June 8, 2005 | 1:56 p.m. ET

This bloody and costly war (guest blog from Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor, The Nation)

The last 12 months in politics
I’d have to say the most significant story of the last 12 months is Iraq.  (Although Bush getting elected despite being a disastrous president was a pretty big story.) The U.S. is now fighting a bloody guerrilla insurgency in one of the most conflict-ridden and dangerous parts of the world. Nearly 1,700 American men and women have been killed, thousands more maimed, and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have perished. And the more we find out how we got to this point the more it becomes clear that the entire enterprise was premised on a fraud. (Thanks to Chris for using Hardball to help clarify how bogus some of the reasons for this bloody and costly war really were.)  Now, with the release last month of the stunning, profoundly important Downing Street Memo— which details a secret July 23, 2002 briefing for Prime Minister Tony Blair by the head of British Intelligence— we now have incontrovertible evidence that this administration misled the nation into war, fixing facts and intelligence to suit their plans.

The big story this year
As for the big story in the next 12 months—still going to be Iraq.  More lives lost, more money spent. A military stretched to the breaking point, with recruitment becoming more and more difficult.

The story at home will be an uptick in what we’re already seeing:  Americans who believe that their country shouldn’t have gone to war in the first place—that the war was not worth the cost in U.S. lives and dollars. (Already 57 percent of voters.) We’ll see bipartisan support
for a withdrawal plan. And more Republicans who supported the war joining North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones, who now says that the U.S. went to war “with no justification... If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong. Congress must be told the truth.”

A personal note to Chris and the Hardball staff on the anniversary
Chris, thanks for the sparring scars and congratulations on Hardball’s 8th anniversary.
Kudos for dueling with that famously disloyal Democrat Zell Miller and for keeping those neocon hawks on the Hardball hotseat—answering for what they’ve done to the country and world. The MSNBC lineup needs someone who will keep on asking rapid-fire, hard-charging questions.  And who is almost as entertaining as Darrell Hammond :)

Congrats also to the mighty Tammy Haddad and savvy Dominic Bellone for keeping Hardball on target (and under control, on most days!) in these last few years.

Katrina vanden Heuvel has been The Nation’s editor since 1995. She is the co-editor of "Taking Back America—And Taking Down The Radical Right."

June 7, 2005 | 2:38 p.m. ET

The year in politics and why the Senate compromise was a big deal (guest blog from Hilary Rosen)

It has been a wild 12 months in politics. And Hardball stayed ahead of the game at every turn. The life and death stories of the war were some of the best on TV. We saw great coverage on an enormous (and enormously disappointing) election book-ended by the recent stories on the identity of Deep Throat. Tucked in between is what I am going to discuss— a Congressional action that received a good bit of media coverage but few understood its significance better than Chris Matthews.

When it comes to the future of the Republican Party and its Congressional majority, few stories will be as important as the deal that broke the nuclear threat to end the filibuster.  Americans across the country started to read the tea leaves of the right wing agenda during the Terry Schiavo case.  And they didn’t like what they saw. But the Republican leadership in the Congress was already the captive of the right wing and reaffirmed their pledge after the last election.

It took five moderate Republicans and a few “maverick” Republicans to stand up to their leadership and rebel against the right wing’s capture.  And instead of getting a snarky “I told you so” from the Democrats, they actually got a few Democrats to join them in their independence. 

Some have said this event means little— the deal won’t hold— bad judges were approved- there was never a test vote, etc.  But I think that’s wrong.  The right wing so-called religious zealots may claim credit for the results of the last election, but this break from their agenda foretells the outcome of votes on many of the social issues they are hoping that Congress will push their way. And by their actions, those independent Republicans are challenging the conventional leadership of their president and their party. They may not like abortion but don’t think that every political decision should be guided by it. They may not want to see same sex marriages any time soon but in a time of war and terrorism, they don’t believe it is the biggest threat to our nation and they don’t want to see discrimination embedded into our Constitution.  They don’t like assisted suicide but they don’t want their life decisions to be made by someone outside of their family.  In short, they are standing up for a great swath of the electorate who just don’t want to see these issues politicized. 

I would, of course, like to see those Republicans go even further on these issues.  In fact, I’d also like to see them become Democrats.  But that won’t likely happen.  For now, I will relish the moment in May when shock and awe opened the mouths of the right wing and their allies in the Republican leadership as they were undercut in their zealotry by their own compatriots.

Happy Anniversary Hardball!

Hilary Rosen is a frequent Hardball guest and a commentator on politics, the media and the entertainment industry. She is the former Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America and is currently a consultant in the media and technology industry and a Democratic Activist.

E-mail Hardblogger@MSNBC.com.

June 6, 2005| 6:54 p.m. ET

Howard Fineman guest blogs (Newsweek's chief political correspondent, senior editor and deputy Washington bureau chief)

On the past year
The most important event of the last 12 months was the re-election of George Bush on what, in effect, was a platform of we're-in-for-the-long-haul in Iraq.

On the future
Now, the big questions for the next few years are: How long can we afford to stay? Are we really any safer as a result of having gone there in the first place? Or was Bush's original decision, which voters weren't prepared to repudiate last fall, a serious blunder at best?

On Hardball
As for Hardball, Chris Matthews is a patriot and I'm proud to say, a friend. This is a country defined by, and sustained by, public debate. Chris is the best in the business of asking tough questions and prompting discussion in a way that requires people— including young people—  to pay attention. It's a public service to make public life compelling. He does it every night, and has been doing it for years. I'm honored to take part.

Stay tuned to Hardblogger for more guest blogs commemorating the past year in politics and the 8th anniversary of Hard8all!

June 6, 2005| 11:17 a.m. ET

Will we still be occupying Iraq on Hardball's 16th anniversary? (Bob Shrum, Democratic Party political consultant)

Thankfully, “Hardball” has now been on the air longer than George Bush will be in office— and Chris Matthews has been more right about more issues in one week than this president was in his entire first term. Chris isn’t politically predictable: unbelievably, he actually voted for Bush in 2000. But he’s lively, witty, and he’s a walking encyclopedia of American politics (I mean Matthews, not Bush.) Chris can be a tough interrogator, but at the right moment, he also knows how to play hardball with a changeup and a soft touch.

Sadly— and I feel the sadness acutely— the most significant political story of the past 12 months is that, by the margin of a football stadium in Ohio, George Bush was re-elected. We are learning again every day that small margins, or even a loss that really wasn’t, as in the 2000 Presidential election, can make for big differences in the course and character of the country.

Kevin Lamarque  /  Reuters
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry  throws a football aboard his chartered airplane, a few days before the Superbowl on January 28, 2004. At right is Kerry's campaign strategist Bob Shrum.
The next year will see surprising Democratic gains in the midterm election and the predictable demise of the Bush effort to privatize Social Security. But the most significant and dangerous development will be a continued insurgency in Iraq, with America bogged down in an occupation with a so-called “strategy” that is only more of the same and with no major new contributions from our allies to the so-called “coalition.” We will hear more and more of the rhetoric of redemption from administration apologists, a new level of equivocation from many Democrats who doubt the policy but fear the politics of opposing it outright, and proposals from nationally prominent elected officials to set a date certain for withdrawal. Popular support for withdrawal, largely but not exclusively among Democrats and independents will mount as more and more Americans ask: Can we really accept an administration and its neocons proclaiming one turning point after another when each one only seems to lead us farther down the road of more fighting, more loss of life, higher costs and no exit in sight? A Marine Corps official now says that we have eight years left of a 10-year war— by which time the architects of that war, co-Presidents Bush and Cheney, who manipulated the intelligence to justify the conflict will be long gone from office. To put it in terms of “Hardball,” someone’s going to ask a pretty basic question: Do we want to see the American occupation of Iraq still in place on Hardball’s 16th anniversary?

Bob Shrum is a Democratic political strategist. He was a campaign consultant in the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign. Since 1985, he has developed media campaigns for 26 winning U.S Senate campaigns, eight winning gubernatorial campaigns, and mayoral races in a host of cities. He is a senior fellow at the New York University, affiliated with the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. 

June 6, 2005| 5:00 p.m. ET

D-Day at 61: "There were ghosts in the eyes of all those boys you sent away"
(Greg Ebben, Hardball Associate Producer)

Dwight Eisenhower— always affectionately known as "Ike"— became one of the most pivotal historical figures of the 20th century 61 years ago today.  As Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in WWII, he commanded the night brigade of Americans, British, Canadians, and men from twelve other countries, who would storm the Normandy coastline of France to finally take on the Germans in the European Theater. Ike was Commander-in-Chief during peacetime from 1953-1961, which may explain why his two terms are ones in which historians don’t usually label as one of the more influential 20th century presidencies compared to those of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, and Ronald Reagan. But, in the end, his pre-President days are probably more important historically for the leadership he displayed during the most important event of the last 100 years. 

Eisenhower was in charge of the Allied invasion of Europe, which culminated with D-Day on June 6, 1944.  His order to go ahead with Operation Overlord sixty-one years ago changed the course of history.  “The eyes of liberty loving people everywhere” were indeed upon the soldiers, sailors, and airmen on that epic day.  And though everything shaped for that day of war didn’t go as planned, it still marked the turning point of the 20th century, marking the beginning of the ultimate demise of the fascists and Nazis. 

Ike was there on the ground in England to see the paratroopers off on the evening of June 5th.  Everyone put on a “happy face,” but everyone knew what the future held.  The odds of a paratrooper surviving the entire day after dropping behind enemy lines were low.  Falling out of an airplane, in the dark, and doing it quietly against a very formidable German army was a daunting task at the very least.  Ike knew it, and more importantly, the boys knew it.  They knew the risk. 

They knew that death was a good possibility.  But they went forward with their duty - to sacrifice life and limb and begin the process of ridding Europe of Nazi domination.  And for those paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne, the Army Rangers who scaled the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, and the thousands of American soldiers who stormed Omaha and Utah Beach from Higgins boats in the English Channel - destiny was indeed on their side.  That assault on D-Day would mean German wasn’t going to be the language of an occupied Western Europe.  The days of hate for people because of their religion and ethnicity, which turned into millions of murders, was going to be quelled.  And after years of being down, the good guys were finally going to win the big one and change the course of history. 

Unfortunately, tanks, bombs, and bullets were the ingredients for that particular recipe to push the Germans back.  And in that mixture was the blood our boys, who never made it home.  Before the invasion, Ike was told that 7 out of 10 would die at Normandy.  Seventy percent.  It turned out that only 1 in 5 didn’t make it.  A success, right?  Not really.  Twenty percent is twenty percent, and still quite a burden to bear.  And the men who were part of the eighty percent who survived D-Day, came back to invigorate this country and the world for the remainder of the 20th century.  But the one thing they never did in all the years since that fateful, but victorious day, was to forget. 

Last year, the WWII Memorial was formally dedicated in Washington, D.C., and old men cried as they received their final due on seven acres comprised of water, granite, and bronze in our nation’s capital.  Today, the 61st observance of D-Day will be marked, and old men will cry once again as they reflect on years past, friends lost, and the horrors of war.  They will come together again - the rangers of Pointe du Hoc, the soldiers of Omaha Beach, and the paratroopers of Sainte Mere Eglise. 

Ceremonies will again take place on the one piece of land the United States ever asks from another country - a plot of acreage to rightfully and respectfully bury our own, the fallen.  The seemingly countless alabaster Crosses and Stars of David atop the plush green pasture of French soil will look a little purer as we pause to remember those who gave of themselves for liberty and justice for all

The words of Admiral Chester Nimitz and Ronald Reagan probably say it best, “They fought together as brothers-in-arms.  They died together and now they sleep side by side.  To them, we have a solemn obligation…We will always remember.  We will always be proud.  We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.” 

Email: Hardblogger@msnbc.com

June 2, 2005| 8:20 p.m. ET

GOP nervousness about Tom DeLay? (David Shuster)

For several months, GOP strategists have been telling me that House Majority Leader Tom Delay could be a liability for Republicans during the Congressional elections. 

It's easy to see why: Last week, a Texas judge ruled that a DeLay political action committee violated state laws when the PAC failed to report $600,000 in corporate contributions.   Last month, The Washington Post reported that DeLay's airfare to London and Scotland a few years ago was charged to a Washington lobbyists's American Express Card. In other words, "Don't leave home without Jack Abramoff."   And the pending House Ethics Committee investigation into this episode follows three previous incidents that prompted the panel to formally "admonish" Tom DeLay. DeLay was admonished for (1) inviting energy lobbyists to a fundraiser just before the energy bill was brought to the house floor, (2) muscling a fellow Republican during a Medicare debate by promising to help the lawmaker's son, (3) using the FAA to round up missing Democrats in the Texas legislature when the legislature needed a quorums pass a controversial redistricting plan that helped Republicans.

A Democratic group delivered petitions to the home district offices of 195 GOP members of Congress urging the lawmakers to "fire" Tom DeLay.  This activism by the Democratic group Moveon.org seemed utterly predictable. And this story would have made my eyes glaze over had it not been for a curious move by the National Republican Campaign Committee. 

The NRCC is responsible for helping Republicans retain their seats in Congress.  And today, the NRCC asked the chiefs of staff and press secretaries for every Republican member of the House to find out if a Moveon.org petition was dropped off in the district office... and if so, to count the number of signatures.

National political parties don't pay much attention to interest group petitions unless the petitions suggest trouble. So, I called the person behind the NRCC request.  Communications director Carl Forti said he sent the survey to every Congressional office because of "total curiosity."  I asked, "Are you worried that any one petition with several thousand names on it might indicate a problem?"  "No," said Forti, "you are talking about left wing activists here."   "Why then,” I asked, "would the NRCC care what Moveon.org is up to with this?"  Forti replied, "It's recess week, what else are we going to do?"

What else are we going to do?  Oh, I don't know, how about helping President Bush with his Social Security reform plan?  But, give Forti credit.  His line about recess week was funny.  And if the NRCC wants to determine if Moveon.org is exaggerating claims about delivering 470,000 signatures... doing some of your own math is not a bad idea. However, Republicans continue to suggest privately that Tom DeLay is a huge potential problem and that the Moveon.org ads running ad nauseum in some districts have been effective. Other Republicans have argued the GOP needs, at a certain point, to respond.  Has that point been reached?  Maybe, maybe not.  But out in the Congressional districts... both parties are now counting names. 

Questions/Comments:  DShuster@msnbc.com

June 1, 2005| 5:46 p.m. ET

Chris Matthews on revelations, legacies, and truth-telling

Video: The politics vs. the truth Chris talked about the implications of the "Deep Throat" revelation on the "Today Show." Click to watch the video. Also below are some quotes from Chris from that appearance:

On keeping a secret in Washington D.C.
It does disprove a theory of mine.

On Deep Throat's role being overstated
I don’t think Felt’s role is being overstated. Apparently, it gave the Washington Post the backbone to publish what they did. Editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Katherine Graham had a lot at stake here. It was a liberal paper, but editorially, in terms of journalism…. the story had to be factually straight. And the fact that Mark Felt, the no. 2 of the FBI, was backing up these stories as an unidentified source… it was the key to the Post's confidence.

Journalism today in need of a boost
I was a reporter back then for a small news service in '72 and '73. Back then, Woodward and Bernstein were our heroes, and they still are. And I'm so glad this story is breaking now because journalism could use a moveable feast right now. We can use something to go back and say, “My god, this was a time when reporters were telling the truth, when everyone else was lying.”

On Nixon aides and their criticism
I think it’s important in this discussion that we listen to reporters for the facts; not the flacks and the hacks. You have to go to the editors and the fact-checkers on a story like this.

All these guys are incredible —Pat Buchanan, Charles Colson, John Dean. But they were all involved in it, in the situation, in the White House… Pat is a Nixon loyalist.

Woodward and Bernstein weren’t questioned on the facts. No one is challenging them on the facts. You can’t get confused between the fire and the fire brigade here. The good guys are the ones catching the bad guys doing the bad things.

The problem with the journalism jamboree of the last 24 hours is that people are coming on TV that have cases to make on behalf of Nixon still, on behalf of their own biographies. But talk to Walter Pincus of the Post, Woodward and Bradlee.. those are the truth-tellers here.

On the search for the truth in Washington D.C.
It's our job to root for the truth-tellers and whistleblowers, and the sources— unidentified or not. As journalists, the job is to get the word out of what’s going on in the Capitol, and not go the way of partisan politics like in the last 24 hours.

E-mail Hardblogger@MSNBC.com.

June 1, 2005| 12:35 p.m. ET

Reactions to "Deep Throat" revelation

Last night's Hardball special was all about the big news on "Deep Throat." The source unraveled corruption at the White House and forced Richard Nixon to resign. And now the man at the center of one of the greatest presidential scandals in American history has a name: Mark Felt. The number-two man at the FBI during the early '70s was often suspected of being "Deep Throat." But after a “Vanity Fair” report today identified him as the famous source, Bob Woodward confirmed it. 

Below are quotes from last night's Hardball panelists:

Pat Buchanan, Nixon aide: I wouldn't used the term “traitor” [to describe Mark Felt] because I don't know that he was ever a Nixon loyalist.  I think he's sneaky.  And I think he's dishonorable in what he did. He was an assistant director of the FBI.   And  if what he did was an honorable thing, why, at least at his retirement, didn't he come forward and say, “Look, I want to admit what I did.  And I want to tell you why I did it, because it was the right and necessary thing to do”?  Why did he keep it quiet all these years?  I think the man is ashamed.

Ultimately, Watergate brought down a president. And I think that cost us Vietnam, frankly.  But the story of "Deep Throat" is—simply is—Robert Redford got it exactly right. "Deep Throat" was a theatrical device and it's a literary device, which would never have made them quite as famous as they are if they simply had said, “We had a very high source in the investigative process who told us this.” They used this phrase, “Deep Throat,” this secret stuff.

Chuck Colson, former Nixon special counsel: I was shocked because I worked with [Felt]closely. You would think that the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you could talk to with the same confidence you could talk to a priest.  That's such a sensitive job.  You wouldn't expect him to be out at night sneaking around in dark alleys, trading information with Woodward and Bernstein.  I never thought Mark Felt was a candidate for "Deep Throat."

But I think the case ultimately would have blown wide open by virtue of the judicial process that was going on.  It was a conspiracy that couldn't have been kept the way it was.  Woodward and Bernstein, of course, have a lot of credit for bringing it down, because they kept the drumbeat up day after day.  But I think it would have happened anyway. 

David Gergen, former Nixon adviser :  Woodward and Bernstein deserve their awards and they were vindicated today from all those critics who said it was a composite figure. Now we know they were right all along: It was one individual. 

Mark Felt? I don't think he deserves a badge of honor. But we need to deserve to know more about it. The larger picture here is that these were serious scandals. These were serious abuses of office.  I think Pat, Chuck Colson,  and I are all still puzzled. How did this ever happen? How did it ever get to this extent?

The bottom line was, at the end of the day, Richard Nixon was right when he told David Frost after he left office that he was the architect of his own demise.  He said:  "I gave my enemies a sword.  And they ran me through." 

Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Correspondent, Washington reporter during Watergate: One of the things to remember is the importance of "Deep Throat."  Had not been a source at as high a level as Mark Felt, number-two in the FBI, Ben Bradlee might have backed off and not have backed his reporters.  He said so himself tonight. 

The audio tapes [of that time] really give you the flavor of the time, how abusive the situation was, how fearful people were, how much the “Washington Post” reporters and their editors and publisher felt intimidated by the White House.

I think the story of Watergate and "Deep Throat" is ultimately about honesty in government.  It is about an event that not only changed political history, but it also changed the way we do journalism. It changed the way Americans felt about their government. In the post-Watergate era, people did not have as much confidence in the Oval Office.  And I don't think it has ever fully recovered.  It has episodically.  By there's always been a sense in the American psyche that the person who is the president of the United States, the commander in chief, could lie.

Related Hardball links:

May 31, 2005| 1:52 p.m. ET

On the outcome of the Senate Filibuster (Chris Matthews)

I grew up loving the United States Senate, the nobility of this clubby group of men wrestling with the weighty matters of the Republic, the "world's greatest deliberative body."

Times change, of course. Women senators are a growing minority in the chamber and there's at long last a seedling of diversity. Thank God for Barack Obama!

But some things have changed for the worst. The Senate has long relied on the working principle of "unanimous consent." If a senator asks his colleagues to hold up on some action, there was an assumption that he or she had a worthy reason.

That's no longer true. Today, you don't know who's pulling the strings. You've got pressure groups, both right and left, telling senators what to do.

This week Senator John Warner of Virginia, Republican, and Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Democrat— two senators of the old school— blew the whistle in the schoolyard. They formed the bedrock of the 14 senators— seven Republican, seven Democrat— to end the Mickey Mouse on judgeships and get the Senate back to business.

Senator Warner is a genteel fellow, the sort of lawmaker we look up to in times of crisis. Senator Byrd is a mountain populist with a love of the Senate and its history.

For those who wonder what the Senate was like in the glory days when men like Everett Dirksen and Richard Russell and Philip Hart strode the halls, when important issues— like civil rights—  were battled and yes, decided, I ask you to look at Senators Warner and Byrd who, for a brief shining moment this week, brought back the majesty.

The above are closing thoughts from Chris' Sunday show, "The Chris Matthews Show."

E-mail Hardblogger@MSNBC.com.  

May 26, 2005 | 9:03 p.m. ET

Bolton vote delayed (Norah O'Donnell's Hardball report)

Video: Senate showdown results in delay Tonight, there was a showdown in the Senate over the president's controversial pick to be ambassador to the United Nations ended with Democrats succeeding in forcing a delay on that vote.

Republicans fell just four votes shy of moving forward on a vote on Bolton.  Bottom line: This gets moved until June, when Congress returns from their Memorial Day recess.

This may signal a defeat for President Bush, and for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Democrats tonight did lose three Democrats who voted with the Republican to move forward and hold a vote.  Those Democrats were Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator Nelson of Nebraska and Senator Pryor of Arkansas. 

Still, Republicans did not have enough to end the debate and move forward. We heard Frist, very interestingly, say, as they wrapped up this vote, that this has been "an interesting week." It was a week when he thought that they got sidetracked— obviously, because of the compromise over the nuclear option, and then this delay in Bolton thing. 

But Frist said, "Let's make clear. We are going to try to move forward on this again when we return from the Memorial Day recess."

We also heard from the Democrats, Democratic Leader Harry Reid say, "We're not here to filibuster.  We're here to get information." Democratic Senator Joe Biden said, "We're ready to vote the moment we get back from our recess if the administration meets us halfway in providing some of that information they've been requesting since the very beginning."

May 26, 2005 | 6:05 p.m. ET

Blast-off: Democrats mount last-ditch effort to delay vote on Bolton (Chris Matthews)

Hardball is live right now for a developing story on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate will begin voting on a motion to end debate on the nomination of John Bolton to be the next American ambassador to the United Nations. If the vote reaches 60, it guarantees an immediate vote to confirm Bolton and end the longest battle over a Bush appointee.

A duet of Democrats—Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut—is fighting to keep the debate alive by urging votes against the motion to end debate. They say the Bush administration has failed to deliver documents necessary to weigh their charge that nominee Bolton tried to over-sell the threats from countries such as Syria and may have misused his office to study National Security intercepts.

Tune in to Hardball live through 8 p.m. ET.

May 26, 2005 | 3:58 p.m. ET

Memorial Day at 9 p.m. ET (David Shuster)

As many of you may remember, MSNBC sent producer Kristina Weischadle and myself to Colorado last month to cover the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.  As I blogged in this very space , it was an intriguing story and one of the most inspiring assignments of my entire career.  Some of you may have caught the five part series that we aired on "Hardball with Chris Matthews."  In any case, our reports were well received within MSNBC and prompted out network's long form team to ask us to re-write and lengthen the segments so that they fill an entire hour.

The hour is now in the final stages of what our editor Frank Madden calls "post production."  But MSNBC has already dedicated a valuable time slot for the program -- Monday, May 30, at 9 p.m. ET. 

All of us who have worked on this project (producer Kristina Weischadle, editor Frank Madden, cameraman Carl Filoretto, and audio tech Steve Dalton) are flattered to be given an hour of MSNBC's prime time programming (especially since the 10 p.m. hour will be filled by a Tom Brokaw special.)  However, we would be even more flattered if you would tune in and tell your family and friends to do the same.  The winter clinic was an amazing story about hope over fear, ability or disability, and the potential all of us have to live life to the fullest. And I'm optimistic that this report will change the way so many of us tend to view people who look or seem "different."

Memorial Day is not only about honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country... but also those whose lives were changed forever.  Please gather around MSNBC at 9pm ET monday night.  I promise that you will be inspired and moved by the veterans' stories you see... and that the program will transform you.  Thanks in advance for watching.  Have a wonderful memorial weekend.

Questions/Comments:  DShuster@msnbc.com

Watch David's MSNBC Special Reports: For the Brave on Memorial Day at 9 p.m. ET.

May 24, 2005 | 1:40 p.m. ET

Senate filibuster compromise

It was an exciting night for politics last night. Moderate senators from both parties got together to make a deal to preserve the filibuster. Below are some excerpts from last night's Hardball analysis:

Is it all over?
Norah O’Donnell, MSNBC Chief White House correspondent: We've heard some groups say that this compromise is ridiculous, that it's terrible. Some people don't like it  because not all of the president's judges under this deal will get an up-or-down vote.  So, again, it's important to remember the deal is still tenuous.  And we've still heard that from those in this group of 14 and those outside this group, saying this will have to be, in Frist's words, "closely monitored to see what happens."

Talking to senators all week about what would happen, one said to me, if this compromise is reached, in many ways, “it may just put off the inevitable.”  In the future, there will perhaps still be use of a constitutional option if they get into a big, big fight over a future Supreme Court nominee. 

Why is the filibuster important to preserve?
Chris Matthews, Hardball host: The idea of the filibuster sounds to a lot of people like just a lot of hot air.  But it's so critical to the way Senate does business because without the filibuster, the right of every man and woman in the Senate to say “Stop right here, I want to say something” is gone.

On presidential politics at play
Matthews: There’s presidential politics here. Bill Frist, as everyone knows, is only going to serve for two terms. He's leaving the Senate.  He's going to run for the presidency. Does this hurt him?  And does this help John McCain by showing that a maverick can also be a peacemaker, a broker of power? 

O'Donnell: This will inevitably be seen as a loss for Frist and a win for McCain. Frist had in many ways been the darling of conservatives who believe the Democrats had been acting in an unprecedented way— denying the president's judicial nominees an up-or-down vote. There were a lot of people involved in this fight. And it remains to be seen how unhappy they'll be with Frist. 

On cutting the deal
David Shuster, Hardball correspondent:
On the Republican side, John Warner, a veteran Republican, had said just a couple weeks ago that while his ancestors shelled the Capitol, he didn't want to be part of destroying it this time. On the Democratic side, there was Bobby Byrd.

Those two (sort of) veterans of the Senate gave cover to the more moderate centrist senators to really stick it to the  base tonight. 

If you look at the judges that the Democrats now have to stomach, including William Pryor— he says Roe v. Wade legalized abortion and that is an abomination. Democrats can't stand Pryor.   That Pryor is one of the three that now the Democrats have to give up on is driving the liberal groups crazy tonight.

Likewise, on the Republican side, Republican interest groups are going crazy over the fact that their effort to remodel the 9th Circuit with William Myers, who is an attorney for the Interior Department, that's now gone, because Myers is essentially off the table. 

So, both sides are giving up some stuff that is just driving their respective bases crazy. And you have two senior senators, Bobby Byrd and John Warner, who are essentially providing cover for the moderates. 

John Warner may be the most powerful Republican. A lot of people are talking about John McCain, but this deal wouldn't have come together had it not been for John Warner saying to Frist a couple  weeks ago, “Look, I'm not going to go along with this and you better come up with a deal, because, in the end, I am not going to be there to provide cover for you to give you that vote to go with the nuclear option.”

Likewise, Bobby Byrd had made it clear to the Democrats in his caucus that they needed to come up with some agreement, even if it meant infuriating the base.

What did you think about this compromise? E-mail Hardblogger@MSNBC.com.


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