Guests: Eve Pollard, Christopher Hitchens, Kenneth Blackwell, Patrick Sammon, Craig Crawford, Salena Zito, Ezra Klein
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: It‘s been President Bush‘s week from hell, but it‘s still better than the war in Iraq has been for thousands of soldiers and their families.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to HARDBALL. Tonight:
This is the week the president‘s chickens came home to roost. He put a crony in the job of enforcing the country‘s laws. This week, Alberto Gonzales paid the price. He‘s led a party that‘s proclaimed itself the moral elite. This week, a staunch conservative senator showed the reality behind that guise. He turned a blind eye to the worst natural disaster of memory. This week, the country took one more look at the twilight zone that is today‘s New Orleans.
Next week, we will see for the endless (ph) time that what (ph) Bush promised a good, hard look at the situation in Iraq was just one more build-up of false promise.
The big story tonight: Will Senator Craig resign? He‘s under tremendous political pressure from his party to get this story off the front pages before Congress comes back from recess.
Our second story tonight: She was the “people‘s princess.” And today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana. Diana, a symbol to all women, was a brilliant political strategist, it turns out. She understood the media and used the press to define her image. Diana went to war with the royals. She took on one of the most powerful families in the world, and in many ways, she won. More on the tremendous power of this cultural icon later with “Vanity Fair‘s” Christopher Hitchens and royal watcher Eve Pollard from London.
New reports, by the way, tonight that Republicans are pushing Senator Larry Craig out the door as calls for his resignation turn into a chorus. Today Senate minority leader Mitchell McConnell called Craig‘s actions unbelievable, acknowledged, by the way, that many in his party want Craig to step down.
Is there a place for gay Republicans in the party? Are gay conservatives welcome in the big tent of the Republican Party? How big is that tent? That‘s our HARDBALL debate tonight. It couldn‘t be more relevant.
We begin tonight, however, with HARDBALL‘s David Shuster and this report on this big, bad week in Washington.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even top Republicans said today that for President Bush and his party, this week turned into pure political hell.
SEN. LARRY CRAIG ®, IDAHO: Let me be clear. I am not gay. I never have been gay.
SHUSTER: Larry Craig is a top Bush supporter and a conservative Republican firebrand. He opposed gay rights and was tough on crime, except when he was the one charged in an airport men‘s room.
CRAIG: I‘m a fairly wide guy. I tend to spread my legs when I lower my pants so they won‘t slide.
SGT. DAVE KARSNIA, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE: OK.
SHUSTER: President Bush‘s team refused, which took office promising to restore dignity, refused to take a stand on whether Craig should stay or go. President Bush did speak out this week about his long-time Texas friend Alberto Gonzales after accepting the attorney general‘s resignation.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.
SHUSTER: The politics, however, that fueled the U.S. attorney scandal came from the White House. And three days after Gonzales announced his resignation, the Justice Department‘s inspector general confirmed there is an ongoing internal investigation of Gonzales for his alleged lies to Congress. Is that why Gonzales resigned? The Bush administration refuses to say.
On Wednesday, President Bush marked the anniversary in New Orleans of Hurricane Katrina, but there was no acknowledgement of any mistakes from two years ago, nothing about the government having left people behind, and nothing about an administration that seemed divorced from reality.
BUSH: And Brownie, you‘re doing a heck of a job.
SHUSTER: Instead, Bush simply acknowledged ongoing Gulf Coast challenges.
BUSH: I come telling the folks in this part of the world that we still understand there‘s problems and we‘re still engaged.
SHUSTER: But at that very moment, White House officials were showing off Karl Rove‘s car wrapped in plastic, a prank on the solemn anniversary of a storm that killed 1,800 people.
Thirty-seven hundred U.S. troops have now been killed in Iraq. And with another debate looming in Congress, President Bush this week offered an upbeat assessment of his troop escalation.
BUSH: Those reinforcements have been fully operational for just over two months, yet there are unmistakable signs that our strategy is achieving the objectives we set out.
SHUSTER: But not according to the bipartisan investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office. A draft report says Iraq has failed to meet 15 of 18 military and political benchmarks. The White House response?
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It would be a mistake to limit one‘s view of what goes on in Iraq to the benchmarks.Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to HARDBALL.
SHUSTER: But four months ago...
BUSH: The Iraq Study Group recommended that we hold the Iraqi government to the series of benchmarks for improved security, political reconciliation and governance that the Iraqis have set for themselves. I agree.
SHUSTER: And as damaging as the contradictions and flip-flops have been, now they may only get worse because today the president announced he is losing his most articulate and skillful defender and voice.
BUSH: Tony Snow informed me he‘s leaving, and I sadly accept his desire to leave the White House. And he‘ll do so on September the 14th.
SHUSTER (on camera): That means Tony Snow will not be helping President Bush during the crucial September debate over Iraq, and that debate could be even more challenging than the rough political news the White House had to confront this week.
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David.
Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst. Pat, you‘ve been around, watching these elections and these presidencies as they ebb and flow. This looks like an ebb right now. Everything seems to be going wrong.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there‘s no question about it. It‘s a horrible week. The attorney general is out. I do think the president is better without him because...
MATTHEWS: Without Gonzales?
BUCHANAN: Sure. And the Craig thing is more of a blot on the Republican Party and the Republican Senate...
MATTHEWS: Would you like to see him walk tonight?
BUCHANAN: I think that‘s up to him, Chris. I don‘t think he‘s—he can‘t be an effective senator, in my judgment, but that decision is up to him and his family. But it‘s a personal tragedy and it‘s a blot on the Republican Party, no question about it.
MATTHEWS: Why that? Why the party?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think it‘s a blot on the Republican Party because he is one of those who stood up for the values and standards of the Republican Party on life and on the issue of gay rights. I think those are very high standards. And clearly, if this is true, he fell below those standards and he‘s been an object of abuse and mockery for four or five days. He‘s...
MATTHEWS: Because of hypocrisy.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t believe necessarily hypocrisy. I mean, hypocrisy is someone who preaches morality and then goes out on a regular basis and is—you know, is having affairs with other women and things like that. I think this guy is driven by some kind of compulsion, which has destroyed his family, his life and his career.
MATTHEWS: Well, why did he spend his career trashing gay opportunities, gay rights?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think he...
MATTHEWS: He keeps doing it. He kept doing it on every occasion.
BUCHANAN: Well, I think—Chris, we don‘t believe that homosexual liaison should be elevated to the level of marriage. We think that‘s wrong for society.
MATTHEWS: No, no, no. Let me get down to something more primitive. You‘re very patriotic. You‘re gung-ho. Imagine a gay version of you. And imagine this guy or woman who wants to serve in the military. A guy like this guy would say, I don‘t care what their love of the country is, I don‘t care what their personal skills or desire to serve the country, they are not getting in the military if they‘re gay.
BUCHANAN: Well, here‘s what...
MATTHEWS: And here‘s a guy who, as he votes on the Senate floor, heads back through Minnesota on the way home and regularly—whatever—gets involved in this kind of thing.
BUCHANAN: But look, first, he follows the advice of people like General Pace, who‘s a good Catholic, who said, I‘m for the outlawing of homosexuals on active duty in various places in the military. It‘s bad for morale. Secondly, it‘s consistent with my moral teachings.
MATTHEWS: So he‘s saying he shouldn‘t be in the military?
BUCHANAN: He is saying who...
MATTHEWS: Larry Craig is saying, People like me shouldn‘t be in the military.
BUCHANAN: If it were true that Larry Craig were an active homosexual, he should not be in the barracks. That‘s correct. I don‘t know that that‘s true. See, my point is...
MATTHEWS: But he‘s not voting that way. That‘s the hypocrisy there. He wouldn‘t vote that way. He‘s been consistently voting—well, I guess you‘re right. He‘s been voting against letting him in—this is so crazy. I mean, you got a guy voting against his own right to serve his country. I never heard of anybody doing that.
BUCHANAN: But you know, let me say, there‘s another aspect to this. The Republican Party really is a group that believes in coming down from the hills and shooting their own wounded.
BUCHANAN: Here‘s a guy who‘s been completely (INAUDIBLE) Whatever you say about him, Chris—let‘s say what he did was wrong, it was seedy. Why the—why does he not have a single friend standing by him, even though he made a mistake, even thought it may cost him his career? Why aren‘t his friends...
MATTHEWS: Why are you asking this rhetorically? You know the answer.
Because it looks hypocritical as hell.
BUCHANAN: It doesn‘t look hypocritical to stand behind your—let me look at—let‘s...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me tell you this.
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you this first...
MATTHEWS: Pat, you are one of the greatest rhetoriticians of our life. You spoke down there in Houston in ‘92. I mention this because it was one of the great moments in the Republican Party. You‘re down—great in a certain way. You‘re down there in Houston, talking about the whole Democratic Party “cross dressing.”
BUCHANAN: Well, I...
MATTHEWS: Jean Kirkpatrick in ‘84 referred to the “San Francisco Democrats.” Everybody got the giggle. We all get the giggle. But that puts your party at a higher standard. It has to behave itself...
BUCHANAN: Well, sure...
MATTHEWS: ... in terms of its own notion of values.
BUCHANAN: Well, that‘s why our guy would have to go, whereas if Barney Frank were caught in this, he would not have to leave because the standards of the Democratic Party are entirely different than ours.
MATTHEWS: How so?
BUCHANAN: Ours are—in my judgment, we are pro-life. If someone came out recently and had an abortion, I think it would be a real mark of shame on them.
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re making the same point I‘m making.
BUCHANAN: Well, all right...
MATTHEWS: Larry Craig...
BUCHANAN: Well, people—if people don‘t...
MATTHEWS: Larry Craig says what? He says, I‘m...
MATTHEWS: I‘m pro-family values...
BUCHANAN: Chris, you know...
MATTHEWS: ... and he‘s not.
BUCHANAN: But look—but do you know—first, one—let me make two points. I know you know guys who are probably good family guys, maybe -- and wives and kids and that—got drunk at a Christmas party and got involved with some babe.
BUCHANAN: They‘re not hypocrites, they are sinners.
BUCHANAN: Secondly, the way to handle this, I think—look at LBJ and Walter Jenkins. He didn‘t abandon that man. He took him down. Lady Bird gave him a great job down there.
BUCHANAN: Barry Goldwater stood up, We‘re not touching that.
BUCHANAN: Leave him alone.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the way both sides would have handled it in the old days.
BUCHANAN: And I think the way it‘s been handled here is appalling.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, Larry Craig, we‘ll give him another two weeks as a senator. An issue comes up about gay rights, he votes against them again. What‘s that? Is that hypocrisy?
BUCHANAN: No. I think it‘s—he‘s voting what he believes. He‘s a failed guy who‘s voting what he believes.
MATTHEWS: He‘s voting against people like himself.
BUCHANAN: Well, he‘d be—look, I...
MATTHEWS: I mean, I just never heard of anything like this before. I never heard of a guy, it‘s like he‘s a kamikaze.
BUCHANAN: Well, look—well, here‘s...
MATTHEWS: He‘s a political kamikaze, says, I go to the floor of the House or the floor of the Senate, now I‘m a senator, to vote against people like me.
BUCHANAN: No, he‘s voting against—you know, if he‘s an active homosexual, I could understand how...
MATTHEWS: ... the stupidity of this if you‘re a cultural conservative. I know this is relative, but having men‘s room relationships with anonymous strangers because you put your foot under the stall and you bump it—you don‘t even know what the guy looks like or who he is or anything, as opposed to lifetime relationships between people, whether you accept their orientation or not, who love each other. I mean, the Democrats would say if people love each other and they‘re of the same gender, let them make that call. Let them the state be behind them, if that‘s their—if that‘s their calling, as they feel it. And you‘re defending—you‘re opposed to that.
BUCHANAN: No, no. You‘re—but see, the two homosexuals would be asking their—they‘re imposing something on me. They‘re saying, You must recognize my—our relationship as marriage. And I say, look, my values say no. I mean, if you‘re living in Dupont Circle, that‘s your business.
BUCHANAN: I‘m not recognizing you as married.
MATTHEWS: But this guy apparently uses men‘s rooms for his dating service. I mean, isn‘t that a problem?
BUCHANAN: Of course it‘s a problem! That‘s why...
MATTHEWS: You make it sound like it‘s a foible. Oh, you know, carry on, Senator. Occasionally, he falls, but most of the time, he‘s a good, upright senator.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me ask you, Chris...
MATTHEWS: Come on! Which is it?
BUCHANAN: It‘s disorderly conduct.
MATTHEWS: This is a little bit giddy. I don‘t want to laugh about this because people are what they are. But I think there‘s a hypocrisy problem here.
BUCHANAN: All right, well, you do. But look, this is disorderly conduct. That‘s what he‘s guilty of. Suppose the disorderly conduct was he punched a heckler and him and this guy said, You got him for assault, we‘re reducing it to disorderly conduct. Would all his friends abandon him? They‘re abandoning him because they believe the conduct is immoral, whether they say it is or not. You and I know that.
MATTHEWS: Right. Well...
BUCHANAN: Teddy Kennedy‘s kid—I don‘t know what he did with his car, but sure, it was a misdemeanor.
BUCHANAN: Nobody said, Throw the kid out. They said, you know, Take him somewhere and dry him out and stuff. So what I‘m asking for is hold your standards high. People are going to fall below them. When they do, stand by and...
MATTHEWS: OK. I guess I have to...
MATTHEWS: ... that a lot of people would say—not necessarily that I‘ve thought much about this, but a lot of people would say you are what you are.
BUCHANAN: Well, look...
MATTHEWS: Larry Craig is what he is. Why doesn‘t he recognize the rights of people who are like him?
BUCHANAN: Well, let‘s take two homosexuals living in Dupont Circle.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) protect people‘s rights (INAUDIBLE) his job (INAUDIBLE)
BUCHANAN: I can understand how a homosexual living with another man would say, Look, I agree with the general. They probably shouldn‘t have this in the barracks. It‘s not good for morale. They should be in the CIA...
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) any gay people that believe that gay people shouldn‘t serve their country? Because I‘ve never met anybody like that.
BUCHANAN: Well, there must have been an awful lot of them because...
MATTHEWS: ... person say, I don‘t want to have the right to serve my country?
BUCHANAN: Chris, you‘re talking about whether or not you belong in the barracks or not! You don‘t understand that?
MATTHEWS: Well, back in the ‘40s and before they didn‘t let African-Americans fight in some of these fighting forces...
MATTHEWS: ... and they wanted to do it.
MATTHEWS: And I think a lot of people want to have at least the option...
BUCHANAN: But this...
MATTHEWS: ... of serving their country, and you say people would voluntary give up that right. I don‘t know anybody like that. Pat, have you ever voluntarily given up a right about anything?
BUCHANAN: But look, you—sure, I mean, look...
MATTHEWS: What human rights have you yielded?
BUCHANAN: Well, but you and I are of an age, even if you wanted to join the military, they‘d say, No, you‘re too old. You can‘t be a pilot.
MATTHEWS: That‘s true. That‘s true.
BUCHANAN: There‘s all kinds of rules and regulations that are involved here. And frankly, our entire history, all the generals, the sergeants say, Don‘t have active gays in the barracks!
MATTHEWS: All right. Well...
BUCHANAN: Listen to them!
MATTHEWS: I want to thank you for an unusually vivid argument with you.
MATTHEWS: You are who you are, and I am who I am.
Coming up: Remembering Princess Diana. I think we all loved her. Anyway, the “people‘s princess,” she was called. We‘re going to talk about her and maybe we‘re just going to appreciate the legacy. We‘ll be right back (INAUDIBLE) HARDBALL. Christopher Hitchens and another expert coming in from London who‘s a real royal watcher. This woman took on the royal family.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It was 10 years ago today when Princess Diana killed in that car accident. Today Diana‘s two sons, Will (SIC) and Harry, led a ceremony to remember their mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE HARRY: She will always be remembered for her amazing public work behind the media glare. To us, just two loving children, she was quite simply the best mother in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Diana was more than the best mother in the world. As you just heard, she was the “people‘s princess,” a brilliant media political strategist (INAUDIBLE) a cultural icon for many women.
Eve Pollard is one of the U.K.‘s leading journalists and editors. She edited “The Sunday Mirror” and “The Sunday Express” and covered both Princess Diana‘s wedding and funeral. She joins us now from London. Thank you, Eve. And thank you, of course, Christopher Hitchens. He‘s the author of the bestseller “God Is not Great,” which is always on the top—I think it‘s still on the bestseller list, right?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, AUTHOR, “GOD IS NOT GREAT”: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: It‘s still way up there, and it‘s very well written and very well argued with a fine touch, I just say. It‘s not a nasty book at all.
HITCHENS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Even for believers who may not like the message. Anyway, he writes for “Vanity Fair,” and he‘s brilliant.
Let me ask—let me go to Eve on this. You know, Eve, I didn‘t understand this story until I discovered over at the British embassy here in Washington all those letters from women to the dead Princess Diana the day or so after she was gone, in which I realized that they felt a connection with her that had nothing to do with her glamour. I mean, men may have been obsessed with her beauty, but women saw her as a fellow victim of men. Can you explain that?
EVE POLLARD, FORMER EDITOR, “SUNDAY MIRROR”: Correct.
POLLARD: Well, I think every woman who‘d had a third member in her marriage—remember, Diana said, There were three of us in this marriage and it was rather crowded—every woman who‘d been spurned by a man and every woman who‘d been vulnerable—I mean, Diana was very damaged, I think, by the fact that her mother left her when she was so young. If you remember, she had bulimic problems, other problems.
POLLARD: I think women, actually, who were in the same boat understood Diana and loved her for being so human and so open about all this.
MATTHEWS: It‘s funny, Christopher, they didn‘t envy her simply. I mean, most guys—I hate to speak for the entire gender of ours, but—would have a hard time understanding why a guy like Prince Charles wasn‘t totally infatuated with her, almost her slave, in the sense of her emotions. But apparently, that relationship didn‘t really work at all.
HITCHENS: And he preferred the words...
HITCHENS: ... the three saddest words in the English language.
MATTHEWS: Which are?
HITCHENS: Camilla Parker Bowles.
MATTHEWS: Well, explain.
HITCHENS: Well, he was told by his parents it was—he would have to get married. It was time. He was supposed to produce, they say, rather cynically, an heir and a spare. He hadn‘t been very good at this.
And whether they knew it or not—I think they must have known it—his only real relationship was with, sad to say, the wife of a brother officer very much against regimental and royal etiquette.
HITCHENS: So, some woman had to be made a sacrificial victim for this.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Eve.
Did he fall in love with Lady—Princess Diana at any time, or was it always sort of a formality?
POLLARD: I think, at the very beginning—and I saw them at the very beginning—I think there was a love between them. But they were both so different. And they were both looking for someone who would, as it were, love them.
I mean, he had this very, very strange upbringing, as a member of the royal family, with his mother vanishing off for six months. Her mother had vanished off completely when she was about 4. And they both needed someone to mother them. And neither of them could do this for one another.
And, so, his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles is so different, where she does really look after him in that way, the way that he needed. So, it is not about looks. It is about personalities.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to that—the glamour part. I was reading Alastair Campbell‘s enormous book. Once you put it down, you can‘t pick it up again, 700 pages of whatever, accounting of his relationship with Tony Blair, where I think Blair was working for him. Is that how it worked?
Anyway, here we go here.
MATTHEWS: He is talking about meeting Princess Diana for the first time.
And, Christopher, you met her. I want to know what—your reaction to her.
“Then she is standing there, absolutely, spellbindingly, drop-dead gorgeous, in a way that the millions of photos didn‘t quite get it. There was something about her eyes that went beyond radiance. They looked on to you and were utterly mesmeric—mesmeric. She had perfect skin, and her whole face lit up when she spoke. And there were moments when I had to fight to hear the words, because I‘m just lost in the beauty. And I‘m thinking, how could I have written all those vile things about her?”
MATTHEWS: Of course, that is British journalism.
But there is a hard case this guy, Alastair Campbell, as I understand, totally melting...
MATTHEWS: ... in the presence of this well-known icon.
What was it like to deal with her when you were her?
HITCHENS: Well, on the first occasion I met her, it was absolutely appalling.
I went back and said to my wife—it was just when she came on her post-wedding tour of the United States with her husband. I went back to my wife and said, it was just awful. She looked as if she was a scarecrow. I had never seen anyone so miserable. And I said, I swear—I swear...
MATTHEWS: Anorexia nervosa?
HITCHENS: ... she has got anorexia or bulimia. And all of our profession all that week spent all their ink saying, fairy tale, fairy tale, fairy tale. There was only one story you could write, even if...
MATTHEWS: And you detected a problem?
HITCHENS: ... even when it was right in front of your face.
MATTHEWS: And you saw a...
HITCHENS: They all saw it, too. They all knew as well. They all knew the wedding was phony.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me...
HITCHENS: The thing is this. The thing is this.
MATTHEWS: The wedding was phony?
HITCHENS: She knew, as she was led up that aisle, that he had Camilla Parker Bowles and preferred her. And she tried to back out. The archbishop of Canterbury lied about the whole business.
And what we are looking at is this, is the obscenity of hereditary monarchy...
HITCHENS: ... and the disgusting way in which monarchy demands...
MATTHEWS: You are a republican, right? You‘re against monarchy.
HITCHENS: I‘m very much a republican.
MATTHEWS: Eve, are you a republican or a monarchist?
POLLARD: But, also, she—but...
MATTHEWS: Are you a monarchist? I need to know your position here.
POLLARD: I am only a monarchist just because I don‘t want a politician. I don‘t know that I would want President Blair or even President Thatcher, or—you know, the fact is, because we have the queen, we don‘t have politicians...
HITCHENS: Well, at least you get a say in that. At least you get a say in that.
POLLARD: That‘s true.
HITCHENS: Next thing you know, you are going to get a bat-eared, Muslim-fancying man with no taste in women just because his mother croaked as head of state.
MATTHEWS: Who is that?
HITCHENS: Prince Charles, the principal offender in this case.
POLLARD: Well, I think that his mother might well outlive him.
HITCHENS: It is an appalling situation, that he will become head of the church, head of the state, and head of the armed forces, for no other virtue than having his mother die on him.
MATTHEWS: You know, Eve, it‘s amazing.
We Americans have—we like the royal family, because they are picturesque and they‘re good stories, of course. But, in all my life, I have seen no evidence of blood being any indicator of how a person is going to be.
MATTHEWS: I mean, we have had great presidents like Roosevelt, whose children weren‘t much. We have had people come out of nowhere who were really something, like Lincoln.
I haven‘t seen any regressions on this or any mathematical models to prove it, but I have got no evidence that greatness follows greatness by bloodline.
Why do the Brits still believe in it?
POLLARD: I think the Brits only believe in it because it is the—the least of two evils. I—I genuinely believe that.
And, of course, you get a person like Di, which just changes the whole landscape.
POLLARD: For, wrongly or rightly, she enlivened our lives. She glamorized our lives. And, of course, you heard this morning at the chapel, when Prince William and Prince Harry got out of the car, there was the same sort of roar from the crowd.
POLLARD: So, they are the inheritors of this iconic mantle, whether they like it or not.
MATTHEWS: Are those two people—are you happy with—Christopher, your turn. We only have a little bit.
Are you happy with a royal family that is led by Harry?
HITCHENS: I think the worst thing you could possibly get is the marriage of feudalism and...
MATTHEWS: Which one is the oldest, Harry or William? I don‘t even know.
POLLARD: I neither know nor care.
MATTHEWS: Which one is the oldest, Eve?
POLLARD: William. William is the oldest.
HITCHENS: There are so many royal children.
MATTHEWS: A royal family—a royal family led by William, is that a good thing?
HITCHENS: A real problem with the heredity business is, what do you do with the—the unwanted or unneeded children, who just have to stick around being...
MATTHEWS: Oh, you know what happens to them in your country, your old country?
HITCHENS: ... the dukes and the duchesses and so forth?
MATTHEWS: They become the real heroes, like Winston Churchill, the son of the wrong son.
HITCHENS: Well, yes, but he‘s not—he wasn‘t a hereditary leader.
MATTHEWS: I know, but he was...
HITCHENS: The worst thing you can get is the marriage...
HITCHENS: ... the marriage of or the fusion of feudalism and the hereditary principle with celebrity culture. I mean, nothing could be more vulgar and sinister than that.
MATTHEWS: We prefer the celebrity culture.
HITCHENS: And that is what we have got now.
MATTHEWS: We will take the celebrity culture. We like the Hollywood movie stars that don‘t pretend to be royal.
Anyway, thank you.
MATTHEWS: Christopher, good luck with your book, although it is probably awful to say so. “God Is Not Great” is your book title.
HITCHENS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: It is beautifully written. And people ought to read it to understand what they believe themselves or don‘t believe or what they‘re kidding themselves about. Amazing stuff.
Anyway, Christopher, thank you.
MATTHEWS: And, thank you, Eve Pollard. It is great to have you on the show—Pollard.
Up next—the French pronunciation—up next, today‘s political headlines. Tony Snow and John Warner both are going to get saluted here on HARDBALL.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Here is the news in politics tonight.
Senator Larry Craig will make an announcement tomorrow morning about his future plans. Fellow Republicans have been urging him to resign. So, we will see if he will acquiesce or dig in.
Today in Washington, a pair of fond salutes for us all at HARDBALL.
Tony Snow announced he is leaving the White House. He says his health is good, but he needs to leave to make more money for his family.
Here is President Bush saying thanks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I sadly accept his desire to leave the White House. And he will do so on September the 14th.
He has—it‘s been a joy to watch him spar with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we agree on that.
Tony has no regrets, nor do any of us for being his friend. Good guy, he has been, he is, and he will be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Mr. President, thank you and thanks for the honor of serving.
This job has really been a dream for me and a blast. I have had an enormous amount of fun and satisfaction and I‘m proud to be working for you will continue after I leave working for the White House to speak out about issues I care about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And, as I anticipated last night here on HARDBALL, Virginia‘s great Senator John Warner made it official today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN WARNER ®, VIRGINIA: Everything has gone well, and I want to express my profound appreciation today for all that so many have done for me.
So I thank president Casteen, the director and the board, Governor Baliles, Larry Sabato—Professor Sabato. The two of them suggested that, when this moment came when I made this decision, that I should come at this very spot, which is really hallowed ground for me, and make known to all Virginians, first and foremost, be you a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, all of you have joined these many years to enable this humble soul to have had a magnificent and very rewarding career in the United States Senate.
So, I say that my work and service to Virginia as a senator—and I repeat, my work and service to Virginia as a senator—will conclude upon the 6th of January, 2009, when I finish, as the Constitution of the United States, on the first Tuesday of a new Congress, my career of then 30 years in the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s how to do it right.
Anyway, the Senate and this country needs more people like—Well, what do I have to say? -- more people like that guy.
Up next, the HARDBALL debate: Is there room for gay Republicans in the Republican Party?
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
TRISH REGAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I am Trish Regan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks surged following remarks by President Bush and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Dow Jones industrial average, you can see right there, gained 119 points. S&P 500 was up 16. And the Nasdaq, it gained 31 points.
President Bush responded to this subprime mortgage crisis by outlining a series of policy changes and recommendations to help borrowers avoid default. At the same time, he scolded lenders and investors, saying it is not the government‘s job to bail out speculators.
Meantime, Fed Chairman Bernanke said the Central Bank will—quote—
“act as needed” to prevent the credit crisis from hurting the economy. But he stopped short of saying whether there would be an interest rate cut when Fed policy-makers meet again on September 18.
And the Commerce Department says factory orders rose by a larger-than-expected 3.7 percent in July. The increase follows three months of lackluster gains.
Well, that‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Senator Larry Craig‘s situation, like Mark Foley‘s before, focuses attention on gays in the Republican Party and, more broadly, the party‘s position on gay issues. Senator Craig is planning to announce, by the way, his future plans tomorrow morning.
I—I have got to bet that he is going to pull the plug on his career. But who knows? We will find out tomorrow morning.
Is there a place—our debate tonight, is there a place at the table for gay Republicans?
I‘m joined by Ken Blackwell, who has been on the show so many times. He‘s with the Family Research Council. And Patrick Sammon of the Log Cabin Republicans.
Now, the Log Cabin Republicans, for those who don‘t know, are gay Republicans.
Explain to me why you call it the Log Cabin?
PATRICK SAMMON, PRESIDENT, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Well, it is related to...
SAMMON: ... Lincoln and this...
MATTHEWS: Was Lincoln gay? Is that the argument, or not?
SAMMON: No, I don‘t speculate on the sexual orientation of dead presidents.
But the link is that our party was founded on the basis of equality and liberty for all. And I feel the same way. That‘s how the party should treat...
MATTHEWS: So, you believe that—as a gay Republican, you obviously believe in your right to exist?
SAMMON: Absolutely. I am a good, loyal Republican. I don‘t believe government is the solution to every problem. I believe in limited government, low taxes, strong national defense, personal responsibility, individual freedom, all the things that define the party.
MATTHEWS: And you‘re probably—not to put words in your mouth, but you are probably like a lot of gay entrepreneurs or business people, you know, double-income families, double-income couples, who believe in libertarianism.
MATTHEWS: Less government, the better.
SAMMON: But, at the same time, I say that the Republican Party is not where it needs to be on gay and lesbian issues. They need to become more inclusive in the years ahead, or they are going to end up on the wrong side of history.
SAMMON: These issues are changing quickly. And the Republican Party will—will get better in the years ahead.
MATTHEWS: Ken Blackwell, for the negative, your position, sir?
KENNETH BLACKWELL, FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it‘s not for the negative. It‘s for the—for the positive, Chris.
We are a big tent party. But we do stand for something. We stand for the sanctity of life. We believe in traditional marriage as the union between one man and one woman. But we also agree with those things that Patrick just articulated. We believe in smaller government, lower taxes, a strong defense, and engagement in the international community.
MATTHEWS: Well, where is your difference?
BLACKWELL: Well, the difference...
MATTHEWS: What is your problem with gay Republicans?
BLACKWELL: Well, the difference—you know, let me start out by saying, Chris, I believe, as Rabbi Abraham Heschel used to say, that respect discovers the human dignity of others.
Where we disagree are on some issues. One, like I said, we believe in traditional marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Those who believe in same-sex marriage are at odds with that very basic platform position.
MATTHEWS: Let Patrick respond to that, please.
What is your position on gay marriage?
SAMMON: Well, we are very much in support of—of same-sex marriage. I think it is important that all families are treated equal. And a loving, committed couple deserves the same protections and—and responsibilities that straight couples would get.
Also, it is important to point out, it is not just about marriage. It‘s about employment protections. Does—does Ken Blackwell support employment protections for gay and lesbian people?
Do you think a business should be able to fire someone because of their sexual orientation?
BLACKWELL: Well, look, let me—let me—let me just go back to the issue here.
The issue is, we are a Republican Party because we have a specific platform, where we say what we believe in and what we support and what we advocate. We advocate traditional marriage as a union between one man and one woman. We believe in the sanctity of life. We believe in smaller government, lower taxes.
And there are going to be a host of things that Patrick and I can agree on. There are going to be a host of things perhaps that we disagree on.
But I believe that when you look at those things—just take traditional marriage. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama; they basically say they are for traditional marriage as a union between one man and one woman. So we are not out of the mainstream, as the Republican party, for taking a strong position for traditional marriage. Chris, I don‘t know where you are on that issue?
SAMMON: Chris, Tony Fabrizio (ph), who was Bob Dole‘s pollster in 1996, just did a poll, 43 percent of Republicans believe that there should be civil unions or same-sex marriage. So I don‘t think Ken is speaking accurately about where the entire Republican party—
MATTHEWS: Mr. Blackwell, we have talked so many times. You are a friend of mine. Do you have any hesitation about supporting the rights of gay men and women to have apartments that they want to rent, or to have jobs they want to hold? Do you have any—
BLACKWELL: I have been the undersecretary of HUD, Chris. I have stood for fair housing policies. I believe that no one should be denied their basic human and civil rights because of their sexual orientation.
MATTHEWS: How about the right to serve their country? If they are patriotic and well behaved and observe military code of conduct? If they are willing to live by the code, why can‘t they serve?
BLACKWELL: Chris, I believe in the policy in place, that has been supported by Bill Clinton and George Bush, you know, don‘t ask, don‘t tell.
MATTHEWS: You like a policy because it is backed by Bill Clinton?
That is your good house keeping approval.
BLACKWELL: No. What I said is it is a policy that has bipartisan support.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you—I don‘t get this one thing. If somebody is willing to join the military and live by the code of conduct that everyone has to live by, in terms of sexual behavior or non-behavior, and they follow the rules and they want to salute their flag and risk their lives for their country, just because of how they were born, would you oppose that?
BLACKWELL: Chris, what I just said to you—I told you what I support. I support don‘t ask, don‘t tell. It has been the policy of this country and our military across administrations, both Democrat and Republican.
MATTHEWS: But if everybody figures a person is gay and they say I‘m not, what possible gain is that in society? Why does that dishonesty, that cover up—it makes it you have to be closeted as a national policy if you want to serve your country. Doesn‘t that seem essentially dishonest?
BLACKWELL: Patrick and I are on this show. Patrick is openly gay.
MATTHEWS: Should he be allowed to serve his country?
BLACKWELL: Yes, he should be allowed to serve his country. But, in fact, there are rules and regulations and norms of the military that have been supported by the American society across party lines.
MATTHEWS: Patrick, your response.
SAMMON: Don‘t ask, don‘t tell harms our national security. Every one of our allies, whether it‘s Britain, Germany, France, Israel; they all allow openly gay and lesbian to serve.
MATTHEWS: As part of our salute and oath, we tell people to lie?
SAMMON: Chris, exactly. The first person who was injured in Iraq was actually a gay service member. That just shows that there are gays and lesbians serving our country with distinction. They should be allowed to do so honestly.
MATTHEWS: It is an interesting debate. Thank you very much.
BLACKWELL: It is an interesting debate, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re going to change your mind after tonight. Anyway, Ken Blackwell, thanks for coming on the show. I think you have a more open mind than you are appearing to have here tonight. Patrick, thanks. Have a nice Labor Day weekend, both of you.
U next, our round table on this big, bad week for President Bush.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Before we get into the hot Labor Day there is a lot of hot political news for the HARDBALL panel tonight. Craig Crawford, our friend here, is with the “Congressional Quarterly.” Ezra Klein is with the “American Prospect,” which I believe is a liberal magazine. And, of course, Salena Zito is with the “Pittsburgh Tribune Review” which I believe is a conservative document.
Is that fair?
SALENA ZITO, “PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW”: Our editorial page is conservative, that‘s fair. It is more libertarian actually.
MATTHEWS: A nuance there. First up, Bush‘s personal heat wave.
President Bush is feeling more than just the heat these dog days of summer. He is feeling a political meltdown. His chief political architect, the man known as Bush‘s brain, Rove is gone. His long embattled attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, as of this week is gone. He just resigned with an IG report coming after him.
And today Tony Snow, one of the good guys, of course, we all agree, leaving him—leaving the White House press operation. And, of course, we‘ve got the Larry Craig—let‘s look at Tony Snow for a second.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I ran out of money. A lot of people at home are saying, what do you mean, you make all this money. You know what, I made more money when I was in my previous career, and I made the decision not to say to my wife and kids, we finally saved up all this money and done these things, and you are going to have to give them away so daddy can work at the White House.
We took out a loan when I came to the White House and that loan is now gone. So I‘m going to have to pay the bills. As far as my health, I‘m doing fine. I know a lot of folks have been thinking, oh, come on. It is the cancer. No, cancer has nothing do with this decision.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘ll see. So with President‘s Bush‘s inner circle heading off to the sunset, how will he handle the heat of Iraq. And what‘s to come in September. I want to run through with you Craig Crawford, you politically watcher you—Larry Craig says he wants to make an announcement Saturday morning. What is the thinking behind that? Is that for a little bit of class, a chance to write the speech? Why put it off a day?
CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”: I don‘t know why you would want to call attention to it. Just get it over with, if he is actually resigning. If he is going to make some argument for staying in office, it would make sense.
MATTHEWS: Like Bill Clinton, I‘m staying to protect the constitution, one of those things. Let me go with Salena, what do you think‘s going on? Why tomorrow? Why is Larry Craig giving us one more day of news on this for the Sunday newspapers? What is the point?
ZITO: I think he wants to own the moment. I think he wants to come across as being the one that made this decision and he wasn‘t pressured by everyone.
MATTHEWS: So he doesn‘t want to feel rolled here?
ZITO: Right. I think he wants to make everyone feel like he has made this decision on his own. I think he thinks that‘s better for the voters.
MATTHEWS: There might be some class there in saying everybody back
20, 30 feet. I want to stand here alone like a gentleman and explain this
first of all, he has to explain it to his family if he‘s going to admit it. My hunch is he will deny everything until the end and still quit. I think that is the way to do it. At this point, he is in that far. I don‘t think he can change his plea.
I got to go to Ezra here?
EZRA KLEIN, “THE AMERICAN PROSPECT”: I would love to see it go the opposite way. I would love to see him say I am gay. I have been tortured about this for many, many years. I always have been a good senator for Idaho. I still believe in tax cuts for the rich, corporate welfare, perpetuating a failed war. I‘m going to --
MATTHEWS: And join the Log Cabin Republican club. I don‘t think he‘s going that far.
KLEIN: He won‘t go that far, but I would --
MATTHEWS: That would be ideal. T
CRAWFORD: That would be refreshing. I always thought Foley could have survived.
MATTHEWS: I think these are all problems because they had to deal with local ordinances. I was in a men‘s room in Pennsylvania, the famous one in “Witness,” where Danny Glover was chasing the kid in the movie. There is a big sign on the wall, loiters will be prosecuted. I never even noticed the loitering signs before.
So there are ordinances that have to be enforced. Of course, with regard to the pages, that is always a tricky matter. They are responsibility as parents, basically, for the custody of those kids when they are pages. So that is a tricky matter, and obviously it‘s taboo.
Let me ask you about the Republican party‘s. As it ends this week, has its patina (ph) of family values been tattered this week?
KLEIN: It has been tattered for the last couple of years. We had Mark Foley who was molesting or pressuring pages. We had David Vitter who was engaged in prostitution. We had Larry Craig. How much more can there be?
MATTHEWS: That is only three.
KLEIN: How much more do you need? This is three we found out about from a party that made its electoral strategy off of being a party that doesn‘t do this. How much do you need before you reevaluate whether or not this is how we should be looking at the party?
CRAWFORD: There is this popular rule in journalism, three examples make a trend. It is really probably not a trend because you have three examples. I think the Senate Republicans have handled this well this week. They have moved quickly to distance themselves from him. They stripped him of committee assignments. He may resign.
I actually think, given that there is a full year before the elections, the Republicans have an opportunity to make this about a personal issue and not a party issue.
MATTHEWS: I talked to a gay member of Congress years ago—I‘m very friendly with the guy. I said how many gay members are there in Congress. He said very few, very few. I think they would probably be aware of the situation. Let me ask you, Salena, isn‘t that a fair charge? Before somebody says the whole Republican party is hypocritical, they better have more evidence than three cases? What do you think?
ZITO: Definitely. I don‘t think three cases make a trend, even though that is what journalists say.
MATTHEWS: It fills a column.
ZITO: It sure does.
MATTHEWS: 800 words. You know you can fill a column with three stories.
ZITO: There is that. I think the Republicans were swift to take care of this, not like the Foley-gate situation, where it dragged on and on, and there were questions about who was part, who knew, who didn‘t know. They went in, they took care of business. They gave him some breathing space in order for him to do it on his own. He is going to be gone. It is not a matter of if, it is just when.
MATTHEWS: Tomorrow. We‘ll be right back with our round table in just a moment. You are watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Craig Crawford of the “Congressional Quarterly,” Ezra Klein of the “American Prospect,” and Salena Zito of “the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.” Craig, you are an old political hand, even though you are young. I‘m impressed with how people leave politics, quitting while you are ahead. John Warner could have struggled to put one more term in. He chose not to. Today, he‘s leaving after 30 years in the Senate. And then you have this guy with the problem, Larry Craig, leaving probably tomorrow under a real cloud of shame.
CRAWFORD: I remember Warner finally, because thanks to him I met Elizabeth Taylor. He was married to her at one time. Probably the only I would have met her. Such a voice of reason on this war and the bipartisan nature of how he ran his career. The sad fact is that George Bush didn‘t listen to him. That was very clear in this past week, because he had to go public with his advice for the president, because the president wasn‘t listening to his advice.
MATTHEWS: He is a real military guy. He‘s from Virginia, which is very pro-military, and he‘s a moderate conservative. He‘s a conservative.
CRAWFORD: And old school, civil guy, bipartisan, is lacking in today‘s politics. The kind of collegial personality—
MATTHEWS: He likes everybody.
CRAWFORD: -- many senators say is lacking now.
MATTHEWS: The founding fathers had this guy in mind. Hollywood has this guy in mind. He could play a senator in the movies, this guy. He looks right, but he really is right. I don‘t want to be trivial about this. He‘s a wonderful person.
CRAWFORD: He would be a better Hollywood senator than Fred Thompson.
MATTHEWS: Ezra, are you old enough to know this guy? Have you watched him in his career, how much class he had when he knocked Ollie North out of that race?
KLEIN: He is a classy guy. He has been a voice of reason on the war. But he has not forced the president to go with his judgment. That‘s been one thing—
MATTHEWS: You think the Republicans have dropped the ball on this.
They haven‘t --
KLEIN: I think they have. I think he is a courtly guy. I thought his ending statement had a lot of class.
MATTHEWS: People like Dick Lugar no better. He and Dick Lugar and people like that know better. Salena, what do you think of John Warner?
ZITO: I think he is a great senator. He was the kind of senator that was able to make the tough decisions, reach across the aisle. He appealed to both Republicans and Democrats in his state. There is a lot of respect for Warner in the Senate. He is your classic—he is what the Senate was made for. When you think of him, you think of him working in that atmosphere.
MATTHEWS: Class act. Anyway, I like him. He met my daughter at one of these events, the fifth anniversary of the show, and he said what are you studying. Are you going to be a doctor? What a wonderful way to spend your life. My father was a doctor. He is just a great guy. He lives like a human—the best kind of politician.
There are some great ones. Thank you Salena Zito, thanks for joining us. Ezra Klein, Craig Crawford—what a great name, Craig Crawford. Join us again Tuesday night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Our guests will include Bill Maher. Right now it is time for “TUCKER.”
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