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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show


November 11, 2009



Guests: Peter Beinart, Nancy Keenan, Melinda Henneberger, John Heilemann, Irshad Manji


Let's play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews in Washington. And happy Veterans Day to all of our vets and the men and women in service today.

Leading off tonight: How do you want your party, big and winning, or smaller, more pure? It is not just the Republicans. Many liberals in the House of Representatives are furious at their fellow Democrats who voted for increased restrictions on abortion rights. In fact, Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says her group may run candidates against Democrats who voted for the measure. She joins us at the top of the show, along with Peter Beinart, who says liberals better get used to votes like this one if they want to keep themselves a big-tent majority party.

Also: For all the talk about how Republicans are committing political suicide because they're too extreme, check this out. The latest Gallup poll out today has Republicans beating Democrats in nationwide congressional match-up next year by 4 points next year. In July, Gallup had Democrats winning that poll by 6. That means a 10-point shift toward the Republicans in just four months. And now Republicans are hoping to resurrect their angry town halls in the last three weeks of November to build up the heat.

Plus, we're learning more about missed signals at Ft. Hood. Late

today, NPR, National Public Radio, reports that experts at Walter Reed Army

Medical Center worried that Nidal Hasan might leak military secrets, that

he could be capable of fratricide and he might even be-catch this word -

psychotic and was not, as someone put it, the kind of guy you'd want in your foxhole either in Iraq or Afghanistan. So did officials miss? Well, it seems they did. Did they ignore warning signs-it seems they did-at Ft. Hood because they were so afraid-well, who knows why. Maybe they were afraid of being called anti-Muslim. We'll find out.

Also, wars past and present. On this Veterans Day, President Obama delivered a tribute at Arlington National Cemetery to the men and women who served our country. And later, he gathered his advisers to figure out what to do in Afghanistan. That's in the "Politics Fix" tonight.

Finally, wait until you see how Jon Stewart catches Sean Hannity's show using the wrong tape to make the case for the right wing. You do not want to miss this segment of the "Sideshow."

Let's start with the Democrats and whether it was smart to tighten restrictions on abortion in order to get that health care bill though the House. Nancy Keenan is president of NARAL and the America Foundation-

New America Foundation's Peter Beinart joins us from The Daily Beast. Peter, let's start with you. You had an interesting column because nobody else is saying this. What was your point about this amendment last week on abortion rights, which restricted abortion rights in order to get those more conservative Democrats to support health care? What did you make of that?

PETER BEINART, THE DAILY BEAST: My point is that big tents are really ugly things. Democrats think back to the nice parts of the 1930s to 1960s, when they passed all of the social safety net legislation. What they don't remember is they did it with support of really reactionary, even racist people. The Democrats-this-all of these culturally conservative Democrats who voted yes are the product of the success of the Democratic Party in running culturally conservative candidates who can win in red districts.

If you want these people in the party, you're going to get the party bigger, but you're going to have to accept that they're not going to be with you on some of the cultural issues.

MATTHEWS: Is that a good thing?

BEINART: It's better than where the Republicans are, which is getting smaller and purer and I think heading towards disaster.

MATTHEWS: Well, I guess it depends whose ox is gored, doesn't it, Nancy Keenan.


MATTHEWS: In your case, you're the ox.


MATTHEWS: And you don't like being gored.

KEENAN: Well, I don't-I don't necessarily agree with that premise. I mean, let's take what's happened across the country. Let's take the West. Look at how many pro-choice Democrats were elected these last couple cycles, the Jon Testers, the Mitchells (ph) in Arizona. So we've had pro-choice Democrats win in some pretty conservative red states, so-and in the Midwest, as well.

So the point is, is that the party is big, reflective of the country, but don't assume that because the country is more conservative in some areas that pro-choice people can't be elected.

MATTHEWS: Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, is pretty smart, right?

KEENAN: Very smart.

MATTHEWS: OK. She decided last week. She had to make a compromise to get that health bill passed through the House this time, she basically allowed that language in it that said you can't participate in the exchanges, you can't get a subsidy if the insurance policy includes abortion coverage, right? She made that call.

KEENAN: She made that call.

MATTHEWS: And you wouldn't have...

KEENAN: She made that call.

MATTHEWS: ... made that call.

KEENAN: Well, you know, I think-I've been in politics a long time, and you count every vote. And she had to make the call for the-making sure that that bill passed. I don't like that the Stupak language was in that, but the fight isn't over. And I think that's the point. You have to keep going. It's a big process. This is the beginning. We're going to go to the Senate now. The fight continues.

MATTHEWS: You're being so reasonable.


MATTHEWS: No, I didn't count on that because I thought you'd be pure today. I thought you would say the most important issue for Democrats is choice, being from NARAL Pro-Choice America, the fact that your group is founded on that idea, that believes in fundamentally...

KEENAN: absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... there's a fundamental right. How can you compromise on it?

KEENAN: Listen, we did...

MATTHEWS: You know what I'm doing here? I'm making up a fight here.


MATTHEWS: I'm trying to get you to say what you really believe, which is if this bill comes to final passage and you're talking to your members, you're saying to them, or your Congress people who are loyal to you-you're saying, Don't vote for that amendment again.

KEENAN: You're exactly right. Let me tell you that there was a compromise in the original bill that basically said there is no federal funding for abortion-in the original bill. The Stupak amendment went much, much further than that. It basically eliminated the status quo. So there-you know, you're counting votes late at night. Fact of the matter is, now we've got to remove that language. That's my bottom line. The Stupak language cannot be in...

MATTHEWS: Oh! Oh, OK. Here we go! You're arguing the fog of war late at night. What's the implication, that they didn't really know what they were doing?

KEENAN: I think that there were members of Congress that felt that they were not given the entire...

MATTHEWS: Nancy Pelosi didn't know what she was doing?

KEENAN: No, Nancy Pelosi knew what she was doing...


KEENAN: ... and she understood the consequences.

MATTHEWS: Peter Beinart, back to you, sir. It seems to me that the question is, in the end, they're going to have to decide on some kind of compromise. You may not like the compromise, somebody else may like it, somebody else may not like it. But in the end, if they're going to get a health care bill, what? What kind of compromises, no public option, some vague kind of trigger, abortion rights restricted in some way, maybe not with regard to the exchanges, but certainly with regard to the subsidies, things like that? Your thoughts.

BEINART: Yes, you're not even mentioning some of the really ugly stuff on illegal immigrants not being able to access health care that they're having to swallow. I mean, this is my point. This is ugly, but I think it's a sign of the Democratic Party's realism. Look, I hope you guys win. I really do. I hope you get rid of Stupak. I hope we keep the status quo. I'd love to get rid of the Hyde amendment altogether, but I think...

MATTHEWS: You're turning this into an "eat your spinach" thing for Democrats.

BEINART: But think about...


BEINART: Think about the consequences of winning, though, Chris. This is something Democrats have been-progressives have wanted for 100 years. This is so big that it's worth swallowing the tough stuff, like FDR and (SIC) Franklin Roosevelt did.

MATTHEWS: OK, here's the question. What's the Democratic Party stand for? Because you argue the Democratic Party stands for economic opportunity for people in this country-in fact, some kind of equalization at the bottom so the people at the bottom don't get tread down, some kind of, you know, mixed-mixed capitalism.




MATTHEWS: Social democracy.

BEINART: Yes. The other stuff...

MATTHEWS: That's the main goal of the party. You would argue the main goal is rights for women, right?

KEENAN: Well, yes. Absolutely. And I think...

MATTHEWS: Well, you would say that's a more important goal than economic opportunity or health care.

KEENAN: I think that you don't have to have-give up one for the other.

MATTHEWS: You don't?

KEENAN: You don't have to give up one for...

MATTHEWS: You disagree with that...

KEENAN: ... one for the other.

MATTHEWS: ... because you say you have to choose.

BEINART: To some degree, I think you do.

KEENAN: I don't think you do.


KEENAN: I don't think you do.

MATTHEWS: But isn't politics trade-offs?

KEENAN: Sometimes, but I believe that when we know that there are pro-choice elected officials across this country that can win, they can do the economic justice...


MATTHEWS: OK, are you willing to compromise on this, or are you sticking to your guns?

KEENAN: I'm sticking to my guns on this.

MATTHEWS: Well, then, why should the other side compromise?


MATTHEWS: Why should the pro-life...

KEENAN: Chris, Chris, Chris...

MATTHEWS: This is a classic case of politics. You say you're going to be pure on this, you're not going to give in on this issue of the Stupak amendment, but you expect the pro-life people on the other side to buckle and go along with the party.

KEENAN: Let's be clear here, the Capps amendment, the Capps compromise was the compromise. We came to the table...

MATTHEWS: Lois Capps is pro-choice. She's not a compromise.

KEENAN: That's right. But the point was that they wanted to make sure that there were no federal dollars for abortion coverage. The Capps amendment said, No federal dollars will pay for abortion in this country.

MATTHEWS: But for the subsidies.

KEENAN: Well, that's a whole other issue in the exchange. But right now...

MATTHEWS: No, the subsidies are in there, and the president the other day...

KEENAN: The subsidies-but...

MATTHEWS: ... said no subsidies for abortion.

KEENAN: Chris-Chris-and that's the truth because you can have a subsidy that would not pay for the abortion coverage, the private money would. So the point here is the compromise was the Capps compromise. And the other side went further. They said we wanted more than that, and they kept moving the goal line. They kept moving the goal line.

BEINART: I think the larger question is-and I say this as someone who's pro-choice-are pro-choice people winning the argument out there in the country? On gay rights, you can see that it's moving in the progressive direction, slowly, not as fast as I'd like. On abortion-

MATTHEWS: Generationally, too.

BEINART: On abortion, the public opinion is not moving in a pro-choice direction.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

BEINART: I don't know what the answer is. Maybe it's because people take it for granted. They haven't-they don't remember a world where abortion-maybe it's because of the technology, you can see the ultrasounds. For whatever reason, that's the larger problem.

MATTHEWS: So what's your point with regard to Nancy Keenan?

BEINART: If you want a Democratic Party ma passes social safety net and be pro-choice, you have to do better in winning the public argument than I think progressives have done.

KEENAN: I think we've won the argument. I think most people are pro-choice. I believe that-that they know very clearly that they don't want politicians in this decision. They believe it is best made with a woman, her doctor...

MATTHEWS: Well, then why are you subsidizing it?

KEENAN: Chris, we're not subsidizing. Those moneys are subsidizing health care, but the private money...

MATTHEWS: OK, let me just...


MATTHEWS: Let me point out this. There are people in this country who are totally pro-choice, like yourself. There are people who are pro-life, who say, No way, Jose. Then there are people in the middle who say, OK, it's really one person's decision, in the end. After all the counseling and deliberative consent (ph) and all that stuff, in the end, somebody has to make up their mind, I say it's the individual, not the government.

OK. But that person can also say, I want this decision to be totally neutral. I don't want the government to spend a nickel in subsidizing it, not a nickel. And those people are people like Vice President Joe Biden, OK? They're not weird people, OK? That's what I'm saying.

KEENAN: That's right. And Chris-but let's go to the Catholic bishops for a minute and Catholic hospitals...

MATTHEWS: Let's not!


MATTHEWS: Because I said the other night they shouldn't have been on Capitol Hill. Then I found out they weren't actually on Capitol Hill, but they may have been-their people were on Capitol Hill.

KEENAN: Let's make this case here. The Catholic charities, Catholic hospitals receive-they receive federal money, federal subsidies. At the same time, they do with those federal subsidies in their hospitals with Medicaid, Medicare, they take care of those patients. They do their religious activity with private money. They keep it separate. They're doing it right now.

And yes, what the argument here is that the health care system couldn't keep those moneys separate? The Capps compromise kept the money separate. Women could go into that exchange, be subsidized, but only their private money would cover abortion care. And that's the point here. The money was kept separate. There is no dollars, no federal dollars under the Capps compromise, used for abortion coverage.

MATTHEWS: The problem with that is money is fungible. And in the case of an insurance policy, some policy that covered abortion procedures and one that didn't cover it you would say should cost the same, but they cost different because one would cover an additional procedure. So clearly, there's a subsidy involved.

KEENAN: But there's hypocrisy here.

MATTHEWS: If you include that.

KEENAN: There's hypocrisy here. The hypocrisy here, that why can the Catholic hospitals keep it separate but a health care...

MATTHEWS: Nancy, could you agree...

KEENAN: ... system can't?

MATTHEWS: ... if I was right and you were wrong?


MATTHEWS: You're not allowed to, as head of NARAL, to agree with me, are you.

KEENAN: Well, I...


MATTHEWS: You know what H.L. Mencken once said? Never argue with somebody whose job depends on not being convinced. You are pro-choice. Fair enough.

BEINART: You're not pro-choice?

MATTHEWS: Peter-this isn't (INAUDIBLE) You know, I-let me just

anyway, we're getting nowhere. Where's this going to end up?

KEENAN: I think that...

MATTHEWS: Are we going to get a health care bill this year?

KEENAN: Yes, we will. And I think that more calm demeanor in the Senate...

MATTHEWS: Is there a compromise yet to be reached that hasn't been reached yet?

KEENAN: I think...

MATTHEWS: Or you say it's already behind us.

KEENAN: No, no. I think that there will be a compromise.

BEINART: I mean, the good news is that everyone rhetorically says they just want to keep the status quo. So if you listen to the rhetoric, everyone actually agrees. The question is, can you operationalize that, given that government is going to get more involved in providing health care than it was before.

MATTHEWS: OK, speaking of health care, we're going to move on right now to another segment.

When we come back: A hot issue has developed. The National Public Radio has reported this afternoon big stuff about Nidal Hasan. Apparently, reports were made at Walter Reed on this guy that he may well have been psychotic. So we're getting a lot of information here about whether he was a problem in terms of mental state, in terms of who he was personally-forget the ethnicity and the religious part of this. They said-at the time they supervised the coverage of this guy, they said, You wouldn't want this guy in a foxhole with you. This is serious business. Let's find out more about that. That's coming up next on HARDBALL. We're going to find out who this guy, Nidal Hasan, was, the killer down there at Ft. Hood-suspected killer.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. National Public Radio is reporting today that top officials at Walter Reed Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University of health services-that's where Nidal Hasan went to school-held a series of meetings beginning in the spring of 2008 -- that's a year-and-a-half ago-about the alleged Ft. Hood shooter himself, Major Nidal Hasan, and whether he was psychotic or not.

One official said he was worried that Hasan might leak military secrets to Islamic extremists if he were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Another official wondered at the time-this is a year-and-a-half ago-if Hasan might commit fratricide, meaning shooting fellow officers. One official told National Public Radio, quote, "Everybody felt that if you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, you would not want Nidal Hasan in your foxhole," close quote. So why wasn't Hasan stopped?

Evan Kohlmann is an NBC News terrorism analyst and Irshad Manji is the author of the book "The Trouble With Islam Today" and director of New York University's Moral Courage Project. Thank you both for joining us. Let's start with Evan. What do you make of the NPR report today? What a crashing bit of information this is!

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, I think what's most shocking about this is the lack of communication there evidently was between the military and the FBI, that in one hand, you have an FBI JTTF doing an investigation of Hasan with regards to possible terrorism connections, you have a military investigation of him for medical reasons, reasoning that he possibly is a psychotic. You would imagine that had anyone taken those two factors into account, it would have been-never mind about red flags, there would have been a bonfire. I mean, that would have been an immediate sign something was very wrong. The lack of communication here is disturbing.

MATTHEWS: Well, Irshad, why don't you get in here. Here's a guy that gave a lecture in front of his colleagues at his medical school, that same medical school that reported he might be psychotic, talking all about how he should have had CO status, conscientious objector status, how this was real war on Islam. And catch this on the NPR report. Quote, "Some of Hasan's supervisors and instructors had told colleagues that they repeatedly bent over backward to support and encourage him because they didn't have clear evidence that he was unstable, and they worried they might be, quote, 'discriminating' against Hasan because of his seemingly extremist Islamic beliefs."

What a strange admission, to admit that they believed he had extremist views and didn't want to be accused of prejudice. What a contradiction in terms that is! If you're an extremist of any kind...


MATTHEWS: ... it seems like that should be reported and put to work, that information.

MANJI: You've hit the nail on the head, Chris. And what we've got to at a point in many open societies today, not just America, is that we are willing to tolerate intolerance in order to be perceived as tolerant ourselves. You know, a devout Muslim friend of mine said to me not too long ago, people in the West really want to be seen as accommodating. But you can bend over so far backwards to accommodate that you wind up hitting your head on the floor. Think about that.

MATTHEWS: Well, I-well, let me get back to that point with Evan. Let's get back to the danger issue. I guess we get too focused on too many things. Let's focus on the issue of spotting trouble. You know, I pointed out the other day something that's very troubling. Sometimes political assassins or terrorists don't have criminal records. They're not the kind of people you can pick up as usual suspects and say, Bring them in for questioning. They don't commit any crime until they commit something really horrible. Sirhan Sirhan, who's in life in prison right now because he shot Bobby Kennedy-he probably had a clean record before he decided, for political and nationalistic reasons-he was from Jordan-he was going to kill a presidential candidate.

How do you stop a killer like this guy, if it is Major Hasan, who just decides, I've had enough. I'm a nationalist. I'm on the wrong side of this fight?

KOHLMANN: Well, that's the problem is, is that with a lot of terrorism investigations, for instance, the FBI relies on confidential informants. It relies on people inside the plot to provide information. And with a lone wolf, you're not going to have a confidential informant.

It's a one-man issue. And if this person...

MATTHEWS: Well, what about his-what about hiss conversations by e-mail...

KOHLMANN: Well, that...

MATTHEWS: ... with the imam over in Yemen...

KOHLMANN: Now you're getting to the heart of it.

MATTHEWS: ... who had been his cleric in-at Falls Church, Virginia, for several years? What do we make of that? What do we make of that? Let me (INAUDIBLE) this thing here. Here's what the imam, Anwar al Awlaki, wrote in his Web site earlier this year. "There can be no Islam with the presence of these armies." That's the American army. "They fight against Sharia and kill the Muslims who attempt to bring it back." That's obviously Taliban.

"If this is the case with these armies, how could anyone place the blame on the ones fight them? The blame should be placed on the soldier who is willing to follows orders. Blessed are those who fight against and bless-blessed are those shuhada who are killed by them."

In other words, the people we will over in Iraq and Afghanistan are the good guys.


MATTHEWS: The people here or anywhere who kill our soldiers are the good guys.

And there you have Major Hasan eating this stuff up, apparently.

KOHLMANN: And this is-this is the benign religious view that the


MATTHEWS: Let me go to Irshad on this.

This is the battle of propaganda that we're losing. Your thoughts.

KOHLMANN: Yes. No, look, and this is what the FBI is describing as benign.

I think the we have to understand that one of the biggest problems we have is a lack of substantive experts in the FBI, in the Justice Department and in the Defense Department who under-understand the difference between mainstream Islam and extremist fanaticism.


KOHLMANN: And we don't have that.


MATTHEWS: Well, that sounded like-that sounded like, kill Americans, that line.


MATTHEWS: By the way, that wasn't subtle.


MATTHEWS: Wasn't that, Irshad, kill American soldiers?

By the way, we are used to overstatement and hyperbole in the Middle East. We're used to people saying, kill all your mothers and fathers. May a thousand demons attack your mother's grave-all that kind of language over there we are used to.

How do we discriminate among the crazy hyperbole...


MATTHEWS: ... and actual dangerous language, Irshad?

MANJI: Let me jump in here.

The last time I spoke with you on air, I was a scholar at Yale University. And while there, I met a cop who told me-he was stationed at Yale, by the way-he told me that, for three years, he was a member of the FBI's national counterterrorism task force.

Chris, this guy didn't know the first thing about Islam. When I queried him about the difference between Sunnis and Shias, he had no idea. And I want to back up what Evan has just said about the lack of communication among law enforcement agencies.


MANJI: You know, only two weeks ago, I got yet another death threat from Muslim extremists in Chicago.

It was the media that informed me of this threat. And the next day, after various media stories had already been posted, with my quotes in them, the FBI called me to say, "Professor Manji, we have got some information that you might be interested to know about."


MANJI: They themselves hadn't even read the media stories to know I that knew about it.


MATTHEWS: OK. Both of you, prescription time.

You first, Irshad.

What do we do about this battle of propaganda that's going on? If people are listening to e-mail after e-mail after e-mail-they have a right to.


MATTHEWS: In this country, you can listen to just about anything, any political argument. You can listen to it.

MANJI: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: What do we do to counter it?

MANJI: I think it is very important to invest in reform-minded Muslims. I don't just mean moderates, Chris. I mean those who are willing to say, not only is this violence evil, but the fact that it is sometimes committed in the name of Islam means that we Muslims have to look inside ourselves and clean out house, even as some of us point fingers at the outside world.

And that means...

MATTHEWS: What do you make of-OK.

MANJI: And that means getting savvy.

MATTHEWS: This is so tricky in a secular society.


MATTHEWS: What do you make of President Obama the other day saying that this killer, if it is the killer, if he is the killer will be punished in the afterlife?

I think he reached beyond his secular role there, rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's.

What's a secular leader like President Obama talking about how someone is going to be punished in the afterlife?

KOHLMANN: Well, I think he made one important point.

MATTHEWS: Did he...


MATTHEWS: Let me go...

MANJI: He clearly felt the pressure to say something.

But what he knew was, he could not touch-at this particular ceremony, which was there to honor the fallen, the dead, and the wounded, he could not touch the issue of Islam and Muslims. I don't blame him for that.

But, going forward, I think it's very important for the administration...

MATTHEWS: Well, I think he went pretty far.

MANJI: I don't think he-no, I think he...


MATTHEWS: Let me go-let me-Evan, I think he went pretty far.

Do you think he didn't?

KOHLMANN: I think he had good reason to.

I think there are many Muslim military officers in the U.S. I have met many of them, several of my close friends, who are-I mean, they are a credit to the service. They are a credit to this country.

And if we were to put those people into danger, we would have only ourselves to blame. I mean, let's remember...


KOHLMANN: ... that one of the biggest mistakes the Bush administration made was right after 9/11, was going out on TV and calling this a crusade.

We don't want to inflate people's feelings.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

KOHLMANN: We don't want to cause trouble that isn't there. Let's look at this in a sane eye.


KOHLMANN: But let's understand that Islamic extremism appears to have played some role in what happened at Fort Hood.


Here is my concern, both of you. And you are the experts. I worry that the purpose of the bad guys-and I call them the bad guys-is to inflame an East-West struggle. Certainly, there are a lot of Islamic who have been bought into this war-brought into this war against the West.

If at any moment in the next couple of years, the West, meaning the people in this country and in Europe, decide Islam is evil, and begin to treat all Islamic people as the enemy, then the enemy will win...


MATTHEWS: ... because the enemy will then have the war they want, which is to take every person born to Islam and make them feel that the West is the enemy.

MANJI: And, Chris...

MATTHEWS: If they get that point-and that point of view can be sold to people if people in this country of your complexion, people that are darker, people from even Hindu-Hindi background, of all kinds of backgrounds from Middle East or around the world begin to feel like they are somehow the enemy, they will begin to feel like the enemy.


MATTHEWS: Your thoughts on this, Irshad.


MATTHEWS: That is what I'm afraid of with this stuff from the right wing and the columnists I'm reading today.

MANJI: I hear you.

MATTHEWS: It scares me, because they say, basically, nail everybody.

MANJI: I hear you.

MATTHEWS: Profile everybody who is from that part of the world...

MANJI: I hear you.

MATTHEWS: And treat them like the enemy.

MANJI: And I hear you again.

And-and this is already happening in many parts of Western Europe, where systemic discrimination against Muslims is very, very deep. That is why, whenever I'm in Europe, believe it or not, young Muslims approach me to say, Irshad, is there any way that you can get me to America?

And I say to them, even in the age of Gitmo and Guantanamo Bay and-and the Patriot Act? And they say, that is the exception to the American rule. We know that that is not what America stands for.

But I do want to say one other thing before you turn it over to Evan. It is one thing to discriminate heavily against Muslims. And that is wrong. But it is another to not hold Muslims accountable to call out power abuses within their own community.


MANJI: And, when you don't-when you don't do that, Chris...

MATTHEWS: Irshad...

MANJI: ... what you are doing is infantilizing Muslims. You're turning us into children. Treat us as adults. Have faith that we are capable, capable.

MATTHEWS: You are so great. You are so great a person. Irshad Manji, thank you. You have just inspired me. Thank you for your words. I can't improve on them.

Evan Kohlmann, thank you, sir, for joining us.

KOHLMANN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Jon Stewart catches FOX News and Sean Hannity being anything but fair and balanced. Stick around for the "Sideshow." It is great tonight.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the "Sideshow."

Re-rack the tape. Last night, Jon Stewart did an expose of FOX News'

coverage of that anti-health care reform rally last week here in Washington. Let's watch it.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Change was in the air. And FOX News was there to cover it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People didn't just come to hear speakers. They then pivoted, fanned out, went into the Capitol, went into the office buildings, were very polite, went from door to door to door, knocked on the doors. We handed out, actually, pages, actual pages from the bill.

STEWART: I'm sorry. Can we come back? That was-I apologize. I didn't mean to interrupt. That was weird, because, when that clip started, it was a clear fall day in Washington, D.C., not a cloud in the sky. The leaves have changed. It's well-attended, but sparse.

All of a sudden, the trees turn green again.


STEWART: And it is cloudy.


STEWART: And it looks like thousands of thousands and thousands of more people arrived. If I didn't know any better, I would think they just put two different days together...


STEWART: ... and acted like they didn't.

Where-where have I seen this last footage before?

GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK": This is just a fraction. There are people meeting all across the country. This is just in Washington, D.C.

STEWART: Wow. That was actually from Glenn Beck's 9/12 rally two months ago, his much bigger 9/12 rally.

It seems Sean Hannity used footage of a bigger crowd from a totally different...


STEWART: ... event to make last year's GOP health care rally appear more heavily attended.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a beautiful sight to see.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Notice, and, by the way, in the middle of a day on a Thursday.

STEWART: Yes, or Saturday...


STEWART: ... two months ago, at a completely different rally.


MATTHEWS: Jon Stewart, I salute you.

So, who decided to use two-month-old file tape to bolster, even balloon that size of the Michele Bachmann rally? Anyway, stay tuned.

Next, as H.L. Mencken once said, never argue with someone whose job depends on not being convinced. Senator Jim DeMint is looking to put an end to what he calls the corrupting influence of permanent politicians. How? He has just introduced a constitutional legislation on term limits.

Senators would serve a maximum of two six-year terms. That's two terms.

And members of the House would get three two-year terms.

The thing is, DeMint has an uphill battle ahead of him, of course. People don't like to vote themselves out of power. Case in point, who are DeMint's three co-sponsors? Well, Senator Sam Brownback, who has already said he's retiring next year to run for governor, Senator Tom Coburn, who has pledged not to run for a third team already, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is planning to leave to run for governor.

So, they have already made up their minds already. That's why they are for term limits. Anybody else-everybody else is against this thing.

Now for the "Big Number."

Few people know that Veterans Day is observed today. By the way, I knew it. November 11 is really Armistice Day. Ninety-one years ago, World War I ended. It was signed that day, on November 11.

So, how many American World War I veterans are still with us? Just one. Isn't it amazing? Frank Buckles is the fellow's name. He is 108 years old. That is how old you have to be to survive all these years from World War I.

The country salutes you, Frank.

And, of course, we salute again and again, everywhere, our armed services people fighting everywhere in the world. I wonder all the time when I'm at my best I worry about people on post right now and what they are facing in terms of frightening situations.

Frank Buckles, our last surviving World War I veteran, I salute you-tonight's "Big Number."

Up next: Republicans are planning on reviewing-or reviving those angry town meetings from last summer. They just love those summers. They want to bring them back to drum up opposition in these next three weeks to health care in the U.S. Senate. So, the senators are going to bring them back. Let's see if they work.

This is a new Gallup poll. It's showing the Republicans now leading Democrats for House or Senate races next year. Is this going to make the Republicans even stronger?

You're watching HARDBALL. Could this cost Nancy Pelosi her speaker's chair?

We will be right back with HARDBALL on MSNBC.


ORIEL MORRISON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I'm Oriel Morrison with rMD-BO_your CNBC "Market Wrap."

Stocks today repeating a familiar pattern, moving higher as the dollar continues to slide, the Dow Jones industrials added 44 points, the S&P 500 gaining 5 ½, and the Nasdaq climbing almost 16 points.

In news just breaking just after the closing bell, Hewlett-Packard will acquire 3Com for $2.7 billion in cash. The move puts H.P. in a position to challenge Cisco for the top spot in the lucrative networking system.

Wal-Mart and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion finishing higher, after Wal-Mart said it would offer a $100 gift card to shoppers who buy BlackBerrys.

Macy shares tumbling more than 8 percent today-the department store's fourth-quarter forecast not nearly as rosy as analysts had expected.

And the dollar continuing its headlong slide, falling to a 15-month low-as expected, investors moved into commodities and global stocks, as a hedge against the decline.

That's it from CNBC, first in business worldwide-now back to


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, back in the summer, everybody knows, Republicans bragged that those town hall meetings and all the anger was totally spontaneous. But now it looks like they want to manufacture some more of that excitement.

Politico reports today that Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, usually a mild-mannered guy, said Republicans are quietly planning some 50 in-person and telephone town hall gatherings over the next three weeks to drum up opposition to the Democratic health care bill as it moves through the Senate or dies there, whatever happens there.

Will this help Republicans beat health care? Will it help them win back control of Congress next year?

Pat Buchanan and "The Washington Post"'s Eugene Robinson are both MSNBC political analysts.

Gentlemen, let's take a look at this latest Gallup poll. It's unbelievable, if you're watching polls change. They do change. Look at this, the latest. This is among registered voters. Now, registered-voters poll tend to help Democrats, because this assumes everybody is going to vote equally, and Democrats aren't as good a voters.

Look at this. It has Republicans leading 48 to 44 right now in do you want-do you want to vote for a Republican or a Democrat next year.

Gene, it's a big loss for the Dems. They're down 10 points from where they were four months ago.



MATTHEWS: The country is shifting Republican?

ROBINSON: Well, yes. I mean, independents are shifting Republican.

We saw that in the-in the off-off-year election.


MATTHEWS: Well, here is it among Republicans. It is worse now. You thought that was bad? Fifty to 30, 52 to 30 now, among independents now, how they are going to vote, for Republicans.



Well, what Democrats have to hope is that the economy gets better, health care gets through, and people like it, and-and things look different when we actually get ready to vote.

MATTHEWS: Suppose, Gene, we have a roughly 10 unemployment rate persisting through next year, and health care ends up a shambles, even a minuscule piece of what it was promised to be, or nothing.

What happens to the Congress next year?

ROBINSON: Then there will be-then there will be substantial Democratic losses.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, the country is-is not pro-Republican, so much as it's anti-Washington, anti-liberal, anti-incumbent, angry over this economy.

MATTHEWS: That is Buchanan land. We're living in Buchanan land.

BUCHANAN: -- is the only alternative they've got is the Republicans. What we found out eight days ago is Republican is not being inhibited against voting for those guys. They will vote for Republicans.

MATTHEWS: To make a point.

BUCHANAN: Not only-yes, to make a point. But Republicans aren't that popular. They have gotten over the Bush incubus, if you will. The 2006 and 2008 elections were let's get those guys out.

MATTHEWS: So, Pat, the whole strategy of this administration-at least I think the strategy-of acting like all there is the Democratic government and these yahoos out there doesn't work, because they will vote against the Democrats. That seems to be the way-look, they voted for Chris Christie, despite all the problems.

BUCHANAN: They are an acceptable alternative.

ROBINSON: I do think so. I think there is another side to this, though. I do think that, in the end, there is-voters do appreciate trying to do something as opposed to trying to do nothing.

MATTHEWS: What evidence do you have of that positive thinking? No, really. We live in-we live a Buchanan more than a Gene time. You won a Pulitzer Prize for being thoughtful about last year's elections. I'm not sure the people are particularly thoughtful right now. They are particularly angry.

BUCHANAN: Let me say something. I don't think health care is going to make a hill of beans of difference if it passes. If it fails, the Democrats can't do anything.

MATTHEWS: You're with Bill Clinton on this. You just made Bill Clinton's point. You damn well better pass it, because if you fail, you will get hurt for it.


MATTHEWS: So you're with Clinton. You are with Bill Clinton.

BUCHANAN: Yes, I agree with him. If he said that, he is with me.

MATTHEWS: He did say that, so he is with you. I love the way you separate yourself from possible reality.

ROBINSON: I think he is running.

BUCHANAN: Look at '65, Medicare, Medicaid, education, Voting Rights Act.

MATTHEWS: You guys won in '66.

BUCHANAN: We won 47 seats. We didn't do a thing but say no, no, no.

MATTHEWS: You have to understand, to Patrick J. Buchanan everything goes back to the '66 election. He and Dick Nixon were riding alone around that plane together. It was like halcyon days for him. It is sort of like the Alger Hiss trial is to him. We have to keep going back-isn't that right, everything is '66.

BUCHANAN: That is a good example.

MATTHEWS: Route 66. There is a column title for you, "Route 66."

BUCHANAN: The pendulum, Chris, had gone all the way to the left. It was starting back and we caught it.

MATTHEWS: OK. Inflation killed Johnson more than anything else.


BUCHANAN: Three percent in '68 was inflation. That was bad?

MATTHEWS: Why did people hate him so much?

BUCHANAN: It was the war, the divisions in the party, the anti-war stuff, Kennedy, all those guys starting to break against him. Quite frankly, we had been driven down to 140 seats. Nixon said, look, naturally we have 165. You got 47 seats. Now we're down to 170 or 178.

MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at what Charlie Cook, who is an expert in elections-he looks at the fact that-I think Pelosi's seat is in danger. Not her seat in San Francisco, but her Speaker's seat.

Look at this right now. The Cook Report says currently you've got 34 Democratic seats that could go easily Republican. You have 12 Republican seats that could go Democrat, although not in this environment. What do you make of that, Pat?

BUCHANAN: I think that is about right. I think the guys talking about taking back the House are a little bit exaggerating.

MATTHEWS: Take 40 seats now.

BUCHANAN: I would say right now, if they had the operation, somewhere between 26 and 35.

MATTHEWS: Twenty six is how many Reagan lost in '82.

BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Clinton lost 55 when there wasn't a recession.

ROBINSON: Right. I don't think it's going to-

MATTHEWS: Was it 52 or 55?

BUCHANAN: Fifty two.

ROBINSON: I don't think the Republicans have given people enough reason to go to 55 seats. That's not going to happen. I think low 20s.

MATTHEWS: With double digit unemployment.

BUCHANAN: We only need 40.


BUCHANAN: We need 39 or 40, Chris. I think they could make it. But those last six would be awful tough.

ROBINSON: There aren't enough competitive seats.

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you what to worry about if you are a Democrat. Creigh Deeds in Virginia, a moderate state politically, not a left wing or right wing state, loses by 18 points. He was the most conservative possible Democratic candidate there.

BUCHANAN: Yes, but he was not a good candidate. He lost Fairfax. Terry McAuliffe might have won Fairfax, might have done better. They thought he was going to be a great candidate, but he had no clout up here.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of these polls when you ask people do you want to run for a Democrat or Republican for Congress next year? Not your name, not your ethnic group --

ROBINSON: I think that is what I would expect to see, frankly. It points to-

MATTHEWS: It's a ten-point shift in four months.

ROBINSON: That is pretty quick shift.

BUCHANAN: It is very bad news for this reason: Republicans are at 20 percent in the polls, and they are saying we prefer them to Democrats.

MATTHEWS: Isn't that interest? It tells you people will vote Republican, but not say they're Republican. Explain that. How can you say, I'm going to vote Democrat (sic) this November, but don't call me a Republican?

BUCHANAN: The hostility to Republicans is out there, but they have become acceptable, Chris. If the Democrats were smart, you know what they would do? Stick third party candidates in a lot of these race.


MATTHEWS: -- voting for the box that says X on it. I'm not voting for the brand name.


ROBINSON: The other wild card, though, is the struggle within the Republican party about what is the party going to be. Is it going to be hard right conservative-


ROBINSON: -- or a more moderate party that can attract independents?

BUCHANAN: That is not it. In 2010, we are the alternative. We are against them. That's all you need.

MATTHEWS: You know what we learned from New Jersey? You are not going to win by calling the other guy fat.

BUCHANAN: Of course.

MATTHEWS: That is all they had. You're fat. What a ridiculous, pathetic, schoolyard thing that was. Pat Buchanan, Gene Robinson, great to be with the grown ups here.

Up next, another strategy session on Afghanistan for the president, his war council. It looks like they are taking sides within his council. It's leaking out, who is for or against. They are talking about sending 30,000 troops instead of the 40,000. Is this the kind of compromise that is going to drive a lot of people on the left and the right bonkers. A compromise position on Afghanistan; is there such a thing that makes any sense?

This is HARDBALL, coming back on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: We're back. President Obama was at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Veterans Day. While there, he and the First Lady, Michelle Obama, made an unexpected stop in area known as Section 60 -- you see them there-where fallen troops from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were laid to rest. This is some picture. There it is. Out there on a fall day.

It's time for the politics fix now, with "New York Magazine's" John Heilemann and Melinda Henneberger.

Let's start with John Heilemann. This Afghanistan decision, I know it should be based on strategy and troop levels and complements and what we're really trying to get over there. But I have to believe that the numbers of troop-if we send 40,000 more troops over there right now, people are going to feel that Barack Obama is a hawk. And that seems to me a little shattering to a lot of people that didn't think he was.

What is your thinking, John? How is it going to come down in New York and places like that?

JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": I think that's true, Chris. We keep hearing about the number of different options he's looking at. It seems like the 40,000 number is at the top end. That's what General McChrystal kind of wanted. At the lower end, you have the Joe Biden number, around 20,000 or less than that. There seems to be a couple-potentially a couple different middle options that seem to be where he's going to end up, at least some of the reporting suggests that's true. That's where Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton seem to be.

I think do he is trying-I mean, he is truly obviously to get the strategy ready. He's put a lot of time into that. I think he wants this decision to not just be about the number. I do think that if they end up on this middle course, that there will have been some thinking put into the notion of the politics of it, and that going all the way to the larger number would have done exactly what you just described. It would be a huge blow to a base of Democrats who elected Obama and were excited about him largely at the beginning because of his position on the Iraq war, because they saw him as being as far away from George Bush's more militaristic policy of all the Democrats that were out there in the field in 2008.

MATTHEWS: Here's why concern, Melinda. That's Hillary Clinton over in the Middle East. She's cheering for Bibi Netanyahu with his hard line position over there, cheering the fact that he's not really giving in on the issue of growth and settlements, which is driving the Arabs crazy. It's not a question of right or wrong. It's a question of good politics. Is that the smart move for Barack Obama, the president of the United States?

Now, it has leaked out that she's for this huge increase in troops in Afghanistan. The hawkish position she took in the primary fight against Barack Obama seems to be the prevailing position of this administration; hawkishness on Middle East and war front issues in the way Barack Obama never was in the campaign.

MELINDA HENNEBERGER, POLITICSDAILY.COM: I think that's right. And I think that Barack Obama's going to suffer politically either way he goes. I don't see how practically he can send 40,000 troops or anything close to that, because we don't have 40,000 troops.

MATTHEWS: That doesn't matter.


MATTHEWS: He's going to try to, right?

HENNEBERGER: We are already-we have 44 brigades to send. We have 19 there already. There aren't the troops.

MATTHEWS: Let's talk the issue of 40,000 more troops. Let's take a look at what the "Washington Post" reported today. It's fascinating, let me tell you, John and Melinda. "There are perhaps fewer than 100 members of al Qaeda left in Afghanistan." Everybody hear that number, 100 members of al Qaeda. We're sending 40,000 more troops, in addition to the 69,000 we have there to fight al Qaeda. There are 100 members of al Qaeda we're sending 109,000 troops to fight.

According to a senior US intelligence official that estimated that there are 300,000 al Qaeda members in Pakistan. Now I just want to ask you, John, what are we doing here? We're going to war. We're escalating a war. We're increasing our complement of troops. We're putting more men and women at risk over there to fight not the Taliban. We're going to go fight al Qaeda, at least that's what the president says. What are we doing?

HEILEMANN: I think the argument for those in favor of greater number of troops is that if we lose Afghanistan that, although al Qaeda has largely been driven out of Afghanistan at this point, it will become once again a safe haven, and al Qaeda will come into Afghanistan and establish a safe haven there.

I want to say, I do think that to your point and the broader point here, what we are going to hear from President Obama I think when this number-when his decision gets announced, is we're also going to hear from him, I think, a broader picture of the strategy and how he plans to get us out. I do think he's going to emphasize that this is not an infinite commitment, that we're not going to be there forever. He's going to start talking about how we get out.

MATTHEWS: We'll be right back, John Heilemann, Melinda Henneberger. We want to talk about this abortion fight here at home, which is getting hotter and hotter. It's not cooling down. It could be in the way of any health care bill. You're watching it, HARDBALL, on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: We're back with "New York Magazine's" John Heilemann and Melinda Henneberger of Let's get back to the fix here. The politics question is abortion rights. The question is, will the Democrats yield on the issue, which has become a major fund-raising issue for them? I've been told in the old days you couldn't go into a Democratic headquarters of any candidate almost anywhere in the country, and all the women working there in the Democratic headquarters were pro-choice.

If you change policy, if you're a candidate, you will have an empty headquarters. I'm just wondering how the Democrats are going to deal with this issue with health care.

HENNEBERGER: You say-it's interesting the way you put that. Are the Democrats going to yield? Which Democrats? Here they are on the brink of this fantastic legislative victory, and they've decided to declare civil war over this issue. So I think it's interesting that-you know, I think the pro-choice wing is going to have to come to reality. I mean, the-every poll will show that 50 percent of Americans do not want abortion to be covered, do not want it to be funded by the federal government. Only about 13 percent do want it to be. And that Americans are more and more in the middle on life issues, on abortion.

MATTHEWS: I'm also told-John, only 13 percent apparently of abortion procedures are covered by insurance. Most women apparently don't rely on their insurance policy to pay the cost of that procedure. Your thoughts, John? It's always tricky for us men. Your thoughts?

HEILEMANN: Look, I think the Stupak Amendment went further than the Hyde Amendment did, went further than the status quo. I cannot see the Stupak language ending up in the language bill. I think you're going to have a very difficult-if the Senate does pass a bill, I think you're going to have a difficult piece of compromise to get done when it comes to the conference report.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you. Thank you, John Heilemann. Thank you Melinda Henneberger. The politics fix is hot tonight. 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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