updated 4/22/2005 2:45:10 PM ET 2005-04-22T18:45:10

Guest: Byron York, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Charles Barkley, John Thune, Jon Corzine

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Republicans on the House Ethics Committee have agreed in principle to open an investigation into allegations against Congressman Tom DeLay. 

And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee delays its vote on the confirmation of John Bolton, President Bush‘s nominee for ambassador to the U.N., as Bolton comes under bipartisan scrutiny for reports he intimidated and berated former colleagues. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews. 

Political battles are heating up in Washington, as Republicans on the House Ethics Committee agree in principle to launch an investigation into allegations against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.  We will get to that issue quickly. 

But, first, John Bolton is in trouble over alleged past misconduct.  Republican Senator George Voinovich of Ohio handed Democrats a temporary victory, as they postponed the votes on Bolton‘s nomination for U.S.  ambassador to the U.N. 

Senator John Thune is a Republican from South Dakota.  Senator Jon Corzine is a Democrat from New Jersey. 

Senator Thune, you‘re first.

What do you make of the Bolton nomination being delayed, the confirmation vote, for two or three weeks now? 

REP. JOHN THUNE ®, SOUTH DAKOTA:  I think it‘s a delay.  They will work through these issues and my guess is that, ultimately, if his nomination does get reported to the floor, he will be confirmed. 

MATTHEWS:  He will be. 

Senator Corzine.

SEN. JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY:  Too close to call. 

If there are more revelations about difficulties with staff and how he‘s handled people, I think you‘ll get other people voting against him in Foreign Relations.  But I think it is going to be fact-based. 

MATTHEWS:  What of this—what of this graphic description of an aid

contract worker being chased down a hall in Russia by the nominee, and he -

·         banging on her door?  I mean, I don‘t know the details, except the allegations are public now.  It seems almost like, carry on, Mr.  Ambassador.  I mean, what do we make of this? 

THUNE:  Well, I think there is a lot of anecdotal stuff out there. 

But I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why is that not valid, to look at anecdotal? 

THUNE:  Well, I think it‘s a part of the total record. 

But, as Jon said, I think this will be fact-based.  I think that we have to look at these nominees in terms of their experience, their record of accomplishment and their qualifications to do the job.  That is a part of it. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

THUNE:  And that‘s being reviewed. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We have had tough-ass bureaucrats, administrators in our government, right, really tough guys. 

CORZINE:  Like TV commentators. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, no.  Well...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  This is conversation.

But, you know, you‘ve had people like J. Edgar Hoover.  You had people like Joe Califano, known to be really tough with employees, keeping them working.  Is that what it‘s about here, or is it the possible manipulation of information the government is generating about foreign policy that is being manipulated for ideological reasons by a tough boss, Bolton in this case? 

CORZINE:  There are a number of us—and I‘m sure John would disagree with this—that are uncomfortable with the Bolton nomination in general.

MATTHEWS:  Because of policy.

(CROSSTALK)

CORZINE:  For policy reasons.  Are we comfortable with him as the representative in an institution that he has really shown disdain for, at least discomfort with?

Then there is this concern that information was, if not manipulated, at least framed in a way that oversold cases, and particularly as it relates to Iraq.  And then now there is the question of whether the individual has the diplomatic skills, if you will, to deal in a complex organization, where some diplomacy is probably a good idea. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, wait.  But do you think it‘s appropriate for a United States member, a representative to the U.N., to be too sweet to those other members when they have often tried to jam us? 

CORZINE:  Look, I think Jeane Kirkpatrick...

MATTHEWS:  She was tough.  Moynihan was tough.

CORZINE:  Patrick Moynihan were great representatives. 

But they were also people who could sit down in a room and negotiate and not run away people.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CORZINE:  Just on the power of their personality and how they dealt with people interpersonally.  They had strong views, but they were able to convey them.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Senator Thune, when are you looking for a U.N. ambassador—let‘s do a little poll, like McLaughlin used to do, one to 10.  Let‘s say Eleanor Roosevelt in a one in terms of niceness.  She likes all Third World people in the old days, right?  She loved the U.N.  And Bob Novak at the other end at 10.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Where would you like to see a U.S. ambassador come from politically?  Would you like to have—say they are all a bunch of Third World bozos, the way Novak used to describe them, and treat them like that, or be, oh, gee, I just love this body; everybody here is wonderful?

MATTHEWS:  Where do you want to come out on this?

THUNE:  Well, I think you chose an interesting yardstick. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is he somewhere in the middle there?  

THUNE:  Well, I think he is.

And I—but I frankly,...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think he is more Novakian myself.

THUNE:  Well, if you‘re looking at it, he is going to be more on that end of the spectrum. 

But the reality is, what we need today I think at the U.N. is somebody who is reform-minded, somebody who isn‘t afraid to ruffle a few feathers.  There have been problems at the U.N.  And I think that these questions about his style are probably—you know, those are—if are you a reform-minded person, and you come in, you‘re going to make some people unhappy.  And I think you have to try and differentiate, distinguish those things...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

THUNE:  ... from legitimate issues that have been raised. 

MATTHEWS:  Suppose you were hiring a new chief of staff as a new senator and you were looking for someone to—or A.A., we used to call them, when we were humbler in the old days.  I had that title.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And had you to pick someone.  And you heard, God, there was one person who said he browbeat them.  The other one said they chased her down the hall, banged on her door, demanded documents, jammed documents under doors to be signed or whatever.  Would you say, you know, that is my kind of a guy?  Would you say, no, I got to have—that is a red flag for me? 

THUNE:  I think you have to look at issues of conduct as they relate to the level of professionalism that a person brings to the job.  If it‘s because that person is demanding and they are making people work hard and that‘s—that‘s probably OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That is not the charge here.  The charge here is, he is forcing people to do things they don‘t want to do. 

THUNE:  And those are issues that are being reviewed and looked at. 

But I think, again, if you look at his record, he has been confirmed previously.  And he is a guy who shakes things up.  And I think the U.N.  needs that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re senior here, Senator.  If the Senate Foreign Relations Committee fails to come out with a majority report for this nomination, in other words, some Republicans are off on this thing, would the Senate still take it up?  Or does the Senate procedure require you don‘t take it up?

CORZINE:  If it is a tie, it can be referred to the floor.  If it is not—if it is a negative vote, then it will not be referred to the floor, if I understand procedure properly. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that how you understand it?

THUNE:  I think so.  And I think what they are doing right now is, they are buying some time. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Would you vote for a nominee who was rejected by the committee? 

THUNE:  If it‘s a 9-9 tie.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How about if they rejected 10-8 or something like that? 

THUNE:  Well, then, he won‘t come to the floor, unless he is discharged. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And you wouldn‘t vote to discharge, would you? 

THUNE:  I think in that case, the committee—the committee is a part of the structure and the process of vetting these candidates. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The president would live with the rejection. 

THUNE:  I believe that he would live with it.  That‘s correct.

MATTHEWS:  Bottom line, if he gets rejected, it‘s because of character and bad behavior on the job beforehand or is it ideology? 

THUNE:  Well, it depends on who you talk to.  If you talk to some of the Democrats on the committee, it‘s probably going to be some policy, ideological issues.  Folks on our side I don‘t think have problems with where he is on policy or ideology or the fact that he is taking an approach and a style to the U.N. that is much needed at the U.N.

But some of these other issues that create questions for members, that is a different matter. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Senator, you voted against the authorization for war with Iraq, right?

CORZINE:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think this is a vote on a fact of a guy who is as far out as you can get in this administration?  If you go through all the ideologues and hard-liners and neocons in the administration, he is the guy that wanted to expand the axis of evil to six countries.  He was throwing in Cuba, Libya, Syria.  This guy is a hard-liner.  Is that what is at issue here? 

CORZINE:  Well, it is.

MATTHEWS:  The world will see it that way.

CORZINE:  It would be for Jon Corzine to vote on his nomination.  I agree with Senator Thune.  There will be people who vote against him on principle with regard to how he approaches...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, if he was Mother Teresa at the workplace, you would still vote against him?

CORZINE:  I would vote against him.

And, by the way, I think there is another issue here.  And I think this is the tougher one.  I don‘t think anybody has been accountable for the preparation of going to war. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CORZINE:  And this fellow was right in the midst of it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, George Tenet got removed.  He left rather abruptly. 

Didn‘t he pay a price?

CORZINE:  That is the closest thing.  But then he got the Medal of Freedom Award shortly thereafter. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think Colin Powell is still getting hosannas for his testimony.

CORZINE:  I think that there is...

MATTHEWS:  He is.  The press, everybody loves Colin Powell.  Nobody holds it against him, what he did. 

CORZINE:  I think some of the promotions that are going on are a little difficult.  And when you have the most aggressive advocate, I think somebody ought to ask those questions. 

MATTHEWS:  If Dick Cheney came up for confirmation right now, after his record of coming on every Sunday saying they got nuclear weapons, would you vote for his confirmation as vice president? 

CORZINE:  I think you know how I would handle that one, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask about the other body, as they say on the Hill, the House of Representatives.  The leader of the Republicans in the House is now under investigation by the full Ethics Committee.  Republicans have joined Democrats late today in deciding to investigate, to call a subcommittee to do the work.  Do you think that is justified or is that just political pressure on the Republicans and they buckled? 

THUNE:  Well, I think that there is a process.  And the process needs to work.  The House Ethics Committee...

MATTHEWS:  Well, you were a House member. 

THUNE:  I was a House member.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it should be investigated? 

THUNE:  Well, I think that—I haven‘t been privy to all the information that the Ethics Committee has to look at.  But I think that the Ethics Committee has a role and a responsibility.  They need to perform it, and that this will all be handled in an appropriate way in the House. 

But it is a matter to be dealt with in the House.  But I think that the attacks, a lot of the attacks that are being leveled is because the Democrats in the House and, for that matter, in the Senate, have not talked about an agenda.  They don‘t have an agenda. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  No.  I think the Democrats have an agenda.  Get rid of DeLay. 

(CROSSTALK)

THUNE:  Well, that and shut down the Senate and stop judicial nominees. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is that a fair shot, that the Democrats...

(CROSSTALK)

CORZINE:  That is not. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s stay on this.  I know that is a favorite topic.  But let‘s stay on this question.  Do you think the House Democrats are so feeble in terms of their own agenda that they would rather just focus on trashing DeLay? 

CORZINE:  No.  No.  They would love to have an agenda.  The rules of the House don‘t allow them to bring up much of any of the things that they would like to propose.  Certainly have an agenda...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You mean, they would really like to propose the reform of Social Security, but nobody will let them? 

CORZINE:  No, no.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  They are dying to stay in the weeds on that.  Come on.

CORZINE:  What they would like to do is keep the concept of Social Security in place. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CORZINE:  Which I think is an affirmative action. 

But, you know, there is no desire on the part of Democrats to slow down the Senate.  Just as much as John would like to see the transportation trust fund reauthorized, I would like to see it.  We have got jobs in New Jersey.  We want built building highways and bridges. 

MATTHEWS:  I want to come back and talk about the filibuster, because I think it‘s a hot issue.  We grew up with “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”  It‘s part of the American tradition. 

But there is also another tradition that is called the Constitution.  If the president submits a name for a judicial appointment, he should get a no or a yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, we will talk about that in a minute. 

But let me ask you about DeLay.  Do you believe, Senator Thune—you‘re a Republican—that the press, especially “The New York Times,” has been beating the drum for Tom DeLay‘s head? 

THUNE:  I think that there is clearly a concerted effort on the part of the media. 

MATTHEWS:  Who?

THUNE:  “The New York Times,” “Post,” others, to go after him.  And they are not going to quit and they‘re not going to—until they have continued to churn this thing along.  But I think the appropriate...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  This may be the only liberal idea still on the agenda at “The Washington Post,” because I haven‘t noticed a lot of liberalism there.

But “The New York Times,” you‘re right.

(CROSSTALK)

THUNE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  They have been beating the drum. 

THUNE:  Well, the appropriate thing, though, is, again, to let the process work there.  There is an Ethics Committee.  And they will do—they are very—the people who serve on that committee, it‘s bipartisan.  They will do diligence to make sure that the facts and all the information gets out there. 

MATTHEWS:  Can I ask you a personal question?

THUNE:  Yes.   

MATTHEWS:  You sure? 

THUNE:  Well, I don‘t know. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Do you like Tom—do you like Tom DeLay? 

THUNE:  I think Tom DeLay has been a very effective whip.  When I was a member of the House...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

THUNE:  He could get the votes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I didn‘t ask that particular question.  Do you like him? 

THUNE:  Well, do I like him?  I think he has qualities that are admirable. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you give me a yes or no or the like part? 

(CROSSTALK)

THUNE:  Sure.  Of course I like him.  He‘s a colleague in the House. 

I like all my colleagues.  I like all my colleagues in the House.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, that doesn‘t help me here.  I think he has a problem with members now, doesn‘t he?

THUNE:  Well, I don‘t know.  I think that he‘s got to answer.

MATTHEWS:  He has been too tough. 

THUNE:  And he will.  He will.  And this is why this process has to move forward. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think there is a class thing between him and Bush, that Bush is allowing a Texas barbecue here because he considers Tom DeLay a little lower-brow than him, not quite up to his cut?  Do you think the Bushes are letting this guy drop on them?  They don‘t seem very loyal to him. 

(CROSSTALK)

THUNE:  Well, I think that the—again, his effectiveness is going to be measured by what he can get through the House.  And, if you look at the record of...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s been great.

THUNE:  ... accomplishment in the House, they get things done. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why I‘m surprised—why does the president of the United States not thank Tom DeLay for all the hard work he did for him? 

THUNE:  I think the administration appreciates the good work that he does in the House. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... the people in the big house and he is Simon Legree.  He is out there whipping the slaves, but he doesn‘t get any credit for it. 

CORZINE:  Chris, sometimes people do good things, and then they have some bad faults.

MATTHEWS:  Oh.

(CROSSTALK)

CORZINE:  Maybe they are just—maybe they are a little nervous with what they are going to find out, if you have this objective look at this. 

MATTHEWS:  So, like Nixon went to China, but covered up a break-in. 

CORZINE:  People have different parts of their personality. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re clearly governor‘s material here.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back with Senator Thune and Senator Corzine. 

Plus, the latest from Rome, where a new pope, Benedict XVI, said mass for the first time since becoming pope. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, will Republicans win the battle to kill the filibuster used by the Democrats to block judicial nominees?  We‘re coming back with Senator John Thune and Senator Jon Corzine when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back with Senator John Thune of South Dakota.  He‘s a Republican.  Senator Corzine, he‘s a Democrat. 

Let‘s take a look at what John McCain, the senator from Arizona, had to say here on HARDBALL a little more—about a week ago. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I will vote against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS:  You will vote...

MCCAIN:  Against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you will?

MCCAIN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  So, you will vote with the Democrats?

MCCAIN:  Yes, because I think we have got to sit down and work this thing out. 

Look, we won‘t always be in the majority.  I say to my conservative friends, some day there will be a liberal Democrat president and a liberal Democrat Congress.  Why?  Because history shows it goes back and forth. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

MCCAIN:  I hope it‘s 100 years from now, but it will happen.  And do we want a bunch of liberal judges approved by the Senate of the United States with 51 votes if the Democrats are in the majority?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that, Senator? 

THUNE:  Well, I think he is going to be the exception probably. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think there will be five or six votes on your side that say keep the filibuster? 

THUNE:  I think that, when people look at what we are talking about doing here and the fact that, for 200 years, we have had -- 214 years up until the last Congress, tradition, history, precedent...

MATTHEWS:  Of?

THUNE:  Of allowing judicial nominees and up-and-down vote...

MATTHEWS:  An up-or-down vote.

THUNE:  In the United States Senate, and what the Constitution requires, that that will win the day.  I think we are right constitutionally.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Doesn‘t the Constitution—doesn‘t the Constitution tell the Senate you have a job to say yes or no to a nominee?  You have to say yes or no?  You can‘t just sit on it? 

CORZINE:  The Constitution provides for the Senate to make its rules.  The Senate has made rules, which were approved at the start of this session, that allow for the right of debate.  And that has been a part of the Constitution from the beginning. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, debate to what point? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  To increase the information you all have or to kill a nomination? 

CORZINE:  It is to respect the rights of minorities and to make sure that there isn‘t an abuse of presidential power. 

MATTHEWS:  What are the rights of a majority?  The American people vote for a Republican president.  They give a majority of the Republicans in the Senate, and yet those majorities can‘t confirm a judge. 

(CROSSTALK)

CORZINE:  Chris, we have had checks and balances in this system, both for good and bad, but allowing for a minority to be able to represent itself. 

And, by the way, when you‘re talking about a lifetime appointment, I think it‘s reasonable that you have full vetting and that minority rights ought to be expressed.  And there have been—there have been filibusters. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is that a veto?  Is that what you‘re asking for, a veto? 

CORZINE:  I think that you ought to be able to have to get a supermajority.

MATTHEWS:  Sixty votes.

CORZINE:  For a purpose of a lifetime appointment. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re certain, Senator?

THUNE:  No nominee in the history of this country that has a majority support in the United States Senate has been denied confirmation and an up-and-down vote, zero, none. 

CORZINE:  There‘s been a filibuster on Abe Fortas. 

(CROSSTALK)

CORZINE:  And a lot of constitutional lawyers will talk about different ways. 

(CROSSTALK)

THUNE:  There were ethical issues involved there.  That was a bipartisan filibuster.  And that judge did not have majority support. 

CORZINE:  But it was a filibuster.

(CROSSTALK)

THUNE:  These nominees—these nominees will have 54, 55, 56 votes for confirmation in the Senate.  It is without precedent in American history, what‘s happening. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much for coming over tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Senator Jon Corzine of New Jersey. 

When we come back, David Shuster joins us from the Vatican with a look at the way Pope Benedict XVI is trying to shape the future of the Catholic Church one day after becoming its leader. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his first mass as pope today.  And after listening to him at the Vatican, one could easily conclude that he has begun his papacy with an aggressive campaign to change his tough image. 

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster is at the Vatican and joins us now—David. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, the appearance today of Benedict XVI was carefully choreographed.  And everybody here at the Vatican, including the pope, seems to recognize the incredible focus and scrutiny he‘s now under. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER (voice-over):  In the Sistine Chapel, the mass today was majestic.  But Benedict XVI, described while he was a cardinal as a tough enforcer of church doctrine, seemed to go out of his way this morning to show a softer, more humble side.  

He said, “I have a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil at the responsibility entrusted to me yesterday.”  The pope went on to say his primary task would be to work to reunify all Christians and continue—quote—“an open and sincere dialogue with other religions.”

The pope referred to his predecessor repeatedly and said the church will maintain John Paul II‘s efforts to heal Christianity‘s polarization. 

CARDINAL EDWARD EGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK:  You will come to know him as I know him, extraordinarily intelligent, very calm and secure in his faith, and a wonderful human being. 

CARDINAL ADAM MAIDA, ARCHBISHOP OF DETROIT:  I think you will find in Cardinal Ratzinger a very humble man, a holy man, an instrument of God in this time. 

SHUSTER:  Several cardinals said that Joseph Ratzinger had been a prisoner of his old job.  As head of the Vatican‘s Doctrinal Department, it was Ratzinger‘s responsibility to enforce church orthodoxy.  And according to Vatican officials, his actions, which included an aggressive crackdown on wayward bishops, created a misleading impression. 

But for many Catholics in the United States, the disconnect with the Vatican may now be even more pronounced.  As a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger spoke strongly against birth control, divorce, the ordination of women and homosexuality, which he described as a human disorder.  At the news of the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal, he blamed the messenger, saying, “The constant presence in the press of the sins of the Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign.”

The claim that the priest abuse scandal was somehow a media creation didn‘t endear Ratzinger to the victims in the United States, even though he later showed more concern. 

And looking forward, there is another challenge, the inevitable comparisons with John Paul II, who, in his early years, charmed Americans with his optimism, happiness and a telegenic style. 

POPE JOHN PAUL II:  John Paul II, he wants you. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  Benedict XVI is 78 years old.  And his more somber style was on display a few years ago when he gave a rare television interview in English. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2003)

CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER:  (INAUDIBLE) is that we would be only a social association and not founded in the faith of the lord.  For the first moment, it seems important only what we are doing and the faith appears not so important.  But if disappears the faith, also other things are discomposed, as we have seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER:  It was that matter-of-fact tone and hard-line approach that made some theologians nervous. 

But today, that very same man, now Benedict XVI, is calling for

theological dialogue.  The question hanging in the air here tonight, Chris,

is whether this was just a first-day speech or a long-term plan of action -

·         Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I guess the question we are going to have answered in the next several months and years is whether he wants to open up dialogue with other Christians or include Islamic people.  He has been very tough in the past in trying to keep Turkey, for example, an Islamic country, out of the European Union, because he‘s afraid that there will be too much influence from the Islamic world on Europe. 

I wonder where he is going to head in that direction, because there couldn‘t be a trickier inter-religious problem than we have today between the Christian world and to some extent the Jewish world and the Arab world. 

SHUSTER:  Well, Chris, what is so striking about his mass this morning is, when you compare this with the remarks he gave during his homily just 48 hours ago, I mean, it was such a striking difference, where he was talking about relativism on Monday and the threats to the church and the church needing to be—hold to its true beginnings and its long-term sort of a church doctrine. 

And, today, it was almost as if you were listening to somebody totally different, who was talking about dialogue, who was talking about engaging people who are inside the Catholic Church and outside. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe it is the difference between a politician before the convention and after the convention. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, David Shuster.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Still ahead, Congress plans to hold another round of hearings on steroid use in sports, this time going after professional football.  Should the government get involved or have they overstepped their boundaries?  I‘ll ask basketball Charles Barkley. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

As we mentioned earlier, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee remains deadlocked over John Bolton, President Bush‘s push to be this country‘s U.N. ambassador. 

Democratic Senator Joe Biden was particularly animated during yesterday‘s committee hearing. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE:  And I hear this stuff about, he‘s just a tough lawyer.  He‘s the guy you want on your side if you‘re in trouble.  Well, I don‘t want my lawyer and I don‘t want any lawyer saying something to help my case by lying, deliberately lying about my opponent. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Today, White House spokesman Scott McClellan responded. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Some Democrats on the committee trumping up allegations and making unsubstantiated accusations against someone the president believes will do an outstanding job at the United Nations. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

MATTHEWS:  Byron York is the White House Connecticut for “National Review” magazine and author of the new book “The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy,” he said darkly.  That‘s doing well, I‘m sure.  And Katrina Vanden Heuvel is editor “The Nation” magazine. 

Byron, the nomination seems a little bit in doubt now, a little bit, because George Voinovich, the independent-minded—I guess when you agree with somebody, you call them independent-minded—the maverick—former governor of Ohio—he‘s now a senator—says he wants to hear more information about these charges against Bolton. 

BYRON YORK, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “THE NATIONAL REVIEW”:  This was a real screw-up.  It really blindsided Richard Lugar, the chairman of the committee, when Voinovich said, I can‘t—I‘m not prepared to vote now.  They had to not have a vote.

Now you are going to have three more weeks of—for Democrats to dig

up stuff suggesting that Bolton doesn‘t have the temperament.  They‘ve got

·         and they have one guy who charged that he was a kiss-up and kick-down kind of guy. 

MATTHEWS:  Not a very attractive comment. 

YORK:  Even though—even though Bolton clashed repeatedly with Colin Powell and Richard Armitage. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

YORK:  I mean, he was a kick-up kind of guy. 

So—but now you are going to have three more weeks of this because Republicans just really messed it up yesterday. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Katrina, do you think John Bolton is fit for the position as U.N. ambassador? 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”:  No.  The process worked in this case.  And it doesn‘t really matter what I think. 

What‘s interesting is that you have a pattern of revelations from Republicans, from Colin Powell‘s former chief of staff, talking about John Bolton as a serial abuser, this pattern of bullying, of intimidation, of suppression, of intelligence of information he doesn‘t agree with ideologically.

I think, in a town where a lot of people know you got a lot of neocon

extremists running Washington today, it‘s that pattern of bullying, of

abuse.  And I think it scares a lot of people to have someone at the U.N.,

where you are supposed to be tough, but work with others, unite and build

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What about this woman from the Agency For International Development—excuse me, Katrina—who charges—you never know who is telling the truth.  But this is pretty graphic stuff to have been completely made up, that this fellow, Bolton—he is in the State Department, supposedly some kind of diplomat—is chasing her down a hallway in a Russian hotel and then pounding on her door.  This sounds like KGB behavior. 

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But pounding on her door because she was a whistle-blower.  I think all Americans respect those who are trying to say, hey, there is corruption here.  There is graft. 

YORK:  It sounds...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  We want to save taxpayer money.  And he is like pounding on her door, saying, suppress that news.  Suppress that intelligence, because it‘s going to hurt my job. 

YORK:  Pounding on the door saying, suppress that news, you know, it sounds extremely unlikely.  This was...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you make of that charge? 

YORK:  I don‘t know what to make of it.  It was in 1994. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Would you want to know more if you were a senator? 

YORK:  Bolton has been confirmed a couple of times by the Senate and she never brought up...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Or would you vote aye right now? 

YORK:  Haven‘t they already talked to her?  She has written a letter to the committee, right? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But I think Chris asked the right question, Byron.  Don‘t you want to know more?  Don‘t Americans want to take the time to learn about someone who is going to be in a high position? 

I think the process is working. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And there have been previous nominations where they brought forth more evidence.  And I think you‘re going to see—you‘re going to have people out of the State Department.  These are establishment people. 

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Carl Ford out of the State Department was a—was a -

·         is a loyal conservative who voted for Bush and Cheney. 

YORK:  Katrina, do you think he is unqualified because he is a neocon crazy or because there is a pattern of abuse?  I mean, what is the real reason here? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Oh, I think the fact that he is someone who has misled, suppressed, abused intelligence for the sake of an ideological agenda...

YORK:  Misled and suppressed?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Misled the nation into an unnecessary war, misled the nation into thinking...

(CROSSTALK)

YORK:  See, that is what it‘s about.  This is about Iraq. 

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  ... are threats.  No, misled the nation into thinking there were threats from Cuba, when there are no biochemical threats.  The head of the State Department‘s bioweapons department will tell you that. 

Furthermore, the important thing is, in a moment, when, if you believe Bush and Condi Rice that America wants to engage the world in a different way, don‘t you want someone with credibility?  Increasingly, these revelations show this man doesn‘t have credibility. 

YORK:  Just for the record on the Cuba issue, this was a case in which a man testified against Bolton, said that he was supposed to send information to the CIA.  He sent it to the—information to the CIA with his own comment saying that he wanted the language changed. 

Bolton felt that he had gone around his back, was unhappy with it.  People who worked for Bolton have supported Bolton‘s story on this.  I mean, these—this is an—this is an administration that had a lot of fights inside the foreign policy establishment. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s true.

(CROSSTALK)

YORK:  And now they‘re still playing out.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Just a minute, Katrina.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Imagine that you‘re the president of the United States, Byron, and you are reading the papers, and you‘re checking with Andy Card every day.  You say, how is that Bolton thing going?  And I‘m sure Andy Card said something like this to the president yesterday morning or today.  Oh, God, they got something on him where he is running down the hall in some hotel in Russia, pounding on some woman‘s door, chased her into the room. 

I‘m sure the president, who is a reasonable guy, said, oh, my God.  Where did they get that little sugar plum and how come I didn‘t know about it?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that what he‘s probably saying right now, Byron? 

YORK:  Well, the woman—as I said, Bolton has been confirmed before the Senate before. 

(CROSSTALK)

YORK:  She never brought it...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But do you think the president knows these stories? 

YORK:  I don‘t he knew it beforehand, no. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you think he‘s making of it now? 

YORK:  I don‘t know what he‘s making.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he might withdraw this nomination, faced with these stories for two or three weeks? 

YORK:  No, not—on the basis of what you know now?  No.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a question.  Knowing Washington, Byron, knowing, Katrina, is more coming? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I think more is going to come, absolutely.  You already have people from the State Department coming forth in the next couple weeks. 

But you know what‘s interesting?  It is on record that Senator Lugar told the administration that Bolton could not be confirmed as deputy assistant secretary of state.  Why is he being shunted over here?  It is payback time for...

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Anyway.  So I think it‘s—more is going to come. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s time for me to slice and dice. 

Katrina, if this fellow were Mother Teresa in his dealings with his staff people and with lifelong bureaucrats, would you still oppose him? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I would. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But I think he is going to go down because he is a bullier, a serial abuser. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And Colin Powell‘s assistant said he would make an abysmal ambassador. 

MATTHEWS:  Byron, if you knew a Democrat or a liberal, somebody who disagreed with your views on the world, was engaged in this kind of personal conduct, would you use it against them? 

YORK:  My opposition would probably be based on the bigger issue, which is... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But you would use this in kind of an oratorical fashion, a polemical fashion, to beat the guy, wouldn‘t you?

YORK:  What we have seen now is not very...

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think it‘s big enough.

YORK:  It‘s pretty skimpy. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Would you like to work for this guy? 

(LAUGHTER)

YORK:  No.  There are a lot of bosses I wouldn‘t like to work for. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

YORK:  I mean, the question is not whether he is a really great guy to his employees.  Certainly, there is a level of abuse you wouldn‘t want to reach. 

MATTHEWS:  Did he suppress accurate, effective analysis and kept it from us because of his bullying tactics? 

YORK:  Not that I know of, no. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I think he did.  And I think, by the way, there is going to be more that comes out that he is paranoid about those who criticized him, to the point where Senator Dodd is asking why Bolton asked for all of these National Security Agency intercepts.  That is very unusual.  And that is kind of mixing intelligence with personal...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know what the bad news is, Katrina?  He is the president‘s man.  And George W. Bush picked him for the job.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And there are a lot more of...

MATTHEWS:  He obviously has faith in him. 

We‘ll be right back with Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Byron York.

And, later, basketball star Charles Barkley is coming here to talk about race in America.  That is always a situation. 

And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing.  Just log on to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Charles Barkley talks tough about race in America. 

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back talking about Tom DeLay with Byron York and Katrina Vanden Heuvel. 

Byron, Tom DeLay, knowing Washington, put on your reporter‘s hats for three seconds.  Will he last? 

YORK:  You know, this is a situation where...

(CROSSTALK)

YORK:  No, conservatives are saying, if there is nothing more, then he will probably be OK.  But nobody is really confident that there is nothing more, in part because it‘s tied up with the Jack Abramoff investigation. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Going—speaking of the Jack Abramoff—he‘s a former aide who was involved with lobbying the Indians and all kinds of stuff that is pretty murky, to put it best. 

Katrina, do you think skyboxes and getting to go see the Three Tenors with somebody, is that worthy of a congressional debate over ethics? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Oh, come on.  Don‘t might light of it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just trying—no, because that‘s the lead story today. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Yes.  But, every day, as Byron says, there are more stories rolling out about DeLay‘s junkets, his lobbyist-financed junkets.  And I think corruption isn‘t or shouldn‘t be a partisan issue.

The more Tom DeLay tries to wrap himself in the conservative mantle, he thinks he is going to protect himself.  But I think the GOP is waking up.  They don‘t want a poster boy of immorality and corruption representing them.  And you see chinks in the armor.

MATTHEWS:  Is there anything he‘s done that you can think of, Katrina, as a critic that is worthy of expulsion from the House? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Yes, I can think of three things.  One are these lobbyist-financed junkets.  One is the bribes.  He tried to bribe a congressman to vote for the Medicare boondoggle, threatening that he wouldn‘t help put cash into his son‘s...

MATTHEWS:  I think he put it positively.  He said he would help the son if the guy voted with him. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And—and gutting the Ethics Committee, which is really...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  ... a—citizens‘ protection that our representatives aren‘t trading legislative favors. 

YORK:  So you think he should be expelled from the House?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I think he should resign as House majority leader, because he is traducing the traditions of our democracy. 

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And what has he done?  Newt Gingrich came in 10 years ago.  Today, if you want to call any ethics the Republicans have, they are offensive, offensive to any tradition of democracy in this country. 

YORK:  This is going to call into question travel from other members.

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s got to get to that.

YORK:  If it continues, you‘re going to see that and the funding of travel for other members.  And I believe there was a study by the Medill School of Journalism about the top travelers in the House and the Senate.  And...

MATTHEWS:  But those are congressional delegations, though, they‘re talking about. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They are all part odd—they‘re paid for by us. 

YORK:  But it is going to cut into both parties, which if, that‘s where you want to go, that is fine. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe there is a lot of nonofficial travel that is paid for by lobbyists? 

(CROSSTALK)

YORK:  There are reports of some, yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Byron, DeLay, DeLay, DeLay makes the transgressions of Dan Rostenkowski years ago, the Illinois baron, look quaint, look quaint. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s all agree now.  If he gets barbecued for taking trips from his lobbyists friends...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  It is not just trips. 

MATTHEWS:  Should all—I want to ask you, Katrina, should all congressman who have taken trips from lobbyist friends be booted, if he does? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But it‘s more than that Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just asking you.

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Everyone who took lobbyist trips should go before the Ethics Committee. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And Tom DeLay shouldn‘t gut that important institution in the House. 

The problem is, Chris, that, even if DeLay steps down, you still have DeLay‘s values dominating this Republican Party.  They want to merge church and state. 

(LAUGHTER)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  They do.  They want to merge church and state. 

YORK:  Well, they won a majority of the House.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And this Sunday, this Sunday, we are going to see Republicans, extremist zealots, basically saying to Democrats, who oppose, in good faith, the filibuster, they are going to say, you are not people of faith. 

I think that is a terrible, terrible merger of church and state, demonizing politicians, for good-faith opposition.  And that shows that our democracy in danger—is in danger.  I‘m serious—from the mullahs, the theocrats. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you.  I think that is a strong argument. 

Thank you, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Byron York, as always. 

When we come back, I am going to go one-on-one—well, sort of—with basketball legend Charles Barkley—I wouldn‘t do it really on a court—whose new book takes a blunt look at race relations in this country. 

And don‘t forget to check out Hardblogger, our political blog Web site.  Just go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

For 16 years, our next guest was a superstar for three NBA teams.  And, in 1996, he was selected as one of the league‘s 50 greatest players of all times.  His new book, “Who‘s Afraid of a Large Black Man?,” takes a look at race in our country from the perspective of some prominent Americans. 

Charles Barkley joins me now from Phoenix. 

Mr. Barkley, it‘s great to have you on.  We had you on a number of years ago.

This book, what kind of impact has it had, raising the whole issue of race in America and what it means to be a large black man? 

CHARLES BARKLEY, AUTHOR, “WHO‘S AFRAID OF A LARGE BLACK MAN?”:  Well, I think the book is—the reviews have been fantastic.  I think it‘s doing well as far as sales. 

What I really wanted to do was write a positive book on race, a very fair book.  And I got so many different perspectives from white, black, Jewish, Hispanic, because I just wanted to write a fair book.  Everybody in America argues about who is a liberal, who is conservative, because they‘re both stupid.  But I just wanted to write a positive, fair book. 

MATTHEWS:  As you‘ve grown older and as you‘ve been an adult both as a superstar and some of the other people—some people on the street wouldn‘t even know who you are, has the reaction of white people just in your own experience, to you, when they meet you, when they come across you in an elevator, when they share a—they share a train with you, a plane with you, sitting next to you on a plane, has that physical connection changed in any way over the years or is it still—well, you would—explain it your way.

BARKLEY:  I think, obviously, there‘s always racial things going to happen. 

I think the thing that I figured out through life is, America has always been divided by race, which is sad and unfortunate, but really now it‘s divided by economics.  And one of the reasons I wanted to write the book was, I think I‘m obviously disturbed by these young black kids, poor white kids and Hispanic kids.  They have to realize that their back is against the wall.

And, hopefully, they‘ll band together and improve their neighborhoods and improve their schools and set their goals a lot higher, because, obviously, I don‘t want to rail against the government, but the government has put them in such an awkward situation, because they got terrible schools.  They got so much crime in their neighborhoods.  Until they ban together band together, nothing is going to change. 

MATTHEWS:  What are your views on segregated dormitories, black

student unions or groups that say, we want a black dorm, that kind of thing

·         what do you—or a black hallway—what do you—a corridor?  What do make of that?  What do you think of that?

BARKLEY:  Well, I think it‘s stupid.  I don‘t think—we should get more blacks and whites together, Jewish kids, Hispanic kids.  There‘s only one America.  We have to address it.  Everybody knows racism exists, but it‘s like everybody is afraid to talk about it. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BARKLEY:  So, unless you talk about it, nothing is ever going to get accomplished. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it still true in high school that kids sit at different tables based on race and cafeterias? 

BARKLEY:  Well, I don‘t think it‘s more.  You know, I think kids aren‘t racist.  Adults are racist. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BARKLEY:  Kids are taught to be racist by adults.  Kids sit with people who are friends of theirs or people who look like them, until some adult corrupts their mind.  I don‘t think—hey, babies, kids, if you put a little black kid, a little white kid together, they get along great.  Until some adult comes along and poisons their mind...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BARKLEY:  Racism doesn‘t exist. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what has really changed?  I‘m a little older than you, Charles.  And I have to tell you one thing that changed.  It used to be, if one of your kids had a black teacher, you‘d know about it.  Today, you have to go to the PTA meeting to even notice it, because the kids never even think it‘s worthy of attention.  That‘s changed. 

(CROSSTALK)

BARKLEY:  It‘s not worthy of attention.  It‘s really unfortunate.  We as adults have done a poor job of discussing race relations in this country, letting kids know that we‘re all the same.  We all are created equal.

But everyone is so afraid.  And, like I say, I just wanted to write a positive book.  And I‘m hoping these young black kids, these poor white kids and Hispanic kids realize, number one, they have got a tough road to go, but they have got to band together and improve their own neighborhoods more than anything. 

MATTHEWS:  When a young kid—well, let‘s say a young adult, someone

who is out of college—they‘ve gone to a pretty good school—they‘ve

maybe gone to Michigan, for example, or University of Arizona or some place

like that, ASU—and they go for that first job and they‘re black, do you

·         what do you think they face? 

Do they face an additional barrier to just a tough job market or are they treated equally or do they benefit from affirmative action, the need by some companies to try to balance things out?  What kind of a reality do they face when they go knocking on a door? 

BARKLEY:  Well, I find the whole affirmative action thing kind of a joke, because America is built on affirmative action. 

Majority of white people in this country got their job because, number one, they‘re white or they know somebody. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

BARKLEY:  And that‘s affirmative action. 

I think it‘s a joke that we need affirmative action.  Everybody should be hired on their own individual merits.  But it‘s not going to be a level playing field.  And that‘s just unfortunate.  But a black guy who goes for certain jobs, he has to perform better and he can‘t have any skeletons in his closet.  And that‘s unfortunate.  You know, a white guy can have skeletons in his closet, but if your dad owned the business, he‘s going to get a good job when he graduates from high school or college. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think, after the Civil War—I know you read about this.  I mean, as a black person, you must be very aware of the situation right after the Civil War, when, sure, Lincoln freed the slaves.  The war ended slavery.  And the 13th and 14th Amendment gave rights to black Americans.

Do you think something should have been done there in terms of reconstruction, reparations, something where you don‘t just take a bunch of guys who have been working as slaves in the field and just throw them out there in society without any jobs?  They become sharecroppers.  They become exploited.  And then we wasted really 100 years in our cultural development.  Should something be done today, or is it too late to fix that old problem of what happened after the war between the states? 

BARKLEY:  Well, I think, number one, I think America has to admit racism exists. 

I think any time you hear a black person on television talking about race, most white people assume they‘re just whining.  I‘m very aware that racism exists.  We can‘t redo the past.  I think that‘s unfair.  I‘m not going to get into it.  I don‘t go either way on reparations.  I just think, number one, people have to realize, it does exist.  But, also, we as black people, we have become our own worst enemy.  Same thing with poor white people and Hispanics for sure.  We‘ve become our own worst enemy. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m listening to the music.  Thank you.  It‘s great having you on.  Please come back.  I‘ve had you on before.

Charles Barkley.  The book is called “Who‘s Afraid of a Large Black Man?.”

Join me tomorrow for more HARDBALL.

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

END

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