updated 8/8/2005 11:07:52 AM ET 2005-08-08T15:07:52

Guest: Stephen Battaglio, Deborah Mathis, Jim Warren, Frank Gaffney, Mark Schneider, Chris Galloway, Jason Mattera, Ed Rendell, Mike Huckabee

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Should the Peace Corps include military reservists?  And why won‘t they let Bob Novak speak? 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews. 

Later on in HARDBALL, should Bob Novak, the prince of darkness, be suspended indefinitely by CNN for walking off the set when he couldn‘t get his two cents in? 

But begin tonight with two of the nation‘s most prominent governors.  Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, who is a Democrat, and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who is a Republican who recently wrote a book about how he lost weight called “Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and a Fork.”

Thank you, Governor, for joining us with that sentiment.

Let me ask you about something in the country today.  The polls are showing—Governor Rendell, you first—a lot of disquiet about the war in Iraq.  We have something like—you‘ve got 3,000 National Guards people serving over there from Pennsylvania.  What is the feeling of Pennsylvanians right now about the war in Iraq? 

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, for the first time since the war began, less than half of the people of the Pennsylvania support the president‘s handling of the war. 

And I want to make it clear that Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support our troops.  It is not like Vietnam.  But support for the war effort and the way the president is handling it is beginning to wane significantly in Pennsylvania.  And that‘s in great part because the death tool and the injuries have mounted.  We have 84 dead.  I think that‘s the fifth highest in the nation, Chris, and over 500 wounded, and some of them very severely wounded.  And that affects all of us. 

And—and I think the people of Pennsylvania are a little at unease because they don‘t see a way out. 

MATTHEWS:  Governor Huckabee, the reaction down there in Arkansas? 

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE ®, ARKANSAS:  I think the Southern perspective is considerably different. 

Certainly, there‘s a sentiment of anxiety about it.  But, quite frankly, a lot of our folks have been there.  We‘ve had almost 7,500 Arkansans at one time or another.  And what they come back and tell us is dramatically different from what we‘re hearing every night on the news, that there‘s a conditioning process when people hear only the people that are killed.  They‘re not hearing about the parks that are built and the water systems that are being constructed and the neighborhoods that are finally being made safe for the first time. 

MATTHEWS:  Do they believe, the people of your state, that we‘re winning that war? 

HUCKABEE:  I don‘t know that they have a sense of winning or losing. 

I think they believe that we‘re making significant progress. 

They know it‘s a tough thing.  And they listen mostly, I believe, to the soldiers who come back, the ones who have actually walked the streets of Baghdad and have put their lives in harm‘s way.  They feel like that their mission over there has been worthwhile.  They believe that it has merit and that they‘ve had a significant contribution to bring about free elections and to see kids go back to school that haven‘t been in school, that women are actually getting, for the first time, the right to go vote. 

That‘s what they come back and talk about. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think that the national polls, Governor Huckabee, show a decline in people who believe the president is honest, down to about 40 percent now?

HUCKABEE:  You know, I don‘t know, other than the fact that every day there‘s so much of the media that really does focus upon what went wrong, not what went right. 

And I do think that‘s a conditioning process.  And I‘m not saying that everything has gone right, because it obviously hasn‘t.  War is never pretty.  It‘s always messy.  And, quite frankly, over a period of time, people wear down to it.  They want to just move on to something else.  And it is not that easy.  This is not a sitcom.  It‘s not going to be over in 28 minutes and 30 seconds. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me take the—turn to some cultural issues in the country. 

Again, let‘s go to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.  I know your state is very diverse.  You‘ve got people who are pretty conservative, people pretty liberal, people in the middle.  What did you make of the fact that the president this week weighed into the argument over education and said that we should be teaching not just the theory of evolution, which we all grew up believing in or learning at school, but also alongside that this sort of neo-creationism, this notion that man himself did not really participate in the evolution of the species?

Do you think that‘s something the president should be pushing? 

RENDELL:  Well, with all of the challenges that President Bush has, lord knows why he weighed into that issue. 

I believe, in Pennsylvania, that we should stick to in education what is proven scientific theory.  I also think there‘s nothing wrong with having our public schools teach religion and comparative religion.  In the instruction of religion, we can talk about theories like intelligent design.  But I think, in science classes, we should stick to those that are supportable by scientific evidence. 

MATTHEWS:  Rick Santorum, the senator from Pennsylvania, the junior senator, who is a Republican, has come out against the president on this and said the president—he doesn‘t agree with the president, that science courses should be teaching this neo-creationism.  Does that surprise you? 

RENDELL:  Well, yes, it does surprise me a bit. 

(LAUGHTER)

RENDELL:  But I agree with Senator Santorum.  Science courses shouldn‘t be teaching it.  If we want to have—and I think it is fair game to have religion taught in the schools, comparative religions.  And if they want to discuss intelligent design in a religious course, so be it.  And I think Senator Santorum is right, although there‘s another guy—I happen to like Rick Santorum personally, although I disagree with him on a lot of philosophical things. 

Why in lord‘s name did he come out with a book a year before he is running in an election?  Couldn‘t that book have waited a little bit? 

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Well, we talked about the book on the show the other day.  We‘ll talk about it with him again.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Mike Huckabee, the Governor of Arkansas.

Are you comfortable with the president‘s suggestion that schools might properly teach evolution, like was learned in school, the sort of scientific approach, and also, alongside that, another point of view, which is that man somehow did not—did not—was created separately in the universe and not part of the rest of the—the living beings on this planet?

HUCKABEE:  Well, I think the proper thing to do is to make sure that students have an understanding that there are a lot of points of view as to how the world began. 

Personally, I‘m a devout believer.  I believe God created the heavens and the Earth.  But, frankly, how he did it, I don‘t know.  I wasn‘t there.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

HUCKABEE:  I have to take a lot of things by faith.  One thing I will say, Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

No, but do you believe there should be a separate—do you think there should be a public school science course that says that evolution should be challenged by another point of view, which is that there was a separate creation of man?  Do you think they should teach that in science courses? 

HUCKABEE:  I would be more comfortable with simply an acknowledgment that there are many points of view and that nobody actually knows what happened and we can‘t prove any of them.  You can say, this is the predominant view. 

But one thing I‘m very adamant about, I don‘t expect the public school system, a secular public school system, to instruct my children in religious affairs.  And I frankly don‘t want them to, because I think they‘ll mess it up. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

HUCKABEE:  So, I would rather have those sorts of things focused at home and at the church. 

But I certainly don‘t mind them having a variety of views, because real faith can withstand the challenge.  Faith that isn‘t very sturdy, that‘s the faith that is shaky any time somebody challenges it. 

MATTHEWS:  So you think it is unhealthy even to have Bible studies as part of a history or a literature course, literature course, especially?

HUCKABEE:  Oh, no, no, no, no.  I think it‘s a—no, I think it‘s a wonderful thing, because people should understand...

MATTHEWS:  In public schools?

HUCKABEE:  Absolutely.  That‘s fine. 

MATTHEWS:  I thought you just said you didn‘t want any of that taught in public schools. 

HUCKABEE:  No.  I don‘t want the doctrine taught. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh.

HUCKABEE:  But, as far as to have a comparative religion course or to let students read the Bible, I think that‘s great.  Kids ought to be able to be exposed to a wide variety of subjects and courses and understand, not everybody is going to agree with them. 

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE:  That‘s a healthy thing. 

MATTHEWS:  On another subject—we‘re touching on a lot of subjects, the war and of course this issue of evolution again.  It keeps coming back, but also this hot new scientific question of stem cell research, federal funding for that. 

It looks to me more and more like the president is going to have to veto that bill, because he‘s out there alone on this to some extent.  Do you think the president would be right in vetoing a bill which provided federal funds for use of embryonic stem cells for research, Governor Huckabee?

HUCKABEE:  I think the real tragedy here, Chris, is that there‘s been so much politicization of this issue.  The president has never said we‘re going to ban stem cell research. 

He is simply saying there is going to be a limitation of the federal funding toward existing stem cell lines.  But to hear people tell about it, he is out there banning all research. 

MATTHEWS:  But...

HUCKABEE:  And that‘s simply not true. 

MATTHEWS:  No.  Nobody says that here.

HUCKABEE:  So, we need an honest discussion. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m going to ask you, do you think there should be federal funding of embryonic stem cell research?

HUCKABEE:  I think we already have.  In fact, under this president, we‘ve had more funding of stem cell research than we‘ve ever had in the history of our country.  He‘s never given credit for that. 

MATTHEWS:  But that‘s because it is the first time it‘s come up. 

HUCKABEE:  Well, but he still gave more in the administration budget. 

He could have saw that there was no research. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me to go to—let me go to Governor Rendell. 

Up in Pennsylvania, you‘ve got a dispute among the senators—between the senators, I think, but definitely between Arlen Specter, the senior senator, Republican, and the president.  Arlen Specter, who is facing some very serious health challenges right now himself, with chemo and everything, he‘s very much for stem cell research, and has been, funded by the federal government.  The president opposes it. 

Where is that—where do the people of Pennsylvania stand, do you think? 

RENDELL:  I think the people of Pennsylvania are overwhelmingly for stem cell research, embryonic stem cell research.  They want the ability to have that research help us cure diseases, like Parkinson‘s and Alzheimer‘s and diabetes, and, yes, even cancer as well. 

And I think the—this is not a partisan issue.  I would disagree a little bit with Governor Huckabee, who I think is great.  But when you have the Republicans in the Congress fashioning what is an extremely reasonable compromise, Chris, that the only time embryos could be used for stem cell is if they were going to be discarded and if they had the consent of the mother and father of the embryos, under those circumstances, I don‘t see how any reasonable, rational American could be against using those embryos for research that could cure Alzheimer‘s, Parkinson‘s, diabetes, etcetera. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Both governors are staying with us. 

And later on in this program, that‘s me during my days in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer.  The reason I show it is that the military is now facing recruitment problems and is offering recruits service in the Peace Corps as an alternative to their military commitment. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, how are the presidential front-runners for 2008 shaping up?  We‘ll get to that when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. 

Governor Rendell, the latest front-runners for the party nominations for next time are Hillary Clinton, obviously, on the Democratic side, and Rudy Giuliani, and, of course, McCain on the other side. 

Are you amazed had Giuliani is doing so well among Republicans? 

RENDELL:  Well, no, because I think, at this stage, presidential sweepstakes tend to be name recognition, Chris.  And Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain are probably the two best known Republicans in the field, once you take Jeb Bush out.  So it‘s name recognition.

And although I‘m a big Hillary Clinton supporter in so many ways, Hillary is also way ahead in the polls because of name recognition.  You know, someone like a Joe Biden, who I think would be a great candidate, hasn‘t got that name recognition yet.  And, of course, it depends on the campaign, whether he‘ll ever get it.  But...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he might her chief...

(CROSSTALK)

RENDELL:  ... name recognition.

MATTHEWS:  Governor, do you think he might end up being her chief challenger for the primary, for the nomination? 

RENDELL:  Before—before it is over, that could be the case, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  That will be a tough one for you to make. 

(LAUGHTER)

RENDELL:  Well, it sure would.  That would be a real tough one for me. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go, because...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... a lot of people think Joe Biden is the third senator from Pennsylvania, if not one or two in that ranking. 

Let me go to Governor Huckabee. 

Governor Huckabee, Hillary Clinton, one of her pedigrees takes her back to Arkansas, which—could she win Arkansas against a Republican next time?

HUCKABEE:  I think she would have a tough time.  The fact that she‘s moved to New York, her views are not going to be necessarily in sync with the people of Arkansas, where they are.  It would be a tough—a tough sell.  She is not Bill Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Governor Rendell, what do you think of letting people use some of their reserve time in the military to try to get in the Peace Corps? 

RENDELL:  Well, I‘m not too keen on that idea, Chris.

But do I believe we ought to have universal service in this country.  Every 18-year-old should spend two years in either the military or the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps.  I think it would be the best thing for the country. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I think they should, too, but they should decide between the military and the Peace Corps. 

Anyway, thank you, Governor Rendell.

RENDELL:  Absolutely.  No—no merger. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Governor Rendell and Governor Huckabee.

Up next, what does the next generation of politicians think of the situation in Iraq and social issues like abortion rights?  We‘re going to talk to two promising future leaders.  These are young guys. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back.

Here at HARDBALL, we salute everyone at every age getting involved in politics, obviously.  So, we brought together two young leaders to tell us what they think of politics today.  Chris Galloway is president of the Young Democrats of America.  And Jason Mattera is the spokesman for the Young America‘s Foundation, which is a conservative group.

Jason, you‘re 21, right?

JASON MATTERA, SPOKESMAN, YOUNG AMERICA‘S FOUNDATION:  That‘s correct, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  And how old are you, Chris Galloway? 

CHRIS GALLOWAY, PRESIDENT, YOUNG DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA:  I‘m 28. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

Let me ask you about—both you gentlemen, but starting with you, Jason.  What are you guys—what do people your age think about the war in Iraq right now, as it is going, as we‘re fighting this to try to get the Iraqis to take over the fighting?  What‘s the view of your group? 

MATTERA:  I think my group is supporting President Bush on this matter.  We‘re looking to defeat the terrorists. 

MATTHEWS:  Where?  In Iraq. 

MATTERA:  In Iraq.  Of course in Iraq. 

And there—you won‘t see on college campuses, as you did in the 1960s, these rampant protests, these obstruction of classroom, these—the book burning, everything that went down.  I think kids are more conservative today.  And I think groups such as the Young America‘s Foundation help that—help mold that conservatism.

MATTHEWS:  Would you like to enlist them?  You‘re 21.  You‘re eligible to serve.  Would you like to serve in this war? 

MATTERA:  I‘m fighting the battle for ideas.  I‘m fighting...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m just asking a particular question.  Would you like to enlist in this war? 

MATTERA:  No, because I‘m fighting a separate battle.  I‘m fighting—we‘re fighting the culture war here, but I‘m also supporting the battle that‘s raging in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what kind of people should fight in this war, if not you? 

MATTERA:  Those who want to, those who want—who feel the desire, who have the passion to go over to Iraq.  I have many friends who are in Iraq myself, people from my church, people who I graduated with. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MATTERA:  They went to go fight over there.  I‘m here.  I‘m fighting

the culture war right now.  Both need to be fought and both need to be won

by conservatives. 

MATTHEWS:  Paul Hackett, a Democratic candidate for Congress who just lost that close election in Ohio, referred to the president as a chicken hawk, somebody who supports war, but doesn‘t fight it.  What do you think of that phrase, chicken hawk? 

MATTERA:  I don‘t like the phrase chicken hawk. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why not? 

MATTERA:  Because it doesn‘t fit.  I don‘t think President Bush...

MATTHEWS:  It means you talk hawk, but you act chicken. 

MATTERA:  Yes, I understand that, but I don‘t think that President Bush is a chicken hawk. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re laughing, Chris Galloway.

Let me ask you, Chris, do you—Democrats, by the way—what is the position of your crowd, your young crowd, Democrats, on this war in Iraq? 

GALLOWAY:  Well, we don‘t like the war. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you don‘t?

GALLOWAY:  We think most Americans don‘t like the war. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t?

GALLOWAY:  And we know that most young people don‘t support the war and don‘t like the war. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know, I‘m waiting to hear your party speak clearly on this subject. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You mean, as a group, the Democratic young people of this country are against this war?  I have yet to hear that said officially, sir.

GALLOWAY:  Absolutely. 

The Young Democrats of America are not supportive of this war.  The young people that I talk to are not supportive of this war.  The young people I talk to are scared to death that they‘re going to be sent to fight in this war. 

MATTHEWS:  All right, let me run through some names. 

GALLOWAY:  Because of the lies that George Bush has told us.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Did you—did you vote for John Kerry this last election? 

GALLOWAY:  I did absolutely vote for John Kerry. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, how did he vote on the issue of whether to start this war or not? 

GALLOWAY:  Well, I think the real issue here is that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Where did Hillary Clinton vote?  Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the war.  John Kerry voted to authorize the war.  I just wonder what it means to say you are against the war if you vote to give the president a blank check.  I don‘t see any clarity from the Democratic Party on this. 

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY:  Well, the Young Democrats are very much a group that‘s on the forefront of making sure that the Democratic Party message is going in a certain way. 

We‘re a young progressive organization that wants to make sure that our party and the rest of the country are aware of what our message is.  And young people clearly do not support this war. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.  You can jump in here, Jason.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t think this clarity from your candidates.  Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Kerry, John Edwards, I didn‘t hear any of them coming out against the war in the last debate in this—when it mattered, back in 2002, when they were voting on it, or in the 2004 election.  I heard none of this clarity. 

I heard John Kerry saying, I vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.  Is that a call to glory?  Or was that—what did that mean to you, Chris? 

GALLOWAY:  Well, I mean, you know, come on.  You know...

MATTHEWS:  Come on?  You say that to him. 

GALLOWAY:  ... you can turn anything that anyone is going to say.  You know, he‘s a United States senator.  He had a million votes in the United States Senate. 

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY:  Let talk about—let‘s talk about the—let‘s talk about the issues that matter to young people. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about this issue. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You guys, are you pro-abortion-rights or anti-abortion-rights? 

MATTERA:  I‘m pro-life.  I‘m against the murder of innocent babies, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  No, you‘re against abortion rights.  You don‘t think that people should have a right to have an abortion? 

MATTERA:  I don‘t think there‘s no right...

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think there should be a right...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTERA:  ... enumerated in the Constitution.  No, it‘s not a right at all.

MATTHEWS:  Where do you stand on that, Chris, the issue of abortion rights, as written by the judges back in ‘73, the Roe v. Wade decision?  Do you believe in it? 

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY:  I—I completely agree in a woman‘s right to choose and make her own decision. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTERA:  Murder, not—not choose.

MATTHEWS:  What about the people among your crowd?  Is there a—among the conservatives, do you all agree that abortion should be illegal? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTERA:  Oh, conservatives?  Yes, conservatives agree that abortion should be banned. 

MATTHEWS:  Banned?

MATTERA:  That abortion—or at least not...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What about libertarians?

MATTERA:  Well, libertarians, it is more of a states-right issue.  If Roe v. Wade would be overturned, then it would be left up to the states.  It is not banning abortion. 

MATTHEWS:  And then what you like...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTERA:  Right.  I would like each individual state to ban the murder of innocent babies, of course. 

MATTHEWS:  To outlaw it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that most conservative believe the states should outlaw abortion, each state should? 

MATTERA:  It depends what state you‘re coming from.  Obviously, those...

MATTHEWS:  But I mean conservatives as a group? 

MATTERA:  Oh, of course.  Yes, of course.  Conservatives, they see—they want to—they want to nourish and cultivate innocent life.  They don‘t want to destroy it. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m surprised it‘s that clear.

Let me ask you, on the Democratic side, are the Democrats clearly pro-abortion-rights? 

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY:  Well, there‘s a huge diversity in the Democratic Party. 

And I think we know that.

And I think the important issue here...

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY:  ... when we talk about this fight that‘s coming in the Supreme Court and the fight that is going to come...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  By the way, that huge diversity you just mentioned, Chris, is not noted in your party platform, which is 100 percent pro-choice. 

GALLOWAY:  As is—as is the Young Democrats of America platform. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GALLOWAY:  But, again, we‘re a huge party.  And we have lots of different people. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, why are you hedging? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, why are you hedging now?  Why are you hedging? 

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY:  We‘re not going to push anyone out if—I‘m not—I‘m 100 percent pro-life—or pro-choice.  I‘m 100 percent for a woman‘s right to choose.  And I think most of the people in our organization are. 

But we have a lot of people with a lot of different views and we‘re a big—we‘re a big-tent party. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTERA:  They don‘t have a big-tent party.  All the Democrat platform, Young Democrats, progressives, whatever, they all have a socialist platform.  They all want big government.  They all want redistribution of wealth, Chris. 

They all want big nanny government going after you. 

GALLOWAY:  There you go again.  That‘s...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTERA:  Conservatives, see, they truly do have a wide variety of tent, because they have the libertarians.  You have the conservatives.  You have some paleoconservatives, neoconservatives.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MATTERA:  Democrats all have pretty much the same exact platform. 

MATTHEWS:  Explain something to me, Jason.  I agree with you generally.  But we have a U.S. Congress now completely controlled in both houses by Republicans. 

MATTERA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  We have a Republican president.

MATTERA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And we have a half-trillion-dollar debt. 

MATTERA:  I know.

MATTHEWS:  Why? 

MATTERA:  It‘s a big problem. 

MATTHEWS:  Why?

MATTERA:  Because we‘re spending too much. 

MATTHEWS:  Half-trillion-dollar budget deficit each year. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We have a trade deficit each year.  Why does the party of fiscal conservatism keep passing deficits? 

MATTERA:  That‘s the problem, is, I don‘t think it‘s a party right now of fiscal conservatives. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Your party has betrayed you?

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY:  It‘s the war.  Come on.  It‘s the war.

MATTERA:  It‘s not the war.  It‘s because you are constantly giving out these welfare programs all the time. 

GALLOWAY:  No, no, no, no, no. 

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY:  The Republicans control Congress.  Republicans have the White House.  You‘re spending on the war.  You‘re not taking care of anything at home. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTERA:  You want to keep going down the list, Chris.  Come on. 

Please.

MATTHEWS:  You know what I like to think?  I think we‘ve challenged you young guys to clarity of thinking.  I think we‘ve energized the base on both sides tonight.

And I appreciate you both coming on.  Jason and Chris, it is nice to meet you.

Up next, for over 40 years, the Peace Corps has operated with no ties to the military or to the intelligence agencies.  Now some want to change that. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Since its founding in 1961, the U.S. Peace Corps has operated without any ties to the military and certainly no ties to our intelligence agencies, like the CIA.  And that was by design.  Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver in fact appealed to his brother-in-law, President Kennedy, to keep the Peace Corps independent. 

But now service in the Peace Corps is an option for military recruits.  They can apply to serve the nonactive duty part of their military obligation in the Peace Corps, if they get accepted.  So, what‘s wrong with that? 

A lot, says former Peace Corps volunteer Mark Schneider, who ran the organization from 1999 to 2001.  Former Defense Department official Frank Gaffney disagrees. 

Mark, what is wrong with letting service people, men and women who have signed up for, say, eight years in the Reserves, to spend the last couple years, if they get in, in the Peace Corps?

MARK SCHNEIDER, FORMER PEACE CORPS DIRECTOR:  The main problem is that it undermines the independence of the Peace Corps. 

As you noted, ever since the Peace Corps began, not only President Kennedy from the outset, but every secretary of state since and every president since, Republican and Democratic, have issued executive orders and sent cables to the field, saying the Peace Corps shall be independent of day-to-day foreign and security policy.  And this blurs the line in a way that not only endangers the legacy of the Peace Corps, which has been very successful, but, unfortunately, also, to some degree, endangers volunteers. 

You want to keep these institutions separate.  You want to keep the Peace Corps...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Excuse me.  You rang a bell there, having been a volunteer back in the ‘60s.  How does it endanger volunteers...

SCHNEIDER:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  ... to have some former service people involved?

SCHNEIDER:  Unfortunately, right now, there‘s a—a sense that there‘s a growing anti-Americanism in relation to Iraq, other reasons. 

If you—if it is known that Peace Corps volunteers, in a sense, are part of the military, in the sense that they‘re serving out their military obligation, that could in fact endanger volunteers.  That‘s one of the reason why we‘ve always kept it separate and why the secretary of state has issued orders that you should not in fact try and use the Peace Corps for normal foreign policy reasons. 

MATTHEWS:  Frank Gaffney, you think it is OK to have military people use part of their service, if they get into the Peace Corps, to use it in the Peace Corps? 

FRANK GAFFNEY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY:  Well, I approach it from a different perspective.  And I will put that up front. 

We‘re in a war.  The war we‘re in is going to require us for the foreseeable future to have capable people that are properly trained and properly equipped.  Of those three, probably the most important I think is the people.  Inducements to service in an all-volunteer force in time of war are going to become increasingly creative. 

And this was one that was introduced three years ago, I think, by Senator John McCain and Senator Evan Bayh as a device for trying to make military service more attractive to some people who would like to participate in the Peace Corps. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GAFFNEY:  That is, I think, an important idea and an important initiative. 

Obviously, in this war, you also want to be able to bring other tools to bear.  And those tools can include diplomacy.  They can include economic or financial tools. They can include intelligence.  The Peace Corps has a role to play in that.  It, too, wants the best people it can get.  I‘m reasonably sure some of those are going to be excellent military veterans.  And I hope, and believe, that that can be accomplished without undue cost to either the corps or its personnel. 

SCHNEIDER:  There is a way to do it, which is to say that the military service is military service.  You finish your military service and then you apply like every other American for entering the Peace Corps. 

MATTHEWS:  But that‘s the way it now. 

SCHNEIDER:  That‘s the way it now.  That‘s the way it should be.

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t—why don‘t you just say to a guy—you want to be induced people to join the military?  You don‘t have to go in for the full eight years.  Go in for six.  That‘s an inducement.  After you‘ve done your six, join the Peace Corps. 

Why do you have to include it as part of the package? 

GAFFNEY:  I think the idea was to get people to come in for the full stint.  If you do indeed...

MATTHEWS:  But why would you—why would you want to—is the Peace Corps having problem—problems recruiting people? 

(CROSSTALK) 

GAFFNEY:  I‘m talking about the military having problems recruiting people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But why would a person in the military want to be—wouldn‘t it be better inducement to say, you have only got six years to serve, if you want to do six?

GAFFNEY:  Conceivably.  I think the way...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a better deal than you got to do eight and spend two in Africa. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  The way it‘s been structured is to give them that as part of an overall package of eight.  But, look, I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me look at...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... the point of view of having been in there. 

I want to ask you the question.  You‘re a reasonable person. 

GAFFNEY:  Thank you, Chris.  

MATTHEWS:  If a person is sitting over there in Africa and they‘re a person who is, say, in Swaziland, where I served back in the ‘60s, and a guy comes up—I‘ll tell you what happened to me. 

I was over there and a guy came up—I was kidding around with a friend of mine over there in Swazi.  And I said, you know, of course, I‘m CIA, laughing.  He says, never joke about that.  That‘s not funny.  And here‘s a guy that thought the pope was in Rome—I mean, in London.  He didn‘t know much about the Western world.  But he knew the CIA was bad. 

And isn‘t it the same problem? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t want to make your argument.

SCHNEIDER:  It is the same problem.

MATTHEWS:  I just know, from personal experience, that if there‘s any doubt about why you are or who you are—because all you are is some guy from America and that you look different, in many cases.  You talk different.  And they go, now, who is this guy that‘s come to teach me, in my case, business?  And what is he really up to?  Is this a cover?  Is he really—did he kill anybody in Iraq? 

I mean, there‘s like a case.  Do you want guys who have actually been in combat to be in some other country and let them all know you were in combat in Iraq?  Do you think that‘s work...

GAFFNEY:  I certainly want to preclude people who are...

MATTHEWS:  Would you think that would be healthy?

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  ... people who are otherwise qualified. 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know.

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  No, you asked me a question.

I wouldn‘t preclude veterans who have served their country in difficult places from serving their country in other ways, if they‘re qualified. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  If they‘re out of the military? 

GAFFNEY:  Well, I think that‘s a question that ought to be addressed. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But you told me before you came on that you can still be called back.  So, you‘re over serving in Kenya somewhere.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You could be—so, a guy—so, a guy who is working with you over there, a local ministry person from the ministry you‘re working for, knows the whole time you‘re over there that you can get yanked back into the military.  So, he always sees you as a...

GAFFNEY:  Under very extreme circumstances.

MATTHEWS:  But he always sees you as a military type, doesn‘t he? 

GAFFNEY:  Under—I don‘t know.  I don‘t know. 

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  The question—the question of whether that is a problem ought to be addressed.

MATTHEWS:  Mark, is that a problem?

SCHNEIDER:  That‘s a problem. 

It is not only a problem for that individual.  The problem is for all the other volunteers that are going to be thought of as potentially still in the military who have nothing to do with the military.  And what you‘re doing there is, you‘re endangering the Peace Corps, which is, long term, in the interests of the United States, is providing people around the world with the knowledge about who we are as a people. 

It is in a sense doing what you talk about, in terms of fighting the war on terrorism by letting other countries know who we are.  And you‘re endangering that for a very few number of people who might...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s one I would want.  If I were a military guy, I would not take this option. 

Suppose you‘re over there fighting, risking your life for your country for a couple years in Iraq and you‘re involved in combat.  You‘re really in it.  And you‘re killing people.  You‘re being shot at.  It is horrible.  The word gets out that you‘re now serving in Timbuktu somewhere all by your lonesome out in the middle of some bush somewhere, with nobody around you, no guns, nothing, no protection. 

And they know you‘re over there.  It‘s not hard for them to figure out where our guys are, that you were—do you think you would like to be stuck out there all by yourself without a gun, stuck in the middle of Africa? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That any time an al Qaeda guy wanted to go pick you off, they could do it with impunity? 

GAFFNEY:  Look, I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Wouldn‘t that be a problem for you? 

GAFFNEY:  I—it might be a problem for me.  And it might be a problem for everybody else, in which case this is a moot point. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

GAFFNEY:  But the question is, if it‘s not, if some guys would like to opt for this, they still have to go through all of the rigmarole...

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

GAFFNEY:  ... that gets you into the Peace Corps.  But if they want to do that, Chris, it seems to me, they shouldn‘t be denied the opportunity to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you a question.

GAFFNEY:  And your question as to whether or not there ought to be an amendment to the law that gets them out of the military...

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  ... reasonable question to debate.

MATTHEWS:  I think it would be great. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  First of all, I think...

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  What I would just ask...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... military guys, with their training, should join the Peace Corps when they‘re done.  I think it would be great.  That‘s a totally different story.

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  Well, but they got the same problem that you just posed. 

They could conceivably have the same problem. 

What I would still ask is, we are going to have to come to grips as a nation with the problem of meeting the needs of the military in a wartime environment.

SCHNEIDER:  Sure, but don‘t destroy the Peace Corps to do it.

GAFFNEY:  I‘m not suggesting that you do.  And I‘m not sure this would. 

But we do need to have that debate, too.  And this may not be the fulcrum on which it turns, but I think it is part of the larger debate we have to have.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You could promise them they could go to Harvard for the last two years.  You can make all kinds of promises.

GAFFNEY:  That could be even more dangerous than Tanzania.  Who knows?

SCHNEIDER:  No, the problem is not only with these individuals.  The problem is the rest of the volunteers serving, who are going to be put into this same basket or could be by somebody who wanted in fact to take advantage of the argument that they‘re in the military.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Last question.  Do you think the existing Peace Corps rules that says you can never have served in an American intelligence agency before serving in the Peace Corps is a good rule? 

GAFFNEY:  I don‘t know whether it is in fact implemented. 

SCHNEIDER:  It is. 

GAFFNEY:  I would assume—I would assume that the same basic principle applies as the one that‘s just been laid out here. 

MATTHEWS:  But do you think it is problem—do you think is OK for intelligence spooks to go work in the Peace Corps? 

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  Personally, we need human intelligence everywhere.  And I wouldn‘t use anybody‘s cover inappropriately, but there may be certain cases where it is... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  If anybody gets idea that Peace Corps guys are CIA, they‘re dead. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHNEIDER:  And let‘s be clear that there has been executive orders issued by every president—by every president...

GAFFNEY:  You were joking about it.

SCHNEIDER:  ... by every president not to have...

MATTHEWS:  I shouldn‘t have.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHNEIDER:  ... not to use the Peace Corps in any way.  And it has not been done.  The point...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve never heard—I‘ve never heard of a Peace Corps volunteer ever involved with the CIA.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Have you? 

GAFFNEY:  I‘m not suggesting that they are.

MATTHEWS:  Have you ever heard of any connection?

SCHNEIDER:  Not that I know of. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  You asked a hypothetical question. 

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  I‘m saying I‘m not sure I would rule...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think the reason we—I think we should always be able to answer it negatively. 

SCHNEIDER:  Exactly.  And every president has in fact established a rule that they may not.  And it has never been violated. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No Valerie Plames in the Peace Corps. 

Anyway, thank you. 

GAFFNEY:  Guess not.

MATTHEWS:  Mark Schneider.

And, thank you, Frank Gaffney.

GAFFNEY:  Nice to see you, Chris. 

SCHNEIDER:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next, did Bob Novak pull a Howard Beale last night on

CNN? 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, did Bob Novak deserve to be suspended by CNN for walking off the set during a live show?  We‘ll get to that when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

This week on CNN, veteran conservative columnist Bob Novak walked off the set in disgust during a live broadcast with Democratic strategist James Carville. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “INSIDE POLITICS”)

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN ANALYST:  We just elected a senator from Oklahoma, Senator Tom Coburn.  Everybody in the establishment was against him.  She might get elected in...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK:  So, wait a minute.  Wait a minute. 

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK:  Just let me finish what I‘m going to say, James, please.  I know you hate to hear me, but you have...

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN ANALYST:  He‘s got to show these right wingers that he‘s got backbone, you know.  That‘s right.  “The Wall Street Journal” editorial page is watching you.  Show them you‘re tough.

NOVAK:  Well, I think that‘s bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  And I hate that.  Just let it go.

ED HENRY, HOST:  OK.  James, what do you think though, seriously about this Senate race, James, that the—that basically the...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, CNN has suspended Novak indefinitely and called his behavior inexcusable and unacceptable. 

In an interview published in “The Washington Post” today, by the way, Novak apologized, saying—quote—that “Carville was questioning my motives.  I would hope he was just trying to be funny, but I took it the wrong way.  I shouldn‘t have done what I did.  But I did.  And I apologize.”

Deborah Mathis is a journalist and professor at Northwestern and a syndicated columnist.  Jim Warren is deputy managing editor of “The Chicago Tribune.”  And Steve Battaglio is senior correspondent with “TV Guide.” 

Let‘s to go Deborah first. 

Was this justified by CNN, to suspend a guy for showing his disgust in that way? 

DEBORAH MATHIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, let me say, I think that CNN did under the current atmosphere what a lot of journalism news agencies are going to do now.  And that‘s respond to what they think is going to be a public backlash and try to show some kind of responsibility. 

But, really, when I really think about it, I—I‘m kind of glad.  I‘m not a Novak fan.  I almost never agree with him, but I‘m kind of glad he did that.  I thought that was real reality TV, that he was, for once, not going through the pretenses of not minding something or being cool under fire. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... towel-snapping.  It‘s not real...

(CROSSTALK)

MATHIS:  Yes.  You know, and it really gets to you sometimes. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MATHIS:  I mean, you know how that feels.  And you feel like walking off or saying something like.  I thought it was kind of honest, for a change. 

MATTHEWS:  Your take, Jim, Jim Warren. 

JIM WARREN, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  Well, first of all, I love the rich irony, don‘t you, Chris, of Bob Novak being upset at somebody questioning his motives, the man who authored the famous Joseph Wilson column, questioning somebody‘s motives for attacking the White House. 

I actually thought, guys, it was rather sad.  I thought it was intemperate, unprofessional.  And, as great a guy as Bob Novak has been for CNN, as prodigious a worker as he is, I think we have got to remember that journalists, just like construction workers, just like bus drivers, you name it, can get a little bit long in the tooth and sometimes overstay their welcome. 

And I think, from a managerial standpoint, CNN has to step back and say, Bob‘s loyalty aside, has there been a pattern of crotchetiness here that is not just with—was not just in evidence last night, but also for a few months in advance?  And maybe some tough decisions ought to be made.  I suspect they won‘t make them. 

MATHIS:  But you know when they should have suspended him, Jim?  They should have suspended him when he went under the—under this cloud of suspicion over this whole Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame issue to begin with. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATHIS:  Considering that he is—I think he should have been suspended then. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s bring in Steve Battaglio.

WARREN:  Deborah.

MATTHEWS:  Just a minute.

Let‘s bring in Steve Battaglio of “TV Guide.”

Steve, what do you think here? 

STEPHEN BATTAGLIO, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, “TV GUIDE”:  I think it‘s a disgrace. 

When you‘re on television, you‘re not only a guest in the studio; you‘re a guest in people‘s homes.  You don‘t behave that way.  And I think he‘s done.  I don‘t think we‘ll see him on CNN again. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?

What do you—let me try to defend Bob Novak.  He‘s no close personal friend of mine, I don‘t think, although I respect his journalism a lot of times.  I think he is a hell of a reporter. 

MATHIS:  He is.

MATTHEWS:  But let‘s to go this question here. 

Jambalaya, James Carville, the guy on the other side, he was just making noises the whole time Bob was trying to make a point.  Bob was trying to make a serious point.  These underdog conservatives that the establishment says can‘t win elections tend to win them, like Ronald Reagan, Orrin Hatch. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And he makes this point.

BATTAGLIO:  It doesn‘t matter what Carville was saying.  It doesn‘t matter that the moderator wasn‘t any good. 

Bob Novak has been doing TV roundtables for 40 years.  He knows how to behave.  And you know you don‘t do that.  And I think he made an ass of himself.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BATTAGLIO:  And, frankly, I think he loses a lot of credibility. 

MATTHEWS:  Jim.

BATTAGLIO:  And I don‘t think anyone else will pick him up.  

MATTHEWS:  Jim, what should he have done if James Carville was simply making noises, not letting him speak?  What should he have done?

WARREN:  Waited until Jim finished that well-practiced, well-compensated shtick of his and then made his exact point. 

I mean, I think I would be more unhappy if I was a CNN manager with what happened there than the ambiguity surrounding the Wilson case. 

And my good friend, Deborah, I‘ve got to disagree with you there.  We still do not know what Bob Novak said before the grand jury.  And if truth be told, and something, Chris, that has been totally missed in all the coverage of Bob Novak, if you go to the mid-1980s, Bob was very much and his then buddy and co-columnist Rowland Evans were quite the paragons of the First Amendment. 

There was a really significant case there involving a pissed-off University of Maryland professor unhappy with a Novak column.  He sued him.  They defended themselves vigorously.  And, in a decision, would you believe, written by then Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Starr, and agreed to by then Appeals Court Judge Robert Bork, those guys struck a big victory for the First Amendment.  And the case for lawyers involves the value of opinion in a libel defense. 

So, I—you know, I don‘t know what Bob said in that grand jury, Deborah. 

MATHIS:  It doesn‘t matter. 

WARREN:  And so, I don‘t want to be so quick to judge.

MATHIS:  It doesn‘t matter.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you to go back.

MATHIS:  It doesn‘t matter what he said.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You said you‘ve come to the position of Bob Novak was justified to some extent in walking off.  Do you want to continue that point? 

MATHIS:  Well, because, first of all, it can be crazy when someone is talking over you all the time and it can drive you nuts. 

And what television is a lot of time is very well-compensated or popular fakery, is what it is.  We get on and we pretend to feel things that we don‘t and like people that we don‘t like and agree with points we don‘t agree with.  And it‘s a big joke. 

And the thing about it is that a lot of the audience knows that it is a joke, too.  And I don‘t know why we keep playing the game.  What I saw there was a man who, first of all, has faked this, has faked being cool and undaunted by all of this heat from this grand jury investigation and all and pretended that, oh, it is really not bothering me. 

And it is getting to him.  And the average person would understand that it would get to you.  They don‘t trust us, the average person, to understand. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MATHIS:  And this goes for politicians, too, that they just have normal human feelings. 

MATTHEWS:  Does this explain that rather—Jim, does this explain that rather strange column that Novak filed last—a couple days ago, about him and fighting it out with the—the former flack at the CIA? 

WARREN:  Boy, that was very interesting.  I mean, I‘m not—I‘ll defer to Deborah‘s psychoanalytical skills there. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATHIS:  I‘m a mother. 

WARREN:  I don‘t know what‘s going on—Deborah, I don‘t know what‘s going on in his subconscious.

But I do think there‘s clearly of late been a pattern of extreme crotchetiness.  Bob is now into his mid-70s.  He‘s been a prodigious worker.  But we all can‘t hit, you know, hit .300 forever. 

And when I looked at that column, Chris, good point, I saw a guy, if I recall, who explicitly said—he wrote that he was contravening the request of his own lawyer.  And I think, at a time like this, you don‘t do that.  He‘s got a real shrewd lawyer, Mr. Hamilton, a Democrat.  And I would stick to what Hamilton was telling him to do.  In this case, he didn‘t.  And I think that was a mistake, too. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be back with our guests. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “NETWORK”)

PETER FINCH, ACTOR:  I‘m as mad as hell and I‘m not going to take this anymore!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with former White House correspondent Deborah Mathis, Jim Warren of “The Chicago Tribune,” and Steve Battaglio of “TV Guide.”

Steve, Bob Novak, is this the Howard Beale he‘s given us we‘ve been waiting for all these years? 

BATTAGLIO:  I don‘t really think so. 

In the movie “Network,” people actually liked Howard Beale.  What happened to Bob Novak is what happens to people 25 times a day on cable news.  One guy is trying to shout down or drown out another guy.  He just happened to pick this time to blow a fuse.  And, frankly, more people are going to see it on late-night comedy shows and streaming the video on the Internet than actually watched it on CNN. 

It turns out it is actually the most interesting that‘s probably—thing that‘s probably happened to CNN since Ted Turner left. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I was wondering, Deborah, is this guy going to be “TIME”‘s man of the year, Bob Novak?  He seems to have had more publicity in the last few months than ever in his history. 

MATHIS:  Yes, he has.  He has gotten a lot of publicity. 

And it‘s not the kind that I‘m sure he wanted to get, especially in these last years, as Stephen said.  But, to disagree with Stephen, I do not think this does Bob Novak in.  I don‘t think it rises to that level to be a career breaker.  It‘s not as though everybody in America who, first of all, cares, which is a limited pool...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MATHIS:  ... and secondly, who will find out about this, which limits the pool even more, so...

(CROSSTALK)

BATTAGLIO:  But look what‘s happened to Bob Novak on CNN anyway.  He‘s already lost most of his shows. 

MATHIS:  See.  OK.  I can‘t finish. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BATTAGLIO:  They canceled HARDBALL. 

MATHIS:  I‘m walking off. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  No, not HARDBALL. 

(CROSSTALK)

BATTAGLIO:  I‘m sorry.  They canceled “Crossfire.”

MATHIS:  Yes. 

BATTAGLIO:  They canceled “Capital Gang.” 

Even if this did not happen, where were you going to see him anyway on

CNN? 

MATHIS:  No, no, no. 

The time has come.  Let me tell you something.  Thirty-something years ago, I was in television in Washington, in local television.  And Bob Novak and Rowland Evans did commentary weekly from our newsroom.  Bob Novak sat in my chair at my desk to do the commentary and was always rude to me about kicking me out:  Get up.  I need to do this now.  Was never kind to me about that.  I‘ve never agreed with almost anything he‘s said. 

And here I am defending him, because, really, I‘m trying to be fair about it.  But what I‘m saying is that, the time has come.  The guy has been around since the dinosaurs. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask all three of you, who reads Bob Novak‘s columns every time they run in “The Washington Post”? 

Jim Warren, do you read Novak?

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN:  Yes, I read them in “The Chicago Sun-Times,” because I think it is interesting, just like “The Washington Times” has its diabolical interest, because you kind of see what one side is thinking.

And since the Republicans have been in, I think often he‘s been an interesting guidepost to what‘s been going on in there.  But I do like Deborah‘s interesting theory there, analysis of—he‘s consistently, for 35 years, been an SOB, but I still will defend him to the hilt. 

But, again, I think this is very much a managerial problem.  I think there‘s been a degree of crotchetiness that CNN is going to have to deal with.  And, yes, whether or not he is the Howard Beale-like character, I want to know whether there‘s a Ned Beatty character, remember, the head of the network, who then looked at Howard Beale and scared the living daylights out of him.  I don‘t know if you got that there at CNN.  You might have had...

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN:  ... Ted Turner.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... bigger.

BATTAGLIO:  I believe that Howard Beale got—gets shot in that movie, if I remember. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me go.  He—let me ask you this, Jim Warren, then everybody else.

Bob Woodward had a great secret to keep, along with Carl Bernstein and Bradlee and I guess also Walsh, Bob Woodward‘s wife for all those years.  It‘s Deep Throat‘s identity.  It‘s Mark Felt. 

Isn‘t there a big story about that Bob Novak is covering right now, holding to himself?  Who was the primary leaker in the Joe Wilson case? 

MATHIS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that a hell of a question?  I‘m fascinated by it. 

BATTAGLIO:  Well, Bob Novak has become the story. 

WARREN:  Yes. 

BATTAGLIO:  When a journalist becomes a story, it becomes really hard to do your job. 

MATHIS:  Right. 

BATTAGLIO:  And every time he‘s walked on CNN, he‘s been radioactive, because there‘s this big question in the room.  You know, what did he say?  What did he know and when did he know it? 

MATHIS:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATHIS:  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And, Jim Warren—go ahead.  I‘m sorry. 

Jim Warren, I want to know your take on this.  Do you think it is a big story to come from Bob Novak?  Has he only become—only begun to be the big story of the year?  If he blows this name or we find out who leaked to him the identity of Valerie Wilson, Valerie Plame, isn‘t that a huge story, if it‘s a big shot? 

WARREN:  If your premise is correct.  And the premise may not necessarily be correct, that he was a guy leaking it. 

There‘s also the possibility that Bob, being a prodigious worker, found some of this out or put two and two together on his own and then, as some of the folks in the White House seem to be suggesting, sort of confirmed things to them. 

But, again, I want to see what happens.  I think, ultimately, when Fitzgerald, the fellow who works just a couple of blocks from where I‘m sitting right now here in Chicago, when he comes out with what may be a slew of indictments, it is very possible that Bob Novak almost becomes a secondary story, because there may be some folks in the White House and the State Department who are in real, real, real trouble. 

And this may all be a footnote to a case that will be way above the fold in all our papers shortly. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘ll be material to the crime, because he‘ll be the reporter who was leaked to.  I think Bob Novak is going to be a big part of the news for months to come.

Anyway, thank you, Deborah Mathis, Jim Warren and Steve Battaglio.

Monday on HARDBALL, rejected Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork.

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

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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