updated 7/28/2005 11:59:36 AM ET 2005-07-28T15:59:36

Guest: Dean Colson, Mike Allen, Karen Tumulty, Steven Bochco, Rick

Santorum

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  NASA grounds all future flights of the space shuttle.  We‘ll have the latest from the Johnson Space Center.

Plus, Republican Senator Rick Santorum on his new book, “It Takes A Family: Conservatism and the Common Good.”

Let‘s play HARDBALL.  

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

We will get to the Senator Rick Santorum and his new book, “It Takes a Family,” in a moment. 

But, first, on July 21, HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reported on John Bolton‘s involvement in the CIA leak investigation.  Some news organization have incorrectly inferred from our reporting that he gave grand jury testimony.  Today, a State Department official told NBC News that Mr. Bolton responded truthfully on the forms he submitted about the issue.  These were forms submitted as part of his confirmation process to be United States—United Nations ambassador. 

And the State Department spokesman continued that nothing has changed since that time that would require the forms to be revised. 

Meanwhile, sources close to Bolton tell NBC News and MSNBC that he had absolutely nothing to do with the Wilson affair and was never questioned in any fashion. 

Now to a developing story from NASA.  The space agency has grounded all future flights after learning that a chunk of insulating foam broke off during yesterday‘s launch of the space shuttle Discovery yesterday. 

Charles Hadlock joins us now from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

Charles, is this flight in danger? 

CHARLES HADLOCK, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, that is still in question. 

They are still analyzing some of the data. 

But it appears that the foam that we are talking about in this case did not strike the orbiter, space shuttle Discovery.  What they are worried about is any future flights of big chunks of foam coming off that external tank.  Of course, you know that is what doomed the Columbia.  The latest images show a large, unexpectedly large is what NASA is calling it, unexpectedly large piece of foam coming off the external tank just moments after the side rockets were discharged from the shuttle. 

That foam did not hit the Discovery.  But they are worried about any future flights.  They want to know what is causing this foam to come off.  And that is why, today, the shuttle program manager, Bill Parsons, says the fleet is grounded until they figure out what is going wrong with these external tanks—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Charles, can we tell?  It looked to the naked eye there, watch it on television here, that the foam broke free of the craft itself.  It didn‘t hit the craft further down.  Is that the case? 

HADLOCK:  That appears to be the case, looking at the images. 

Of course, this could have happened on every other space shuttle flight.  They have never been able to see this kind of detail before, because they haven‘t had so many cameras looking at it.  But I have a model here, Chris, of the external tank.  And the piece of foam that you are seeing there fly off the screen came from about right here on the tank.  It flew off, did not miss—did not hit the shuttle‘s right wing. 

That is the good news.  The bad news, what is causing the foam to come of?  NASA is not sure.  So, they have grounded the flight, all the flights in the future, until they figure out exactly what is wrong with the foam on the tank, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  To most people, Charles, the word foam sounds like something very light, almost like a—a cake kind of substance.  Why is it so heavy and so damaging to—to the craft? 

HADLOCK:  Well, they are not sure of the density of this piece of foam.  But you‘re traveling so fast on a shuttle, any type of a strike would damage the fragile tiles of the shuttle.  And that, of course, is what led to the disaster of Columbia two-and-a-half years ago—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Of course.  Thank you.  That was a tragedy.  Thank you, NBC‘s Charles Hadlock.

Now to politics.  Republican Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is in a tough reelection battle to the United States Senate and just authored a new book titled—these are fighting words—“It Takes a Family,” not a village, “Conservatism and the Common Good.”

“It Takes a Family,” that sounds like “It Takes a Village.”  Are you going to war with Hillary?  Are you the anti-Hillary? 

SEN. RICK SANTORUM ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, I think I have lain out a world view that is different than hers, yes. 

I think that someone needs to articulate what—what we believe in and what they believe in and lay it out for the people to decide what—you know, what point of view they want to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, the great thing about you, Senator, is that you are clear.  You are a conservative.  Hillary is a liberal.  What makes the difference really between you in your heart and her in her heart?  What is the big difference?

SANTORUM:  I would say it is top-down vs. bottom-up. 

She sees, I think, the role of America as going forward with the experts from on high trying to sort of guide the country in the direction it wants... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Then she is on top. 

SANTORUM:  She is on top. 

And I believe that it is bottom-up, that we need to have strong families, strong community organizations, and that America is a great country and will be a great country if we rebuild the family and strengthen the family to guide—to lead America. 

MATTHEWS:  Is she a big-government socialist? 

SANTORUM:  Look at her voting record.  The answer to that is pretty clear.  And she has got a lot of...

MATTHEWS:  Well, what is your answer? 

SANTORUM:  The answer is yes.  I mean, she‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  She‘s a big-government socialist?

SANTORUM:  Well, socialist may be a little hard.  But she‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it was my word.  Is it yours? 

SANTORUM:  I would not use the term socialist.  I would...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, what would you call her, big government...

SANTORUM:  She is a liberal. 

And she is someone who believes in big government.  She is someone who believes in government by the experts, by the elite.  I call them the village elders in the book.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SANTORUM:  Who—who, whether it is educational establishment or academia or whether it‘s Hollywood and the media, whether it is the federal government, are there—folks who have tremendous influence and power on society as a whole who are trying to inculcate their values and their view of America and where we should go as a country vs. what I think is a more traditional approach, which says that, you know, we have values and virtues that have worked in this country for a long, long time. 

And they talk about the importance of a man and a woman getting married and raising a family, talk about community organizations and having strong faith-based organizations at the local level and the importance of religion in people‘s lives.  All of those things are antithetical to the view of the hard left.

MATTHEWS:  How did you get where you are getting?  A lot of people who watch this show are conservatives.  We have moderates watching and some liberals.  How did you get—you are about the same age as Hillary.  You are about—you‘re bright.  She is bright. 

Why are you coming at this from the less government is better, more community stuff, and she is basically sort of an intellectual, health care programs at the federal level, educational policies at the federal level?  How did she come at it from her liberal view and you—what changed you to it, birth, or was it when you were in high school? 

SANTORUM:  I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  She was a Goldwater girl, you know.

SANTORUM:  Yes. 

I would make the argument, I don‘t come at from really the hard right. 

In fact, if—when you read the book, Chris...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me read you a part, since you are...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  You have taunted me into reading the book, because this is what is causing the heat.  And you‘re going to hear it again here:

“Many women have told me”—this is you talking.

SANTORUM:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS: “And surveys have shown that they find it easier, more—quote—professionally gratifying and certainly more socially affirming to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children.  Think about that for a moment.  What happened in America so that mothers and fathers who leave the children in the care of someone else or, worse yet, home alone after school between 3:00 and 6:00 in the afternoon, find themselves more affirmed by society?”

You took a lot of heat from this. 

SANTORUM:  I did.

MATTHEWS:  The head of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, he‘s been blasting you.  He says this is anti-feminist, anti-woman. 

SANTORUM:  It is not. 

I mean, if you read—again, read the whole chapter, not just that one sentence.  But it is not inconsistent with that sentence.  And what I have said is that society should be as affirming to women who work and parents who work as they are to parents who stay at home and take care of their children.  And that is not the case in America today.  And if you don‘t believe that, talk to stay-at-home moms.  Talk to stay-at-home dads. 

MATTHEWS:  What do they say? 

SANTORUM:  Well, they tell—they say that—I mean, I hear this all the time.  They will be in a conversation with someone and they will say, oh, well, what do you do? 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

SANTORUM:  All the questions, what do you do? 

MATTHEWS:  Is that true outside of...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM:  And the answer is, well, I am just a mom.  And...

MATTHEWS:  Is that true outside of Washington and New York and Chicago? 

SANTORUM:  It‘s true everywhere.  I hear it everywhere.

And, again, have a bunch stay-at-home moms on the show and ask them whether they feel by society at large that the sacrifice they make in giving up their career and giving up their profession and staying home and doing the tough job of raising the next generation of America is something that they believe Americans generally and particularly the elite, the cultural elite, in our society affirm? 

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t they accept the role of motherhood as a profession? 

SANTORUM:  Because I don‘t think they think the family, that that is necessarily important, that day care is good enough.  There‘s people out there that can do this, and that it‘s a me-centered world.  And that is, you should do what personally affirms you. 

It‘s—I get into the discussion of how liberals and conservatives view freedom.  And liberals view freedom, I believe, as a selfish freedom. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t you stay home? 

SANTORUM:  Well, let me—well, hold on.  Let...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why don‘t—no, seriously, Senator.  Why don‘t you stay home?

SANTORUM:  You know what?  We had a discussion very early on in our marriage.  And we decided, OK, which one of us, because my wife is a professional person. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SANTORUM:  And we had the discussions, which one wanted to stay home, which one would be better at staying home, and which one could better provide for the family and take—and we made the decision that Karen would stay home.  That is what she wanted to do.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that is the normal conversation in American life?  Or would it always be the woman who gets to stay home? 

SANTORUM:  I think it—well, no.  I mean, I have some very good friends where the man stays home, very good friends where the man stays home and takes care of the children, because the woman is the higher wage earner.  And, candidly, in some of those relationships, the man is the more nurturing of the two in the couple. 

You know what?  That is perfectly fine.  What we need to do is understand that society needs to be there to affirm the importance of parents parenting and for some—and for children who need that parental guidance at home in a more active way than they‘re getting today. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me—let me—I am not a woman here, but let me try to give you what the other view might be and ask you to—you go to school.  Women do as well as men in school.

SANTORUM:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  They work as hard, right up through professional school, some of them.  They get in some of the best schools and they kill themselves to get really good grades, so that they can make it in a profession. 

Should they drop that at 25 or 23, just drop that and go home and not do that for 20 or 30 years?  Is that healthy for them to do that, after all that promise? 

SANTORUM:  Well, I think that is a decision that a husband and wife should make. 

MATTHEWS:  But is it healthy? 

SANTORUM:  Is it healthy?  I think it depends on the individual circumstance.  All I‘m suggesting is, is, whatever that decision is made, that women who decide to make the decision to make that sacrifice or men who make that decision to sacrifice should be affirmed by society, A. 

And, B, government should be on the side of helping that decision. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SANTORUM:  And I talk about that, 50 years ago, the average American family paid 2 percent of their income into the federal government in taxes.  Today, they pay 27 percent to the federal government in taxes. 

MATTHEWS:  I know. 

SANTORUM:  And the second earner in the family in America, the average American family makes 25 percent of the first.  In other words, that second earner simply is making the money that the federal government now takes away from that family and is required to be in the workplace just to make ends meet of what a couple 50 years ago had to do. 

We have—there‘s a lot of things we can do from a public policy point of view and from a cultural point of view to be more helpful to families, to make these choices easier on moms and dads. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

But the federal government is doing a lot of heavy lifting that costs a lot of money, like this war in Iraq and this war in Afghanistan.  And the government spends a lot of money that conservatives like you support them spending. 

SANTORUM:  The federal government back in 1960, 60 percent of the federal government was defense. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SANTORUM:  Today...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s all the entitlement programs. 

SANTORUM:  Yes, today.  And that is not heavy lifting to fight wars.  That is heavy lifting to support programs of the left that were intended to help people, but, in many respects, they tax people to the extent where they put great stress on the American family. 

MATTHEWS:  The problem with that argument is that this country has been run now for many years by Republican presidents and Republican members of Congress and majorities, and nobody is eliminating programs. 

SANTORUM:  We—that‘s not true.

MATTHEWS:  Your party is not—what big programs have you eliminated?

SANTORUM:  Well, welfare reform.  Welfare was the biggest...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was a great thing.  And Clinton even backed that. 

SANTORUM:  Well, he did, after vetoing it twice. 

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM:  And—and I have quotes in this book from Charlie Rangel and from Ted Kennedy and from Pat Moynihan...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SANTORUM:  ... saying, you are tearing apart, you‘re dismantling the basic fabric of our society.  They predicted bread lines.  They predicted mass poverty.  And they got none of that.

They got what—what I believe commonsense solutions, which I helped author in that bill, that—that required work, which is so essential, and said to every person who is in poverty in America, we believe in you.  We believe you can do better.

MATTHEWS:  You have made two strong arguments here.  You‘ve argued for the advantages of women who stay home and take care of children and forgo professional careers that they might find more gratifying in different ways. 

SANTORUM:  I didn‘t make—I didn‘t make that argument.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM:  I made that society should be affirming of women who make -

·        to have the choice and be affirmed in either choice they make. 

MATTHEWS:  But you can‘t speak for society.  You can only speak for yourself.  You find that a valuable thing to do. 

SANTORUM:  I find both to be valuable.  And we want to affirm both. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  OK.

And you have also come out against some tough—for some tough cuts in domestic programs in this country, right, just now.  You think we are wasting some federal money.

SANTORUM:  Well, I came out...

MATTHEWS:  In other words, if you‘re going to cut taxes, you‘ve got to cut the programs.

SANTORUM:  Yes.  Look, I have come out and, as you know, I have been very—I have a fiscal hawk since I have been here.  And I...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s tough, because you represent a state that is aging.  Pennsylvania has one of the oldest populations in the country.  They do require Medicare, Social Security, a lot of social programs. 

SANTORUM:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  They like SSI, like all that stuff.  And for you to be a conservative from that state is tough, isn‘t it?

SANTORUM:  Yes.  And, look, I have been very forthright.  I voted for the reductions in the Medicare program that the president put forth. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re a courageous guy.

We are going to talk about your reelection when we get right back.

SANTORUM:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  Because you have stuck out on some very tough positions here, Senator Rick Santorum.  You are the genuine article. 

And later, TV producer Steven Bochco, who created “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue,” will be here to talk about his new show.  I shouldn‘t call it a show, his program about the war in Iraq.  It‘s called “Over There.”  It is a real show and it‘s apparently not political. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Hillary Clinton says it takes a village to raise a child.  Rick Santorum says it takes a family.  Much more with the Pennsylvania Republican senator when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back on HARDBALL with Senator Rick Santorum, author of the book “It Takes a Family.”  Don‘t be confused with “It Takes a Village.”

You are not Hillary Clinton, are you? 

SANTORUM:  Don‘t be confused. 

MATTHEWS:  You are not Hillary Clinton.

SANTORUM:  She wasn‘t confused.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re a conservative in Pennsylvania, a state that is sort of a purple state, somewhere between red and blue, right?

SANTORUM:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  You are up against Bob Casey, the son of the former governor.

SANTORUM:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  The treasurer of the state right now.  He is ahead of you in the polls.  I looked a new poll, the Quinnipiac, 50-39.  You are 39.  He is 50.  Another poll, a Franklin & Marshall, a state university out there in Pennsylvania Casey, 44, Santorum, 37. 

What is the real number right now? 

SANTORUM:  Oh, I don‘t—I don‘t think it really much matters. 

I mean, what matters—the numbers that matter to me is, you know, how we are organizing the state, the work I am doing as a United States senator.  And that is what I am focused on right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you carry—I know you have a strong personality and you are the genuine article.  You are what you say you are.  You have got to carry the load of the war.  And it‘s not getting more popular.  You‘ve got to carry the president‘s privatization plan for Social Security.  You have got to carry whatever goes on with the economy.  And Pennsylvania has been deindustrializing for years now.  That is a lot of load to carry into a sixth year of a presidency, isn‘t it? 

SANTORUM:  Well, I—I have, I think, a great record of supporting reindustrialization or facilitating a lot of growth in Pennsylvania.  I have got a lot to point to of things, of legislation I‘ve had passed there, of work that I‘ve done in the local communities, and working with people like Ed Rendell and...

MATTHEWS:  The governor.

SANTORUM:  And the governor, and Dan Onorato, who is the county executive of—in the Pittsburgh area, and many, many others across Pennsylvania to make a difference in the communities. 

And that record is not going to be lost on a lot of folks who know that having someone in their third term here who is, I think, will be the number two leader in the United States Senate, is not a bad thing to have in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a state that is going through difficult times.  You want someone in Washington who can make a difference, who can get things done and deliver for your state.  And I think I‘m going to be able to show very explicitly that we have been able to accomplish that. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to debate a lot against Bob Casey in this next—because I think it is the most exciting race in the country.

SANTORUM:  Would you like to have us on here to debate?  I would...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I would love to get you both... 

SANTORUM:  Let‘s do it.

MATTHEWS:  ... as it gets closer.  We‘ll do it a couple times.

SANTORUM:  I accept. 

MATTHEWS:  You accept?

SANTORUM:  I accept. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I am going to talk to the producers, the executive producer, especially, and see if we can get an invitation to both you guys.  We‘ll do it.

SANTORUM:  I would love to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this.

I have always thought that Pennsylvania was the most interesting state, and not just because I am from there, because it is a real—a blue-collar state in many ways.  It‘s Catholic.  It‘s Protestant.  It‘s Jewish.  It‘s a very interesting mix of people. 

SANTORUM:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And it is a purple state.  It‘s somewhere in the middle. 

Can Hillary Clinton carry Pennsylvania?  Because I think she has got a problem there.  And if she could carry it, she might be in business for the presidency.  But I‘m not so sure.

SANTORUM:  I...

MATTHEWS:  Bob Casey Sr. once said, it is a John Wayne state, not a Jane Fonda state. 

SANTORUM:  Yes.  It‘s not a Jane Fonda state, by any stretch of the imagination.

You know, President Bush had trouble carrying the state.  I think a lot of it, you know, candidly, was just the whole Texas issue.  It just didn‘t play well in the Eastern part of the state. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SANTORUM:  Depending on who our nominee is, you know, if our nominee -

·        I think our nominee, if they are in—clearly in the mainstream of the Republican Party, I think we carry that easily vs. Hillary Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you proud and happy of the way that the Schiavo case was handled by you and a few other senators intervening in that matter down in Florida?  Because the polls didn‘t like it. 

SANTORUM:  Yes.  I did. 

I mean, I—look, I stood up and said that, when the state government, through the courts, takes the life of an individual, the federal government should have, the federal courts should review whether that person‘s constitutional rights, federal constitutional rights, have been respected.  That is all I said.  That is all I wanted.  And I don‘t think that is unreasonable. 

We give it to convicted murderers.  We should give it to people who can‘t—just—whose only crime, if you will, is that they didn‘t leave a living will.  

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

SANTORUM:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next, we‘re going to talk to “TIME” magazine‘s Karen Tumulty and Mike Allen of “The Washington Post” about the leak case, hot new developments there, and the Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, and what he has been doing to win confirmation.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

As special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald pursues who leaked the identity of a CIA officer, Valerie Wilson, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congresswoman Jane Harman of California, has asked the State Department to turn over copies of that memo that contained classified information about Joe Wilson‘s wife. 

Mike Allen is a congressional reporter for “The Washington Post.”  And Karen Tumulty is the national political correspondent for “TIME” magazine. 

Thank you both for coming here.  The American people probably care less about the leak story than they care about the reason we went to war.  If it was nuclear, the possibility or the probability that Saddam Hussein was building nuclear weapons, that enough for a lot of people to say, OK, we go to war.  It turns out we didn‘t have evidence of that.  And when Joe Wilson came back from Africa and said, there is no evidence, how come you didn‘t tell the people there was no evidence, is that the heart of this story? 

MIKE ALLEN, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Yes.  That is a big part of it, because Joe Wilson was the first person who was publicly saying that they were wrong about what they were saying.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The White House was wrong. 

ALLEN:  That there were holes in their case. 

MATTHEWS:  Not only that.  He was saying that they purposely covered up the evidence he brought back, right, to say there wasn‘t—the emperor had no clothes.  There was not a reason for war because there wasn‘t a nuclear deal. 

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “TIME”:  And this memo, in addition to being the link, the way that you are going to find out who had the information and, therefore, who might have leaked the information, it also may in fact be the only written, contemporaneous account of what Joe Wilson found, because as best we can tell so far, what he gave when he came back was a verbal report. 

MATTHEWS:  What I never understand is, according to “The New York Times,” your competition and yours this week, that the reason Joe Wilson, the former ambassador, was sent down to Niger is because the vice president raised the question with the CIA, is there anything to this story? 

Obviously, he is a hawk and wanted to believe there was something to it, that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from the government of Niger.  And I always wondered, how come, if the CIA sent Joe Wilson down there to check that out because the vice president asked the question, why didn‘t they go back to the vice president with an answer?  I don‘t get it.

ALLEN:  Well, they could well have, but that doesn‘t mean that they accepted the answer. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, if the vice president got an answer, then he should have acted on it and told the president not to put it in the speech.  That is the problematic area, the big if.

ALLEN:  Right. 

Well, I mean, what we are seeing is that there was a germ of accuracy in what Joe Wilson has been going around saying, that the vice president sent him.  Yes, the vice president did not personally send him.  Maybe he didn‘t even know who went.  But you can see where Joe Wilson got that idea. 

And...

TUMULTY:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, the vice president don‘t know who delivers his newspaper in the morning, but he still reads it. 

TUMULTY:  Although...

ALLEN:  That‘s me.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  No, he write—no, you write the paper.

(CROSSTALK)

TUMULTY:  But although the Senate Intelligence Committee report, that act of this, does suggest that, in Wilson‘s findings, he discovered that the—there had been no acquisition of nuclear weapons, but there was, in fact, some evidence that the Iraqis were trying to get nuclear weapons.  So, you know, that—there have been people in the administration who argued that in fact Joe Wilson‘s report supported the argument. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Because he said there was some attempt to set up a commercial relationship. 

TUMULTY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And the only thing that the Niger government had to sell was uranium. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  So, that is the argument. 

ALLEN:  Well, Chris, the other thing this is showing...

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN:  ... is that the special prosecutor has known for some time what probably happened. 

Like, you know, these stories say, the case is widening or the case is changing or whatever.  No, what is changing is our understanding of the case and who has been talked to.  And it has been broader than we realized from the beginning.  And the special prosecutor has been very focused on the CIA, the State Department, beyond the White House, for some time. 

MATTHEWS:  They are looking for any evidence that the administration broke the law in trying to punish Joe Wilson for saying that the president did not tell the truth about nuclear arms, right? 

TUMULTY:  Right, and finding out who had that memo could be the best -

·        the first and best place to look for who leaked the information that was in the memo. 

ALLEN:  Right. 

And even putting aside the legalities of the original disclosure, putting together that chain of custody or word of mouth also could help him determine how candid and complete administration officials have been when they have been asked about this.  Some of them talked to the FBI agents for as long as three hours.  These were extremely detailed questions. 

One thing that we learned from Karen‘s colleague Matt Cooper, in his great first-person account in the magazine, was that the prosecutor is very focused on the logistics, the specifics of these calls and conversations, which makes it clear that he is comparing people‘s accounts. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Karen, an interesting point.  Could Karl Rove go to prison for seven or eight years because he told the investigators, the people who questioned him, that he talked to a reporter from your magazine, Matt Cooper, for example, about welfare reform, when he didn‘t talk to him about welfare reform, according to Matt Cooper?  Can that put a guy in the slammer? 

TUMULTY:  I don‘t think that that is going to be the sort of thing that puts him in the slammer, because, in fact, he—Matt Cooper early in the week was calling him to talk about welfare reform.  So, I am sure that this is one of those things that is probably not going to be the piece of evidence that makes the case. 

ALLEN:  Right. 

When he picked up the phone, he may have thought that it was about welfare reform.  I think what Matt has said is that he doesn‘t recall or his notes don‘t reflect a conversation about that. 

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN:  But it just shows how detail-oriented this questioning is. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

On the other front, what about the claim by Scooter Libby, the chief of staff to the vice president, that he got the name of Valerie Wilson from a reporter from this network?

ALLEN:  I love this idea of us leaking to them.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, what kind of—if that is not true, is that libel—is that perjurious?  Is it?

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN:  Well, that‘s not a question for us.  We are not lawyers.  But what it does...

MATTHEWS:  Well, if you say something that is not true, is that a lie? 

Is that perjury?  Do you go to jail for lying to prosecutors? 

ALLEN:  Well, Chris, what about your intent?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I wondered about the fact that Karl Rove, one of the smartest people I have ever met—just talk to him, you can figure that out—says he can‘t remember where he got this all, this information from, we‘re finding—he didn‘t know where he found out about Valerie Wilson. 

ALLEN:  Right. 

TUMULTY:  Right. 

ALLEN:  And I think people question how that comports with your everyday experience.  When you hear something that juicy, you tend to remember where it was. 

Now, what he remembers was, he heard—originally heard about this idea from a reporter, not Novak, but he may have heard about it from another official in the mess who had said that they had heard it from a reporter. 

TUMULTY:  It also doesn‘t comport with—with anyone who has ever dealt with Karl Rove‘s knowledge of Karl Rove, which is that he—this man has a brain that it is full of details and he has an incredible memory. 

MATTHEWS:  I heard from Pat Buchanan, sitting in that chair that other night, that one of the Watergate people went to jail for not remembering.  That was considered perjury.  Maybe there were tougher jurors back then, but I get the feeling these are tough.

Let‘s talk about the court system right now.  The hottest story this September is going to be the confirmation hearings on John Roberts.  Have the Democrats come up with any dirt yet that they can use to stop this train?  It looks like it is moving. 

Karen.

TUMULTY:  Well, certainly, the—the massive document dump that was put out yesterday does suggest that John Roberts is not quite the blank slate that the administration has been trying...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  This is Justice Department records of what he said in terms of briefs and preparing for arguments. 

TUMULTY:  Exactly.  Exactly. 

But what the Democrats really want to know, which is what he was doing when he was in the Solicitor General‘s Office, those are documents that they are most likely I think at this point not going to get.  And I think this will become their big issue, their big argument as this goes forward.  Whether they get any traction with it, I would not predict. 

MATTHEWS:  I am looking, Mike, at a 70-30 vote for this guy.  I mean, it seems to me, except for the real hard-liners, maybe Hillary, maybe Hillary, I think Hillary, Teddy, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Pat Leahy, you know, the usual suspects of critics of this administration...

ALLEN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... that he goes through. 

ALLEN:  Right. 

You don‘t see any real passion about this among Democrats.  This reminds me of a baseball game that—where the outcome is clear in the second inning.  You got to play all nine.  Democrats are just hoping for an injury or two, hoping that something miraculous will turn up in these documents.  It‘s why they‘re pushing for them.  It‘s something these stories have in common.

I think we can agree there is not a lot Democrats can do with the margin that they have.  But one thing they can do is ask for documents.  And sometimes they get them and sometimes they can cause trouble.  The other effect this has is that I think the Democrats want to show their interest groups that they are giving it the college try.  That‘s why...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  How do they show the college try for the left-wing interest groups, the People For the American Way or that NOW—they‘re not left-wing—liberal, whatever...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  -- and still look—and still look good to the people out there who are saying, this man is a nice clean Catholic man who goes to church every Sunday; he doesn‘t seem like some crazy person?  Why are they treating him so bad? 

TUMULTY:  A lot of it is going to be—it is going to play out in the hearings, which may come now in August, we‘re hearing.  But it‘s going to be just asking those questions, raising them again and again and, again and again, if, you know, everything we have been told so far is true, not getting answers.

MATTHEWS:  Are the Democrats getting squeamish they may look too mean on what looks to be a nice guy and a nice family?

TUMULTY:  Absolutely.  And they are also wanting to reserve their ammunition, their energy for what they now say may be the critical fight, which is the next one. 

MATTHEWS:  Next Christmas.  The big Christmas president for the Democrats will be Chief Justice Gonzales? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Karen Tumulty of “TIME,” Mike Allen of “The Washington Post.”

ALLEN:  Have a great week.

When we come back, what do Americans need to know about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts?  We‘ll talk to a close friend of him who was his best man at his wedding and who clerked with Roberts for Justice William Rehnquist.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Most Americans know President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts as his first nominee to the Supreme Court.  But most people don‘t know who that guy is.  In 1980, Dean Colson was law clerk for Justice William Rehnquist and worked with Roberts.  They became close friends and Dean served as his best man at Roberts‘ wedding. 

Why is Roberts the best man for the job of associate justice of the Supreme Court, Dean? 

DEAN COLSON, FRIEND OF JUDGE JOHN ROBERTS:  He is brilliant. 

He has argued 39 cases in the court.  He is probably the premier Supreme Court litigator of his generation.  He is careful.  He is collegial.  He has a wonderful sense of humor.  He will bring a sense of collegiality to the court.  He‘ll add to that.  He has tremendous respect for the institution of the court, for precedent.  He will be a great—he will be a great justice. 

MATTHEWS:  What is wrong with him? 

COLSON:  I don‘t know anything wrong with him. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, “The New York Times” says he is cocky. 

(LAUGHTER)

COLSON:  He has got a great sense of humor, sometimes glib and a little sometimes too sharp.  But he‘s—but cocky is not it.  He‘s very considerate, very—he is a terrific guy. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you how well he‘s going to when he‘s under the floodlights, under the klieg lights in the Senate Judiciary Committee and people like, well, the liberal Democrats go after him.  Is he going to get mad? 

(CROSSTALK)

COLSON:  I think he will not get mad.  And he will be respectful. 

He has been in front of nine justices, oftentimes many of whom did not agree with a position he was arguing.  So, he is used to that situation.  Now, I hope people are as respectful of him, because he deserves that, as he is of the institution, as he will be to the senators. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s assume, make a reasonable assumption that he thinks abortion is not a good thing, generally, just as a general thing, if it can be avoided.  How will he compare that or how will he deal with that belief, that moral belief, when he is forced to interpret the Constitution of the United States in light of the Roe v. Wade decision of ‘73, which gave a woman a right to an abortion?  

COLSON:  I don‘t know what his personal belief is on abortion.  But let‘s take your assumption.

I think he will address the issue with integrity, will address it with understanding that there is precedent is on this, and he has respect for precedent, not only the Roe v. Wade decision, but the Casey decision later.  I think he will some bring fresh ideas to the debate.  And I think he will enter—reach a decision that is deliberative and one that he thinks is appropriate. 

MATTHEWS:  So, even if his religion tells him that it is deeply sinful to have an abortion, if the Constitution is—has been read to allow it, that decision to be made by the mother, he would honor that as well? 

COLSON:  I think he would have no problem following the law and the Constitution and not the Bible.  I mean, he is being appointed to a position of importance to this court.  And I think he will turn to the Constitution and the law books for his guidance in this, and not Genesis and Exodus. 

MATTHEWS:  Dean, let‘s talk about an influence on a lot of people.  Men are often influenced by their wives, pillow talk, whatever you want to call it.  The wife of this nominee for the Supreme Court is Jane Sullivan Roberts.  She is a committed pro-lifer.  She‘s a member of a group called Feminists For Life.  Is she going to have an influence on his thinking with regard to abortion rights? 

COLSON:  I don‘t—I don‘t think so.  But let me give a little background.  I‘ve been...

MATTHEWS:  Is that not a reasonable thing to ask? 

COLSON:  No, it‘ a reasonable question to ask, but I don‘t think—but I don‘t think it should be part of the dialogue of whether John is qualified to be on the Supreme Court. 

I have many, many differences of opinion with my wife on issues of importance to us. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

COLSON:  And Jane is a lawyer, a very successful lawyer.  She has got lots of things.  I known Jane since ‘94.             

Until John got nominated, I didn‘t have any idea what her position on abortion was or that she was—or have ever heard of this organization, which I assume does—I understand does legal work for those people who, you know, are seeking an alternative to an abortion. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  But, you know, I mean, if you were married to Barbra Streisand, somebody might think she would have an influence over your politics.

COLSON:  You know, I...

MATTHEWS:  Or Jane Fonda or Hillary Clinton.  They do have influence.  Women do have influence over their spouses.  Is it not a reasonable question to ask?  Or is it—you know, the other day, I think Ted Kennedy said it shouldn‘t even be asked. 

COLSON:  I agree with Ted Kennedy.  It is—it is—it is not fair to the women of this world that we are going to hold their views—you know, we are going to take their views and transfer them over, transfer them over to their spouse. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think Eleanor Roosevelt influenced Franklin Roosevelt?  A lefty like Eleanor didn‘t have an influence on her husband?

COLSON:  I...

MATTHEWS:  She was always pushing the causes with him. 

(CROSSTALK)

COLSON:  I think, if we are smart, we will listen and we will do—do

·        go do the right thing.  And I think..

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know, a lot of the country, this country would be very happy if Hillary Clinton had no influence over her husband during those eight years.  But she did, right?  So, it is a reasonable question. 

Let me ask you, is this guy Supreme Court material? 

COLSON:  He is the greatest.  He‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Is he chief justice material? 

COLSON:  Would be a terrific chief justice. 

(CROSSTALK)

COLSON:  Because he is so collegial and because he has got terrific administrative skills. 

MATTHEWS:  Absolutely no problems? 

COLSON:  No problems. 

MATTHEWS:  They won‘t—the Democrats won‘t find any dirt on this guy? 

COLSON:  Not that I know of.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, caveat.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you very much, Dean Colson.  You were his best man at the wedding, right? 

COLSON:  Yes, sir. 

MATTHEWS:  We will be right back with TV producer Steven Bochco and talk to him about his new show about the war in Iraq.  It‘s called “Over There.”  This is a movie—a television series that is going to be about the war that we are fighting right now. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  He is known for his gritty police dramas, like “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue.”  But now producer Steven Bochco is taking on a different kind of drama, the war in Iraq.  His new series, “Over There,” follows the exploits of a fictional Army platoon.  It features the carnage and courage of war.  And it premieres tonight on the FX network. 

Let‘s take a look at a clip of the show. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “OVER THERE”)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  What you are facing up there, Sergeant?  Over. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  I have got small-arms and (INAUDIBLE) coming in

two.  Do you copy?  Over

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Copy that, Sergeant.  I‘m going to get on with the captain.  Over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Producer Steven Bochco says he has put politics on the back burner and instead sticks to the personal stories of soldiers in Iraq and their families back home. 

Steven joins us now from Los Angeles this evening. 

Thank you.  You know, we tried to do this last night, speaking to some real commanders over there, the colonels, three of them, talking about the war.  How do you tell a story about a war without saying who the good guys are? 

STEVEN BOCHCO, PRODUCER, “OVER THERE”:  Well, you know, our stories really center around our platoon of soldiers, the men and women in our little combat unit, as well as, you know, the stories involving their husbands and wives and mothers and fathers left behind at home who are worried sick about their welfare. 

And, for us, it is not so much about good guys, bad guys.  It is about fighting men and women over there to do a job, and how they deal with the stresses of the environment. 

MATTHEWS:  I guess police stories involve the ongoing human nature of big-city life.  There is crime, and there are police and there are bad guys.  And the war never ends.  Is that the sense of the Iraq war as you tell it, that this is just an ongoing struggle? 

BOCHCO:  You know, we drop our combat unit into the middle of it.  And they are there.  And I don‘t think they think of it in terms of, how long are we going to be here or when is this war going to be over?  For them, I think it is a day-to-day survival issue. 

MATTHEWS:  Who are the bad guys?  Are they nationalist Iraqis?  Are they Baathists?  Are they outside Islamists who came into the country to fight us?  How do you define the enemy in your series? 

BOCHCO:  Well, we are defining the enemy as those individuals who are trying to kill us, who are shooting at us.  And we don‘t put names on them or labels on them.  They are just—they are trying to hurt us, and they are the bad guys. 

MATTHEWS:  When you try to—when you develop your plotlines, do they come from the dispatches you are getting from the front? 

BOCHCO:  Well, they don‘t—they don‘t come from the dispatches that we get from the front.  Obviously, we do a great deal of reading.  We are speaking to soldiers.  We have technical input on the set from Marines who have done tours in Iraq.  And we are storytellers.  And, you know, we just assimilate all that raw information that we get and we try to craft good, compelling stories out of it. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, we talked last night about the—we had a fellow in the audience who had been a medic in Vietnam.  And he said the toughest thing about fighting a war, like you‘re showing right here with this great footage from your show, is rules of engagement.  I mean, when you don‘t know who your enemy is and you have got to start firing fast to save your life, you sometimes hit the wrong people.  You hit the good people, the accidental casualties of war. 

How do you deal with that issue in this war, spotting the enemy and knowing when to shoot? 

BOCHCO:  Well, we do deal—we have several early episodes where we‘re—our guys are really faced with the dilemma of trying to verify and identify whether individuals that we‘re targeting are really bad guys or innocent civilians.  And that is one of the real problems that these soldiers are facing every day.  And, tragically, sometimes errors are made. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you do this?  You know, we are looking at war footage.  You and I have grown up with war movies where the language is pretty rough, because that is how people talk in war.  You know, it is life and death.  It‘s also rough language, like you occasionally hear in television behind the scenes.  How are you dealing with censorship and things like that, getting it realistic enough to be gritty, but not crossing the line? 

BOCHCO:  Well, on FX, which is a cable network, we have significantly looser standards and practice issues than we would have on broadcast television.  And, consequently, our ability to access language that is approximate to the kinds of things you would hear in a war zone are pretty accurate, as well as our ability to depict a certain level of graphic violence that we certainly would not be able to access in broadcast television. 

MATTHEWS:  Like, in Spielberg, I think in “Saving Private Ryan,” the most dramatic footage of the whole movie is when they are—you know, they are hitting Omaha Beach in Normandy, and the guys are using the kind of language you would hear at a football game in the huddle or whatever.  And it is worse than that.  And yet, some people found that offensive, even though they didn‘t seem to mind the bloodshed too much. 

(LAUGHTER)

BOCHCO:  Well, it is real language, and it is the way these guys talk.  And I think, when people are shooting at you, the last thing in the world that you are concerned about is whether the words you are using are going to be offensive to somebody. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s come back and talk more with Steven Bochco. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Steven Bochco.  He‘s the producer of a new series on television, on FX.  It‘s going to be on at 10:00 tonight, premiering.  It‘s called “Over There.” 

Did you have to pay rights to George M. Cohan for this title or what? 

BOCHCO:  No.  You know, Chris Gerolmo, who co-created the show wrote with me, actually wrote the song that is at the end of the show, which becomes our main title theme, several years ago.  And he called it “Over There.”  And we just used it.  It is a really lovely song.  And he did a wonderful job performing it.

MATTHEWS:  So, you can‘t patent a title, right?  Anybody can call a song “Over There”? 

BOCHCO:  No, that is right. 

MATTHEWS:  I am thinking of the great writer George M. Cohan writing about World War I. 

You know, growing up with World War II movies, I think World War II movies, war movies of that particular era, are the most popular movies ever made.  There are more World War II movies I think than any other topic.  You know, platoons had pretty boy in it.  And they had Brooklyn.  You know, they always had these classic ethnic characters in these World War II dramas, because they were so diverse, because everybody fought in World War II. 

How do you put together a platoon in an all-volunteer Army?  How do you show that army as being different than the citizens‘ armies that fought in wars past, when you had the draft? 

BOCHCO:  Well, first of all, you know, we have women, who, while not fulfilling, strictly speaking, combat roles, are certainly at combat risk. 

And the women are attached to these combat units.  So, you know, we obviously have women in uniform.  And we just chose to have an interesting and diverse group of young men from various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, because it just makes for—for more interesting and realistic storytelling. 

MATTHEWS:  But the war in Iraq has no draftees.  That separates it from Vietnam and all the wars before, right? 

BOCHCO:  Yes, it does.  And I think, to a certain extent, that is one of the reasons that perhaps this war is not quite on the radar for a lot of people in the way that previous wars have been. 

MATTHEWS:  Because we don‘t have a cousin in the war or a brother?

BOCHCO:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Most people.

BOCHCO:  Well, of us don‘t.  Most—that is true. 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, I just think that you are getting to something really important about this war and its differential from even as recently as the Vietnam War.

And that is that everybody my age, our age, was eligible to be drafted.  And so, if you didn‘t get called, someone in your class did.  Somebody got killed in your class, no matter what college you went to, no matter where you went or how you were brought up, upper middle class, middle class, whatever, working class, poor guys.  We all had the same experience in war. 

But I guess that is your challenge, as you just said, to bring to the people who aren‘t fighting the war what it is like. 

BOCHCO:  Yes.  That is our challenge. 

And we think we‘re doing a very good job of it.  And one of—you know one, of the lessons I think all of us learned from Vietnam is to not kill the messenger, in effect.  I mean, when the soldiers came home from Vietnam, so many of them just took a hell of a beating from the folks at home.  And I think what all of us have learned is, is that, whatever one‘s point of view about the war may be, that these young men and women who are putting their lives on the line in combat deserve to be honored. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll ditto that. 

You know, have you been able to handle this new kind of warfare, where it‘s not so much you‘re being shot at by an enemy, but you‘re getting killed by an explosive device set along a highway? 

BOCHCO:  Well, in our pilot episode, that becomes a significant event in the show itself. 

And, clearly, you know, that is one of the great risks in this war.  Everyone there is at risk.  There is no such thing as the front and then, you know, behind the lines.  If you are in uniform and you are in Iraq, man, woman, you are at risk from just those kinds of random events. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Steven Bochco, congratulations.  What a gutsy thing, to talk about a war that is still being fought.

“Over There” premieres tonight at 10:00 Eastern on the FX channel. 

That‘s 10:00 tonight. 

Tomorrow, on HARDBALL, we will be joined by Paul Hackett, a veteran of the Iraq war who is now running for Congress as a critic of the war.  He calls George Bush a chicken hawk.  This is guy is interesting.  If he loses, he says he‘s going to go back and fight in the war.  We‘re going to have that guy on tomorrow night.

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Alison Stewart, in tonight for Keith.

END

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