updated 3/1/2005 9:25:36 AM ET 2005-03-01T14:25:36

Guest: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Jim Spencer, Kevin Lundberg, Mark Warner, Loretta Sanchez, Duncan Hunter

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  NBC News has learned that Osama bin Laden has sent a message to terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi asking him to expand his operations and begin attacking targets outside of Iraq.  Is al Qaeda still determined to strike inside the U.S.? 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Denver.

The Department of Homeland Security sent a bulletin today to state and local law enforcement officials, notifying them of the credible threat against U.S. targets.  The bulletin did not mention the specifics of the intercepted message, but restated al Qaeda‘s intent to attack targets inside the U.S.

NBC‘s Jim Miklaszewski is at the Pentagon. 

Mik, what do you make of it? 

JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, U.S.  officials tell NBC News that, within the past couple of weeks, they obtained a message believed to be from Osama bin Laden directly to terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi inside Iraq, and, as you said, encouraging Zarqawi to expand his operations, to attack targets outside of Iraq. 

Now, depending on who you talk to, some believe the message is so vague as to not claim U.S. targets are involved.  Others believe the message is decidedly aimed at encouraging Zarqawi to launch attacks against U.S. targets outside the U.S.  There is no mention, apparently, of targets inside the U.S., so—but, nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security issued that warning, that bulletin, to local and state law enforcement officials over the weekend, simply reminding those officials of the intent of al Qaeda, the ever-present intent of al Qaeda, to attack U.S.  targets, and to put them on the alert. 

The problem is, there are no specifics here, no timing, no targets.  So, these officials really don‘t know what to do, except to file it away in the back of their minds as, yes, indeed, al Qaeda is intent on attacking U.S. targets. 

What some intelligence officials believe is remarkable about this, Chris, is not the message itself, but that bin Laden sent the message.  U.S. officials refuse to say exactly how this message was conveyed to Zarqawi or how the U.S. obtained it.  It was not too long ago that they did intercept a written message between Zarqawi and Osama bin laden. 

There have been Zarqawi associates captured within the past couple of weeks and they‘ve been interrogated extensively.  But if this were some kind of intercept, a phone or a satellite or a cell phone, and nobody is saying it is, but if it were, it would indicate one of two things, according to officials, either, one, that bin Laden is growing desperate and needs his associates, or al Qaeda, to make some kind of splash against the U.S., or bin Laden is feeling so confident that the U.S. or others will not be able to capture him, that he‘s gone back to a more free-wheeling basis. 

At this point, it‘s speculation on everybody‘s part.  But they believe that the message is credible.  It‘s just not specific. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, NBC‘s Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon. 

Republican U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter of California chairs the House Armed Services Committee.  And Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, also of California, is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee. 

Let me ask you, Mr. Chairman, I always thought that Zarqawi was a regional threat, that he didn‘t have assets in the United States or around the globe.  What is your sense of his capability to do harm? 

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER ®, CALIFORNIA:   Well, I think you have hit the right term here, Chris, capability because there‘s two aspects to his ability to affect this.  One is intent.  I don‘t think that‘s ever changed. 

I think, since 9/11, al Qaeda has certainly had a continuum of intent to hurt Americans inside this country and outside.  The capability area is the area we have affected.  And he has had a number of his top lieutenants captured in recent times and evidence that suggests that he just barely got out of Dodge in some of these cases before we went in and got him or the Iraqi officers went in and got him. 

So, the key here has been to keep these guys off balance.  That means every time they meet to make a decision to hurt America, a JDAM or one of our precision weapons comes through a window or team of special operators.  To date, we‘ve been pretty successful in at least keeping them off balance.  So, I think that the Zarqawi network, the al Qaeda network that existed obviously before 9/11 is not in place, a lot of the guys killed or captured. 

And so he has—he‘s going to have to do this, if he does it, on what I would call an ad hoc basis.  That doesn‘t mean, however, that, with the big unprotected borders and all of the problems of an open society, we couldn‘t have an incident in the United States. 

But in terms of keeping him off balance, keeping his people off balance, this aggressive posture by the United States has worked so far. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Congresswoman Sanchez. 

Congresswoman, let me ask you about something the congressman just said.  That‘s the question of our aggressive policy.  If you look at what happened in Iraq, we had elections this month.  If you look at what happened in Egypt just a couple of days ago, they‘re holding elections.  If you look at Lebanon, they‘re having demonstrations to throw out the entire Syrian presence in the country, not just the military troops, the thousands other, but also all the intel people. 

If you look at around that region, things seem to be percolating toward democracy because of what we did in Iraq.  How do you see it? 

REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA:  Well, first, I would say that my chairman is correct.  Mr. Hunter is correct in saying that we have been very effective, especially as a military force, to shut down or to stop or intercept. 

I mean, it‘s exciting to hear that we have intercepted something actually off of bin Laden to somebody.  The problem is that I also, as you know, besides sitting on the Armed Services Committee, also sit on the Homeland Security Committee.  That‘s a committee in charge of the United States and taking a look at terrorist attacks to the United States. 

And the fact of the matter is that al Qaeda, we already know that we still had—we had, before, 57 known cell groups within the United States.  And we quite frankly haven‘t been able to affect those groups as much as we would like.  So, there are still elements of al Qaeda, even within our own society, that we don‘t know about, or that we haven‘t been able to stop.  And so we never thought that al Qaeda would stop its threats towards us. 

Or many of us have always thought that there would be other attacks here in the United States.  What has amazed us is that it‘s taken so long.  Now, part of that may have been that they‘ve been a little involved with the Iraq situation.  But, really, the insurgency in Iraq is really self-grown.  It‘s an indigenous sort of insurgency that is going on there.  So, I think they‘re still alive and strong and they threaten America. 

And we haven‘t done very much from a homeland security standpoint here in the United States to help our local enforcement officials, etcetera, to help them to identify this and eliminate some of this threat.  That‘s why when you said, you know, it‘s a vague threat.  And what do our local law enforcement people do with that?  That‘s the problem we have today in the United States today. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Hunter, it seems to me we are in one of those things like in Dickens, in “The Tale of Two Cities.”  We‘re in the best of times, the worst of times.  A lot of what Congresswoman Sanchez says is true.  We do face a continuing insurgency in Iraq.  At the same time, we‘re seeing signs of democratization, especially these dramatic events in the streets of Lebanon right now.  How do you add it up?  What are the metrics here? 

HUNTER:  Well, I think the metrics sum up that we are in a very dangerous era, Chris. 

This—remember we came into this new century euphoric that the Soviet Union had disassembled.  But we now face a lot of what Jim Woolsey called lots of smaller vipers, lots of serpents, lots of tough, evil folks out there that want to hurt this country.  And we‘re going to have—and looking at the Middle East and the things that are happening, many of which seem to be a result of impact that the United States has made, it‘s clear that a policy of pulling back from that region and isolating would have been bad, and that this forward-leaning policy is good.

Nonetheless, we are left with massive borders that are fairly well unprotected.  We‘re going to have a big debate over this basic tool that people use to move around the country called a driver‘s license.  Everybody in America now knows two numbers, 19 and 63; 19 terrorists had 63 driver‘s licenses.  And that tool allows you to get money.  It allows you to travel.  You can‘t get on an airplane if you don‘t have one. 

And so, we are going to have a national debate, and already have passed this bill, obviously, in the House.  We will have a national debate before the Senate passes it and before we have a conference on it as to whether or not we can get that basic tool rendered in such a way that people have to show residency of the U.S. before they can have that tool, as the terrorists had.  And yet that will invoke a major debate in this country.  Some conservatives will be on the other side. 

So, our democracy is a great thing.  It‘s an inspiration to the rest of the world.  On the other hand, it‘s tough in this big, open society, with lots of considerations for freedom, to have the type of security that we need to ensure that nobody comes across the borders of the United States illegally. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Secretary of State Colin Powell had to say today to “The London Telegraph.”

The question was, were there enough troops—he said there was enough troops for war when we went to Iraq, but not for peace, for establishing order.  And he said his own preference would have been for more forces after that initial conflict.

Congresswoman Sanchez, it seems to me the recent secretary of state does not believe we put enough troops into Iraq for the cleanup operation, and that‘s why we got into trouble with the insurgency. 

SANCHEZ:  Well, and exactly correct. 

We were—before we went to war, we had General Shinseki in front of our very own committee with the chairman, where he said—when we asked him the question of how many troops will we need, he said, once the initial battle is fielded, we will need at least a couple hundred thousand troops, 200,000-plus, to make sure that we go after the caches of weapons, to ensure that there isn‘t that kind of looting. 

Everything that happened after the major battles were over was one mistake after the other.  And when Shinseki said that to us, two days later, the administration put up Wolfowitz, Undersecretary Wolfowitz, to say, those numbers were crazy.  They were just out of the realm. 

And yet, now we look back and almost everybody agrees that we needed more troops.  In fact, the Pentagon agrees, because, right now, they have 157,000 troops in there.  And they‘re not drawing them down. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Congressman Hunter, do you agree with that?  Do you agree with the criticism by former Secretary Powell that we didn‘t bring in enough troops for the occupation? 

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTER:  No, I think Colin—I think Colin is wrong on this, because most of the casualties we have taken, in fact, have been logistical groups, that is, convoys that are moving supplies up to our troops that are in large, concentrated locations around Iraq. 

Most of the attacks on American forces are attacks that call for better intelligence and special operations, not masses of troops on street corners.  And the demonstrates can‘t have it both ways.  They can‘t say we need to put an Iraqi face on the security apparatus and at the same time say we need to have a G.I. on every street corner. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much. 

SANCHEZ:  Duncan, we‘re not saying that. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

SANCHEZ:  I will have you know that, in this past four, five months, we haven‘t moved any troops on the ground or anybody from the airport in Baghdad, six miles down the road to the Green Zone.  We have had to helicopter everything.  The reason is, it‘s getting more dangerous. 

It‘s not just about the supply troops. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

SANCHEZ:  It‘s about everybody right now in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you want more forces in Iraq, Congresswoman, or not, more force levels, higher force level, a higher quantum, say, up to 200,000, 250,000, something like that? 

SANCHEZ:  Well, certainly Shinseki said over 200.

MATTHEWS:  You mentioned Shinseki said several hundred.  Do you want it to be increased dramatically, the number of troops we have in-country? 

SANCHEZ:  I believe we have about 157,000 or so.  I believe we have to keep at least that amount, maybe...

MATTHEWS:  No.  But you were backing up Colin Powell in saying he was right in saying we needed more troops.  Yes or no, should we dramatically increase the number of troops?  You are on the Armed Services Committee.  You have a say.  What is it? 

SANCHEZ:  I don‘t believe—I believe we should have had that amount right after the battle. 

I think the Pentagon—remember, we had less than 100,000.  I believe the Pentagon has agreed with us in the sense that it‘s at 157,000-plus.  And I believe, in the next rotation, they‘re going to just—they‘re not going to draw down very much.  They‘re going to keep it at about 140, 145. 

SANCHEZ:  And I think that‘s the right amount.

MATTHEWS:  OK, you‘re both agreed, then.  In other words, after all this, after all this, in other words, you both agree we have the right number of troops over there. 

SANCHEZ:  Right now, I believe that we have a good number of troops. 

MATTHEWS:  Right, Congressman Hunter and Congresswoman Sanchez? 

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ:  The problem, Chris, that we have right now is that we need to get these Iraqi troops well-trained, well-trained, so they can go out and stay in battle with our own men and women. 

MATTHEWS:  I think that‘s...

HUNTER: I think we agree, Chris.  We have got to train up the Iraqis and make this handover.  And that is the American exit strategy. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Congressman Duncan Hunter and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, both of California. 

Coming up, he is a Southern Democrat and he‘s a governor.  He‘s also from one of the reddest states in the union, Virginia.  We‘re going to talk to Virginia Governor, Democratic Governor Mark Warner about how he did it and whether he has the stuff for the White House. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Virginia Governor Mark Warner, a Democratic governor in a Republican state, is he the Democrats‘ answer in 2008?

HARDBALL back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  The National Governors Association kicked off its winter meeting in Washington this weekend.  And the chairman of the NGA, the National Governors Association, is one of the rising stars in the Democratic Party, Virginia Governor Mark Warner. 

Governor, how was President Bush this morning in addressing the governors? 

GOV. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA:  Well, he was very engaging.  He spent about 45 minutes with us.

But there‘s still a big divide between where the governors are at and where the president is at on the issue of Medicaid.  And a lot of governors feel that the president has picked the wrong crisis to focus on.  Social Security doesn‘t go broke until, even on his own terms, 2042, when Medicaid is going to drive most states into bankruptcy over the next decade. 

MATTHEWS:  He is asking to you pick up, what, $40 billion that the federal government has been asked to pick up before?

WARNER:  It‘s actually worse than that.  It‘s $60 billion over 10 years.  And it‘s part of a triple whammy.  It‘s a cost shift from the federal government to the states, combined with a cost shift as employers, get rid of health insurance for their employees, shifting it to the states, and as increasing number of seniors decide to disinvest of their assets before they go into a nursing home, and, again, cost shift to the states.

We can absorb one or two of those.  All three of those have combined to make Medicaid now costs more on the average in a state than education. 

MATTHEWS:  So, when the president cuts the federal contribution to Medicaid, which is health care for people who are worse off in this country, that means the states have to pick it up.  That means the states have to do what?  And they have to balance their budgets.  They have to, what, raise property taxes? 

WARNER:  Well, what you have got is, you have got now 53 million Americans on Medicaid.  That‘s more than people on Social Security, why I think he‘s picked the wrong crisis to focus on.  When the feds shift the cost to the states, you end up with Medicaid costs now higher than education, you‘re pitting the needs of grandma against the needs of the grandkids.  And that‘s not a choice any governor wants to make. 

We think Medicaid has got to change, and we‘re willing to work with Mike Leavitt, let me tell you, the secretary of health and human services, best thing going in the Bush administration, because we can do business with him.  But we have got to work it out in a Medicaid reform package, not simply to hit a budget deficit number in the president‘s proposal. 

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t—Governor, don‘t a lot of people who have someone in the family who is an Alzheimer‘s person, the spouse of—the caregiver will impoverish himself or herself to go on Medicaid to be able to afford that kind of care? 

WARNER:  Absolutely. 

But it‘s not just people who have got Alzheimer‘s; 60 percent of the seniors who are in nursing homes are there on Medicaid.  And with the changing demographics, aging of our population, that problem is just going to explode.  So, we have got to find ways to encourage people not to dispose of their assets.  We have got to find ways to encourage people to buy long-term care.  Perhaps tax credits is one way. 

We ought to find a way to allow people to pass on certain assets perhaps to their kids and grandkids, particular if they‘ve worked hard all their life.  This is an issue we have got to take on.  But it ought to be done in the context of a reform package, not simply let‘s plug a budget deficit number in and try to work a policy to get to that number.  Let‘s do meaningful Medicaid reform this year. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk politics with you, Governor.  You are a Democrat elected in a Republican state, which just elected you, obviously, but also just voted for President Bush by about a 10-point spread.  How does a Democrat get elected in a Republican state? 

WARNER:  Well, one of the things you do is, you have got to get some Republicans and independents to vote for you.  One of the things we pride ourselves on is trying to run a government in Virginia that‘s bipartisan. 

And it‘s worked.  We took on last year the question of tax reform.  Now Virginia is the second-fastest growing state in the country.  As a matter of fact, we were very proud of the fact we were just named the best-managed state in the country.  So, in Virginia, it‘s actually the Democrats, or at least this Democratic governor, that has been more an advocate of fiscal responsibility than perhaps some of the Republicans in Washington. 

MATTHEWS:  This may be a bad metaphor, but between you and the presidency, Governor, is an 800-pound gorilla named Hillary Clinton.  Can you get past her? 

(LAUGHTER)

WARNER:  Listen, Chris, all I know is, I have got one year left of being governor of Virginia.  The people hired me for four years.  If I want to try to do something else in politics after I‘m done being governor, the best thing I can do is not mess up this last year as governor of Virginia.  That means stay focused on the job I‘m doing. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of my theory that whoever beats Hillary Clinton, if somebody does, in the Democratic primary, that the conservative Democrats who are men or women or the moderates or the—some Republicans will like that person because they knocked off somebody they didn‘t want to see as president? 

WARNER:  Well, I think there—the key to becoming elected Democrat on a national basis, you have got to show some level of breaking with Democratic orthodoxy.  Too often, people have to show that they‘re somehow not a national Democrat.  But who knows what 2008 will hold. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Governor Warner. 

Can a university professor, a taxpayer-paid university professor, call the victims of 9/11 little Eichmanns and get away with it?  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  You may have heard recently about a firestorm raging out here in Colorado over a university professor.  The professor compared the victims of 9/11 to—quote—“little Eichmanns,” referring to the engineer of the Nazi Holocaust.  And now a bitter debate has emerged between those who support free speech, whatever it is, and those who say the professor has no business being in charge of a classroom or lecture hall. 

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In the hours after 9/11, a professor at the University of Colorado dashed off a lengthy academic commentary. 

Ward Churchill, a Vietnam vet and full professor in the field of American studies, wrote of the 9/11 victims: “They were civilians of a sort, but innocent?  Give me a break.  They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America‘s global financial empire, the mighty engine of profit to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved.  And they did so both willingly and knowingly.”

Churchill also described the bankers and stock traders as “little Eichmanns” inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the Twin Towers.

WARD CHURCHILL, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO:  I‘m not backing up an inch.  I owe no one an apology, clarification... 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  Churchill did not have to defend himself until last month because for three years his essay went largely unnoticed.  But, in January, there was an article in New York‘s Hamilton College newspaper.  Then talk radio jumps on the story. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”) 

RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST:  A University of Colorado professor has sparked controversy over an essay he wrote. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  And, lately, the professor has been confronted nearly everywhere he goes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was just wondering, where do you get the gall to call the people who died in 9/11 technocrats when you sit around and get a $90,000 paycheck from the government you purport to hate? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

CHURCHILL:  I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. 

I do not work for Bill Owens. 

SHUSTER:  Governor Bill Owens is calling for Churchill to be fired. 

GOV. BILL OWENS ®, COLORADO:  If he wants to stand on the west steps of the Capitol, say what he wants to say, let him do that, but not as a professor of the University of Colorado. 

SHUSTER:  Churchill‘s 9/11 essay focused at length on the first Gulf War and the sanctions that followed.  He described the U.S. policy as insanity and genocide. 

CHURCHILL:  When you treat people this way, when you devalue, demean and degrade others to this point, naturally and inevitably what you are putting out will blow back on you.  And that‘s what happened. 

SHUSTER:  Churchill also says the 9/11 terrorists were not cowards and says that distinction belongs to the U.S. pilots who fly stealth aircraft. 

Federal law protects political speech by public employees.  But under tremendous pressure by the state legislature, the university is trying to find a way to fire Churchill.  A university panel is reviewing allegations of academic misconduct, including that Churchill lied about his background.  But some of those very same panel members have repeatedly praised the professor‘s academic work, leaving Churchill to call the investigation a smokescreen. 

CHURCHILL:  It‘s not what I said that‘s become the issue, but the right to say it. 

SHUSTER (on camera):  Discussion and debate are the pillars of higher education.  The question is, should there be some sort of line and did Professor Churchill cross it.  The committee investigating him at the University of Colorado is scheduled to report back next month. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David for that warm-up. 

When we come back, we are going to debate what should happen to the university professor out there, Ward Churchill.  When we come back, we‘re going to talk about where that line is between what a professor on the payroll of the state government can say and what he can‘t.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

The debate here in Colorado is over University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill who referred to some of victims of 9/11 as little Eichmanns.  Should he be fired?

State Representative Kevin Lundberg of Colorado is a Republican who thinks Ward Churchill should lose his job.  And Jim Spencer is a columnist with “The Denver Post,” who says Churchill has a right to free speech and shouldn‘t be fired. 

Let me go to Representative Lundberg.

Sir, why do you think he should be fired? 

KEVIN LUNDBERG ®, COLORADO STATE REPRESENTATIVE:  Well, I wouldn‘t really characterize it as, absolutely, he should be fired.  But he should be held accountable for what he has said and for the attitudes that he has displayed as an employee of the University of Colorado. 

There‘s a process that the university has for assessing that.  And that‘s really what is on the issue—on the table right now, is, shall we be held accountable for what he has said and what he has done, or shall we just turn a blind eye and say, well I guess that‘s the way it works in academia?

MATTHEWS:  Well, what is this—what is this process of assessing whether a person said something unsayable or not? 

LUNDBERG:  Well, he is a tenured professor.  And, as such, he is given more latitude than most of us.  But, frankly, there is a limit that they need to be held to as well.  That‘s what the Board of Regents have done by initiating an inquiry into what he has said and what he has done. 

And there are several standards he has to live up to, primarily, professional integrity and meeting minimum standards of those sorts of things.  In addition, we need to take a good, hard look at not just Ward Churchill, but where in the world—how in the world did a Ward Churchill end up on the faculty at Colorado University?  Is this the sort of—are these the sort of people that the process allows to become professors, to stand in this position of trust and authority in our universities?

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you mean by integrity?  What makes you think that he hasn‘t been saying what he believes to be the truth? 

LUNDBERG:  Well, when I use the word integrity, that‘s actually a term that‘s within the regents‘ laws for the university. 

And professional integrity means a sense of credibility and a sense of balance and human—you know, a common sense of values shared with the culture to a degree.  And the more people see Ward Churchill, the more they shake their heads out here and wonder where in the world did this guy end up in such a position of authority and trust?

MATTHEWS:  What were the words that bothered you, Representative? 

What didn‘t you like about what he said in his statement regarding 9/11? 

LUNDBERG:  Well, it concerns all of us that he likened many of the people to bureaucrats within the Nazi regime, which is an affront in a huge way.  As you get deeper and deeper, it‘s not just what he said there, but it‘s the attitude he had towards that, not seeing any reason for a balance of sensibility to the people that he was insulting deeply, not to mention, when we look at his entire career, it‘s—this is the pattern.  This isn‘t the exception. 

And when you get to that, you have to ask yourself, how did this happen?  And that‘s the big concern I have.  Not necessarily, is Ward Churchill going to go, but is the process that put him there in the first place going to change, so that we can ensure a higher degree of integrity for our academic system as a whole?

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about one last question before I go to Jim Spencer. 

LUNDBERG:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  It seems that he has—I‘m just reading some of the materials today—he has pretty much of a critical view of the United States as a country.  I mean, economically, he sees us as exploiting the Third World, as having a military industrial complex which uses military power to extend our economic power, which basically uses our war-making ability to protect our economic interests.  He doesn‘t think we are the good guys. 

Is it that philosophy you find offensive and warrants his investigation or is it the words he chooses to make those points? 

LUNDBERG:  Well, when you say he doesn‘t think we are the good guys, what he is saying when you dig a little deeper is, he wants the United States and the whole economic system to go away and be replaced by something other than that.  He is much more deeply offensive than just the words you read in a paragraph or two.  And...

MATTHEWS:  Well, if he were a communist, sir, an out-and-out communist, sir, would you want to get rid of him?  I‘m trying to figure out whether you have an ideological objective to what he stands for or you think that it was in extremely bad taste to refer to people who were victims of a horror as Eichmanns, to add insult, the worst kind of insult, to their injury?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What is it that you find offensive here, one or the other?  Is it his manner is deeply, deeply offensive, or is it his ideology that you don‘t agree with? 

LUNDBERG:  It‘s not that his ideology is completely unacceptable within academic discourse.  But it‘s—his overall approach to the matter is so extreme, and it‘s so beyond the pall of what a civilized people in normal discourse should be engaged in. 

The more you look at this guy, the less you like him, frankly. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUNDBERG:  But, again, I go back to, it‘s not just him.  It‘s, how did we get this guy there in the first place and are we putting other people in place of a position of authority and trust like him? 

MATTHEWS:  Good question. 

Let me go to Jim Spencer of “The Denver Post.” 

Jim, is this the debate?  Is this about—I‘m trying to narrow it down, like everybody who writes tries to do, like you try to do.  If you sharpen the issue, is it that this guy is obnoxious, that he looks—he‘s looking for trouble, he‘s looking for a lawsuit, he‘s looking to be fired?  Or is it because he‘s so ideologically to the left?  What is it?

JIM SPENCER, “THE DENVER POST”:  Chris, look, nobody had problems with Ward Churchill, at least any that they were going to express, through the political process until he said something that was very politically unsavory. 

But to let you know exactly what the standard is out here, let me read to you from the Board of Regents.  “Academic freedom is defined as the freedom to inquire, discover, public and teach truth as the faculty member sees it, subject to no control or authority, save the control and authority of the rational methods by which truth is established.  Academic freedom requires that members of the faculty must have complete freedom to study, to learn, to do research and to communicate the results of these pursuits to others.  The students, likewise, must have freedom of study and discussion.  The fullest exposure to conflicting opinions is the best insurance against error.”

I don‘t agree with anything he said in this essay, OK?  I also think he collects an awful lot of salary from the very technicians of empire who he disparages, because those are the people who are really paying his salary.  Out here, we have cut a lot of funding, public funding, to higher education.  So, he‘s getting most of his money from out-of-state tuition.  And those are the rich parents who send their kids here. 

But the problem is, when Representative Lundberg talks about a failure in the tenure system, it‘s just not there.  Yes, there are some real hard questions to answer about Ward Churchill and whether or not a guy with a second-rate master‘s degree and not much teaching experience should have been completely turned into an associate professor so fast and given his tenure.  But he is vastly the exception and not the rule; 95 percent of the professors at C.U. Boulder have terminal degrees. 

Across the state, the figure is just about the same or maybe even a little higher.  So, the tenure system and the peer-review system here is working.  And this is not an excuse to go into it.  And if you are dipping into this guy‘s past,as they are—they‘re now looking at his papers; they‘re now looking at his divorce records—if you start off on this process, first off, they passed him through in tenure twice.  He went through three or four different levels of review. 

Now, because there‘s some political hot potato stuff going on here, now they have the chancellor of the university, the dean of the law school, the dean of arts and sciences and their collective staffs digging into this guy.  I think that it‘s kind of a waste of time.  I don‘t find him to be very personally appealing, but I think there‘s a much higher principle that‘s being represented in letting him have his say. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

OK, Jim Spencer of “The Denver Post” and Colorado Representative Kevin Lundberg, thank you, gentlemen, both for joining us. 

LUNDBERG:  Thank you very much. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a hot debate.  And I don‘t even know where I stand yet.  Anyway, thank you.  I wouldn‘t want him for a teacher, though, I don‘t think.  I wouldn‘t mind reading some of his stuff.  Anyway, thank you, gentlemen, for being on HARDBALL. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Hillary Clinton in 2008, Joe Biden says she‘s the one to beat.

HARDBALL right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Hillary Clinton in ‘08, that was the talk over the weekend. 

On “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert asked Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, who is mulling a run himself, about Hillary Clinton running for president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS”)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE:  Oh, I think she‘d be incredibly difficult to beat.  I think she is the most difficult obstacle for anyone being the nominee.  And by the way, I am one—I shouldn‘t be saying this, admission against interest—I am one who doesn‘t believe that she is incapable of being elected.  I think she is likely to be the nominee.  She‘d be the toughest person.  And I think Hillary Clinton is able to be elected president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said on Japanese television that he didn‘t know if she‘d run or not, but said—quote—“She would make an excellent president and I would always try to help her.  If she did run and she was able to win, she‘d make a very, very good president.  I think now she‘s at least as good as I was.”

I‘m here with Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation” magazine, and MSNBC‘s Patrick Buchanan. 

Well, Hillary Clinton—do you think that‘s an interesting admission, Katrina, that Bill Clinton would be helping Hillary be a good president, standing right next to her, advising her in those meetings with Putin and other world leaders?  Do you think that is an advisable statement for him? 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”:  Well, he better stand by his woman. 

He has been giver her what—sounds like she‘s been adopting a more faithful tone in these last weeks, as she does some triangulation of her own.  He‘s a master political strategist.  I mean, one doesn‘t have to agree with what he‘s done to the Democratic Party.  I think the forces inside the Democratic Party are more interesting to watch, Chris, in a structural way, the fact that the Clintons couldn‘t stop Howard Dean from becoming the head of the Democratic National Committee, the fact that the party is moving in a more noncorporate, I don‘t like left-right as much as outside-inside. 

I think there‘s much more of an outside cast to the Democratic Party now.  And that‘s where their future lies.  Where Hillary Clinton fits in with that, I don‘t know.  I think it‘s interesting that, in the next round, 2008 -- Chris, you probably know this—it‘s the first time since 1928 you will not have an incumbent or vice president running. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Which is a wide open field for all kinds of people. 

MATTHEWS:  Pat, you know, when you look at the polls, it‘s almost as if Hillary Clinton were an incumbent, because if you look at the polls I‘ve looked at, she‘s about 60 percent among people who think she will be the nominee of the Democratic Party.  At least that far, she will get. 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think Hillary Clinton is the runaway favorite for the Democratic nomination if she wins big in New York, which I anticipate. 

I think she could do very, very well.  I think she‘s very strong with the progressive liberal wing of the Democratic Party and she has been making noises and moves toward the center.  I think Bill Clinton could help her immensely with African-Americans.  I would expect, if she ran, I don‘t see who would beat her as of now.

Of course, this is very, very early.  If I had to predict right now, I would say it would Hillary Clinton vs.  McCain-Bush or McCain-Santorum.

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I think it‘s way too early, as Pat says. 

These polls, let‘s get rid of all the pollsters.  That‘s part of what the Democratic Party...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  No, the Democratic Party needs to do what Hillary Clinton did in New York state effectively. 

I think the Democratic Party needs to take a listening tour around this country and check in with people and their actual lives, as opposed to talking about running centrist or left, right. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But I also—you know, so, I think—but I think, with Hillary Clinton, she‘s not that popular with the left progressive wing of the Democratic Party. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  She has a 100 percent record on choice, even though there‘s been a lot of hullabaloo in the media about her moving this way and that.  But on international politics, there‘s a little bit too much me-tooism when it comes to the... 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  The key question is, is Bush going to be a failure in his second term or is he going to be a triumphant success? 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I have got to go, Pat.

I have got to come right back, but I want you all to savor the question, is the country ready for Bill Clinton back in the White House with Hillary as her No. 1 adviser, standing in the Oval Office with her? 

We‘ll be back with Pat and Katrina to answer that conundrum.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with “The Nation” magazine‘s Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Pat Buchanan. 

Katrina, the other—earlier in the show, I was talking to Mark Warner, the very impressive governor of Virginia, who is a Democrat and clearly thinking about running for president.  He‘s term-limited with one term.  And I referred, probably infelicitously, to Hillary Clinton as the 800-pound gorilla in his way. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I probably should have used the term 800-pound gorilla more felicitously in reference to her husband, because there was a lot of talk over the last seven years or so—I‘ve been pushing it—that he wants to get a job, so that he can try again for success, because he really left the presidency rather badly. 

Do you think that she can bring him back into the White House, unemployed, living there with him and not get him in the way of her policy-making? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  God, if he can sit next to Bush‘s father, as he has in the last weeks, he can certainly come back into the White House. 

They were a pair.  The key thing to me, Chris, at this moment is, what Bill Clinton stood for was triangulation.  And the problem with Democrats right now is, they don‘t seem to show strength of conviction or clarity of direction.  Or at least there‘s a perception gap about that.

What the Democrats need to do in these next few years—and Hillary Clinton will be tested by this, I think—is stop the dismantling of the New Deal, the rollback of Social Security, expose this administration‘s extremist agenda, whether it‘s secret torture chambers or global warfare.  And Clinton was never one, I feared, who stood that fast for core principles.  There was a lot of caving in to corporate interests. 

Power inside the Democratic Party is not where it used to be. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, yes or no, are you hedging here, Katrina?  Is Hillary the real thing or is she a hedger? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  A hedger in terms of bringing her husband back into the White House? 

MATTHEWS:  Is she a liberal?  Is she what you call—is she a progressive? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You know, Chris, liberals—liberals and—is she a progressive?  She is—on choice, it‘s interesting, where she has gotten all this attention in the last few weeks.  She has a 100 percent choice record.  And that needs to be defended by Democrats, choice. 

On foreign policy, as I said earlier...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know why you people keep talking about abortion rights when I simply ask you, as a party—as a person in American politics—skip abortion for at least two minutes..

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I think that‘s an important...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about economics, foreign policy.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And what kind of a country you want to live in.  Is Hillary Clinton a progressive or not? 

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I want to live in a country which has reproductive rights for women. 

But on economic choice, on economic rights...

MATTHEWS:  I want to be in a country where you don‘t talk about it all the time. 

Pat Buchanan, let me ask you this.  Is Hillary Clinton a liberal?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  On economic rights, her president was too pro-corporate. 

BUCHANAN:  Hillary Clinton, in my judgment...

MATTHEWS:  Is Hillary Clinton a liberal? 

BUCHANAN:  Yes, she‘s a liberal.

MATTHEWS:  Is Hillary Clinton a liberal, Pat? 

BUCHANAN:  Yes. 

Hillary Clinton is not only a liberal.  She has got three problems Bill Clinton didn‘t have, or Clinton had three assets.  One, he was from the South and Arkansas, perceived as a centrist.  Secondly, Bill Clinton was a fine debater and a fine speaker.  And Hillary Clinton gets too high and too shrill. 

And, third, Bill Clinton had Ross Perot in the race, who siphoned off 40 percent, 40 percent of Bush‘s 1988 vote...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Yes, that‘s true.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s true.               

BUCHANAN:  ... of 54 percent; 19 percent, he took. 

If Hillary Clinton can get a populist conservative to run to the right of the Republicans on jobs and immigration and bring home the troops, then I think she can win.  Otherwise, I think she bumps her head around 46, 47 percent, Chris. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Can I ask you both a tough question?

I‘m sorry to be so tough, Katrina, but I really think I‘ve got to get bottom lines on this show.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I‘m with you on jobs.  I‘m with you on jobs, Chris. 

But I think the Clinton administration did not serve working people of America very well.  It was too pro-corporate in its agenda.  And it began the deregulation that has hurt working people in this country. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you a question, Katrina.  If you had to walk into the voting booth right now as a citizen of the United States and choose between Bill Frist, Republican, and Hillary Clinton, Democrat, where do you think people of your mind will vote? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Oh, there‘s no question. 

I mean, we‘re facing a repeal of all the achievements of the 20th century with this administration.  You get another Republican in there, it will take decades for this country to revive.  You vote for a Democrat.  This country needs more choices, needs more voices. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

Pat Buchanan, the same question.  The people of your mind, how will they vote if they have to choose between—how will the country—let me ask you another question.  I‘ll jump to the bottom line.  Will the country support a Bill Frist or a Hillary Clinton? 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t know that Frist is a national candidate.  He is just not very exciting, Chris.  He‘s not electrifying.

But in a Frist race with Hillary Clinton, I think all of the red state votes that went for Bush just about probably would go to Frist. 

MATTHEWS:  How about Florida?

BUCHANAN:  Frist...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How about Florida, Pat? 

BUCHANAN:  Probably—probably Frist.  I mean, I think Hillary has got a very, very tough time in states like Pennsylvania. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Oh, I...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I think you might be right, but I think she has a leg up in states like Florida. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Florida, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you very much, Pat Buchanan.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Katrina Vanden Heuvel. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Both come back again. 

Tomorrow night on HARDBALL, Senator John McCain will be here, my guest.  He will be my guest.  I‘m going to ask him about the ongoing turmoil about what to do in Iraq, plus his own presidential ambitions.  He‘s at the top of all the polls, by the way—John McCain tomorrow on HARDBALL.

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

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