Guests: Sharon Epperson, Rod Blagojevich, Bob Walker, Joe Trippi,Lynn Sweet, David Corn, Joe Trippi, Bob Walker, Marsha Blackburn, Barbara Lee
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The governor speaks.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews back in Washington. Leading off tonight: B-Rod plays HARDBALL. That‘s right, is Rod Blagojevich at the plate? A home game for HARDBALL. Let‘s see how the former governor from Illinois does on the road. He insists he‘s only done what all politicians do, but tonight, we‘ll ask the questions about what he wanted for Barack Obama‘s Senate seat. B-Rod now on deck at the top of the show.
Also: Just say no apology. Joe Wilson of South Carolina spoke on the House floor today, but he did not do what Democrats are demanding, apologize for his “You Lie” outburst last week. Let‘s be clear. What Wilson did is against House rules. You cannot attack someone‘s motives or person on the House floor. House Democrats are drafting a resolution of disapproval that could be introduced as early as tomorrow. It also could make him a martyr, of course, to some folks and give the Republicans a new talking point.
And what‘s behind the boiling anger that so many conservatives feel for President Obama, tens of thousands who came out this weekend in Washington, some carrying signs with ugly messages like, “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy,” and this one, “Hitler gave good speeches, too”? Yes, this crowd is angry about bail-outs and stimulus plans and the federal deficit. But could there be another factor involved? Could there be, in some cases, in some of those protesters‘ minds, a refusal to accept the legitimacy of Barack Obama‘s president because of his race? Could be. That‘s in our hot debate tonight.
Plus, a new “Washington Post”/ABC News poll has some hot news. It shows the support among liberal Democrats for health care reform barely moves if the public option is removed. So why are some liberals drawing a line in the sand over that issue? It‘s only a 4-point issue, according to the poll. It‘s all the votes (ph) he‘d lose on the liberal left side if he doesn‘t have the public option.
And guess who just won an Emmy for her impression of Sarah Palin?
Here‘s a hint.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY POEHLER, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”: I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.
TINA FEY, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”: And I can see Russia from my house!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s actually the first time we ever heard that, I think.
We begin with former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Governor Blagojevich, thank you for joining us.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: Hi, Chris. How are you?
MATTHEWS: You wrote in your new book something I found fascinating. I worked as administrative assistant to the Speaker for all those years, and I know a little bit about the House, as you do as a former member. You wrote in your book that Rahm Emanuel, the now top guy in the White House with the president, chief of staff to the president, told you that his lawyer thought there was a way where the governor, you, might be able to make an appointment to fill his seat. Explain.
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, Rahm and I had a conversation shortly after the election where we talked about whether I had the power to appoint a congressman, like I did a senator. I told him I didn‘t think I did, that I would talk to my lawyers. He felt that I did. He expressed an interest in having someone appointed by me. And then I was surprised he was even going to take the job as the president‘s chief of staff because I envisioned for Rahm one day becoming Speaker of the House.
And so I wrote about that conversation in the book and I wrote about the rest of the conversation, which dealt with some of the decisions and options I had when it came to picking a United States senator.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is what I find incredible, Governor. I find it incredible. And I mean that literally. That Rahm Emanuel, a leader in the House, would be so wrong about the American Constitution in a conversation with you that he would think that he could find some legal means by which an appointment could be made to the House of Representatives, when the Constitution is crystal clear, as I think you know, that everyone elected to the House must be elected. There‘s never, in the history of this country, since the republic was formed, anyone ever appointed to the House.
So why did you have a conversation about appointment to the House when you were a member of Congress, he was a member of Congress, and you both must have known there‘s no such thing as appointment to the House?
MATTHEWS: What were you talking about? What kind of conversation was this?
BLAGOJEVICH: This was a good conversation, an appropriate conversation, and nothing appropriate about it. I think you‘re giving both Rahm and me too much credit. It‘s not like we know the constitution Backwards and forwards without talking to lawyers. I didn‘t think I had the power. He thought I might.
He also thought there could be a way where we can find, through legal ways, a creative approach to the issue. It turned out that it wasn‘t there. And there was nothing at all inappropriate with that conversation. And then we continued the conversation about some of the options I had and some of my thoughts about who would be a good senator for Illinois.
MATTHEWS: OK. You‘re going to swear under oath—you‘re going to swear under oath if this comes up when the U.S. attorney goes after you—you‘re going to swear under oath that Rahm Emanuel talked to you about having you find a place-saver for him by appointment. You‘re going to swear that under oath, that he had that proposal to make to you.
BLAGOJEVICH: This was a telephone conversation that he and I had had on my home telephone. Neither one of us knew that those telephones were tapped or bugged, and I‘m prevented, because there‘s a court order that prevents me from telling you what‘s on those taped conversations. I wish I could.
BLAGOJEVICH: But no, that‘s a truthful story. And of course it is.
Why would I make something like that up?
MATTHEWS: So in your book—no, I‘m just going by your book, Governor. You say in the book, quote, “Rahm told me”—it isn‘t about the tapes. “Rahm told me that his lawyers thought there was a way where the governor might be able to make an appointment.”
I found it astounding that you gentlemen thought—in this history of this country, nobody‘s ever been appointed to the House, and you‘re talking about dealing on a House seat that the public has a right to elect and you‘re talking about appointing it. Now, you—just the last time I‘m going to ask you this. Rahm Emanuel asked you to appoint somebody to this seat.
BLAGOJEVICH: Rahm Emanuel and I talked about...
MATTHEWS: Appoint somebody to your seat.
BLAGOJEVICH: We talked about...
MATTHEWS: To his seat.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... the possibility of whether or not I‘d be prepared to help him with a recommendation that he had. And yes, that is, in fact, true. I did not have the power, and therefore, we did not do it. And we also talked in detail about other potential candidates for the Senate seat. There was nothing inappropriate on my part, nor on his part. And it was a perfectly appropriate discussion to explore options, and we talked to our lawyers, which is what you‘re supposed to do when you do things like this.
MATTHEWS: OK. It makes Rahm Emanuel sound like a moron. I don‘t think he‘s a moron.
BLAGOJEVICH: No, I think he‘s a very impressive guy, and that‘s—that‘s...
MATTHEWS: Well, how could he think, as a leader of the House, you can make an appointment to the seat, when he knows it‘s an elective seat?
BLAGOJEVICH: You know, I‘m sure Franklin Roosevelt didn‘t know, Chris, that he had the ability to be able to go around the Congress and provide lend-lease. I‘m sure he had to problem have his lawyers help him work through something so he could actually do the right thing and protect Britain from the Nazis.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me just read the Constitution, since you didn‘t read it when you were a congressman. “When vacancies happen in the representation from any state, the executive authority therefore shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.” It‘s called an election. Let me ask you about this...
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, my lawyer was right, and that‘s what I told him. I said I didn‘t think I had that power, and it turned out that my lawyer was right.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about what you think is in and out in terms of the law here, not just the Constitution, because it seems like there was a confusion about the Constitution here. What do you think is a fair deal? Forget the tapes for a minute. What‘s a fair deal to basically trade the president‘s Senate seat? I mean, can you legally trade it, do you think, when you were governor, for a job somewhere for you out in the private sector? Do you think you could trade it for a cabinet post? What would be legal?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, that‘s a very good question. And when you have conversations along those lines, if you did, I mean, those are the sorts of things you want to make sure you talk to your lawyers about. I will say that I explored a variety of different options. You know, of course, I could have made myself a United States senator. I saw you in LA at the Governor Schwarzenegger environmental...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... green program that I was very interested in working on. I teased you about moving to Illinois and becoming...
MATTHEWS: I know you did.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... a United States senator.
MATTHEWS: I thought that was quite comical. But go ahead.
BLAGOJEVICH: Yes. And there was discussions on my conversations—you know, some of them were serious, some of them were not so serious. And a lot of them explored a bunch of different ideas, and I wanted to have an open mind about all of the different options. I ended up with a decision, and I gave a direction to pick my political nemesis‘s daughter because in exchange for that, we could pass a public works bill that would put 500,000 people to work...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... expand health care to 50,000, 300,000 people who didn‘t have it. And I wanted a written guarantee. And I raised taxes on people...
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, you say that‘s legal.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you this. Because what you said to me out there was—I said, Who are you going to pick for that Senate seat? And you said, Well, if you get some residence in Illinois, I‘ll make you the senator. Of course, that was a joke.
MATTHEWS: But let me ask you about this. You were quoted—and you can‘t talk about the tapes...
MATTHEWS: ... But when you were talking about these deals with your deputy there, you‘re talking about, you know, Can‘t put it in writing. If you know it‘s legal to trade this Senate seat that Barack Obama gave up to become president—if you know it‘s legal, why would you tell somebody not to put it in writing?
BLAGOJEVICH: I‘m not sure what—I‘m not sure that I know what you‘re referring to. Put what in writing?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at it now. Here‘s more from the criminal complaint. “On October—on November 4, 2008, deputy governor A suggested putting together a list of things that Rod Blagojevich would accept in exchange for Barack Obama‘s Senate seat. Rod Blagojevich responded that the list, quote, “Can‘t be in writing.”
Now, why would you tell your deputy not to put a list in writing of possible deals you could make if you believed they were legal?
MATTHEWS: In other words, if you could trade for a cabinet post, an ambassadorship or a job at the SEIU?
BLAGOJEVICH: No. Well, as you know, there was a deputy governor who suggested that. My concern was I didn‘t want anything leaking to the press. I didn‘t want anybody to think who the potential candidates were that we were privately discussing, what other considerations might be involved. I was working—ultimately had decided to make a decision...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... to pick a senator who would do the most good for the people of Illinois. I put aside personal aversion to the pick because I thought he could do the most good -- 500,000 jobs, health care, no taxes. I gave that direction, Chris, the morning before I was arrested. I did it over the telephone. And it‘s a peculiar coincidence that the next morning, I was taken away from my job and prevented from seeing that political—routine political deal come to fruition.
Rahm Emanuel was the person who had talked to us about working through this. He‘s a guy who knows how to get things done. He‘s somebody I wanted to help us execute that routine political deal for the best interests of the people. And there is a real divide here.
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.
BLAGOJEVICH: The prosecutor said “crime spree before it happened.” That‘s a mutilation of the truth. The truth is just the opposite. It was about jobs and health care and no taxes on people.
MATTHEWS: So basically, as your bottom line, it‘s OK to trade the president‘s Senate seat for a job for you in the private sector, a job for you in the cabinet. Is that your belief, that that‘s fair?
BLAGOJEVICH: I‘m not saying that at all. I‘m telling...
MATTHEWS: That it‘s legal.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... you that the decision I made...
MATTHEWS: Well, why don‘t you say it one way or the other?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, you asked me...
MATTHEWS: You asked not to put it in writing. Is it honest or not, what you did?
BLAGOJEVICH: It‘s the sort of thing you‘d ask your lawyer about. And before I did anything along those lines or decided to do anything along those lines, it‘s the sort of thing you consult your lawyer about.
MATTHEWS: OK. I get you.
MATTHEWS: So in other words, you were just sort of—you‘re just sort of gaming it with your AA or your top guy, saying, Do you think we could do this? Could we do this? In other words, a lot of people believe you shouldn‘t be prosecuting for simply, you know, blue-skying possibilities. Is that your—is that your defense, that you were just blue-skying possible deals you could get in exchange for giving out what you called a really expensive piece of property, this Senate seat?
BLAGOJEVICH: Chris, I think you‘ve got a lot of that right, actually. Yes, look, part of good government—and I strongly believe this. We did a lot of good things for people in Illinois because I was able to think outside the box and have encouraged staffers and others who are a lot smarter than me to give me options and consider different scenarios. Because you consider them, some of them might be smart, some may be stupid, some you can‘t do.
BLAGOJEVICH: But you don‘t even go to the next direction until you check with your lawyers and make sure you do it right.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. It sounds like your defense. Let me ask you about...
MATTHEWS: I‘m going by your book because I read—in your book, you talk about Scooter Libby, who was, of course, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. And Scooter went away. He got five convictions on felonies for lying under oath and obstruction of justice. You say he was basically railroaded, right? That‘s your argument in the book.
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, no. My point is that he was—he was scrutinized for a long time on a lot of other things that ultimately nothing came of. And then they ultimately caught him. Unfortunately, he didn‘t tell the truth, and that‘s what he ultimately was prosecuted on...
MATTHEWS: Well, was he...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... and convicted on.
MATTHEWS: The president thought he had a fair trial, Governor, because the president wouldn‘t give him a pardon. The president commuted but he did not give him a pardon because he thought there was justice there. Is that your—you disagree with the president...
MATTHEWS: ... George Bush?
BLAGOJEVICH: No, no, no. No, the president commuted his sentence. The point I‘m making in the book is that there was a pursuit of him in the substance of the things that they were pursuing. He didn‘t do those things wrong, evidently. And what he was ultimately held culpable for was not telling the truth and preventing the truth from being heard.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me just read from your book. “For years, federal prosecutors targeted Scooter Libby. They pursued him and accused him of obstruction of justice and of making untrue statements to the FBI and of lying before a grand jury. Notwithstanding where their investigation led, they were determined to get him. It got to the point where it didn‘t matter what the truth was.”
Well, are you sticking with that? Because the truth was, he lied under oath. He said he found out about Valerie Wilson from Tim Russert when he found out about it, obviously, from the vice president, his boss. Why do you say the truth didn‘t matter, when apparently, the truth is what brought him down?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, my point is, and the point I‘m trying to make in the book, is that once there‘s a focus and there‘s a target on somebody, it‘s almost like a runaway train. And sooner or later, they‘re going to try to get you on something. And I can‘t speak to the details on what Scooter Libby...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... did or didn‘t say that was truthful or not. He‘s obviously been found culpable of that. My point is, that‘s not what began that investigation of him. They looked at other things, and ultimately, they rested on this. They got something. And the point I‘m making is whether it was Martha Stewart or Scooter Libby...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... it wasn‘t the substance of what they initially were pursuing him on.
MATTHEWS: Are you an innocent man?
BLAGOJEVICH: Very much so, and I‘ve been a wronged man, Chris. I never, ever intended to sell a Senate seat for financial gain. When the prosecutor said he was stopping a crime spree before it happened, that prosecutor mutilated the truth. I was conducting politics to get the most done for the people of Illinois.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but...
BLAGOJEVICH: And the truth...
MATTHEWS: OK, that‘s the problem.
BLAGOJEVICH: And the truth is...
MATTHEWS: We‘re just going in a circle here, Governor.
BLAGOJEVICH: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: You‘re just going in a circle.
MATTHEWS: Because you said you did nothing wrong. But two minutes ago, you said you didn‘t know if it was wrong or not.
BLAGOJEVICH: No, no. I‘m not...
MATTHEWS: You said you didn‘t know whether it was wrong to trade the seat for a cabinet post. You didn‘t know whether it was wrong to trade it for an SEIU post with a labor union. You didn‘t know it was wrong before you did it. You said you were going to later check with your lawyers about whether you were going to do it or not. But on the tapes, you‘re heard talking about doing it. And now you‘re saying with absolute cocksuredness...
MATTHEWS: ... you didn‘t do anything wrong...
BLAGOJEVICH: You are missing...
MATTHEWS: ... and you told me a couple minutes ago you didn‘t know it was wrong or not.
BLAGOJEVICH: No, hold on a minute.
MATTHEWS: What is it?
BLAGOJEVICH: You didn‘t ask me whether or not a routine political deal that would invest in public works, expand health care and have a guarantee not to raise taxes through a legislative process, whether that was legal...
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m talking about the cabinet post.
BLAGOJEVICH: That‘s real and that‘s good government.
MATTHEWS: No, no. I‘m asking—OK...
BLAGOJEVICH: That is legal. And that‘s what I was doing.
MATTHEWS: Was it legal to trade for a cabinet post, legal to speculate about trading for a cabinet post, legal to speculate about getting an ambassadorship or a job with a labor union, SEIU? Was that legal?
BLAGOJEVICH: Again, if you‘re talking about ideas along those lines, it‘s the sort of thing you would check with your lawyer about before you took the next step and actually tried to do something about it.
MATTHEWS: So you don‘t know whether it was wrong or not.
BLAGOJEVICH: I never reached a decision to do anything along those lines. I told you what the decision was.
BLAGOJEVICH: The tapes will tell you what it is. I‘m going to be confirmed on what I‘m saying because there are taped conversations. I‘ve advocated they all be heard. My accuser, who took snippets of conversations out of context, has gone to court and is preventing me to tell you exactly what those tapes say in their full and proper context. The story is upside-down. You should hear the tapes. I should be allowed to tell you what‘s on those tapes. The tapes will tell you the full story.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let‘s see what the jury thinks. Thank you very much, Governor Blagojevich, for coming on HARDBALL. Good luck with your book.
BLAGOJEVICH: Yes. Right.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Congressman Joe Wilson says he‘s done apologizing for the “You lie” outburst during President Obama‘s address to Congress last week. Wilson broke House rules, so should the Democrats force him to apologize on the floor of the House or pass a resolution?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. the reform—the reforms I‘m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
REP. JOE WILSON ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!
OBAMA: Not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That outburst set off a chain reaction that stands now with the House whip drafting a resolution of disapproval that could be introduced as early as Tuesday, tomorrow. Leading Republicans criticized Wilson for the outburst, and former McCain campaign staffer and Republican media consultant Mark McKinnon said, quote, “Unfortunately, right now, the Democrats generally get defined by President Obama, and Republicans, who have no clear leadership, get defined by crackpots.”
Did Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina bring the town hall mentality to Congress last week? Joining me is Democratic strategist Joe Trippi and former Republican leader and expert on parliamentary rules Bob Walker. You are the new H.R. Gross. I grew up with you working in the House. You know the rules, Mr. Walker, better than anybody I know. I was told and learned the hard way with Tip, you can‘t make an ad hominem remark on the floor. You can‘t attack another person‘s being, who they are, their motive. It has to be about policy. Your thoughts. Did Joe Wilson cross the line?
BOB WALKER ®, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Yes. What he did was entirely inappropriate. The president addresses joint sessions, and it is done at the courtesy of the House. And this was a discourteous kind of thing, and Wilson should have apologized to the president, which he did. It was an entirely inappropriate thing to do.
MATTHEWS: And that apology was in the form of a call to Rahm Emanuel
aforementioned in the last segment by Rod Blagojevich...
MATTHEWS: ... where he said, The leadership told me to call and apologize, so I‘ve done it, damn it, basically. That‘s an apology.
WALKER: Well, I mean...
MATTHEWS: He didn‘t say, Damn it. I said that...
WALKER: The president accepted the apology. Rahm has accepted the apology. He also said he called Vice President Biden, who he knows...
WALKER: ... and said he apologized.
WALKER: And so, I mean, I think, as it‘s rolled out, he‘s understood that that‘s something that shouldn‘t have been done.
MATTHEWS: So, it‘s over as far as you‘re concerned.
MATTHEWS: Joe Trippi, let‘s listen to Mr. Wilson, Congressman Wilson from South Carolina. Here he is talking about it further.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”)
REP. JOE WILSON ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: I am not going to apologize again. I apologized to the president on Wednesday night. I was advised then that, thank you. Now let‘s get on to a civil discussion of the issues.
But I have apologized one time. The apology was accepted by the president, by the vice president, who I know. I am not apologizing again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And here is the president on “60 Minutes” the other night being asked about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “60 MINUTES”)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that Congressman Wilson should be rebuked? There was talk about that today, and now he is claiming that he is a victim, that he is being attacked.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, but, see, this is part of what happens. I mean, it just—it becomes a big circus, instead of us focusing on health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joe Trippi, I don‘t know about this one, because I think that—and I don‘t know Mr. Wilson. I respect anybody who gets elected to the House. It‘s a hell of an achievement. I think he knew he could get away with it. I think he knew when he did it, it wasn‘t impulsive.
I think he did it—it‘s very hard to speak in the House of Representatives when the president is there. The power of that silence, as you know, Mr. Walker, is so overwhelming in that room. It‘s more than a funeral. It‘s more than anything. You just don‘t talk. You don‘t whisper to the person next to you. You don‘t cough, even.
It‘s not—and to speak out so that you could be heard by the nation was a deliberate decision, I would argue.
MATTHEWS: And I think he knew it would sell in South Carolina. And I know his leadership—he knew at the time the leadership would let him off the hook on this.
JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he‘s out there now...
MATTHEWS: I think it was political smart by him. I think he was up to something.
TRIPPI: He‘s out there autographing pictures of himself saying it.
I mean, this is not a guy—I mean, he says he‘s sorry and then he‘s out there doing that. I mean, the reality—the real thing here is, I don‘t know, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, there would be 434 members of the House voting for a rebuke of what he did.
I don‘t think there would be any question, both parties, regardless of who the president was or who the member of Congress who did this.
TRIPPI: You don‘t do it in the House of Representatives...
MATTHEWS: I think they‘re going to find a middle ground on this.
And you know what it is, Mr. Walker.
But, first, the latest “USA Today”/Gallup poll shows that—they poll on everything these days—two-thirds of the American people oppose Congressman Wilson‘s outburst. Only one in five support him.
They‘re going to find a middle road here. I think they‘re going to rebuke him, but on a very parliamentary question, that you‘re not supposed to speak out of order. That‘s really what they‘re going to get him on.
WALKER: Well, that may be.
But I will tell you that I think that you will have a situation where that will increase the tensions in the House, that it will make it far harder to have civil debates in the future. I mean, if we start down the road of doing reprimands and censures and all these kinds of things for what people say in—in the House, I think that that‘s—that that‘s a step that the majority might want to think about before...
MATTHEWS: Yes, you think they would be abusing...
MATTHEWS: ... the majority party.
WALKER: Well, what‘s going to happen, in my view, is that you will find there will be some hard-line Republicans who will decide that, with some members of the Democratic Party who have ethics issues, that there ought to be resolutions brought to the floor on that.
MATTHEWS: We‘re—listen, we‘re talking Charlie Rangel here. We‘re talking some other people.
TRIPPI: That‘s why President Obama is saying, let‘s move on.
WALKER: Yes. And I agree with him.
TRIPPI: I think the president is right in that—in that vein, but I also think you‘re right, that this was purposeful.
TRIPPI: And I also think, look, some years ago, no one.
MATTHEWS: I think all politics is local. And where did I get that idea from?
MATTHEWS: I think it sells where he‘s from.
TRIPPI: No one would be—even be talking about this. It would just be done.
MATTHEWS: OK, because I watched you before on the floor. Whenever they wanted a pay raise, they would make a phone call and say, Mr. Walker, you‘re wanted on the phone.
MATTHEWS: And this guy would go running out, because he was the keeper of the purse. Do you know that?
MATTHEWS: And they had to get him off the floor.
WALKER: We were trying to manage deficits at that time. And, so, they don‘t...
WALKER: ... anymore.
MATTHEWS: I remember the games.
But you would say, just to finish this conversation, do you believe if the House jammed through a Democrat measure by Mr. Clyburn, who I believe is deeply believing in this, by the way—I think he believes his president and our president was affronted here—if they do it, you say that will cause more trouble down the road?
WALKER: I think that will cause an increase in tensions in the House, where you already have considerable tension.
I mean, the best thing would be to bring the health bill out on the
floor, bring it out under an open rule, allow real debate, have some real -
two or three weeks out there. Allow every germane amendment to come out, and have a real debate about health care. That would be something that would actually be better in terms of handling tension in the Congress, and so every—because everybody would get to have their say.
MATTHEWS: That means let...
MATTHEWS: ... maybe a limited role, but let people offer amendments.
TRIPPI: This would never...
MATTHEWS: By the way, that is a great idea. But we‘re not going to talk about that.
You know why it‘s a great idea? Because if I were a Republican right now on the floor, I would take everything the president said in that speech last week and I would offer it as an amendment.
MATTHEWS: How about, no dollar in this goes to an illegal immigrant, an undocumented worker, no dollar in this goes to abortion, and see how it does on the floor? Because that‘s what he said the bill does.
So, good work. You‘re a smart guy.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Joe Trippi.
This guy is an inside guy. You‘re an outside guy.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Joe Trippi.
Thank you, Bob Walker.
The decision here is by this group, this panel, it‘s going to hurt the party, the Democratic Party, more down the road if they push this resolution tomorrow. The agreement we all agree on is that Joe Wilson knew what he was doing. This was a mortal sin against the House.
Up next: Tens of thousands of protesters came to Capitol Hill to rally against big government this weekend, a far cry from what the rally‘s conservative organizers were bragging about. Stick around for our “Big Number.” It ain‘t what they say it is—next in the “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First up, remember that old song, anything you can do, I can do better; no, you can‘t; yes, I can? Well, guess who came out the winner, Tina Fey or that governor from Alaska she spent last year brilliantly and delightfully imitating? Let‘s look back at Tina doing her Sarah and Amy Poehler her the then governor of New York—the then senator from New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)
AMY POEHLER, ACTRESS: I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.
TINA FEY, ACTRESS: And I can see Russia from my house.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
POEHLER: I believe global warming is caused by man.
FEY: And I believe it‘s just God hugging us closer.
POEHLER: I don‘t agree with the Bush doctrine.
FEY: And I don‘t know what that is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, Tina Fey won television‘s highest honor over the weekend, the Emmy, for her send-up. Accepting the award, Tina thanked her parents for their forbearance. She said they‘re lifelong Republicans.
Now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
This weekend, an ABC News estimate cited the D.C. Fire Department in reporting that between 60,000 and 70,000 protesters showed up at the anti-Obama rally in Washington this weekend. That‘s 60,000 to 70,000, according to ABC News.
Well, just to know whom to trust on numbers, given all the heat about the cost of the Democrats‘ health reforms and the debate and all that, check this. The head of the group FreedomWorks, which organized this Saturday anti-Obama rally, put out word that between a million and a million-and-a-half people showed up for the event in Washington.
They said the estimate was coming from the ABC network. Yes, ABC reported 60,000 to 70,000 people showed up. So, that claim by the anti-Obama organizers was off by 930,000 people, an exaggeration 15 times over the actual ABC News estimate.
The right wing overshoots the crowd at its weekend fondue party by 930,000 people. That‘s a little mistake in the numbers—tonight‘s “Big Number.”
In case you want to see the difference, here‘s a shot at the crowd at this weekend‘s anti-Obama rally in Washington, not every—not very full. But there is a real crowd, the Million Man March on the capital back in 1995. And they didn‘t reach a million people. So, there you have it.
Up next—look at that. A million people, that‘s what they almost look like.
Up next: So, we have seen the protests against President Obama. And how much anger there is about the issues, and how much may be based on ethnicity, his African-American heritage? We will get into that, into how race may be fueling the backlash against President Obama, may be.
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MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As we said, this past Saturday here in Washington, tens of thousands of people marched, protesting reforms that they say will mean more government in their lives. In fact, some of the signs went further. They said—they portrayed—actually, look at the signs. Look at them yourself. “Undocumented worker,” that‘s the president of the United States. They say he is here illegally. Some say he is marching the United States towards a socialist state.
Well, is there something more to this criticism than just good old politics?
Here is Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina on HARDBALL this past Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, there is a long history in our country about the problem that we have in the South. We all know that. And his election, of course, I think...
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You say we all know that, long problem. You‘re not...
CLYBURN: We have a long problem...
CLYBURN: ... with—with race in the country.
CLYBURN: And it is interesting. And I have seen all of these clips today about how—of the long history that South Carolinians have with decorum in the United States Congress.
TODD: He didn‘t bring a cane.
CLYBURN: He didn‘t bring a cane.
CLYBURN: But, remember, that big incident was all over slavery. And, so, we still have these kinds of issues to deal with. I do believe...
TODD: Is that too simplistic?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. She‘s chairman of—or chairwoman, rather, of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Thank you, Congresswoman, for coming on.
And, also, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn has been on the show many times. She spoke at Saturday‘s rally.
Congresswoman Lee, thank you for joining us. You‘re from Berkeley, North Carolina California. I love that area.
Let me ask you, what do you make of these very strong-minded signs, like undocumented worker? They‘re accusing this guy of not being in the country legally, our president.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Let me say first I think that our country turned a really very important page in our history when we elected the first African-American president last November. What a remarkable feat that was.
But we all know that there is much unfinished business in America, and that race is a big issue still. And so we have to confront these issues head-on, and we can‘t allow our policy debates to be consumed by issues that really take away from the debate, say, on health care reform.
And, so, we have to recognize that much of the unfinished business of America has to do with race. We cannot sweep that under the rug, and we have to confront it head-on and deal with it head-on.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Blackburn, your view of the motives behind the strong language that we‘re seeing in these rallies.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN ®, TENNESSEE: Chris, you know, there is no doubt there were views there that I don‘t agree with, that any of us would say that we oppose.
But I think the larger point here—and you‘re as good a political strategist as any guest that you have ever had on your show—when you have people that drive by the tens of...
MATTHEWS: You‘re shining me up. I know what you‘re doing here.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know why you‘re taking this approach. But go ahead. I like it. Go ahead.
BLACKBURN: No, I mean, it‘s true—because it‘s true.
But, when you have people that drive by the tens of thousands across the country and come to Washington to make their views known, that is a significant event. And I think, for the Democrat Party to just dismiss what occurred on Saturday, I think that is something that they probably shouldn‘t do.
People were here to really express their opinion and to let this nation know, to send a message to Washington that they spend too much, and they need to get that fiscal house in order.
MATTHEWS: Well, the only thing—let me ask you about this. I mean, I am a student of history, like all we are, all—all three of us are.
And I—you know, I remember how unpopular Harry Truman was before David McCullough dug him up and said he was a great president. And a lot of people agree.
MATTHEWS: He was—he was booed. And—but nobody ever called him
nobody yelled out on the floor of the House, “You lie.” Nobody talked like that, I don‘t think, when he was speaking. There seems to be a question about this president‘s legitimacy from some people, especially in the south, but not just in the south. Comments like undocumented worker, this birthers movement, questioning whether he was born here and is rightfully here.
Congresswoman Blackburn, pick up on that. This legitimacy question, we‘re looking—you‘re one of the people that wants to see future candidates for president prove their legitimacy as candidates by having their birth certificates available. Well, that gets into this whole question of is this guy one of us or is he one of them, some stranger from somewhere else? He‘s got a long African name. He seems to be different.
That attitude about him, he‘s not one of us, bugs me. What does it do to you, Congresswoman?
BLACKBURN: Well, in my mind, there is no doubt, the president is an American citizen. And he was duly elected. I think that what has occurred through time is people questioned Barry Goldwater, John McCain, President Obama, that people began to say, I can‘t believe you don‘t have to show an ID, or you don‘t have to show some kind of information to prove that you are who you say you are.
And I had so many parents say, my goodness, I show more information for my child to go to summer camp and play soccer, so if it improves the system—
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Congresswoman, Lee.
LEE: Chris, I have to say—Chris, let me just say, what I see happening, unfortunately, is that fear mongering is taking place. There are those who are preying on the fear of a lot of people in our country. And you know what happens when people get scared.
And what I saw during August, what the country saw during August, was a lack of civility. People would not allow people to offer different points of views without yelling about health care reform. We couldn‘t communicate with each other, because there were certain groups of people in this country—yes, the far right ring—who was trying to scare the heck out of Americans about many, many things.
I mean, President Obama was duly elected as our president. He is an American citizen. And so why don‘t we just move on? Why all of the—
BLACKBURN: And I agree with that, Barbara. I agree with that. But I think the point here—I had 11 town halls. They were great. Not everybody agreed with me, but everybody was welcomed. And they were able to express their opinion.
I think that the Democrat party, at their peril, dismisses what has occurred in this country, through the tea parties, through the town halls in August. And to just blanketly say, people are cooks or confused or bigots or racist if they attended Saturday‘s event or came to town halls, I think that that is also inappropriate.
And I do agree—I certainly agree that our debate would be helped with a degree of civility. But—
LEE: The Democrats are not dismissing anything. What we are saying is that there have been so many lies and so many myths put out there, we have to dispel those myths and those lies. For example, there are 47 million people uninsured in our country. A public option in this health care reform bill will help reduce the costs for those who have insurance, and will insure competitiveness. The insurance industry, including the insurance industry that perpetrates fraud in many respects on Republicans, in Republicans‘ lives and their families‘ lives, in terms of jacking up insurance costs, they have to be dealt with. And so that‘s why we want—
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Lee, you first. I‘m sorry. Congresswoman Lee, do you believe you can ascertain, given your life experience, if someone is being racially motivated in a political debate? Can you tell by the look in their eye, their language? Can you tell?
LEE: Let me say, I was born in segregated El Paso, Texas. I had to drink out of the colored-only water fountain. My mother almost died because they wouldn‘t allow her to come into the hospital so she could deliver me when I was born. And so I have experienced racism like you would not believe.
It‘s hard to know what is in the hearts and minds of people. However, I do know when I see people who are bringing Swastikas to members of Congresses offices, and putting them on the doors, as happened with Congressman Scott—I do know the signs. I do know that hate speech can lead to hate crimes.
And I do know that we have not turned that page yet in our own history. And we have to do that. We have to be civil, and we have to understand that racism has to be addressed head-on.
MATTHEWS: OK. Last word from you, Congresswoman Blackburn.
BLACKBURN: We would all agree that hurtful actions and inappropriate actions, whether they come from the left or the right, are just that. They‘re inappropriate. And not any of us would support that.
What we also have to agree is that the American people, people that love this country dearly, have the right to stand up and to speak out and to send Washington a message, that they think Washington, D.C., this Congress, this Senate, we spend too much money; government is too big; government is too intrusive. Thanks, Chris.
LEE: Everyone has the right to their first amendment right. You have a right to speak out against the—against policies that disapprove or policies they agree with.
MATTHEWS: I just wish people would respect the other side to argue with the other side, respect the other side. And its right to have an argument, but not to get into person, but to focus on policy. I think that‘s where this thing gets off track.
BLACKBURN: I agree with you.
MATTHEWS: I think we should argue about the issues, and let aside the fact we already have an election. It‘s over. We have one president. Thank you, Congresswoman Barbara Lee. And thank you, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn for coming on.
Up next, a new ABC News poll shows liberal Democrats still support health care reform, even if the public option is taken out. So why are some liberals demanding a public option? We just heard one. Fair enough. The politics fix is next. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back with the politics fix, with David Corn, who is the Washington bureau chief of “Mother Jones,” and Lynn Sweet, who is with the “Chicago Sun-Times” and PoliticsDaily.com.
Let‘s take a look at a new poll, just out today. According to the new “Washington Post”/ABC News poll, 10 percent of liberal Democrats are opposed to health care reform. But if reform does not include the public option, that number goes up by only four points to 14 percent opposing reform. How do we explain that, David? there‘s a lot of heat on the left about the public option. Why is it only four percent differential?
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”: If you look at a lot of other polling, you see that a lot of Americans, whether they‘re liberal, conservative, anything in between, still don‘t have a full grasp of the details, of some of the policy details. This is complicated stuff, which is why Obama --
MATTHEWS: You‘re saying nobody knows what the public option is?
CORN: They know what it is. But I‘m not sure they know how it fits into the overall need of the bill.
MATTHEWS: That‘s an argument.
LYNN SWEET, “CHICAGO SUN TIMES”: Absolutely. People who have insurance, which is most of the people who are out there, don‘t focus on the public option because they think it‘s not about them.
MATTHEWS: You mean even liberal Democrats?
SWEET: Even liberal Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this whole thing, how you see it going now. I wasn‘t here last week. The president‘s speech, I thought it was a barn burner, especially the ending. Very strong. People say they don‘t like sentiment in politics. I love sentiment in politics. It‘s about whether you‘re going to look out for your brother or sister. It is what kind of country we are. Sure, we‘re a cowboy country. But in the end, you look out for the cowboy next door.
Here‘s the question: did he sell to the Democrats?
CORN: He certainly sold to the Democrats. I think he sold to some independents. It was a rip roaring defense of Ted Kennedy style liberalism.
CORN: But I think in a good fashion. I think the mistake has been all along that he has stepped back and he has allowed health care reform to become equated with Congress, which isn‘t the most popular body in the country. While Obama is twice as popular as Congress, he hasn‘t really shared his own approval ratings with health care reform.
SWEET: It just wasn‘t time yet. They knew they had to let the process work out. People talked about this as if the health care debate is going to end tomorrow or the next day. It‘s not.
MATTHEWS: It‘s going to Thanksgiving at least.
SWEET: Absolutely. They had to play the Congress game. Now they‘re playing the public game.
MATTHEWS: Is the battle now within the Democratic party? Civil rights was fought basically within the Democratic party. The Vietnam War was fought within the Democratic party. The majority party, which has been the Democrats for most of our lives, tends to have the big debates within the party. That makes the country make up its mind.
CORN: You would be right with one exception. That‘s Olympia Snowe. She seems to have a veto ability with the public option. I mean, if the White House cares that much about getting one Republican, than she—
MATTHEWS: They know they want 60.
CORN: Maybe, but is she the 60th vote?
MATTHEWS: Maybe Massachusetts will get its act together, give it 60 votes.
SWEET: That would be if they appoint the senator. That was about—here‘s the thing. Everybody is fixated as if there‘s one way to get to 60. This public option, if and when is the last thing to fall, will fall. It will be replaced by something else that will be talked about by the Obama people.
MATTHEWS: I think they‘re going to get a trigger. We‘re going to come back about Blagojevich. I think he made some news. I think the special prosecutor was watching this show and I think he got some stuff. David Corn, Lynn Sweet, let‘s come back and talk about B-Rod and whether he got into some trouble here tonight.
By the way, a friend of ours who worked with him and really respected him—I‘m very sad to hear tonight—I just got this bulletin. Jody Powell died. He was, of course, White House press secretary for President Carter. He was one of the best press secretaries ever. He was 65. We‘ll be right back in a moment.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with David Corn and Lynn Sweet for more of the fix. You know, the devils are in the details. I‘m watching these stories like you and I. We know all these things. We read something on the wires. What the hell are they talking about? What is Rahm Emanuel having a conversation with Blagojevich about getting somebody appointed to fill his seat? You can‘t appoint a Congressman. Why in the world are they talking like that? What kind of conversation was that?
SWEET: I can‘t believe that this conversation happened in the way Rod
said, if for nothing else—people should know that Illinois has a very
early primary in February. This November, just a few weeks away, is the
end of the filings date to file. The point being, even if there had been -
even if the scenario which couldn‘t be true was true, and a Patsy was put in as a place holder for Rahm—unless Rahm was ready to quit—
MATTHEWS: You‘re missing my point. You can‘t appoint a congressman.
SWEET: I‘m conceding that point because it‘s so absurd as to debate it. I‘m agreeing with you.
MATTHEWS: This guy‘s trying to tell us Rahm Emanuel is going for speaker.
SWEET: Wait. My bigger point is it wouldn‘t have stuck anyway.
CORN: You still have to hear from Rahm.
MATTHEWS: I think he‘s trying to get Rahm into the story. He‘s trying to get him—why did he join the Scooter Libby defense?
CORN: There‘s an easy one. Who prosecuted Scooter Libby?
CORN: Who‘s prosecuting—
MATTHEWS: I was going to ask, but I didn‘t get a chance. Are you as innocent as Scooter Libby?
CORN: They can form a support group.
MATTHEWS: OK, this whole thing, his defense seems to be, I was just blue skying, BSing if you will, about potential deals I could get to sell the president‘s Senate seat. So I might be able to get a job with the SEIU, the labor union. I might be able to get an ambassadorship, secretary of energy. I‘ll pay more money. He says don‘t put it in writing. His defense is he was just BSing. It‘s not a criminal thing.
SWEET: In a Chicago jury, that might go. At least he is saying—you know, he‘s also said in the past, if everybody had a wire on him all the time, and the feds are out to make a case against you, no one would look that good.
CORN: It‘s kind of like Tony Soprano saying, you know, there‘s this guy out there. We could take care of him if we wanted to.
MATTHEWS: I have to check with my lawyers to see if Murray‘s OK. Thank you. Great story. Great to have B-Rod on today. Thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Lynn Sweet from Chicago. Join us 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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