updated 1/19/2005 2:51:45 PM ET 2005-01-19T19:51:45

Guest: Chuck Todd, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Benjamin Busch, Elisabeth Bumiller, Bob Colacello

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, an extra edition of HARDBALL.  Washington gears up for President Bush‘s second inauguration.  From the youth concert tonight with the Bush twins to the parade and the president‘s swearing-in on Thursday, we‘ve got reporters all over town, as President Bush‘s second term gets set to take off.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews from the National Mall here in Washington, D.C.  In just two days on the Capitol steps right behind me, President Bush will be sworn in for his second term.  With over $40 million going into this week‘s inaugural festivities, the glitz and the glamour has already begun.  Earlier today, President Bush kicked off the celebration at two events, the first honoring our nation‘s military and the second celebrating our nation‘s youth.  We‘ll talk about that later with HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster and MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing.

Tomorrow afternoon, the president and Mrs. Bush will attend a “Celebration of Freedom,” it‘s called, an inaugural concert on the Ellipse.  Then on Thursday morning, MSNBC‘s inaugural coverage begins at 9:00 AM Eastern.  President Bush will attend morning services at St. John‘s church across from the White House before taking the oath of office at noon.  Then between 2:30 in the afternoon, the inaugural parade, and at night, of course, several inaugural balls will be held around town.  Then on Friday morning, the national prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral.

We‘re joined right now by Chuck Todd, who‘s editor-in-chief of “The Hotline”—that‘s the on-line service we all read about what‘s really happening in politics—and Patrick J. Buchanan, who is now a political analyst with MSNBC.

Let‘s go Chuck Todd, first of all.  Chuck, what‘s going to distinguish the next couple of days from previous inaugurations, do you think?

CHUCK TODD, “THE HOTLINE”:  Well, I think the fact that, politically, it‘s the fact that this is sort of a test run for the start of Bush‘s second term, when really, his second term and his legacy begins on January 30 in Iraq, when these elections are held.  I mean, it‘s sort of a weird feeling right now around town because it‘s sort of like we‘re going through these inaugural motions, but really, everybody‘s got one eye on what‘s going on in Iraq.  And that‘s really—where President Bush‘s legacy is concerned, that‘s where his legacy begins, is on January 30, not on January 20.

MATTHEWS:  On how well the elections come out.  Pat, your view?  What separates this from previous elections?


MATTHEWS:  Previous inaugurations, I should say.

BUCHANAN:  Well, I—you know, it‘s the first time Republicans have come with a second term of the president when they control both houses of congress.  Ike didn‘t have that.  Nixon didn‘t have that.  Reagan didn‘t have that.

I disagree somewhat on the legacy.  I think President Bush in his inaugural is going to talk about the freedom strategy of the president of the United States, and he is going to what Ronald Reagan did for Eastern Europe and the Soviet empire.  Reagan won the cold war and liberated them.  And he is the president who has the vision to see that freedom and liberty can move into the Arab and Islamic world.  And even if things go bad, I think he wants to be sort of a Wilsonian figure.  And my guess is...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s quite a marked difference from his message when he ran and was elected the first time, when he said we were going to have humility in foreign policy.

BUCHANAN:  Well, listen...

MATTHEWS:  This is a grand notion.

BUCHANAN:  This is post-9/11.  Pre-9/11, he was a very traditional conservative.  You know, We‘re going to look over our alliances, and, Are we too committed?  He now has this vision—I think he‘s bought into it—that he is going to do for the Islamic world what Reagan did for Eastern Europe and the Soviet empire.  But at least he‘s going to try.  And even if it goes badly, it‘s going to be like Wilson.  He was a tragic failure, but he was a man ahead of his time.  And I think this is the way he sees himself.

MATTHEWS:  Will traditional conservatives buy into it, like yourself?

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know...

MATTHEWS:  Do you buy into it?

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think it‘s headed for tragedy.  I really do.  But I think the president is a man that who‘s converted in his first term, Chris.  You saw the steel went into the spine I think after 9/11, and he bought into this idea...

MATTHEWS:  On 9/14.

BUCHANAN:  ... what he calls—yes—the “global democratic revolution.”  He‘s the leader of it.  And I think he really wants that to be his legacy.

MATTHEWS:  Chuck Todd, the early line on this inauguration is—I mean, you‘re hearing this from the liberal critics—you know, I don‘t think a lot of people share this critique because it is an inauguration—saying, Why spend all this money, why flaunt it at a time there‘s so much need over there in South Asia?  What do you think is going to be the bottom line?  Will people remember that, or just say, Well, that was just kvetching, basically?

TODD:  No, I think it‘s kvetching, and I don‘t think people are going to focus on that part.  I mean, it‘s going to be interesting to see, you know, how Democrats react to this.  Are they really going to hold their fire?  Because, you know, we‘re sort of—all of a sudden, we‘ve got a whole bunch of events that sort of begin the second term.  the inaugural address is for the history books, right?  This is what we‘re going to read back over time and see how—and judge him.

But then all of a sudden, as far as our current political status, you know, all of a sudden, we get hit in the face with the Iraqi elections, and then we got the State of the Union two days later.  So it‘s sort of—in some ways, you know, we‘re having this inaugural week, but it‘s almost like a break week, when we start hitting full speed ahead with what‘s coming next.

MATTHEWS:  Chuck, let‘s talk about something that‘s been called—well, maybe I call it that—the second-term jinx.  I have a sense that this fellow about to be sworn in again knows what it‘s all about and he‘s going to try to avoid it like mad.  We had Watergate in the second term.  We had Monica in the second term.  We had Sherman Adams and the coat in the second term, the chief of staff...

BUCHANAN:  Reagan had Iran-contra...

MATTHEWS:  Iran-contra.  What is it, first of all—let‘s just start here.  Pat, you served at the highest level for a couple of presidents, three presidents, I think.  What causes that second-term jinx?  Is it just like the King Tut‘s tomb thing?  Is it real?

BUCHANAN:  Well, both in the case of Reagan and the case of Nixon, I‘m both familiar with that.  I was in both those scandals, right in the middle there.  I think...

MATTHEWS:  Funny thing!



BUCHANAN:  But no, with both of them, it was mistakes in judgment, flaws that come out in their character.  Reagan was too concerned about the hostages in Lebanon.  He was getting pictures of it.  He took...

MATTHEWS:  And Bill Buckley‘s recorded voice...


BUCHANAN:  And Nixon, too.  It was, My guys did it.  We got to take care of our guys.  They made their blunders, but they were helping us out.  We got to protect them.

MATTHEWS:  We got to play it tough because they play it tough.

BUCHANAN:  It‘s a tragic flaw inside both men.

MATTHEWS:  Will it come out with George W. Bush?  Is there a tragic flaw?

BUCHANAN:  Difference you got with Bush is there‘s a lot of problems out there, he‘s got both houses of Congress with him.  Who investigates?

MATTHEWS:  No subpoena power in the enemy hands.

BUCHANAN:  What would have happened...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, boy, did I love that!

BUCHANAN:  What would have happened if Lyndon Johnson...

MATTHEWS:  I love knowing those little things that people outside of Washington don‘t get.

BUCHANAN:  Why didn‘t the...

MATTHEWS:  You get it Pat.  Whoever controls Congress controls the subpoena power.  If you control the subpoena power and you‘re the president, you don‘t have to worry about investigations.  What do you make if it, Chuck Todd, a second term jinx?  And can he skip it?  Can he dodge it?

TODD:  Well, I‘ll tell you one he‘s dodged it so far, and that is his internal team hasn‘t changed.  You know, one of the things that you see, at least in the modern second-term presidency, is that they change their—they radically change their internal teams, whether it‘s the chief or staff or—but you know, Andy Card, Karl Rove, sort of the same team is there.  Yes, and some of the people are in different places, like Condi Rice is, you know, at a different phone number, but she‘s still around.  So already, Bush has dodged the sort of—the jinx of watching maybe his—what he considers his best and brightest take off on him.  And instead, he sort of maybe relieved his not so best and brightest, and instead kept around the team he‘s comfortable with.  And that‘s something Reagan didn‘t do.  Clinton didn‘t do it.  Nixon didn‘t do it.

MATTHEWS:  Fascinating stuff.  Thank you very much, Pat Buchanan.  And thank you, Chuck Todd of “The Hotline.”

For more on the inaugural activities already under way today, HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster‘s here at the National Mall.  And we‘re joined also by MSNBC Chris Jansing.  She‘s at the new World War II memorial.  That‘s quite a place.

We begin with—let me go with you.  What do you see happening out here?  Do these—you were at the kids‘ thing today with Jenna and Barb.

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, there was a couple interesting things, Chris.  This is going to be a very tightly choreographed inauguration, based on this concert.  First of all, the twins weren‘t there, which was a big surprise.  Secondly, there was so much reading off the prompter as far as introducing the musical acts, praising the kids who are involved in community service...

MATTHEWS:  But there was one grossity that got by, right?

SHUSTER:  There was one thing.  There were a lot of conservatives who were very were worried about one musical act that they thought had been booked for this concert, where the kid uses all sorts of and strange lyrics and juicy lyrics.  And so they complained.  There were lots of e-mails.  And so the inaugural committee said, No, we‘re not going to have that musical act.  Well, there was the lead singer for the group Fuel, who said, Welcome to the greatest ...


SHUSTER:  ... and then he used the “F-ing”—concert on earth.

MATTHEWS:  That‘ll set the tone!

SHUSTER:  And there are all the parents that, you know, are upset. 

And all the kids, of course, love it because it‘s a moment of spontaneity.  But that‘s perhaps a rare moment of spontaneity you‘re going to see this week.

MATTHEWS:  Chris Jansing, your view, from the World War II memorial.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Well, I think that there was a little bit of controversy here, too, in that there was an answer to the critics of the president—and even some of his supporters, as you know, Chris, who have questioned whether or not it‘s appropriate in a time of war to have the most elaborate, most expensive inauguration ever.  And that‘s why the kickoff today was at the MCI Center, and it was a salute to those who served.  You saw 14,000 people packed in there, 7,000 of them members of the military and their families.

And person after person, the stars and the president talking about the big picture, trying to draw parallels between what happened in Iraq, preserving freedom, to the great battles of the past.  They read letters from military members going all the way back to the Civil War to World War II and leading up to Iraq and Afghanistan, really looking to paint a picture on this inauguration that it is not just about celebrating the president but also celebrating those who have given service to their country, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, Chris.  That‘s Chris Jansing at the World War II memorial.  How are they going to put this together, as you see the—we just heard Chris.  How do they put together this—the concern for the troops overseas, the casualties, the costs, at the same time celebrate?

SHUSTER:  Well, and it‘s not easy.  I mean, just at this concert that we were at, this group Three Doors Down, they were singing songs that says, Like love me when I‘m gone.  And then on the big giant projection screens are these explosions in Iraq, these troops that are fighting.  And it was jarring, and some might say it was perhaps even a little bit insensitive.  But it‘s not an easy task, when on one hand, you do have a large group of people who want to celebrate, who want to have fun, and yet at the same point, you want to pay tribute to those who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It‘s not easy.

MATTHEWS:  So let‘s talk about the climax of the week, the president‘s inaugural address.  How does he—well, let me ask you this.  He has to choose.  Is it a cris de guerre, We got to fight these bad guys and keep the fight up, its‘ going to be costly, more casualties to come, like Lincoln‘s second inaugural, or is it going to be, Have faith, we‘re going to get through this, the boys‘ll be back and the girls‘ll be back soon?

BUCHANAN:  I think like Lincoln‘s second inaugural.  I don‘t think—

I mean, that was a very tough speech. as you know, about the—you know, if each drop of blood we‘re going to take for all...


BUCHANAN:  ... that have been—are going to be dropped by the...

MATTHEWS:  It was biblical.

BUCHANAN:  It was biblical.  I think what he‘s going to do is this.  Rather than narrow it to Iraq, he will mention “Stay the course,” but it‘s going to be this—put it in a larger context of what this administration, what this president is all about, this historic drive to basically democratize mankind and lead, frankly, toward the end of history, when all the world is democratic.  And I think it‘s going to have be able to discount if something goes wrong in Afghanistan or Iraq, so that people will look back and say, He was right—he had the vision.  He was right to have tried.


BUCHANAN:  This may not have worked out, but this is the future...

MATTHEWS:  But isn‘t that the old Washington mistake of confusing input with output?  The more pain and suffering, the more death, the more money it costs, that measures how valuable the war is, even if it turns bad.

BUCHANAN:  But I think you...

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t you judge wars by results, not input?

BUCHANAN:  But you do.  But lookit—I mean, what Nixon once gave me Woodrow Wilson‘s speeches.  Read his speeches!  They‘re really overarching things.


BUCHANAN:  And even a world war he puts into that context.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, Nixon liked Wilson.  I don‘t know how many people like Wilson these days.  But anyway...

BUCHANAN:  I think the...

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t like Wilson.

BUCHANAN:  ... present president does.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, David Shuster.  Thank you, Pat Buchanan.

When we come back, we‘ll talk to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, one of President Bush‘s closest allies in the U.S. Senate, about his second term agenda, which we‘ve been talking about.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  When any citizen denies his fellow, saying his color is not mine or his beliefs are strange and different, from that moment, he betrays America.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR (voice-over):  Lyndon Johnson said, you know, We‘re probably going to lose the South over this.  But he did believe it was the right thing to do.  I thought one of the most remarkable statements I‘ve ever heard a president make, especially given who he was, was when Lyndon Johnson came on television and said, “We shall overcome.”

JOHNSON:  ... all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.  And we shall overcome.




MATTHEWS:  You can see where we are.  Welcome back HARDBALL, live from the National Mall.  We‘re right in the middle of the National Mall, as you can see, here in Washington.  We‘re right near the Smithsonian.  By the way, right across to my left is the most visited building in the country, perhaps, the National Air and Space Museum.

We‘re here talking right now with Kay Bailey Hutchison, senator from Texas.  You‘ve known President Bush for many years.  Are you going to run for governor of Texas?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON ®, TEXAS:  Oh, I haven‘t decided.

MATTHEWS:  You haven‘t decided yet.  Would you come back and tell us? 

We like to be up to date on these things.

HUTCHISON:  I will.  I will.  I‘ll tell you.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about what this means for the Bush family.  You know, usually, when you have these dynasties, they don‘t quite make two terms.  You know, the Adams family, one term each, President Bush, Sr., one term.  What‘s it mean to get two terms for a dynasty like this, the Bushes?

HUTCHISON:  Well, of course, they say this is not a dynasty.  But of course, they are people who have given their lives for public service.  And it‘s—it is terrific.  For any president in our time to get a second term is really big.

MATTHEWS:  Is George W. Bush an actual Texan, as opposed to his father, who was sort of an immigrant from the Northeast?

HUTCHISON:  Yes.  Yes.  George W. Bush is a Texan.  And he is Texan in...

MATTHEWS:  Boots and saddles and all that stuff?

HUTCHISON:  Well, it‘s his spirit.  It‘s his way of looking at things.  He‘s plainspoken.  He‘s simple.  He was very popular as governor because he was out with the people.  People related to him.  Nobody thought of him as somebody that was stand-offish.  He was right down home.  Anyone who meets him really just loves him.

MATTHEWS:  It seems like there‘s a sort of a quiet familial debate

going on inside the quarters of the Bush family.  The father raised taxes

in 1990 to balance budget.  The son cut taxes.  The father was very

suspicious and arm‘s-length from the Christian right.  The son is very much

·         almost a part of the Christian right.  The father had problems with Israel.  The son is very close to Israel, and Sharon particularly.  The father didn‘t go into Baghdad.  The son did.  Is there something of a—of a—I don‘t know what‘s the word, a Freudian rivalry going on between these two, an Oedipal rivalry going on now?

HUTCHISON:  No, not at all.

MATTHEWS:  You say that, but factually, it‘s there, though, isn‘t it?

HUTCHISON:  The times are different.  They are different people.  The son is his own person.

MATTHEWS:  And he‘s different from the father.

HUTCHISON:  He is different from the father.

MATTHEWS:  How?  The way I said?

HUTCHISON:  Well, he is—he‘s much more plainspoken.  He‘s more conservative, in the mainstream conservative-type way.  And he is a person that has had 9/11.  And I think he has responded to that with absolute firmness, boldness and no nonsense.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about nonsense.  There was some question of that in the hearings today for Condoleezza Rice.  Barbara Boxer of California raised the point, showing quotes—she didn‘t just make an argument, she showed quotes whereby Condoleezza Rice argued that there was an immediate threat from the nuclear arms held by Saddam Hussein before the war, and later on, in which she was much more careful, saying, Well, maybe a year from now, maybe later.  Do you believe that Condoleezza Rice hyped the nuclear threat from Iraq before the war?

HUTCHISON:  Absolutely not.  I do not think that she thought there weren‘t really nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction but she was looking for an excuse to go in.  Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS:  Was she right to say we will face—rather than wait and decide whether to go in and wait for the smoking gun that people were waiting for, she said, Well, smoking gun‘s going to be a mushroom cloud, so you can‘t wait.  You got to go because they‘re going to hit us with nuclear weapons.  That was her lingo going in.

HUTCHISON:  Chris, what you have to remember is what they were looking at, at the time.  They had just had 9/11, and they were not going to take a chance that there would be another 9/11 with a weapon of mass destruction that would have been even more horrible than the first one.  So they were trying to be bold in going to where the terrorism was.  And it is a hotbed of terrorism.  It was...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s not what the president says, or Condi—Condi Rice and the president, the whole Bush team, say even if there weren‘t weapons of mass destruction, we still would have gone to war the same way.  So in other words, you were worried about the threat from mass destruction weapons.  They say they would have gone as a matter of what?  What would—they say they would have gone anyway.  So you were afraid of weapons of mass destruction.  Why did the White House feel we had to go into war with Iraq, if—even if we didn‘t have the weapons facing us?

HUTCHISON:  Well, I think they were trying to make sure that you didn‘t have more terrorists over here with weapons of mass destruction or other opportunities.  I mean, we were looking at Osama bin Laden.  We were looking at—clearly, Saddam Hussein had been paying Palestinian suicide bombers‘ families...


MATTHEWS:  That‘s regional.  That‘s the dangers of the region.  But we went to war because...

HUTCHISON:  No, it is not a danger...

MATTHEWS:  ... of the threat to us.

HUTCHISON:  ... to the region.  It is...


MATTHEWS:  What was the threat to us?

HUTCHISON:  That they would be coming over here!

MATTHEWS:  With what?

HUTCHISON:  They were trying to penetrate—with chemical...

MATTHEWS:  The Iraqi—what were the Iraqis trying to do here?

HUTCHISON:  The whole terrorist operation...

MATTHEWS:  No, what were the Iraqis trying to do to us?

HUTCHISON:  The Iraqis and other terrorist organizations...

MATTHEWS:  You keep changing the subject, Senator.

HUTCHISON:  ... were all intertwined.

MATTHEWS:  What did Iraq do to start the war with us?

HUTCHISON:  They were intertwined with other terrorist organizations.

MATTHEWS:  So you have evidence of that?

HUTCHISON:  Well, it‘s very clear.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  You have evidence they were involved with 9/11?  I‘ve never seen this evidence.  And no one else has.

HUTCHISON:  With other terrorist organizations.

MATTHEWS:  Which ones?

HUTCHISON:  Chris, these terrorist organizations have tentacles that go all the over the Middle East.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you this.  Are you confident that we have the plan in hand right now to get out of Iraq at some point in the next couple of years?  According to Condoleezza Rice now, we have 120,000 Iraqi soldiers ready to take our place.  Joe Biden was just over there, the ranking Democrat on the committee.  He said we have 4,000 real soldiers, the ones who actually fight.  That‘s a big discrepancy.

HUTCHISON:  I think it has been very much harder than we thought it would be to train these Iraqi soldiers because these insurgents are attacking everybody who is trying to stabilize Iraq.  And so some of the soldiers have been running.  Some of them have quit.  Some of them have been afraid to go to work.  There‘s no question about that.

MATTHEWS:  Suppose they never get their act together?  Suppose the Iraqis never want to fight the insurgents?

HUTCHISON:  I think they will get their act together.

MATTHEWS:  What gives you confidence?

HUTCHISON:  And we‘re going to stay the course.

MATTHEWS:  What gives you confidence the Iraqis want to fight the insurgents and risk their lives and give their lives, like our troops are doing?

HUTCHISON:  Because we have to get rid of the insurgents and wipe them out.

MATTHEWS:  No, what gives you confidence that the Iraqis will do the fighting for us, so we get out?

HUTCHISON:  That we do away with the insurgents with the help of the Iraqis and the people who are going to be elected at the end of this month, who will not be in a perfect election, but they will be a beginning.  And we‘re going to build on that.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘ll be back with more with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas when we come back.  And later, a look at the pre-inaugural activities with NBC‘s David Gregory and Elizabeth Bumiller of “The New York Times.”

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of second Bush inaugural, live, as you can see, on this beautiful place on the National Mall.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.  I know you‘re pro-choice on the issue of abortion rights, which is interesting because we‘ve been getting a lot of word out of the president the last couple days, with these series of interviews he‘s don, that he‘s going to put aside some of those issues, like abortion rights, gay marriage, constitutional amendments, and stick to Social Security reform and tax reform, the sort of secular issues.  What do you make of that?

HUTCHISON:  Well, first of all, I don‘t characterize myself as pro-choice...


HUTCHISON:  ... because I don‘t think it‘s easy to categorize on that issue.  But let me say...

MATTHEWS:  By the way, I like that.

HUTCHISON:  ... with regard to...

MATTHEWS:  I like your concern about the language, too.  It‘s shorthand.  I don‘t like it, either.  Go ahead.

HUTCHISON:  Oh, no!  I mean, it‘s so important, and it‘s such a huge issue.  But I do think that the president is going to focus first on the war on terrorism because securing America is his first responsibility.  And I think he deeply believes that Social Security is going to go bust if we don‘t do something.  And we can do it later, but it will be more expensive.  And he thinks...

MATTHEWS:  You know, 10 Republican...

HUTCHISON:  ... his first job...

MATTHEWS:  ... senators lost their seats in ‘86 when Reagan tried to adjust the benefit levels.

HUTCHISON:  I agree.  I know that‘s true.  I know that is right.  But the president sees that if we don‘t do something now, we‘re going to leave it to others to do.  And he thinks that his responsibility as president is to address it.

MATTHEWS:  The polls say he‘ll be...

HUTCHISON:  Now, maybe we won‘t be able to do it, but...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m getting rushed here.  I‘m sorry.  I want to give a

break to say something nice about the president who‘s about to be

reinaugurated.  The big poll that came out today ABC/”Wall Street Journal”

·         or “Washington Post” poll said people are confident—I guess it‘s both parties—this president will be better in the second term than the first term.  Isn‘t that impressive?

HUTCHISON:  Yes, it is.  And I think that he has shown that he is disciplined, that he says what he‘s going to do and he does it.  And I think people, whether they agree with him all the time, they are looking for that in a leader.  And I think that‘s why he won.  And I think people have confidence in him.

MATTHEWS:  Kay Bailey Hutchison, the great senator from Texas, maybe governor some day.  Who knows?

More of HARDBALL‘s pre-inauguration coverage live from the National Mall in Washington when we come back.




GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Ask not what your country can do for you. 

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Government is not the solution to our problems.  Government is the problem.


BUSH:  So help me God.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Recently, I spoke with Major Benjamin Busch, a Marine Reserve officer preparing for his second deployment in Iraq.  While not in active service, Major Busch is an artist and television actor.  You may recognize him, by the way, from the HBO series “The Wire.” 

During his first tour of duty in Iraq, Major Busch shot hundreds of photographs, about 40 of which are on display at the University of Maryland University College in an exhibit entitled “The Art in War.”

I began by asking Major Busch why he voluntarily chose to go back to Iraq. 


MAJ. BENJAMIN BUSCH, MARINE CORPS RESERVIST:  But I felt the effort we have over there right now required my assistance.  I think that my ability to still contribute to that effort drew me back in. 

And it‘s a civil affairs unit I‘m going back with.  And I think that kind of unit is the type of unit that is going to interact most directly with Iraqis, as well as facilitating these new governments and these aid organizations and also mediating between the Iraqi citizenry and the American and coalition military forces trying to create stability in the region.  So I thought, if I was able to, I should. 

MATTHEWS:  When you were over there on your first tour, did you have a sense you could you connect with the Iraqis that you met? 

BUSCH:  Yes, I did. 

It‘s difficult, because you have to be very, very careful.  I mean, everything you do, you have to consider the ramifications of having—of doing it wrong.  And I think that was one thing which I really took pause before acting many times in order to try to understand best the Iraqi people from their perspective and take them on their terms, without trying to impose common sense, which, for us, is common, but for them, they perceive without a common frame of reference.

And it makes that dialogue between our two people very difficult without a, you know, a sense of understanding and really investigative reporting in some ways.  You really have to figure out who they are in their place. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this is important stuff.  Can you give me an example

·         it‘s important stuff.  We‘re trying to help them build a modern democracy there, coming from where we come from, 200 years experience. 

Give me an example where you think the Iraqi looks at how to do something in a way that we wouldn‘t look at it as the right way to do it, or the way we‘d look at something and the way he‘d say, I don‘t like that idea. 

BUSCH:  Well, I think we have to take into consideration the incredible tribal and cultural differences that exist over there and have existed for so long, especially between tribes that are located within a same region. 

What will they do is prioritize things, like water rights.  That‘s incredibly important there and has been for centuries, whereas, to us, we‘d think that everyone would like to share, whereas, to an Iraqi tribe, they would hold very important possession of a water source. 


BUSCH:  And just dealing between those two groups, trying to find a way to make representatives from both tribes contribute to the security of a specific pump allowed us to be able to finally quell some of the differences between the tribes there and allowed some conditions to continue with supplies of water. 

But that‘s one instance which we never thought would be a problem, delivering water to an area, where suddenly water game something which was a possession, considered ownable and considered controllable by a certain tribe and used against other tribes. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, anybody that saw “Lawrence of Arabia,” Major, would know that.  “Lawrence of Arabia” starts off in the movie with Omar Sharif shooting some guy dead for drinking out of his well.  Remember that opening scene?

BUSCH:  I actually—I love that movie.  And I‘ve read “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” since and found a few—I found out that most of that movie has been a change-around from the actual way it existed. 

But I wanted to make sure that I had a little background on the people before I had to actually interact with them.  So I think it takes research to understand.  I think you really have to perceive with great caution and patience.  I think the most difficult thing about dealing with people in that region is the frustration, the constant negotiation.  The dollar would change value throughout the day as I was trying to negotiate the price of wire to fix their own schools. 

And I had to buy wire from them because we didn‘t have supplies of it.  And as I finished negotiations, someone would come in and say that the price of the dollar is no longer 2,000 dinars.  It‘s 1,700 dinars.  So now we must renegotiate.  And from an American perspective, once we make a deal, we‘re done.  It‘s over.

And to an Iraqi, a deal can be a continuous event.  It can almost be entertainment sometimes.  And that was very frustrating.  And I think a lot of that was disguising my frustration and accepting the fact that‘s how it is there.  And dealing with them on their terms I think is the only way to really make any progress in that region. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell us about your pictures you‘ve taken over there.

BUSCH:  Well, I tried to capture a unique moment where we first as people, both the Iraqis and the Americans, and then try to follow that as it began to transform with exposure to outside influences.

And I think there‘s a great delicacy and subtlety in the way things begin to change within a culture as they adopt certain elements of what you bring to them.  And I was very interested by that, how suddenly American names and writings would appear on shops and things like that.  And I think there‘s a real—a real interest, for me, anyway, in how a culture develops when it‘s exposed to something it‘s been isolated from for so long. 

Baghdad, obviously, was a cosmopolitan city, but the outlying areas were very isolated. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your reaction to the beheadings that we‘ve all been aghast at the last several months.  What does that tell you about our chances of getting along with these people?

BUSCH:  Well, I guess you would have to define these people.

We have foreign nationals operating there with a very specific agenda.  We have insurgents who are obviously fighting for the ability to maintain some control, as they may soon be disenfranchised by this vote, especially the Sunni sector, who has long controlled the region and will now only be 20 percent.  So, you can‘t win an election with 20 percent. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BUSCH:  And I think, if they feel that they‘re going to be disempowered and disenfranchised, they‘re going to have the necessity to           exert their power in another way.  And, right now, they‘re certainly doing that with fear and in the worst ways imaginable.

And that‘s the region I will return to, is actually the Anbar Province, to try to find a way, find a way to reach these people and try to create something that‘s sustainable and not put a Band-Aid on the problem and then run away.  We have to think long term in this. 

And that‘s really why I think it‘s going to take a great deal of patience now and for a great amount of time in that region. 

MATTHEWS:  It seems more like a Peace Corps mission.  I was in the Peace Corps back in a much less dangerous situation, to be obvious, make the obvious statement.  But do you feel that you‘re right to be doing this in the military? 

BUSCH:  Well, civil affairs actually is a military occupational specialty. 

I‘m initially a pointy spears guy.  I‘m an infantry officer, a light armor reconnaissance officer.  And I‘m all about combat arms.  However, I think our situation has changed.  And I think the solution that we need to bring to this place has to adopt to the conditions that we‘re seeing now.  And I‘m not saying we drop our posture.  Not at all. 

And we‘re going to be operating wrapped within the protection of Marine Corps combat units.  So it‘s not like we‘re just going to walk into the street waving and smiling and handing out candy, obviously.  We‘re going to really proceed with great caution.  But the end result is the same.  You can‘t create understanding with constant fighting.  So we have to find it—another way in. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, it‘s great to have you on the show.  It‘s an honor to meet you, sir.

BUSCH:  Thank you very much.

MATTHEWS:  Major Benjamin Busch, who is heading back to Iraq. 


MATTHEWS:  When we come back, Washington is gearing up for Thursday‘s inauguration.  We‘re going to give you a preview of all the pomp from “Vanity Fair”‘s Bob Colacello, plus, NBC‘s David Gregory and Elizabeth Bumiller—she‘s going to great—from “The New York Times.” 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s inaugural coverage only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, gearing up for President Bush‘s inauguration this Thursday.  We‘ll talk to two reporters who cover the president every day, NBC‘s David Gregory and Elizabeth Bumiller of “The New York Times.” 

HARDBALL returns after this. 



MATTHEWS:  With just two days now until President Bush is sworn in for a secretary four-year term, I‘m with two people who cover him every day, Elizabeth Bumiller, who writes great stuff for “The New York Times,” and NBC News‘ David Gregory, of course. 

Elizabeth, let me ask you about the new chain of command, Elizabeth.  In the first Bush administration, it was clearly almost a co-presidency by the vice president.  His staff handled the paperwork, tremendous influence in terms of advising the president, tremendous overview of a lot of the ideologues around the president.  Will he be No. 2 in the second administration or will Condi Rice as the new secretary of state be No. 2?  Who will outrank who? 

ELIZABETH BUMILLER, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  Well, I happen to think that Dick Cheney was always No. 2.  It‘s not a view that‘s held by the president‘s critics.  But I certainly think he will be No. 2 and Condi will be No. 3 in the second term.


MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that an extraordinary constitutional interpretation?  Can you imagine Spiro Agnew telling Dr. Kissinger what to do as secretary of state?  I can‘t. 

BUMILLER:  Well, I think Condi will work it out with the vice president.  They‘ve had a—they have a working relationship.  They‘ve had bumps in the past. 

Also, we‘re leaving out Donald Rumsfeld, who will be extremely influential. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BUMILLER:  And that‘s the real question, how that threesome will work, Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney, and Condi Rice. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go to David Gregory. 

Well, isn‘t—is it really a promotion, then?  I mean, if Condi Rice still has to sort of put up with Dick Cheney‘s thought processes and paper control and has to put up with Rumsfeld, in what way has she moved up in the chain of command, the food chain here, if you will? 


One is that this president obviously likes internal conflict, because he sets it up that way, and he‘s done it again here.  Now, Condi Rice may be somebody that he has a very close relationship.  And he does.  And he was obviously close to Colin Powell as well.  But she was really on the inside and was a tutor to him during the 2000 campaign and then became a real trusted confidante here who didn‘t have a different agenda. 

Well, he has given her an agenda and said, look, it‘s a second term.  We have got to have some kind of consolidation with the rest of the world, get people on board and circle the wagons here about Iraq and other things that we want to do.  So, she has got to actually carry that portfolio forward, which is going to put her in conflict, naturally, with the agenda of Rumsfeld and Cheney, who represent a different wing of their foreign policy thinking. 

MATTHEWS:  Have you ever heard of a secretary of state who refused under Senate testimony to answer any questions about American economic policy, David?

GREGORY:  Well, I haven‘t.  But...              

MATTHEWS:  It was stunning today to have her—it was like “Blade Runner.”  She was being asked if she had any information about—and it‘s like, she said, I can‘t meet that test.  I‘m afraid to talk about economic policy.  Has she been told or doesn‘t she know economic policy enough to talk about it?  Why did she come in with such a small portfolio?  How can you have a foreign policy without an economic policy as part of it? 

GREGORY:  Well, I don‘t know the answer to that question specifically. 

But I do know she was obviously well prepared in a very narrow channel. 


As you saw with Senator Boxer, I mean, she understood that she was going to be a punching bag for what critics of the administration think the administration did wrong and particularly the White House did wrong and what the president did wrong.  And she was a conduit for a lot of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Elizabeth, about the torture question. 

A couple of the senators, somewhat with kid gloves today, tried to get her to say what her position is on torture, of course, the water-boarding technique, where it makes people feel like they‘re drowning, the public sort of nudity and humiliating a person sexually.  She wouldn‘t venture even an opinion on that matter.  And yet she is to be the president‘s chief counselor on foreign affairs as secretary of state.  What does that tell you? 

BUMILLER:  It tells me that Condi is still operating as national security adviser until she is, presumably, sworn in on Thursday.  She never let any of her views be known as national security adviser.  It used to drive some of us a little to distraction. 

And I think it will be interesting to see how much she changes.  She‘s now taking over a giant bureaucracy.  It will be interesting to see how much she takes on the views and advances that bureaucracy. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BUMILLER:  But, right now, she is Condi.  She is not telling us what she thinks. 

GREGORY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Both of you, you remember that great movie where Henry II name Becket, his best buddy, archbishop of Canterbury, and all of a sudden, Becket turns on him because he is now working for God and the church? 

Is it possible, Elizabeth, that this woman, who has always been an intimate supporter of the president, will say, Mr. President, now I have to be secretary of state; it‘s a bigger responsibility; you‘re wrong on a couple of these things?

BUMILLER:  Well, she has disagreed with the president in the past on -

·         she will say she will let her views be known.  But we don‘t exactly know the precise nature of what she has said. 

But she can be quite—I‘ve seen—there are stories where she can be quite tough with him.  But they‘re never firsthand.  But I completely expect her to do that. 


GREGORY:  I think she‘s going to be tougher.  But I think it is still a question about the balance, whether she goes into the State Department to clean house or whether she starts to reflect more of an internationalist, realist bent in foreign policy and confronts the president.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GREGORY:  That‘s what we don‘t know. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, David.

Elizabeth, it is great having you on the show.  And, by the way, watch the rerun at 11:00 at night.  You look really good next to the Capitol. 


MATTHEWS:  It is a great twosome.  Thank you.  I‘m serious.

BUMILLER:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  Please watch tonight.

David will be with us tomorrow night and we‘ll have this—his interview with Karl Rove.  I cannot wait to see Karl and David going at it. 

When we come back, “Vanity Fair”‘s Bob Colacello.  He‘s the guy that wrote about the Reagans.  He‘s going to preview Thursday‘s activities.  It‘s a big day here in Washington.

You‘re watching MSNBC‘s special coverage of President Bush‘s second inaugural live, as you can see, from the National Mall, where I‘m sitting right now here in Washington. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  This is going to be fun. 

Bob Colacello, a special correspondent for “Vanity Fair,” he‘s a veteran of the New York, Hollywood, and Washington social scenes.  He‘s here this week covering the all-star spangled events during the president‘s inauguration.  He is also the author of a great new book about the Reagans, “Ronnie and Nancy.”

Well, your book is great.  It is not just about the glitter.  It‘s about the power of the Reagans.  Tell me, every inauguration seems to have a look.  What is this one going to be? 

BOB COLACELLO, “VANITY FAIR”:  I guess it is going to be black tie and boots.  That is the exclusive ball this year.  But, compared to the Reagan inauguration, I don‘t think there is the excitement, the thrill that people, you know, had to be here. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Nancy, for example, who you wrote about in your book and I know—she‘s really nice—she wears—she wore a real gown.  I mean, that was dress-up night.  You really put on the dog. 

This one seems—I can‘t see Laura Bush—but, then again, I saw these dresses for his two beautiful daughters.  They are pretty—pretty mature, pretty sophisticated dresses. 

COLACELLO:  Oh, yes.  Yes, they‘re pretty nice dresses.  I think Laura‘s dress by Oscar de la Renta looks quite beautiful.  And Carolina Herrera is doing the dress for the Black Tie and Boots Ball.

MATTHEWS:  Will this be as big a deal as Donald Trump‘s wedding or not?  I don‘t know.


COLACELLO:  I don‘t know.  I think Donald is going to upstage them.

MATTHEWS:  I heard that Melania has a $200,000 dress she‘s going to wear at that thing.

COLACELLO:  It was in “The New York Post” today, picked up from “Vogue.”  It‘s the first time a bride...

MATTHEWS:  Made by little nuns in Venezuela somewhere.

COLACELLO:  No, no, made in Paris by John Galliano of Dior, but it‘s the first time a bride has shown her dress before the wedding.  It is bad luck. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s going to be on the cover of another magazine.

Let me ask you about the Bushes.  You have got the old money of, we used to say growing up, the old money of Connecticut, Yankee money, George Bush Sr., and now Texas money.  Is this like in that movie—what was the movie, flaunt it, you know, where the guy says, Zero Mostel said, if you got the money, flaunt it in “The Producers”?

COLACELLO:  The Reagan inaugurals were pretty extravagant, lots of private jets flying in.  The Democrats kind of came out of the closet with their big money in the Clinton years also. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

COLACELLO:  But I think what‘s different about this, the curious thing about the Bushes, it‘s almost because they were born on top.  They don‘t seem to feel they have to make an effort to reach out to people beyond their group. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that true of George W. as well?

COLACELLO:  I think both of them.  I think both sets of Bushes mainly feel comfortable with people they already know.  You know what was the great thing about Nancy Reagan?

MATTHEWS:  So, old friends, not new friends. 

COLACELLO:  Old friends, not new friends.

Nancy Reagan got to Washington.  She kept her California friends, the kitchen cabinet.  But she reached out to the Washington establishment.

MATTHEWS:  Kay Graham.

COLACELLO:  Kay Graham, Bob Strauss, Tip O‘Neill.

MATTHEWS:  But you are saying but this crowd doesn‘t. 

COLACELLO:  This crowd doesn‘t.  And I think it is to their detriment.  I mean, I like this president, but I wish they would reach out.  Laura Bush everyone says is charming.  She‘s smart.  She‘s sweet-natured, but they never have anybody at the White House, except people they know.

MATTHEWS:  I like the guy.  I think people like Bush.  He doesn‘t exactly mix.  You‘re right.


COLACELLO:  They don‘t even...


MATTHEWS:  You know what I like about old money?  I one time—I went upstairs to the White House, because the first Bush family let us up there, press night kind of thing.  And I saw an old beat-up clock radio with a crack in it held together by Scotch tape.  Now, that is old money, isn‘t it?

COLACELLO:  Yes.  And Nancy would have never allowed that in the White House. 


COLACELLO:  But I think it is important to reach out, to have state diners, have some foreigners in, have people from New York, have people from California.  I don‘t know anybody who is coming down for this inauguration from New York. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the shame factor on a scale of one to 10 to have all this glitter and money spent at a time of the tsunami relief situation?  Any?

COLACELLO:  Well, in my opinion, there is always some disaster out there in the world.  There is nothing wrong with the celebrating the election of a president.

Traditionally, though, second-term inaugurals have always been a little less...

MATTHEWS:  Shorter speeches.

COLACELLO:  A little played down compared to the first.  Reagan did that.  Clinton did it.  This seems like it‘s going to be more, more.

MATTHEWS:  Continued good luck on your bock, “Ronnie and Nancy.”

COLACELLO:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a great book.

COLACELLO:  Thank you, Bob Colacello of “Vanity Fair.” 

Tomorrow, we will be back on the National Mall right here at MSNBC inauguration headquarters with GE chairman Jeff Immelt, my boss, and David Gregory‘s interview with Karl Rove, the White House guru.

And at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night, join NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and me for “Picking Our Presidents: Leaders and Legacies,” as we look back at four decades of presidential inaugurations. 

From the National Mall in Washington, I‘m Chris Matthews.  Good night.



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