updated 5/16/2005 8:26:50 AM ET 2005-05-16T12:26:50

Guest: Mia Farrow, Ronan Seamus Farrow, Rush Holt, Jon Corzine, Frank Lautenberg, Frank Pallone, David Ignatius, Byron York, Ed Tauer

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Friday the 13th spells bad news for over 150 military installations across the country as the Pentagon announces its plans for shutting them down. 

Plus, political pressure boils in the battle over John Bolton and the filibuster fight.  Tonight, our trio of journalists takes on the front-burner issues of the week in Washington. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he‘ll bring two judicial nominations that have been blocked by the Democrats to the floor next week, ensuring a battle that promises to tear the Senate in two.  We‘ll get to that hot fight later in the program. 

But first, the Pentagon recommends shutting down about 180 military installations around the country, including 33 major bases.  And that move is setting off fierce fights in communities who don‘t want to see their bases and the jobs that go with them disappear. 

One of those bases is Fort Monmouth in New Jersey which stands to lose more than 5,000 jobs.  And people who work on the base say they‘re worried. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOANNE RYAN, FORT MONMOUTH EMPLOYEE:  I love my job.  I love what I do.  I‘ve been back and forth on this base about 17 years.  And I love my job.  And I don‘t want to lose my job. 

And I don‘t want to have to uproot my family and go to another state that I know nothing about.  I‘m born and raised here in New Jersey.  I want to stay here. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Right now, we‘re joined by Senator Jon Corzine, Congressman Rush Holt, Senator Frank Lautenberg, and Congressman Frank Pallone, all of New Jersey, who are holding a town hall rally to help save Fort Monmouth. 

Let me go to Congressman Rush Holt.  First of all, sir, how is this going to affect your constituents, the loss of this base, if you lose it? 

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY:  Well, it‘s not so much about a local matter.  It‘s a national matter.  It‘s a matter of national security. 

And I really think that the base closing commission, when they understand the flawed logic that went into preparing this Pentagon list, they‘ll throw it out the window.  And Fort Monmouth here in central New Jersey will remain productive and active. 

I mean, it‘s flawed from the beginning, that they should be talking about which bases to keep open, which bases to close, where to redistribute people, when they don‘t yet have an international plan for how to conduct the struggle against terrorism, what research they‘re going to need, what material they‘re going to need. 

This is no time to be talking about closing bases and moving other places when they don‘t have a good plan.  The Pentagon has not distinguished itself in recent years in planning.  So this is a bad time to do it. 

But even within that, what they‘ve done, with very narrow criteria, and a very closed process, is exclude any consideration of the present and the future.  In the present, right now, in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are men and women whose effectiveness and lives depend on what‘s coming out of Fort Monmouth. 

And for them to gamble, for the Pentagon to say, “Well, we‘ll move these labs elsewhere.  And we probably can find some scientists and engineers there.  And we probably can find procurement specialists there.  And we‘ll be able to limp along and get things going again.”  That‘s the kind of gamble that we shouldn‘t take when there‘s military activity underway right now. 

And as for the future, to say that, “Well, we can buy research and development off the shelf.  We don‘t really need to maintain this cadre of experts that exists at Fort Monmouth with decades of experience,” it exposes a failure to understand how research and development is done. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Congressman Rush Holt. 

Let me go right now to Senator Frank Lautenberg.  Senator, you‘ve got a lot of history dealing with representing your state of New Jersey.  Why do you think that this base, the extremely famous Fort Monmouth was put on this list to close? 

SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D), NEW JERSEY:  Well, besides the fact that I served here, Chris, during World War II, when we were doing research then on how to communicate through radio, telephone, how to improve things, this is a technically based facility. 

And when we‘re looking at a war where people are willing to give their lives to take out our soldiers, and we‘re trying to figure out ways to save them, and we know we can‘t do it.  We‘re losing people constantly.  Would we dream of cutting back our forces now to save money?  Should we think about cutting back on investment so that we don‘t to have spend so much for body armor or for Humvees?  Never.  Never. 

And this is no time, when people are willing to die to kill us, that we shouldn‘t have the best in technology to try to prevent these roadside explosives from going off, to detect them early.  It‘s the wrong time. 

During the war, who ever dreamt that we would be thinking about ways of cutting back on a critical part of our defense? 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Senator Frank Lautenberg. 

Let‘s go right now to Congressman Frank Pallone.  Let me ask you, Congressman, the military has gotten very stretched here.  They‘ve talked about having a difficult time meeting other commitments besides Iraq in the world.  Isn‘t it a necessary evil to save this $37 billion that they saved through these closings? 

REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY:  They‘re not going to save any money here at Fort Monmouth.  First of all, they‘re talking about moving it to Aberdeen, Maryland.  And they‘re saying it‘s going to cost over $1 billion to recreate the facilities and the equipment at Aberdeen, Maryland.  So it‘s going to cost more to move Fort Monmouth. 

But beyond that, the military value.  And the bottom line is, we do the communications in electronics, research and development for the Army in the field.  There will be a commander next week that will call from Iraq and ask somebody to develop something that he needs in the next week or two in the field in the Iraq war.  Who‘s going to do that while this move takes place and costs $1 billion over the next five years? 

The bottom line is the scientists and the engineers are here now performing these functions.  They do a good job helping the soldier in the field.  And that help isn‘t going to be there if this is closed and disrupted, not to mention the billion dollars that the Pentagon is saying it would cost to actually make the move. 

This is really a crazy decision.  And I‘m convinced that the BRAC will not uphold it, and they‘ll keep Fort Monmouth open, and they‘ll want that military value to continue for the soldier in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Congressman Frank Pallone. 

Let me go right now to Senator Jon Corzine.  Is there anything that can really be done, or are these basically decisions that have been put in concrete by the military?  Senator Corzine first. 

SEN. JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY:  The GAO‘s going to do a study on this.  I think, when they look at this, they‘ll help us with the BRAC.  The second thing that can be done about it, is if we‘ve made a whole series of bad decisions.  And I tell you, the one that we see here at Fort Monmouth is bad for the national security of this country. 

If we have got a series of those, then I think the Congress can stand up and say this whole BRAC idea is a bad idea and turn the whole thing over in the fall.  So I think there are two ways that Fort Monmouth can be impacted.  I think we have serious questions about the viability of the whole BRAC process. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Senator Corzine, Congressman Rush Holt, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Frank Pallone. 

Aurora, Colorado, Mayor Ed Tauer was stunned when, from 1994 to 1999, the community lost not one but two military bases.  Ten years later, Aurora is an example of a community success story.  Jobs were created and the redevelopment is ahead of schedule. 

Mayor Tauer, thank you.  So what‘s your secret, sir? 

ED TAUER, MAYOR OF AURORA, COLORADO:  Well, I don‘t know if it‘s a secret.  Just it‘s a lot of hard work.  And we think the real key is your focus. 

It‘s a huge loss when you lose a base.  But I think what made us able to get past it is, as soon as we knew we were losing it, to move to the opportunity and recognize a couple square miles of land in the middle of your city is a great opportunity.  And so we focused on building a regional partnership in both cases about redeveloping those bases. 

And we have to think big.  We think that‘s the real key.  If you‘re not having a few people tell you that it can‘t be done, you‘re probably not thinking big enough. 

And a great example is our Fitzsimons Medical Center.  Ten years ago, that was an Army medical hospital with maybe a couple thousand employees that was winding down.  And today, it‘s one of the hottest biotech properties in the country with more than $2 billion in capital investment, several new hospitals, and a new cancer wing.  It‘s really an exciting opportunity.  But we got there by thinking big and by building regional partnerships. 

MATTHEWS:  Bottom line, how many jobs did you lose?  How many have you gained by your development efforts in making up for those losses? 

TAUER:  Well, in Fitzsimons, we lost about 3,000 jobs.  And right now, we have development underway that will bring in at least 15,000.  And we think in the long term we‘ll be able to reach 30,000. 

And with the old Lowry Air Force Base, that‘s not quite as many jobs, but it‘s a great residential property.  And today, people are paying a premium to live on the Lowry Air Force base.  And again, that was a partnership.  The city of Denver and the city of Aurora worked together to make that happen.  And the key was that we did that as a team, not turning it into a fight. 

MATTHEWS:  We only have a minute, Mr. Mayor.  Give me a minute‘s advice.  What would be the one thing you would advise mayors in cities like near Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, that are threatened with losing a major base there? 

TAUER:  Well, I would say start with recognizing it‘s a loss.  And it‘s almost like losing a family member.  And you‘re going to go through that process. 

But as soon as you can, you need to recognize the opportunity that‘s there.  And as local leaders, turn the community around and focus on that opportunity, and move forward. 

And as I said, think big, think outside the box, do something really creative, and bring in partners to do that, whether that‘s other cities, in our case, a university with a research hospital, and especially the private sector, because one of the things they do so well is look at opportunities.  And that‘s something that we don‘t always do great in government. 

Ordinary thinking won‘t solve these issues.  It‘s an extraordinary problem.  We need extraordinary thinking. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Mayor Ed Tauer of Aurora, Colorado, which knows how to come back. 

Coming up, actress Mia Farrow and her son, Ronan, on what they saw in Darfur, the Darfur region of the Sudan, where everybody‘s in big trouble, and what the United States can do about it.

And next week on HARDBALL, Queen Noor of Jordan‘s going to join us to talk about winning the hearts and minds of the Middle East.  What a challenge that is, and a great guest to have.  And whether the war on terrorism is making us safer or not.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  MSNBC keeps you up-to-the-minute every 15 minutes.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger with the latest. 

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced he‘ll seek confirmation next week for two of President Bush‘s judicial nominees who have long been blocked by Democrats.  Democrats say they‘re ready for a showdown.  It‘s expected to begin on Wednesday. 

And authorities say a young girl who appeared in a series of sexually explicit picture taken at Disney World and elsewhere has been found safe.  Police publicized an altered photo of the girl in April in hopes that someone could identify her.  Now officials say she‘s been found in a foster home near Pittsburgh.  They say the man believed to have taken the photos, her adoptive father, is already in prison for child porn. 

Now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS:  Last November, actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow and her 16-year-old son Ronan traveled to the Darfur region of Sudan.  They‘re here today to talk about their experiences.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Welcome.  Mia, tell us about what you saw in Darfur. 

MIA FARROW, UNICEF GOODWILL AMBASSADOR:  We traveled across Darfur mostly by helicopter.  And we lost count of the burned villages as we crossed.  After 50, I lost count. 

And reaching the refugee camps—I brought some pictures.  I don‘t know if you want to show them.  What you see from the air are little sheets provided by UNICEF and the United Nations, and hundreds of thousands of people sheltered there. 

And what we found was a traumatized population.  The food was insufficient.  The water was insufficient.  People had witnessed their families butchered, loved ones killed and raped.  People had traveled weeks across desert terrain to reach these camps. 

And even the children—I took photographs.  It wasn‘t until I got home that I saw even in the children‘s faces, you can see the trauma.  So we talked to the women, especially, because the population is, what, 88 percent women and children.  And they told us of the horror of what had happened to them. 

RONAN SEAMUS FARROW, UNICEF YOUTH AMBASSADOR:  And not only what had happened, but the ongoing danger.  There was no respite from this imminent threat to all of the civilians in Darfur.  The women, for instance, have to leave the camp everyday to—it‘s necessary for them to have firewood to cook the rations they‘re given by the World Food Program, and to trade their firewood for food.  And every day, they have to leave.

And throughout Darfur, the Janjaweed—it‘s “devils on horseback,” is the rough translation—are surrounding the camps.  And they were raped.  In every camp, the women described the same thing, leaving the camps, being raped.  And that‘s a danger that they had to face.  There was no way around it. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there anyway to explain, Mia, the politics that has led so many people into refugee camps, and starvation, and rape, and everything that you have described? 

M. FARROW:  Well, the Khartoum government—it perhaps serves their purpose.  They‘re all about power.  And to see factions warring within the Sudan region and within the Darfur region, I think, just serves their purpose to keep the population reduced. 

But you know, simplistically, the Darfurian population is African and a farming population.  And the Janjaweed, as well as the Sudanese government, are Arab.  And the Janjaweed have been enlisted by the Sudanese government to come down and help complete the annihilation of these villages in Darfur. 

The expansion of the desert, the expansion of the population, came into conflict with the farmers and the government.  And the Janjaweed have been armed by the Sudanese government.  They‘re wearing Sudanese government army clothes.  And they come on camel and horseback. 

And the government bombs the villages.  They have Russian bombing planes, just takes out the villages.  And they‘re followed by the Janjaweed who kill the men and rape the women, and maim the women. 

R. FARROW:  People argue whether this is a racial conflict.  And although there are definitely, I think, pragmatic political motivations on the part of the government, it was very clear talking to the women who mentioned racial epithets were thrown at them while they were being raped, that there is a vast racial dimension to this. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Mia, let me ask you this.  It seems to me you‘ve capsulized it rather well.  We‘ve got an Arab government.  It‘s a mad-dog government.  It‘s got genocidal purposes with regard to the African population from the south. 

A simple question, but if you were president of the United States, what would you do about it? 

M. FARROW:  I would send a top-level envoy there to Sudan immediately, and it would take somebody high up to bring everyone to the table.  There is no peace plan in effect at this moment at all, none.  Not only...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Didn‘t we send Robert Zoellick, the administration, their number-two man at the State Department, and he had a meeting there last month?  And what did that accomplish? 

M. FARROW:  I think you‘ve got to send Condoleezza Rice.  You‘ve got to send Kofi Annan.  You‘ve got...

R. FARROW:  And what hasn‘t happen in the wake of that is that a legitimized, coherent peace process hasn‘t been formed.  And that‘s what needs to happen.  There is no peace process in Darfur.  The rebels and the government aren‘t in talks. 

And we prioritized in the past months this completely distinct conflict between north and south Darfur.  And we‘ve seen incredible progress on that.  They‘ve signed a peace agreement because there was a broader geopolitical interest for the international community there.  So we‘ve...

MATTHEWS:  Ronan, the United States government has learned the limits of its power.  We‘re in Iraq right now.  We‘re in Afghanistan.  The United States military is stretched.  We‘ve heard that recently from Rick Myers, the commander-in-chief—or rather, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. 

We know that we can‘t do everything.  We can‘t be the world‘s policemen.  Isn‘t this primarily the job of the African Union? 

M. FARROW:  The African Union is there.  And they deserve to be supported.  And right now, there are 2,400 African Union troops on the ground.  There needs to be a lot more. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  More with Mia Farrow and her son, Ronan, on the situation in Darfur when we come back.

And still ahead, we‘ll talk about the hot political stories of the week, including Tom DeLay‘s ethics fights and the public pairing of Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  More now with actress Mia Farrow and her son, Ronan, who are just back from the war-ravaged Darfur region of the Sudan.  I asked Mia and Ronan what kind of support the African Union needs in Darfur. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

M. FARROW:  We can offer support to the African Union, financial support, logistical support.  They need trucks.  They need airplanes.  And they need more troops.  And whether it takes NATO to bull them up, and the E.U., and, of course, the participating African nations, but there‘s got to be at least, I mean, some say 30,000 to 40,000.  But it would be really nice to see 10,000 there. 

And they‘re operating on a pathetically weak mandate.  They‘re restricted by a mandate.  They‘re not allowed to protect the civilians.  So we...

R. FARROW:  When we were there, I spoke to the commander of the A.U.  troops there.  And not only was there a vast paucity of troops, the sheer numbers that he needed more of and more funding, but also this mandate, as she mentioned, explicitly denies them the right to actively protect civilians.  And that was the mandate that the Sudanese government permitted.  With a little bit of international pressure, we could see a mandate that enabled them to actually patrol the camps and protect the people. 

MATTHEWS:  The United States went through a situation several years back at the time that President Bush—the first President Bush was in office, and then President Clinton, where we went into Mogadishu in nearby Somalia with the humanitarian purpose to feed people.  We found ourselves surrounded by our enemies over there. 

Can we promise—can we be promised if we go into the Sudan or Sudan, into Khartoum and to Darfur, that we won‘t end up being the enemy? 

M. FARROW:  We are still suffering from Somalia-itis, if you want to call it that.  And Rwanda occurred after Somalia, too. 

I‘m not suggesting—I don‘t think anyone‘s suggesting that United States send troops, but we can put pressure on governments, the Somali government, I mean, the Sudanese government.  And we can help beef up the African Union.  And it everyone is in agreement that it should be the African Union who accomplishes the thing.  But we can help them accomplish that. 

So the two things that individuals can do, I think, is most important, if we were to distill this complex picture, is support our humanitarian efforts, UNICEF, Red Cross, Red Crescent, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children.  They are over there doing difficult, dangerous work keeping people alive. 

And the second thing is to put pressure on our government and the United Nations to see that this Resolution 1591 goes through, which does offer some protection for the people. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there anyone in the United States Congress—last question—that‘s involved in doing what you‘re saying?  Anybody you can think of? 

R. FARROW:  The Darfur Accountability Act, which went through, successfully I believe, Congress, the Bush administration has been lukewarm on this. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, who is not lukewarm?  Who is hot on it? 

M. FARROW:  You know what?  It‘s been—January 10th was the last time President Bush mentioned the word “Darfur.”  Nothing is happening.  There‘s not enough support for this. 

It‘s true.  I think it is going to take a groundswell of people saying, “Do we want another Rwanda?”  We‘ve got 400,000 people dead.  When Ronan and I were there in November, that was 70,000 people dead.  Now it‘s 400,000.  People are dying, first, of the violence, and second, of disease, and third, of starvation. 

R. FARROW:  When people talk about, you know, Rwanda, we say we didn‘t know what was going on there.  There‘s nothing we could have done.  Now we know what‘s going on. 

We have approaching half a million people dead.  And yet we see again this paradigm of international paralysis.  We can do something, with enough domestic interest in the U.S., we could see a change in our stance on the Security Council.  We could see more leadership.  And we could make sure that this recent spat of very good resolutions actually get enforced. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s hope that it happens.  Thank you very much, Mia Farrow and Ronan Farrow.  Thank you for coming on HARDBALL.

R. FARROW:  Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, the Senate is gearing up for a big fight over John Bolton‘s nomination as U.N. ambassador.  How much does President Bush stand to lose if Bolton is rejected?

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  MSNBC keeps you up-to-the-minute every 15 minutes.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger, and here is the latest.

Police in San Jose, California, say they have found the owner of that finger that Anna Ayala claims she found in a bowl of Wendy‘s chili.  Police say the finger belongs to a Nevada man who lost the fragment in an industrial accident.  The man worked with Ayala‘s husband.  Ayala is charged with attempted grand theft.

Michael Jackson‘s former attorney, Mark Geragos, took the stand at the singer‘s trial today.  Geragos testified that Jackson told him he slept in the same bed as the accuser but nothing happened.  He also said he was afraid the accuser‘s family was taking advantage of Jackson. 

And the FAA said it will soon announce what action will be taken against the pilot who caused a panic in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.  New radar tracks shows the small plane came within two mile of the White House then passed over the vice president‘s residence, escorted by fighter jets. 

That‘s all for now.  Let‘s go back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

This week got (INAUDIBLE) as it went on.  An unexploded grenade near the president, a lost plane near the White House, and the Bolton nomination is turning into Washington‘s longest running drama. 

What‘s the story behind all these stories?  And what are the battles really about?  Norah O‘Donnell is MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent.  David Ignatius is a columnist and associate editor at the “Washington Post.” And Byron York is White House correspondent for the “National Review” and author of the new book, “The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.”  I said that darkly. 

Let‘s start talking right now about Bolton.  Bolton, key question.  Let me ask you this—let‘s take a look.  First of all, here‘s Senator George Voinovich of Ohio talking about the Bolton nomination this week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH ®, OHIO:  This is not the behavior of a true leader who upholds the kind of democracy that President Bush is seeking to promote globally.  This is not the behavior that should be endorsed as the face of the United States to the world community in the United Nations. 

Rather, Mr. Chairman, it is my opinion that John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s (INAUDIBLE) to the party for the Republicans, isn‘t he? 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  It was electrifying on Capitol Hill, and Voinovich bucked his party.  But at the same time, it was President Bush who called him personally the day before the vote.  So the president...

MATTHEWS:  So did Andy Card, and so did Karl Rove.

O‘DONNELL:  So the president and the party had a heads-up that Voinovich was going to do this.  So they decided on this end-run to make sure it got to the Senate floor.  And so next week, after the fight over the filibuster, there will be a vote on this.  And they‘re already talking about picking off three Democrats that could possibly vote for Bolton. 

MATTHEWS:  The usual suspects? 

O‘DONNELL:  These are Democrats who voted for Bolton previously, Landrieu, Lieberman, and Nelson. 

MATTHEWS:  The conservatives, the hawks. 

O‘DONNELL:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  No surprise there, right, David, that they could pick up Lieberman, who supports Bolton‘s point of view? 

DAVID IGNATIUS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Maybe.  I think Bolton has really been hurt by the testimony in this.  I think, at a time when people are worried about intelligence and all the bad performance in our intelligence agencies, the testimony about Bolton‘s interference with the intelligence process is clear and upsets everybody.  So I think it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t the ideologues who supported this war in Iraq, don‘t they argue that you have to take the existing intelligence cooked up by the analysts and find new interpretations for it? 

IGNATIUS:  They argue that you have to challenge the analysts.  In the case that‘s most interesting, about Cuba, Bolton was very (INAUDIBLE) with the analysts, you know, dismissed them, tried to get them transferred.  And it turned out the analyst was right, that Bolton was pushing hard on something that turned out not to be true.  And they revised the whole estimate a year later. 

So this is a case study in what you don‘t want.  And I think that troubles a lot of people in the Republican Party.  I think, you know, Voinovich said when he first put a halt in this, “My conscience got me.”  You know, that‘s a very rare statement here in Washington.  And I think there are a lot of people who feel that way. 

MATTHEWS:  By saying that it‘s rare, are there any other Republican senators who fight feel this pang of conscience in voting... 

IGNATIUS:  It‘s obvious that Lincoln Chafee feels very uncomfortable where he is.

MATTHEWS:  From Rhode Island.

IGNATIUS:  It‘s obvious that—I think even Lugar.  I‘ve never seen Lugar—who, you know, likes to be Mr. Bipartisan, you know, Mr. Consensus Foreign Policy, in such a partisan mood.  And I think that may begin to break for people like Lugar in the Senate... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t you sense that Lugar, the chairman of the committee, is under very strong pressure from the White House to be a good soldier, though? 

IGNATIUS:  Absolutely.  If they make people walk the plank on this, Bolton is not popular at this point.  People looked at this and said, “Gee.”  You know, as Voinovich said, he is a poster-boy for what we don‘t want to have as a diplomat.  Even his supporters are saying much the same thing. 

If the White House makes people walk the plank, I think it‘s going to be very tough for Republicans. 

MATTHEWS:  Byron York, let me ask you this:  Do you think if this is delayed two or three weeks because of all the fuss over what we‘re going to be talking about in a few minutes, the fight over the filibuster and the so-called nuclear option, that there may be so much bad blood in the water because of the Democrats being angry, if they lose the fight over the filibuster, they‘ll just delay, and delay, and delay this thing. 

BYRON YORK, “THE NATIONAL REVIEW”:  Well, it certainly could.  I mean, this is certainly the worst possible, you know, acceptable outcome for the White House, in the sense that it does go to the floor.  But you do get a lot more time. 

Barbara Boxer is putting a hold on it.  They‘re demanding more documents from the State Department.  So they‘re going to try to make it the story about withholding documents from Congress. 

I mean, it was certainly a surprise for some Republicans, because there was a feeling that, as the two weeks before the Bolton vote went along, that some of the allegations against him were actually losing steam, as more witnesses were interviewed by the committee.  And then Voinovich just let him have it. 

And I think what you‘ll see now is if, say, on Tuesday, they begin the fight over judges—and it‘s going to go for a long time.  I mean, Frist has said that he‘ll allow virtually unlimited debate on this.  And then however it ends up, people are going to be spitting bullets.  And then they‘re going to go to Bolton?  I mean, it‘s going to be a very bad atmosphere. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the precedent—does anyone know, in terms of filibustering, not a court nominee, but a major diplomatic nominee, and basically filibustering it to death?  Is that within the protocol and the etiquette up there? 

IGNATIUS:  Well, I believe, if Boxer puts a hold on it, that you need 60 votes to get past that.  And that‘s essentially what she‘s already done.

MATTHEWS:  So she‘s initiated a filibuster? 

IGNATIUS:  She‘s laid down that marker already.

YORK:  It‘s my understanding that it actually takes 60 days for Congress to go after that.  I don‘t think the hold is the equivalent of a filibuster.  And certainly, Democrats have argued that the judicial filibusters are because these are people who have lifetime appointments.  And this is president appointing someone in his own administration. 

So they‘re going to have to come up with a different story.  And most of them, I believe, have said they‘re not going to filibuster this. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk about the stakes, or ask you about the stakes. 

First, Norah, you know, it is the U.N. we‘re talking about here.  So everybody in the world, I assume, is covering this, Reuters, Agence France Press, all the Middle Eastern press, right?  They‘re watching this. 

If the president‘s own candidate for U.N. ambassador gets knocked down by his own party-controlled Senate, isn‘t that a huge humiliation for the president? 

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s a great question.  Obviously, I think that some of the papers around the world and countries that have led a lot of the opposition to the United States would certainly make it that way. 

I mean, this was the point that Voinovich made that is likely to persuade some moderate Republicans, or could persuade some moderate Republicans.  Voinovich said, “Public diplomacy is our number-one goal.  We‘re fighting the war”... 

MATTHEWS:  Define public diplomacy. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re fighting the war on terror.  This is a global fight.  We need friends.  We need allies.  We need help in Afghanistan.  We need help in Baghdad.  We cannot do this alone. 

Al Qaeda is spread across the globe.  This is not the time when we need someone who is up there knocking heads at the U.N., and being aggressive, and bullying, et cetera.  And that was the point that Voinovich made. 

That‘s why this whole fight is so interesting, because Bolton is a metaphor for the larger discussion about the president‘s foreign policy.  Do you want a Karen Hughes-type, if you will, who is going to be leading that effort in the State Department, or do you want this bullying, aggressive, in-your-face type of person at the United Nations? 

MATTHEWS:  You know how the Republican conservatives are selling this, that we have a bad neighborhood like Newark, and we have to send a tough school teacher in there with some tough love and kick butt.  They‘re treating the U.N. like it‘s a ghetto neighborhood.  You have got to send a tough teacher in there to teach the kids how to behave. 

Is that their attitude?  Isn‘t that the point of view you hear a lot, Byron? 

YORK:  Well, it‘s not quite like that.  The White House...

MATTHEWS:  Well, help me out.  Isn‘t it like that?  Come on.

YORK:  Well, they were slow off the mark getting to the argument that the U.N. is in desperate need for reform.  I mean, the secretary general of the U.N. says they need reform.  They‘ve been hit by all sorts of scandals.  And I think it‘s a pretty good argument that the United States needs a pretty strong ambassador to the U.N.

MATTHEWS:  But is he going to be a hall monitor?  Does he have the authority, as an ambassador from one country, to, quote, “reform the U.N.  secretariat” or the general assembly or anything? 

IGNATIUS:  No, it‘s a bully pulpit.  And you know, a bully may be the guy you want sometimes in a bully pulpit.  I mean, Jeane Kirkpatrick was not known for being “diplomatic,” in quotation marks.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

IGNATIUS:  And that‘s the argument that‘s always used about Bolton.  “This is precisely the kind of person we need.”  To me, Chris, the issue is not so much how he‘s going to behave in New York but what this shows us about Washington.  This administration is really split.  It has two voices.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t you send Bob Novak?  Let‘s go all the way.  Just send the prince of darkness. 

Anyway, we have to change topics.  In a tribute dinner in his honor, Tom DeLay criticized Democrats this week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  No ideas, no leadership, no agenda.  And in just the last week, we can now add to that list no class. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  David, is that Harry Reid we‘re hearing hear, no class?

IGNATIUS:  Harry Reid and others.  I mean, you know...

MATTHEWS:  Because he called the president a “loser”?

IGNATIUS:  I have to say, of all the things that Tom DeLay has said recently, this is one that I think is generally right.  I mean, the Democrats don‘t have many ideas.  They don‘t have an agenda.  They don‘t have leadership. 

And you know, Tom DeLay, you know, the best thing Tom Delay has got going for him is the disorganization of this Democratic opposition. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s the only game in town. 

IGNATIUS:  Well, you know, the Democrats have not got a convincing game now on any of these issues and everybody can see it. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the—help me out. 

Well, let me go to Byron.  What is the Democratic position on the war in Iraq?  What‘s the Democratic position on Social Security?  What‘s the Democratic position on tax reform?  I guess I don‘t know it.  Is there one? 

YORK:  Well, the Democratic candidate for president lost because he never could figure out what his position was on the war in Iraq.  And clearly, their position on Social Security is they don‘t want any changes. 

So I mean, Tom DeLay is right.  And I think DeLay is also benefiting, kind of belatedly, because he was in pretty hot water for a while.  I think he‘s benefiting from the Bolton and Judiciary stuff, which is going to take a lot of attention away from him. 

MATTHEWS:  And he‘s a relatively boring figure, right?  I mean, people don‘t really get that excited about Tom Delay out in the hinterlands, do they? 

YORK:  Well, no.  I think the Democrats have gotten very excited about it, when we‘re having a number of stories about, you know, trips to Scotland that cost so much money.

MATTHEWS:  That just shows how desperate they are for an agenda, getting rid of Tom DeLay is the only item on their agenda.

YORK:  Sounds like an idea.

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, talk about strange bedfellows.  Why is Hillary Clinton teaming up with her husband‘s one-time archrival Newt Gingrich?  And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail.  Just log onto our Web site, hardball.msnbc.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  MSNBC keeps you up-to-the-minute every 15 minutes.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger with the latest. 

Pope Benedict XVI has put his predecessor, Pope John Paul, on the fast-track to sainthood.  Pope Benedict waived the usual five-year waiting period after death.

The prosecution has rested its case in the Iraqi prisoner abuse trial of Specialist Sabrina Harmon.  She is seen in some of the scandal‘s most notorious photographs.  The defense is scheduled to open its case on Monday.  Harmon faces up to six-and-a-half years in prison if convicted. 

And Ford is recalling more than 150,000 vehicles because of reports of smoke or charring coming from insulation on the dashboard.  The vehicles are Crown Victorias, often used as taxis or police cars. 

That‘s all for now.  Back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m back with Norah O‘Donnell, David Ignatius of “The Washington Post,” and Byron York. 

This week, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared together promoting healthcare legislation.  Let‘s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  I‘m delighted that Speaker Gingrich has joined with us.  I know it may be a little bit of cognitive dissonance.  He and I serve on another committee together dealing with the future of the joint forces command of our military.

And at our first meeting, when we were agreeing so much with each other, I think people thought the end is near.  It is a sign of the end times.  But I think it‘s just a sign that, you know, we can come together and try to solve a real problem for America.  So thank you, Speaker Gingrich. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Byron York, is this the comeback of Newt Gingrich?  He sort of left in an embarrassing way, the speakership.  He obviously loved being speaker.  He‘s not anymore—he‘s not a legislator, not even a member of Congress.  Yet here he is, authoring legislation, as if he is still on the hill. 

YORK:  Well, he clearly wants to be in the national eye more.  And you know, if you listen to Gingrich for any period of time, he just shoots off ideas like crazy. 

And he loves technology.  And what they were talking about is a bill to use the Internet to share medical technology more easily.  It‘s a very Gingrich kind of thing.  And getting together with Mrs. Clinton, I think, helps them both in the sense that it makes him look less right and her less left.  And it‘s a win-win situation, you know, right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is the suitor here?  Who set up this little deal? 

YORK:  I believe Gingrich approached—about the medical stuff, I think he approached her. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  What do you think of this, David? 

IGNATIUS:  Well, you know, I think it‘s a wonderful example of mutual back-scratching.  It obviously benefits them both.  But I also think maybe it‘s a symbol of the future. 

You know, we‘re heading into a period where everybody‘s going to go to the mattresses.  There‘s going to be bloodletting on both sides, horrible partisanship.  And after that, I think, you know, the Hillarys and Newts, you know, the sense of bipartisanship‘s going to reemerge.  So maybe this is an avatar of the future. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this post-electoral, you don‘t have to hold office to be authoring legislation?  I mean, Newt‘s been bounced, and here he is—I mean, here he is offering it up.  He‘s acting like, “I‘m still here.” 

O‘DONNELL:  Hillary is up in 2006.  And of course, she‘ll probably run for president in 2008.  So this is just one more step of her getting ready to do that. 

And this is—Hillary entered the Senate.  She has sponsored more legislation with Republican senators than any other senators. 

MATTHEWS:  Anything got her name on it yet?  Anything passed?

O‘DONNELL:  I don‘t know.  I haven‘t looked that closely. 

But anyway, she‘s worked with Tom DeLay with foster children.  She had a speech on the Senate floor in immigration praising the Minutemen.  She had some remarks on abortion which suggests that she‘s moderated her view on that particular position.  So she‘s doing—and of course, then she made that huge...

MATTHEWS:  But this is positioning, isn‘t it? 

O‘DONNELL:  ... made that huge news on North Korea.

MATTHEWS:  But this is positioning.  But this isn‘t doing.  It‘s positioning, isn‘t it?  It‘s P.R.  Has she actually done anything on abortion? 

(CROSSTALK)

Byron, has she ever done anything on abortion, done anything on any of the issues she‘s gotten involved with, done anything?

YORK:  No, you know, one of the things is there‘s been a lot of talk about her being a centrist.  But I did look at her Americans for Democratic Action liberal ratings this year.  And they were 95 for each of the four years that they‘ve measured so far. 

But you know, the other thing that‘s good positioning is what she was talking about, serving with Gingrich on a Defense Department panel.  So that‘s another way in which she is trying to, you know, give herself a more centrist image. 

MATTHEWS:  But does it have any—would it make any difference if she had her picture taken eating grilled cheese sandwiches with Newt Gingrich or having her picture on some sort of an issue agenda that has nothing to do with actual legislation? 

YORK:  Look, what‘s going to happen is when—if she does run, I mean, Republican oppo-research teams are going to be going through her record completely.  And the positioning becomes less effective when they‘re actually—just like Kerry and abortion. 

You know, he would always say that he opposed it, or gay marriage.  And yet he opposed the Defense of Marriage Act.  So they‘re going to hit her with her record.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  When we come back, President Bush loosens up on his trip to the former Soviet republics.  Is he taking his wife‘s advice to heart?

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Norah O‘Donnell, David Ignatius, and Byron York.  The president‘s press secretary took questions this week on why the president wasn‘t told immediately that a plane entered restricted airspace here in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION:  Shouldn‘t the commander-in-chief have been notified of what was going on? 

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  John, the protocol that we put in place after September 11th were being followed.  They did not require presidential authority for this situation. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Norah, is this a fair knock, to be going after the president because he was out biking when they were chasing down that Cessna plane about 50 mile from D.C.? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, it‘s not a knock, but it‘s a key question that I think deserves to be answered by the White House.  You have the first lady and Nancy Reagan rushed down to a secure location.  I was sprinting out of the White House.  They put Cheney in a motorcade that zoomed by.  And there are F-16s roaring on top of the White House. 

And the president is out on a bike ride.  And they decide to wait an hour before they tell him to let him continue his bike ride. 

Now, Scott McClellan, the president‘s press secretary is right.  The protocols did not involve the president.  He didn‘t need to be involved.  But if America or if Washington had been under attack again, it raises the question, who is making that decision about when the president should or should not be called? 

MATTHEWS:  Big question, David:  Does the president get upset that he wasn‘t told or does he thank his staff for not telling him, even though he takes the heat a bit in this?

IGNATIUS:  I talked to somebody today who was with the president this morning.  And that‘s all he could talk about.  He was reading the stories, apparently, feeling very upset. 

I mean, to me, this shows the system works.  I mean, the point is, it was the White House or some other big building that might have been the target, if there was somebody flying over, not this naval facility in Suitland where the president was riding his bike.  He doesn‘t have to worry there. 

And this shows the system works.  You don‘t to have notify the president.  In fact, all of the triggers, bing-bing-bing, worked. 

MATTHEWS:  Byron, are you aware—where are you?  The president should have been told immediately when he was out on his bike or not? 

YORK:  Well, I think he should have been told.  And I think he believes that he should have been told.  But I mean, I think David‘s right.  They were racing people out of the White House to protect them and save their lives.  And the president was not in physical danger because he was far away from it. 

But yes, he should have been told.  And I think he‘s gotten the message to people that, should this happen again—I hope not—that he should be told. 

MATTHEWS:  Divide this for me.  Why did Vice President Cheney get rushed out of the White House in apparently a chair-carry to some extent to his—out of his office into a car to speed him away?  And at the same time, the two first ladies were left at the White House in some bunker. 

Are we still trying to put emphasis on the security of the vice president?  I recall, at the time that the president was throwing strikes at Yankee Stadium with 60,000 people out there, and the vice president was in a secure location.  Why is Cheney more precious than the others? 

IGNATIUS:  Well, because he‘s—there are only two nationally elected officials in the government, the president and vice president.  And I think it makes sense, post-September 11th, to try to make sure that they don‘t get killed.  So I mean, I think that‘s entirely reasonable. 

MATTHEWS:  I guess they joined the ladies after the disturbance.  Here‘s First Lady Laura Bush at the White House Correspondents Dinner on life with the president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES:  I am married to the president of the United States.  And here‘s our typical evening.  Nine o‘clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep.  And I‘m watching “Desperate Housewives”...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

... with Lynne Cheney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

MATTHEWS:  Opera bouffe.  The president must have been listening, because here he is proving he has still got a few moves, in Tbilisi, Georgia, earlier this week. 

I don‘t know what that‘s about. 

Let me ask you, Norah, you know, it‘s amazing how the White House press corps falls for this stuff.  I mean, the bottom line is, the first lady does not watch “Desperate Housewives.”  That was something written for her by Landon Parvin, a gifted speech writer.  And yet everybody laughs as if it‘s true. 

O‘DONNELL:  I don‘t think they were laughing because it was true. 

They were laughing because it was funny.  It was just a funny rip. 

MATTHEWS:  But why did they put out the word afterward the first lady, of course, doesn‘t watch “Desperate Housewives”? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, because people thought it was funny that the president goes to bed at 9:00, which, in fact, he does go to bed at 9:00.  And actually, the part about him being Mr. Excitement is partially true, because he goes to bed early.  These people don‘t party very much, as they‘re very busy. 

And what we saw in Tbilisi, Georgia—I was on that trip with the president, busting a move, as you say, and shaking his booty, it was unusual because he doesn‘t normally enjoy some of the cultural festivities when we go on these foreign trips. 

What happened there was we came into Tbilisi, Georgia.  There were tens of thousand of people lining the streets to see the president.  This event was only supposed to last 10 or 15 minutes.  That‘s all he wanted to stay.  And yet the performances were so beautiful and welcoming, he stayed for more than an hour.  That‘s why. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Thank you, Norah O‘Donnell, David Ignatius, and Byron York. 

Monday on HARDBALL, the hunt for Osama bin Laden.  Three-and-a-half years after 9/11, why haven‘t we caught the guy?  We‘ll talk to the CIA officer in charge of finding him after those attacks.

And on Wednesday, the showdown over judicial nominees begins as the Senate starts debate on two of the judges the Democrats have been blocking. 

And this weekend, I‘m heading back to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where we were last October for the vice-presidential debate.  I‘ll be giving the commencement address there. 

Coming up next, Keith Olbermann‘s proposal on how to rebuild the World Trade Center.  The COUNTDOWN, next.

END

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