Guests: Jay Newton-Small, David Remnick, Ron Reagan, Douglas Wilder, Rep.
HOST: Confederacy of dunces.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
The real Republican leadership. Mark your calendar. Today, April 7th,
2010, the new Republican Party showed its head today. Move over, Mitch
McConnell, you rascal! Move over, Mr. Chip (ph) and Pug (ph), John
Boehner. You may have the titles, but the crowns in your party are now on
the heads of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and
Today on daytime television, we saw the wing team dream team of Palin,
Bachmann and Hannity. They have the star power, not the backroom schmooze
of Capitol Hill.
Plus, Jeff Davis Republicans. Cries of succession and nullification
got 600,000 men killed back in the 1860s. Cries of states‘ rights got us
fellows like Jim Crow and Bull Connor and George Corley Wallace. What the
world needs now, more of this talk! Virginia‘s new Republican governor,
Bob McDonnell, has declared April to be Confederate History Month. To read
his proclamation, you‘d think the of 1861 to 1865 was a joyous war of
independence, great stuff all around, just got overwhelmed by too much fire
power from up north. Not a word about slavery being the issue or the
election of Abraham Lincoln causing succession. Former governor Doug
Wilder of Virginia says the Confederate History Month stuff is mind-
boggling. We‘re going to talk about it. It just happened.
And will the real John McCain please stand up? He now says he‘s never
considered himself a maverick. Could someone please remind him that he
boasted about his maverick credentials throughout the entire 2008 campaign?
OK, we‘ll remind him right here tonight. Let‘s go to the videotape. We‘re
rounding up the mavericks tonight.
Also, why is President Obama having so much trouble winning over white
working-class Americans? And how can he win a mandate in 2012 if he can‘t
do the job? We‘ll get to that one.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with some thoughts on politicians in white
shirts sending messages that other men turn into nasty racist phone calls
in the night. Virginia celebrates the Confederacy.
That‘s also where we start tonight with Governor‘s Bob McDonnell‘s
decision to declare April Confederate History Month in Virginia. Ron
Reagan‘s a former radio talk show host who‘s working on a book about his
dad. And Pat Buchanan‘s an MSNBC analyst.
What you make about today? Let‘s start, by the way, with what
happened in Minnesota today. It‘s an amazing event. We‘ll get to the
Confederate stuff later. What is going on? We‘re going to show you right
now. Here is Governor Palin today with Bachmann. These are very
fascinating political figures, very good on the stump, much more exciting
than Mitch McConnell or John Boehner, the so-called elected leaders of the
Republican—here are the new—here‘s the new star power of the
Republican Party. Let‘s watch today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: ... on the outside. I am here
to testify she is 20 times more beautiful on the inside. Please help me
welcome Governor Sarah Palin!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Pat, I think I had a small role here in hosting
this program one day, when Michele Bachmann came on and said we ought to
have a media investigation for anti-Americanism. You were here. And the
out of that came—a caterpillar became a butterfly and now we saw her
today. She‘s dazzling on the stump. Her speech today was so well given.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: I think she‘s dynamite. I‘ve seen you in the old days. I
think she‘s really good on the stump. I saw her there—I think that she
outdid Palin today. Is this the new star power of the right, not the Mitch
McConnells and the Boehners?
BUCHANAN: Oh, star power, there‘s no question about it. Boehner and
McConnell can‘t compare to this. These are extremely attractive women.
They‘ve got passion, Chris. They‘ve got conviction. They‘ve got
authenticity. And I don‘t say this in a derogatory way—you‘ve got a
couple of rodeo queens out there.
MATTHEWS: Yes, and you mean that positively. Let‘s take a look.
Well, let‘s go to this. Ron Reagan, you know, they‘re woman of the West,
if you will, Minnesota and Alaska. They talk in pioneer language about
fishing and hunting and certainly gun rights and they‘ve got all the themes
out there, and they are, obviously, dazzling on the stump. Your thoughts?
RON REAGAN, FORMER RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, they‘re very
entertaining. You‘re right, they‘ve got a certain glamour appeal to them.
But they‘re also more than a few McNuggets shy of a Happy Meal, both of
REAGAN: And you know this is—you know, Michele Bachmann is a woman
who just a little while ago, sitting with Glenn Beck—and when you make
Glenn Beck look sane, you know you‘re really doing something. She
suggested that the Census form was actually a secret plot by the government
to place Americans in internment camps. Now, you know, this is not the
sort of stuff that‘s going to fly with most Americans out there -- 20
percent of America, maybe half the Republican Party, perhaps, but not most
Americans. This isn‘t going to get the job done in 2012, that‘s for sure.
MATTHEWS: You know, Ron, I think once you investigate for anti-
Americanism, I think you might be on her list. Here‘s Michele Bachmann
REAGAN: I hope so!
MATTHEWS: ... President Obama today on his nuclear policy. I am
confounded by why she‘s upset by this nuclear policy, since Ronald Reagan
was one the great idealists about some day getting rid of nuclear weapons
in this world. But here she is. Let‘s listen to Michele Bachmann on this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: And then earlier this week, we found out that the president
said that he was going to change the United States‘ strategy on dealing
with nuclear weaponry. Did this shock anyone? So if, in fact, there is a
nation who is compliant with all the rules ahead of time and they‘ve
complied the United Nations on nuclear proliferation, if they fire against
the United States a biological weapon, a chemical weapon, or maybe a
cyberattack, well, then, we aren‘t going to be firing back with nuclear
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t get that. I guess I‘m waiting for the applause
line there. But I guess I never thought of using nuclear weapons against
somebody hacking into our system here, our computer system.
BUCHANAN: Oh, come on!
MATTHEWS: Nuclear weapons are basically used in the context of the
MATTHEWS: ... at its worst as counter to other nuclear weapons.
BUCHANAN: Look, James Baker...
MATTHEWS: Except in Europe.
BUCHANAN: James Baker told the foreign minister of Iraq that if they
used chemical or biological weapons on our troops in Desert Storm, we would
retaliate with nuclear weapons. He took him out of the meeting...
MATTHEWS: How about the cyberattack part of this?
BUCHANAN: ... and told him that. Look, to have a cyberattack, you
need a nuclear weapon on the other side because the cyberattack—
(INAUDIBLE) you mean the...
MATTHEWS: She was saying if we get hit with a cyberattack...
BUCHANAN: Well, I...
MATTHEWS: ... we should strike back with nuclear.
BUCHANAN: You mean computer? Do they mean computers or the...
MATTHEWS: Yes, that‘s what she means.
BUCHANAN: ... or the attack in the atmosphere?
MATTHEWS: No, no, no, no, no. She‘s talking about a cyberattack.
BUCHANAN: Well, if they hack into your computer?
MATTHEWS: If somebody—if somebody gets (INAUDIBLE) computer
system, we just...
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think...
MATTHEWS: ... we‘d strike with nuclear weapons.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think I‘d strike with nuclear weapons if they
hacked into my computer, no.
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess I don‘t get this. Ron, there‘s an urgency in
her voice that doesn‘t—it isn‘t matched by the strategic thinking here,
I don‘t think.
REAGAN: No, and...
MATTHEWS: But anyway...
REAGAN: Nuclear weapons have been used twice in all of history, and
we‘re not eager to use them again. And no, we‘re not going to nuke
somebody just because they hacked into our computers. That‘s not going to
MATTHEWS: Well, let me talk about this. I was absolutely dazzled by
Michele Bachmann‘s development. I really do think that what I‘m watching
there is a person who could hit the stump, campaign in Iowa...
MATTHEWS: ... as you know very well, you‘re an expert—where
evangelicals are strong, her reference to the fact that our rights are God-
given, which is a fact in our...
MATTHEWS: ... written into our—into our Declaration of
Independence. No surprise there. But running on that kind of language,
very strong church language there—that seems to be ringing the bell.
BUCHANAN: Well, let me say this. I don‘t know about Michele
Bachmann, whether she‘s ready for it, but I do know this. If Sarah goes in
Sarah Palin goes into Iowa, I think she starts off with between 30
percent and 40 percent of the vote. She shoulders out all the other
conservatives. And Mitt Romney, I think, is the only one that could stop
her, given, A, his standing in the moderate wing of the party, B, he‘s got
some conservatives, and C, there are a lot of the people in the Republican
Party, Chris, scared to death of Sarah Palin. I think they would move to
Romney as the alternative.
These races always come down to the conservative, and as Ron, Jr.,
knows, Ron Reagan, for example, against George H.W. Bush.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but Reagan won that.
MATTHEWS: And I‘m wondering whether this is more like 1980 or it‘s
more like ‘68? Which year is it more like? Is it more like a year where
you go to the center right or you go to the hard right?
BUCHANAN: Well, it‘s not -- ‘68, we didn‘t have any real competition.
It could be a ‘64 year...
MATTHEWS: You had Romney.
BUCHANAN: ... a ‘64 year, where you get Goldwater versus Rockefeller
down to the final.
MATTHEWS: I think the current Romney could fall victim to the same
problems of the Romney in the past. I‘m just not sure he has the political
MATTHEWS: Let me—here‘s more of Palin today. Our story today is
really about the rise to the top of the Republican Party of Palin and
Bachmann, of course, Sean Hannity and the talk show radio people like
Limbaugh we‘ve been talking about before. But these two women have really
grabbed the stage here today and more than just today. Here they are.
Here‘s Palin welcoming the crowd. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: It is really good to
be here in the land of 10,000 lakes with patriots, patriots who love your
country—you are so proud to be Americans—and you who love your good
hunting and fishing and...
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
PALIN: Some of you are proudly clinging to your guns and religion,
like the rest of us!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: You know, you talk about buttering up an audience. I
thought it was a Land of Lakes commercial there, you know, with the land
the 10,000 lakes! I mean...
BUCHANAN: Chris, maybe you didn‘t hear what she was saying. She
would love your guns and religion. What did Obama say? You know, those
MATTHEWS: This clinging...
BUCHANAN: ... middle of Pennsylvania, clinging to their guns and
their Bibles and their bigotry. She‘s appealing to the folks that he
pushed (ph) away!
MATTHEWS: Does this get beyond the snow sled vote?
BUCHANAN: Oh, Sarah Palin does—I mean, Sarah Palin could win the -
MATTHEWS: I‘m waiting for her to go, Mush, you huskies.
REAGAN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no!
MATTHEWS: ... more of it. Let‘s watch more of it. Here‘s more
MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead. I want to watch...
REAGAN: All right, Chris, I...
MATTHEWS: Just a minute, Ron. I want you to get more time here.
REAGAN: ... I‘m sorry. Your analogy to—your analogy to ‘64,
Chris, was apt.
MATTHEWS: It was ‘68.
REAGAN: Sarah Palin may even win the Republican nomination, but she
is unelectable. She is unelectable in the country at large.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look at the tea partiers and Palin, what
she had to say about them, and the women. Here she is. Let‘s listen. She
is really good on the stump. She‘s nothing but applause lines. Here she
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Something kind of interesting—I was going to mention this
to Michele. Something kind of interesting about some these tea party
leaders. We‘re finding out most of them are women!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
PALIN: Yes. Some surveys show that. And that‘s inspiration that
gives us hope for this—hope for this movement because, you know, as
Ronald Reagan‘s friend, Margaret Thatcher, used to say, she used to say, In
politics, you want something said, ask a man. You want something done, ask
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
PALIN: I‘m much more traditional than that, though. My old mantra is
no, Behind every good, productive man stands a very surprised woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I—I don‘t know what to say. Ron, you pick up on this.
It‘s only fraught with peril for me to comment. But I do—I do—never
mind. I‘m not saying it. There‘s a certain kind of presentation, then,
that is so Tina Fey, I wonder who‘s imitating who. I think she‘s doing Fey
imitating her. It‘s a cartoon, in a sense, but it works with the crowd
she‘s working. I mean, the fingers, the windshield wave, everything seems
to be—seems to be contrived for brilliant click, click, click applause
lines that works dramatically with the audience.
REAGAN: With a particular audience, but not the broader audience in
America. We‘re talking about maybe, max, 20 percent of the country here.
It may be—it‘s a sizable minority of the Republican Party, though, and
this is a huge problem for the Republican Party. They—they want to
somehow coopt the tea party movement.
REAGAN: They want to ride...
REAGAN: ... Sarah Palin‘s coattails, but they‘ll ride them to defeat,
MATTHEWS: There‘s that happy guy, John McCain—happiest man in
America! I need Sarah Palin! Thank you, Pat Buchanan. Thank you, Pat—
thank you, Pat Buchanan. And thank you, Ron Reagan.
Coming up: The new Republican governor of Virginia has declared April
to be Confederate History Month. That‘s got a lot of people in Virginia a
bit upset. Why are we going back? Pat wants to stay so hard, but he has
to leave. I‘m sure he‘ll be able to get by (ph). Doug Wilder, the first
ever African-American elected president—governor of the country, has a
thought on this. He was the governor of Virginia. He doesn‘t like this go
back to Confederacy stuff. You‘re watching HARDBALL—by the way they go
south, they go west. The Republican Party‘s going all over the place.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. April is Confederate History
Month in Virginia. In a proclamation, Republican governor Bob McDonnell
said, quote, “It is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our
commonwealth‘s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the
Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil
War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present.”
Well, his proclamation left out a key word in American history,
slavery. “The Washington Post” quotes McDonnell saying, “There were any
number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it
involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I
thought were most significant for Virginia.” And he left out slavery.
Doug Wilder‘s the former governor of Virginia, and more recently, the
former mayor of Richmond. And Jim Moran‘s a Democratic congressman from
Governor, you were elected as the first African-American in the
country to become a governor, and you‘ve been through—you grew up there.
You‘re a Virginian. Why are we going back to the Confederacy and honoring
in this strange sort of—well, I don‘t know what the right word is,
DOUGLAS WILDER (D), FMR. VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: Chris, good to be with
you, as always. But you‘re absolutely right. That reference to my
election some 20 years ago shows you and showed any numbers of people
across the country just how far Virginians have come from that period. I‘m
the grandson of slaves, and I can tell you that during that period of time
that the proclamation speaks of, almost half the population of Virginia was
of African descent.
These people were not happy, and when you speak about all Virginians
should be happy now about the contributions of those people who thought to
dehumanize, to enslave and still hold our nation apart—fortunately, they
lost that war. And fortunately, we‘ve united to the extent that we have a
president now, an African-American president, and we‘ve moved past it.
This is a no period of glorification. Should we recognize the
contributions that families made and sacrificed during that period? Yes.
The governor called me today and I spoke to him. I hope that we‘ll
see some revision relative to either...
WILDER: ... the proclamation or his statement and sentiments.
MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Moran, I want to just read some of the
language in this proclamation. For those who have mixed feelings about
this, I don‘t think you‘re have them very long. The way he describes the
Civil War—first of all, he calls it “the war between the states,” it was
a war of independence. It sounds like the original war for independence.
It was fought for people‘s homes and communities and the commonwealth.
They were fighting a war of defense, basically. But they were overwhelmed
by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union army.
No mention of which side may have been right on the issue of slavery.
No mention of slavery, just this, as I said, sanitized version of history.
This is like one of those Soviet history books we used to read about, where
they set it up their way. Your thoughts, Jim? Congressman?
REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: Well, Chris, it was written by the Sons
of the Confederacy, who continue to refer to the Civil War as the second
American revolution. You know, James McPherson, who as you know, was the
eminent historian of the Civil War, has made clear the Civil War was fought
because a man opposed to slavery was elected president and that‘s why the
states seceded. They seceded from this country. They wanted to destroy
this country so they had the right to own other human beings! And as Doug
has said, there were 500,000 slaves in Virginia at the time. And Virginia
fought the war so that they could continue to own those human beings!
And, for Governor McDonnell to suggest that this was not about
slavery, to commemorate the Civil War as though this was some, you know,
neutral part of American history, this was all about slavery.
And these people wanted to destroy our country, so that they could
control other human beings. And we ought to face up to that...
MORAN: ... get beyond it, and—and—but it‘s very much related to
the first part of your show. This is about appealing to that base who
wants to change...
MORAN: ... history and wants to change the country for the worse.
MATTHEWS: Well, the progress of America has always been two steps
forward and one step backwards.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at a rally in March.
Let‘s listen to her. She makes a point that I don‘t think is defensible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Democrats said that they were
called N-word, which, of course, would be wrong and inappropriate. But no
one has any record of it. No witness saw it. It‘s not on camera. It‘s
not on audio. They were told—they said that they were spat upon. No
one saw it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Audio, Congresswoman? Audio?
Here‘s a voice-mail left at the office of Congressman John Lewis.
Let‘s listen. I hope that you‘re listening, Congresswoman Bachmann.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That God (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Don‘t tell me I got
to get some God (EXPLETIVE DELETED) health insurance. I ain‘t paying no
God (EXPLETIVE DELETED) fine. Tell that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he can come
put my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in jail if he don‘t like it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the N-word was used prolifically—prolifically the,
Governor, as you wouldn‘t be surprised.
MATTHEWS: The language was familiar from the past. It‘s still out
there. It‘s redolent of the bad old days. But anybody in public life
knows these words are not far from the lips of some people.
We saw, of course, Congressman Cleaver get spat upon. We have an
adequate visual record of that. And I think the congresswoman should pay
attention to that scene.
There it is. Amazing. There it is, Congressman Cleaver trying—
well, he restrained—he was a gentleman. The other guy was worse than I
can think about. There he is. He won‘t even stop with his spittle.
Congressman—governor, you have been through all this. Why do you
think people are going—is this a play for what‘s called the Republican
base? Is this just clearly aimed at the...
WILDER: I don‘t think so, no.
MATTHEWS: ... the people who don‘t like change? Or what is it?
WILDER: I think it‘s a miscalculation, period. That—that base
doesn‘t belong any place in forging any what I call majority party or
majority manipulation any place in America today.
The American people are past this. Jim Moran absolutely right. What
this proclamation suggests is that that period was something, well, just a
little spat. Well, we did the best we could, but we were overwhelmed.
WILDER: And why were we overwhelmed? We were overwhelmed because the
right one—if those people that had been successful, you and I wouldn‘t
be here talking like we are today. I know I wouldn‘t be here at all under
And, so, it is revisionist history. Unfortunately, it got its play.
I hope the governor sees fit to revise his statements, even revise the
proclamation, because, if he doesn‘t, it will be an evergreen story, and it
will be something that will continue to define his administration. He
doesn‘t need that. He shouldn‘t want that. Virginians are beyond that.
MATTHEWS: I want to get to the constitutional questions here,
And, Congressman Moran, I want you to jump on this here. Here‘s the
health care issue, which is still very much debated in this country.
Here‘s Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a former colleague of yours,
who is running—he‘s attorney general in Florida, but he‘s running for
governor down there. And he‘s hitting this issue pretty hard.
“It‘s the constitutional duty I have,” he says, “to protect the
citizens of Florida, to protect an unconstitutional—to protect it from
an unconstitutional invasion of the state,” using the words like the
sovereignty of the state, the invasion of the state by the north.
Then you have got Rick Perry—we will have to play this again—we
have played it so many times—he‘s talking up succession. We got a
Republican candidate for governor down there talking about nullification,
This stuff, Jim, you and I grew up with. We studied it in school.
Governor, you lived through it.
These words like nullification, I mean, do we have to go back to Dr.
King to—to get some refutation here. Congressman, what‘s going on?
MORAN: I don‘t know...
MATTHEWS: Why are they talking this language of secession and
MORAN: Well, you know, it‘s human nature.
And they fought the Civil War because a man who was opposed to slavery
was elected president. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that
we have an African-American president who has an agenda. He wants to make
-- create equal opportunity for everyone in this country. He wants to make
this a greater, more inclusive society.
I think he‘s doing a good job, personally. But they object to who‘s
doing it and what his ultimate objective is, because they think this is
their country. And I don‘t think...
WILDER: I think a lot of this has do with race, but a whole lot of it
has to do with this attitude that government is the enemy. It started back
in 19 -- in the 1980s.
And, you know, it sure is defining the Republican vs. the Democratic
Party. It‘s a schism. But I don‘t think that these folks represent more
than 20 percent of the American electorate. Let‘s hope not.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Moran, thank you, as always.
MATTHEWS: Governor, I have got to cut you off, but thank you so
WILDER: OK. Good. We will talk. We will talk.
MATTHEWS: ... for coming on the program.
WILDER: Thanks again. Real good.
MATTHEWS: It‘s an honor to have you on, sir.
WILDER: Always good.
MATTHEWS: Up next...
WILDER: Thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: ... why is Rudy Giuliani criticizing President Obama for
doing something that Ronald Reagan said he wanted to do over and over
again, get rid of nuclear weapons, get rid of the threat of them? Check
out the “Sideshow” tonight. Some of these guys ought to do a little
dusting up on their—well, pull out the history books once in a while and
read them again.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First: Rudy vs. Reagan.
Catch how Mr. Mayor Rudy Giuliani critiques President Obama‘s nuclear
weapons policy in “The National Review” today—quote—“A nuclear-free
world has been a 60-year dream of the Left, just like socialized health-
care. This new policy, like Obama‘s government-run health program, is a
big step in that direction.”
What‘s wrong with wanting a world free of nuclear weapons? Good
question. Is it really just a dream of the left? I recall that was a
dead-serious mission of a fellow named Ronald Reagan.
Here, the former president was in China back in ‘84.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1984)
RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A nuclear war cannot
be won and must never be fought. And no matter how great the obstacles may
seem, we must never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war. We—
we must never stop at all until all—until we see the day when nuclear
arms have been banished from the face of this Earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I want to thank Andrew Sullivan of “The Atlantic” for
remembering those lines of former President Reagan.
Next: Alan Greenspan in the hot seat? This morning, the former Fed
chair sat before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to answer for the
Fed‘s failure to prevent that subprime mortgage implosion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: My experience has
been, in the business I was in, I was right 70 percent of the time, but I
was wrong 30 percent of the time. And there are an awful lot of mistakes
in 21 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, give credit to Greenspan for standing up for his
watch. His hero Ayn Rand would be proud.
On to someone who got, well, a lot of confidence about his job
performance, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. Despite polls out in Nevada
showing him trailing a still unknown opponent by double digits, Senator
Reid declared at campaign stop just yesterday—quote—“If the election
were held today, I would win.”
Well, don‘t bet against him. Harry Reid‘s a worker bee. He will own
his record, not away from it. Nevadans will have to decide if they have
got somebody better to represent them in Washington.
Time for the “Big Number.” What a big one it is tonight.
A new Harris poll asked Americans who they blame most for the bad
economy. Fourteen percent said President Obama. Sixteen percent said
Democrats in Congress. Twenty-five percent blame Wall Street. But who got
the most votes? George W. Bush, 31 percent. He left office more than a
year ago, but a third of Americans blame President Bush for the bad economy
-- 31 percent, tonight‘s good-for-Democrats “Big Number.”
Up next: How desperate is John McCain? He told “Newsweek” magazine
that he never considered himself a maverick. Can we believe our ears?
John McCain is not a maverick? He says so? Really? We have got the
evidence, and we have got it on videotape. And your own memory tells you,
this guy ran as a maverick for years. Now he says he never was one.
What‘s going to on in the head of John McCain?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
Stocks on the retreat today after a senior member the Fed called on
policy-makers to start raising rates, the Dow Jones industrials sliding 72
points, the S&P 500 down seven points, and the Nasdaq falling 5.5 points.
News breaking just after the closing bell. “The New York Times” is
reporting that United Airlines‘ parent, UAL, and U.S. Airways are in merger
talks. Both companies‘ shares are on the move after-hours, with U.S.
Airways‘ shares soaring more than 14 percent.
The president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve urging the Fed to
start raising interest rates sooner, rather than later. Tom Hoenig says
it‘s time to—quote—“put the market on notice” that government
supports won‘t be around indefinitely.
In stocks, health care and tech showing surprising pockets of
strength, like Palm—its shares soaring 20 percent on rumors it may be
the target of a takeover bid. And Apple continuing its steady ascent on
better-than-expected sales of the iPhone.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
John McCain branded himself as a maverick in the old days, but now
he‘s trying to erase the very title he campaigned on. He told “Newsweek”
magazine, “I never considered myself a maverick.”
Oh, really? Let‘s take a walk down memory lane. I hope John is
watching. The senator deserves to get a little memory check here. Here he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: And what maverick really means, what
this team of maverick really means is, we understand who we work for.
When two mavericks join up, we don‘t agree on everything, but that‘s a
lot of fun.
And you have got a team of mavericks, a team of mavericks.
Send a team of mavericks.
I have been called a maverick.
Called a maverick.
My old friend and green room pal Chris Matthews, he used to like me,
but he found somebody new, somebody who opened up his eyes. We have talked
about it. I told him, maverick, I can do, but messiah is above my pay
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, who is the real John McCain?
“Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman is chuckling away. He got—his magazine
got this little scoop. He‘s also an MSNBC analyst, as we know. And Jay
Newton-Small is Washington correspondent for “TIME.”
Howard, this is chuckle-worthy.
MATTHEWS: And we all have a fondness for John McCain. We have worked
with him. We have spent time with him for years. He—he was a great
source of news, and—and, in many ways, inspiring as a candidate. Why
would he deny being the thing we all know he was?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the amazing
thing is, in the interview that he did with my colleague David Margolick, I
don‘t think that it ever occurred to John McCain that there was any twist
or irony in what he was saying.
FINEMAN: And the—and the fact is that, in the last few months,
it‘s been extremely inconvenient for him to be mavericky at all with regard
to the Republican conservative establishment, because that‘s who he
desperately needs to stave off a challenge in the Republican primary.
MATTHEWS: Is—well, Jay, is maverick such a bad word that even a
guy who embraced it, I think wondrously and effectively, for years—he
went down into that Clemson auditorium and took on, you know, the bad guys,
the Karl Roves, with their dirty stuff about his daughter and his wife,
that horrendous crap that was thrown at him by the right.
He stood up to them like a man. And now he‘s denying he was that John
McCain? How can you deny you at your greatest?
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, “TIME”: Well...
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know.
NEWTON-SMALL: Look, he—he—I wrote—I wrote a while back that
he came back from the 2000 campaign virtually a liberal, and then came back
from the 2008 campaign a conservative.
In the last year, since he‘s been back, because he‘s so worried about
reelection, because he‘s worried about challenges from the right, with
former Representative J.D. Hayworth challenging him...
NEWTON-SMALL: ... that he‘s seriously worried that he‘s not going to
win reelection, so he‘s really shifted hard to the right, and becoming...
MATTHEWS: God. He sounds like—he sounds like Mitt Romney.
NEWTON-SMALL: ... Mitch McConnell‘s lapdog, essentially.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that the worst thing you can say about somebody?
MATTHEWS: I mean, Mitt Romney seems to think that what happens in
Massachusetts stays in Massachusetts, you know?
FINEMAN: Well, I think, to some extent, John McCain just doesn‘t want
to bother with previous statements, even if they‘re on the covers of books.
MATTHEWS: Even if they‘re positive.
FINEMAN: But, having watched him a lot up in—on the Senate in the
last few weeks—I know he‘s going to dismiss this comment as just more
carping from the liberal pundits, et cetera, but there‘s a sad—there‘s a
there‘s a sort of sad quality to it, because he‘s taken on a sort of
brittleness, because I think he‘s a little upset with himself...
FINEMAN: ... that he has to into what he‘s doing right now.
My sense is that he‘s not comfortable with it, but he‘s got no choice,
he thinks, politically.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you, Jay, it seems to me, your description‘s a
I mean, all politicians—all politicians—have to shape their
presentations to primary elections and then to general elections. They all
go to the center in general elections. They all go somewhat to the base in
the primaries. They have to. That‘s how politics works. You sell your
base and then you move out from your base. Why does McCain look really
ridiculous now, I think, where he looks—I will pose this to you. When
you deny the tributes paid to you in the past, that you‘re a maverick—
what‘s more American than being a maverick?
NEWTON-SMALL: Well, I mean, look, this isn‘t something new that he
suddenly stopped being a maverick and started—and became this sort of
tow the line Republican. I would argue that in his presidential run, he
didn‘t go to the center for the general election. He stayed pretty far to
the right. And he seemed equally as miserable during his presidential
election as he did in—like you know—as he has for the last few
MATTHEWS: I love it, Jay. When was he most miserable, on an index?
When he had to go and play ball with the Republican establishment? Or when
he had to play ball as sort of like the star is born role with Sarah Palin,
where he had to stand there and get her endorsement? What was more
NEWTON-SMALL: He looked really uncomfortable in both. I think that
the last weekend, though, looked really, really uncomfortable, standing on
stage with her and needing her endorsement in order to win his own primary.
And that‘s—they haven‘t had the best relationship since then.
MATTHEWS: Well, nor should they. Here is McCain, the senator. He
couldn‘t stop Sarah Palin from calling him a maverick just two weeks ago.
So here she is paying testament to his most famous moniker, maverick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: It was such a privilege to be
asked to run alongside him in 2008. And it‘s an honor to stand beside him
now and ask that you, Arizona, for the sake of your state and the sake of
our country, that you send the maverick back to the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So she shows up in a biker costume, and she says he‘s a
maverick. That‘s like fighting words. Let‘s take a look—let‘s take
picture here, a still that‘ll tell you a bigger story. The name of his
book that he wrote and gave the title to was—let me read it closely—
“The Education of an American Maverick,” which he has now said “I never
considered myself a maverick.” What are we going to believe, him or our
FINEMAN: Well, the thing is, first of all, having to stand there and
listen while Sarah Palin sort of damned him with faint praise a couple
times—he‘s not too old. He‘s still fine. He‘s still strong, et cetera,
et cetera—had to have graded on him. Having seen him on the campaign
trail, having seen him since, he can‘t stand it, but he‘s doing things that
he knows he can‘t stand because he‘s in a battle for survival. I think
that he may ultimately be over-stating the threat that he‘s got.
MATTHEWS: He‘s running against J.D. Hayworth, who couldn‘t get
elected into the House anymore.
FINEMAN: He‘s got five times the money that Hayworth has. He‘s got
the standing. He‘ll probably win the Republican primary. I think that
he‘s over-doing it here a little bit.
MATTHEWS: When I was a young kid in high school, I was pretty
conservative. I did like Goldwater before I sort of studied the issues. I
like Hillary Clinton in that regard. at any stage of my sort of political
movement over the years, whether it was Gene McCarthy I was in love with or
whoever, at any stage I would have respected John McCain. I don‘t see he
should have a problem here. I don‘t understand. He‘s a great guy from
Arizona. He‘s in the tradition of Barry Goldwater. He‘s a maverick like
Barry Goldwater was a maverick. Barry Goldwater wouldn‘t have endorsed
J.D. Hayworth. Are you kidding here?
FINEMAN: It‘s a low turnout primary, but also independents can vote
in the primaries.
MATTHEWS: Look, if my endorsement helps you, John McCain, if you‘ve
got it. If it doesn‘t, throw me under the bus. Thank you, Howard Fineman,
and thank you, Jay Newton-Small. I don‘t endorse, by the way.
Up next, we‘re going to talk about the president, his rise to
prominence, and what it symbolizes in America with David Remnick. I want
to talk with this expert, who has come out with this big book on the
president. Where is the president headed and can he put it together? Can
he bring the working class whites aboard? Can he build a real national
unity? Hasn‘t done it yet. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The FBI is now—actually arrested a California man for
making threatening phone calls against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Officials say the man could recite Pelosi‘s home address, and he would say
that if she wanted to see her home again, she shouldn‘t support the health
care reform bill.
Well, the arrest comes a day after a Washington State man was arrested
after making threatening—really threatening phone calls to Senator Patty
Murray over her support for health care reform. The beat goes on. The
horror continues. HARDBALL continues after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Can President Obama rally his
base to help Democrats win this November? And can he get reelected in
2012? David Remnick is the editor of “The New Yorker Magazine,” and author
of the new book “The Bridge.” The title comes from U.S. Congressman John
Lewis, who said “Barack Obama‘s is what comes at that end of that bridge in
Selma.” He‘s where you get beyond civil rights. So that‘s the great
question for your book.
Looking ahead from this book that will be a best-seller—it‘s going
to be. It‘s a great book. I‘ve been reading it. In fact, I had to get
ready for the show today. As I often do, I went right to the last couple
of chapters, because I want to know where it ends. I love to know the ends
Let me ask you about post-racial. We talked a lot about that. If you
look at Grant Park on election night, that tremendous diversity of America
cheering his victory, and then, of course, we‘ve seen some of this hate.
Let‘s take a look at the hate voicemail that was left for John Lewis, the
man that we just mentioned, in his office in Congress. Here it is, let‘s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Bill, yes, calling from (INAUDIBLE). I ain‘t
going to get no health insurance. Tell that son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
that I ain‘t getting the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) health insurance. That God
(EXPLETIVE DELETED). Don‘t tell me I got to get some god (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) health insurance. I ain‘t paying no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) fine.
Put my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in jail if you don‘t like it. (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) who voted for Obama and
all them white trash honkies that voted for that communist socialist dumb
mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED). God (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I ain‘t getting the
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) mandatory health insurance. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). A
bunch of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) white trash, honkies, communist (EXPLETIVE
I didn‘t go fight no god (EXPLETIVE DELETED) war so I can be forced to
do something I don‘t want to do. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) all of you.
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) you, John Lewis, you god damn (EXPLETIVE DELETED),
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, lots of F and lots of N words in there. We had to
pull it out. But clearly it went on and on and on. This guy had been
listening to the right-wing attitude toward this guy, and he had his own
homegrown attitudes to go with it. Ain‘t going away, is it?
DAVID REMNICK, “THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE”: No, and the extremes may
never go away, or take a very, very long time to go away. And you don‘t
want to say that the Tea Party movement is all that. But I think it‘s
combustible when you have 10 percent unemployment and economic insecurity
and the first African-American president. And the extremes are going to be
are going to make their voices known and it‘s scary.
MATTHEWS: Let me try something that‘s always tricky, and make a
comparison to the sports world because everybody watches—is interesting
in sports. And for years they thought that HARDBALL was a sports show, so
You‘ve seen people in South Philly, in very ethnic neighborhoods that
I‘m familiar with, where white people will find themselves rooting for
African-American stars for their home team. If they feel the person is on
their side, in other words, rooting if them, if they feel that person is
one of their champions, they change their attitudes and they root like mad,
right. So people do have a willingness to root for somebody because he
thinks he‘s leading the charge for them. Can‘t Barack Obama become the
champion of people who normally have these attitudes?
REMNICK: Well, I think his attitude would be be they just passed
through his initiative a health care package that—
MATTHEWS: It‘s for working people.
REMNICK: It‘s for working people, and tens of millions of people who
didn‘t have health care before. So, yes, he‘s a little professorial in his
bearing to some people. He may be diffident. John Kennedy could have been
seen as diffident to many people. Was he an elitist? Was he incapable of
getting white working class voters?
Remember another thing, Chris, this country, as James Baldwin said, is
white no longer. John Kerry didn‘t win the white vote in his presidential
race, barely lost. Obama won and didn‘t win the white vote. This is
becoming an increasingly diverse country.
MATTHEWS: Why the Democratic party—whether it‘s Hillary Clinton in
a general election or Bill Clinton—why do they keep losing the white
REMNICK: Hillary Clinton won a lot of white working class folks—
MATTHEWS: Because the alternative was a black candidate.
REMNICK: If she had won the nomination, and faced John McCain—
MATTHEWS: You think that would have flipped?
REMNICK: It might have been much more problematic.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about his own sins. During the campaign,
Barack Obama, you say, was detached. He also made a comment in San
Francisco with an elite group. I think he was pandering to them, myself,
the elite, because they need to be talked to --
REMNICK: And he‘s been pounded over the head for that remark.
MATTHEWS: Because he talked about the white guys out there who cling
to their guns and religion because they‘re afraid.
REMNICK: That was foolishly put.
MATTHEWS: What was he trying to say and is it something he believes?
REMNICK: I think he believes that people get despairing when they are
out of work. I don‘t think he thinks that people then start shooting
things and horrible things happen.
MATTHEWS: Did he ever se “Deer Hunter?” It‘s not about people that
REMNICK: I‘m not defending that remark at all.
MATTHEWS: There are people who love to go hunting deer, and people go
to church who have a lot of money.
REMNICK: In fact when Obama found his political voice in Illinois,
it‘s because he got—he attracted a lot white votes in the southern part
of Illinois. He became something different. So I think the notion that he
is somehow just appealing to African-Americans or white liberal elites on
the left, you don‘t win presidential elections doing that.
MATTHEWS: How does he compare inside? You‘ve written his biography.
Is he a guy who has forgiven white people, if you will, their history, of
repression and Jim Crow? Is he a guy that say, yes, that was history, I
don‘t blame people today for that? Is he past that personally?
REMNICK: I think Barack Obama is deeply aware of the wound of
MATTHEWS: Does he have any grudge, personally?
REMNICK: No, I don‘t think so. No, I don‘t think so.
MATTHEWS: I think some of the white working class think he does. I
mean, Glenn Beck is out there selling this stuff all the time. Who‘s—
REMNICK: Chris, there‘s a big difference. You have—there‘s always
been voices like this in American history. But now you have the extremes
that you find on the Internet and on television. You know what we‘re
talking about. This whips it up. You have an African-American president.
This is whipped up by people like Glenn Beck. And it gets some people
excited in the ugliest way. You see it in a voicemail like that, not that
one voicemail necessarily means thousands or millions of people. But it‘s
a very dangerous tendency. To me—
MATTHEWS: The unemployment is going to come back. We‘re going to get
a better unemployment rate by 2012. Ronald Reagan managed to get back from
11 percent, which spiked way up there, down to seven percent. We had
morning in America. It looked really good in the mid-‘80s by then. If
that happens, will Barack Obama, with the political skills and the
personality and the soul he has, be able to take advantage of that and get
REMNICK: He‘s got to run against somebody. This has to be a contest
between two people.
MATTHEWS: Is it going to be a Mondale?
REMNICK: We‘re three years out, of course.
MATTHEWS: Mitt Romney is a Mondale.
REMNICK: Is Mitt Romney going to come off as somebody warm and fuzzy
to white working class people? He‘s many times wealthier and more
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Remnick. The book is called “The Bridge.”
It‘s going to be a big seller. I like the way they publish. It has a nice
feel to it. I‘m serious. It‘s a hell of a book.
When we return, we‘re going to have some thoughts about Virginia‘s
Confederate History Month that‘s just been proclaimed, and what it says
about states rights and some of these nasty comments we‘re getting left for
congressional offices. We‘ll be right back. You‘re watching HARDBALL,
only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The party of Abraham Lincoln is acting today like the party
of Jefferson Davis. The governor of Virginia, as I said before, has
declared April as Confederate History Month. Here‘s how Republican Robert
McDonnell describes the Civil War for those who got that proclamation as a,
quote, “four-year war between the states for independence.”
His proclamation speaks of confederate leaders, who, quote, “fought
for their homes and communities and the commonwealth.” But “how they were
overwhelmed by insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army.”
Nothing about forced labor here, about the whip and the chains that
held people, the power of the state that separated families, that outlawed
any kind of education for the slaves. Nothing about the wickedness of the
institution, itself, that lay at the heart of the Civil War.
Nothing about the 600,000 people who lay dead as a result of that war,
as a result of the Confederate leaders who told their people they had to
fight because Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party had won the White
How about a little education here along with this reverence for the
cause? How about real southern American history, along with the “Gone With
the Wind” version?
I‘m glad to see that the governor has finally, tonight, said that he
should have included some reference to slavery in his proclamation. And he
has apologized for omitting it. Unfortunately, there‘s a lot of this talk
today. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, talked up succession. One of
his Republican rivals talked up nullification.
The candidate for governor of Florida speaks of a new health care bill
as an invasion of his state‘s sovereignty. What‘s with all this states
rights‘ talk? We reported last night the phone call Congressman John Lewis
received with all the racial stuff in, you know, how that disgusting public
behavior get into the very voting on the health care bill. Look at
Congressman Cleaver there getting spit on at the White House—or at the
Govern McDonnell of Virginia says that the Civil War was about other
issues besides slavery, that there were any number of aspects to that war.
Well, what history is he reading? Lincoln was elected on a platform, a
Republican platform, by the way, that opposed the expansion of slavery into
the Western territories. Because of that election, the South seceded from
the Union and formed the Confederacy.
The plain truth is that for all this nostalgia for the past, the
politics of this Confederacy month promulgation is fairly plain. Governor
McDonnell is doing what Governor Perry did, playing to the base, playing to
the base. People in white shirts are talking so that people in the night
can send messages to congressman in far cruder language.
That‘s HARDBALL. See you tomorrow night.
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