Guests: Rev. Al Sharpton, Roy Black, Nancy Pelosi, Carl Bernstein
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Is Paris burning? She‘s headed back inside, and it ain‘t no Hilton. What‘s this bonfire of celebrity, class and tabloid cache say about this bored, media-obsessed, mentally fragile country?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to HARDBALL. Two of the most famous women in California dominate our show tonight. One is one of the most powerful women in the country, the first woman elected Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. One of the most infamous, celebrity socialite Paris Hilton. Later on on HARDBALL, my exclusive interview with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who is marking her 20th anniversary in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But we begin with the debate over Paris Hilton. Do the rich and privileged in America live under different laws than the rest of us? On Thursday, Paris Hilton was transferred from an LA jail to her home after serving just three days of a 23-day sentence for violating probation. The decision sparked outrage, with critics saying she was getting special treatment because of her fame and wealth and whatever. Today Hilton was taken from her home to a court hearing in Los Angeles, where a judge ordered her returned to jail to serve out her entire 45-day sentence for a parole violation in that reckless driving case. The Associated Press that Hilton was taken out of the courtroom weeping and screaming, quote, “It‘s not right,” and quote, “Mom,” to her mother in the courtroom.
So are the rich and powerful above the law? Presidential candidate John Edwards was asked about the Paris Hilton affair today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m going to stay out of the Paris Hilton story, although I saw—although I saw it seems to be completely dominating the news. I had the television on just before I came down. I still do believe, without regard to Paris Hilton, that we have two Americas, and I think what‘s important is obvious—it‘s obvious that the problem exists. The issue is what are we going to do to create one America with universal health care, with more economic equality, having a—raising the minimum wage, access to decent housing, access to college for kids who can‘t afford it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So let‘s go straight to our HARDBALL debate tonight with the Reverend Al Sharpton, who‘s sitting with me, and criminal defense attorney Roy Black, who‘s in California. Mr. Black, thank you for joining us.
Let me ask you, Reverend Sharpton, how did you get involved? First (INAUDIBLE) when did you first hear—I think it was Thursday morning, yesterday morning very early—that Paris Hilton was being sprung from jail by the sheriff?
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Very early yesterday morning. You know, we have an office of the National Action Network in Los Angeles, and the office called me from out there because I was planning to head to LA this weekend anyway. I‘m preaching at a couple of churches. And they said, We‘re getting inundated with calls. Paris Hilton is being let go for undefined or for non—untold health reasons. And people are saying, Well, why didn‘t they do this to my kid? And I said, Well, I haven‘t gotten the Paris Hilton thing, but that‘s beyond Paris Hilton. Now we‘re talking about whether the law applies equally. And that‘s when I decided to say something.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the public outcry that began yesterday morning had an influence on this judge today?
SHARPTON: I think this judge probably...
SHARPTON: ... was angry anyway. I think he felt that his sentence had not been abided by. I think the public outrage emboldened him, and I think he felt there was little down side to it. But I think this the judge was clear in his sentencing, what he wanted—whether he was right or wrong, that he intended for Paris Hilton to go to jail.
MATTHEWS: Where would this have headed if they—if the judge had left her out on her own with nothing but a bracelet on, one of these electronic bracelets? What would you have done?
SHARPTON: From the beginning?
MATTHEWS: No, just now, if he hadn‘t done what he did today, what would you have done?
SHARPTON: I would have—I would have said what I said, that I think that the appearances are, given the reasons they said, for undescribed health reasons, that I don‘t know of anyone that would have been released after being incarcerated under that sentence in three days. I mean, it can‘t be overcrowded. You don‘t let people out at 2:00 in the morning solo for overcrowding. You let groups of people out for overcrowding. I would have said the same thing if the judge had not put her back in jail.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Black, you‘ve had a lot of cases like this. What‘s it all about here, where a judge is apparently overruled by a sheriff, whose job it is to enforce court orders, and then the judge reasserts his authority and slams her back in jail? What‘s going on here?
ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, there‘s the
the sheriff is under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding in the jails there. And routinely, they‘re allowing, particularly females serving misdemeanor sentences, out after 10 percent of their sentence because they have to free up beds. So I don‘t think it‘s necessarily anything about unequal treatment.
The unequal treatment here is what‘s happening today. You say the judge is not listening to the public. But you had the judge issue a press release, the prosecutor. We‘ve dragged her into court, bounce her back into jail. Why is that? It‘s because of the public outcry. Law shouldn‘t be like that. Justice shouldn‘t be like that. And I just think it‘s really pathetic, looking at this.
MATTHEWS: Well, what is the role of the court with responsibility—what is their responsibility toward public relations, towards making the law look just and blind?
BLACK: Well, the law has to be equally handled. And as the Reverend Sharpton knows, if there was a difference between her and any other inmate in a similar position, then there‘d be a reason to make a complaint. But I don‘t think that‘s the case. I think what‘s happening is, because of her celebrity, she‘s given a longer sentence than most people under those circumstances. The judge entered a specific condition, saying she couldn‘t go into home confinement. She‘s being kept in solitary confinement. And now she has this ping-pong thing of bouncing back and forth. So she‘s being treated worse than anybody else. That‘s what‘s sad here.
MATTHEWS: Would you bring a suit, if you were the attorney in question here, if you were defending her? Would you bring suit against the LA legal system?
BLACK: Well, you really can‘t bring a suit against them because they have prosecutorial immunity. But you have to sort of, you know, bring this to another court. I know her lawyer is trying to appeal. I don‘t know where that will go. But apparently, the jail released her because of some psychiatric problem, and it must have been serious enough for them to have released her. Let‘s face it, the sheriff is not there trying to help out Paris Hilton, but he was concerned about something and it‘s his responsibility to take are of the inmates in the jail.
MATTHEWS: Was the fact that she was yelling for her mom today indication of a psychological problem, a distress beyond the obvious one you‘d feel on being sent to jail?
SHARPTON: No, I don‘t know that that necessarily means anything because a lot of people do that while being dragged away in chains. But you can tell just from her appearance that it was far different than it normally is. And let‘s face it, when you‘re in solitary confinement, it is not unusual for people to suffer breakdowns. I don‘t know if that happened with her, but clearly, the sheriff was concerned enough about it to do something about it.
MATTHEWS: Reverend Sharpton, let me ask you about the fairness question here. Do you know about the similar way in which regular people, black or white, poor or rich, are treated when they‘re picked up? Here are the charges. She was picked up by (INAUDIBLE) for driving under the influence, but they knocked the charge down to reckless driving. They gave her about a 45-day sentence with a requirement that she take, you know, alcoholic, what do you call it, rehabilitation, all that kind of thing. So clearly, that was the problem. Then she got caught driving on a suspended license twice, picked up once, notified, had to sign (INAUDIBLE) an affidavit (INAUDIBLE) a letter saying, I know I wasn‘t supposed to drive, stopped again driving under—with a suspended license.
Is this the norm that you‘d only get put in jail for 45 days after something like that, or was it...
SHARPTON: What we found in a preliminary search of this in Los Angeles is that if you have somebody with two violations that you usually are given more time, and certainly, you‘re not a candidate for being released or reassigned early...
SHARPTON: ... overcrowding.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t get a bracelet.
SHARPTON: We‘ve got to remember, this is somebody that could have hurt somebody, and then violated it twice. So how someone can say she‘s being unfairly treated—I mean, she violated twice. I mean, how many times are we supposed to let her violate? And again, I‘m not—nobody finds any joy on Paris Hilton going to jail. But I mean, come on. If the law is going to work, it‘s going to work. If it‘s not, then say that.
MATTHEWS: You know, Mr. Black, I‘m a little bit familiar with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the case you hear so often against people with substance abuse problems is that they do break the law. They are told not to drive with a suspended license. They do it again and again and again, and usually drunk. You do see that syndrome out there. We‘ve all seen it.
Isn‘t it a serious charge against a person who had alcohol related to their initial incarceration that they‘re driving on a suspended license twice and ignoring the law?
BLACK: Yes, it is. But first of all, it‘s not twice. One was before she was placed on probation and one afterwards. So she violated her probation by driving on a suspended driver‘s license. That is true. Drunk driving is a serious offense in this country. It is dangerous. If she had hurt somebody or had a crash or anything like that, she certainly would have been punished more severely.
But you have to look at how everybody else in these circumstances is punished. And that I know Reverend Sharpton is doing an investigation, but when you look into it, I think in LA you will see that people are not given 45 days in...
BLACK: ... solitary confinement for these offenses.
SHARPTON: No, but she asked for solitary confinement. I‘m meeting with the sheriff, Baca, on Monday. My understanding is they wanted her isolated. So let‘s not act like solitary confinement was—they‘re penalizing her. She wanted to be isolated away from the prisoners. But second of all, we‘re doing a lot of speculation tonight. We don‘t know if she had a breakdown. We don‘t know. Clearly, whatever it is that they gave the sheriff, the judge didn‘t buy it. So I mean, we‘ll see where her lawyers go with this appeal with this undefined, untold psychological problem.
MATTHEWS: You‘re skeptical.
BLACK: What Reverend Sharpton said is right...
SHARPTON: ... the average person in LA said they had a psychological problem and the lawyers said, We‘re not going to tell anybody what it is, whether the would have been sent home.
BLACK: Yes, but Reverend Sharpton...
SHARPTON: ... did not say, We‘re letting her go because of overcrowding, they said because of this medical condition. Mr. Black is...
BLACK: Reverend Sharpton, you‘re 100 percent...
SHARPTON: ... using overcrowding. That‘s not what the sheriff said.
BLACK: Reverend Sharpton, you‘re exactly right. We don‘t know what happened with her. Nor do you.
SHARPTON: That‘s right.
BLACK: The person who does know what happened to her was the sheriff.
SHARPTON: And the judge...
BLACK: And the sheriff was the one...
SHARPTON: ... who put her back in jail.
BLACK: ... who released...
SHARPTON: And the judge...
BLACK: No, the judge...
SHARPTON: ... back in jail.
BLACK: Yes, after he released this press release because of the public backlash.
MATTHEWS: ... Mr. Black, are you saying that the judge acted under the stress of public disapproval?
BLACK: Well, I think, certainly, the judge was reacting to it. But the sheriff is the one who knew the medical condition and decided that she should be released. We don‘t know the details. We‘re the ones speculating, not the sheriff.
SHARPTON: But the judge obviously heard those conditions, didn‘t buy it today. And I‘m—clearly—I‘m sure, if there was some excruciatingly painful circumstances, we would have known by now.
MATTHEWS: Do you realize, gentlemen—you‘re both grownups, I‘m a grownup—that the only reason we‘re talking about this is because this woman got taped and put on the Internet having sex.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the reason she‘s famous. She‘s never done a thing in her life...
SHARPTON: And that she was one...
MATTHEWS: ... done anything worthy of any attention from anybody...
SHARPTON: ... Hilton heiress. And that‘s what I‘m saying...
BLACK: Yes, but Chris...
MATTHEWS: But that‘s all...
BLACK: Chris, you‘re exactly right...
SHARPTON: ... terrible.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Go ahead, Mr. Black.
BLACK: That‘s why America hates her. They hate her because she‘s a rich heiress who looks like she goes out drinking all night long with everybody, and so everybody hates her. But the law should not consider that. This is—the law is not...
SHARPTON: No, you‘re right.
BLACK: ... -a popularity contest.
SHARPTON: The law should consider three times being stopped...
MATTHEWS: You know, this—but Roy, this is...
SHARPTON: ... with a suspended license.
MATTHEWS: This isn‘t the Dreyfuss case here. It‘s not like, you know, this is some...
MATTHEWS: You‘re making it sound like...
BLACK: ... LA County jail is like Devil‘s Island.
MATTHEWS: ... like this is some noble person that‘s been abused by the system because they‘re a hopeless minority or something. Give me a break!
BLACK: We‘re not looking for nobility, we‘re looking for fairness...
MATTHEWS: OK, well, I want you to...
BLACK: ... and equality. And Reverend Sharpton ought to be considering about equality.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘re going to come back...
MATTHEWS: ... and talk to you both about that because I want to know about the system right now because I‘ve never seen anybody who looks like Paris Hilton on death row or any place like it, even in prison.
Anyway, Reverend Al Sharpton is sticking with us. By the way, the photographers are waiting outside for you, sir. I‘ve never seen so much celebrity on HARDBALL. Anyway, Roy Black, stay with us. We‘ll be right back.
And later, my exclusive interview with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. What an interview it is. She‘s marking 20 years in the U.S. Congress, and she‘s on top.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, you guys, easy! Hey, hey, hey, hey~!
Whoa! Whoa! Out!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move out of the way, people! Move out of the way!
Move out of the way!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Our question tonight on HARDBALL: Is Paris burning? It looks like Paris Hilton is going into inside, and it‘s not going to be one of those Hilton hotels. She‘s got—we just saw her leaving her LA home there, where Los Angeles sheriff‘s deputies took her to a courtroom, where a judge ordered her back to jail for what‘s left of her term, which is 42 days.
Reverend Sharpton, was this because of your influence in the last 24 hours?
SHARPTON: Oh, no. I think that this judge probably wanted to enforce his sentencing. I think that I and others were part of the public outrage, but I don‘t think that...
MATTHEWS: Well, when the Reverend Sharpton story is told in bold type years from now, will this be one of the chapters of success, like the Don Imus affair?
SHARPTON: Only if Bernstein writes the book.
MATTHEWS: Well, I—do you really think this isn‘t something you‘re proud of yet?
SHARPTON: I mean, I think that—again, my role and my job is not to try to put Paris Hilton in jail. My role as head of the National Action Network was to say...
MATTHEWS: No, to make sure she doesn‘t get out.
SHARPTON: No, is to have one standard of justice. That‘s all. I would have been happy to say—if Sheriff Baca said to me, You know what, Reverend? You‘re right, and I‘m going to let 20 people out that are poor people...
MATTHEWS: OK, what are the odds...
SHARPTON: ... from South Central, they have the same conditions.
MATTHEWS: ... with this fellow, Sheriff Baca—you meet with this fellow on a fair terms. You walk out of that meeting. What are the odds you‘re going to say, You know, he was right, he should have let her go?
SHARPTON: If he can sit up there and establish to me that the circumstances he let her out are only her circumstances, and that none of the families that have been in touch with us have any circumstances that are anywhere near that...
MATTHEWS: Boy, you‘re shaping the battlefield!
SHARPTON: ... then I would say that...
SHARPTON: How will he explain to all of these people that are incarcerated, that have similar health claims, that they have not given...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you, Roy Black. You‘re a top-notch attorney in this country. You‘ve got a lot of success behind you. Had you been flown into LA the other day and arrived at that jail at 2:00 o‘clock in the morning, what would you have said to the sheriff to get her out there?
MATTHEWS: ... something worked.
BLACK: Yes. Clearly, she was suffering from some type of psychological problem. The problem is, we don‘t know what that is. I don‘t know that anybody outside of the people treating her in the jail know what it is.
But you know, Chris, you asked me question earlier whether the judge was reacting to the public outcry or not. Have you ever heard of anybody being released from jail, from serving a misdemeanor sentence, where the judge then issues a press release and orders the police to go pick her up and bring her into the courtroom and send her back to jail, all within 24 hours?
MATTHEWS: No. It sound more like a candidate for president changing his tune every few weeks on an issue. That‘s what it sounds like.
BLACK: She‘s being treated differently.
MATTHEWS: You know why you probably never heard of it, Chris? Because I‘ve never heard of a sheriff in three days deciding that—when a judge sentences and specifically says, I don‘t want this done, decides that he‘s going to be the one to be the sole one to review medical information, not go before the judge...
MATTHEWS: OK, this is...
MATTHEWS: Are you suggesting impropriety here, some ex parte relationship between her wealthy family and this sheriff?
SHARPTON: No. What I‘m suggesting is that the...
MATTHEWS: Well, what motive would he have for springing her?
SHARPTON: The question that the sheriff will have to answer to the public...
MATTHEWS: And you.
SHARPTON: ... and I‘m going to raise it, is that wouldn‘t he want the judge who made these specific orders...
MATTHEWS: He said no bracelets, no release.
SHARPTON: ... to review—he said—the judge said no bracelet, no work release, no furlough. Wouldn‘t you want him to see this medical information that you‘ve been given? I mean, why are we having this—like Nicodemus, this hearing in the middle of the night in the sheriff‘s office?
MATTHEWS: This has gotten biblical. Anyway, thank you.
SHARPTON: I mean—I mean, it doesn‘t make sense.
MATTHEWS: You know what (INAUDIBLE) Roy Black, you‘re a great man.
Thank you, sir. And Reverend Sharpton, you‘ve done it again.
BLACK: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You‘ve become the moral arbiter of our country.
MATTHEWS: Are you confident that you can maintain this position for long?
SHARPTON: I was only confident I could keep up with Roy Black tonight.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much.
Up next, my exclusive interview. And this is serious business coming up here. Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking elected woman in the history of this country is going to come on here in a few minutes and talk about her early career as speaker of the House, and she ma well be speaker for years to come.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Nancy Pelosi has made history this year as the first woman speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, second in line to the American presidency. But she‘s also made personal history this year, her 20th year in the U.S. Congress.
I sat down with Speaker Pelosi in her office on Capitol Hill.
MATTHEWS: Madam Speaker, thank you for having us here today.
This is your 20th anniversary in the U.S. Congress. Did you ever think you would get this far, to sit in this room as speaker of the House?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No, I never did. It was never part of the plan. In fact, I thought I would come to Congress and maybe stay here 10 years. And then one thing led to another, and right into the speaker‘s office.
MATTHEWS: What is the secret of your success? You‘re the first woman speaker.
PELOSI: Yes, I wonder—I wonder sometimes when the marble ceiling first began to crack...
PELOSI: ... to enable a woman to become speaker of the House.
Sometimes, I think it is harder to become speaker of the House than for a woman to become president of the United States.
MATTHEWS: Are you a leading indicator?
PELOSI: A leading indicator of?
MATTHEWS: Of the next presidential election.
PELOSI: Well, it would be very exciting.
I‘m so pleased that, in the Democratic field, we have the diversity that we have. And I believe that any one of our candidates would make an excellent president.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the tough fight up here over the war in Iraq. Is that the biggest issue before the people right now, of the American—or American people?
PELOSI: The war in Iraq is. It is the greatest challenge that we have.
I believe it is the biggest ethical issue facing the country, in terms of how we sent our troops to war, how the war has been conducted, and how there is no path to build stability in the Middle East as a result of this war.
MATTHEWS: Was the war wrong?
PELOSI: I have always said it was wrong. I said it was a grotesque mistake.
MATTHEWS: Does the Democratic Party believe that? Is that a party platform that you could fight for next year, that the war in Iraq was a mistake, period?
PELOSI: That isn‘t the issue. Where we all agree is on how the war has been conducted and how we can do better. That‘s where our unity springs from.
And we will have a number of votes between now and September, and, of course, in September, to demonstrate that unity.
MATTHEWS: You‘re in the middle of a crossfire here. You have got the people on the right who support the president, the holdouts on the Republican side, and also Joe Lieberman, a few Democrats. But you have got a lot of people on your left—I don‘t even like the term left—on the anti-war side—who really think the Congress should have stopped this war already.
How do you respond to them?
PELOSI: Oh, I agree with them. I wish Congress could have stopped this war already.
But it does require a presidential signature. And that‘s a reality of life. But what we have done is change the debate on Iraq in our country, in this Congress, and with the president.
The president now, although I didn‘t vote for the bill, does have to answer to the benchmarks in the bill that passed. The Republican—that‘s a Republican resolution, and, so, either is going to have respond or waive. And, in either case, I think he is in very bad shape.
MATTHEWS: Do you think this war will end now because of what you have done? Or do you have to do something to stop is it henceforward?
PELOSI: I think we are on a path to ending the war. I think that we are demonstrating what we are doing, that what we are suggesting, to redeploy the troops out of Iraq, except to fight terrorism, to train the Iraqis to assume more responsibility, to protect our diplomats and our remaining troops there, which requires a much smaller number, is the way to bring stability to the Middle East. And I think that it will gain support.
MATTHEWS: The president says it will be like Korea. We‘re still in Korea, since 1953, more than half-a-century. Are you with him on that?
PELOSI: Well, you know, the president—I hear two things coming out of the White House, both of them with the term—the number 50, that they‘re going to cut the troops by 50 percent in Iraq or we‘re going to be there for 50 years.
We have to cut the troops by much more than 50 percent. And we certainly cannot afford to stay there for 50 years. We just—we are undermining—we are undermining our military strength, our strength to protect America‘s interests wherever they are threatened in the world.
This war has not made our country safer, the region more stable. And it has undermined our military.
MATTHEWS: How do you bring a war to the end—without—to an end -
without endangering the troops? Because, it seems to me, every time you get up close to the issue of funding, you‘re faced, as the leader of this party, with the choice of saying, we‘re going to stop the war and/or, at the same time, risk actually cutting off the ammunition supplies to the troops in the field.
How do you do both? How do you avoid cutting off the ammunition to the troops in the field and end the war at the same time?
PELOSI: Well, what you do is to have a legislation that says that the funds for the troops will be used to redeploy them out of Iraq. And, therefore, you‘re supporting the troops for a different purpose.
MATTHEWS: That means, in the annual appropriation, you have to do that?
MATTHEWS: And you‘re going to do that?
PELOSI: We will see what...
MATTHEWS: You‘re going to get 218 votes to say the money that goes to this war can only be used to redeploy?
PELOSI: The—the day-to-day on this is one thing. We‘re looking a couple months down the road. I think the environment will be quite different, depending on what we hear from General Petraeus...
PELOSI: ... what we hear from the president in response to the Warner resolution with benchmarks. But that is the direction that we would—we would take several actions, redeployment for a—the funding for a purpose, a repeal of the authority of the president to go to war in the first place.
There are many—several different resolutions to that effect. We will most certainly be voting on one of them.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s powerful stuff, Madam Speaker. If you were to say, the only money this president will get, as commander in chief, is to begin to deploy our troops out of Iraq, that‘s—if you can get 218 votes for that, you confront the president with the need to veto a bill.
PELOSI: Well, I don‘t know what the timing will be on that. But that is the direction that we will go in, because you asked the question, how do you support...
PELOSI: ... the troops and end the war?
MATTHEWS: That is the hard argument.
Do you think anything could happen in the Petraeus report that would stop you from that road that you have just described of confrontation?
PELOSI: One thing that—one thing that would not stop us in the Petraeus report is kicking the can down the road again.
In January, when the president made his announcement about the surge, they said they needed 60 to 90 days to demonstrate its effectiveness. Then it turned into six months, now nine months. The—they should be able to make a determination about its success by then.
MATTHEWS: Do you expect the president to be as clear as you want him to be in September, yes or no, this is working or not working, and not to say, give me more, 90 days or 60 more days? Do you expect him to be direct with you in September or to fudge it again?
PELOSI: I can only hope that he would be direct with the American people. Overwhelmingly, they oppose this war. They have lost confidence and faith in the president‘s conduct of the war.
And, every day, our losses mount. So, we have lost so many, 3,500 already, our loss in reputation in the world, undermining of our military strength, and, of course, over a trillion dollars. Of course, the loss of life and injury to our troops is the most significant loss.
But how much longer can this continue?
MATTHEWS: Well, the speaker made some news there, saying that the only money the president is going to get to fight this war in Iraq henceforth is going to be money to help redeploy the troops out of Iraq. That‘s powerful stuff, which will require, at some point, it looks like a veto coming on that one.
We will have more with our interview with the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, coming up in the next couple minutes, including what she says about her relationship—interesting what she‘s going to say about talking to the president in the backroom when nobody else is around.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
VERA GIBBONS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Vera Gibbons with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stock rebounded today, ending three days of heavy losses, that after bond yields retreated from their highest level in five years.
The Dow Jones industrial average surged more than 157 points. The S&P 500 gained almost 17, and the Nasdaq up 32. But, for the week, the Dow lost 244, the S&P down 28, and the Nasdaq down 40.
Oil prices fell amid concerns higher interest rates could slow economic growth and weaken demand. Crude dropped $2.17 in New York, closing at $64.76 a barrel.
Meantime, gasoline futures continue their downward trend, falling another 6.5 cents a gallon.
And America‘s trade deficit dropped sharply in April, as exports rose to a record $129.5 billion.
That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Now more of my interview with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for just a few minutes.
You know, you‘re a strong leader. We have watched that, the way you have controlled the caucus. What‘s it like to sit in a room with the president of the United States from a different party, a different point of view, in the room when it‘s alone, when you get—you catch those moments when people are moving in and out of the room, when you‘re alone with him.
What‘s he like in those moments with you?
PELOSI: The president is a very amiable fellow, I think you know. He is very engaging. And we have a good personal rapport, I think. And—but you would have to ask him.
MATTHEWS: Does he get you? Does he realize how—does he respect women in power?
PELOSI: He does. And one thing, also, about the president, he understands speakership of the House.
He‘s—he always respected my predecessor, Mr. Hastert, and deferred to the speaker. And he does...
MATTHEWS: So, he gets the Constitution?
PELOSI: He understands that, yes.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about—do you—how do you get at—
Hillary Clinton, the senator, has said in her campaign speeches, publicly, she uses the word stubborn to describe him. And it‘s a great word from a male—a female to a male, because men are stubborn. They won‘t ask directions. They drive a different place, they won‘t stop and ask anybody things.
Women say, stop and ask somebody for directions. The men say, no, I‘ll get there.
Is he like that? Is he stubborn like that?
PELOSI: Well, it‘s—really, a judgment about that is about his
public policy. And he certainly has demonstrated a lack of willingness to
to listen, to learn, to change his mind, or to build consensus. It‘s really his idea, and that‘s it.
MATTHEWS: So, if you could bring the smartest expert you could find to question his war policy, and sit that person down with him, he wouldn‘t listen?
PELOSI: Well, I would hope not—I hope that he would. I pray that he would, because, again, his war policy is taking us down a terrible path.
I don‘t know what advice he has received thus far. Maybe he‘s just heard what he wants to hear, in which case, the president is ill-served, and so are the American people. He either doesn‘t know what is happening or doesn‘t understand what is happening. And I would hope that he has gotten the best possible advice up until now.
If he has, it—it certainly is not reflected in the course of the war in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Lyndon Johnson listened to the generals too much. He believed in them, and they told him what he wanted to hear. Is this the wicked cycle we‘re in right now?
PELOSI: I don‘t know. I don‘t know what the generals are telling the president.
I do know that the generals who have retired are saying something quite different. General Odom, as you know, has said that any progress for stability in the Middle East must begin with redeployment out of Iraq. He is not the only one saying that. Certainly, there must be those in the military who...
PELOSI: ... feel free enough to speak to the president.
MATTHEWS: If I‘m lucky to get in here next year and sit with you in the same room, a year from now, next June...
PELOSI: Well, let‘s do that.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s do it. Let‘s make a date.
But will there be 150--some-thousand troops in the field in Iraq then, or will there be substantially less?
PELOSI: I would hope that—I‘m not sure about June, but I would hope that before the end of the summer...
MATTHEWS: Next summer?
PELOSI: ... that—before the end of the summer. We had said March.
Now we‘re saying maybe July, before the end of the summer, that there would be a drastic reduction in troops in Iraq, only those needed to fight terrorism, to train the Iraqis, and to protect our diplomats and our troops who are there.
MATTHEWS: The Democratic Party has gone through changes recently. Under Bill Clinton, he said, “The era of big government is over.” He supported NAFTA. He balanced the budget. It was the New Democratic Party, more of a centrist party.
Is the party going back to the left?
PELOSI: I believe President Clinton was a great president and was part of the—supported the legislation that brought us to those balanced budgets. That has become a central principle for us in the Democratic Party now, no new deficit spending, pay as you go, reduce the deficit.
So, in terms of the budget, which is the major issue here, we are completely in synch with what President Clinton was doing. And, toward the end of his administration, he too moved to a place on trade where labor principles and environmental principles should be included in those trade agreements. And that‘s where the Democratic Party is.
We don‘t want any more government than is necessary, but we want the government we have to have the right priorities and to be fiscally disciplined.
MATTHEWS: Well, there is an assumption that the Democrats will do more on health care, they will find some way to provide national health care for people, whether it‘s direct-payer or single-payer or whatever, some form of insurance, and that they will pay for that by raising taxes, by getting rid of the Bush tax cuts.
Is that a fair prediction of what would happen if the Democrats got control of the White House?
PELOSI: God willing, the Democrats will take control of the White House. We have always said here that raising taxes would not be a first choice for us. We think there are many loopholes and tax breaks that can be...
MATTHEWS: But, to pay for a major health care system, don‘t you need to raise taxes?
PELOSI: Well, to pay for—to—to deal with major health change in our country, we have to—I believe that, even if we had the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, that any solution we go forward with should be bipartisan.
Too many people are involved, too much money is involved, and it has to have the legitimacy, I believe, of bipartisanship. And that‘s what we would strive for.
Until you put everything on the table, and see where you can come out with vastly improving the access to quality health care for all Americans and do it with a public-private, non-profit, individual contribution to how it is paid for.
MATTHEWS: Let me go through some differences between the parties that have come through in these debates, these televised debates, including our own on MSNBC.
Republicans have no problem saying English only as a policy. Democrats don‘t seem to like that idea. Is that a fair distinction between the two parties? Democrats don‘t like making it official for some reason.
PELOSI: Probably—I don‘t know if it‘s a party—but I do know certain elements of the country have a different view. Some of it is geographic, as well as party.
MATTHEWS: Where are you?
PELOSI: Well, I think that we should have English as a common language but ...
MATTHEWS: But not official.
PELOSI: But not official.
MATTHEWS: How about evolution. Were you surprised that this old argument—we all went through Catholic school. The idea of evolution being an issue again.
But here were have the Republicans—and not just Huckabee, Tancredo and another one of the members in these debate have come out and said that they don‘t believe in evolution? Does that surprise you that that‘s become a Republican point of view?
PELOSI: It‘s just so hard to comprehend. Yes, I too did go through Catholic school and I‘m very comfortable with evolution and Athea du Jardin (ph) was my guidepost there. But in this day and age, for people to say they don‘t believe in evolution is a complete rejection of science.
But that‘s typical of what some of the Republicans are doing, in terms of science, whether it‘s with global warming, whether it‘s stem cell research, whether it‘s the education of our children starting much earlier because of what the science tells us.
MATTHEWS: Are they Luddites? Are they anti-science? Are they Neanderthals? How would you describe the ones, because you‘ve run through issues I haven‘t thought of. You‘re right, stem cells; they are against federal funding. They‘re against any belief in evolution. In fact, Huckabee the other night in one of those debates said, if you want to believe we‘re descended from the primates go ahead, but I don‘t have to believe that. And these other issues. And global warming; the president is slow to come around to that. Do you think the party is anti-science?
PELOSI: There are some elements of the party that are anti-science. But as far as the Democrats are concerned, we believe that science matters, whether it is in defense of our country, the growth of our economy through innovation, the care of our children you this understanding how their brains develop through science, and the preservation of the planet, which is based on science. So that is a difference.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re the modern party.
PELOSI: Well, we are the party of truth. Science and faith, I think, have that in common.
MATTHEWS: Good don‘t ask don‘t tell, another area of dichotomy between the two parties with clear division. Your party is very clear for open service for all Americans in our military forces, period, regardless of orientation, period. That‘s it. Republicans still seem to not like that idea. What is that about? Is it values? Is it discrimination? Some people calling it bigotry? What is it?
PELOSI: Well, I don‘t know if your characterization of the entire party, in terms of Democrats and Republicans. I do know that most people that I talk to about this subject agree with General Shale Kaschele (ph), who said this issue should be revisited, that he had supported don‘t ask don‘t tell before.
MATTHEWS: Where are you? Would you like to see open service?
PELOSI: Yes, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Would you carry that in the House, if it came up as a vote?
PELOSI: I don‘t know that it will come up as a vote. I do know that all of our allies have a policy of openness.
MATTHEWS: You can see more of my interview with Speaker Pelosi at 7:00 p.m. tonight and on our website, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
Up next, Carl Bernstein will be here with his new book on Hillary Clinton, “A Woman in Charge.” This is going to be hot. And this is HARDBALL, on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Carl Bernstein has spent the last eight years exhaustively researching the life of Hillary Clinton. The name of the book is “A Woman in Charge.” It‘s a book which many have called the first real biography of Senator Clinton. He has extensively examined her life, including her childhood and education, her marriage to Bill Clinton and her time in the White House as first lady.
Good evening. Thank you for joining us.
CARL BERNSTEIN, “A WOMAN IN CHARGE”: Good to be here.
MATTHEWS: This has been called—I‘ve been looking at the reviews. The “Wall Street Journal” remarkably revealing a model of contemporary biography. You‘re getting good reviews.
BERNSTEIN: It‘s very gratifying.
MATTHEWS: This is the best of the books on Hillary.
BERNSTEIN: I hope so.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, because I am just starting it. It will be
my beach reading. I promise you. This is the kind of stuff I sit on the
sand with. Let me ask you this. Right off the bat, there are some graphic
questions you ask. I‘ve never seen this done before. One of the questions
here‘s how you set it up: those abroad asked Americans they encountered, quote, who is she? Do you like her? Will she become president? Is she gay?
Isn‘t that kind of graphic to ask questions like that right at the beginning of the book?
BERNSTEIN: No, because I say very definitively in the book, because there have been so many salacious things written about her, and all these intonations about being gay; I say there is absolutely no evidence.
MATTHEWS: You looked through all those accusations and realized they‘re groundless.
BERNSTEIN: As far as I can tell. What do I talk about is how she likes men and liked men very much in college.
MATTHEWS: Is she in love with Bill Clinton?
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. I mean this—
MATTHEWS: Despite it all.
BERNSTEIN: Despite it all and vice versa.
MATTHEWS: So it is not just a political deal, as you‘ve been able to assess in eight years. It is not an arrangement, as people call these things.
BERNSTEIN: No, I mean, do they have ambitions? Do they have joint ambitions? Do they have a kind of co-presidency? And now might there be a reverse co-presidency? Though I hardly think there was some 20-year plan, which is kind of preposterous notion.
MATTHEWS: That was the other part. Let‘s try to do some iconic review here, because you‘re the expert; eight years of looking at this. This is a Hillary quote from “The Today Show” back in 1998, when all that story broke about Monica.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Look at the very people who are involved in this. They have popped up in other settings. The great story here, for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it, is this vast right wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. A few journalists have caught on to it and explained it, but it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Talking points. Right? Those were talking points.
BERNSTEIN: She was also right. There was—I don‘t know how vast, but there certainly was a right wing conspiracy. But at the same time, there indeed was a relationship with Monica Lewinsky which she did not believe at the time.
What is really important about Bill Clinton‘s other women is not the relationships themselves. Hillary Clinton recognized she was married to the most talented politician of the age. A lot of people realized it. But she recognized that his sexual compulsions could render him unviable as a politician, and she set out to cover up what was known about those sexual activities, his compulsions, as she put it. And then savaged many of the women. She forgave Bill Clinton on numerous occasions, but not the women.
MATTHEWS: Do people normally do this, as you‘ve discovered or not?
To blame the third party?
BERNSTEIN: Look, it is a great human tale, among other things. It doesn‘t lend itself to easy kind—
MATTHEWS: You‘ve got to answer—This is easy. When she was on TV,
on “The Today Show” with Matt Lauer that morning, and she said—let me
read what you wrote here: “Hillary and Sidney Blumenthal had been
rehearsing that conspiracy comment right up until about ten minutes before
‘The Today Show.‘”
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely, that was premeditated, but it was also based on some fact, indeed.
MATTHEWS: Did she at that point believe that Bill had messed around with Monica? Or did she really believe him?
BERNSTEIN: No, she believed that Monica Lewinsky was a stalker. That‘s what Bill Clinton told her. That‘s what Bill had told Sidney Blumenthal. And she continued to believe it for a good number of months. Somewhere around May or June, Dianne Blair (ph), a great friend, told me that she came to the White House and it was clear to her that Hillary knew something had happened that was inappropriate, but not what, and that Hillary was furious.
MATTHEWS: How did that change their relationship, that whole mess we all went through?
BERNSTEIN: Well, I think there was a period when she really did consider leaving the marriage, at least at some point. Maybe after the end of the presidency. You know, we don‘t know what goes on between two people inside a marriage.
MATTHEWS: You‘ve got some pretty good sources in this book. I‘m impressed. You‘ve got Betsy Wright (ph) to talk. And then those people made her recant some of what she told you.
BERNSTEIN: No, they did not. They made David Marin (ph) -- she recanted some thing she told David Marin. The president‘s lawyer and Dick Morris kind of whooped her over the telephone and made her recant what she had said to David Marin about the trooper procuring women for Clinton.
MATTHEWS: What‘s been their strategy toward this book, the Clinton operation? Has it been to let you sell the book, let the book be sold, but figure they‘re better off not fighting it or fighting it?
BERNSTEIN: It has been to say, oh, this is old news and it is a yawn.
Of course, they said it before they got the book.
BERNSTEIN: I‘ll tell you one thing Carl, you‘re a good guy. Let me show you this picture. Everybody take a look at this picture here. It‘s an amazing picture. This is a beautiful cover. If nothing else, this woman should be happy with the way you present her. It is a gorgeous Hillary Clinton, and she can be quite gorgeous. We‘ll be right back with Carl Bernstein. His book‘s called “A Woman in Charge.” This has your beach chair written all over it. You‘ve got to read this book.
This is everything. I do really think—what I have read of it, and based upon the reviews, not just me; it is a balanced book. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. We‘re back with Carl Bernstein, author of the new book about Hillary Clinton called “A Woman in Charge.” It‘s one hell of a book. It‘s getting great review. Let me quote some things here from—“In Hillary‘s courtship and marriage with Bill Clinton, he was beyond her control when it comes to other women. It wasn‘t his pursuit of extramarital sex, per se, that so riled her, she once said. She had come to view her husband almost as an adolescent when it came to his sexual sensibilities and compulsions, and attributed them to the pathology of his unusual childhood.”
She chalked it up to bad up-bringing.
BERNSTEIN: I don‘t call it bad.
BERNSTEIN: He had no father. There‘s a family history of a lot of sexual compulsion. That‘s what she attributes it. She likes to know a reason for things. She‘s a very logical person. She might not be wrong. Who knows.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Hillary, because a lot of us in journalism have gotten to know her at different levels, and a friend of mine who worked for Rostin Cowsk (ph), the former chairman of the Ways and Means said—I said what‘s he like. He said to me, he‘s got the usual 11 personalities most politicians have.
Hillary Clinton, how many different Hillaries are there after doing all this work on her? There‘s one you meet in a room like this, very charming, very likable.
BERNSTEIN: I think there‘s one personality. I think that it is a very complex one. It‘s a cliche when you say people are complex, and most of them may not be. She is. And there are all these different elements. There‘s the vulnerable Hillary Clinton that is—and that vulnerability is covered over by anger, partly. It‘s covered over by fear. It‘s covered over by many things.
And she‘s learned to live a certain warrior kind of life, in which she‘s, according to many around her, the happiest.
MATTHEWS: She likes the war room environment.
BERNSTEIN: She does—well, I don‘t know if she likes it. She thrives in it. And she‘s really good at it. But she turned around completely, went to the Senate, abandoned that approach. It didn‘t work for her in the White House. She went and made friends with the people who had voted against her husband, you know, for impeachment.
MATTHEWS: We‘ve only got a minute, Carl. Hell of a book, great reviews. But let me ask you to forecast now. What matters to most people is a great tale, because they‘re the most interesting people in the country, maybe, but she‘s got a really good shot at being our next president, at least 50/50 shot at being the next president.
What do you know in here that we ought to know about her presidency if it does come? What can we expect from her that you‘ve been able to figure out that we don‘t know?
BERNSTEIN: That there is a record of not being prepared to do a big job in some ways, as we found with health care. And at the same time, there is remarkable competency, as we‘ve seen in the Senate, in bringing money back to New York. There is a record of being a great and strident advocate, as we saw in the White House and now in the Senate. She‘s been silent on the great national issues of our day.
MATTHEWS: Please come back as you talk about this book over the next several months. Please come back Carl Bernstein. The book‘s called “A Woman in Charge.” We‘ll be back at 7:00 for the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. Right now, it‘s time for “TUCKER.”
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