Video: Senator to novelist

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updated 11/4/2005 12:32:33 PM ET 2005-11-04T17:32:33

Third term Democratic senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has added a new line to her resume, recently writing her first novel, a work called called “A Time To Run.”

On Thursday, Boxer played Hardball with Chris Matthews, and talked about her book, the story's similarities to real live in Washington, its purpose and what’s happening on the Senate floor.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, ‘HARDBALL’:  Senator Boxer, congratulations.  The last senator from California to be a novelist was Pierre Salinger, and he wrote a book called “On Instructions of My Government.”  And he told things about Jack Kennedy that he couldn’t have told in a real-life book.  Is this your way of telling truths you can’t tell on the record? 

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA:  Well, that’s a good question, Chris.  This is a work of fiction.  However, it’s a composite of all of the people I have met.  It explores issue like why people become liberals, why do they become conservative. 

What’s the relationship between the press and the politicians?  And it’s interesting, I think.  And it’s a good read, and guess what?  It starts off with a United States senator, a woman, who is dealing with a very right wing Supreme Court appointment.  And it’s just amazing.  When we did this, we had no clue this would be the subject of the day. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, (book character) Desmond Leery, sounds like Pat Leahy to me, the ranking Democrat on judiciary.  That wasn’t much of a disguise was it? 

BOXER:  Well, he has this much of a role in it!

MATTHEWS:  OK, but I love the fact that it was easy to pick him out.  Is there anybody else hidden behind these names we should recognize before we buy the book? 

BOXER:  It’s a work of fiction.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, OK.

BOXER:  It truly is.  But you will find bits and pieces of -- who knows -- yourself in there. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I hope not.  Depending on what state, whether you like me or not, I want to know whether I am in there.  Let me as you this question about the big fight on the floor the other day.  It got kind of personal out there with Bill Frist, the ranking -- or the majority Republican leader out there saying this is really bad form, and the Democrats actually making their point.  What happens after that?  Does the dust settle or do people hold grudges? 

BOXER:  Oh, the dust settles.  I mean, all that whimpering and crying by Bill Frist, I mean, give me a break.  All we did is used the Senate rules to call attention to a really critical point.  Did the president manipulate, misuse intelligence to take us into a war that is killing our young people day after day.  And we’ve got now more than 17,000 dead and wounded. 

So, you know, why is he so upset?  It’s the parents of these kids who should be upset.  And we need to get to the bottom of it and finish the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation so we can give people answers. 

MATTHEWS:  As you’ve watched this case unfold and it went to arraignment today of Scooter Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff, and who knows what’s coming next, probably the vice president in the witness chair, have you learned anything new in all these months as we’ve gotten closer and closer to some kind of result of this investigation into the leak? 

BOXER:  Well, I don’t know if I’ve learned anything new, but it certainly confirmed what I believed, which is that this administration was ready to really destroy anyone who stood up and took them on, on the war.  And you had Ambassador Wilson doing this, saying that in fact, Saddam Hussein was not trying to buy uranium from Niger. 

And just saying that, he exposed himself to the enemy’s list of Dick Cheney and the rest of them over there, and we now know the rest is history.  They went after his wife.  It reminds me of the enemies list during the time that Nixon was president, but you are far too young to remember that. 

MATTHEWS:  I remember that.  Let me ask you about Iraq, because we had Richard Engel on the network yesterday morning.  He was on Imus, I believe it was yesterday.  And he told the problem -- I want you to address this.  He said the problem with bringing down the number of troops without bringing them all home is, once you start to substantially reduce the complement of troops -- it’s up to about 150,000 now -- if you start reducing that by big chunks down to below a hundred or whatever, the word will get out on the streets of Iraq quickly that we’re reducing our strength and the people left will be more vulnerable to attack. 

BOXER:  See, I think if you really look carefully at what people like John Kerry have said and others, and now many are starting to join in for the call of reducing troop strength here, what you find is that the whole point is to train the Iraqis.  That’s the point.  I mean, as they stand up, we stand down.  That’s what the president said. 

So, the fact is, even the biggest supporters of the president are starting to say that our troops there really are causing more and more terrorism.  They are fueling terrorism.  It doesn’t help us.  If we have a clear mission, there’s no reason why we cannot reduce troop strength.  And we’ve got to start doing it. 

I have talked to some friends and colleagues who say that 80 percent of their National Guard is in Iraq with the best equipment.  You have a Katrina, you see what’s happening.  We need the troops home.  The Iraqis have to stand up and defend their country, they need to want freedom as much as we want it for them.  We cannot stay there forever. 

MATTHEWS:  How long can we stay there?  Give me a date.  Is it two more years?  One more year?  Three more years? What?  Because I think this is coming down to it.  I just want to know what you think about the timing of our departure. 

BOXER:  Well, the bottom line of all this is, I’m not going to lay out a timetable.  But what I have done is, I’ve gone on with a bill that I think is very important, to say to the president, what is your mission?  If your mission is to train the troops, tell us what you need to do that and we’ll get out. 

But my belief is we can begin bringing the troops home now.  And once this next election takes place, that’s an important milestone.  That’s the time that you have got a country, you’ve got elected people and they have to fend for themselves.  That’s what self determination is. 

Watch 'Hardball' each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

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