Guests: Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Julia Boorstin, Pat Buchanan, Rep. Tim Walz, Richard Haass; Jane Newton-Small, Michelle Bernard, Anne Kornblut, Clarence Page
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Grave duty.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
The cost of war. President Obama reckoned face to face with war‘s grim reality early this morning in an after-midnight trip to Dover Air Force Base to receive home 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan. The visit to the country‘s entry point for U.S. troops killed in action is something his predecessor, George W. Bush, never did—in fact, kept America from seeing. Tonight we‘ll take a look at the real cost of war and the meaning of the president‘s visit to honor the fallen as he weighs whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.
Plus: Sticking it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hasn‘t led with her charm during her current trip to Pakistan. After local reporters challenged her on U.S. policy, she said, quote, “We don‘t have to give you the money,” and accused the Pakistan government of knowing where al Qaeda leaders, including presumably Osama bin Laden, are hiding. So was Secretary Clinton smart to give Pakistan so much attitude? Maybe she was.
Speaking of Hillary Clinton, a new book by Obama‘s campaign manager, the guy who guided him to the White House, reveals that Hillary was among six finalists in the running for the vice presidency. But what got her cut? Hint, hint, it starts with the letter “B” and rhymes with the word “kill.” That‘s in the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”
Also, you might think an endorsement from Dick Cheney would be like a dinner invite from Uday and Qusay Hussein. But not in Texas. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said she‘s pleased to have the former vice president‘s support in her race for governor. Can the torture man boost her backing from conservatives in beating secessionist governor Rick Perry? This one of the races that matters to me, and we‘ll break it down.
And finally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled the House‘s health care plan today and took some heat from the right and the left. Does that mean she‘s doing her job? More on that in the “Politics Fix.”
Let‘s start with the president‘s trip to Dover Air Force Base to pay respects to Americans killed in Afghanistan. U.S. Democratic congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota is a veteran. He‘s also on the Veterans Affairs Committee. And retired general Barry McCaffrey, of course, is MSNBC military analyst.
General, I want to start with you. If the president accepts the request from General McChrystal, the field commander in Afghanistan, and gives him 40,000 more troops to start with, what kind of a mission will that be? How many years will we be in Afghanistan? And what are the expected casualties over that period of time?
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you know, the president‘s got this huge dilemma he‘s facing. My gut instinct is we‘re there for a decade. The coming three years will be very difficult. I‘d be unsurprised to see $300 billion and 15,000 U.S. killed and wounded. This is tough work.
The question the president and the Congress have to address, though, Chris, isn‘t 10,000 or 40,000 troops, it‘s what are our political and military objectives, and can he explain that to the American people and gain their support? Without their support, this is not a sustainable operation.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look—let‘s go to the congressman, Tim Walt. What do you make of a proposition that the United States goes in there whole hog in a counterinsurgency program to defend the country of Afghanistan from a Taliban takeover, a full effort, population defense, and helping to rebuild the institutions of that country, nation building? Is that a smart thing for us to be doing?
REP. TIM WALZ (D-MN), VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, I think it‘s where we‘re at, Chris. And I think General McCaffrey‘s assessment was very close. I think the problem was here that we didn‘t have that clear mission. I think it‘s also incredibly important talking about Secretary of State Clinton‘s visit to Pakistan. This is much more about Pakistan than it is about Afghanistan, of trying to make sure that the Taliban insurgency into Pakistan does not destabilize a nuclear power.
So the fact of the matter is, I don‘t know if there‘s any real good solutions here. They are all going to be difficult. The good news is, is that the president‘s taking a thoughtful approach. He‘s listening to everyone across the spectrum and trying to come up with a plan that has the best chance of success. And I think success needs to be defined as denying a clear operating and a clear place for al Qaeda to be able to conduct their missions out of, and that‘s going to be a difficult task, as the general stated.
MATTHEWS: Well, it seems to me the general has a very strong plan in mind, General. General McChrystal‘s talking about 40,000 more troops now. He may be asking for more later. He may wish to have even more now. But clearly, he‘s talking counterinsurgency. He‘s talking about defeating the Taliban. That‘s the mission he was told to undertake, and that sounds like a very big mission, to prevent the Taliban, who are people from Afghanistan, from retaking control of that country against a government which is perhaps seen by the people there as corrupt, which is incapable of protecting itself and denying the Taliban the ability to take over the country.
In other words, General, I want to ask it again. Are we basically replacing the Karzai government in terms of the defense establishment of that country?
MCCAFFREY: Well, I think the president‘s March strategy, which he fired the commander on the ground, put in a new guy, Stan McChrystal—who I might add is probably the most effective counterterrorist fighter we‘ve had in 25 years. The real mission he was assigned, now, Chris, the military component was build the Afghan security forces, build an army, and a tougher proposition, help build the police force. We just had three DEA agents who were killed in action along with our soldiers last week.
So Stan McChrystal isn‘t going to build a new nation. That‘s going to be Ambassador Eikenberry, the Treasury Department, Agriculture, State and others. What Stan‘s going to do is protect the population until an Afghan security force can step forward. Is that doable? That‘s a legitimate debate.
MATTHEWS: But that is a war between the United States and the Taliban. The Taliban can pick its time, pick its place. It can identify itself as Taliban simply by its decision to attack at any given moment. We can‘t go around the country killing people because we think they‘re Taliban, we have to wait for them to attack us in fixed positions. Doesn‘t that put us on the defensive, General?
MCCAFFREY: Well, I think the public rhetoric in Washington is entirely that. It implies we‘re going to go to 10 populated areas, we‘re going to cede the rest of the country to the Taliban, we‘re going to embed in the population and protect them there. It‘s going to be a stretch. Again, the key is, this is not an operational nation. It‘s a war between the Pashtuns, the Tajiks, the Haidars, et cetera. Afghan versus Pakistan is ill-defined. As the congressman correctly points out, our vital national security interests are more likely to be in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia than Afghanistan. This is tough lifting politically for our president.
MATTHEWS: Well, especially given this. Former CIA field officer Bob Baer, who‘s been on this program many times, and you know him, General—he wrote in “Time” magazine this week, “The real question for the U.S. should not be about the morality—should not be about the morality of a drug dealer on the CIA‘s payroll but whether it‘s a metaphor for the huge challenge we face in Afghanistan. Do we stand any chance at all of building a modern, peaceful nation with confederates like Ahmed Wali Karzai?” He‘s the drug-dealing brother of the president over there, who‘s apparently on our payroll. “Vietnam would suggest the answer is no.”
Congressman, this is beginning to look a lot like ‘65 and ‘68. We‘ve got Madame Nu. We‘ve got the brother Nu. We‘ve got Diem here, a weak leader—not a mystic, perhaps, like Diem, but a weak leader who‘s apparently not popular. He‘s got a brother who‘s a drug dealer who‘s on our payroll. And we have the unwillingness, apparently, or the inability of that government to defend itself against the Taliban. That‘s going to be our job.
MATTHEWS: Should American people—should we as a country be the main defense force of the Afghanistan people?
WALZ: No, we can‘t be. And it has to be the Afghans doing it themselves. And the general‘s right, the toughest hurdle to overcome is the police force, and I think we‘re making progress on that, but I can understand the American public. And I spent 24 years doing this. It shouldn‘t have taken eight years to train these guys up. We‘re not close to getting them there yet.
And I think that this myth that was started and perpetrated for seven years, that Afghanistan would be a functioning multi-party democracy and a first world economy was absolutely ludicrous. And I think as far as Karzai is concerned—I stressed all along we needed to go to a run-off. I think the legitimacy of the Karzai government is probably always going to be in question.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let‘s take a look at what the president said today, Congressman and General McCaffrey. Let‘s listen to President Obama today after his visit to Dover Air Force Base to honor the war dead. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day, not only our troops but their families, as well. And so Michelle and I are constantly mindful of those sacrifices. And obviously, you know, the burden of that both our troops and our families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts. And you know, it is something that I think about each and every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It was clear he was up all night. The president didn‘t get back to the White House on Marine One until about 4:00 from Dover.
Let me ask you, Congressman, if you had to choose between an all-out effort to defend the government of Pakistan against—or Afghanistan, rather, against the Taliban with 10,000, or 40,000 more troops, rather, now and maybe more later, or a decision to basically say, That government‘s not defensible, it isn‘t our job to do it, we‘ll take our chances with an alternative plan, what would you do?
WALZ: Well, no one‘s presented the alternative plan at this point,
Chris. And I don‘t think at the Karzais‘ level that there‘s going to be
that. But at the local level, I think there is. And I agree General
McChrystal was the best person for this job. But before we undertake this
I‘ve been out and I want to know—I want to know how they‘re going to do this. I want to know how we‘re going to measure results, and I want to know before the president goes back and stands at Dover again, as it will happen, that what we‘re asking them to do is achievable and that it‘s in this nation‘s best interest.
WALZ: That has to be articulated still.
MATTHEWS: Within the military establishment, General McCaffrey, I understand that the experience of Tommy Franks when we first went into Iraq is very educational. Don‘t accept a mission without the resources to carry it out or you‘ll be blamed in history. And I guess that‘s the question for General McChrystal. And here‘s the question to you, General. Is there a middle ground here? Does the president have to basically take the advice of his general and give him the resources he‘s asked for, the 40,000 troops now, or else admit that he‘s not doing it?
MCCAFFREY: No, absolutely not. It‘s entirely legitimate for the commander-in-chief to sort out the diplomatic, economic, covert intelligence, allied support, as well as the direct resource requirements from his military commander on the field. Of course that‘s appropriate.
My guess is they‘ll end up, the government, joining hands in some course of action. Then they‘ll feel they bought into it and they‘ll go to the American people, the Congress, and try and gain support of it. You know, the congressman‘s a retired Army command sergeant major with time in combat. I think he called this entirely correctly. This process is important. It‘s got to be deliberate...
MCCAFFREY: ... because once embarked, and it‘s 42,000 killed and wounded so far—this is going to be tough work.
MATTHEWS: OK. It‘s murky for me. I need to have one quick answer for both of you. Is there a middle course between giving the general on the field the 40,000 troops he wants and saying no? Is there a middle course, or is that just muddling through, like LBJ did? Congressman?
WALZ: No, I think there is, Chris, because I think it‘s different. I think we get a tighter mission on training the Afghan security forces...
WALZ: ... and I think that‘s possible.
MATTHEWS: OK, General, is there a middle course here, or is that just BS‘ing ourselves, to offer a middle course?
MCCAFFREY: Well, there may—of course, there‘s a middle course because you can use contractors, economic leverage, allies. However, there‘s a bit of me says arguing about 10,000 to 40,000 is nonsense. You know, you could give him 50,000 and it won‘t change the reality. What are the political and military objectives, and can they get the country to support it?
MATTHEWS: OK. I just remembered the old rule, Don‘t throw a 50-foot rope to a guy drowning 100 feet from shore. And I just wonder whether we have to be careful about that. Congressman Tim Walz, Army veteran, of course, and General Barry McCaffrey, thank you, gentlemen.
Coming up: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets very tough in her talk in Pakistan. We don‘t hear language like this from Hillary Clinton hardly ever, but certainly not in a foreign diplomatic situation. Wait until you hear what she says to the people and government of Pakistan. She basically blames them for hiding al Qaeda leaders. That‘s the bottom line here. Wait until you hear it. She says they know where they‘re at and aren‘t doing anything about getting them. Tough stuff from Secretary Clinton. Is it the right stuff? We‘ll get back to that when we come here with HARDBALL.
Back in a minute. You‘re watching it, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: These attacks on innocent people are cowardly. They are not courageous, they are cowardly. They know they are on the losing side of history, but they are determined to take as many lives with them as their movement is finally exposed for the nihilistic, empty effort that it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over in Pakistan yesterday reacting to a bomb attack that happened just as she arrived in the country. And here she is today in a much tougher statement, in speaking to a student forum with much tougher language, this time directed at Pakistan and its government. Let‘s listen to the secretary of state here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I don‘t know any country that can stand by and look at a force terrorists intimidating people and taking over large parts of your territory, particularly when that force is often guided by, directed by, and funded by outside foreign influence. But that‘s up to Pakistan. I mean, if you want to see your territory shrink, that‘s your choice, but I don‘t think that‘s the right choice. In fact, I think that‘s a very self-destructive choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, from the start, the Obama administration has said that Afghanistan and Pakistan are inherently linked. If Secretary (SIC) John Kerry‘s trip was to play good cop, however, was Secretary Clinton‘s trip to Pakistan today especially to play bad cop? Apparently.
Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Richard, how will Pakistan respond to that tough talk, you might even call it scolding talk, from the secretary of state?
RICHARD HAASS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, my hunch is they won‘t like it. My hunch is they will push back. On the other hand, they don‘t—the Pakistanis don‘t respond terribly well to kind talk or soft talk. Indeed, that‘s the challenge facing the United States, is that we haven‘t been able to come up with any approach with Pakistan—giving them aid, sanctioning them, tough talk, sweet talk—that seems to work.
MATTHEWS: Whose side are they on, us or the terrorists?
HAASS: It‘s hard to—it‘s hard to give you a singular about “they” Chris. The answer is in Pakistan, you‘ve got a very divided government and a very divided society. So the answer is some of them are sympathetic to the Taliban. They wouldn‘t see them as terrorists. Some are probably sympathetic to the terrorists. Others, though, are on the other side. Again, the problem is you‘ve have a split society with very limited capabilities, very limited cohesion.
MATTHEWS: If tomorrow the Golden Gate Bridge was blown up, the Sears Tower was blown up, the Empire State building was blown up, the Capitol building in the United States was blown up, at the loss of tens of thousands of people dead, would they cheer in the classrooms in Pakistan?
HAASS: There would be some of that. It‘s one of the most virulent anti-American countries I‘ve ever visited. Pakistan has a historical narrative, where they see themselves as the innocent victims, initially of British perfidy with the empire, India to some extent, and most recently, the United States.
They are always—they have always got this narrative, again, of—of victimhood. So, the resentment of the United States is profound. It‘s both broad and deep.
MATTHEWS: So many Pakistani come—people come to American and seem to love it here. What‘s the difference? What‘s going on?
HAASS: Well, sure. In a country of 175 million people, sure, you‘re going to have a chunk who are going to love America. Often, those who come here are those who are most entrepreneurial, who are most open to making a new start.
But you have got, again, a country of 175 million people, incredibly limiting in some ways because of class. It‘s almost futile in certain ways, in terms of limited opportunity. You have got tribal splits. You have got ethnic splits. You have got geographic splits.
A small percentage of the people have terrible education. You have still got significant illiteracy throughout the country. And it doesn‘t take a large percentage of a country of 175 million people, just a small percentage, to create havoc.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Hillary Clinton. What do you make of the secretary‘s diplomacy?
I had never heard a secretary of state go after people—I mean, let‘s take a look at what Andrea Mitchell reported earlier today. She was referring to the hunt for al Qaeda leaders over in the mountains of Pakistan.
And Secretary Clinton told the Pakistani newspaper editors today—quote—“I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn‘t get them really if they wanted to.”
Well, that‘s pretty blunt. She‘s basically saying they‘re incoherent
they‘re in cahoots, to use an old cowboy expression.
HAASS: Well, they have certainly been...
MATTHEWS: The government of Pakistan is in cahoots with the people who killed our people on 9/11, they know where Osama bin Laden is, and they are hiding the guy.
HAASS: That‘s probably something of an overstatement.
But the fact that so many of these people operate openly in cities in Pakistan suggests that, at best, there‘s a kind of tolerance, an unwillingness to confront them. At worst, in some occasion—in some situations, I expect they—they are in cahoots.
But—but the secretary is fastened on something that is bizarre, from the American point of view. Here‘s a society, here‘s a government that‘s threatened by—by various radicals and extremists. Yet, they seem unwilling to take them on. In some cases, even worse, as you suggest, they do seem to be in bed with them.
We can‘t understand why it is they are acting that way. And I think what you‘re hearing here is a real frustration, indeed exasperation.
MATTHEWS: Imagine the frustration of Americans serving—people fighting in Afghanistan. We‘re fighting in Afghanistan to protect a government that may well be corrupt. We‘re fighting a government in Afghanistan we really don‘t understand what it‘s up to in terms of drug dealing, in terms of its real ties to India, whatever they are.
We‘re trying to protect that government because we‘re afraid if that government goes down, and Taliban takes over, that that will endanger the government of Pakistan, which we now have come to believe doesn‘t like us either.
HAASS: Well, that‘s one of the weak links in the arguments for doing more in Afghanistan.
People keep saying we have got to do all that we want to do, or all that General McChrystal wants to do, in order to save Pakistan. We don‘t want Afghanistan to become a sanctuary against Pakistan.
HAASS: The problem is, Pakistan is now a sanctuary against Pakistan.
HAASS: And that—and that‘s—that‘s one of the flaws in the argument of those who would have us do more in Afghanistan. If the real prize is Pakistan, why can‘t we get the Pakistanis to do more?
Again, that was the theme the secretary of state was hitting loud and clear. The question is, by going public, will she make a bad situation worse or better?
HAASS: I don‘t think it‘s obvious that this will work. It‘s also, though, not obvious that—that other things have worked.
MATTHEWS: Yes, you wonder about the Rube Goldberg thinking behind this whole thing...
MATTHEWS: ... about, this will lead to this, will lead to that, will lead to that, and that‘s why you‘re getting killed.
Anyway, thank you, Richard Harris—I mean Richard Haass.
MATTHEWS: Richard Harris wasn‘t available.
MATTHEWS: Richard Haass, thank you, buddy, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, not the old British—Irish movie actor.
MATTHEWS: And now Anne Kornblut of “The Washington Post,” whose upcoming book is called “Notes From the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win.”
God, you‘re tough. And you should be.
Was Hillary Clinton too tough in Pakistan? Is that going to be the perception, that—you know, her critics will say she‘s always wrong. Her friends will say she‘s always right. But, down the middle, was it pretty smart to do a little tough talk with those people over there today?
ANNE KORNBLUT, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, especially on her first visit.
I think a couple of things. First of all, I think it‘s very unlikely that the tone she struck today on this trip, which was well-planned in advance, even though it was kept—the details were kept secret for security reasons, I think it‘s very unlikely that she went with anything other than the White House official message and tone.
KORNBLUT: And, if in fact there is a kind of a good cop/bad cop situation, as you described it, going on with—with Senator Kerry‘s trip and her trip now, again, I think it‘s perfectly intentional.
It‘s also who she is. I think she‘s trying to set a marker there, where she‘s going to strike a tough note with them on her first trip. But we also see her doing a lot of the kind of—quote, unquote—“softer diplomacy,” having...
KORNBLUT: ... a town hall meeting, meeting with people.
MATTHEWS: But don‘t you like the spontaneity? I know, when she was in Africa a few weeks back, and that wise guy asked her, “How‘s your husband think about this?”
MATTHEWS: And it was mistranslated, or whatever. But she took it as, “You‘re asking me how the man of the house thinks?”
MATTHEWS: “I mean, I don‘t want to hear that around here.”
KORNBLUT: Well, right.
KORNBLUT: That was a...
MATTHEWS: But I love it. It‘s spontaneous.
KORNBLUT: I would say, though, that was a personal...
KORNBLUT: That situation was a personal question...
KORNBLUT: ... on—on something that I don‘t think that anyone considers the core diplomatic mission...
MATTHEWS: OK. In other words, this was policy.
KORNBLUT: This is central. This is policy. There‘s no—there‘s no question in my mind this is not an accident.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s talk about—you have written a book about—about women and opportunity. Let‘s talk about women in the world. A big part of this fight is about the way they treat their women over there.
How are they going to react to an American woman basically scolding them or being tough on them that way?
KORNBLUT: I—I guess I—I don‘t think I know the answer to that.
I think we have seen female...
MATTHEWS: Will they take—will they take special umbrage at that?
KORNBLUT: We have seen—well, look, that part of the world actually has a history of women in power.
KORNBLUT: We have seen—briefly and with unfortunate...
MATTHEWS: And they‘re all—yes.
KORNBLUT: But we have seen female secretaries of state before, obviously. This is our third who has gone to that part of the world and who‘s been the face of the administration.
KORNBLUT: So, I‘m not so sure that that is really going to be the issue for her.
I think the line she‘s going to have to walk is, as we talk about in Afghanistan, perhaps ceding some parts of that country to the Taliban, in an effort to focus on terrorism, is that going to mean a resurgence of bad things for women? This has been one of her main causes as secretary of state and much before that.
So, is she—are we going to see parts of that part of the world now not being friendly to women anymore?
You have written about Hillary Clinton. And I—and we‘re all fascinated with her, maybe me too much sometimes. But what do you think of her statement the other day that she‘s thinking of retiring after this is over?
KORNBLUT: What did she say? She said—she said you were obsessed with her. Wasn‘t that...
KORNBLUT: ... during the campaign?
MATTHEWS: I accept I am obsessed with her husband and everybody in politics.
MATTHEWS: But let me ask you this. What did you make of that statement retirement? It just blew my socks off, retirement for somebody that gung-ho.
KORNBLUT: Well, and when she said that she wasn‘t going to run again, to finally give a rationale, I mean, I think when she said, oh, I‘m going to run for president...
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of it? Bottom-line this baby.
KORNBLUT: I think she‘s probably tired.
KORNBLUT: I think she‘s running around the world. I...
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think she‘s ready. Retirement looked like a red herring to me. But who knows.
KORNBLUT: Well, we will find out.
KORNBLUT: We will find out.
MATTHEWS: I‘m with her on this stuff.
Anyway, thank you, Anne Kornblut. Looking forward to your book.
KORNBLUT: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I hope.
Up next: Obama campaign manager David Plouffe‘s new book is coming out. He‘s also going to be a on “Meet the Press” this Sunday. He reveals who else was in Barack Obama‘s short list? Well, on the long list, it was Hillary Clinton, if you count them as a half-a-dozen on the list. By the time I got down to the sweet three, she had been cut because of apparently Mr. Bill.
We will get back to that when we come back to HARDBALL and the “Sideshow.”
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First up: how he picked the team. This is great stuff. David Plouffe, the guy who ramrodded and strategized President Obama‘s brilliant campaign for president, has come out with his book. And it‘s got some great stuff in it.
Let‘s go to the V.P. selection. Talk about delicious. It turns out Hillary Clinton made it to the final six for vice president, but not to the final three.
The deal-breaker? Mr. Bill. Here‘s what the then-nominee Obama told his brain trust, Plouffe and David Axelrod, about the Hillary option—quote—“I still think Hillary has a lot of what I‘m looking for in a V.P., smarts, discipline, steadfastness—steadfastness. I think Bill may be too big a complication. If I picked her, my concern is that there would be more than two of us in the relationship.”
Isn‘t that smart?
By early August, Plouffe says, Hillary was out of the running for vice president and that the field had been narrowed to Joe Biden, Evan Bayh of Indiana—he‘s the senator—and Tim Kaine, of course, the governor of Virginia. Biden ended up winning the team over with his grasp of the issues and his blue-collar moxie.
Now for the “Big Number” tonight.
A conservative group out in Iowa, the Family Policy Center, is hoping to land Sarah Palin as a speaker next month. The hitch? Palin‘s big-time speaking fee. How much is the group looking to raise to lure Sarah Palin to speak at their group? Well, according to the Politico, which knows these things, $100,000 for one speech—but no big deal—no deals yet.
The conservatives out in Iowa, at ground zero, by the way, for American politics, feel they need to raise 100 grand to bring in Sarah Palin.
By the way, wouldn‘t the fact that it‘s the first-in-the-country caucus coming up in 2012 be enough of a draw for her to come into the state? Apparently not. One hundred thousand dollars, the bidding price for Sarah Palin. It shows why she quit that governor‘s job. I don‘t think that job paid $100,000 over two or three years.
Anyway, that‘s our—tonight‘s big, curious “Big Number.”
Up next: the Texas governor‘s race, where Dick Cheney is backing senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a—well, a centrist Republican. Actually, she‘s a regular conservative Republican, but she‘s not a wing nut. She‘s not for secession, like the guy she‘s running against, Governor Rick Perry.
Anyway, that‘s an interesting pick by the vice president. It‘s a race that matters to me. And we‘re going to get to it next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
A big-time rally on Wall Street today on a GDP report that outstripped even the healthiest expectations, the Dow Jones industrials soaring 200 points, the S&P 500 adding 23 points, and Nasdaq is up almost 38 points.
The government‘s gross domestic product report put third-quarter growth at a remarkable 3.5 percent. That‘s the fastest pace in two years. Gains were seen across a number of sectors, including consumer spending, exports, and home construction.
And more good news today, this time on the jobs front—new claims dipped not quite as much as expected, but continuing claims fell to their lowest levels since March.
Shares in Alcoa led the Dow, gaining almost 9 percent. The aluminum-maker said it was working on a deal with China to develop a commercial airliner to compete in the global aviation market.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL for a little factoid.
The last—what was it? The last World Series to be completely segregated, had all-white teams on both sides, was the 1950s‘ disastrous four-game sweep by the Yankees of the Phillies, which is still in the process of being avenged this week.
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: I noticed that.
MATTHEWS: For many reasons, not just ethnic reasons.
MATTHEWS: But the Phillies are coming.
Anyway, Election Day in Virginia, New Jersey and a bunch of local races all coming up on Tuesday—it‘s time to talk some politics and some race with two experts, Clarence Page, of course, the syndicated columnist and editorial board member for “The Chicago Tribune,” and—and Patrick J. Buchanan is of course our pal here, MSNBC political analyst, and strong man of the right.
So, let‘s go to this—this Texas governor‘s case. It‘s fascinating.
First off, this race isn‘t until March, but there‘s big news in Texas—
Texas. Former Vice President Dick Cheney is backing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, proving once again that a broken clock is right twice a day—astounding—against...
MATTHEWS: ... the secessionist Governor Rick Perry.
Palin, by the way, the former governor of Alaska, is backing, of course, Rick Perry.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Perry is reaching out to the populist right with the secession thing and the 10th Amendment stuff. And what Kay Bailey Hutchison...
MATTHEWS: You say secession with a certain love.
BUCHANAN: Well, listen, my grand...
BUCHANAN: A couple of my great-grandfathers were in that endeavor.
But—well, here‘s the thing.
MATTHEWS: ... this guy would be in that same endeavor.
BUCHANAN: She‘s got—what her problem is, she‘s got a real problem with conservatives down there, Chris.
I spoke in ‘96 to the Republican state convention before they went to San Diego. They were going to keep her off the delegation, the United States senator. It‘s a very conservative party, but Cheney will help her somewhat with the crowd down there, but I don‘t think a great deal, because he‘s a very national figure. And, quite frankly, she‘s not a cutting-edge type social conservative.
MATTHEWS: Who, Dick Cheney?
BUCHANAN: Cheney. Cheney.
I thought it was an interesting split between the wing nut, far-right secessionist crowd, and the—just the hard-right neocon crowd.
MATTHEWS: I mean, it‘s interesting that it‘s getting into little slivers out there on the right now, but the fact that Dick Cheney backed Kay Bailey.
PAGE: Yes, but you know what? You know, everybody who supports Perry is not a secessionist. Pat is onto something when he says he has tapped into that populist route out there in Texas, and that—that—just that, you know, pro-Texas culture, grassroots kind of thing.
His spokesman sort of dismissed Cheney as part of the Washington crowd, which...
MATTHEWS: Yes, he did. Well, he just said...
MATTHEWS: I thought it was a smart answer by Dick—Governor Perry said that they‘re pals. They‘re friends. They work together.
MATTHEWS: You expect that.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to New Jersey now to some—closer to here. In fact, New Jersey is stuck between the Yankees and the Phillies this week in who they support.
Anyway, they vote this coming Tuesday. And this is a hot race. The governor, Corzine, and a former senator, wealthy guy from Goldman Sachs, was in big trouble. Now he‘s up pretty much even now with Chris Christie. You have this third party candidate, Chris Daggett, who is not a right winger. He‘s apparently a somewhat middle of the road Republican.
It isn‘t quite clear, Pat, why there is a three-way race up there.
BUCHANAN: Well, he‘s an anti-tax guy. He‘s done a good job on taxes.
I understand it. But it‘s a tremendous benefit to Corzine, who I don‘t
think can get 50 percent. He can win with 44. The other—the American -
excuse me, the Republican candidate has not had a good race. He‘s focusing on the fact he‘s a prosecutor.
MATTHEWS: Now we got—you know how polls change Thursday right before election. Right now, they‘re crossing. It‘s got Corzine now moving head of Christie. I still think that race is up for grabs.
BUCHANAN: I agree with you.
MATTHEWS: I think the really good voters in New Jersey are Republicans. They‘ll show up. It will be a boring year for most people. There‘s no enthusiasm for Corzine. And I think—
BUCHANAN: Daggett could fall off.
MATTHEWS: Could fall off. As you said the other day—I‘m imitating you—they‘re not organized. There‘s no party there.
PAGE: You imitate Pat very well there, Chris. But, yes, Daggett appeals to the more libertarian, small government crowd, unlike Perry.
MATTHEWS: Will they vote?
PAGE: Chances are, they may just return home to the Republican party and give Christie a boost.
MATTHEWS: What does your nose tell you?
PAGE: It‘s up for grabs, like you said.
BUCHANAN: It tells me it‘s a dead heat, even though Corzine is ahead.
It‘s a dead heat. I agree with you. There‘s a real anti-Corzine feeling.
MATTHEWS: Why would you say—remember that great movie title, “As Good As It Gets?” how can you say to yourself, this is as good as it gets?
BUCHANAN: Because you can sometimes look at the alternative.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to this weird race in upstate New York, the 23rd district. We‘ll never think again after this race. This is one of those races that‘s going to—what is it called, Brigadoon. We‘re going to look at it once and never see it again.
Vacant seat up there. You have that fight between—let‘s go through these names again here, Bill Owens, the Democrat, Dee Dee Scozzafava, the Republican candidate, but very liberal on issues like gay marriage and abortion rights, and then Doug Hoffman, who‘s the man of the right, the man of the Buchanite right. Who wins that one?
BUCHANAN: I think Scozzafava runs third clearly. I think Hoffman wins it because there‘s enormous momentum up there, Chris. There‘s tremendous interest. We‘re all talking about it. Cable networks talking about it.
And also this, I think Scozzafava is basically reaching out to her liberal base. She has NARAL sending letters—
MATTHEWS: Will NARAL help you in races like that?
BUCHANAN: It will help take vote away from the Democratic candidate and then it will tell the Republican, she is a real liberal.
MATTHEWS: I got it. This is fascinating. Who will the real pro-abortion rights people vote for?
BUCHANAN: They‘re going for somebody who is with them, and if it‘s a Democrat or Republican both, they‘ll go with the Democrat. But if she‘s not good enough, they will go with her as a woman.
PAGE: At the same time, the Club For Growth had a front group, apparently, running a negative ad—or I should say a positive ad for Scozzafava, which was actually --
MATTHEWS: You‘ve got Sarah Palin who is for—
MATTHEWS: Hoffman. You have Tim Pawlenty up there, Rick Santorum, back from the dead, backing the conservative candidate. You have Michele Bachmann. This is like a who‘s who of the far right, all out there campaigning for the challenger—for the challenger.
BUCHANAN: People who are conservatives first are for Hoffman. And those who are Republicans first are for Scozzafava, because she‘s the candidate. Democrats are helping Hoffman by attacking him. They‘re saying to the Republicans out there with those ads, hey, this is the guy they‘re afraid of.
MATTHEWS: Who would you vote for?
MATTHEWS: You know what? There‘s a reason why I keep forgetting Hoffman‘s name. And you go to bed with his name in your heart as you go to bed tonight. I can‘t remember this name, Hoffman. Scozzafava I will never forget, as long as I live, whether she wins or not. What a great name.
PAGE: The other name there is Tim Pawlenty endorsing Hoffman. That tells you—
MATTHEWS: He‘s leaning right.
BUCHANAN: Romney did not endorse.
MATTHEWS: I know. That‘s so Romney. It‘s so Romney not to make a choice. By the way, Good and Pawlenty‘s up there. That‘s what I call him, Good and Pawlenty. Clarence Page, thanks for having fun. Hoffman is your guy. Hoffman, I can‘t remember his name. Pat Buchanan picks Hoffman.
Up next, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveils her health care plan. It‘s interesting, she‘s getting hit from the right and the left, which tells me she‘s doing her job as leader of the Democratic party. The politics fix is coming up. The health care plan is jelling on the House side. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: The bill will expand coverage, including a public option to boost choice and competition in the health insurance reform.
It covers 96 percent of all Americans, and it puts affordable coverage in reach for millions of uninsured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Time now for the politics fix. Michelle Bernard, of course, is president of the Independent Women‘s Forum, and MSNBC political analyst. And Jane Newton-Small writes for “Time.” You know, I have never seen it get this rough. I am going to be seeing as naive with you ladies.
But look at this ad here. This ran in today‘s “Politico” newspaper. I get it at home, a little courtesy from the newspaper at 6:00. I read it with my coffee at dawn. They put up the list of 36 faces of people who were beaten and thrown out of politics in 1994, presumably for backing the Hillary and Bill Clinton health care plan. This is a statement of death. They even put on two deceased guys, who are dead now. They put them on there.
This is playing rough. What do you make—this is like a scare tactic from the industry people. It‘s a group called the American Future Fund, advocating conservative free market ideals. Anyway, it‘s your crowd.
MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, I don‘t know if it‘s my crowd or not, but it‘s effective. If you think about the junior members of Congress, the people who took over from Republicans that are Democrats now, they‘re going to look at that ad, and they‘re going to think twice about rushing to do anything. And they‘re going to listen to their constituents.
It‘s an effective ad. It‘s scary, but it‘s effective.
MATTHEWS: It says, do you want to be a nobody?
BERNARD: It says, do you want to be re-elected.
MATTHEWS: No. Do you want to go away and not be a famous person anymore? Do you want to no longer be a big shot? I don‘t know who these guys are, most of them.
BERNARD: And they run so they can be re-elected, over and over again.
MATTHEWS: This is existential, is what this is. This is a direct threat to their being. This isn‘t you‘re going to have a bad day. This is you‘re going to go away into nowhere. This is what this is.
JANE NEWTON-SMALL, “TIME MAGAZINE”: It‘s a real threat. Look, there‘s 48 members of Congress who were elected -- 48 Democrats who were elected in districts who were won by both Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Those are very conservative districts.
MATTHEWS: So they have to face voters who normally vote Republican.
BERNARD: Exactly, that are more conservative than not.
MATTHEWS: And therefore?
BERNARD: And therefore—
MATTHEWS: Are you part of the scare team?
BERNARD: No, it‘s not a matter of scaring people. It‘s a matter of saying listen to your constituents. If you come from a district that is more conservative than not, and are worried about cost—
MATTHEWS: Look at some big names here that are worried. Joe Lieberman is not worried. He‘s just tough. But Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Mary Landrieu—
Hold those pictures up there. These are people—you may not recognize the faces. But these are all people, except for Lieberman, who is pretty well know, from relatively conservative Democratic states. Blanche Lincoln I think is a wonderful person. She faced a very conservative—you talk about people, they voted for McCain overwhelmingly down there. And they probably would do it again.
NEWTON-SMALL: And she‘s up for re-election. She‘s got a tough race ahead of her. She‘s one of the most vulnerable Democrats.
MATTHEWS: And Mary Landrieu wins by one or two points every six years. And Ben Nelson is just a bit of a kermudgen (ph), right?
BERNARD: And they‘ve all got very difficult races before them. They‘ve got very conservative districts. I think it‘s going to be very hard for Reid to get them on—
MATTHEWS: Can he draw on an inside straight? Can he win everyone he needs? I figure he can only afford to lose one of 61 people. Meaning, all 60 Democrats and Olympia Snowe. There‘s no one else out there he‘s going to get.
BERNARD: Olympia Snowe is not going to vote for a public option.
MATTHEWS: So he‘s going to have to come out for the trigger, in the end, right?
BERNARD: I don‘t see how else he does it.
NEWTON-SMALL: It‘s going to be two weeks of debate, and everyone is going to be exhausted by it.
MATTHEWS: That‘s why it‘s—we‘ll be right back with Michelle Bernard and Jane Newton-Small to talk about something really fascinating, Hillary. Hillary is amazing. Hillary is not going to retire, not from what I saw today.
BERNARD: She‘s not. She‘s not. I‘m with you.
MATTHEWS: You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Pakistan doesn‘t have to take this money. Let me be very clear. You do not have to take this money. You do not have to take any aid from us. But we believe that we can turn the page. And what is regrettable is this misunderstanding, from my perspective, as to both the intent in the motivation of the legislation, and the way that we draft legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, over in Pakistan the other day. She was very tough with the people there. And we‘re back talking about it. She was even tougher today talking to a student group. She was talking about how—you know, you‘re hiding bin Laden and those guys. We know you are hiding them. You know where they are and you‘re not doing anything about it. So don‘t give us a lot of guff. That‘s basically what she said to the people of Pakistan and their government.
NEWTON-SMALL: She‘s totally right, in the sense that Pakistan has been playing us against them. They‘ve been playing them against us. It‘s like Siegried and Roy with their tigers. They‘ve got the tigers jumping into different hoops. In the last few months, one of those tigers, being the insurgents, the al Qaeda and Taliban of Pakistan, have basically bitten off Siegried‘s face. And it‘s been a disaster for them. They‘ve got fighting 80 miles from the capital of Pakistan. And they have these massive insurgencies.
BERNARD: I loved her statements. I thought she was right on target. She is the president‘s representative. You have people question whether or not he‘s too soft, is he a dove. We knew through the campaign season that she was the hawk.
MATTHEWS: Look how greats she looks doing this for the religious ceremony there. It‘s so effective. I‘m a westerner. It seems to me that would impress me that she‘s showing this kind of respect.
BERNARD: And deference.
MATTHEWS: Yes. She looks great doing this. I don‘t know. I shouldn‘t be talking about appeal and appearance, but it works to me. The fact that she looks like a local, and she‘s dressed in the garb of the people and shows respect.
Any way, let me ask you this question, because it seems like Hillary Clinton is always incredibly careful as a political figure at home, maybe too careful, lacking in spontaneity, a little too sculpted, if you will, politically.
Yet lately, in Africa, taking on that guy that she thought was asking, so what does your husband think—you know, it was mistranslated. Then in this case saying, don‘t talk to me about boy, we‘re not the best people in the world. You guys are harboring terrorists in this country. So don‘t give us that. It works here, does it work there?
NEWTON-SMALL: That‘s what I‘m saying, this is all for us. It‘s not about—
MATTHEWS: Do you think? Then it‘s not right to be doing it. I sit?
BERNARD: I think it works there. I think it works there.
NEWTON-SMALL: It works in Pakistan?
BERNARD: I think it does work in Pakistan. I think this is not just for us. It is for the entire world to see. What she is saying is, number one, my sex, my gender does not matter.
MATTHEWS: A lot of people feel like they need to be hit in the head. The head of state of Pakistan appears very weak. Pakistan is disintegrating in front of everybody. People are scared. How do you separate Pakistan from Iran and Iraq?
MATTHEWS: So tomorrow morning, the generals are going to get up there and Zardari is going to be, you know, we do know where bin Laden is. You finally embarrasses us. We‘re going to tell you where he is and go get him.
NEWTON-SMALL: It‘s never going to happen.
BERNARD: Has anything that they‘ve done worked?
MATTHEWS: No, that‘s true.
BERNARD: That‘s the point.
NEWTON-SMALL: We‘re stuck in a place in Pakistan where nothing we do
are we going to let them dissolve into an insurgency, a nuclear insurgency?
MATTHEWS: I did this earlier in the show. I‘m going to do it again, in the political part of the show, with you two. We have young men and women over there fighting in Afghanistan, in a very horrendous situation, out in the middle of nowhere. They‘re on posts. I try to think about this a lot. They‘re on post in a cold place, in so many ways a cold place, by themselves.
And they‘re doing something they were told is good for their county, because it‘s their orders. And yet, they‘re simply propping up perhaps a corrupt government. They‘re propping up that government, because if that government falls, and the Taliban takes over, then the government next door is in danger, the government that doesn‘t like us, the government of Pakistan.
It‘s a Rubix Cube. We help defend one crooked government so that that government doesn‘t fall, so this other government, which doesn‘t like us, will survive. It‘s a hard fight to make for a person‘s life. You‘re asking a person to give up their life, potentially, to make that war work.
BERNARD: It is very difficult. And the president is in the position now where if he cannot demonstrate to the people who might lose their lives, and their parents, that this is in the best interest of our national security, then we‘ve got to get out.
MATTHEWS: Talk about derivatives. This is the most derivative argument. Any way, thank you. I‘ll give you more time next time. Thank you, Jane Newton-Small. I like everybody that can write. She works for “Time.” Welcome back.
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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