow election, Humphrey, Nixon, Kennedy, is—the core base of the party seizes the party. 


MATTHEWS:  Pat, yes or no, is the antidote to John Kerry, Hillary Clinton? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, she—that would be—she is perceived as too far left to win, Chris.  She cannot get red states.  She bumps her head at 45 percent.  The headband liberalism is forever.


BUCHANAN:  I mean, she can‘t get it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you are—you look like you should have a headband. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Oh, no.  Oh, no. 

MATTHEWS:  You should be riding on the back of my motorcycle, in fact. 

That would be a neat idea.


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Katrina Vanden Heuvel.  Thank you, Evan Thomas.

I shouldn‘t talk like that. 


MATTHEWS:  Ron Reagan and Pat Buchanan.


MATTHEWS:  When we return, we‘ll talk to the people here at Democracy Plaza. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL. 


MAYDA DEL VALLE, DECLARE YOURSELF:  I am an American.  I can‘t check myself into a box.  I‘d be ignoring mommy straight and poppy‘s nappy locks in me.  The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) town Midwest Windy City in me, the bebop, hip-hop, nonstop salsa (SPEAKING SPANISH) queen of soul in me. 

BEAU SIA, DECLARE YOURSELF:  I get tired of trying to convince people that I am an American.  Why must I show them that I am not the Viet Cong who crippled their uncle and that, if I went back where I came from, it would be Oklahoma City?

STEVE CONNELL, DECLARE YOURSELF:  I am an American.  I have the right to remain silent.  I refuse, and if you refuse that right, then everything you say can and will be used against you. 

Words are like actions.  They define you.  And if your words don‘t define you, then why are you talking?  I mean, if you‘re not trying to go forward, then why are you walking? 

DEL VALLE & CONNELL & SIA:  I can‘t check myself into a box. 

DEL VALLE:  I‘d be ignoring the growing up next door to Mexicanos and (SPEAKING SPANISH) tacos and tamales in me, the B girls days while spitting flames and painting trains in me, the South Side wreaking, simply seeking to fit in, in me, the (SPEAKING SPANISH) in me, the Marvin Gaye and sweet lemonade on sunny days in me, the rMDNM_descendancy that doesn‘t deny the darker shades of skin in me. 

SIA:  We laid the tracks that sent us to our own internment and still I am a spy.  I am next year‘s Arab.  I am other.  I am a threat, and I am an American.  And in case you hadn‘t been listening, I am speaking English.  So let a brother live, because I will not wear my birth certificate on my face. 

CONNELL:  You think it wrong to disagree with our country, you should read the Bill of Rights and understand the freedom right to...

DEL VALLE & CONNELL & SIA:  ... to shout, to assemble to speak your mind. 

CONNELL:  That was our country‘s idea. 

DEL VALLE & CONNELL & SIA:  I am an American. 

CONNELL:  I will not be silent and you should use these words against me. 

DEL VALLE:  I vote for the inevitability of the change, for catalysts, energy transformed and fire fueled in the hearts of those who think they can‘t make a difference. 

SIA:  My parents left their homeland, left languish, culture and family so that my home could be here, so I declare myself because I will not let their sacrifices be in vain. 

CONNELL:  I vote for the hand that won‘t fall to the mat, for the broken mouth still talking, for our flag, tattered and tore up, but still waving in the smoke, because every time I have looked into the crying eyes of the woman I love and told her everything will be all right, I have believed it. 

If you are proud to be an American...

DEL VALLE & CONNELL & SIA:  Prove it.  If not...



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