Guests: Jane Wells, Pat Buchanan, Michael Rubin, Bob Baer, Dee Dee Myers, Willie Brown, Tom Defrank, Susan Page, Wendy Murphy
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Will Israel attack Iran?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Will Israel attack Iran? That‘s the question. Yesterday Iran fired long-range missiles capable of reaching Israel in a show of strength and will that raises the prospect that Israel will strike first. Will they? Can they do it without our help, without our OK? Would they? And what are the consequences if Israel does strike at Iran‘s nuclear facilities—to Israel, to the United States? And what will the consequences be if Iran gets nuclear weapons? Would that mean the end of Israel as a safe haven for world Jewry?
Next: Do you remember when Hillary Clinton said the Monica Lewinsky story was a frame-up, a conspiracy by the right to make her husband look like he had a sexual entanglement with the young White House staffer? Well, now Bill Clinton said that conspiracy of the right continues. Is he trying to spin away his scandal by identifying himself with President Obama? And if so, is he a good Obama attack dog?
And we‘ll get to what‘s behind the arrest of famed director Roman Polanski in Switzerland more than 20 years after he was charged with statutory rape involving a 13-year-old woman, or girl at that time, in California. Is this a case that should be prosecuted, especially now that France and Poland are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to grant clemency to the 76-year-old filmmaker?
Also, should President Obama go to Copenhagen this Thursday to pitch for Chicago to get the 2016 Olympics, with all the other stuff boiling in the pot right now? That‘s in the “Politics Fix.”
And those so-called “birthers” just aren‘t giving up. They now have an infomercial, and they‘re giving out gifts if you can add your name—if you will—to a petition for the president to produce additional documents to prove he was born in Hawaii. More on the crazies in the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”
But we begin with the latest on Iran. Michael Rubin is present, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute. And Bob Baer is a former CIA officer and intelligence columnist for Time.com. Gentlemen, this couldn‘t be a hotter question.
Michael Rubin, is it plausible that within the next year or so, Israel will strike at those nuclear facilities in Iran?
MICHAEL RUBIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Absolutely plausible. It is. They view Iran and the Iranian nuclear threat as an existential threat, meaning they don‘t feel that if diplomacy fails, that they can live with a nuclear Iran. Their assessment is different than ours on this.
MATTHEWS: The odds are?
RUBIN: The odds are greater than 50/50.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Bob Baer. Is it plausible—same question to you—that Israel will strike at Iran?
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I think it‘s 50/50 or better. I agree with Michael. They look at the—the complete picture on this. They look at Lebanon. They look at the fact that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard corps has the missiles. And they have to do something now. I don‘t think sanctions are going to work.
MATTHEWS: Do they—bigger question to you because it‘s about the United States. Does the United States have to give them its compliance, its help, its OK, or can Israel strike on its own? Do we have to be party to this, or won‘t they do it?
RUBIN: Israel can strike on its own, but they can‘t finish the job on their own. It would take over a thousand sorties to do it right. The worst possible scenario for us would be that Israel starts something, and then the region becomes so messy that we feel that we have to finish it.
MATTHEWS: So you think we should help them.
RUBIN: I think that the idea is, if you‘re—if the worst-case scenario is military action, then we‘ve really got to ratchet up the other forms of coercion right now. And we certainly have to be prepared. We‘ve got to have sanctions alongside...
MATTHEWS: I‘m just trying to get to a question. Does Israel need our help to do the job?
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Bob Baer. Do they need our OK to give them, for example, to push Iraq to give them airspace and that sort of thing, to get to the target in Iran?
BAER: If you‘re sitting on the ground in Iraq and you‘re an American air controller and you see Israeli airplanes coming your way, how many minutes is the White House going to say yes or no? And the chances of saying no are zero. I don‘t think they need our help, but we will be drawn into a war, as a consequence.
MATTHEWS: So you both say that, technically, they could carry out the mission.
BAER: They could certainly start the mission.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s go to the question, Should we help them? If they decide—if Bibi Netanyahu makes the decision as prime minister of Israel, facing what you—what you believe he sees as an existential threat to the future of Israel and he decides to make the attack, should we help him?
RUBIN: The calculation has got to be on our interests. If the region is going to get messy, we‘ve got to do what we need to do to protect the United States‘ interests once Iran retaliates and should Iran retaliate.
MATTHEWS: If you were asked right now by the president, Should we help them, would you say yes or no?
RUBIN: I don‘t think now is yet the time.
MATTHEWS: OK. You wouldn‘t say yes now.
MATTHEWS: OK. What do you think, Bob? should we say yes to the Israeli attack and say we‘ll help them?
BAER: We‘d say absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: Because I understand it‘s much more difficult for them to do it by themselves. But your thought is not to help them.
BAER: Not—we can‘t help them. We don‘t have enough troops. We‘d need a million troops in the Gulf. We would have to do something about the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, to protect them.
BAER: Right now, we can‘t. Can we afford oil at $400 a barrel? Can we afford the mischief-making they would do in Iraq? And the answer is no.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s get to that point now. You both agree that Israel might do it. You both agree that it‘s more difficult for them to do it without us, but they could do it, right?
MATTHEWS: And third question is, both of you think right now, the answer is we shouldn‘t encourage them to do it.
BAER: We should not.
MATTHEWS: OK, now the fourth question. If they attack the Israeli (SIC) nuclear facilities, as Netanyahu threatens to do, by the way, sometime next year at this point, because he‘s only giving our government up to the end of this year, what would be the consequences in order of importance, the consequences of an attack, because I‘m going to get the consequences of not attacking later. What are the consequences of an attack by Israel on the Iranian facilities?
RUBIN: The most important consequence of an attack would be that it would delay Iran‘s nuclear program, and it could delay it enough. That‘s what Israel‘s calculation is.
MATTHEWS: “Enough” meaning?
RUBIN: Enough to outlast the Iranian regime.
MATTHEWS: So the first instance, it would have a good effect.
RUBIN: The first instance, it would have a good effect.
MATTHEWS: What are the bad effects?
RUBIN: The bad effect is nothing like a military strike would rally the Iranian people around the flag more. The best thing that ever happened to...
MATTHEWS: I just talked to an Iranian emigre today, lives in this country. He‘s an American now. He believes it would give a 20-year life span to that faction running the country, the Ahmadinejad crowd.
RUBIN: I think that‘s possible, yes.
MATTHEWS: If Israel attacks.
RUBIN: People rally around the flag.
MATTHEWS: OK, so the first thing is good. It gets rid of—it puts them off maybe for a long time. Number two, they rally behind Ahmadinejad. The first two worst—or scenarios that you see, Bob, if they attack the facilities?
BAER: I think, again, it‘s the Gulf. It‘s the security of our oil.
I harp on this, but that‘s what the Iranians have said they‘re going to do. If they‘re attacked, no matter how minor the attack is, they‘re going to respond against oil. There‘s nothing we can do about it, and that‘s what worries me. In Iraq, as well.
MATTHEWS: The Straits of Hormuz. They shut off all oil shipments through the Straits, right?
BAER: They hit—they hit up (ph) cake (ph). It takes six million barrels off instantaneously, and we can‘t defend it. You know, secondly...
MATTHEWS: But doesn‘t that—doesn‘t that—doesn‘t that—that stranglehold, that chokehold, have a life span of itself? Can they keep doing that without committing suicide economically?
BAER: They‘re prepared...
MATTHEWS: I mean, how long can they...
BAER: ... to commit suicide.
MATTHEWS: ... raise the price that high?
RUBIN: They are.
BAER: They can. And they‘re ready to.
RUBIN: I absolutely agree. Iran‘s not a democracy. It doesn‘t matter what the ordinary people think, in the government‘s calculation. They will look at it—this—the leadership of Iran is the leadership that grew up in the Iran/Iraq war. They look at this and say, The vegetables are expensive? Well, when I was your age, I was fighting mustard gas on the front with Iraq.
MATTHEWS: OK, the way—the look of you right now—and I know you‘re emotional—passionate on this, not emotional. Is it possible, Michael, that the attack by Israel, which Bibi Netanyahu has threatened to carry out if we don‘t do something in stopping this weapons program by Iran, could be the beginning of a horrendous amount of action in the world, not just the end, but the beginning of spiking prices for oil, of Hezbollah attacks all over the place, not just Israel? What do you see happening?
RUBIN: Absolutely. And you‘ve got to balance that with, if Iran does go nuclear, you‘re going to have an end of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and a cascade of proliferation throughout the world. That‘s the choice.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you the final question tonight, and then I want to get to some of these quotes by people here. Bob Baer, what happens if we let Israel—we discourage Israel successfully and even (INAUDIBLE) maybe Netanyahu with a right-wing faction running the country there, with Lieberman, he decides not to move because we say, We don‘t want you to move?
If he doesn‘t move, what happens to the world if Israel is faced with a neighbor that hates it, wants to destroy it? Does that basically kill the notion of Israel as a safe haven for world Jewry in the long run? In other words, young people in their young 20s, young engineers, biotechnicians and all, would no longer want to live in that country because it‘s under a nuclear threat? Don‘t you—do you think that‘s a real prospect?
BAER: I think it‘s—Israel is under existential threat. I think if that Iran continues to grow, is a superpower or is a hegemon in the Gulf, that it ultimately it will affect Israel‘s survivability. There‘s no question about it. The Israelis have a point.
MATTHEWS: Michael? And that point is strong enough that it means their life. Do you buy that argument, that their life‘s at stake? And not over the year or two, but eventually, you cannot have an Israeli Jewish state, if you will, succeed if it‘s under the nuclear threat of a country that hates it.
RUBIN: There is a psychological threat, and with Iran‘s nuclear program...
MATTHEWS: By the way, it‘s a real psychological threat.
MATTHEWS: It‘s not in the head.
RUBIN: But just as important is the uncertainty over who would control a nuclear bomb should Iran achieve that capability. Ordinary...
MATTHEWS: Who‘s got the button?
RUBIN: Who has the button, and under what circumstances would it be used? And that‘s what...
MATTHEWS: Who do you think is in charge in Iran right now? I want to get back to you. Who is making the decision to fire off these rockets? Who‘s making the decision to proceed in a way that looks like they‘re going towards weaponization? Who‘s calling that shot? Is it Khamenei, the boss, the supreme leader? Is it Ahmadinejad? Is a faction in the back room of old men, religious people? Who‘s making the call, Bob Baer, to go to war with us, basically, on this?
BAER: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. And the new defense minister‘s from the IRGC. And don‘t forget that he blew up the Israeli embassy in Argentina. These guys have blood on their hands, and we really can‘t predict what they‘re going to do.
RUBIN: Absolutely correct. The supreme leader still has ultimate control with the Revolutionary Guard. But the problem is, no one really knows about the factions inside the Revolutionary Guard Corps. It‘s still relatively a black box. Politics—we talk about reformers, we talk about hard liners, but the real decision making is inside that Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
MATTHEWS: OK. A fellow I know out in Hollywood, a guy who‘s pretty smart otherwise, said to me that the only smart Israeli action is to not just to go in and blow up the facilities, but to take out the leadership. Is that a feasible Israeli Entebbe-style possibility? Bob Baer, you first. Could they go in and take out the leadership faction, kill them? Could they do that?
BAER: No, the country...
MATTHEWS: Decapitate this government?
BAER: The country‘s too big. Israel‘s air force is too small. It‘s too big. You can‘t do it. It‘s 71 million people. We‘re talking about—the result would be a conventional war. It would look like World War III.
RUBIN: I would agree with that. You go after the leadership if it can prevent a war. In this case, it can‘t...
MATTHEWS: But you see it written along those lines in terms of knocking out, like, say, one person, killing one person, like, a really bad guy out there. But is it feasible for Israel to do an Entebbe-style assault, where they go in and find six or seven guys in this faction behind Ahmadinejad and kill them?
RUBIN: What‘s much more feasible...
MATTHEWS: Because they‘ve done stuff like this on the West Bank.
RUBIN: Yes. What‘s much more feasible, if Iran has buried nuclear facilities under mountains, they don‘t have to destroy the facilities, they just need to destroy the entrances to them.
MATTHEWS: And how long do they keep those sealed by blowing them up?
RUBIN: They set the program back a year or two and hope that the international community actually—actually becomes active.
MATTHEWS: Yes, the trouble is, the international community, from an Israeli point of view, goes the other way.
MATTHEWS: What‘s your thought, Bob...
BAER: ... the intelligence isn‘t good enough.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes. What I‘ve heard as a scenario is they blow up, in the short run. They do the best they can and say, More coming if you keep going. Have you heard that argument?
RUBIN: I have heard that argument. And what‘s interesting, it‘s the same argument that was made when the Israelis went over after the Iraqi reactor in 1981. Critics said...
MATTHEWS: OK. How much longer do we both have—you both have, not me. I‘m watching you guys. You‘re the experts. How longer (ph), Michael, and how longer, Bob, do we have to keep Netanyahu from acting?
RUBIN: I‘d say it‘s in weeks—months, if not weeks.
MATTHEWS: Bob, how long has the United States got leverage over Netanyahu, the head of Israel, not to attack Iran?
BAER: I think Netanyahu...
MATTHEWS: Have we got a year?
BAER: He‘s given three months. He‘s got to see something happening in three months or he‘s going to start his planning. They‘ve already started their planning.
MATTHEWS: I think we‘re all on the same page on this. It‘s pretty scary. Thank you Michael Rubin from AEI, and thank you, Bob Baer, who knows his stuff.
Coming up: Bill Clinton that says the conspiracy that sort of created the Monica mess for him is still at large and is going after Obama. Is this kind of talk really helpful? I‘m talking about what he said to David Gregory on “MEET THE PRESS” the other day, this thing about a conspiracy out there. I wonder if that‘s helpful. Well, you know what I think.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Former president Bill Clinton weighed in on President Obama‘s right-wing critics, likening them to the critics he faced back in ‘98. Let‘s listen. This was on “MEET THE PRESS.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Your wife famously talked about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” targeting you. As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is it still there?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It‘s not as strong as it was because America has changed demographically, but it‘s as virulent as it was. I mean, they‘re saying things about him—you know, it‘s like when they accused me of murder and all that stuff they did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me is a real expert on the man we just saw, former Clinton White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. We should get a divergence of opinion here.
First of all, the word that jumps out at me is “conspiracy.” Let‘s take a listen to when that word was first used back in ‘98 by the then—oh, we don‘t have—the then first lady, when she talked about—oh, I think we‘re the only show on television that doesn‘t have it. I guess it‘s been playing all day today.
MATTHEWS: The ‘98 -- Pat, it was playing all day. We know that when Hillary was on with Matt Lauer, I believe, after the Monica story first broke, and she said, Really, there‘s no truth to it. She implied it was a confection of the right. Is this good for the Clintons, to bring back the words “conspiracy” and “vast”?
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, let‘s be fair. The Clintons didn‘t bring back the word. David Gregory asked the question, which included the word—the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and then he said, That opposition, is it still out there? And I don‘t think...
MATTHEWS: You don‘t think “vast”—is it a conspiracy, or is it just a bunch of crazies out there obviously doing what they‘re doing, attacking his citizenship, et cetera, et cetera.
MYERS: Right. I mean, I‘m not a big conspiracy theorist, so you can debate the word “conspiracy.” But is there a...
MATTHEWS: Is it vast?
MYERS: ... loosely—yes. Is it vast? Yes, it‘s pretty big. Is it loosely connected? Do these people have connections to each other through professional associations? Yes. Is there somebody sitting at the top of the pyramid...
MATTHEWS: Is it helpful to Barack Obama...
MYERS: ... directing it? No.
MATTHEWS: ... to be identified as the victim of the same forces that brought Bill Clinton to impeachment?
MYERS: In some ways...
MATTHEWS: Is it helpful?
MYERS: I think it helps shore up the base, to remind people out there that this isn‘t the first time—as Clinton said, we‘ve seen this movie before. We‘ve seen a lot of this movie before. Organized opposition...
MATTHEWS: That‘s the new phrase, isn‘t it.
MYERS: What? The movie?
MATTHEWS: We‘ve seen this movie before.
MATTHEWS: It‘s like “at the end of the day.” It‘s one of those phrases...
MYERS: Right, or “a bridge too far” is my favorite.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go to Pat Buchanan. I‘m not getting into—we do use cliches here. Pat Buchanan, your thoughts about this “vast right-wing conspiracy” which Hillary Clinton blamed for the trouble her husband got in. I don‘t buy that. I think he got into his own trouble. They exploited the hell out of it, obviously. People like Ken Starr loved it, and I think probably went well beyond their brief to nail the guy, by having—setting him up in that Paula Jones deposition that caught him. They set up a big fly trap and they caught a fly. But your thoughts, Pat.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Come on, Chris. There‘s no right-wing conspiracy. Is there a conservative movement that disagrees on the war in Afghanistan, which is pretty united on health care? I would say talk show hosts, columnists and commentators, bloggers, you know, political activists, some of the more hawkish fellows in the Congress? Sure, there‘s a conservative movement, and sure, it opposes Barack Obama because it thinks he‘s a liberal.
But good heavens, he‘s got 60 votes in the Senate, a bullet-proof majority. He‘s got a 75-vote margin in the House. And they‘re wailing and crying that the conservatives oppose him?
Chris, there isn‘t any conservative conspiracy. Most of the guys I know couldn‘t organize a softball team!
BUCHANAN: Do they really think they‘re getting together with Rush, and Hannity, and Buchanan, and George Will, Krauthammer, Bennett?
MATTHEWS: OK. That is the question.
BUCHANAN: We all get together every day?
MATTHEWS: But—but—but Dee Dee has been wise to offer the queen‘s sacrifice three minutes ago, when she said, all right, I will give you the word conspiracy.
MYERS: Yes. But—and, like I said, I don‘t believe in conspiracy. I think Pat is right. I mean, most of the people that we have worked with in these kind of organizations couldn‘t organize a softball team.
But I think...
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, they want credit for what they do.
MYERS: Yes, exactly.
MYERS: Right. Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: Pat, they want everybody to know everything they do.
MATTHEWS: You know, if Bill Kristol...
BUCHANAN: Hey, Chris.
MYERS: You‘re right.
MATTHEWS: ... has got a point of view that he‘s pushing about bringing down health care again, he wants us all to know he—Frank Luntz wants us all to know that he coined the phrases.
BUCHANAN: Exactly. Hey, Chris...
MATTHEWS: These guys are marketers.
BUCHANAN: Hey, Chris, let me ask you something.
BUCHANAN: If Richard Nixon got caught in the Oval Office with a 21-year-old intern, it would not take a conspiracy to get all the liberals coming down on him with both feet. People react naturally.
MATTHEWS: Pat, you and I are married to the truth of that.
MATTHEWS: I am absolutely convinced that, at the time of any—when Nixon was president, if he had been involved with anybody of either sex, anybody of any age—age, in fact, that wasn‘t Pat, you know, if it was anybody but Pat, he would have been taken out in a stretcher.
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry—even taken out in a straitjacket. And the media would have been saying it was a psychological thing. They had to assert—assert the 23rd Amendment, and they had to haul him out of there.
You know that‘s true, Dee Dee.
MATTHEWS: There was a standard here for a popular president.
MYERS: Standards—standards change over time.
MATTHEWS: By the way, the economy was so good in ‘98 -- the economy was so good in ‘98. That‘s the reason Bill was able to escape.
MYERS: Well, I think it‘s almost the opposite. I think that we were in a time of peace and prosperity, and the country had the luxury of elevating this...
MATTHEWS: Right. That‘s what I‘m saying.
Oh, I‘m sorry.
MYERS: ... yes—to an impeachment. Are you kidding me? Impeaching a president?
MATTHEWS: Oh, I‘m sorry.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to a fact here. I would like a fact here.
MATTHEWS: In the newest book called “The Clinton Tapes,” which are actually not the tapes...
MATTHEWS: They‘re about the tapes.
Bill Clinton points out that his big mistake was thinking that he had impeachment beat when he did so well in the ‘98 elections, when the congressional Democrats—Republicans did so bad—so badly.
MATTHEWS: And he thought he had it beaten. And he thought it washed impeachment away in the tide of public disapproval, was his phrase to his friend Taylor Branch.
He was wrong, because they had a party united. Pat, that‘s where he made his mistake. He thought he had it beaten in the electoral situation, when he didn‘t realize that the Republican caucus on Capitol Hill was loaded for bear and wouldn‘t stop, even if they lost an election over it.
BUCHANAN: Yes, they went ahead with it. But he was not entirely wrong.
The House went ahead with it. Red hots did it. But they walked it over to the Senate, and that Senate wanted no part of it, Chris.
BUCHANAN: They wanted that thing out of there, because they thought it was responsible for the defeat.
But, again, President Clinton was doing fairly well, as Dee Dee says. I mean, he brought that on himself. Anybody that had gotten in a mess like that, especially Clinton, because of his history, I mean, he just—he dealt these cards right into the hands of his opposition, and he shouldn‘t have been surprised that they ran with them.
Is it helpful to Pat—not to Pat Buchanan. Everything is helpful to you, Pat.
MATTHEWS: You can out on top no matter who wins or loses any election, for some reason.
MATTHEWS: And you should, of course.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this, Dee Dee. Is it helpful to Barack Obama to have Bill Clinton out there comparing his problems of 1998 with Monica...
MATTHEWS: ... with Barack Obama‘s problems on health care?
MATTHEWS: Is it helpful to Barack Obama?
MYERS: I didn‘t hear President Clinton do that. But what I think is helpful...
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, you did. Should we play it again?
MATTHEWS: I know...
MATTHEWS: I know David set him up...
MATTHEWS: ... of asking that question.
MYERS: And what‘s—I will tell you what is helpful is when he points out, as he did, that the Republicans don‘t have a plan. They don‘t have any alternative. They‘re just out there. They‘re not acting the best interest of the country in their opposition to Barack Obama. Where is their health care plan? Where is their alternative...
MATTHEWS: You know what I think? I think my colleague, I think our colleague David Gregory was smart enough to know that Bill Clinton would go for the bait if he asked him, weren‘t you really unfairly hounded out of...
MYERS: Wow, that‘s a really high standard there, Chris.
MYERS: I mean, come on. Dangle right-wing conspiracy in front of Bill Clinton, and see if he will bite. Wow, let...
MYERS: Let‘s lay the odds.
Come on. I mean, I—but I—I think the president was trying to be helpful. I think he said it was—times were a little tougher for me. That was kind of interesting.
MATTHEWS: I love your smile. You are so good at this when you put the knife into me.
MATTHEWS: So, I think we have agreed that this is probably not helpful to the president.
MYERS: I think there are elements of it that are helpful, though, when he talks about the Republicans, like—I think President Clinton, one of his great strengths, was, he always brought it back to the country. Let‘s debate the issues. Let‘s talk about policy. And...
MATTHEWS: I thought he always brought it back to Bill Clinton.
BUCHANAN: I think, though...
MYERS: No. I think he always brought it back to policy. That‘s why he survived.
MATTHEWS: By the way, he did have—you know what he had going for him, Bill Clinton? A sense that no matter how, you know, the problems he got—he‘s a human being, obviously—I think people thought that he was looking out for the average person.
MYERS: I totally agree.
MATTHEWS: And I think that is—Pat, that was his great appeal.
BUCHANAN: But—I think, look, he‘s...
MATTHEWS: He was considered a Sears Roebuck working-class, middle-class guy...
MATTHEWS: ... who remembered where he came from. And, in the end, that‘s what kept him in office. The people thought he was with them.
MYERS: No doubt.
MATTHEWS: And they were maybe right. Maybe right.
BUCHANAN: Well, I will say this. He also was kept in office by the fact that he has a tremendous coalition behind him that stood with him during those hard times and fought very hard.
But what David Gregory‘s question showed, Chris, is that it‘s only about a quarter-of-an-inch below the surface he felt they were all out to get him. And it...
BUCHANAN: And—and David Gregory popped it right up to the surface.
MYERS: And, Pat, that‘s so unusual for a president, isn‘t it?
BUCHANAN: They are out to get him sometimes, Dee Dee.
MATTHEWS: Dee Dee once said to me—Dee Dee—Dee Dee, I want you to admit this on camera.
MATTHEWS: One time you said to me, everything you believe is true about Bill Clinton.
MATTHEWS: I think that‘s a great statement.
MATTHEWS: It‘s all true.
MYERS: And all of the good stuff, yes.
MATTHEWS: The good, the bad, the everything, it‘s all true.
Thank you, Dee Dee.
MATTHEWS: What a great spokesperson she was, Dee Dee Myers, here with us from “Vanity Fair,” and Pat Buchanan from the permanent conservative movement.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Could we see another Cheney in public office? Actually, she pronounces it Cheney, unlike her dad. That‘s next in the “Sideshow.”
And tomorrow on HARDBALL, filmmaker Michael Moore joins us. We couldn‘t get Polanski. We got Moore.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First up: It doesn‘t end. Remember the birthers, that group of right-wing crazies claiming that Barack Obama was not born in America, and, therefore, isn‘t a legitimate president, in fact, claiming that he is an illegal immigrant who should be deported?
Well, the fundamentalist Web site live—or liveprayer.com has put out a birther infomercial, which, according to Talking Points Memo, is playing in seven states right now. Let‘s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was President Obama born? Why does he refuse to produce his official state of Hawaii birth certificate? What‘s he hiding? Now your voice can be heard in this matter. You can help by going to your phone and calling 1-800-321-(NUMBER DELETED) to have your name added to a petition going to GOP leaders to force President Obama to obey the law.
Join hundreds of thousands of Americans who simply want the truth. As a thank you for being part of this petition drive, you will receive this specially created got a birth certificate bumper sticker. Don‘t sit back, do nothing. Act now. Go to your phone. Call 1-1-800-321-(NUMBER DELETED and tell President Obama to prove where he was born.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How about this? How about, if the Obama people go dig up additional documentation, the additional documentation these people want, to prove that he‘s not in the country illegally, they agree to leave the country; they agree to leave? How about giving the president some bonus points for offering up more documentation than anyone else born in Hawaii is asked to do? He stays. They leave.
Next up, passing the torch. Here‘s the front page of today‘s “New York Times”: “New Cheney Taking Stage for the GOP. “ It spotlights Dick Cheney‘s daughter Liz as a rising star in the Republican Party, the no-holds-barred defender of Cheney‘s national security policies.
Quote—this is from “The Times”—“Like her father, Ms. Cheney speaks in an understated, almost academic cadences, head veering down into her notes. She also shares his willingness to pummel the president in stark and disdainful tones, not so much criticizing as taunting him.”
Well, the “New York Times” piece made one error. The reporter, Mark Leibovich, an excellent reporter otherwise, said Liz uses her maiden name. That‘s not technically correct. Her family name is Cheney. She has adopted the more common Cheney. That‘s one case of, like father, unlike daughter.
Finally, batter up—the newest addition to the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor, threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Yankees this weekend. The Bronx-born justice is hero to baseball fans everywhere for issuing an injunction in 1995 that led to the end of that baseball strike. It turns out Sotomayor got the Yankees off to a good afternoon. They beat the Sox 3-0, not that that‘s good for the country.
Speaking of pitches, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
We learned today that President Obama will be traveling to Copenhagen to personally make the case for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympic Games. According to the traders over at Dublin-based Intrade.com, what are the chance that the president will win over the Olympic Committee? Well, 65 percent chance and rising.
If he wins, so does Tip O‘Neill‘s rule that all politics is local. Sixty-five percent chance of the Second City becoming the first city of the world in 2016. That‘s tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: Why was 76-year-old filmmaker Roman Polanski arrested now, more than 30 years after he was charged with statutory rape? American authorities push for his arrest. Europeans are mad about it. But is justice being served here?
That‘s our debate coming up. You‘re watching it, HARDBALL, only on
JANE WELLS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Jane Wells with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks managed to hold on to some big gains today after rallying on a wave of merger and acquisition activity. The Dow Jones industrial added 124 points, the S&P 500 up 18 points. And the Nasdaq—Nasdaq jumped almost 40.
A true M&A Monday today, as Xerox announced plans to buy Affiliated Computer Services, or ACS, for more than $6 billion—Xerox shares falling about 15 percent on the news, while shares in ACS are up 14 percent.
More M&A mania. Abbott Labs will pay about $6.5 billion for the drug unit of a Belgian conglomerate—Abbott shares climbing more than 2.5 percent on the day.
Shares in Dow component Johnson & Johnson added 1 percent after it bought a $444 million stake in a Dutch biotech company.
And shares of GenTek soared almost 40 percent, after the chemical-maker agreed to a $400 million takeover bid from a private equity firm. And it‘s only Monday.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As you have no doubt heard by now, filmmaker Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland more than 30 years after he fled the U.S. after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Polanski directed some of the most acclaimed movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s. “Rosemary‘s Baby” in 1968 was his first American feature film. “Chinatown,” of course, in ‘74 was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. Polanski had a brief appearance in the film alongside Jack Nicholson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “CHINATOWN”)
ROMAN POLANSKI, DIRECTOR: You‘re a very nosy fellow, kitty cat, huh?
You know what happens to nosy fellows, huh? No. want to guess?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, that‘s where he cuts his nose.
Polanski is presently in a Swiss jail.
Joining me is former prosecutor Wendy Murphy and Willie Brown, former San Francisco mayor and friend of Polanski.
Wendy, for the prosecution, go ahead.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: (AUDIO GAP) easy one.
This guy admitted to raping a child. We are not talking about sex. And we‘re certainly not talking about statutory rape, the 17-year-old boy who has sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend. He was in his mid-40s. He gave her drugs, booze. He raped her in a lot of different ways.
We‘re talking sodomy and other styles of rape, then pleads guilty, decides he shouldn‘t have to pay with the real kind of punishment most people face when they rape kids, takes off, and then thumbs his nose at this country‘s legal system, going to parties, hanging around on the left bank, doing whatever he felt like doing for 30 years.
That‘s the sort of guy who deserves not only to be extradited, but, when he gets here, he gets extra punishment, no discounts. I am sick to my stomach to hear people say, well, he‘s really a smart guy, a brilliant director, and a terrific artist.
Since I read the Constitution, I didn‘t see a brilliant director exception to the punishment part.
MATTHEWS: Just to get the facts straight, you say that he admitted all of those charges, all the drugs and the—he...
MATTHEWS: He pled guilty to all of that?
MURPHY: No, he did not, no, no, no.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think...
MURPHY: He admitted his guilty to raping a child. He was charged with six felonies. He admitted to one.
MURPHY: That‘s already a big discount, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I‘m not arguing with that. I‘m just trying to get the facts straight.
Did he admit guilty to the way you describe it, plying her with booze, giving her drugs? Did he admit all those factors? Did he or did he not?
MURPHY: No, I don‘t know if he admitted to the drugs or the booze. I said he was charged with six. He admitted to one. That was already a discount. They sent him to a rubber room for 42 days.
MURPHY: They were going to send him to jail. He said, “I don‘t think I deserved that,” and he booked it. He deserves to go to jail for a long time.
The prosecution, did they accept his plea of consensual sex with a 13-year-old, not that I agree with there is such a thing as consensual sex, but did they accept that plea?
MURPHY: There was a guilty plea. Yes, they accepted it. In other words, he was going to be punished for raping a child. You can‘t claim consent. It doesn‘t matter.
MATTHEWS: Right. I know—I know—I know the law.
MURPHY: So, it doesn‘t—that was not part of the story, not part of the story at all. He admitted raping a child.
MATTHEWS: He jumped bail on the issue of—of a deal that had been struck, whereby he would get—what kind of a sentence?
MURPHY: I don‘t know what the deal was that he thought he was getting, except it‘s been reported he thought he was going to get out of the mental ward and walk home. And then it‘s been reported that he then heard the judge was not going to go along with the deal.
Maybe it‘s because when they checked him out in the mental hospital, he didn‘t come out real good. Maybe they thought he was a little more dangerous than they believed when they sent him over. I don‘t know. And I don‘t know what he was facing.
But it was a two to four year maximum penalty at that time. And he thought that was too much for what he did to that child. Are you kidding me?
MATTHEWS: Fair enough. Let‘s go to Willie Brown for the defense. Should this man be extradited to the United States and face charges and perhaps, as Wendy Murphy said, he should face additional charges for escaping justice?
WILLIE BROWN, FMR. SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: No, he should not. As a matter of fact, Chris, the deal in Los Angeles at the time between the prosecution and Mr. Dalton, the defense lawyer for Roman Polanski, was agreed to by the judge. He was sentenced to an evaluation facility at Chino in California.
At that facility, they made the appropriate recommendations, consistent with what the judge had agreed to. The judge, on the other hand, began to be pilloried with information and nonsense, similar to what Wendy is offering to the public here. And as a result of that, he wanted to back out of the deal.
The prosecutor was kind enough to tell Mr. Dalton, the lawyer for Roman, that, in fact, the judge was reneging on the deal. The deal was a very simple one. Whatever the recommendations apparently would be from Chino would be what the sentence would be. The recommendations from Chino was, he needed no further incarceration.
The judge apparently said, I won‘t do that. And with that, Mr.
But let‘s talk clearly about what occurred in Switzerland. Mr. Polanski has a residence in Switzerland. He‘s been living there during the ski season for the last 20 or 30 years. He was over there for about ten weeks already this year. The question is, how is it that on this occasion, he is grabbed at the airport?
Well, it‘s very simple. There was a film done, a documentary done on this case. And in that film, it was clear, from the evidence collected by the film makers, that there had been some hanky panky carried on by the prosecution in order to get the judge to back out. The prosecutor, who had made the deal, was not involved in that nonsense, and so said it on that film.
The woman who was the victim, the child, as is being described here, says very clearly that this is not something that we should reopen. She is perfectly satisfied 30 years later with what would have been the disposition.
All of that was done. The minute the film was done, of course, Mr. Polanski‘s lawyers moved to court to see if they could not, for misconduct, get this whole matter set aside. That‘s why the Los Angeles District Attorney‘s Office went to the U.S. Attorney‘s Office, and got them to issue that warrant that has resulted in Mr. Polanski‘s being arrested.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s let Wendy in here. Your reaction to what Mr.
Brown just said.
MURPHY: Well, due respect, sir. The defense filed a motion wanting to raise exactly those questions about some grave miscarriage of justice, and thus his plea apparently should be withdrawn because of the judge‘s misconduct. What matters is, the judge said, I‘ll hear you. I believe you. Come on, let‘s have a hearing. Come back to this country, and let‘s have a hearing.
And guess who didn‘t show! That would be Mr. Polanski, which tells you a lot about whether he really thought he had a case on that score.
And, you know, look, the bottom line is, sometimes people do things for political motivation. Let‘s not distract the public from the fact that he pled guilty to raping a child. So all of the shenanigans you allege, you want to make something of that, bring him back, talk about it, but don‘t forget he admitted his guilt to a very serious crime.
None of that other stuff matters. As much as you want to make that a smoke and mirrors game, so that the public doesn‘t remember what he did to a child, 13 -- he was in his mid 40s, drugs, alcohol, multiple types of rape.
You can talk all you want about the political motivations of the people involved, and I don‘t particularly care what the victim wants. She is not the government. It is not her responsibility. And isn‘t it funny that she decided to forgive him after she cashed the big fat check he handed her in the settlement.
You don‘t indulge payoffs in the criminal justice system. Get him back here. Face the music. Accept responsibility. That‘s when I‘ll have some mercy for the guy.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask the mayor, was Roman Polanski actually guilty of the charge of statutory rape? Was he guilty?
BROWN: He entered a plea of guilty. I was not there. I assume that if he entered a plea of guilty, he was, in fact, guilty. There is always, in any criminal proceeding, an opportunity to settle the matter. It‘s called plea-bargaining. And in this case, the plea-bargain occurred.
Some prosecutors, as evidenced by this prosecutor‘s expression, don‘t like plea-bargaining. Plea-bargaining is done by the prosecutor who has the case. In this case, the prosecutor who had this case is now saying very clearly, this was not something that should be done; ie Mr. Polanski should not be grabbed.
In addition, thereto, there is absolutely no requirement that Mr. Polanski show up for the process that is being addressed, where a question of misconduct may be involved. The persons who are the witnesses for that are the ones who are required to show up. Prosecutors, like the one on this station, doesn‘t like that. But that‘s a reality.
MURPHY: Don‘t mischaracterize what I say.
MATTHEWS: Quickly now.
MURPHY: I was just going to say, look at, sometimes the judge does disagree with the deal, and that‘s OK. Here‘s what defendants are allowed to do when that happens. They withdraw their guilty plea, and they go to trial. They don‘t go to France.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, thank you very much, Wendy Murphy. Thank you, Willie Brown. It‘s been a great exposition of both sides of the argument. Up next, President Obama will go to Copenhagen to try to win the Olympics for the city of Chicago this week. But with everything else on his plate, with the pot boiling on issues like health care, Afghanistan and Iran, is that a good move for our president? And by the way, is it important enough to do it? The politics fix is up next. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back and it‘s time for the politics fix, with “USA Today‘s” Susan Page, and the “New York Daily News‘” Tom Defrank, two of the real pros. It does seems that people—I don‘t want to say our age except Tom and I. I have to tell you, this seems to be the summer of death. So many people we know in public life, not just movie stars, people in our sort of part of the world are dying.
Just this other day—when I got the word the other day from one of my produces that Bill Safire died—on top of Buckley and Crystal and Novak. One of those real guys. All those years writing a column for the “New York Times,” all those years before as a speechwriter for Nixon and Agnew. Years before that is one of the best show boating, great, panache PR guys, who created the kitchen debate back in ‘59, with Nixon And Khrushchev, one of the great events in Cold War history.
Tom, you‘re smiling. There it is, Nixon and Khrushchev. He cooked that baby. There is Brezhnev, off to the right. He cooked that event up, where we got to show our commercialism at its best.
TOM DEFRANK, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: You know, Chris, I was smiling because I met Bill Safire in 1971 as a fill in White House correspondent for “Newsweek Magazine.” I was 25 years old. He was part of that murderers row of speech writers for Richard Nixon, Pat Buchanan, Ray Price, Bill Safire. They really were fabulous.
What struck me was here was this guy who already had a reputation because of the kitchen debate there, but he was gentle, mild mannered, soft spoken. Then, as we later learned, well, his writing for—
MATTHEWS: Susan, I want to show you this. I‘m showing a book that I used to use oftentimes. I often do as well, the “Safire Political Dictionary,” that explains the language we use on shows like this, like HARDBALL, which he sort of created back in ‘68. He had that word. I thought it was Califano that did it. We came up with the term back then.
I developed, obviously, further uses on that term. Your thoughts on the passing, the loss of one of the real menches in American political life, Bill Safire?
SUSAN PAGE, “THE USA TODAY”: I have that political dictionary on my desk, too. I remember when we was hired by the Times, lots of concern that he was just going to be a Nixon apologist. He turned out to be pretty much a Nixon defender, but also a good reporter. You know, he kept using his shoe leather.
And he had a terrific sense of humor. I remember those year-end columns he‘d do every year, with predictions, where he‘d have a lot of outlandish predictions. At the end of the year, he‘d always be predicting that his side was going to win.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he was a columnist who knew how to report. He brought down Burt Lanson, a good guy. He got in a lot of trouble. This guy brought him down. He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, but really for reporting. The late great friend of mine and all ours, William Safire, what a great—can‘t be another guy like him for a while.
We‘ll be right back with Susan Page and Tom Defrank to talk about something a lot more fun. The president is going to Copenhagen to pitch his city. He wants to go to Copenhagen. The LA District Attorney wants to get Polanski this way. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back with “USA Today‘s” Susan Page and Tom Defrank of the “New York Daily News.” We‘re having a little fun tonight. It‘s Monday night. The president of the United States announced—apparently, he was inspired at the meeting of the G-20 to go out and hawk his city. I think it‘s a case of all politics is local. He‘s guarding his base, the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago and the country of the United States. Is this something he‘ll be rewarded for in years to come if we get the Olympics in 2016, Susan Page?
PAGE: Yes, rewarded for it if it works. I think it would be a little embarrassing if the U.S. president goes on this Red Eye to Copenhagen and doesn‘t bring back the Olympic games. I assume they‘re pretty confident he‘s going to be able to deliver it. The Olympics are great. Americans love to host them. For them to go to the president‘s hometown, that would be pretty cool.
MATTHEWS: I‘m not optimistic. I think you go to one sort of white European country, western country, go from London to Chicago, doesn‘t that turn off the rest of the world? Isn‘t it more likely you go to a Latin country like Rio?
DEFRANK: Or Madrid. Or Rio perhaps.
MATTHEWS: Tokyo, some place that is not part of the white world, if you will?
DEFRANK: I don‘t think it‘s going to be Tokyo. My sense, Chris, this is classic damage control. I think if the president were not to go and it doesn‘t become Chicago, then I think he might take a little political heat. I think it‘s much like going all out on health care. He wants to be inoculated to the best degree he can, that he‘s doing everything he can. Doing everything he can on health care for public option and doing everything he can to get the Olympics to his hometown.
MATTHEWS: Is this part of the frenetic presidency, Susan Page, that he has to do everything?
PAGE: I would disagree with my good friend, Tom, in that I don‘t think you get points for trying to do something and failing. If you‘re the president of the United States, you try do something, people expect you to succeed. We‘ve seen other foreign leaders go to the Olympics. That seems to have been helpful. In the past couple years, we know the leader of Brazil and some of the other contenders are going to be also in Copenhagen.
So I guess I don‘t think this is damage control. I think this an effort to get it. I don‘t think he gets points on going, trying and failing, on either health care or the Olympics.
MATTHEWS: Will this be seen as boosterism of the United States? Will this be seen as an effort in one regional part of the country, Chicago, to really sell the economy of this country again? Does it show he cares about jobs? My concern about this president has been that he seems to be out of synch with most people. He wants to win that health care thing. Most people want jobs.
DEFRANK: Most people do want jobs. I think this is boosterism, but it‘s boosterism for America. I think it‘s going to be positive.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Susan Page, Tom Defrank. Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Michael Moore will be with us, as I said, sitting in Tom Defrank‘s store. The movie is called “Capitalism: A Love Story.” That‘s irony.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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