Guests: Matt Nesto, Anne Kornblut, Kathleen Matthews, Cliff May, E. Steven Collins,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: War in the air.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews, up in New York. Leading off tonight: Dangerous passengers. Is it time to start checking, I mean really checking, the way Israel does, who gets on our airplanes? To quote the writer Christopher Hitchens this week, “We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked and theocratic ideology.” He‘s talking about Islamic extremism and its followers who are willing to die as long as they can kill more of us. So do we start serious checking and interviewing people to get on our airplanes?
Plus: Fighting those extremists. Radical Islam doesn‘t fear war, it embraces it. How do we attack that movement without playing right into its hands?
Also, what did Hillary Clinton‘s run for the White House tell us? Did she lose because voters didn‘t want her or didn‘t want a woman to be president?
And “Newsweek” is out with its list of the biggest rivalries of the decade. It‘s a hell of a list. Who‘s number one? Wait until you hear. Check out the HARDBALL “Sideshow” tonight.
And finally, let me tell you what I really think. We have a special guest tonight. My wife, the queen, Kathleen Matthews, is going to join us tonight and interview me about what I think are the most politically potent stories of the year.
We start with the question of privacy versus safety. Cliff May runs an organization called Defense of Democracies and E. Steven Collins is a radio talk show host from Philadelphia.
Cliff, I want you to start, and I have two simple questions for you. We want to make our airline travel safer. We want to make sure terrorists don‘t get on the planes. We want to be serious about it. We want it to work. Number one, what information can we gain about potential passengers that could keep us—or keep us safe from people who shouldn‘t be getting on our planes? And two, what do we do if we get information that‘s troubling about those people? Go ahead, Cliff May.
CLIFF MAY, DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Yes, it‘s—look, in this case, it should have been very simple. The father of Abdulmutallab went to the embassy in Nigeria and said, I think my son has been radicalized. Nonetheless, this kid had a multiple entry visa for the U.S. Just try to get a multiple entry visa from Nigeria. I have, Chris. It‘s not easy. This kid also didn‘t—he didn‘t have any luggage. He paid cash for his ticket. There were a million alarms that should have sounded, and they absolutely did not, and...
MATTHEWS: If all those information points were checked...
MATTHEWS: ... and by the way, it is rare that...
MAY: Real simple.
MATTHEWS: ... a father calls up six months ahead and warns the U.S. embassy, My kid‘s having troubles and may be dangerous. Let‘s assume the other information points are there. He‘s not carrying luggage. He‘s from Nigeria. He‘s on his way here through Yemen, all those points...
MAY: Exactly. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: ... no luggage, paid in cash, going through Yemen. What would you do? Would you say, You can‘t get on the plane? Would you say, Here‘s a 45-minute interview, like they do on El Al in Israel? What would you do?
MAY: First thing you do, yes, is you would ask him a couple of questions. And by the way, a 23-year-old kid who plans to kill himself on Christmas Day 2009, asked what he plans to do in 2010 may not have a great answer. And if he doesn‘t have a great answer, you may want to keep him off the plane. But yes, you interview...
MATTHEWS: OK, who does that...
MAY: ... him. Part of the—let me...
MATTHEWS: ... a TSA official making X many dollars an hour? Who decides...
MAY: You‘ve got to have a...
MATTHEWS: ... who doesn‘t get to travel?
MAY: You have got to—I think in this case, it was absolutely clear this kid shouldn‘t have a multi-entry visa...
MATTHEWS: But who would have made that decision?
MAY: You have to have somebody in TSA, it may not be the person who‘s there at the metal detector but some supervisor, who can ask a simple question, like, What are you going to the U.S. for? And if you don‘t get a good answer to that, you say, You know what? We‘re going to have to talk to you a little more. Where is your luggage?
MATTHEWS: And then what?
MAY: Where are you going to stay?
MATTHEWS: And then what?
MAY: Then you may have to say, We can‘t to let you on this flight. We‘re going to ask you to go back to the embassy and be interviewed there by somebody from the State Department...
MAY: ... or someone from Homeland Security. We just can‘t have everybody coming into the country...
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s go—let‘s go to E. Steven on...
MAY: ... because we‘re not going to—can I -- (INAUDIBLE) one point, and that is, right now, we have a multi-billion-dollar security apparatus, looking for weapons, not looking for terrorists.
MAY: That‘s the problem.
MATTHEWS: OK. You‘re saying when there‘s troubling information about a person which could indicate a terrorist suspect that we send them back to an embassy or some other official for further screening. Your response to that, E. Steven Collins?
E. STEVEN COLLINS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that‘s exactly what the federal government should do. But the idea that you‘re just going to take a whole section of people and randomly stop them, as some have suggested—think about the ramifications of that.
MATTHEWS: OK, what are you against specifically?
COLLINS: I‘m against the idea of taking my civil rights away.
MATTHEWS: Well, no, no. That‘s not specific, sir. What do you mean, E. Steven?
COLLINS: I mean...
MATTHEWS: Tell me what...
COLLINS: I mean...
MATTHEWS: You went through Yemen—you went through Yemen. You‘re traveling on cash, and you have no luggage. Is that sufficient reason, by your standards, to hold a person for further questioning and deny them admission to the plane?
COLLINS: Wasn‘t this guy on a list? Didn‘t we know from his father and from other information that he was likely to do something?
MATTHEWS: Five hundred thousand people are on those lists. Do you deny all of them—you put them all on a no-fly list?
COLLINS: Well, I think that‘s better than suggesting that you take away the liberties of anybody who has my complexion...
MATTHEWS: OK, look...
COLLINS: ... a bald-head and may be a terrorist.
MATTHEWS: Nobody is—well, look, first of all, E. Steven, this is nonsense. No one is saying persons of your complexion shouldn‘t be allowed to fly. So why are you talking like this?
COLLINS: I‘m suggesting to you if we profile...
MATTHEWS: Who is talking like this? Why are you talking like this?
COLLINS: If we profile people and say...
MATTHEWS: Nobody‘s using the word “profile.”
COLLINS: I‘ve heard that. I‘ve heard that. I‘ve heard...
MATTHEWS: You mean by “profile,” we‘re making a racist decision about who gets on airplanes.
MATTHEWS: That‘s not what I just heard...
COLLINS: ... I think that‘s what it boils down to.
MATTHEWS: ... five minutes ago from Cliff.
COLLINS: Well, no, I think Cliff is making the point I‘d make. Yes, you do have the federal government, whether it‘s a person who‘s making a minimum wage, if that‘s what we are paying them, they should be in a position to at least detain for a period of time, 10, 15, 20 minutes, however long, an hour, two days, to find out if that person is, in fact, up to no good. A simple search would have revealed that...
COLLINS: ... and that would have taken about two minutes. That didn‘t happen here.
MATTHEWS: Are we willing to go as far as El Al? Let me go to Cliff on this. When I‘ve flown on Israeli airlines—and I completely understand their situation. They are a country that has been targeted, seriously targeted by its enemies, who want to hurt that country every day of its existence.
They say, If you want to fly on El Al Airlines, you‘ve got to wait in line, and during your four hours you‘re there ahead of travel to Israel, you have to be willing to put up with a serious—well, it‘s almost an interrogation. I mean, you‘re basically asked all kinds of questions. It could go for 45 minutes. And if you start to sweat, I‘m sure if you start to show any indication of problems with that interview, you don‘t get on the plane. Are we willing to do that, Cliff?
MAY: I don‘t think we have to go quite as far, but I think we want to move in that direction. I‘ve talked to Israeli security officials, and what they will say is, We don‘t really care if somebody‘s carrying nail clippers or shampoo or a tube of toothpaste. We don‘t worry about that. What we, again, are looking for are people who may be terrorists. And we can sometimes establish if there‘s a problem or not a problem with a very simple—with one or two questions. That‘s all it often takes.
There‘s another confusion here and it has to do with profiling. Racial profiling I am entirely against. But criminal profiling and terrorist profiling, that is a useful investigative tool.
COLLINS: I agree.
MAY: If you are with the FBI and you‘re trying to find a serial killer, you look back in your data base and you find, Are serial killers generally loners or are they people who mingle in bars?
MAY: Are they generally men, or are they generally women? You can do the same thing with terrorists. And it‘s not any one trait—religion or race or ethnicity or where they spent the summer—but if you have a number of traits coalescing, then that person may deserve more scrutiny than some grandmother from Dubuque...
MAY: ... or some tourist, businessman...
MAY: ... from the Netherlands.
MATTHEWS: The problem, gentlemen, is, can you do it robotically? Can you just get these simple profiling techniques, like traveling with cash, traveling without luggage that you check, and use these robotic sort of indices and know whether a person is dangerous or not? I would say that the fact we‘re talking about these indices right now is our enemies knows them, and they‘ll get around them. They‘ll pay by credit card. They will make sure they‘ve got a whole ton of luggage to put on the plane. They‘ll do everything we ask them to do, E. Steven. That‘s what scares me.
Doesn‘t it take somebody above—not to be sophisticated about too much, but doesn‘t it take a trained almost a police officer of some kind to smell trouble? I mean, it really comes down to, it seems to me, common sense, experience, and to some extent, intuition to know whether someone is dangerous.
MATTHEWS: Let me go with E. Steven for a minute here.
COLLINS: I think the phrase “common sense” makes the most sense here, that, A, how do you begin to have a police force at every single airport in America? That‘s not realistic, I don‘t think. I think, though, as...
MATTHEWS: How about checking reservations?
COLLINS: Checking reservations and a list of other things. How much was checked in this instance here? It seems to me this guy just got on the plane. There wasn‘t a lot of basic common sense that went on just to see who he was. Chris, if you look at just who he was and what the federal government had on this individual, there should have been enough to stop him, and that did not happen.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s get...
COLLINS: And I think we often overreact here.
MATTHEWS: ... to the tricky part here. Let‘s get to the tricky part.
I fly constantly. Obviously, I‘m sensitive about this, gentlemen. And E.
Steven, you know me pretty well...
MATTHEWS: ... and Cliff knows me and I—anybody gets on a plane regularly worries about their vulnerability up there. And you don‘t want to die in some stupid—well, terrorism isn‘t stupid, some terrorist situation. So you think about it a lot.
Here‘s the question. We only have so much time and manpower, person
power, to check people. You can‘t check everybody all the time. A guy
flying, some high school kid flying on their—clearly with a soccer team,
flying from one town to the next in Pennsylvania, doesn‘t require the same
kind of check somebody coming from Yemen does. So how do you do this in a
way—I want E. Steven to start here. You‘re taking the liberal civil
liberties position. Let‘s look at it as an American people here, not just
we‘re not any country, we‘re America. How do we do this?
COLLINS: I think, first of all, Chris, you recognize that all of us, regardless what color we are, want to travel safely. And many of us are willing to give up some reasonable degree of our freedoms to do that. The concern, I think, many people of color have in this nation is we don‘t want to be at risk to lose our civil liberties. So it goes to...
MATTHEWS: Give me your worst case.
MATTHEWS: Suppose there‘s a plane that goes down next week, by the way, and then we‘ll be living in a new situation. And Cliff and I, and you know this, no matter what we say here now, if a week from now, a plane has gone down, this country will be under a totally new aspect. We will look at this, and this conversation will be very different. And the civil liberties defense will be much harder to launch and the Cliff May argument will be much easier to make. Let‘s be honest about that.
COLLINS: So do we just give up our rights?
COLLINS: Do we turn into what they are?
MATTHEWS: What we do a week from now if there‘s been an attack that succeeds, is what I‘m asking.
MATTHEWS: How do we change? Or don‘t we change?
COLLINS: I don‘t know. We do what we think we should do, given all that we know and how much money we have to spend because those are the factors that we have to deal with, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. We have to be rational and...
COLLINS: How do you just give up your rights, your inalienable rights?
MAY: I think...
MATTHEWS: You know what? When we get on an airplane, we submit to all kinds of checks we don‘t by walking down the street. I think you give up a certain amount of rights just getting on an airplane. I think you‘ve got to recognize that your safety is tied in with everybody else on that plane‘s safety and anybody else that gets hit by that plane.
COLLINS: I think—I think I agree with you.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t own the right to be on that plane because you‘re getting on an airplane. So you do have to yield some civil rights. That‘s what I‘m saying.
COLLINS: But that‘s what‘s happened. When I get on airplanes, that‘s what I go through. That‘s what happens to me.
MATTHEWS: Cliff, last thought.
MAY: Look, Steve, you shouldn‘t be going through that because there‘s no reason to be picking you out as somebody who‘s likely. You do not have the profile of a terrorist. We don‘t have infinite resources, therefore we need to focus on those most likely. The fact of the matter is, al Qaeda is not an equal opportunity employer. It‘s not likely to hire you...
MAY: ... or Chris or me to be a suicide bomber. If we know what kind of people they do target, then we can look more closely at those...
MATTHEWS: And by the way, they‘re going to get smarter...
COLLINS: ... look like I look...
MATTHEWS: Cliff, you know it, and E. Steven and I know it, that sooner or later, they‘re going to be recruiting all kinds of people to do their dirty work for them. We know that. They‘re the enemy. They‘re going to use any means they can to get us. They‘re out to kill us. Let‘s be as smart as they are because they are already smart.
COLLINS: I agree with you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Cliff, thank you—Cliff May. Thank you, E. Steven Collins. Happy new year. I hope it‘s a good year.
MAY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: We‘re in a perpetual war situation now with terrorists. What are we going to do about it? Let‘s talk about somebody who knows that part of the world where the terrorism is coming from. And we‘re going to learn a lot more about Yemen in about five seconds.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, a Nigerian man radicalized in Yemen tried to kill hundreds of people by blowing himself up in an airplane over Detroit. He failed, thank God. What did we learn, and how can the United States stop more young men from going down that same path?
Irshad Manji‘s director of the Moral Courage project at NYU, New York University up here in New York, and creator of the Emmy-nominated PBS film “Faith Without Fear.” She‘s also the author of “The Trouble With Islam Today. “
You know what we don‘t know. What‘s the trouble with Yemen? We have diplomatic relations with that country. We‘re sending people back there. I love this guy that we sent back there to be rehabilitated to become an artist or an art student. He‘s apparently one of the guys who perpetrated this attempt on that plane.
IRSHAD MANJI, AUTHOR, “THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM TODAY: Well, you know, you mentioned my film, “Faith Without Fear.” Three years ago, Chris, I was in Yemen to film that documentary for PBS and I actually interviewed Osama bin Laden‘s former bodyguard, who, by the way—and this is very important to keep in mind—was supposed to be an ex-jihadi. In other words, the Yemeni government allowed me access to him precisely because they wanted to showcase this deprogramming initiative that they had proudly undertaken.
MANJI: This guy was exactly the opposite of a rehab case. He, in fact, told me on camera that he wishes that he had never left Sheikh Osama, as he called him, not even for one hour. And he then went on to explain his commitment to global jihad to the point...
MATTHEWS: OK, why would the Yemen government...
MANJI: ... of proudly...
MATTHEWS: ... the Yemeni government say this guy was reformed?
MANJI: Well, they want the United States and others to believe that that‘s the case. It‘s good for diplomatic relations. It‘s good for the image of Yemen. But understand this. I turned around to my government-assigned handler and shrugged my shoulders as if to ask, Why am I hearing this from an ex-jihadi? And the government-assigned handler gave me the thumbs up, as if to say, Go ahead, keep interviewing him.
And afterwards, I said to this guy, Why did you let me persist with the interview? This is making Yemen look very, very bad. And he said, That‘s exactly the point. Our program to, you know, deradicalize these people is not working, and the stakes are too high...
MANJI: ... for wishful thinking, Irshad.
MANJI: He said, Tell the world...
MATTHEWS: OK, the United States government...
MANJI: ... it‘s not working.
MATTHEWS: ... has been trying to clear out Gitmo. I‘ve been arguing for a long time there‘s people that commit crimes, you punish them. There are people that get killed in action, they‘re dead. What do you do with people with people that are picked up in action who are clearly the enemies of the United States government for whom you can‘t prove a crime? They‘re our enemies. Why do we ever let them go? They‘re our enemies. They‘re warriors. The war ain‘t over. Why do we let them go? That‘s my question.
MANJI: Well, you know, as you know, there‘s been a long debate about whether they should be given sort of their day in court in a civilian court, versus a military tribunal.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but they haven‘t committed a crime...
MANJI: Do something with them, is the point.
MATTHEWS: ... what do you do with them? They‘re warriors.
MANJI: You know, give them—give them their day in court...
MANJI: ... is the point that others are making.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, this jihadi...
MANJI: But I think...
MATTHEWS: You broke this guy‘s code.
MATTHEWS: You said, Are you a jihadist? He said, yes. That wasn‘t too hard, was it.
MANJI: It wasn‘t too hard, especially when he said that he wanted to recruit his 5-year-old son to become a martyr, for God‘s sake!
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, here‘s the United States. You live in this country. You teach at NYU. My kids go there. It‘s a hell of a country, the greatest country in the history of man. We‘ve got to defend ourselves. We‘ve got to get on airplanes and stop people from killing us, all right?
This isn‘t a game.
MATTHEWS: This isn‘t a civil liberties examination or a trial run.
It‘s the real damn thing.
MATTHEWS: hat are we going to do about keeping killers off our airplanes?
MANJI: Listen, Chris, you‘ve heard me say this before. I‘ll say it again because it can‘t be said enough. We have to in this country distinguish between moderate Muslims and reform-minded Muslims.
MANJI: The moderates are part of the problem...
MATTHEWS: We want somebody...
MANJI: ... not part of the solution!
MATTHEWS: ... making $8 an hour to do that?
MANJI: No. What I‘m saying is, is that that‘s a crisis-driven solution you‘re talking about. You already discussed that with your first two guests. You‘re talking to somebody here who is speaking from the inside of the faith of Islam, all right?
MATTHEWS: OK, Irshad, you‘re a professor. You‘re academically qualified. But if I put you at the airport over in Yemen and you had to decide who gets on the plane and you‘re standing in line as they rush by...
MANJI: I‘ll tell you—yes.
MATTHEWS: ... how do you know?
MANJI: OK, you know what? I personally have been screened more than once on many an occasion. And I‘ll tell you why I don‘t mind that. It was said earlier. I‘ll say it again...
MATTHEWS: What were the questions?
MANJI: ... that I am a member of the public. As a Muslim, I am no less a member of the public than you are. And that means that the public safety issue that is, you know, front and center here affects me as much as it does you. Therefore, Chris, I am willing to be patted down twice, even three times in order to protect the public.
MATTHEWS: OK. You look Middle Eastern, I think it‘s fair to say, because of everything about you. You get stopped at an airplane and somebody says, OK, you‘re traveling without a lot of luggage. You just bought your ticket in cash. You‘re not getting on the plane. Now, that, to me, sounds pretty peremptory. And that‘s just going to make a lot of enemies in the world.
Short of that, you say, all right, let‘s come in this room over here and...
MANJI: No. No, no, no. I‘m going to stop you right there.
MANJI: No, it‘s not going to make a lot of enemies in the world, if you point out, as we must, that the vast majority of al Qaeda‘s victims are fellow Muslims themselves.
In other words, taking somebody off of a plane in order to protect other people, including Muslims, who are on the plane is something that we need to be willing to do.
MATTHEWS: Is this a general attitude? Can you...
MANJI: Listen, it‘s something that, when you explain this, particularly to a new generation of Muslims, they understand that this is the kind of information that is being kept from them, from the jihadi propagandists...
MANJI: ... and the moderate Muslims who are not challenging the jihadi ideology enough.
MATTHEWS: OK, here‘s my concern, Irshad. And it comes down to numbers. It reminds me of those MIRVed missiles that we still have in our silos. You have got 10 warheads on it. You fire them all at once. They all come out in one big silo, one booster rocket.
They go in 10 different directions. You have got to stop all 10 of them. Somewhere over in Yemen tonight, there‘s a guy listening to this on television, watching CNN or whatever, letting to Al-Jazeera, and he‘s thinking, well, we didn‘t get through this time because the guy screwed up on the detonator, or he didn‘t put his syringe in right, or some passenger had the balls to jump him.
Next time, we will have him do it in the bathroom. Next time, we will come up with a better chemical that‘s more ignitive. And next time, we will blow that damn plane up over Omaha.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what I‘m afraid of.
MATTHEWS: And did you ever read the paper today? They‘re thinking through this every day.
MANJI: What is the premise on which they are operating, these people?
They are operating on the premise...
MATTHEWS: Then we‘re being hesitant to be too brutal about it.
MANJI: No, let me finish. Let me finish.
They are operating on the premise that the West is slaughtering Muslims, when the reality is that 98 percent of al Qaeda‘s victims in the last two years alone have been fellow Muslims.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well...
MANJI: And this is what these people don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: The problem is, the war has started..
MANJI: This is what needs to get through to them. This is what the president and others need to insist the message be heard.
MATTHEWS: And what do you do to the people who have already started...
MATTHEWS: Irshad, I‘m completely with you. And I do believe, in a world of a billion Islamic people, the one thing you don‘t want to happen is an East-West war.
MATTHEWS: The one thing you don‘t want to do is make people choose sides on the basis of religion.
MATTHEWS: The problem is now, we know there are several thousand people out there right now tonight planning against us to kill us. That‘s the short-term problem.
MANJI: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, as I said a few minutes ago in the earlier segment, the minute a plane blows up, we‘re going to be living in a different cosmos.
MANJI: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: The American people that are civil libertarian right now are going to be a hell of a lot less civil libertarian.
MANJI: Or they will be silent, because they don‘t have the answer...
MATTHEWS: No. So, it‘s going to get further and further—this country is going to go further and further right in the way it handles this.
MANJI: Mm-hmm. Right.
MATTHEWS: Now, so we have to think about this right now.
MATTHEWS: Now, here‘s the question.
MANJI: Invest in reform-minded Muslims. Invest in reform-minded Muslims who are speaking from within the faith. They are not, you know, outside of it, and they are pointing out to moderates and others that we need to take responsibility here. We need to engage in moral courage of our own, because we are all in this together.
MATTHEWS: How many fathers are out there like this Nigerian gentleman who had the courage...
MANJI: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: ... to call up the United States Embassy in Lagos and say, my son is troubled, he‘s dangerous, he may be radicalized, you have got to watch him on airplanes?
You know, by the way, the State Department ought to catch the person who took that information and didn‘t use it...
MANJI: Yes, agreed.
MATTHEWS: ... because that person ought to be in trouble.
MANJI: Total incompetence.
MATTHEWS: I want to know why that person didn‘t immediately call Washington and say, I got a hot one here.
MANJI: That‘s right. That‘s right. Well...
MATTHEWS: ... because the guy I trust just told me his kid is dangerous.
MANJI: They will argue that they did cable Washington, but Washington said that it didn‘t have enough evidence in order to nab this guy and put them—put him on the no-fly list. So, there‘s bureaucratic bungling. There‘s—there‘s..
MATTHEWS: Well, let me just tell you this, Irshad. There‘s no such person as Washington. First of all, you just made a mistake.
MANJI: No, no, no, no.
MATTHEWS: There‘s no such person as Washington. There‘s a human being who took that call who didn‘t do anything with it.
Well, that is...
MATTHEWS: OK. All right.
MANJI: This is exactly the point. And so there‘s bureaucratic bumbling, bungling all along.
MATTHEWS: All right.
MANJI: And you know that the buck will be passed, because that‘s how the good folks in Washington work, as in any capital, in any administrative capital.
MATTHEWS: Well, the president said we have a systemic problem. I think that‘s progress. The system ain‘t working.
Thank you, Irshad. Please come back again. I hope we don‘t need you in these kind of circumstances. But I‘m telling you, the word—the world will turn a few more times.
MANJI: You are right.
MATTHEWS: And, when this happens, it‘s going to be a different world, because there‘s not going to be any more nicety about it.
MATTHEWS: You‘re not getting on an airplane if you‘re a slight problem.
MANJI: That is why, as a Muslim, I‘m putting myself right front and center in this fight, too.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope—I hope everybody is as reasonable as you and that guy‘s father.
Up next—I mean on all sides—“Newsweek” ranks the most heated rivalries of the decade. We are going to have a little fun for two minutes. Then we will be back to this kind of topic.
You know, who are the—who are the biggest rivals in the world? Wait until you hear this. It‘s in the “Sideshow.” It‘s kind of fun. It‘s a married couple.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First up, you know this fellow Parker Griffith? He is the Democratic congressman, or ex-Democratic congressman, from Alabama who switched last week to the Republican Party. Catch the reaction from Alabama‘s Republican chairman, Mike Hubbard, who apparently welcomed Griffith with open arms—quote—I love this quote—“It‘s almost like coming to your church and asking forgiveness for past sins. You don‘t turn them away.”
Well, I wonder what voters think of politicians who switch sides? I mean, people watching right now, what do you think of guys who switch sides? They remind me of the guys on the Titanic who put on women‘s clothes and then hid on the lifeboats. Just my thought.
And on a much happier note, President Obama‘s top numbers guy, budget director Pete Orszag, just got engaged to ABC News correspondent Bianna Golodryga—Golodryga—Golodryga. The two met in May at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. By the way, I met my queen, Kathleen, at a similar dinner 30 years ago. She‘s going to be on here very soon.
Now for the “Big Number” tonight.
In the spirit of the season, “Newsweek” is out with its list of the most heated rivalries of the decade. In includes Palin—that‘s the governor—vs. “Saturday Night Live,” MySpace vs. Facebook, the Red Sox, of course, against the Yankees, Mac vs. P.C.
So, who has got the top spot, the biggest rivalry in the country, the one everybody is talking about? You will love this one. Hillary and Bill Clinton. They‘re seen as rivals by “Newsweek.” “Newsweek” notes that Bill‘s frustration at being out of the spotlight this decade and taking a secondary role in his wife‘s campaign last year has bothered him. The Clintons, “Newsweek”‘s number-one rivalry of the decade—tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: Is there a crack in the ceiling for women in politics? Look at Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Sonia Sotomayor? But what will it take for a woman to reach the top spot, the American presidency? That‘s next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATT NESTO, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Matt Nesto with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks ending slightly lower today on some mixed economic indicators, the Dow industrials breaking a six-day winning streak, down just a point-and-a-half, Same for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, little change on the session, giving back about 2.6 points.
Well, as stocks go, light holiday-week volume meant no standout winners or losers today. But, on the commodities side, the dollar rose against the euro and the yen. Oil steadied near $79 a barrel. And gold dropped below $1,100 an ounce.
Now, about those economic indicators, on the encouraging side, consumer confidence ticking up more than two points in December. That was in line with expectations. On the not-so-encouraging side, home prices stayed flat in October. Investors were hoping to extend a five-month run of increases. But analysts say there is another sign that perhaps the market is stabilizing.
That‘s it from CNBC. We‘re first in business worldwide—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 2008)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Although we weren‘t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it‘s got about 18 million cracks in it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, Senator Hillary Clinton, now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in June of 2008, when she abandoned her presidential campaign and endorsed Barack Obama for the nomination.
“The Washington Post”‘s Anne Kornblut spent more than two years covering the Hillary Clinton campaign and writes about it in her new book, smashing new book, “Notes From the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win,” and joining us from Hawaii, where she‘s on duty covering the president in nicer weather.
Anne, you‘re one of my good pals in this business. And I wish you well. Here‘s the book. I‘m holding it up again, “Notes From the Cracked Ceiling.”
ANNE KORNBLUT, AUTHOR, “NOTES FROM THE CRACKED CEILING: HILLARY
CLINTON, SARAH PALIN, AND WHAT IT WILL TAKE FOR A WOMAN TO WIN”: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And now for the toughest questions for women in politics. Here it is. How far did Hillary Clinton actually go in making progress for women at the highest levels of politics?
KORNBLUT: I think, and from talking to a lot of people for the book -
and thank you very much for reading it—I think that she actually did make a lot of progress for women.
I think—and from all the people I interviewed, voters are now able to envision what a woman nominee might look like, maybe even a woman president. They saw her looking presidential. That‘s something that happened because that nomination fight went on for so many months, that she actually was up there looking presidential, all told, for more than a year-and-a-half.
So, I think, when she looks back at that, when her top advisers look back at that campaign, one of the things they‘re most proud of is that that might actually be something people can envision going forward.
MATTHEWS: You‘re a young woman. And I wondered how you look at things. One thing I noticed in the book you point out is a real surprise to you was that younger women, at your age and younger, who voted didn‘t have that sort of woman solidarity in politics, that they did go for as much for Obama as anyone else in their generation.
That‘s a surprise to you?
KORNBLUT: Well, it was a surprise to me. I think it was a surprise to the Clinton campaign.
Older women, of course—and we saw this by the end of the primaries
were very supportive of Hillary Clinton. They were her base. And the numbers actually only went up for her among women as the campaign wore on and there was a sense that she was under siege.
But younger women, especially on college campuses, Obama had a real shot at them from the beginning. He went after them. He campaigned for them. And there wasn‘t the same sense—my generation and younger, raised on, you know, free to be you and me, told that we could do anything, there was this not—there was not the same sense this was going to be incredibly difficult.
And the Clinton campaign didn‘t emphasize the difficulties. They didn‘t want to. So, in the end of the day, she ended up splitting younger women with Obama. If she had done better, maybe by about 10 points, that could have been the difference. And I actually think that the next candidate, the next female candidate, going forward is going to learn from that lesson.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look at progress on the front here in terms of equality of opportunity at the highest levels. And this—I wanted to bring this up. And I think you have good thoughts about this.
If you look at the United States Senate, which to the—to me, the dream part of American politics still, we‘re looking at a map of the United States. You can‘t see it, but our viewers can. These are the states that have two women senators. Maine, of course, Washington State, and California, the largest states, all have two women senators.
Now look at the states that have at least one of two senators who are women, a big chunk of the country, North—North, of course, the Midwest, the Great Lakes states, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri. All across the Northeast, of course, you have women senators. Half the seats are women—
Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas.
It‘s—except for the big sort of Western states—incredibly good representation. Has the glass ceiling been broken in the United States Senate?
KORNBLUT: Look, anyone who studied this issue like you have knows that there are now women representing from all over the place. Numbers have increased in huge proportions, even since the ‘80s.
And it‘s easy to forget even some of the arcane rules of the Senate, like the fact that women couldn‘t wear pants on the Senate floor until the early ‘90s. So, so much has changed, if you take the long view.
If you take the shorter view, though, there has not been a year of the woman, a big kind of doubling or tripling of the numbers, since 1992. That was the big year when the numbers tripled.
And, so, in both the House and the Senate, you have got about a fifth of the Senate being women. That‘s obviously nowhere near the number of women in the country. So, yes, there‘s a lot more representation than there used to be. But the people who work on this, and certainly on the Republican side, where the numbers are very low, would argue that there‘s still a long way to go.
MATTHEWS: You know, Senator Clinton, who is now Secretary Clinton, is incredibly impressive as secretary of state. I think everybody would agree. And you certainly, I think, would agree.
And I think that she comes across in a different way, obviously more statesmanlike. Maybe that comes with the job. Is there something peculiar to the challenge of getting behind a microphone and yelling, basically, that doesn‘t work for women? Is there something that—you know what I mean? Men can bellow. I can bellow it.
KORNBLUT: Absolutely. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Well, you know I can bellow.
MATTHEWS: What—what is—because, when you‘re with Hillary Clinton, she can wow you, wow you in a small room, wow you in an interview...
MATTHEWS: ... wow you when you‘re just friends socially. Get behind a microphone, it gets a little difficult, politically, sometimes.
Is it—is it hard for a woman to project power than a politician who‘s a male? Or what‘s going on here? Why is it...
KORNBLUT: She learned how...
MATTHEWS: What am I up to here? What is going on here? Something is going on.
KORNBLUT: It‘s such a great—no, it‘s a great—it‘s a great question.
And from talking to strategists who work with a lot of women, they all said, there is something different. Voters respond viscerally to women standing up at a microphone.
Now, Senator Clinton, when she was Senator Clinton, was running. She was certainly able to bellow. She was a fighter. But what you have seen in a number of races is that voters can—can accept that, but they actually want to hear something different from women. They don‘t want to see women maybe being quite as rough-and-tumble.
I even had one strategist tell me that they advised their female candidates to lower the tone of their voices, so that they can‘t be accused of screeching. And they even reduced the amount of time that they put women in their own ads, because voters don‘t want to see or hear them as much.
Now, there are a lot of people that are going to say, that‘s not fair, that‘s the double standard. But that‘s a reality that a lot of the strategists I spoke to conveyed.
MATTHEWS: To Senator Clinton‘s credit, the reason she‘s secretary of state, which I think is probably the greatest job in the world for her, or just about anyone, is that she had the guts to run for the United States Senate in New York. I think that‘s really the reason she‘s at where she‘s at. A powerful statement of courage; there you have it, Hillary Clinton.
But your, the book every woman who is interested in politics should read, and every male who wants to keep up, “Notes From the Cracked Ceiling,” Ann Kornblut, thanks for coming on our show to introduce your book.
Up next, my turn to be interviewed by none other than my wife. You‘re going to hear from a top woman. Wait until you hear her. She‘s a top corporate executive now with the Marriott International Corporation. She was a network—she was with the Washington affiliate of ABC for years as the big-time correspondent and anchorwoman. She‘s coming here because we happen to be in New York together and I really wanted her on this show.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. I look forward to this, obviously. New Year‘s Eve is Thursday here in New York. It‘s New Years Eve everywhere. Up here in New York, where it‘s all happening, doing this show, enjoying Broadway with my queen, my wife, Kathleen Matthews, who anchored the news in Washington for 15 years. She‘s now an executive, as I said, with the Marriott International. She‘s about to grill me, something she‘s good at. And there she is, Kathleen Mathews. Thank you—
KATHLEEN MATTHEWS, WIFE OF CHRIS MATTHEWS: Great to be back on your show, Chris. Thank you for inviting me.
MATTHEWS: Once in a while we do this.
K. MATTHEWS: So I think folks will be very surprised to know that we actually sit in our house—today was a hotel room—and talk about things like, what are the big stories of 2009? We actually do that, don‘t we?
K. MATTHEWS: So this morning, that‘s what we did, sitting in our hotel room, the beautiful club lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. There‘s my promotion for my hotel company. Just talking about sort of the big stories and what you think is actually going to shape the 2010 election. There‘s nothing you like more than an election, right?
MATTHEWS: I love the crackle of victory and defeat.
K. MATTHEWS: So we‘ve got five of the big issues --
K. MATTHEWS: -- that Obama is going to be facing as it goes into those 2010 mid-terms. The first one you said is wall street.
K. MATTHEWS: Sort of why he hasn‘t gotten credit for basically preventing the second Great Depression.
MATTHEWS: Because it didn‘t happen. Nobody believes it necessarily would have happened. All you see is that big bailout money going to those people up in New York, up in his city, that look like they‘re very well dressed, extremely well paid. They get bonuses and big profits and everybody else is hurting. And now, for some reason, a Democratic president looks like he‘s in bed with the rich guys in New York. And it looks terrible.
K. MATTHEWS: But most of this happened under the previous administration. So little happened under—
MATTHEWS: The bailouts?
K. MATTHEWS: The bailouts happened. The money‘s already coming back in. In fact, there‘s even some interest accumulating on the money coming back in. So it may be out of a 700 billion dollar bailout, maybe 100 billion that the tax payers—
MATTHEWS: You tell that to a guy who is killing himself at a job he doesn‘t necessarily like. He‘s in his late 50s. He gets up at 6:00 in the morning. He‘s catching the bus. He‘s working his butt off. And he picks up the newspaper and sees huge profits at Morgan Stanley or huge profits at Goldman Sachs, and he‘s ticked. He sees the president with this guy Geithner, who—the Treasury secretary looks like one of them. And the president looks like he‘s part of this crowd that‘s been cleaning up.
By the way, Wall Street doesn‘t do anything. People like Lee Iococa, he made cars. They like Spielberg, he made movies. What do they do up here? That‘s what people don‘t like. People are making money off money. And nobody likes people to make money off of money. If that sounds populist, there you have it.
K. MATTHEWS: What does the president and his economic team need to do, do you think, to turn this around?
K. MATTHEWS: They‘ve got to create jobs, which is another topic here. They got to get jobs. The bottom line is—the bottom line, how many people are working? How many people are looking for jobs or given up looking? And they‘re all going to blame the Democrats. If you‘re out of work, you‘re going to vote Republican.
K. MATTHEWS: The other big issue you talked about is health care, number four. Essentially, we put together a health care bill that was supposed to reform a system that everybody admits is broken. It was supposed to increase access for more people. It was supposed to cut costs and raise quality. Now, we know that this bill, if it passed—do you think it‘s going to pass?
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know. I think abortion is still a problem.
K. MATTHEWS: If it does pass, we know it will increase access. Is there—you know, are people being too tough on this bill? Is the perfect the enemy of the good? If you get one out of those three things, is this something we should see go through, do you think?
MATTHEWS: Look, presidents have been promising health care since Teddy Roosevelt. We‘ve got to deliver. We‘re the only industrialized country in the world that doesn‘t protect you against a really catastrophic illness. If you‘re sick, you go to the emergency room. Is the best we can do in this country? I think we ought to have health care.
I do go along with what was said years ago in Pennsylvania by the governor up there: “if the criminal has a right to a lawyer, the person and family, working family, deserves health care.” We got to find a way to do it. I‘m with them on trying to do it.
K. MATTHEWS: What is more of a liability for him politically in 2010, not getting it passed or getting it passed?
MATTHEWS: Failure is failure. American people like competence.
They may not like ideology. They hate incompetence more.
MATTHEWS: Number four—number three on your list, the rage, the town hall rage, the tea parties. Where did it come from?
K. MATTHEWS: Well, some of it‘s OK. It‘s regular people ticked off about high taxes, which—taxes have not gone up under this administration. That‘s nonsense. They‘re ticked off about big government. They don‘t like the health care issue. They think it‘s getting too much in their face.
But a lot of it has to do with race. Almost all the people at the tea bag parties are white. There‘s a lot of this birther crap that‘s been thrown into it. Barack Obama is an American. He‘s one of us. Anybody who has a problem with that has a problem with America. That‘s your problem. It‘s not his problem. And I think there‘s some of that.
But there‘s also some legitimate anger about big government. That‘s a good old American argument. I‘ve got no problem with it.
But I think the tea party thing is going to hurt Obama, because that rage is going to work its way to the voting booth, and help every dull Republican candidate for office, because even the dullest candidate, like Chris Christie, is going to get those angry people voting for them.
K. MATTHEWS: Sarah Palin‘s book continues to be number one on the best-seller list. Is that sort of bad news for Barack Obama and Democrats?
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so. I think it‘s a lot of anger out there.
K. MATTHEWS: Do you think they were prepared for this? There was so much populous sentiment that helped usher in his presidency. This is another kind—
MATTHEWS: No, I think they missed it because a lot of people who were angry didn‘t vote last time. They didn‘t like John McCain. They went to sleep. They let Barack Obama win. They sat it out emotionally, basically, and came back alive with the health care discussion.
I think he also hurt himself with the Henry Gates issue. By taking sides in what was an ethnic dispute up in Massachusetts, in a local situation, should have stayed out of it. He‘s always been smart to stay out of those issues. By getting involved in what looked like an ethnic fight, where you have to choose sides based on where you come from, is always going to be trouble.
K. MATTHEWS: Very quickly, what can he do?
MATTHEWS: Just be a good president. Get the unemployment rate down.
K. MATTHEWS: I get to toss to break.
MATTHEWS: Toss to break. You know how to do this.
K. MATTHEWS: OK. We‘ll be right back with Chris Matthews for the top two stories of 2009. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
K. MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Chris Matthews for his take on the hottest stories of 2009, and the big stories that will affect the elections in 2010. Chris.
MATTHEWS: We‘re married 30 years right now. Do you realize this is the year, 30th year?
K. MATTHEWS: I know, going into 2010.
MATTHEWS: It‘s astounding, 30 years.
K. MATTHEWS: It‘s been great.
So terrorism and war. You‘ve been talking about it all week after this foiled bombing on the Northwest flight. Is this the kind of thing that Republicans were waiting for, so that they could say Barack Obama‘s soft on terrorism?
MATTHEWS: It would be unfair to get into motive about somebody hoping for the worst. But certainly this is an opportunity for somebody like Dick Cheney or someone to say they‘ve been soft. I think that‘s the way the game is played. And it is not fair, but it is. Certainly the Democrats didn‘t jump when George Bush, 9/11 hit, and said it‘s his fault. But the other side plays it a lot tougher.
I do think that if we get hit, if something like this that almost happened on Christmas day happens, we‘re going to be in a totally new environment. The American people are this far away from changing about—they don‘t even like the word profiling. Getting damn serious about who gets on airplanes and who gets in tricky situations. You don‘t let at the switch in a train. You don‘t let anybody near a cockpit without all kinds of checking them out.
Today, anybody gets on a plane has tremendous power. Anybody. You don‘t give that kind of power to somebody who‘s dangerous. So I think it‘s not a question of rights. To get on an airplane and to be in a position to kill al kinds of people with very little effort, I think we have to have a higher standard than just freedom. It‘s got to be about—well, it‘s going to be a privilege to get on an airplane.
K. MATTHEWS: It seems like with each of these incidents, certainly you learn what you can do better and fine-tune things. But, in many ways, don‘t we just live in an era of some your honor certainty? I mean, you can‘t control everything.
MATTHEWS: You can‘t read minds. You can‘t read minds. I‘m telling you, we‘re going to get to the people where people are going to be skilled in all kind of physical ability. They may be able to subdue pilots with just physical strength. They‘re going to be training people like you can‘t believe to do damage.
By the way, we‘re up against some very smart, determined people. The idea we‘re up against third world people that are a little bit religiously zealous and we can take them? Don‘t assume that. They spend every day of their lives thinking how to hurt us. There is only several thousand of them, but look at the damage they‘ve done already.
K. MATTHEWS: Do the wars hurt or make the situation—do the wars hurt or help? Does it show that we‘re tough or do they also make us more hated?
MATTHEWS: We don‘t have the metrics. I‘ve asked that of Rumsfeld. I‘ve never gotten an answer. Every time an Arab guy gets killed on international television, every time we see American soldiers equipped up to hell to go kill people on the other side and kicking down doors—how many times on this network do we show GIs kicking down the door in some third world country? I think an Arab person, an Islamic person, says that‘s my doors being kicked in, mom being humiliated.
So there is also a crossover question, are we creating more enemies than we‘re dealing with here? I‘ve always been very skeptical that the wars with big armies are the way this war should be fought. I think it should be fought through brilliant, brilliant police work, of finding the bad guys, and brilliant diplomacy, in trying to deal with the Middle East situation. As long as that wound is there in the Palestinian territories, as long as there‘s a war front there, there is always going to be an opportunity to blame the West.
K. MATTHEWS: We have just one minute for the number one issue that you think is going to have the biggest impact on the 2010 elections. That is jobs. Ten percent unemployment. And until those people are working, the economy is just going to be basically in the doldrums.
MATTHEWS: The guy waiting in the unemployment line, the woman waiting in the unemployment line is not cheering Obama. Fairly or not. You blame the person on watch. And he‘s on watch right now. He has got to find a way to reduce the unemployment rate. Ronald Reagan was able to get the unemployment rate down to seven after that terrible recession back in the early ‘80s. So by—within three years, he‘s got to get it down to seven. Let‘s put it that way.
But most importantly, headed downward. The American people are an optimistic people. If things are getting better, they‘ll feel it. If things are getting worse, they figure they‘re next. The thing about unemployment is it doesn‘t just affect the unemployed guy or woman. If you see somebody else losing your job at work, you go I‘m next. If you see somebody else being hired, you say I‘m next.
K. MATTHEWS: It‘s more of the uncertainty, that uncertainty that people are having.
MATTHEWS: You and I were talking about it in the hotel today. It‘s the potential to second-dip when we‘ve exhausted the stimulus and all that federal spending has gone its way. Then we‘re back to a weak, limp economy again. I really think that‘s something we got to worry about. I‘m worried about it in the stock market. I do think they have a big question mark there.
If I‘m Barack Obama, who knows a lot more than we know—he‘s sitting there with Larry Summers, who‘s really smart. They‘re thinking—and Goolsbee and the rest of them—they‘re are thinking—Christine Roemer—they‘re all sitting around a room saying, we got to fight this second dip potential. I think they‘re going to do it. They‘ll come up with something.
K. MATTHEWS: Just ten seconds; these have all been negatives for Barack Obama and his administration. One thing that he has going for him?
MATTHEWS: We‘ve rejoined the world. I‘m very proud to be one of the nations of the world. I‘m very proud that we have a president the rest of the world respects and looks up to. I‘m extremely proud we‘re a country where an African-American can be president. I‘m still thrilled at the election of Barack Obama. He‘s still got to prove himself. But I‘m still thrilled at the country that elected him.
I think it is a great country. And we‘re proving it again.
Absolutely the greatest country in the world, because of being able to do things like this. It‘s still—and you know I mean it.
K. MATTHEWS: I know you do. We got to go. So thanks for letting me come back on, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I‘m a great career opportunity person.
K. MATTHEWS: Join us tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Right now, it is time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz. Happy New Year.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or
other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>
Watch Hardball each weeknight