Guests: John Hofmeister, Rep. Bob Inglis, David Corn, Joan Walsh, Scott Stringer, Michael Faulkner
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: More contraptions.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Postponed! It seems as if every time we expect to hear good news about the gulf oil spill, something goes wrong. Well, we woke up today hoping to see the gulf oil leak finally sealed off, but it looks like we‘re going to have to wait. We‘ll get the latest from the Gulf Coast at the top of the show.
Plus, could the Republican Party be destroyed from within? Congressman Bob Inglis thinks so. He says the party crowd, the tea party crowd, and the TV talkers that helped defeat him in South Carolina are pushing the party right and right out of the mainstream. He joins us right here tonight.
Also, have you had enough yet of all the right-wing nonsense about tyranny and how we‘re becoming a nation of slaves? Well, we‘ve tracked the decades-long history of conservatives claiming that liberals are leading the country to military dictatorships, to communist domination and to tyranny. And one thing that is consistent in these predictions is that they‘ve all been wrong. So why do people keep listening?
And there are plans to build an Islamic center in southern Manhattan near the Ground Zero. Of course, those plans have people outraged, and the debate is on as to whether it‘s an insult to 9/11‘s victims or actually a positive act by moderate Islam.
And finally, the Michele Bachmann turnover drive. Why are so many people leaving her staff? That‘s in the “Sideshow.”
Let‘s begin with the latest on the spill in the gulf. NBC‘s Mara Schiavocampo joins us from Venice, Louisiana. Thank you, Mara, for joining us. You know, I went to bed last night thinking, My God, they finally have got a plan. They‘re going to maybe cap this off, maybe take the oil up into the ships and stop the leak. What happened?
MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, you‘re not the only one. You know, there were very high expectations that for the first time in almost three months, they could stop fresh oil from flowing into the waters of the gulf. They put this new cap in place on earlier this week, and the plan was for them to start integrity testing of the well yesterday. And then late yesterday evening, we learned that they were going to postpone that.
Today we learned that it was administration officials that asked BP to put the brakes on those plans because they have some concerns that they need addressed first. Their biggest concern is that this high-pressure test will damage the well and make the leak worse. And the administration says their operating rule one is “Do no harm.” So they‘ve asked BP to postpone this test so that they can meet with them, have their concerns addressed before they give the final authorization to move forward with this.
That meeting happened this afternoon. It may still be under way right now. And they—the administration has to give final approval for this. So if BP doesn‘t adequately address their concerns that this will not make things worse, they may or may not give approval for this high pressure test to continue—Chris.
MATTHEWS: My question, I guess, is we thought this was going to be perhaps a short-term solution, that this would perhaps cap off the—ideally, of course, cap off the spill, and secondly, maybe take the oil up through a funnel up to the ships, where it could be taken away, causing no more damage to the gulf.
But if—if there‘s a danger here that it might cause damage to the well by cutting the pressure off at the top, by capping it against all that pressure, wouldn‘t that be resolved by the relief wells that are being dug now by August? In other words, what is the possible calamity here if sometime in mid-August, we‘re going to have these relief wells cut into the bottom of this well?
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Well, here‘s the thing. And it‘s essentially what the administration is arguing, which is waiting doesn‘t cause any harm. Now, of course, we‘ve seen—
MATTHEWS: It does. Every day, we‘re losing—
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Sixty thousand barrels a day is the—is the danger. It‘s the reality every day. What do they mean, Do no harm? The harm is every second this is going on.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes, but Chris, in the sense of creating further damage to the well, which would create a much larger problem that may be much harder to fix. If they focus on containment now and continue on with their plans to complete the relief well, that‘s something they know that they are able to do. They‘ve been containing for probably about a month now, so they can continue with containment, try to keep as much oil as possible from spilling into the waters of the gulf and continue with that relief well.
In other words, if they don‘t do this test, they could continue what they‘ve been doing and stick with plan A, which was to complete the relief well and try to shut the well down that way. And that‘s essentially what the administration is saying, which is, Let‘s figure out what the possible risks are before we go through with this test and possibly lead—could lead to more damage that would be much harder to deal with, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much for your report, NBC‘s Mara Schiavocampo.
John Hofmeister was president of Shell Oil. He‘s author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies.” Thank you so much for joining us again, John. You just heard that assessment. What‘s your view, knowing what you just heard?
JOHN HOFMEISTER, FORMER SHELL OIL PRESIDENT: Well, I think the fundamental issue, to cut through the coded language, Chris, is there are serious concerns about the integrity of the casing that is the well itself, and that by putting the cap on and doing the stress tests that were being talked about, that the integrity of the steel is insufficient to hold the pressure of the well.
And if you lose the casing, it‘s game over. It‘s like having a volcano on the bottom of the sea, where you‘d have no—if you lose the casing and oil starts coming up on the outside of the casing, you can‘t stop it. There‘s nothing you can do that would then stop it, other than implode the well.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I see.
HOFMEISTER: And so I think it‘s prudent under the conditions that are there—and there are many in the industry feel that the casing must have been damaged because of the power of that well, the pressure of that reservoir, and so let‘s kind of not go to the stress tests until we‘re ready to go with the—with the relief wells because the relief well, building up a column of heavy mud, could be the best case to shut down the flow.
MATTHEWS: Now, as I understand it, John—correct me where I‘m wrong here—the goal was to gradually close this cap so that you‘re, like, tightening the funnel so it gets stronger and stronger, pressure in the middle, and decide at some point whether that strong pressure coming there is an indication that the well is sound, that there is integrity in the well. I thought that was the plan.
What‘s the risk of gradually letting that pressure come into a narrower and more narrow funnel coming out of there to test its strength and then see whether you can go all the way? And what will they know in a couple of days they don‘t know now?
HOFMEISTER: Well, if it—if you were at 200 feet or 400 feet, it‘s one thing. You‘re at 5,000 feet. You don‘t really know the integrity of that casing throughout the 13,000-feet depth of the well. There could be damage anywhere along the 13,000 feet. And once you stop blocking the oil, you start clamping down on the flow at what might be 30,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, you don‘t know where that might blow. And I think you‘d better be in position to have those relief wells ready to go or actually up and operating before you try to control the flow from the start. I think that‘s the debate that has to take place.
MATTHEWS: Right. Do you have a sense that the United States government under the leadership of Secretary Chu at Energy and Thad Allen, who‘s now an independent consultant, I guess, to the administration out of the Coast Guard—that they have any superior knowledge as to the technology over BP? Because this seems to me the first time in this long saga where the federal government is trumping—or apparently ready to trump BP on the issue of technological knowledge.
HOFMEISTER: I think the federal government has reached out to its own experts, Chris. I think that Secretary Chu is a brilliant Nobel laureate, but he‘s never drilled a well. He can hear what others have to say, but he has no firsthand experience. So it‘s my understanding that they have brought in some of their own expertise that‘s really talking just to the government, not to BP.
HOFMEISTER: And it is through those sources that they‘re getting an additional point of view that raises serious questions. There are people out there that have worked with high-pressure reservoirs, have had blowouts, have had to deal with the issues, and those people are independent of BP. So while BP has great technical capability, don‘t you really want, if you‘re the government, to have a third-party point of view? And I think that‘s what‘s surfacing now.
MATTHEWS: Do you have any opinion on this story that‘s breaking? A number of New York-based senators and New Jersey senators are acting now to -- they want an investigation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as to whether BP, the company involved in this catastrophe, had a hand in lobbying the British government to release that man involved with the Lockerbie horror? Do you know anything about that?
HOFMEISTER: Well, I know the story generally, but I have no knowledge or insight into whether BP did or did not have dealings. I do know that just as our State Department advances the commercial interests of American companies around the world, the counterpart—and it was Jack Straw at the time—the foreign minister of the U.K., does look out for the commercial interests of U.K. companies. To the extent BP was involved, I have no knowledge.
MATTHEWS: What about “The New York Times” front page story just yesterday that basically chronicled the history of BP in terms of it not being a good player? Your assessment? How does BP stack up against the other petroleum companies in terms of safety?
HOFMEISTER: I think the reputation that would be probably warranted, given the facts, is that BP was not well renowned for its technical savvy, that there were other companies that had a better reputation both for the technical savvy and the operational integrity of how they went about their operations.
That‘s not to say BP is a laggard or a slacker, but it‘s just to say that within the industry, there were people that were sort of ranked in order, and you‘d always pretty much rank Exxon at the top, then Shell, then Chevron, Conoco, and so forth. BP would be somewhere down the list.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you very much, John Hofmeister, as always. It‘s great to have you on the show. Bottom line question. Do you have any optimism about the mess in the gulf? Do you think we‘re going to actually deal with this effectively sometime in August in terms of that relief well? Do you think it‘s going to work, this ultimate technology?
HOFMEISTER: I think the relief well is the best shot for now, but I think there should be a back-up plan which says, What would we need to do to just produce the well? Take all the proceeds from producing the well and use that money, selling that oil, to restore the Gulf of Mexico. Don‘t let anybody make a dime of profit off of it, just restore the Gulf of Mexico by producing the well and making that turn into money which can satisfy some of the issues of nature—
MATTHEWS: Right, OK.
HOFMEISTER: -- wetlands restoration, et cetera.
MATTHEWS: So use the relief well for money, raise the money, bring the oil out, make the money and use it to pay off the people who have been hurt by this?
HOFMEISTER: No. First try to shut off the flow with the relief well.
If that doesn‘t work, then produce the well.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, John Hofmeister, our expert here on HARDBALL on this whole catastrophe.
Yesterday, I said the Republican Party has welcomed all sorts of yahoos. Up next Republican Bob Inglis of South Carolina says the far right is taking over and corrupting his party. And he‘s no RINO. This is a real conservative we got coming on the show, with something like a 5 percent liberal voting record. Is that too much now, 5 percent? Is that the end of a conservative?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Results from last night‘s Alabama primary and the tea party favorite Rick Barber, the guy who ran that ad essentially calling for armed insurrection against the federal government, lost by 20 points in his bid to be the Republican nominee in the 2nd congressional district in Alabama. Last night‘s winner, Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby. She‘ll face Democratic congressman Bobby Bright this November. And in the governor‘s race, another loss for the political establishment as state representative Robert Bentley beat back Republican Party favorite Bradley Byrne.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the tea party has racked up some big wins already in 2010. They scared Senator Arlen Specter out of the Republican primary and watched him lose as a Democrat. Former Alabama Democratic congressman Parker Griffith did the exact opposite. He jumped into the Republican primary and lost down there. Tea partiers ousted Senator Bob Bennett at the Republican state convention out in Utah. They ran Governor Charlie Crist right out of the Republican Senate primary in Florida.
And the latest victim of the tea party is South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis, who lost a Republican run-off just last month after getting hammered in town halls for voting for TARP and knocking down false rumors about death panels. He joins us right now.
Congressman Inglis, I want to make sure everybody knows you‘re not a RINO. You‘ve got about an 85 percent conservative record. You‘ve got a 5 percent liberal record. You‘re a conservative, right?
REP. BOB INGLIS ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: Right. I think it‘s actually 93 percent—
MATTHEWS: Well, I looked at it a couple years ago.
MATTHEWS: You‘re up to date at 90-what?
INGLIS: At 93 percent.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re not conservative enough for South Carolina.
INGLIS: I needed that extra 7!
MATTHEWS: Oh, my God. Well, you told the Associated Press, quote, “I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those television and talk radio personalities and not leading us.”
We‘ve had a little contest here, as you know, waiting for somebody—well, you‘re a lame duck now, but maybe you count. But we‘ve been waiting for somebody to say, I‘m not really a dittohead. I don‘t really follow Rush Limbaugh‘s thinking. He‘s not my leader. Are you ready to be the first?
INGLIS: Well, I‘ll tell you—
MATTHEWS: Or are you still going to hold back?
INGLIS: I don‘t follow Rush Limbaugh‘s lead. You know when I found out I didn‘t? I was in six years and I out of Congress for six years and I was listening to him one day. He‘s making fun of people in cars who have fuel efficiency. And I thought, You know, Rush, that‘s it. I turned the radio off—
INGLIS: -- because it didn‘t fit with my dad, who‘s 87 years old. He‘s my idea of conservative. He used to tell us, Now, we can let off the gas at the (INAUDIBLE) and you coast to our driveway, because he‘s a conservative.
MATTHEWS: Well, what happened to Teddy Roosevelt? Wasn‘t he a great conservative in the Republican Party?
MATTHEWS: A conservationist.
INGLIS: Yes. And so my thought was, you know, listen, conservatism is saving resources, and what Rush was further making fun of is people driving electric cars with generative (ph) braking. I‘m thinking, If I make the investment to get up the hill with my gas, why wouldn‘t I want to generate electricity on the way down the hill? I‘m a conservative.
MATTHEWS: Rush, by the way, says a lot of things. He makes fun of anybody who tries to deal with conservation issues, which are traditionally conservative issues. He makes fun of all kinds of things. What do you make of the—Glenn Beck, for example, that fellow?
INGLIS: Well, I‘ve had some celebrated disagreements with the man, as you know.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, let‘s—
INGLIS: And so my view is this. We really need to be talking credible solutions and not about fear. We need not to be scaring people with misinformation. We need to be talking about credible ideas. That‘s what conservatives are supposed to be doing. That‘s what—you know, my hero is somebody like Ronald Reagan.
INGLIS: He led with ideas and believed in America and had an optimistic spirit. I‘m not sure that Ronald Reagan could have won in our primary on June the 22nd, frankly.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look at New Hampshire Republican senator Judd Gregg. He‘s a conservative. He‘s a Northerner, but I can tell you he‘s a conservative. He‘s retiring this year. But here he was on HARDBALL last night talking about his vote for TARP, which got him—well, he—well, wait until you hear what he has to say.
So many people in your party on the far right—I don‘t mean the conservative mainstream, I mean the far right—are knocking off people like Bob Bennett out in Utah, going after people across the board in your party, saying TARP was evil.
SEN. JUDD GREGG ®, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, they‘re wrong. On the left, you‘re getting it also, and people saying TARP is evil and the Fed is evil. The simple fact is that TARP did what it was supposed to do.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, the last—the last couple of months of the Bush administration, everybody was picking up the paper, scared to death, thinking, My God, we might be facing a Great Depression. And the president, to his credit, George W. Bush, acted. He brought in Hank Paulson. They took action, dramatic action. You guys voted for it.
MATTHEWS: And now everybody‘s afterwards coming back, saying you shouldn‘t have done that. Well, they weren‘t there when the bridge was falling down.
INGLIS: Right, and weren‘t hearing the estimates. Really, we were facing a depression, rather than a recession. But you know, what‘s interesting is the first $350 billion worth of TARP, the money that went to the banks—now the second $350 million got into other things—
INGLIS: -- housing and the auto bail-outs. But the first $350 million is going to be and is being repaid, and taxpayers will probably reap about an 8 percent profit on it. Pretty good investment, really, to save the banking system and then to make a huge profit.
MATTHEWS: You, sir, strike me as—I hate to use the word—as someone who‘s well educated.
I know you went to UVA Law School. Is that hurting you? Is the—no, I‘m dead serious about this. Do you get hurt in the Republican Party now for having had a fine education?
Do people think—look askance at you, say, oh, he‘s an egghead?
He‘s got a good degree from UVA.
Is that a problem now? It‘s better to be a yahoo?
INGLIS: Well, I think that—
MATTHEWS: I mean, to be really uneducated, like Palin, to really be proud of the fact you don‘t know anything?
INGLIS: There‘s a sense out there that maybe ignorance is strength.
But, you know, ignorance you‘re is not strength.
MATTHEWS: Where did that come from? Where did that come from?
INGLIS: Because—and here‘s my view. I‘m ignorant of a lot of things. There are a lot of things that I need to know, but if I choose to remain ignorant of those things, that‘s when—that‘s quite a different matter.
So I—I have a sense of how much I don‘t know and I need to find out a lot of information. I think that‘s what education gives you, is a sense of how much you don‘t know and let‘s go find it out.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of Palin‘s—without getting—she seems like I guess a nice person as a human being. But the question, is she‘s selling herself as someone—she calls it common sense, but I think what she‘s really selling is, I don‘t read books. I don‘t read newspapers. Katie Couric, I don‘t read magazines. I don‘t need information. I have common conservative sense.
What does that mean, to say you know things without having read it or learned anything? What do people know naturally?
INGLIS: I‘m concerned about that. But I‘m even more concerned about misinformation, because, as you pointed out in the lead-in, I‘m very concerned when people—
MATTHEWS: Death panels.
INGLIS: -- talk about death panels. There were no death panels in that bill.
And to talk about death panels and to scare people is not leadership. It‘s the worst form of leadership. What we really need to be doing is talking credible ideas. We have got credible ideas. We have got people like Paul Ryan, for example, “A Roadmap for America‘s Future.”
We got Jeff Flake, a very credible conservative. We have got Jack Kingston, who has got the right kind of spirit. Those folks can lead with ideas. People that want to lead with misinformation and scare people to do things that they would not otherwise do, to cower, that‘s not an American position.
And so what I got in real trouble talking about Glenn Beck is, I said, man, if you‘re afraid, turn him off, because I was trying to explain, I‘m not afraid. I‘m an American. If—if—cowering is not a position for Americans to take.
We‘re the people that go to the moon. We‘re the people who went across the prairies before that. We‘re the people that launched tiny boats on a great big ocean. That‘s who Americans are. And we should be able to face these challenges with optimism, the way that my idea of a great president, Ronald Reagan, did, you know, with great optimism, not with this “it‘s all gone to pot” kind of feeling.
MATTHEWS: Well, that fear that led people to—like Rick Perry of Texas to talk about secession, those old scare terms about race—I mean, race is always an issue in America, but to go back and rip that scab off, what‘s that about? Why are people doing that? Is it their fear of change or is it just anger or what?
Well, I think that we—we‘re finding out here that in 2010 we have not fought the final fight against the scent of racism and won. We‘re still in it. We‘re still dealing with that problem. We always will be, but we need to extend grace to one another and have some honesty about it, understand that we are different, but let‘s find a way to extend grace and get through it.
And that‘s—rather than whomp up those fears and drive with misinformation reactions against people because of their party or their ethnicity. That‘s a real problem. And it—
MATTHEWS: How do you figure your state out? It‘s pretty conservative obviously. It‘s Strom Thurmond country in many ways and it has people like DeMint, pretty far over, and then people like Lindsey Graham, who are sort of regular conservatives.
But then you nominated—your party has nominated an Indian-American woman, Nikki Haley—
MATTHEWS: obviously an attractive candidate, and she knows how to present herself obviously, but what is that about? Is that just an interesting little aspect; it‘s OK to be Indian-American, but we have got a problem with this black president? What‘s that about?
INGLIS: Well, it is interesting.
First of all, I got to tell you, I agree completely that Lindsey is—
Lindsey Graham is a regular conservative, as you just said. And a lot of people see him not as that. But really he is talking things that are regular conservatism, the kind that Carroll Campbell, our great governor from South Carolina.
INGLIS: That‘s the kind of person we‘re looking for.
But the challenge right now in South Carolina, like a lot of places, is, there‘s a real reaction against anybody that‘s an establishment figure or talking about these institutions and trying to build them up.
If you build up the institution of the Congress, for example, and say, listen, don‘t just attack the Constitution, because when you‘re attacking the Congress, you‘re attacking the Constitution, but—so people come along and are running for governor and they attack the institutions. Right now, it‘s popular. It works.
MATTHEWS: You remind—I worked on the Hill for years. You remind me of one of the really good congresspeople up there in both parties.
INGLIS: Well, thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on, Congressman Bob Inglis.
Up next: A Republican running for governor in Colorado has learned an important lesson in politics. If you have got skeletons in your closet—skeletons, not Red Skelton—you better let them come out, because they are coming out.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. We will be right back with the “Sideshow.” You‘re watching it, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for that “Sideshow.”
First: a lesson to pols. Those scary skeletons in the closet always come out. Today‘s exhibit, Scott McInnis, front-runner for Colorado‘s Republican nomination for governor. Back in 2005, McInnis was paid $300,000 as part of a conservative fellowship to write essays about clean water.
The hitch? This week, “The Denver Post” found that large portions of those essays he claimed to have written were lifted from the writings of a Colorado Supreme Court justice. When asked about the plagiarism yesterday, McInnis blamed his research assistant, someone named Rolly Fischer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCINNIS ®, COLORADO GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Rolly said, gosh, I did it all through. He thought it was public domain, that information that was in the public domain that he could put into it, so we have just got to straighten that out.
I understand there‘s some machine or some computer software out there that you can take research and put it in there, and it tells you whether or not it‘s similar to other research. I wasn‘t aware of that at the time.
This is a non-issue, if it weren‘t a political race. It‘s a political race, and they are going to try and, you know, divert from their weaknesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, look, he either wrote this stuff or he didn‘t. This is the commonsense part. If he wrote it, it wouldn‘t exist somewhere else.
Anyway, it‘s a bit more than a diversion now. “The Denver Post” reported today that a separate column and a speech that McInnis delivered when he was a congressman in the ‘90s closely resembles a “Washington Post” column that was published six weeks before that.
McInnis told the Associated Press today he‘s not sure who on his staff was in charge of writing that column and that speech for him.
Anyway, the moral of the story is, only write—only put your name on something you wrote, or only have somebody write something for you trust.
Now, moving to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid‘s Republican challenger, Sharron Angle. Why won‘t she do mainstream media interviews? Well, they don‘t pay off for her campaign, literally.
Here‘s Angle in a just-posted interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you‘re on FOX News or—or—or talking to more conservative outlets, but maybe not going on a “Meet the Press” or a “This Week,” those type of shows, then the perception and the narrative starts to be like you‘re avoiding those mainstream media outlets.
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, and that audience, will they let me say I need $25 from a million people, go to SharronAngle.com, send money? Will they let me say that?
Will I get a bump in my—on my Web site? And you can watch, whenever I go on to a show like that, we get an immediate bump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It gets lower and lower.
Anyway, Ms. Angle, if you want to come on HARDBALL, we will let you mention your Web site. You can do it right here. Come on, play a little HARDBALL with us, but we might ask you some serious questions.
Time now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Last week, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann lobbed perhaps her craziest charge yet, that President Obama is turning this country into—quote—
“a nation of slaves.” It‘s the kind of talk that brings in tons of fund-raising, obviously. It also apparently leads to high turnover in one‘s congressional office.
Yesterday, two of Bachmann‘s two top staffers left their jobs, her campaign finance director and her chief of staff, nothing new there. After all, how many chiefs of staff has Congresswoman Bachmann through the years she‘s been in office? Five. Five top aides in less than four years, there‘s leadership for you. Congresswoman Bachmann drives out five chiefs of staff from her own office, tonight‘s big, bad number.
Up next: Conservatives for years have warned, liberals, that they would try to turn the country into a tyranny, a socialist, totalitarian state. And they‘re at it again about the Obama administration, the same old line we have heard for decades. And, funny thing, it‘s not happening. Why conservatives keep saying it and why liberals can‘t shut them up—next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JANE WELLS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Jane Wells with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks finishing relatively flat on some disappointing economic news and downbeat comments from the Federal Reserve, the Dow Jones industrials inching up three points, the S&P 500 down a smidge, and the Nasdaq adding nearly eight points.
Fed officials lowering their economic growth forecast for the year. Minutes from their most recent meeting showed a more cautious mood overall, mostly due to Europe‘s ongoing debt crisis.
Reports from the retail and housing sectors, though, adding to the bummed-out feeling. Retail sales fell for the second month in a row in June, more evidence of a slowing recovery or maybe a step back. And mortgage applications plunge to a 13-year low, despite rock-bottom mortgage rates, shares in homebuilders kill Lennar and Pulte Homes falling between 2 percent and 4 percent as a result.
But good news for drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. The FDA will let it keep the diabetes drug Avandia on the market, despite concerns about associated heart risks. Shares finishing up nearly 2 percent.
And that‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
This should be a joy for some. For years, conservatives have been warning that liberals are looking to take down the country. They say that military dictatorship, tyranny and communist domination are inevitable if you elect liberals. And it‘s been the same old lines for decades, and they have been wrong each and every time.
But the same rhetoric prevails again. It continues.
Here‘s Tom Tancredo with the same old line last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM TANCREDO ®, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I firmly believe this. It‘s not just, you know, sort of a dramatic statement that a person would make to get press or something or ink. I believe this with all my heart, that we—that the greatest threat to the United States today, the greatest threat to our liberty, the greatest threat to the Constitution of the United States, the greatest threat to our way of life, everything we believe in, the greatest threat to the country that was put together by the founding fathers is the guy that is in the White House today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And you will note he said he didn‘t do this to get publicity.
We‘re now joined by David Corn, the Washington editor of “Mother Jones” and a columnist for PoliticsDaily.com. And also we have got the editor of Salon.com.
Joan—Joan, you will notice that Mr. Tancredo, the former congressman, said purposefully at the front there, I‘m not doing this to get ink in the newspapers. But there he is. What did he say? This is the worst threat to humanity, to this country, in its history, and it‘s all the president. This guy in the White House is more dangerous than al Qaeda.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: It‘s—it‘s disgusting.
MATTHEWS: What is this?
WALSH: It‘s disgusting.
But, you know, we wouldn‘t be talking about him otherwise. He was a failed—he‘s out of Congress. He was a failed, desperately failed, presidential candidate. He‘s really meaningless in terms of the public discourse, except he‘s found this rabid-right set of believers and devotees, Chris, and he‘s making money. He‘s out there on the stump talking—and talking this crap.
MATTHEWS: He can‘t be making that much, can he?
WALSH: Well, I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: Can he be making that much, to say this nonsense?
OK. Go ahead. I‘m sorry.
WALSH: I don‘t know. I will check—I will check on his speaking fees.
Let me ask. I‘m doing this for a reason, Mr. Corn. And the reasons is, I want to pull the string off the bottom of these trousers and show that this just keep going until there‘s nothing there. It just continues.
MATTHEWS: Here it is. A few days, Rush Limbaugh claimed the problem is inside the White House. I can‘t imitate him completely.
Well, let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: But I think we face something we have never faced before in the country. And that is, we‘re now governed by people who do not like the country, who do not have the same reverence for it that—that we do.
Our greatest threat—and this is saying something—is internal. We have plenty of external threats, enemies across oceans, but we have got a threat inside as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s the lower tone.
MATTHEWS: This dark threat to humanity. America is being threatened from within.
WALSH: It is dark.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”: It‘s not quite Joe McCarthy, but he‘s working on it.
I mean, how can Barack Obama not like America? He‘s doing pretty well by America. But it‘s not just Rush Limbaugh, who is not elected, or Tom Tancredo, who doesn‘t have a job anymore. Michele Bachmann, your own pal, said the other—
MATTHEWS: Don‘t you think I have got her in the queue here? She‘s coming up here in a second here.
CORN: You know, she said—she said Obama is turning us into a nation of slaves.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
MATTHEWS: You just gave us—this is known as a roll queue.
And now we go back, because we‘re going to take a look at Michele Bachmann, because this is the thread I‘m pulling off the trousers. This is the way they talk and have talked for decades.
Here‘s the—we‘re going back in history. Here‘s Michele Bachmann on our mystery tour heading backwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 2008)
MATTHEWS: And how many people in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti-American? You‘ve already suspected Barack Obama. Is he alone, or are there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues of being anti-American?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: What I would say—what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would be—would love to see an expose like that.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: She‘s a Joe McCarthy—
MATTHEWS: Have you done your homework? Have you been working on this expose?
WALSH: I have been working on it ever since—
WALSH: -- ever since I saw her. I was in my office. I remember the day that aired, Chris. I‘ve been on it ever since. And my conclusion is she, Michele Bachmann, is Joe McCarthy in lipstick.
WALSH: That‘s who she is.
CORN: I‘m up to 57. I found 57. I mean—I mean, the question that you should put to her is, What‘s anti-American?
CORN: Because that‘s really what we‘re arguing about here. She has the—you know, she‘s taking political, policy, ideological, cultural differences, and saying, If you‘re not with me, you‘re an enemy of the state, which is what Rush said in that clip from the other day, too.
CORN: You know, we can laugh about it. It‘s silly. It‘s wrong.
It‘s idiotic. It‘s also dangerous—
WALSH: It is dangerous.
CORN: -- because while I don‘t expect Michele Bachmann or Rush
Limbaugh to do anything too ballsy or gutsy about this, there are people
follow them, who take what they say seriously, although they shouldn‘t, and
MATTHEWS: You mean 2nd Amendment remedies?
CORN: 2nd Amendment remedies, you know, gathering an army. And people are going to say, If there‘s an enemy of the state in the White House or on this set or in Congress, people may take drastic actions. That‘s what you do when traitors take over.
MATTHEWS: I‘m waiting for senators to start walking on the Senate floor with arms because they‘re uniforms. These people are getting pretty far—but let‘s take a look at Governor George Wallace, just to show how far this thread goes back. It‘s not funny. You‘re right. This is the charge of anti-Americanism and totalitarianism. They charge everything—anybody slightly to their left is evil and the enemy and the enemy at the gate. Here he is, George Corley Wallace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE ®, ALABAMA: We are winning in this fight because we are awakening the American people to the dangers that we have spoken about so many times, which is so evident today, the trend towards military dictatorship in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And you know what? The dictatorship was? Letting a couple of black kids get into the University of Alabama.
MATTHEWS: That was the horror story.
WALSH: Well, you know, I mean—
MATTHEWS: Now they got—they got the—what do they call it, the best athletes at that university. They got the best—what do they have, the—I don‘t know, the prom queen and everything else down there (INAUDIBLE) not exactly become anti-American down there. It‘s a more popular place than ever.
This fear factor—again, back to you, Joan. Fear, fear, fear, totalitarian—and all it was, was integration—
MATTHEWS: -- by Americans who‘ve been in this country 200, 300 years longer than George Wallace‘s family.
WALSH: Well, here‘s the great thing about our country, Chris. Every reform movement, whether it‘s African-Americans, it‘s women, it‘s labor organizers, going back to FDR, going back beyond FDR—but any reform movement that seeks to make life better and share things and take the rough edges off capitalism is blessed with our Constitution and with our traditions, which let them say, We are a better people, we believe in equality, and we‘re going to do this because we‘re Americans.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
WALSH: And these people fight back by saying it‘s anti-American. And you know, I mean—
WALSH: I don‘t play that game.
MATTHEWS: Ronald Reagan ended up being a center-right president, but before he was a center-right president, he was a—well, he was a propagandist. Here he was back in a message in 1961, largely on behalf of the AMA, trashing what became Medicare. This is what he‘s—the horror story. He‘s warning us against Medicare, which every conservative now benefits from—
MATTHEWS: -- back in ‘61. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, ACTOR: Write those letters now. Call your friends and tell them to write them. If you don‘t, this program, I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until one day, as Norman Thomas said, we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don‘t do this and if I don‘t do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children‘s children what it once was like in America when men were free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a warning about Medicare.
CORN: Ronald Reagan was wrong. What he predicted did not come true.
MATTHEWS: Well, he ended up administering the Medicare program for eight years.
CORN: And he also expanded some health and welfare programs in California when he became governor a few years after that. He was wrong. But now 40, almost 50 years later, we have Sarah Palin aping those words. We have Representative Marcia Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee, going on the House floor when they‘re debating health care and saying, Today is the death—
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go—
CORN: -- is the death of freedom.
MATTHEWS: I want to be somewhat fair. Let me start with Joan, and then you, David. Why can‘t the center-right and the right simply say that Barack Obama is to their left? He‘s a social Democrat. He is much more believing in a bigger safety net than we do. It‘s a matter of margins. It‘s a matter of degree. It‘s not the end of the world. Why don‘t they talk like that, Joan?
WALSH: Because then Americans would agree with Barack Obama because most Americans support, in every poll, Chris—we‘ve got some polarization right now, but in every poll, even right now, they want more spending on jobs, more than Obama is willing to spend. If they simply said, He‘s a social Democrat, he would like to smooth the rough edges of our wonderful capitalist system, we disagree, they would lose. They know that what they have to do is demonize him and terrify Americans about him.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s see if it works.
WALSH: And it doesn‘t hurt—it‘s not irrelevant that he‘s black.
It‘s not irrelevant that he‘s black.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘ll keep getting to that throughout this program. Thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Joan Walsh. Up next—this was kind of fun, wasn‘t it.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, this has been a hot debate going on in New York—and this isn‘t fun—where a Muslim group wants to build a mosque near the site of Ground Zero. They say they‘re against extremism. It‘s a moderate group, apparently. But some family members who lost family members on 9/11 are outraged. Let‘s see how this debate unfolds here on HARDBALL in just a minute. You‘re watching it.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Last night in Anaheim, the National League beat the American League in baseball‘s All-Star game. The score was 3 to 1. And if you think that has nothing to do with politics, think again. Check this out. Since 1950, every time the National League has won the All-Star game, the Republicans have had double-digit gains in the House of Representatives and that year‘s mid-terms. And since 1948, every National League win has preceded Republican gains of at least five seats in the Senate.
So based upon that, the Democrats are out to lose double-digit seats in the House and five Senate seats this year.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. A proposal to build a Muslim center just blocks from Ground Zero has sparked a fierce debate among some New Yorkers who say it‘s insensitive to the families of those killed on 9/11, and others say that such a center actually counters Islamic extremism. Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer supports the construction of the Muslim center, and Republican Michael Faulkner opposes it. He‘s challenging New York congressman Charlie Rangel in that upcoming primary this fall.
Let me go to the Manhattan borough president. You, sir, are taking a positive view towards this as a chance to show—or to give Muslims in New York who want to show moderation and support for, well, being an American, a chance to do so.
SCOTT STRINGER, MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, this Cordoba initiative, this Cordoba House has been part of the lower Manhattan community for 27 years in different places in and around the community. So to suddenly say to this long-standing religious institution that, You‘re not welcome, basically sends the wrong message.
We are a community of tolerance. We‘re a country of religious freedom. And to think any other way would simply give the terrorists who tried to take away our freedoms the victory that they long have wanted.
I respect the fact that families have grappled with this. Obviously, people who have lost loved ones feel that this is a very difficult emotional moment to discuss. But we‘re a country of religious freedom. We‘re a city of great tolerance. And there‘s no doubt in my mind that the local community board voted overwhelmingly to allow this to go forward, or to recommend that this goes forward. It was the right thing to do because we‘re Americans first.
MATTHEWS: Michael Faulkner, your view?
REV. MICHAEL FAULKNER ®, NY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: You know, I agree with the borough president in terms of the nature of who we are as people who respect, love and honor religious freedom. However, we must understand that religious freedom and tolerance should be done in a way that expresses common sense.
This is a sacred burial ground for thousands of people who have lost their lives in the name of Islam. Those who hijacked the planes, who crashed into the World Trade Center, who killed more than 3,000 New Yorkers on that day did it in the name of Islam. Why should a mosque be built on the site of the deaths of these people? I‘m calling on all—
MATTHEWS: Is it on the site, or is this—is this on the—I thought this was on property that was right next to the World Trade Center.
STRINGER: It‘s right next to the World Trade Center. It‘s not on the site itself.
MATTHEWS: How wide would you—sir, how wide would you, Michael Faulkner, like to extend this hallowed ground, you call it? How far would you like to extend it?
FAULKNER: I think the hallowed ground—
MATTHEWS: To Manhattan? Southern Manhattan? Southern borough of Manhattan?
FAULKNER: No, no, no, no, no. Listen, I have many Muslims in my district. I‘ve gone to mosque. I have worshipped in mosques with—I‘ve been to worship services in a mosque. I‘m not anti-Muslim. I‘m just saying this site should not be built on this particular sacred property simply because of what took place in the name of Islam.
And those—and especially the imam that is charge of actually building this has been connected to some of these terrorist activities.
STRINGER: Well, with all due respect—
MATTHEWS: He‘s been committed to these—who is this guy?
FAULKNER: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: What‘s his name?
FAULKNER: He‘s the imam that is in charge of erecting the—the—this center.
MATTHEWS: He is? I haven‘t heard that.
MATTHEWS: Mr. President, is that true, that there‘s any problem with any terrorist group involved with this, any difficulty with this in terms of security issues involved at all with this group?
STRINGER: Well, let me—
MATTHEWS: Mr. Stringer.
STRINGER: Let me maybe put this into a different perspective. The reality is that this issue has been grabbed by tea party extremists who want to divide this country. They don‘t really have a way to bring people together. In fact, the tea party leader called me a “Jewish Uncle Tom” and tried to divide my own community.
We reject this kind of hate talk. And I have great respect for Reverend Faulkner. We‘re friends. But the bottom line is the people who stayed and rebuilt Ground Zero, the people who live in this community, they voted to have a discussion about Cordoba House, which is basically an initiative—
MATTHEWS: OK, great—
STRINGER: -- to bring people together, to create basketball courts and meeting space for the community. And now this is being hijacked, this debate—
MATTHEWS: OK, we have to go.
STRINGER: -- by extremists.
MATTHEWS: Congressman—Mr. Stringer, we have to go. I‘m sorry.
Michael Faulkner, thank you.
When we return, “Let Me Finish” with what President Obama needs and who he needs to help turn around his political bad fortunes.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: “Let Me Finish” tonight with a totally political commentary. Sometimes what‘s needed is not a change in policy but an upgrade in politics. This is precisely where President Obama stands now. He‘s got a good, sellable record. He signed up with President Bush to prevent a financial collapse in the fall of 2008. He passed a major job stimulus bill, a step that every president since FDR knows is the one and only known way to prevent a second Great Depression. He passed a health care bill, something every Democrat since FDR has been promising. And this week, he‘s going after Wall Street. So his policies are in place. Now he needs a team, a political posse to go sell it.
Bill Clinton is a centrist Democrat with a wow of a record on the economy. When he speaks about an economic boom, about balanced budgets, even about surpluses, people have good reason to listen because he presided over them. The fact is that President Obama just named Clinton‘s budget director as his new budget director. That‘s smart.
Seeing Bill Clinton himself out on the road this fall will be even better. The Republicans are running as “the party of no” this fall. It would be good for the country to see a hefty party on the other side saying yes.
Let me be blunt. This Lone Ranger number by President Obama has about run its course. For the country to be confident in his leadership, he needs to lead more than a White House. He needs a party to lead.
Anyway, 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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