updated 11/19/2004 11:12:47 AM ET 2004-11-19T16:12:47

Guest: David Maraniss, Kay Bailey Hutchison

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Former President Bill Clinton opens his library today in Little Rock, Arkansas, in a ceremony filled with pomp, presidents, politicians and personalities past and present.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews, and welcome to HARDBALL.  Today in the Republican red state of Arkansas, American‘s most prominent Democrat, former President Bill Clinton, was honored at a ceremony opening his presidential library. 

While the weather challenged the day, it didn‘t rain on Bill Clinton‘s parade as thousands of people came out to pay tribute to him.  President George Bush and his father, the former president, former President Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Al Gore, and the other Democrat defeated by Bush just two weeks ago, Senator John Kerry. 

Plus, top Democratic officials and Clinton alumni all gathered for the dedication of the library to the man from Hope.  HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster joins us now from the Clinton library—David. 

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, as presidential library dedications go, this was the largest, and given the current mood of Democrats combined with some nasty Arkansas weather, this dedication may have also been the most intriguing. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER (voice-over):  It was a day of unity in Little Rock, but also a day when four presidents, two Republicans and two Democrats, braved some challenging elements from Mother Nature. 

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Welcome to my rainy library dedication. 

SHUSTER:  Most of the day was apolitical, with jokes and asides on stage about the cold weather, and warm remarks about President Clinton‘s life and political skills. 

GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 

Simply put, he was a natural, and he made it look too easy.  And oh, how I hated him for that.  Another gripe, Bill Clinton enjoyed debates too much for my taste. 

May I be very frank with you now?  I hated debates. 

SHUSTER:  President Carter remembered meeting Bill Clinton for the first time 30 years ago. 

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I came to meet an unknown congressional candidate in Little Rock in a Little Rock hotel.  It may be a surprise to some of you to learn that he was late for the appointment. 

SHUSTER:  And President Bush spoke of the 42nd president‘s multitasking abilities. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  A fellow in Saline County was asked by a son why he liked Governor Clinton so much.  He said, son, he‘ll look you in the eye, he‘ll shake your hand, he‘ll hold your baby, he‘ll pet your dog, all at the same time. 

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  I‘m thrilled to have everyone here on this stage who represents the past, the present and the future. 

SHUSTER:  By future, was Senator Clinton talking about herself?  Well, the crowd responded positively.  But it was an Irish rock star, U-2‘s Bono, who got everybody to their feet in the driving rain. 

That song about the troubles in Northern Ireland seemed to bring the glow to the festivities, and especially to President Clinton, who was proudest of his efforts for peace there and across the world.

Throughout the dedication, there were some touching moments.  The Clintons holding hands, Chelsea hugging her family, Jimmy Carter being the perfect gentleman and drawing his wife‘s chair, Barbara Bush snapping pictures of Bono.  Who knew she was a U-2 fan? 

But despite all of the mutual admiration, culturally and politically, there was a moment when President Clinton seized the opportunity to take issue with the current U.S. foreign policy. 

B. CLINTON:  For good or ill, we live in an interdependent world.  We can‘t escape each other.  And while we have to fight our enemies, we can‘t possibly kill, jail or occupy all of them.  Therefore, we have to spend our lives trying to build a global community and an American community. 

SHUSTER:  But President Clinton also spoke of shared experiences. 

B. CLINTON:  We all do better when we work together.  Our differences do matter.  But our common humanity matters more. 

SHUSTER:  And in the end, the day did have a feel of something unique to the American political experience.  A day when the presidential families put their differences aside and dedicated a president‘s legacy for all to see. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER:  The cost of admission to see the life of the comeback kid is $7, and the message now from Arkansas is that the welcome mat is out—

Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, David Shuster in Little Rock. 

Monica Crowley today joins MSNBC as a political analyst.  We‘re going to go to her in a moment.  She was foreign policy assistant to former President Richard Nixon from 1990 until his death in 1994.  He wrote two books—she did, actually—about President Nixon.  And Ron Reagan, MSNBC political analyst, is at the Clinton library in Little Rock, Arkansas right now. 

Let‘s start with Monica.  Welcome aboard.  I‘ve known you for a long time.  You wrote one really good book about Richard Nixon and his after years.  It was called “A Lion in Winter.” 

MONICA CROWLEY, MSNBC ANALYST:  Two really good books, Chris.  Two really good books.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘ll argue.  This is HARDBALL now.  Get used to it. 

CROWLEY:  I‘m ready!

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this, what was Nixon‘s feeling about—he was forced out of office back in ‘74 in the worst way.  Did he feel a common connection with people like President Clinton? 

CROWLEY:  He really did.  I mean, this is the world‘s most exclusive group.  This country‘s 228 years old; we‘ve only had 43 chief executives.  This is a tiny group.  And usually, you get about three to six who are living at any given time. 

So regardless of party, these guys really get to know each other very well.  They lean on each other when they‘re in office.  They call each other for advice all the time, sometimes more than others, depending on the party and the generation. 

But Nixon felt a real affinity, particularly to Bill Clinton.  Because it was a different party, it was a different generation, Bill Clinton bent over backwards to seek out Nixon and seek out his advice, and it really mattered a lot to Nixon. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it always struck me reading your books and some of the other books about Richard Nixon that he liked people that liked him.  He liked de Gaulle, the French President Charles de Gaulle, because de Gaulle treated him with great respect.  Churchill never really had the time or—he didn‘t have the youth at that point to give him much attention. 

Bill Clinton did give Richard Nixon a lot of consideration.  He spoke very well of him at the funeral.  But when he was alive, I recall him inviting Richard Nixon back to the White House.  Tell us about that for just a second.  That was a moment. 

CROWLEY:  It was a really remarkable moment, Chris, because, you know, Nixon did not anticipate that Clinton would invite him to the White House, simply because different generation, different party, and Nixon thought, you know, even his wife Hillary Rodham as a young lawyer served on the House Impeachment Committee against Nixon.  So he didn‘t...

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a tie. 

CROWLEY:  Yeah, well, there it is.  He didn‘t expect anything out of Bill Clinton.  But one of the great things that Clinton did very early in his presidency was reach out to Nixon and invite him down to the White House.  And he did it in a very public way.  He alerted the press.  He alerted the White House photographer.  And all of it was documented, which I must say meant a lot to Nixon, Chris, because all of Nixon‘s successors, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, they all turned to Nixon for advice, but they all did it on the Q.T.  They all did it behind the scenes, because of the problem dealing with Richard Nixon, who left the White House the way he did. 

So for Clinton really to elevate Nixon in such a public way, I have to tell you, it meant a lot to him. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Ron Reagan.  He is on site today.  Ron, you and I watched this together.  You‘re there on site.  I was struck by President Bush‘s very eloquent, generous comments and funny comments about Bill Clinton.  I was struck by the closeness of the Clinton family, and their connection to the Bush family, which seemed very personal.  As a son of a former president, what did you catch today? 

RON REAGAN, MSNBC ANALYST:  Well, I was struck by some of the little things that went on.  I mentioned earlier when we were on, Jimmy Carter sweeping the rain from Roselyn‘s chair before she sat down.  There was a moment also where Bill Clinton reached across and took his wife‘s hand when George W. Bush was talking about their relationship.  And then there was that extraordinary moment when Bono and The Edge came out.  And everybody turned into a rock fan.  Presidents, first ladies leaped up from their chairs, cameras came out, and suddenly everybody was interested in seeing the rock star.  It was interesting to watch that.  Barbara Bush with a camera.  Who knew? 

MATTHEWS:  Yeah, I know, who knew that one?  I thought it was great that Hillary, the classic ‘60s woman, in the best sense of that word, of course, rushing over, the first one to sort of leave the protocol space where she was assigned and walking over like she was still at some old Crosby, Stills and Nash concert or something, back in the old days.

REAGAN:  Yes.  I don‘t know if it‘s the power of music or just the power of being a rock star. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about something.  I noticed something, I will call it the inner circle.  Presidents who have won two terms.  Your family got along very well with the Kennedy—and the Kennedy survivors of Camelot.  Very close ties.  Your father gave that award, the Medal of Freedom, to Robert Kennedy, posthumously, when Jimmy Carter hadn‘t done it.  There was a wonderful moment at that moment.  Today we saw the close ties between President Bush, two-term hero now, politically succeeding, with Bill Clinton, two-term hero. 

Is there an inner club of presidents who have won two terms that‘s better and neater to be in? 

REAGAN:  Yes.  I think so.  I don‘t want to say that in America, anybody can grow up to be president, but very few get elected twice.  But it‘s sort of like that. 

I mean, think about it.  You run for president, you get elected, and then you come to the people four years later and you say, well, how did I do?  What did you think of me?  And in the case of some presidents, the people say, we didn‘t think so much of you, get out of here.  And that‘s got to hurt. 

But for the presidents who are elected twice, of course, it is exactly the opposite.  The people have seen what they can do and they‘ve said, we really like this.  And some of them may even say, we wish we could have you back for a third and a fourth term.  So that‘s kind of a warm and fuzzy feeling that the other folks don‘t get. 

MATTHEWS:  Monica Crowley, your thoughts on that, about the post-presidential pecking order. 

CROWLEY:  I want to agree with Ron on this one point, that second term presidents are sort of an exclusive club within that world‘s most exclusive club of former presidents.  And I think there is this great affinity between those who have actually earned a second term. 

And I think about something that Nixon said about running for president, but also subjecting yourself to re-election.  You know, it takes a very secure person to run for office, period, but to run for the American presidency, you‘ve got to be pretty secure as a person both politically and personally.  And that was one of the great criticisms of Richard Nixon, too, that he was incredibly insecure personally.  But look at him politically. 

And I think when you take a look at George W. Bush, you look at his father who was turned out by the voters the second time that he ran for re-election, and chosen Bill Clinton to replace him, you sort of see that this group of men who have served this country and the country‘s highest office, they‘ve got some pretty outstanding features about them. 

Now Bill Clinton, we talked about security, as a person and as a politician, nobody beats Bill Clinton.  You saw it even today where he is clearly still recuperating from heart surgery.  The guy got up there and as George H.W. Bush said, he was a natural.  Just very gifted in retail politics. 

George H.W. Bush and he was the same sort of stilted, uneloquent guy he was always as president and always in the White House.  And the son, you see where his son inherited that lack of eloquence. 

But I think when you take a look at their remarks today, all of the warm, generous comments about Bill Clinton.  It was really striking. 

MATTHEWS:  He also sets it up pretty very well so we applaud him for holding his wife‘s hand.  That‘s what you call positioning.  When you get credit for that a little bit. 

CROWLEY:  Clinton is a master at the stage craft.  Always has been, always will be. 

MATTHEWS:  Gee, look at him, he held his wife‘s hand.  Isn‘t that great?  What a great guy! 

We‘ll be coming back, right with Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley. 

And Later, Clinton biographer David Maraniss on Bill Clinton‘s legacy. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM CLINTON, FRM. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The thing I want most is for people to come to this library, whether they are Republican or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, to see that public service is noble and important.  That the choices and decisions leaders make affect the lives of millions of Americans and people all across the world.  I want young people to want to see not only what I did with my life, but to see what they could do with their lives. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He was an innovator, a serious student of policy and a man of great compassion.  In the White House, the whole nation witnessed his brilliance and his mastery of detail,  his persuasive power and his persistence.  The president is not the kind to give up a fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Back with MSNBC‘s Monica Crowley and Ron Reagan in Little Rock. 

It strikes me how young everybody is.  Everybody is in their 50‘s.  They were talking about it, it was a hundred years ago, the Clinton presidency.  I mean, Carter and he both got out pretty early.  Carter ran out of steam politically.  Bill Clinton, because he ran out of time.  Isn‘t it amazing?  Look at how old they are.  They‘re not old. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And they‘re talking about the past. 

REAGAN:  Yes.  It‘s true.  And Bill Clinton has a whole new, you know, life ahead of him in a sense.  If he can make one.  I don‘t know exactly what he‘s going to do.  And he has to be careful not to big foot his wife, of course. 

But I sense just personality wise, this is a man of great ambition.  And he realizes as much as anybody else does, that there is a stain on his presidency.  It is of his own doing.  And perhaps with his new life that he‘ll make for himself, he can undo that to some degree.  I‘m sure he hopes so. 

MATTHEWS:  Not that anyone would get the wrong idea, Ron, but you have got to explain your use of the word big foot.  As in, he has to be careful not to big foot his wife.  What does that mean? 

REAGAN:  It‘s her turn.  It‘s her turn.  She‘s a senator now.  There‘s thought that she‘ll run in 2008.  He can‘t do anything now to detract, or deflect attention from her.  He has to give her her shot.  I thought you were referring to another word I used there which I won‘t even go into. 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t want anybody to think he‘s going to beat her or something like that.  It‘s actually a journalistic term.  It means when somebody is a big shot, walks into the room and takes away the reporter‘s glow and excitement. 

Let me go to Monica Crowley right now.  An interesting point was made by Bill Clinton today at his library celebration.  He said am I the only guy in the country that likes both George W. Bush and John Kerry?  And the answer is, you‘re not the only one, but you‘re one of the few. 

And I think back in time, certainly back through the ‘90‘s, people could like both Bob Dole and Bill Clinton.  They could like both George W.  Bush‘s father and Bill Clinton.  There‘s probably 20, 30 percent of the country that could have lived with either one of them.  What happened to American politics that only like 3 percent or 4 percent of the country like the two candidates this year for president? 

CROWLEY:  Yes, I know.  It has become a very emotional thing.  A lot of people in this election cycle had a lot of emotional investment in either of these two candidates.  And it was very divisive. 

But we can argue about when the divisiveness actually started in this country.  Some would say it happened during Vietnam, Watergate augmented it.  So, certainly the country was divide under Bill Clinton, particularly during the impeachment process. 

And I think what I heard his comments today, Chris, about bringing the country back together again, very important for Clinton to say it.  And I‘ll tell you why, he made a very similar comment at the funeral of Richard Nixon.  When he said, let the day pass when we judge Richard Nixon on anything less than his entire life and career.  Meaning, he was a Democrat saying, look, this is a Republican president.  Want my party particularly wants to judge him solely on Watergate.  Let‘s stop doing that.  That went a long way, I think, to history‘s revisions of Richard Nixon. 

MATTHEWS:  And history‘s potential revision of Clinton‘s presidency. 

CROWLEY:  Exactly.  And I think for Bill Clinton now who presided over some great partisanship over his presidency, for him to make this kind of comment now, I think could go a long way.  But he needs to follow through.  And as Ron says, he cannot eclipse his wife who is clearly running. 

MATTHEWS:  Monica, it‘s great having you. 

Thank you Monica Crowley.  Thank you Ron Reagan.  It‘s good to have you all with us at MSNBC.

Coming up, more on today‘s Clinton library ceremony with Craig Crawford and Clinton biographer, and he‘s the best one, David Maraniss.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re continuing to discuss the dedication of the Clinton library today and we‘re joined now by MSNBC contributor Craig Crawford of “Congressional Quarterly” and the “Washington Post” associate editor David Maraniss who wrote one of the best biographies ever, I think it was the best, called “First In His Class” about Bill Clinton‘s rise to power.  Let me ask you first, David, about something I asked you about today.  There he was up on the platform, Bill Clinton, decrying the divisions between the blue and the red states as if he had played no role in that with his misbehavior in the White House. 

DAVID MARANISS, CLINTON BIOGRAPHER:  Yep!  He is very good at doing that as if he played no role.  And I don‘t think that‘s insincere on his part.  I think there is a part of Bill Clinton that was really very good at going into the red states in some ways.  So I think politically, and in sort of the best of his worlds, he knows how to do that.  He knows how to talk to anybody.  And yet in the divisive political world of Washington in particular, his presidency was as divisive as any in modern times.

MATTHEWS:  The disastrous map that we‘ve gotten so familiar with in the last couple weeks was pretty much the map of four years ago, the map that poor Al Gore inherited from Bill Clinton. 

MARANISS:  But Chris, would Bill Clinton have had that same map?  I‘m not sure. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he could have penetrated the red states after Monica? 

MARANISS:  I think it was possible.  Absolutely. 

CRAIG CRAWFORD, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Clearly in Arkansas, maybe Tennessee, and he was very popular in Florida. 

MATTHEWS:  He could have still worked the edges. 

CRAWFORD:  He probably could have—I agree with that. 

MATTHEWS:  Like Missouri?  Ohio?  He never got Ohio.  Did he get Ohio? 

He got Ohio.  So he was a guy that could do well there. 

CRAWFORD:  And with Bill Clinton, John Edwards might have been able to win North Carolina.  The two of them together. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you both about what we saw today.  We saw an amazing confluence of political celebrity today.  What I learned David was that there‘s two circles.  One inner, one outer.  The outer circle is former presidents.  The inner circle is presidents who have succeeded politically.  I noticed there was a real camaraderie between the Bushes and the Clintons today. 

MARANISS:  Yes.  Less so with the old man Bush than with the president. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  He wasn‘t a winner.

MARANISS:  He was a one-time winner and he lost to Bill Clinton.  And I thought his speech was a little touch of sour to it. 

CRAWFORD:  I love it when he talked about looking at his watch at the debate.  He said I really don‘t like debates.  I wanted to get out of there. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s nighttime now.  We can end the Pollyanna.  Didn‘t you notice the grudge that continued between Jimmy Carter and Clinton?  The grudge that continued between George senior and Bill Clinton?  There were grudges out there on display today.

CARTER:  I do know Jimmy Carter always had serious problems with Clinton‘s personal behavior.  It was an important matter to him and he was not very public about it but I do know that it was something between them.  And on foreign policy issues, I mean, don‘t forget.  It was Carter down in Haiti when Clinton wanted to bomb the place, and he couldn‘t because Carter wouldn‘t get out of there.  Remember? 

MATTHEWS:  But Carter is always standing very close to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) act, wasn‘t he?

MARANISS:  On the other side, Clinton always sort of had less kind thing to say about Carter‘s political skills.  And actually blamed Carter for Clinton‘s own loss of the governorship in Arkansas in 1980 when Carter sent all of those Cuban boatlift people up to Arkansas. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about probably the most memorable question, the rhetorical question of the day which was am I the only person in the entire U.S. of America who likes both George W. Bush and John Kerry?  That was spoken rhetorically by president Clinton today.  And of course, if you read the NBC polls, you know that he is now one of 2 percent of the country that actually do like both these guys.  So what did you make of that question? 

MARANISS:  I thought it was sort of two Bill Clintons there.  In one sense, Bill Clinton is capable of liking anybody.  Particularly somebody who is no longer a threat to him in any way.  And particularly somebody who has some of the same skills that he has.  And one skill they both have is that ability to connect with regular people. 

CRAWFORD:  When you talked to Al Sharpton earlier, he had the greatest line.  He said you love the one you‘re with.  About Bill Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  He was advising each one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination this year convincing each of them he was their corner man, rooting for them.  But they all knew intellectually, he was playing the same game with everybody else. 

CRAWFORD:  I remember covering when he was picking his cabinet after the 1992 election, it was so funny, I was down there for several days.  You talk to everyone.  Everyone who came out with an interview to the cabinet all thought they had been offered the job. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead, David, I‘m sorry.

MARANISS:  I was just saying that Craig had it right there.  That Clinton could convince anybody of that.  For him to say that today was not at all surprising to me. 

MATTHEWS:  Has he ever warmed up to “First In His Class,” your great book about him which I think is the best book?

MARANISS:  He likes half the book.  He‘ll read half of it out loud.  And who knows whether he‘ll ever totally warm up to the whole thing.  I could tell that when he wrote his own autobiography, he definitely warmed up to using a lot of it. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s interesting.  A little charge there perhaps from you?  Was it fair use, what we saw? 

MARANISS:  I don‘t want to get too far into the personal here but in the Ken Starr report, there is an addendum which lists all the books in Clinton‘s library.  And one of the books is uncorrected proof of “First In His Class.”  It says, “with H.R.C. and B.C. notes.”

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he‘s keeping up with Monica and Mark Rich and the crowd that caused him trouble? 

MARANISS:  No.  Of course not. 

CRAWFORD:  No.  I don‘t think so. 

MATTHEWS:  They don‘t exist anymore in his (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CRAWFORD:  It popped into the library in fine print with not much explanation.  The impeachment...

MATTHEWS:  I think the one that he got free on today, he skated past was the horrible decision to pardon Mark Rich, for no reason except probably getting money for the library we watched today.  Anyway, we‘re coming right back with David Maraniss and Craig Crawford and later Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on the strong women who have shaped America, and shaped the Bush cabinet to a large extent.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the inner circle I should say of the Bush presidency.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  This half-hour on HARDBALL, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on President Bush‘s appointment of Condoleezza Rice as his secretary of state and the role that strong women have played shaping the Bush administration. 

But, first, let‘s check in with the MSNBC News Desk.

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It has to be said that Bill Clinton was one of the most gifted American political figures in modern time.  Trust me, I learned this the hard way.  Here in Arkansas, you might say he grew to become the Sam Walton of national retail politics.  And seeing him out on the campaign trail, it was plain to see how he fed off the energy and the hopes and the aspirations of the American people.  Simply put, he was a natural.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We‘re back with Craig Crawford and Clinton biographer David Maraniss. 

David, no matter how many presidential libraries are constructed with his name on them, if they‘re in every corner in America, every street corner, he still has to deal with a couple of black marks.  One of them is Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment.  The second is those pardons he issued just as he was leaving office.  Do you think they will remain at the top of his biographical profile? 

MARANISS:  I think that the impeachment will remain at the top of the profile.  But it won‘t be nearly as dominant than you might have thought four years ago.  I think that‘s already apparent in sort of the way he is being regarded today. 

I think will diminish somewhat, but that one will stay there.  As for the pardons, I think those will be something that—there‘s a little knife there for it, but it is not going to be a major part of his presidential history, in my opinion. 

CRAWFORD:  The impeachment itself, because I‘m a...

(CROSSTALK)

MARANISS:  No, no.  No, the impeachment, yes, the pardons, no. 

CRAWFORD:  OK.  Yes, because the impeachment...

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  Actually, I think Bill Clinton should be thankful for impeachment, because that‘s the only way I think he stays in the history books for a very long time. 

(LAUGHTER)

CRAWFORD:  What else in his administration...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  To use the phrase, that‘s his distinguishing characteristic. 

CRAWFORD:  Yes.  They like to talk about that that it is the economic boom.  But we had an economic boom under Calvin Coolidge and we don‘t remember him for that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARANISS:  Absolutely.  The other thing is his political skills.  I think that will stay. 

MATTHEWS:  But those are, those are you-have-to-be-there kinds of things.  If you had to put a listing down for a time capsule to say, well, what was like putting a man on the moon or what was like the Peace Corpse, or what was like the test ban treaty under Kennedy or the Alliance For Progress under Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, those were all monumental, landmark moments. 

Do you have any of those?  He did bring Yitzhak Rabin together with Yasser Arafat, but that didn‘t get anywhere. 

MARANISS:  He didn‘t quite get there. 

MATTHEWS:  He didn‘t quite—he almost got there with the... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... deal.

CRAWFORD:  He missed his chance early in the first term when they lost the health care fight.  Expanding the New Deal to universal health care is the missing piece of the New Deal.  And he could have been the president to do that.  He wanted to be.  He campaigned on doing that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  In terms of party building or party destruction, he started the tenure as president as head of a party which controlled the United States Senate, controlled the U.S. House of Representatives.

CRAWFORD:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And left his successors, if he has one on the Democratic side in the near future, with none of that.  How can he claim to be a success if he kissed off 50 years of Democratic rule in the Congress, David? 

MARANISS:  Well, that‘s a rhetorical question. 

(LAUGHTER)

MARANISS:  But he was a success—he was a success as a survivor.  He is better at sort of figuring out how to survive and counterpunch than he was at how to lead with his own... 

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  Yes.  His legacy is more political, as someone who was politically skilled, than I think any big policies. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARANISS:  But those political skills did end up serving a policies purpose.  It‘s just that they weren‘t the policies that he was trying to promote.  They‘re ones that he was trying to prevent. 

CRAWFORD:  And I think a lot of it, too, he was trying to draw down the deficit and balance the budget, so he couldn‘t do great, big things, expensive things.

MATTHEWS:  If you think about the power of this medium, television, the power of pictures that are in moving form, you think of Richard Nixon said, the people have a right to know whether their president is a crook or not.  I am not a crook.  You think of Bill Clinton saying, I did not have sexual relations with that woman—dot, dot, dot—Monica Lewinsky. 

Is that picture going to be more powerful than all the words spoken at that library, even though it won‘t be appearing at that library? 

MARANISS:  I don‘t think so.  I can‘t wait to get at those words in the library, 80 million documents, none which of I‘ve seen?  I think that, really, his legacy will be told in those documents, more than that single picture. 

MATTHEWS:  Even in a time where people talk on the telephone and don‘t do much literary writing?

MARANISS:  Well, Clinton actually did a lot of writing.  He wrote—I discovered that when I started the biography.  There were tons of letters that he was writing all the time, when no one else from our generation would ever write a letter.  So I think there‘s a lot there. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  So you think there might be another David Maraniss book in this guy. 

(LAUGHTER)

MARANISS:  Not yet, but some day. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about...

CRAWFORD:  It‘s has got to be a rare thrill for historians, though, in the future, as they get to write about Monica. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What impressed me most positively today, gentlemen—and I want your reaction to it—were the words of the president. 

CRAWFORD:  Of the current president. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I meant, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  No, I thought it was tremendous, actually. 

MATTHEWS:  I thought so, too. 

CRAWFORD:  It reminded me—I‘ll tell you what it brought me back to, is Carter‘s library opening I went to.  Ronald Reagan gave just a glorious speech.  He had Carter people in tears, you know, in that speech.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  And it reminded of that today.

MATTHEWS:  David, your thoughts about the president‘s eloquence today.

MARANISS:  I thought the president was eloquent.  And then, afterwards, when he was standing up there with Bill Clinton, he wouldn‘t even look at Clinton when he was talking to him.  So there was something a little odd about that whole thing.  But you‘re right.  When he was speaking, there was a real connection there between the two guys that was palpable.

CRAWFORD:  These former presidents talk about their bond.  But it is real.  It is a very unique club. 

MATTHEWS:  Especially among the winners.  The Reagans got along with the Kennedys. 

CRAWFORD:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  The Reagans get along with the successful Bush family. 

CRAWFORD:  But the partisan...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think there‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... circle of success there that they want to share as a special bond. 

CRAWFORD:  Yes.  They‘re not as—I think they grow up from their partisan time and reach... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to the red state issue.  We talk so much about this cultural divide between the big cities of the East and West Coast and this huge heartland majority of the American people on cultural issues.

This was an odd event.  This wasn‘t in New York City.  This wasn‘t a NARAL event of liberal women.  This was heartland folk who live down there celebrating Bill Clinton, a man who grew up in Hot Springs. 

CRAWFORD:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who never was a big city guy. 

CRAWFORD:  A come-from-nothing background, I think that was always a strength of his appeal, something that was lacking in both our presidential candidates this year.  Neither one of them had life experience that people could relate to.  And people picked up on that.  And they certainly did with Clinton.

MATTHEWS:  I think it was a big thing missing in the Democratic appeal this year, a sense of sharing the struggle, the struggling class, the people somewhere in the middle who to have pay the bills and don‘t quite make it sometimes and have a bit of embarrassment in their background because of it.  It is a tough country not to succeed in. 

CRAWFORD:  I actually think a lot of Clinton‘s personal failings drove some of that popularity.  People identified with some of the problems that he and Hillary had. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Among American blacks, among American blacks, too.  I think there‘s a lot of sense that they have been persecuted in the same way he was. 

Anyway, thank you, Craig Crawford. 

Thank you, David Maraniss, who just left.

Up next, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas on the strong women who continue to shape America and play a big role inside this Bush administration.  If you think about it, he‘s got a lot of powerful women there.

You‘re watching HARDBALL. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas on the relationship between President Bush and his pick to be secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President George Bush picked Condi Rice to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state, and two longtime Texas loyalists, Margaret Spellings and Harriet Miers, to be secretary of education and White House counsel.  The president seems to have a pattern of picking strong Texas women to fill key positions in his second-term Cabinet. 

And joining us now is another close confidante of the president, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.  You‘re the author of “American Heroines.”

Congratulations.

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON ®, TEXAS:  Oh, thank you so much.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk, because you‘re a great senator and I want to talk to you about yourself first of all.

I was reading something that grabbed me about how people getting bad brakes in life, not just women, but everybody, getting a bad break in life and having it turned around.  You couldn‘t get into some really good white shoe law firm.  In fact, you couldn‘t get into a law firm coming out a law school.

HUTCHISON:  At all.  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  So you got a job as a TV reporter covering the state legislature. 

HUTCHISON:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And you said that made all the difference. 

HUTCHISON:  It did.  It is the classic examples of thank heaven for unanswered prayers.  I thought my life was over when I couldn‘t get a job in a law firm. 

But my television experience covering the legislature—then I was asked to run for the legislature, and did, and won at the age of 29.  I would never have been able to do that if I had gotten my original wish. 

MATTHEWS:  So you got good on television. 

HUTCHISON:  Well, not good.  I wasn‘t great. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you are good.  You‘re normal.  You‘re like the same way when the camera is off. 

(CROSSTALK)

HUTCHISON:  Well, I wasn‘t great, but I did get a lot of experience and exposure.  And I was able to win a legislative seat.  And it just started my path in a very different direction.  And that‘s the story in the book of so many women. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about Condi Rice, African-American.  She‘s got a lot of advance degrees.  She was provost at Stanford.  She‘s an academic.  She may well go back to that, but not until she‘s finished at least a four-year term now as secretary of state. 

Is she going to be the president‘s first agent in foreign policy?  Or is she going to be his independent colleague?  Is she going to be the person who says, Mr. President, you‘re just going wrong here, you have got to turn this around? 

HUTCHISON:  I don‘t think the president wants an independent operator in secretary of state. 

MATTHEWS:  Not operator, independent counsel, someone that says, Mr.

President, I think you‘re wrong on this one. 

HUTCHISON:  Well, I think that she is an independent counsel.  She is now and I think she will always be. 

And the reason is, he trusts her completely.  And she knows exactly what he is thinking.  And I think she has a strategic plan.  I think she will be a perfect secretary of state, and every head of state in the world is going to know that, when she speaks, she is speaking for the president. 

MATTHEWS:  Will they know that she is also a person who believes in the policy?  Colin Powell had a problem with the war in Iraq.  Will she be a person who coincidentally agrees with the president or always agrees with the president because that‘s her job? 

In other words, will they know that her advice—that her advocacy of the president‘s positions also reflects her best thinking? 

HUTCHISON:  Yes, I think absolutely that is the case, because I think that she is not a doormat.  She wouldn‘t agree with anyone on everything at all times.

But she is going to keep her advice to the president between them. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

HUTCHISON:  Which is exactly what she should do.  And she is going to speak forcefully for the president and everyone is going to know that that is what the president is thinking and what she is saying is what he‘s going to do. 

MATTHEWS:  So if Dick Cheney—and Dick Cheney gets Rummy to agree with him and they walk into the Oval Office and they say, Mr. President, we‘ve got to bomb some installations in Tehran or somewhere else in Iran and Condi walks in the room and she hears what the guys are talking about, you guys are talking about bombing part of Iran to get the nuclear facilities, she would have the stuff to say, you guys are crazy; this is a wack job; you don‘t start another war when you haven‘t finished two other ones?

HUTCHISON:  I think Condi Rice has shown that she can stand up with the big boys. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

HUTCHISON:  She has shown it.  I think she will be a wonderful secretary of state. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk to you.  Let me ask you about your views, since you‘ve written about her, somebody I really am impressed by, Sandra Day O‘Connor.  Like you, she assume that Roe v. Wade is pretty good law.  And she basically has been almost a—I don‘t know—a sphinx. 

She just stands there.  She doesn‘t talk about it.  She just defends current law.  Tell me about her. 

HUTCHISON:  Well, Sandra Day O‘Connor was a wonderful interview, as was Condi Rice, by the way.

But Sandra Day O‘Connor is very down to earth.  And she is a person who is very bright.  And she—the Supreme Court is very, I wouldn‘t say isolated from the world, but they don‘t dance to the drummers out there of politics, like we all do.  They have a legalistic approach.  And she is very bright. 

And she also said in the interview that she was always trying to do her career and have children and never had time for herself.  She‘s a human person.  And I think that‘s exactly why she‘s so good and why she was a great first choice. 

MATTHEWS:  The reason I bring her up, in addition to being a chapter in your book, she‘s so important today because the Supreme Court may well have a vacancy in the next couple months because of either Justice Rehnquist or someone else stepping down. 

She has been a centrist.  She has been part of the a majority of the court, liberal and her and Kennedy on the issue of keeping Roe v. Wade basically the way it is.  Are you concerned, as a pro-choice senator, that the court may be tipped in the other direction by her departure or the departure of Rehnquist or anyone else? 

HUTCHISON:  Well, I wouldn‘t categorize myself in any way, except to say that I think what has happened with Roe v. Wade is, it is not what it was in the beginning.  It has had now all of the state laws that have been passed with restrictions, and the Supreme Court has acted in a way that would show what can be allowed in the state. 

MATTHEWS:  Right, 24-hour waiting periods, parental consent. 

HUTCHISON:  Yes, parental consent.

MATTHEWS:  Those kinds of things. 

HUTCHISON:  And that‘s right.  So I think Roe v. Wade has now gone beyond the original decision.  And I think there is so much law now on...

MATTHEWS:  Is that a good thing? 

HUTCHISON:  Yes, I do.  I think it is a good thing, because I think we now know what the parameters are.  And I think...

MATTHEWS:  And no one can call it abortion on demand. 

HUTCHISON:  No, no, absolutely not.  The restrictions that have been approved by the Supreme Court are quite reasonable.  And I think that‘s the way it‘s gone.

MATTHEWS:  So, the Casey case was an important one, wasn‘t it, where they agreed to parental and they agreed to the waiting period?

HUTCHISON:  Yes.  I mean, I think those were reasonable restrictions that were envisioned.  And I think that Sandra Day O‘Connor has been instrumental in that.  She‘s been great, yes.

MATTHEWS:  She sure has, a very nuanced justice. 

HUTCHISON:  And she was a wonderful interview.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about another nuanced guy when we get back, very nuanced, Arlen Specter. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  He has apparently saved his position and is about to chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

We‘re coming back, more with Senator Kay Bailey HUTCHISON, author of “American Heroines,” great—well, it‘s bigger than a stocking stuffer.  A great gift for Christmas, obviously, and the holidays.

We‘ll be right back with more HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, a Republican and an author now of “American Heroines,” about great leaders on the female side of things.

Let me ask you—I want to ask you about Barbara Walters in just a second, but what about Arlen Specter?  You‘ve watched this.  You‘re a member of the Senate caucus, the Republican Caucus.  How does it work now if you‘re a bit out of step of the mainstream of the Republican Party on the issue of abortion rights, like Arlen Specter is?  Do you think it was decent to have to force him to make these sort of public statements that he would support the majority‘s party? 

HUTCHISON:  Well, I think Arlen realizes that he made a statement that looked like he was challenging the president, and right after an election in which the people of America voted.

And one of the issues before the people of America were that there had been a stalemate with judge candidates; 10 circuit court judges never got confirmed, even though they got more than 50 votes.  And the Constitution...

MATTHEWS:  They never got a vote.  They never got a final vote up or down. 

HUTCHISON:  Well, that‘s right, because there was a 60-vote threshold, when 51 is what the Constitution envisioned.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Senate rule should be changed to allow an up-or-down vote for a majority for a judge appointment? 

HUTCHISON:  I do.  I think the Constitution intended it and I think we should.  I wish we didn‘t have to.  We didn‘t have this filibuster problem before.  But I think we should.  We should have up-or-down votes.

MATTHEWS:  Well, all you need is a ruling from the chair.  Why don‘t you get—why don‘t you, when somebody is presiding, just rule from the chair?  Any time a Republican is in the chair, just rule from the chair and say, you can‘t interrupt—this person cannot filibuster?  Why don‘t you have somebody do that?  Then it will become Senate precedent.

HUTCHISON:  Chris Matthews, you have worked in the United States Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  And I know.  And it can be done.  It can be done. 

HUTCHISON:  It cannot be done. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it can be done. 

HUTCHISON:  You can‘t just do that from the chair. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you just uphold it, vote to uphold it.  Vote for 51 votes to uphold the chair. 

HUTCHISON:  We are going to look at changing the rules, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what would happen if the majority of the Senate just upheld the rules, upheld the ruling of the chair?  Try it.  You would be amazed.  It would work.  It takes 51 votes.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Of course, you‘re going to have all kinds of all—let me ask you about Barbara...

HUTCHISON:  The Senate would be blown up.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Well, maybe you‘re right.  I‘m talking about a way it could be done if everybody was nice. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about Barbara Walters, one of the real heroes this world of broadcast journalism.  What made her able to do what no one woman had done before, go to the very top? 

HUTCHISON:  She outworked everyone. 

She never gave up.  And she didn‘t whine about it.  One of the things that she said in the book that I thought was great, when someone says, well, he makes more than I do or he has better hours than I do, she said, hey, you work hard.  You make yourself indispensable and you negotiate from a position of strength.  And that is exactly what she did. 

She endured the little slights, where she couldn‘t ask a question until her male counterpart had asked two questions.  You know what she did?  She went out and got interviews off site, so that she would be the only one questioning. 

MATTHEWS:  She had the tape. 

HUTCHISON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And she also—I guess you‘re saying, she said, play me or trade me?

HUTCHISON:  Yes.  That‘s exactly right.

MATTHEWS:  If you don‘t like my act and if you don‘t give me the big jobs, get rid of me. 

(CROSSTALK)

HUTCHISON:  And she was a great interview. 

I thought she would be really tough, because she‘s—this is her job.  Here I am interviewing her.  She was so down to earth, so nice, couldn‘t have made me feel more at ease.  And that‘s why she‘s the best. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Sometimes, I think she is too nice to people, or just celebrities, but she is a pioneer in this business. 

HUTCHISON:  Oh, very much.

MATTHEWS:  I like the HARDBALL approach myself much better. 

HUTCHISON:  Well, that‘s your...

MATTHEWS:  Punch them all on an equal basis. 

HUTCHISON:  Well, you‘ve risen to the top in your field. 

MATTHEWS:  Except for you, because you‘re great.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Senator Kay Bailey HUTCHISON.  The name of the book is “American Heroines.” 

And this is good for Christmas, right, holidays? 

(CROSSTALK)

HUTCHISON:  It is inspiring for young people especially.  It‘s wonderful.

MATTHEWS:  So women know they can do it. 

HUTCHISON:  Yes.  And young boys can get a lot out of this, too.  It shows...

MATTHEWS:  Are there be some day going to be 50 women senators and 50 male senators? 

HUTCHISON:  It shows that you can fail and still succeed.

MATTHEWS:  Are we going to have a Senate that‘s 50/50 some day? 

HUTCHISON:  Yes, we will.  Yes, we will.

MATTHEWS:  You know those old folks home, you notice there‘s only one guy?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Do you ever notice that, the rooster?  And he‘s there and all the other people are women. 

HUTCHISON:  That‘s because they live longer.  But, you know what? 

That will probably change, too, because our stress is coming up.

MATTHEWS:  Do you know why women care most about Social Security? 

They‘re going to get it. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Senator Kay Bailey HUTCHISON.

Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for our HARDBALL/”Newsweek” special report, “The Passion of the Right,” as we explore the role of the religious right in American politics. 

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.

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