Guests: Carlos Watson, Joe Scarborough, Michael Smerconish; Heidi Harris, David Rivkin, Roger Simon
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Is America Scarborough country?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in New York. Leading off tonight:
Joe Scarborough for president. He‘s written a big book to lead one of the major American political parties into the sunshine. Tonight, he tells us in his own words how he would do it. Does the Republican Party lead with principle or deal with realism? Does it go for the quick comeback or take the count and come back slow but sure? Does it accept the Democratic Party‘s dominance under Barack Obama, or does it go for the early knockout?
These are the big questions we‘re going to put to the man some believe has the answers. As Christopher Buckley wrote today, I‘ve found the new face of the Republican Party, and he‘s talking about Joe Scarborough. So tonight we ask, Can “Morning Joe” bring morning to America?
MATTHEWS: Last night, two of the party‘s stars were on display in Washington—other stars, that is—the former Speaker and possible future president candidate Newt Gingrich, and the biggest GOP star who actually holds an office, Sarah Palin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I also want to thank Governor Palin and Todd for coming tonight and for being part of this.
I felt looking at John McCain and Sarah Palin, this country would have been amazingly better off had they been in the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, if conservatives want to make a comeback, they might want to avoid calling for a boycott of General Motors. That‘s what some conservative radio talk stars say they want their fans to do, stop buying cars from GM and Chrysler. They want those brands to fail because their bail-outs by the government amount to, they say, socialism. Is what‘s bad for GM good for America?
Plus, the CIA is arguing against the release of internal documents that describe in great detail videotaped interrogations of detainees at secret prisons overseas. Just imagine what those documents read like. Well, the CIA says it would endanger national security and help al Qaeda to let those horrid dialogues get into circulation around the world. The ACLU says the public has a right to know what‘s in those dialogues. That‘s our debate tonight.
And could it be that Barack Obama is the best politician in the Middle East? Has he already helped pro-American politicians win in Lebanon? Could he help in Iran this Friday, when he have their elections over there?
We‘ll look at this in the “Politics Fix.”
And when funny man Stephen Colbert took his show to Iraq, he got a cameo from the commander-in-chief and a GI trim by the commander on the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say if Stephen Colbert wants to play soldier, it‘s time to cut that man‘s hair.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: Wait a second! Wait a second!
GEN. RAY ODIERNO, IRAQ FORCES COMMANDER: Sir, is that an order?
OBAMA: General, as your commander-in-chief, I hereby order you to shave that man‘s head!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s in the HARDBALL “Sideshow” tonight.
We start, however, with the man himself, Joe Scarborough, host of
MSNBC‘s “MORNING JOE” and author of the new book “The Last Best Hope:
Restoring Conservatism and America‘s Promise.” Things happen in American politics. They are, in fact, phenomenal, Joe Scarborough. Sometimes lightning strikes. Imagine it strikes you, you have a real shot to be president, not in 10 years, next time. What would you fight for? What would be the positive thing that the Republican Party, should you choose to go that direction, stands for, the positive thing?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”: Well, we‘ve got to stand for reality. We‘ve got to recognize that conservatives for 200 years, since Edmund Burke, were supposed to stand—we‘re supposed to stand for reality. That‘s what Burke said, understand the reality that‘s in front of you. Russell Kirk (ph) said the same thing. You‘ve got to go—you‘ve got to be pragmatic. Bill Buckley, a pragmatic conservative, as well. You know, Ronald Reagan was getting bashed in 1967 by the small government...
SCARBOROUGH: ... conservatives. Buckley said, What do you expect him to do, padlock the treasury and start reading the Liberty Amendment? And that‘s what we‘ve got to do. We conservatives have to look at the political landscape in front of us and deal with it. First of all...
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ve got to be realists. And let‘s start with foreign policy. There is nothing realistic about the Bush foreign policy over the past eight years. You look at George Bush‘s second inaugural address. What did he promise to do? End tyranny across the globe. Peggy Newton called it “mission inebriation.” It was Wilsonian. It was radical. You combine a Wilsonian foreign policy with a Republican president with big government conservatism that‘s not even conservative at all and you‘ve got really a toxic mix that created a political meltdown.
What‘s conservative? What is conservative about getting $155 billion surplus in 2001 and turning it into a $1.5 trillion debt? What‘s conservative about four years of military adventurism? What‘s conservative about adding a $7 trillion debt, $7 trillion debt, to a Medicare program that‘s already being bankrupted? We‘ve got to be realistic. We‘ve got to make tough choices.
And let me tell you Barack, Obama economically is doing no better. In fact, you look at the budgets, you look at the deficits...
SCARBOROUGH: ... unsustainable.
MATTHEWS: So I hear real conservativism from you, Joe. Let me interrupt you.
MATTHEWS: You sound like a conservative. You sound like an Edmund Burke conservative, the limits of American foreign policy, what we can really get done in the world, what we can‘t get done.
MATTHEWS: The limits of what we can spend on or what we can‘t spend on. That sounds like a true conservative.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and it‘s about restraint.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s about realism. And did you hear that great line in Barack Obama‘s Cairo speech? He quoted Thomas Jefferson, and Jefferson said, We are strongest when we use our military troops the least, when we restrain. And that‘s the whole thing.
We‘re going to get another chance. You and I both know it. This country‘s going to come back, but when we come back, we‘ve got to show restraint. We‘ve got to save. Our people are saving now. Our savings rate‘s gone from 0 percent in September up to 5 percent now. The federal government needs to do the same thing, and Republicans and Democrats alike need to start conserving.
Also on the environment. There is nothing conservative about a country that has 4 percent of the world‘s population and spends 25 percent of its energy resources. That‘s just stupid economically, it‘s stupid environmentally, and it‘s stupid when it comes to foreign policy. Because who does that help? Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Putin, you name it. We‘ve got to conserve. And you know what? There are a lot of conservative Democrats. I don‘t know if this is with a little “C” or a big “C.” But I talk to a lot of Democrats who agree with me, regardless of ideology, we‘ve got to go back to the first principles.
MATTHEWS: Well, it sounds like you‘ve learned a lot. I mean, politics is a learning experience. So let me ask you what you‘ve learned from the Bush administration, George W. What have you developed in your thinking as a conservative that you would not have been able to explain as you just did? In other words, how is your ideas come about? It sounds like...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ve learned...
MATTHEWS: ... you don‘t think they‘ve been great in terms of the direction of the country the last eight years.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, I‘ve learned a couple different things. I learned in 1995 and 1996 the importance of temperament. I came in a very angry guy in 1994. I gave a lot of speeches about Bill Clinton in ‘95 and ‘96 that I wish I could take back. By the time I started going on your show in ‘97, I think my wife had supplied me with enough Valium to keep me relaxed. I‘m joking! But I had calmed down a little bit. I had leveled out.
What I learned, unfortunately, during the Bush years was that Republican leaders in Washington, D.C., were no different from Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C. When they got that power, they wanted to keep that power.
Remember my last book? I wrote it in 2004. It‘s called “Rome Wasn‘t Burned in a Day.” I predicted in that book if Republicans kept spending as recklessly as they did, they would wreck their majority and destroy this economy.
And what I found out was I soon became a stranger in a strange land. Republicans would be enraged with me publicly while they privately would come whisper to me, going, I can‘t believe this guy Bush. What I found, unfortunately, was that Republicans and Democrats alike—I mean, I had always criticized the Democrats in the 1990s...
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: ... for blindly following Bill Clinton. I found out Republicans were doing the same thing.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about federalism. I read the book.
MATTHEWS: And I want to ask you about federalism because a lot of conservatives—you say restrain foreign policy, restrain spending. I think that‘s good, sound...
MATTHEWS: ... definitional conservatism. Who makes big decisions? You said in your book, rather toughly, the government should stay out of the boardroom, stay out of the bedroom. Well, let‘s bring it down to cases, OK? Who should have decided the 2000 presidential election, the federal government, the Supreme Court, or the Florida government? Who should have decided that? That‘s a federalism issue. Who should have decided that, the federal government, as it did, or should it have been left to Florida, your state? Federalism issue.
SCARBOROUGH: That is a federalism issue. It‘s also a court issue...
MATTHEWS: Where do you come down?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I think that‘s up to the Supreme Court.
MATTHEWS: Well, where would you come down, if you‘d been a—you‘re a federalist. You say states should make these decision. I‘ll run through a number of issues. The Schiavo case—should that have stayed at the state level?
SCARBOROUGH: It should...
MATTHEWS: Should abortion be decided at the state level?
SCARBOROUGH: Schiavo should have stayed at the state level.
MATTHEWS: Abortion rights.
SCARBOROUGH: Abortion—abortion rights...
MATTHEWS: Should that be at the local, state level or not?
SCARBOROUGH: Abortion should stay at the state level. Gay marriage should stay at the state level. And this is the argument I make here...
MATTHEWS: OK, once you get to that state level—I don‘t want you to dodge the issue...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m not.
MATTHEWS: No because this is a tough—as a conservative, the principle of subsidiarity...
MATTHEWS: ... which is to keep it at the localest (ph) level as possible...
MATTHEWS: But once you get to that local level, where are you? Are you for outlawing abortion if you get to vote in a state?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that‘s my vote. It‘s irrelevant. It‘s irrelevant, and let me tell you...
MATTHEWS: No, no, no. I‘m asking, are you...
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, no...
MATTHEWS: ... are you—as a conservative...
MATTHEWS: ... out of the bedroom or in the bedroom?
SCARBOROUGH: Here‘s the deal. I am...
MATTHEWS: You said you‘re out of the bedroom.
SCARBOROUGH: I am—in Florida, I am pro-life. I would also vote...
MATTHEWS: But you said you want to keep government out of the bedroom. It‘s in the book.
SCARBOROUGH: But hold on, though. I‘m talking about the federal government here. This isn‘t—this is a discussion about federalism. My views, my personal views—and this is going to offend people on the right and the left. But my personal views on gay marriage, on abortion, on all of these other issues really shouldn‘t matter if I‘m talking about the federal government.
What I‘m saying is this. It‘s a very simple message. If we want—and you‘re going to talk about General Motors. If we conservatives say we don‘t want the federal government involved in General Motors, we don‘t want the federal government involved in banks, we don‘t want the federal government involved in Wall Street, we don‘t want the federal government involved in nationalizing health care, how do we turn around and say, Hey, let‘s ban abortion nationwide? Hey, why don‘t we ban gay marriage nationwide?
I‘m talking about a constitutional consistency. And again, this will sound shocking to a lot of conservatives. But in Washington, D.C., on the federal level, guess what? I think we should be agnostic on those social issues. Let me ask you, what—and I tell you—and you—you read the story in the book. I‘m still trying to figure out what two gay guys doing in Vermont have to do with my marriage in Florida. And I said at a town hall meeting...
MATTHEWS: What about two gay guys in Florida?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that‘s a little bit closer to home.
MATTHEWS: What I don‘t understand...
SCARBOROUGH: Let me explain this first, OK?
MATTHEWS: I just want to know what a conservative is.
SCARBOROUGH: You want to bring it to a state level, but—but...
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s where we live.
SCARBOROUGH: My question is this...
MATTHEWS: We live in the states.
SCARBOROUGH: Why is it that everybody wants to nationalize every issue? I‘m saying, leave it up to the individual states.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
SCARBOROUGH: And I said...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ve said this before. What do two guys in Des Moines have to do with me in Florida?
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you, a 22-year-old trying to decide what political party to join. They feel they‘re libertarian. They are libertarian.
SCARBOROUGH: Most are.
MATTHEWS: I mean, should they...
MATTHEWS: Should they feel safe in the Republican Party if the Republican Party supports a state decision to outlaw abortion, if they support a state decision to outlay gay marriage?
MATTHEWS: Should they feel comfortable in that party as conservatives?
SCARBOROUGH: I mean...
MATTHEWS: If it gets involved in that part of our lives.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s—that‘s up to them. Again, what I‘m looking at...
MATTHEWS: What do you think?
SCARBOROUGH: What I‘m looking at in this book is—I‘ll tell you right now...
SCARBOROUGH: If I‘m a 22-year-old and I‘m a libertarian, I‘m scared of both parties. And I‘m scared of both parties because when they get in power, what do they both do? At least over the past 10 years, they grow the federal government.
MATTHEWS: All right. OK. I‘m just trying to find out, Joe Scarborough, in Scarborough country...
MATTHEWS: ... is abortion legal or not?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that...
MATTHEWS: In Scarborough country.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s up to the individual state!
MATTHEWS: No, in your individual case. Are you for or against it?
MATTHEWS: Outlawed. Should it be outlawed?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, again, that‘s up to me...
MATTHEWS: OK, but...
SCARBOROUGH: ... in the voting booth.
MATTHEWS: It‘s up to you—no, it‘s up to you here. You‘re in the voting booth. You‘re in a public—I said if you‘re running for president.
MATTHEWS: I started off this thing, if you‘re running for president, you got to tell us your views.
SCARBOROUGH: Here‘s the deal. I‘ll make a deal for you...
MATTHEWS: I just want your views!
SCARBOROUGH: If I run for Senate or president...
MATTHEWS: You‘ll tell us your views.
SCARBOROUGH: ... I will tell what you I‘m telling you right now. If I decide to run for governor in Florida, then I will tell you if I‘m going to ban gay marriage or if I‘m going to ban abortion.
MATTHEWS: But until then?
SCARBOROUGH: Why should I?
MATTHEWS: Well, because you wrote a book and I‘m saying...
SCARBOROUGH: I wrote...
MATTHEWS: ... you could be president tomorrow...
MATTHEWS: Chris Buckley said you could be president and you won‘t tell me where you stand on the hottest...
MATTHEWS: OK. Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. You see this book? These columns right here, these columns are columns in Washington, D.C., and not Tallahassee, Florida.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
MATTHEWS: What page does it tell me your positions on these issues we‘ve been talking about?
MATTHEWS: On same-sex marriage.
SCARBOROUGH: I say very clearly I‘m pro-life.
MATTHEWS: OK, where are you on same-sex?
SCARBOROUGH: I say—I say very clearly I...
MATTHEWS: You would outlaw abortion in the state of Florida, for example.
SCARBOROUGH: No. You‘re obsessed with Florida.
MATTHEWS: I‘m asking because that‘s where you‘re from, isn‘t it?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but I‘m talking on the national level, Chris!
MATTHEWS: Where do you vote? Where do you vote, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: We need to get the...
MATTHEWS: Where do you vote, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: We need to get the next governor of the state of Florida to come here and talk to you.
MATTHEWS: I know. Look, I think you‘re going to be a senator...
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re missing—no, no. This is—this is a very important point to make, OK?
MATTHEWS: OK. Right.
SCARBOROUGH: A very important point to make. When I was in Congress, I voted pro-life.
SCARBOROUGH: I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act despite...
MATTHEWS: At the federal level.
SCARBOROUGH: ... despite its stupid name. But the Defense of Marriage Act said, basically, my position, let Vermont decide what Vermont wants to do. Let Florida decide what Florida wants to do.
SCARBOROUGH: Again, I‘m not getting into it because, again, I think the reason why Republicans are losing in New England, I think the reason why Republicans are disconnected from great chunks of the country is because we‘ve been talking about social issues. How are you for a smaller government and the message that‘s getting out is you want to ban abortions or that you want to stop people from being married...
SCARBOROUGH: ... if people in Vermont or California or Massachusetts want to get married? More and more Americans are becoming libertarian. And what you‘re going to find is...
MATTHEWS: But a libertarian would be pro-choice and for same-sex marriage. That‘s the conflict in your party between this arbitrary notion of what‘s moral and what‘s not moral, and the freedom of individuals to make those decisions.
SCARBOROUGH: You keep going back to that. What I‘m saying is that the federal government needs to be guided, whenever practical...
SCARBOROUGH: ... it doesn‘t always work—by the 10th Amendment which says if it‘s not in the Constitution, leave it to the states...
SCARBOROUGH: ... and leave it to the people.
MATTHEWS: States‘ rights.
SCARBOROUGH: And again, we‘ve been talking now for about four minutes about abortion and gay marriage. You know...
MATTHEWS: No, the definition of a conservative is what we‘re trying to get to.
SCARBOROUGH: But the thing is, though, Chris, I‘m in Washington, D.C., and when I was in Washington, I probably cast thousands of votes. Maybe 0.002 percent of those votes had to do with abortion and gay marriage.
SCARBOROUGH: Very few of them did, and yet that‘s what everybody seemed to be obsessed with.
MATTHEWS: You know how I get obsessed with this issue?
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? You know what...
MATTHEWS: Because in this book...
MATTHEWS: ... it says the government should stay out of the boardroom and stay out of the bedroom.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what got me caught up on this.
SCARBOROUGH: Right. Well, and I agree. The federal government should do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Let the states decide.
SCARBOROUGH: And again, what I believe personally on this issue for Washington, D.C., just doesn‘t matter. It really doesn‘t. And again, I‘m not dodging the issue. You can look. I was 100 percent pro-life ratings.
SCARBOROUGH: I was—I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, all these other issues. But what I‘m saying in this book is Republican...
MATTHEWS: It‘s a great book.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ve got to get...
MATTHEWS: You know what I like about this book? It raises all the hot issues, like this one we‘re talking about. What is a libertarian? What is a true conservative? You started off this discussion—I want to recap for you...
MATTHEWS: I‘ll let you do it. Restraint in foreign policy...
MATTHEWS: ... real limitations of what we can do, a true realism about fiscal potential of this government...
MATTHEWS: ... not overspending and not overextending. That‘s what a true Edmund Burke conservative is.
SCARBOROUGH: And in chapter five, “Social conservatism in the 21st century,” not...
MATTHEWS: OK, we got to go.
SCARBOROUGH: ... no obsessing over social issues.
MATTHEWS: The book is called...
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s not how Republicans win.
MATTHEWS: And he will not obsess nor even reveal these positions. Anyway, “The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America‘s Promise,” a beautiful jacket covering a book that, according to Christopher Buckley, one of the most literate people of our time, is a true face of the Republican Party.
Coming up: Some big-name conservatives are calling for a boycott, a boycott not of this book, but of General Motors. They say buying a GM car supports President Obama‘s policies and they want the president to fail. But what about American workers, tens of thousands of them paying taxes? They won‘t have jobs if these talk show jocks win. Could they possibly be less patriotic? Well, that debate is coming up.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Voices on the right are calling for a GM boycott. In fact, a boycott of Chrysler as well, encouraging people not to buy their cards because since Obama took control of the country, companies are so-called “socialist companies.”
Will this work, this boycott?
Heidi Harris is a radio talk show host who‘s for the boycott, I believe, but I‘ll let her speak for herself. Michael Smerconish is a radio talk show host who I believe is against this boycott. He‘s of course author of “Morning Drive.”
I‘m going to let you two people speak for yourselves because you‘re very good at that.
Heidi, there is a cause out there. It‘s being pushed by Hugh Hewitt and given some sympathy, I think, from Rush Limbaugh.
Here‘s what Hugh Hewitt wrote on June 1st in a column: “I won‘t buy a socialist car, which means I won‘t be buying a GM or Chrysler car for as long as the U.S. government buys huge blocks of those companies. Buy Ford. Buy Toyota. But anything that isn‘t owned and operated by the federal government.”
Is that your view or your sympathy? And if so, explain.
HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, absolutely, I think it‘s my view. The other day I talked to someone on my show and I got a ton of phone calls from people, listeners, most of whom felt the same way I do.
It‘s not that I have anything against GM cars, or I question the quality of GM cars. But the reality is they‘re a bankrupt company. And there‘s no reason the federal government should be involved at all in trying to bolster them.
I‘m not buying a car from the government. I‘m not going to reward Obama and his administration for trying to keep GM alive and just put off their inevitable death. So that‘s my feeling.
I don‘t tell my listeners what to do. They can make their own decisions, of course. But I wouldn‘t do it for that reason alone.
MATTHEWS: Michael Smerconish, your view?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: In the early Reagan ‘80s, I remember going out and buying a Chrysler deliberately because I wanted to be supportive of not only the Reagan years, but also of Lee Iacocca in particular. And how far we‘ve moved that now people have such hatriolic feelings for the president of the United States, a very small percentage of Americans, that they wish to see these auto manufacturers fail because they believe it would bode well for the president if they were to succeed.
Chris, carry this to its logical conclusion. If this boycott were successful, and if GM were to fail, then the next step would be liquidation. And what would that mean? That the taxpayers would never be reimbursed for those monies that have been put into the auto—it‘s lunacy to me. It makes no sense.
HARRIS: Oh. Look, first of all, Chrysler got a loan which they paid back.
It‘s an entirely different thing.
GM and Chrysler have gotten money, money, money down the drain. They have not been able to recover even though we‘ve given them billions of dollars. They‘re not going to be able to recover.
And last I checked, the government doesn‘t run anything well. So they‘re not going to be able to run any kind of car manufacturing.
It‘s a big mistake. We just need to let it die.
Those GM workers can get jobs at other auto manufacturing plants. You know, there are other places you can work. And they can adapt like, you know, people who used to make typewriters and word processors, and, you know, those kind of things. You adapt to a changing climate.
It‘s not the end of the world.
MATTHEWS: Michael, look, I‘m looking at the numbers. There are 88,000 North American jobs at GM, 38,500 at Chrysler.
Would those jobs be replaceable? Would they be able to go out on the street and get other jobs in the auto industry?
SMERCONISH: Chris, I wish the federal government were not involved in this bailout. There are two distinctly different issues that are being blended together here.
The fact of the matter is, that the time for debate has come and gone. This is the path that we‘re now on. And I think it‘s incumbent upon all of us to be supportive of the administration, because this movement is about nothing other than trying to undermine the president of the United States, lest there be some success on his watch.
It‘s that same mindset of folks who said—and you know who we‘re talking about—that they‘d like to see him fail. I just don‘t understand that. The stakes are too high.
Look, I‘d like to see us out of Iraq, but I want our soldiers to succeed while they‘re involved in that mission. I mean, you‘ve got to be supportive of America first and not your political ideology.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Heidi.
Before we get back, let‘s took a look at the Rasmussen poll. It was done in early June and asked, “To protect bailouts, should Americans boycott General Motors and refuse to buy General Motors cars?”
Well, you come up on the short end here, Heidi. Seventeen percent say yes, boycott it; 67, two-thirds, say don‘t do it, support those auto companies.
I‘m just asking you, shouldn‘t the smart consumer be a good capitalist and see what the best car is and buy that? I mean, shouldn‘t we—if we believe in capitalism, which we all do, ultimately, buy the best car? That‘s how it works.
HARRIS: That‘s an excellent question, and I‘m not questioning, once again, whether or not GM makes quality cars. I know they have a lot of models that are excellent.
But I‘m also looking besides the obvious point, that I don‘t think the government has any business in the car industry, besides that, how much value is my GM car going to have in a couple years? Because I don‘t know what the service is going to be like. I don‘t know what the resale value is going to be look. What if I buy one and in two years I want to sell it or trade it in? Nobody wants to buy it because they‘re even less certain.
See, I want to know when we turn the spigot off. They‘re talking—some people say it‘s going to be $90 billion we‘ve dropped into GM before it‘s over with.
HARRIS: I don‘t know what the final number is. Tell me the final number. I don‘t believe me buying a car from GM is going to fix the industry. So that‘s another part of the issue.
MATTHEWS: So here is the issue—I want you to start, Mike, and then Heidi the same question, because this is a philosophical question.
Do we let those companies die that can‘t make it? Are we basically tough, hard-nosed? If you can‘t make it in the market, you‘re going down. That‘s just the way it is whether you‘re a newspaper, a TV station, whatever you are, a football team. If you can‘t make it, you‘re going to down.
Is that your view, Michael? I don‘t think it is. I think it‘s Heidi‘s view. She‘s for the tough rock and roll of American capitalism. You don‘t agree with that.
SMERCONISH: I don‘t agree with it in certain instances, and the banks would be one of those instances. Heidi and I actually have some common ground relative to whether the bailout should have taken place to begin with, with these auto manufacturers.
But once we‘re pursuing that path, I think it necessitates that we all be supportive of it. That‘s what I‘m trying to say.
And now to say that 17 percent—you know what I find interesting, Chris? That‘s within the margin of error of 21 percent. Twenty-one percent, those who are left in the Republican base.
That‘s what this is all about. It‘s a gimmick to play to the base. I can‘t imagine that people are really cheering for American jobs to be lost and for GM to fail. Come on.
MATTHEWS: Are you accusing a fellow talk jock of manipulating public opinion to get numbers up?
He‘s actually saying to you, Heidi, that you don‘t believe this, you‘re just doing it to hype things.
HARRIS: Yes. I don‘t do anything for effect. But I‘ve got to tell you that, listen, I don‘t want to see anybody in GM lose their job. I don‘t want to see anybody in my business lose their job, in television, anybody. I see people in all industries—real estate agents, casino people. I don‘t like to see it, but I can‘t save them by continuing to pour government into all those corporations.
MATTHEWS: OK. One last. One last.
There‘s a nationalist argument against you, Heidi. I will give it. I don‘t always take this position, but it is very nationalistic.
The reason we won World War II against the bad guys was that we were able to transform American capital, heavy industry, to the war industries of building airplanes and tanks and guns, and we could do it overnight because we had a heavy industry.
What happens when we don‘t have a heavy industry? What happens when we don‘t have an auto industry, it‘s all foreign owned? Would we have that same ability to mobilize?
Yes or no, Heidi?
HARRIS: Well, that‘s an excellent question. Other people have brought it up in the past, too. But why did we sell Hummer to China? I would be more concerned about that than I would be with GM.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think we‘re on the same page. We may want to have that hot line that we could turn to good causes. In other words, making weapons.
Anyway, Heidi, thank you. I knew I could get to your good side by talking weapons. Thank you, Heidi Harris.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I‘m just kidding. I agree with you.
Michael Smerconish, as always you‘re looking out for the Average Joe. I was looking out for Joe Scarborough a few minutes ago.
Up next, Steve Colbert takes his show to Iraq. And the commander—how do you get the commander in chief to show up on your show? He showed up on this guy‘s show.
And, by the way, he also got a GI haircut for—I guess that‘s the price that Colbert had to pay. You‘re going to see him get a trim here, a buzz.
That‘s next in the “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First up, Stephen Colbert gets a GI trim. The host of “The Colbert Report” broadcast from Baghdad last night using one of Saddam Hussein‘s old palaces as his studio and soldiers for his audience.
Here he is with the CO himself, General Ray Odierno.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. RAY ODIERNO, COMMANDING GENERAL, MULTINATIONAL FORCES, IRAQ: If you really want to be in the military, you‘re going to have to get your hair cut like these guys out here.
STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: Frankly, Sir, it‘s going to take more than a four-star general to get me to cut my hair.
Jimmy—Jimmy, what‘s going on?
BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Excuse me, General.
ODIERNO: Mr. President, welcome, Sir.
OBAMA: I overheard your conversation about Stephen‘s hair.
COLBERT: Wait a second. You overheard? Are your spy satellites really that good?
OBAMA: No, but my ears are really that big.
OBAMA: Now, as a man who understands the appeal of a close crop, I say if Stephen Colbert wants to play soldier, it‘s time to cut that man‘s hair.
COLBERT: Wait a second. Wait a second.
Sir, is that an order?
OBAMA: General, as the commander in chief, I hereby order you to shave that man‘s head.
ODIERNO: Thank you, Mr. President.
COLBERT: Hey. Now, wait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And here he is, head fully shorn. There are a few things that make me—well, a few things that make me happier than seeing Americans like Colbert, who‘s a good guy, actually, showing that they care about our people at the front.
Up next, CIA Director Leon Panetta says releasing those Bush-era torture documents would help al Qaeda and hurt our national security. Is he right, or do Americans deserve to know the details about the Bush administration‘s approval of those enhanced interrogation techniques, as Cheney calls them?
That debate is a hot one and it‘s straight ahead.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The CIA is arguing against the release of documents that detail videotaped interrogations of detainees at secret prisons around the world. The CIA says disclosures of those internal records would jeopardize national security and help al Qaeda‘s recruitment efforts, but the ACLU says the public has a right to know how harsh those interrogation methods were and how they were applied during the Bush administration.
So, should—that‘s our debate tonight—should the CIA documents be declassified?
Jameel Jaffer is the director of the ACLU‘s National Security Project and is counsel in this case. And David Rivkin has been on the show before. He served in the Justice Department in the Reagan administration, was associate White House counsel for the first President Bush.
So, I want—well, let me ask David Rivkin. Make the case right now why these documents should not be released. They tell what we do under—obviously due to prisoners under duress. They have dialogue which must be horrifying because you hear basically probably begging for mercy and being demanded—information being demanded of them.
It must be excruciating. It must be like a James Bond scene.
Your thoughts, David?
DAVID RIVKIN, FMR. REAGAN JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think—thank you, Chris. I think Mr. Panetta put it best in his judgment, and I think in judgment of other national security officials, release of these documents is going to enhance al Qaeda recruitment, is going to cause additional danger to our soldiers.
What‘s ironic to me is people like Jameel and others have been arguing for years that these types of activities are actually bad for our image and have all these deleterious consequences, and yet here they‘re pushing for evermore detail, seemingly oblivious to the public—I have no doubt that they would learn—let‘s stipulate, they learn something more from these documents above and beyond what we already know. The question is, is it worth the price of additional danger to our soldiers?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Jameel. Should we see—or, rather, they‘ll be dramatized if we get the dialogue, because probably they‘ll dramatize them. Should we see dramatic evidence of torture on the world stage? Is that good for America, dramatic evidence of people begging for mercy, of CIA agents torturing people? Do we want that? What do you want?
LAFFER: That‘s not what we‘re asking for. What we‘re asking for is information about the implementation of the techniques themselves. In fact we‘ve carved out what the CIA calls intelligence information, information relating the questions that the CIA interrogator asked or the answers that the detainees provide. That‘s not what we‘re asking for here.
What we‘re asking for is information about how these so-called enhanced interrogation methods were actually implemented in practice. The reason we‘re asking for those documents is that we already know that interrogators exceeded even the very broad authority that they were given in those Office of Legal Council memos. We already know that they violated those sweeping authorities that they were provided by the OLC.
So we want to know, what‘s the full scope of the Bush administration‘s torture program? And we think the public has a right to see those documents.
MATTHEWS: David, it sounds like they want general information. I‘m not sure what exactly is at stake here. You tell me what you believe should be protected. Are you arguing we should be protected from knowing general information about what was sought from people and what they came over with, in terms of enhanced interrogation successes? Or do you think they‘re trying to get out the dialogue of what happened in these torture chambers?
RIVKIN: Let‘s be honest here, whether you agree with the characterization of what went on as torture, what they‘re trying to do is they‘re trying to make it as vivid, as sensationalist as possible. And it‘s going to have additional levels of danger, above and beyond the danger caused by the—took place.
Don‘t take my word for it, Chris. We‘re talking about the Obama officials who are reaching the same conclusion as the Bush administration officials. Therefore, on a bipartisan basis, they‘ve got some credibility.
Let me also say this, as far as this notion that the CIA has exceeded the bounds of authority given to them by OLC, first of all, it‘s an allegation.
MATTHEWS: It‘s an allegation—
RIVKIN: Forgive me, the special council in the Department of Justice, a career prosecutor, highly respected, was really down on this as part of investigation the destruction of tapes. Do you really think in our system of government the only way truth can come out and justice be done is for ACLU—
JAFFER: That‘s highly misleading. First of all, the Justice Department investigation is into the destruction of the tapes, and not all the underlying techniques. There is no investigation into the techniques themselves.
Secondly, the reason we want—it‘s not just an allegation that interrogators exceeded authority. It‘s the inspector general, the CIA‘s own inspector general, that has said that interrogators exceeded authority. Given that they exceeded authority, we think that the public has a right to know how far did those interrogators go? We already know that they put prisoners in cells where they were stripped naked. They were slammed into walls. They were—in some cases, they were beaten. That‘s all in the Red Cross report.
And yet, the inspector general says that the CIA interrogators went even further than the Office of Legal Counsel authorized them to go. We think that the public has a right to know exactly how far they went.
RIVKIN: Can I mention one thing? Jameel, you know very well that the independent investigation at Justice is looking at whether or not there was criminal intent in destroying the tapes. To the extent that the CIA officials have exceeded the bounds of the legally permissible interrogations techniques, that clearly would go to their state of mind. So let‘s be honest.
MATTHEWS: I want to get to one issue, gentlemen, I want to stay on that issue. Should we get information in great vivid detail, sensational detail, as to exactly what it‘s like that we tortured these people. Jameel, I want you to explain. Do you want the information about the torture released? Do you want accounts of the torture released? Do you want tapes of the torture? What do you want to get out?
JAFFER: The tapes themselves have been destroyed.
MATTHEWS: Is there transcripts available?
JAFFER: That‘s right. There are transcript—
MATTHEWS: You‘d like to get the transcripts released.
JAFFER: Parts of the transcripts. We‘re not asking for those parts of the transcripts in which the interrogators ask questions, or the detainees answer questions. There are parts of the transcripts and parts of other documents in which the interrogations, meaning the techniques themselves, are reproduced and described. That‘s what we want. We want to know what does it mean in practice that a prisoner was water boarded by the CIA? What does it mean in practice that a prisoner had his face slapped by the CIA or was beaten by the CIA?
MATTHEWS: David, is that sensational, what he is asking for?
RIVKIN: Of course it is.
MATTHEWS: How is it sensational?
RIVKIN: The reason it‘s sensational is the CIA‘s position in both transcripts. He‘s saying I want portions of the transcripts. The CIA‘s position and DOJ‘s position is it‘s also integrated. You can not sever a piece of it without it being incomprehensible.
Look, what he really wants is to drag this whole exercise through the mud, yet again, completely oblivious—I have no doubt that he wants to create additional public outcry. Let‘s grant that. But what he‘s oblivious to are the costs, the real costs. In this context, you have to balance different public policy imperatives. There‘s no balancing here. It‘s release everything, show everything, be vivid, be sensational.
JAFFER: Right? I think I‘ve already made clear that we‘re not asking for the release of everything. Insofar as there is a cost, I agree that there‘s a danger that this kind of information can be used as propaganda. But I think that that argument goes too far, because there are all kinds of things that can be used as propaganda. Any news article about Guantanamo or about the torture program itself can be used as propaganda.
If we‘re going to give the government the authority to suppress information on the grounds that it could be used as propaganda, then we‘re going to have to give it the authority to suppress much more than this.
MATTHEWS: I think you gentlemen have done a good job of explaining your positions. I think the public watching tonight have to balance these things, as we all do, the right to know against potential retaliation overseas for too much vivid detail. Then again, these are tough questions. I‘m not sure where I stand.
Jameel Jaffer, thank you. David Rivkin, as always. Up next, will Newt Gingrich be the one to lead the Republicans, God help us, back to the promised land? I‘m not sure he looks right for the part. We‘ll see. Will Sarah Palin? This is pretty much a sad short list, isn‘t it? We‘ll be taking somebody completely different. I‘m looking for somebody new, myself. Remaking the Republican party, who is new wine and old barrels here. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. Time for the politics fix with cNBC‘s—actually, MSNBC‘s Carlos Watson, and the “Politico‘s” Roger Simon.
I got to start with Roger. Let me start with Carlos, the new guy here. Carlos, what do you make of the Republican comeback right now? Sometimes, I think in boxing they say, stay down for an eight count, don‘t get up too fast. Give yourself some time. But some people in the Republican party want to come back fast, knock out Barack Obama early, and somehow resume the Republican reign of the last 40 years.
Let me ask you this, is Newt Gingrich a logical contender for that role? Here he is last night. Let‘s take a look at him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER: Let me be clear, I am not a citizen of the world. I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous. There is, in fact, no circumstance under which I would like to be a citizen of North Korea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba or Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Boy, that‘s gutsy, isn‘t it. That‘s a gutsy, gutsy move. That‘s right up there with Freedom Fries, that sort of xenophobia, anti-world mentality. If that‘s going to lead the Republican party out of the wilderness, maybe they should stay in the wilderness. He looks like the enemy.
CARLOS WATSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: I‘ll tell you what, a good friend of mine called this “The Lord of The Flies” period, where you‘ve got people running around, doing and saying crazy things that they may not do during better times. I think the reality, though, is that although Rush Limbaugh and Newt jumped the shark, if you will, particularly during the Sotomayor thing, I think we‘re already moving to a different phase of Republican revival, where you start hearing from more editorial columnists, even authors, like our own Joe Scarborough, who you had on.
I think all of this ultimately segues to this fall. This fall, I think there‘s an opportunity for Mitt Romney, who has been laying low, kind of being quiet, like you recommended, for Jeb Bush, maybe for Tim Pawlenty, a few other folks who aren‘t right now in Washington, to step forward and say, you know what, there‘s a new vision; there‘s a new way to go.
MATTHEWS: You believe Jeb Bush is really in the on-deck circle?
You‘re the only guy I know who believes that, the only guy.
WATSON: I‘m the only guy who‘s going to end up being right about this.
MATTHEWS: You would be.
WATSON: I certainly would be. Here‘s the opportunity, in my mind: I don‘t think Jeb Bush steps up any time before 2010. I think he lets all what‘s going on now happen. I think he allows a whole new series of elections. Just like his brother—remember when his brother emerged, it was shortly after the ‘98 mid-term election. That‘s when W stepped forward and had a new brand offer, right, compassionate conservative.
You‘re going to see Jeb step forward and say, look, I can do better on the economy. I can also give you education, health care—
MATTHEWS: I love your thinking about “Lord of the Flies.” Last night, piggie had the conch. What do you think, Roger? What do you think of Newt Gingrich? He‘s so memphastoplean (ph) looking. It‘s hard for me to imagine he‘s going to be the leader of anyone, even the Lord of the Flies.
ROGER SIMON, “POLITICO”: I think on one level, Newt Gingrich would make a terrific candidate. He is very smart. He‘s a good talker. I think he would do very well in a debate with President Obama. On another level, though, he—
MATTHEWS: A human level?
SIMON: No, on a level as a campaigner. On another level, he‘s got more baggage than Samsonite. I don‘t think he wants to run. I think he wants the attention, but I don‘t think he wants to go back and re-explore his past, either on a personal level or legislative level. I don‘t think he wants to revisit the government shut-down, or not getting a better seat on Air Force One.
There‘s a lot of stuff that you don‘t have to deal with if you‘re just making speeches and going on talk shows.
MATTHEWS: Doesn‘t anybody in the Republican party remember why he‘s not speaker of the House anymore, Carlos? Is the memory so short? Is it national ADD, where nobody remembers why this guy was bounced by his own party on a variety of reasons, for a variety of reasons?
WATSON: Remember, this is that no rules period right now. This is where all the teachers have left and gone home early, and the kids are running around the playground doing whatever they want to do. I think the moment‘s going to come when some new candidates get elected in 2010 or some people get re-elected, which I think will be important.
Actually, this is going to be odd, Chris, but here‘s another one I‘m going to call early. If Meg Whitman wins out there in California, which is still tough—she‘s got a lot of work to do—I bet immediately you start hearing people talk about her. They‘re that desperate, that hungry for serious candidates. Whether or not she will become a presidential candidate, she‘ll become one of the four or five faces of the party.
MATTHEWS: If you throw enough of these Hail Mary passes, one of them is going to get completed. Anyway, Carlos, stay with us. Stay with us, Roger. We‘re right back to talk about overseas. Talk about citizen of the world. Maybe Barack Obama does have some clout out there, because we just finally won an election in the Middle East. Our side won in Lebanon. When‘s the last time that happened? And it may have something to do with that speech our guy gave in Cairo. I mean America‘s guy. Back with HARDBALL in a minute.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Carlos Watson and Roger Simon. We all heard that cheap shot from Newt Gingrich about Barack Obama, our president, being a citizen of the world. I don‘t even know what that means exactly, except we are all Earthlings, to some extent, even Newt Gingrich.
let me go to Roger about the influence, however, of our president overseas. He did give an international speech with an international audience intended. That was the Cairo speech to the Islamic world. Within days, the more conservative pro-western forces in Lebanon were elected over the Hezbollah-backed forces, supported by Syria. Connection?
SIMON: Yes, I think they really—the president may have taken some air out of the anti-American balloon in the Mideast. He made the speech in Cairo. Before that, he had a town meeting in Ankara, Turkey that was very important. I think if you‘re a young voter in these countries, in Lebanon this weekend, Friday in Iran, an extremely important election, you don‘t necessarily view America the same way.
Even though Ahmadinejad, who is running for re-election in Iran, marches around saying, death to America; if you‘re a young Iranian, the revolution was 30 years ago. You don‘t even remember America being the great Satan, being your enemy. You look upon Barack Obama as a much more appealing figure than any American president in your memory has been.
MATTHEWS: OK, gentlemen, thank you, Carlos Watson. Thank you, Roger Simon. Join me again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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