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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Friday, June 25th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Susan Page, Roger Simon, Carol Marin, Jerrold Nadler, Jim McGovern,
Jim Moran, Jim VandeHei
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  What are we fighting for?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight:
Left out.  Liberal Democrats may have been hoping that the change in generals in Afghanistan would mean a change in policy, but after President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to the strategy, liberals may be abandoning him on the war.  Tonight, I‘m going to speak with two Democrats who are asking Speaker Pelosi to hold off on war funding until they get more answers on the president‘s mission in Afghanistan.
Also—health care reform, check.  Wall Street reform, check.  Energy bill, on the way.  President Obama is poised to win two of the three legs of his legislative agenda.  Is the third achievable?
And sorry state of affairs.  Last week, it was Joe Barton.  This week, General McChrystal.  Suddenly, public figures everywhere seem to be saying “I‘m sorry.”  Why “sorry” doesn‘t seem to be the hardest word anymore.
And quick, can you name the last president to sport a mustache?  Here‘s a hint.  He was elected in 1908 and succeeded Teddy Roosevelt.  Any guesses?  He‘s William Howard Taft, and it‘s been some 100 years since he and his mustache ruled the White House.  But suddenly, mustaches are making a political comeback.  Check out the “Sideshow” tonight.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with Afghanistan.  Who are we fighting for and against there, and why?
Coming up: President Obama‘s on the verge of—by the way, please note—we have a note here—“MEET THE PRESS” coming up this Sunday, they‘re going to have a whole hour on Afghanistan, and among the guests, Senator John McCain.
Coming up: President Obama is on the verge of another big win, Wall Street reform, set to pass next week.  After health care reform, it‘s the second of three big campaign promises he‘s met so far, delivered on, if you will.  He‘s got the energy bill.  It‘s called the “spill bill.”  Might be a small bill.  But we‘ll see if he can get the triple crown.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS:  The confirmation hearing begins Monday for President Obama‘s pick for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan.  There hasn‘t been a whole lot of news about Kagan lately.  Her nomination has taken a back seat, of course, this summer to the big stories like the oil spill in the gulf.  And to that point, our new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll finds that while 29 percent of the country support Kagan, 23 percent oppose her.  Nearly half—and this seems right -- 47 percent of the country say they don‘t know enough about her.  And that means next week‘s confirmation hearings are critical and will go a long way towards defining Kagan for a country that doesn‘t seem to know her, doesn‘t seem to be for her, doesn‘t seem to be against her.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  President Obama‘s got a hot hand on domestic issues these days.  First, health care reform passed against a lot of predictions.  Now Wall Street reform looks like it‘s going to get through.  And there might even be an energy bill before the election, believe it or not, because of the spill.  Something‘s got to give.  So will voters reward or punish Democrats in November for all of this?
Joining me is Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia and “The Politico‘s” Jim VandeHei.  Congressman Moran, I don‘t know whether—it used to be that members of Congress would get a little card when they went home on break and say, Here‘s what was accomplished this year.  How do you do that in the face of the spill, in the face of the lousy economy?
REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA:  I don‘t know.  You know, we really aren‘t getting talking points from the White House.  But there‘s a lot to talk about.  This may be the most successful last six months in American history.  I can‘t think of time that we have accomplished as much as we have.  And in fact, you know, in the last six months, more jobs were created than Bush was able to generate in eight years, Chris.  People don‘t understand that.  They economy has recovered...
MATTHEWS:  But you got about 41,000 civilian jobs in May.  Is that a good number?
MORAN:  Well, you know, we had a lot of Census Bureau employees, granted.  But the fact is, the economy has come back from the brink, and a lot of that is because of presidential leadership.  It is the economic stimulus that pumped money into the economy.  It worked.
Health care reform—that‘s transformational!  And it was an enormous legislative victory when you figure the Republican Party has decided they‘re going to vote against everything.  Anything that he offers, they‘re going to vote no, and yet he got that through.  In the House, we got the energy bill through.  I think we‘re probably going to get an energy bill.  And now we‘ve gotten Wall Street reform.  Those are enormous legislative victories.
Now, you know, I know that people think it‘s not enough, somehow, because President Obama doesn‘t get on the stump and rah-rah, but he‘s kind of an understated guy.  I think there‘s a lot of reasons for that.  But the fact is, he‘s shown a whole lot of results.
And then when you look at foreign policy—I know we‘re in, you know, an intractable situation in Afghanistan, but the reality is the reputation the United States around the world has improved immeasurably.  He‘s going to the G-20 summit.  They‘re all going to listen to him.  They take him seriously, which was not the case in the last eight years with President Bush.  We‘re getting out of Iraq, and we‘re going to figure out what to do with Afghanistan, too, even though it‘s perhaps one of the most difficult foreign policy conundra that any president has faced.
MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t know.  Jim‘s got—the congressman here has got a megaphone and he‘s giving a real sales pitch, Jim VandeHei.  As a journalist, you know, you put this in context, the legislative victories on health care, the legislative victory coming up on Wall Street reform, which everybody‘s going to support, looks like some kind of energy bill has a good shot between now and election day because of the concern about—we got to do something about current energy needs and long-term needs.  And yet we‘ve got the atmospherics of a weak economy and we got the oil spill.  How do you put it all together?  Is it better that he got this done than not, all that he‘s gotten done?
JIM VANDEHEI, POLITICO.COM:  I think, politically, getting this bill done obviously helps the president, probably helps Democrats.  And I don‘t think anyone can dispute what the congressman said as far as how much Obama has done during his presidency.  I think what the pushback will be from Republicans is, Yes, he‘s done a lot.  He‘s done way too much.  He‘s grown government way too big.  And if you look at the cumulative size of the debt, the deficits that poured (ph) up, if you look at the expanding size of Washington, the question for independents is going to be, Did they do too much, too fast, for too little?
And I don‘t think we‘re going to know until people actually hit the campaign trail, start to argue about health care, start to argue about the economy, and we see start to see some of the results of that, which won‘t come in until after August because I think so much has happened in this country in the last couple of months that nobody‘s had a chance to digest it and I think really make a firm opinion of Obama.
There‘s been very little talk about health care, for instance, in most of the key races so far, despite the fact that it was a trillion-dollar program and one of the biggest domestic expansions we‘ve seen in many, many years.
MATTHEWS:  You know, the big issue the Republicans love to talk about
it‘s in our “Wall Street Journal” poll—is big spending.  Now, admittedly, they had a terrible record under Bush.  But here‘s the question.  Even Jack Kennedy back in ‘62, as you know, at the Yale speech, made the case for Keynesian economics.  He said, when there‘s bad economics or a sluggish economy, the government‘s got to compensate for that.  They got to run a deficit.

If the president doesn‘t make that case—I just made it in 10 seconds—nobody‘s going to make it because the Republicans run against—as if the deficit‘s a mistake, when in fact, Barack Obama and you folks will say, Wait a minute, the worst thing we could do right now is balance the budget.  But nobody wants to say that!
MORAN:  You know, Ezra Klein made a great case in “The Post,” in Sunday‘s “Post” business section.  The fact is, a lot of what the federal government is doing is being negated by states and localities.  A lot of these mayors and governors are saying, Hey, I‘m holding your taxes steady, as opposed to what the federal government is doing.
The reason they‘re able to is because of the stimulus.  Almost 40 percent of the money that states and localities have available now is federal money.  And now they‘re coming to us, saying, Hey, you‘ve got to continue the stimulus.  We‘re out of money, 300,000 teachers...
MATTHEWS:  I know.  That‘s what (INAUDIBLE) is.
MORAN:  Yes, 300,000 teachers going to be given their pink slips this summer if you don‘t give us another stimulus of $23 billion.  Same with police and firefighters.  And some of the members of Congress say, Hey, wait a minute, it‘s about time you gave us a little credit for it because that‘s where all the pushback is coming politically in these congressional races that we‘re spending too much.  Well, we basically have bailed out the states and localities.  But their retrenchment has negated a lot of what we could have achieved in terms of recovering this economy, Chris.
MATTHEWS:  So you have Jim go through that.  That‘s an interesting point.  It looks to me like a lot of the jobs the president‘s created or saved have been job retention, jobs at the state and local levels.  Counties that would have laid off firemen and teachers and all kinds of first responders haven‘t had to do so because of the stimulus bill.  But yet the mayor gets credit for not firing anybody.  The president gets none.
VANDEHEI:  Right, and I think that‘s part...
MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that the reality?
VANDEHEI:  It‘s a reality.  And I think part of it—and this is going to be the challenge for the next couple of months.  If people feel like the economy‘s not improving, that the potential for new jobs is not on the horizon, then Democrats are going to suffer for it.  And there‘s certainly a feeling right now in the country that things aren‘t going the right way.  People are ticked off at Washington.  They‘re ticked off at Wall Street.  They‘re angry with institutions.
And so I don‘t think the fact that there‘s been a lot of accomplishments alone is enough to galvanize voters, especially independent-minded voters, around Democrats at this point.  And I think for voters who want a choice, there could not be a more emphatically clear choice for voters in this election and then heading into 2012 as far as the varying views of the size and reach of government.  Yes, Republicans are being hypocritical when they talk about spending, given that they took the Bush—that Bush had a $6 trillion debt when he took office, left with more than $10 trillion in debt.  But now they‘re talking about cutting spending.  They‘re opposing every single thing that Obama does.  So voters are going to go into the booth and they‘re going to see two very, very different world views.
MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t the smart thing the Republicans did is cashier President Bush?  They deny he even exists.  The latest polling shows no support among people for Bush because no Republican will defend him because by not defending Bush anymore, Republicans are able to walk around with a clean slate and say, We‘re against government waste, we‘re against government spending.
MORAN:  Absolutely.
MATTHEWS:  By not defending him.  This is a brilliant move. 
MORAN:  Well, I don‘t know how brilliant it is. 
MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s deceitful, but it works.
MORAN:  It‘s pretty obvious, but it‘s pretty effective. 
And it‘s as though Bush never existed.  Those eight years, they‘re gone.  And when you bring them up, they say, oh, that‘s the past.  You‘re belaboring the past.  We‘re talking about the future. 
Well, gosh sakes, guys, that‘s why we‘re stuck with what we‘re stuck with.  And our pitch now is things are not as bad as they could have been.  Even to say things not nearly as bad as they could have been, that‘s not effective.
MATTHEWS:  Why do you let the tea bag people, the Tea Party people attack you for the bailout, when the bailout was Bush?  I‘m amazed by that.  He did the bailout of Wall Street.  He did the bailout of the automotive industry.  And you guys get hit with it.
MORAN:  And his bailout went to the banks.  Ours went to the states and localities, the teachers and firefighters.
MATTHEWS:  OK.  You started off, Congressman Moran, by saying, all right, we have a president who is low-key, who won‘t brag.  Isn‘t that a problem? 
MORAN:  Well...
MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t it a problem he won‘t sell it?  If you don‘t blow your own horn, who will?  He won‘t blow it. 
MORAN:  The reality is, as an African-American who got as far as he‘s gotten, he‘s not a rabble-rouser. 
MATTHEWS:  No, but can‘t he brag a little?  Can‘t he tell you what he‘s doing?
MORAN:  He‘s a very thoughtful, reflective guy.  He‘s not a grandstander.  That‘s his personality.  He‘s reflective. 
I do think we need to probably do a little more grandstanding, because it‘s our necks on the line now in November.  But the reality is, we have a very good president.  We have accomplished a lot.  We‘re going to have to let the chips fall where they may. 
We may lose 10, 20 seats.  I don‘t think we‘re going to lose anywhere near 30.  We‘re going to still have the majority.  We‘re going to continue to accomplish a whole lot in the next year and two-and-a-half years.  And I think he‘s going to get reelected.  And the country is better off for it.
But it‘s a tough time.  And you have got a political party that will vote no on anything. 
MATTHEWS:  Yes.  You know, what is interesting is the—I don‘t how you start this, Jim.  It‘s not you or my job to do it, but somewhere along the line, it seems somebody has got to say the United States government is based on the idea you have a minority and a majority. 
It‘s not based on the idea you have got one party trying to do something, the other party trying to kill them. 
MORAN:  Right. 
MATTHEWS:  It‘s based on one party being the senior partner, and the other trying to get its oar in and make some amendments and try to change some things its way.  The minority‘s job is not to destroy the United States government every time it gets up in the morning. 
And yet, the Republicans have been able to get up in the morning every day saying our goal is to destroy the government.  That‘s our job.  And somehow its cheering section back homes says, good work.  Keep trying to destroy the government.
It‘s an amazing definition of the opposition.
VANDEHEI:  I don‘t know if it‘s necessary destroy the government, but it‘s definitely they wake up—it‘s destroy any policy from Obama.  There‘s no doubt, Chris, that is the strategy.
MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that new in American politics to try to destroy anything that comes out of the White House? 
VANDEHEI:  It certainly works. 
VANDEHEI:  And part of it—it‘s worse now mostly because most of the moderates that used to live inside the Republican Party that lived up in the Northeast were purged out of the party over the last three or four elections. 
So, there‘s very few moderates per se left.  There might be three or four left in the Senate.  And those are the ones that Democrats are working over to make sure that they have enough votes to get this financial bill through. 
So, the only way you are going to have any Republicans who want to work with Democrats or if Republicans actually pick up a bunch of seats in some of those swing districts and bring in some voices of moderation that want to work with Democrats, but right now there‘s no incentive in the mind of Republicans to do anything to help Obama or to help Democrats, because they feel that they have the momentum.  They feel that they can easily win 30 seats and quite likely pick up many more if they play their cards right. 
So, there‘s no way that they‘re suddenly going to say, hey, wait a second, let‘s work with Obama.  That‘s just not—that‘s not the mind-set for them.
MATTHEWS:  To what effect?  Well, what good does it do the country for the Republicans—just to ask the question, what good does it do the country for the Republicans to pick up 30 seats in the House? 
VANDEHEI:  I don‘t know if it does anything good for the country. 
VANDEHEI:  But it might do...
MATTHEWS:  I mean, it‘s a reasonable question to ask.
VANDEHEI:  You might have more people that would be willing to work with Obama, and you might have Obama more willing to work with Republicans. 
Right now, we have an entire system, we have a media system, we have a culture, we have technology that really I think rewards the incendiary, rewards conflict.  And, therefore, Republicans right now don‘t see any incentive to work with him. 
And that‘s not going to change between now and Election Day.  It might not change Election Day.  Heck, it could get a lot worse, if you look at some of the senators who might get elected, especially from the Republican side. 
MATTHEWS:  Being a suicide bomber is the new political role model. 
Just kill everything, destroy everything.  Blow it up.  Nothing gets done. 
You‘re dead, but who cares? 
Thank you, Congressman Jim Moran. 
Thank you, Jim VandeHei of the Politico, the very hot Politico.
VANDEHEI:  Take care.
MATTHEWS:  Up next:  After falling out of fashion—this is so lightweight, I know, what we‘re doing.  It‘s Friday.  OK?  Give us a break.  The mustache is back.  OK?  It‘s Friday.  We‘re having some fun tonight in the “Sideshow” at least.  Which politicians are starting to sport the stache? 
Stick around for the “Sideshow.”
You think this is below you, Jim? 
MATTHEWS:  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  
Look at this congressman laughing at this stuff.
MORAN:  ... grow a mustache back.  No.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.”
First: a man with one name.  You know those TV and movie cowboy heroes with one name, you know, Sugarfoot and Ringo and Paladin?  And don‘t forget Poncho. 
Well, the ad in this name, Rory—well, add Rory to the list.  He‘s running for governor of Nevada.  His name is just Rory.  By the way, it‘s Nevada, dude.  Rory is the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  But you can forget that last name, partner.  You‘ve heard of the man with no name.  This is a fellow with no last name.  Watch. 
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  When we choose our next governor...
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  ... we should remember to ask... 
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  ... do they have the highest ethical standards? 
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  Do they always put Nevada first?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  We should remember to ask. 
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  Do they follow their own instincts? 
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  Do they understand that...
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  ... that a stronger economy depends on stronger schools? 
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  And do they have...
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  ... a plan to totally transform our schools? 
RORY REID (D), NEVADA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  My plans as governor are all about them.  And when it comes to their education, I will never, ever compromise. 
MATTHEWS:  That‘s Rory.  Zero, zip, nada mentions of Reid being his last name.  By the way, what was the Lone Ranger‘s last name?  Well, his whole name was John Reid. 
Now, stache, lip tickler, soup strainer, whatever you call it, it‘s hard to miss, the mustache.  Mustaches have been out of fashion for a long time, especially in politics.  But Politico reports today that the stache could be making a big comeback.  Here are some of the government types daring to wear it.
You have got North Dakota Governor John Hoeven.  His mustache has gotten him into Facebook, his own page, by the way, with 750 followers.  The only U.S. senator to support the stache, Illinois‘ appointed Senator Roland Burris.  The last governor, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, with a full beard, actually.
And you have also got two familiar faces from the Obama team, Eric Holder, the A.G., and David Axelrod.  By the way, Alex Trebek has one, too.  So does Tom Selleck, but not many. 
Now for the “Number.”
To mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, North Korea is demanding a reparation from the United States for what it calls decades of hostility.  How much are they asking for?  Sixty-five trillion dollars.  Yes, that‘s trillion. 
For a perspective, by the way, the—America‘s country—our own GDP, gross domestic product, is exactly $14 trillion.  So, they want more than, what, four times that.  North Korea calculates the United States owes it $65 trillion in compensation, tonight‘s absolutely insane, crazy “Big Number.” 
Up next:  Last week, it was Congressman Joe Barton, this week, General Stanley McChrystal.  Why are so many public figures saying I‘m sorry these days? 
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks bouncing back, but struggling, as investors digested some mixed economic signals.  The Dow Jones industrials ending nine points lower after being down more than 60 points around mid-morning, the S&P 500 tacking on three points, and the Nasdaq adding six. 
Banks, of course, seeing some of the biggest gains today, as Congress reached a deal on financial reform.  The bill waters down a proposal to make banks spin off their swaps trading desk.  Analysts predict little short-term impact and say some banks‘ shares are still at bargain-basement prices.
In earnings news, Research In Motion shares skidding almost 11 percent.  The BlackBerry maker missed its sales target and is feeling the heat of a highly competitive smartphone market. 
And homebuilder KB Home shares tumbling 9 percent after reporting a wider-than-expected loss.  Analysts say earnings in general are losing their luster, as that easy comparison period to last year‘s earnings winds down. 
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s Friday night.  And I could listen to that all night.  Anyway, we can‘t all night here, but back to HARDBALL. 
Republican Congressman Joe Barton, General Stanley McChrystal, now Arizona Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth have all recently been forced to public with their mea culpas. 
Joining me right now to rate the apology tour is “USA Today”‘s Washington bureau chief, Susan Page, and Politico‘s Roger Simon.
MATTHEWS:  You know, I don‘t know what—Barton, boy, did a guy—nobody ever went down harder than he.  He wanted BP to be the good guy.  He went out there and took their side.  And everybody tackled him at once.  It was one big gang tackle from his Republican leadership.  You better apologize or you‘re a dead man. 
ROGER SIMON, CHIEF POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THEPOLITICO.COM:  Well, it‘s rare that you have to apologize for an apology. 
MATTHEWS:  Right. 
SIMON:  But he managed to pull it off.  And then his second apology wasn‘t a real apology.  It was one of a non-apology apologies.  It was one of those things that says, you know, if anything I have said this morning was misconstrued, I want to apologize for that misconstruction. 
MATTHEWS:  No.  Misconstruction.
SIMON:  That‘s what he said. 
MATTHEWS:  He used it twice. 
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “USA TODAY”:  So, it‘s the fault of the listener.  Maybe the listener should apologize for misconstruing what he said. 
MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s what he said at last week‘s hearing.  We all saw this, by the way.  This was indubitable.  We all saw this.
Here‘s what he said about BP being forced to pay that $20 billion escrow fund, under influence from the president.  Here‘s what he said first time out. 
REP. JOE BARTON ®, Texas:  I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.  So, I‘m only speaking for myself.  I‘m not speaking for anybody else.  But I apologize. 
MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s what a bleeding-heart Republican sounds like. 
MATTHEWS:  Anyway, just hours later, Congressman Barton was forced to retract his apology to BP, offering up a new apology for having apologized.  Here‘s this. 
BARTON:  And if anything I have said this morning has been misconstrued in an opposite effect, I want to—to apologize for that misconstrued—misconstruction. 
PAGE:  In defense of Joe Barton...
MATTHEWS:  Did you notice the hair mussed up the second time, like somebody was beating him up in the back room there.
PAGE:  Well, in fairness to him, the Republican Study Committee the day before had described the president‘s action toward BP as a Chicago-style shakedown. 
So, what he was really...
MATTHEWS:  Who had done this?
PAGE:  The Republican Study Committee.
MATTHEWS:  Yes, Tom Price, yes.
PAGE:  Tom Price‘s group. 
And so, what he‘s apologizing for is—well, number one, he apologized to BP, which the Republican Study Committee didn‘t do.  But he‘s apologizing for being sort of an inconvenient—for creating this embarrassment, not so much for what they believe. 
MATTHEWS:  What‘s—can I ask a question here you‘re not supposed to ask in Washington?  Which is the real Joe Barton, the one that thought we should be nicer to BP or the one that thought I have made a mistake? 
SIMON:  Oh, the one who thought they should be nicer to—the one who thought he should be nicer to BP.  And that‘s the thing.  And when—no matter how many apologies someone makes, the media always says in the end they were forced to make the apology, negating any purpose to making the apology anyway. 
MATTHEWS:  So, what exactly is the emotional content of a forced apology, Susan Page?  What is the reality of a forced apology?
PAGE:  It is under duress and it is carefully constructed, as his was, so that you don‘t really say, I didn‘t mean what I said.  You say, I‘m sorry. 
MATTHEWS:  So, those fools of you out there that didn‘t master my subtle point, I‘m not apologizing.
PAGE:  Although I was—he was reading a prepared statement.
MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s one that really does matter. 
This is General Stanley McChrystal, who was giving his marching orders this week.  He was relieved of duty after some loose-lipped criticism by he and his staff to a reporter from “Rolling Stone.” 
Before he was relived of duty, General McChrystal put out this
statement to try to deal with the thing, try to mend some fences—quote -
“I extend my sincerest apology for this profile.  It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment”—there‘s another phrase I just love—“and should never have happened.”

Poor judgment. 
SIMON:  Yes, but I give him credit.
MATTHEWS:  When a guy messes around with somebody besides his wife, they say poor judgment, like I thought it was my wife.  I misjudged it.  I didn‘t know it was somebody else.
SIMON:  I give him credit for doing a straight-up apology. 
But you‘re right about the judgment.  How drunk do you have to be frank in front of a “Rolling Stone” reporter?  Is that the time and place? 
MATTHEWS:  By the way, there is a story here.  Somebody in public relations at the military trying to do their job said, we have got a recruitment problem out there with young counterculture kids with bling and tats and everything else.  So, the only way to reach them is to get into the “Rolling Stone.” 
So, here‘s a guy who is a freelancer.  Why don‘t you spend some quality time, maybe go out to a bar with a guy, loosen up a little, have some fun?
SIMON:  Yes, right.
MATTHEWS:  And that‘s what happened here.
You don‘t think General McChrystal is the kind of guy to read and hang around with “Rolling Stone.”  Come on. 
PAGE:  Oh, I don‘t know about that.  But, you know, once again, he doesn‘t apologize.  He doesn‘t say he was wrong for what he believed.  He says he was wrong to agree to say it to “Rolling Stone.”
MATTHEWS:  Oh, you mean—you mean the revelation here is that the military does have a problem with policy in Afghanistan.
PAGE:  Well, I actually thought in some way, that was the more devastating part of the “Rolling Stone” interview, although it‘s not the part—
MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at this one here.  Here, we got John McCain‘s right wing primary challenger, J.D. Hayworth.  McCain‘s campaign this week circulated a 2007, a 3-year-old infomercial, in which Hayworth is out there touting, quote, “free money grants from the federal government.”  In other words, he‘s hyping ways to basically bilk the federal government.
And this is J.D. Hayworth, Mr. Sound Money.  Hayworth yesterday issued this statement on the infomercial, quote, “I should not have made the ad.  It was a mistake.  I believed this to be a reputable firm.  But I did not completely check out the organization.”
Roger, he knew what the organization was.
SIMON:  He‘s writing apology for it all (ph).
MATTHEWS:  How to get free grant money.
SIMON:  And then he said later, really, it should be (INAUDIBLE). 
Let the buyer beware.  Maybe that doesn‘t apply to voters, too.
MATTHEWS:  It started with David Stockman under Reagan.  When Stockman went out to Bill Greider, a great reporter, was it, “Rolling Stone”?  Yes—and told that the whole Reagan fiscal policy doesn‘t add up.  And instead of that being a revelation, the press fell for the woodshed thing, right?
SIMON:  Right.
MATTHEWS:  That he had been betraying Reagan.  In fact, what he‘d done is told us what was really going on.
PAGE:  But, see, this is—if you say something that gets you into trouble in politics, you can do two things.  You can be defiant and say, I was right.  You should listen to me.  Or you can say, I‘m so sorry, please forgive me.  And then people move on.  If you want to get rid of a story, it‘s smarter to make an apology.
MATTHEWS:  But then they say afterwards you were forced to apologize.  I‘ve been there.  I know about this.  I know exactly how it works.  It‘s very unpleasant by the way.
We‘re kidding about it.  Nobody enjoys this process.  Nobody.
SIMON:  You only know about sincere apologies.
MATTHEWS:  I have a case to say things I shouldn‘t have said.  They were incomplete truths.  How about putting that?  And then you have the whole story.
Anyway, is this going to go on?
PAGE:  Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS:  Or you‘re going to have Brenda Lee singing us to bed tonight?
SIMON:  The public likes to see it.  We like to see people who are brought high, brought low.
MATTHEWS:  You know, didn‘t we enjoy—McChrystal week was like, as I wrote a chapter, one heading, on one of my books, I said, no one is late for an execution.  This town loves executions.  You know, (INAUDIBLE), the joy of an upcoming execution where somebody is about to get canned, about to get fired, of course, about to get divorced, about to get whatever.  And every time pain happens in this town, people have sort of a thrill out of it.
PAGE:  But McChrystal‘s comments went pretty far.  I mean—
MATTHEWS:  We‘re kidding about this.  But I think J.D. Hayworth, that‘s kind of funny.  He gets caught as Mr. Conservative out there, teaching them how to bilk the government.
SIMON:  The public is willing to forgive however.  And the classic case is Bill Clinton—lied to everyone, lied to, you know, the American public directly, his wife, his daughter, the Congress.  Everybody.
MATTHEWS:  I am bullet proof.
SIMON:  All he did was apologized.  He kept his job.  He‘s a hero today.
MATTHEWS:  Here‘s an explanation.  The economy was booming when he was president.
SIMON:  Absolutely.
MATTHEWS:  Everything was swimming along.  Everybody was happy.  We weren‘t at war.  Everything was cool.  Why blame him for that?
And Nixon got in trouble for a stupid break-in cover up in the midst of stagflation.
PAGE:  Well, I don‘t think Nixon never said he was sorry.  I mean, it seems—
MATTHEWS:  You didn‘t see the movie.  Anyway, thank you.  It‘s great to have—happy Friday.  Roger, it‘s good to have you back again and again.  Roger Simon.
MATTHEWS:  This is Friday night, alone in another roadhouse, alone, couple of beers, couple of longnecks, listening to this throughout the night, enjoying your pain.
We‘ll be right back.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  This is America.
MATTHEWS:  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour may be quietly organizing a presidential run for 2012.  “Politico” reports that Barbour‘s political action committee has brought in much more money this year than in the past five years.  And a Republican operative close to Barbour says the governor is, quote, “strongly inclined to run for president because he sees weakness in the field of likely candidates and strengthen his own political operation.”
Keep an eye on the man from Mississippi.
HARDBALL—back in a minute.
This week in the Blagojevich trial, the jury heard some choice phone conversations.  We‘re going to play them for you and get reaction from Jim Warren, a Chicago columnist for “The New York Times” and an MSNBC contributor, and Carol Marin, political columnist for “The Chicago Sun-Times” and political editor of WMEQ.
Thank you for joining us.
I guess we‘re going to have to listen.   Here‘s Rod Blagojevich getting word on the Senate seat held by the president.  Let‘s listen.
BLAGOJEVICH:  So, Knapp tells me Valerie Jarrett is out.
HARRIS:  Yes, I just got a call from Rahm.
BLAGOJEVICH:  Yes, Rahm wanted her.
HARRIS:  Three issues.
HARRIS:  “Pass on three things to Rob and I‘m available to speak to him if he‘d like to.”  He just wanted to hurry up because he‘s going to meetings.
BLAGOJEVICH:  Go ahead.  Go ahead, quick.
HARRIS:  Valerie Jarrett‘s going to the White House.
HARRIS:  He gave us four names that the president would find acceptable.
BLAGOJEVICH:  Who are they?
HARRIS:  Not in any rank order.
BLAGOJEVICH:  Who are they?
HARRIS:  Jesse Jackson, Jr.
HARRIS:  Jan Schakowsky.
HARRIS:  Tammy Duckworth.
HARRIS:  Dan Hynes.
HARRIS:  He doesn‘t want to say who he doesn‘t like, but take it basically that if they‘re not on this list, he‘s not high on them.
MATTHEWS:  Later in the conversation, Blagojevich gave his opinion of that list.  Let‘s listen.
BLAGOJEVICH:  Fred thinks if Valerie Jarrett‘s out of the mix, gives me more of an opportunity to send myself.  Knapp disagrees.
HARRIS:  What was interesting about the list because he made a point to say, no rank order is an Asian, a white female—
HARRIS:  -- a male, female, I mean, a male white and one male black.
MATTHEWS:  Wow.  It‘s a B.S. list is basically what he said there. 
Let‘s—you‘re all chuckling.
Jim, you first and then Carol.  What do you make of that sort of asking for who the president wants, trying to put the—I guess you put the line out there to see what he wants to and he jumps at.  What‘s he up to?
JIM WARREN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, he‘s fishing around, speaking of lines.  And it‘s also clear that the Blagojevich camp sensed this increasing distance between themselves in one hand and the Obama transition team on the other, and there is a suspicion which is manifested by that earthly language as to what the motives are in passing out those particular names, distinctly, you know, mainstream diverse group.  You almost get the sense that they think they‘re sort of being played and they just want—the Obama folks just want those names to be leaked.
But clearly, that also dovetails with this sense about how should I sell myself, too, and that gets into what seems to be a little bit of the almost sociopathic narcissism that one is picking up on as this goes on.
MATTHEWS:  Well, Carol, it seems to me what he‘s saying there giving it the best possible light is that he‘s thinking that the president, through Rahm, are basically just putting out the usual diversity list.  They‘re not really serious about any of these people because they are all so different and they‘re not putting out a favorite, clearly.  If you want one person, you put one name out, let‘s face it.  That‘s how you do it.
And the same time, he‘s saying, these are all sort of middleweights.  I can get this.  I can give it to myself and nobody is going to be mad at me.  Your thoughts?
CAROL MARIN, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  Let‘s remember, he doesn‘t care what Barack Obama wants.  Rod Blagojevich, in 2002, when he got elected governor, was already planning to run for president himself.  He thinks Barack Obama is guy who suddenly jumps over him, eclipses him, becomes the favorite son of the world, and he‘s not particularly enamored of Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look at this.  Here‘s more of the tapes.  I‘m going to ask you at this point, at some point here, in fact, right away: where‘s the criminality in all of this?
Here‘s Blagojevich, the ex-governor, under serious indictment, on trial now, out in Chicago.  Here he is saying what he wants.  Let‘s listen.
BLAGOJEVICH:  Yes, I want to play some sort of a role.  Howard Dean is a health and human services, Hillary Clinton‘s secretary of state.  Have you heard this?  and Arnold Schwarzenegger, EPA.
HARRIS:  Arnold EPA?  Interesting.
HARRIS:  Yes, we talked about that.  Remember, we said energy or -- 
HARRIS:  I think energy probably still more likely.
MATTHEWS:  Well, what‘s that?  Jim, you first.  Where‘s the criminality?  Why—what‘s the germaneness to the trial?  What‘s important here?
WARREN:  Not really there.  And I think a bunch of things I heard this week were, you know, absolute manifestations of his unceasing, plotting, and scheming—his absolute, virtual disinterest in policy and the administration.
MATTHEWS:  But what‘s the crime?
WARREN:  But, so far there, and what you heard, you know, I don‘t think there‘s much.  So far this week, one got fairly close but again, not close enough to him, or earlier in the week when one had a racetrack owner essentially was extorted for a potential campaign contribution return for the governor signing a particular bill that would bring him $1.5 million a year to each of two racetracks.  But it didn‘t—one doesn‘t have the governor himself saying that.
MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s the discussion, Carol about—I‘m sorry.  Go ahead.
MARIN:  And he didn‘t get the money, you know?  So, what you‘re raising is exactly what the defense is raising.  I mean, what they are ultimately going to try to do is say, you know, this Rod Blagojevich, he‘s the original 3G network.  You know, he‘s goofy, he‘s greedy, he‘s gregarious.  He‘s a nut, but he didn‘t do anything that was illegal.
MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me get back to this question here.  Is it possible—you first, Jim, we can‘t go anymore tapes right now—is it possible this recent Supreme Court decision that basically said you can‘t go to jail, you can‘t go to prison for denying your public services to people, this general catch-all crime that used to get Conrad Black and other guy in the Enron case—is it possible that he will not have a prosecution successful here because that‘s not the law anymore?
WARREN:  No, because they knew they were going to lose that case.  They saw how awful the oral argument was and re-indicted him and put all that stuff out.  So, no, there‘s no problem with that.
MATTHEWS:  Carol, your thoughts.  Is this guy any better off now because of the Supreme Court ruling the other day?
MARIN:  No.  And right now, what Jim is saying, when they recast this indictment and put in attempted bribery and attempted extortion, all they need to prove the case is that an attempt was made and one act in its furtherance, either by Blagojevich or by one of his emissaries.  So I don‘t think so.
MATTHEWS:  That‘s called conspiracy.
Thank you very much, Jim Warren.  Thank you, Carol Marin.  We‘ll have you back.
When we return, let me finish with the war in Afghanistan.  Who are we fighting there and why?  Again, some simple questions and a very complicated war.
You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a bag fat question about this war‘s policy.
We‘re at war in Afghanistan, right?  Who are we fighting?  Are we fighting the people who don‘t like the government we‘re backing there, the one led by Karzai?
But aren‘t we told that Karzai is corrupt?  That he stole the election.  OK, he‘s corrupt.  He stole the election.  We‘re backing him even though he‘s corrupt and stole the election because we don‘t want the Taliban to takeover Afghanistan because that would mean they might threaten Pakistan.
But don‘t we hear that the Pakistani people like the Taliban?  Don‘t they think Karzai is their enemy?  That he favors India over Pakistan?
OK.  We‘re backing Karzai even though he‘s corrupt, he stole the election and he‘s seen as the enemy by the people we‘re actually trying to protect, Pakistan.  But isn‘t there word out there that Karzai may be cutting a deal with Pakistan?  OK.
So we‘re back with Karzai even though he‘s corrupt, stole the election, and our allies, the Pakistani, don‘t trust him and we‘re learning that Karzai may be working to cut a deal with the Taliban.
But aren‘t our troops in Afghanistan fighting a war of counterinsurgency, operating under rules of engagement aimed at preventing from inflicting civilian casualties?  This is a land where anyone without a rifle actually shooting at us that moment is considered a civilian.  And the second they start shooting at us, that may be the soldier‘s last second.
OK.  So we‘re really fighting in Afghanistan for a stalemate between Karzai, who we don‘t trust, and the Taliban who are cheered on by our number one ally, the Pakistanis.  And we‘re doing it without shooting any Taliban unless he‘s got a rifle actually aimed at us.
If it‘s hard to explain much less defend why we‘re fighting over there, isn‘t this why the American people are having such a hard time getting excited about victory?  Is victory even a useful word in Afghanistan right now unless we leave and it‘s what the Taliban and al Qaeda get to claim.
As Thomas Friedman of “The New York Times” put it this week, quote, “You know you‘re in trouble when you‘re in a war in which the only party whose objectives are clear, whose rhetoric is consistent, whose will to fight never seems to diminish is your enemy: the Taliban.”
That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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