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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Hampton Pearson, Bob Shrum, Wayne Sapp, C. Welton Gaddy, Joan Walsh, Ed Rendell, Jon Hulbard



Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews up in New York. 

Leading off tonight: Beating up on Boehner.  President Obama and the Democrats are facing a possible massacre come November 2nd, so today the president finally did what so many of us have been begging him to do, he went on offense.  He gave a name and a face to the Republican “Just say no” obstructionism, wannabe Speaker John Boehner.  He called out Boehner and the GOP for doing nothing but root for failure.  He reminded us what makes Democrats different than Republicans.  In short, he reminded us why we elected him in the first place.  This is the kind of performance by the president we‘re going to see, apparently, every day from the Democrats if they‘re going to stay in the power.

Plus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, General Petraeus and even the Vatican are now calling on Pastor Terry Jones to abandon his plan to burn Korans on September 11, but the Florida pastor is not backing down.  Tonight, I‘m going to ask a pastor at Jones‘s church if his colleague is willing to take the heat when his protests air on TV sets in every Middle East cafe, inflaming Muslim extremism and perhaps well endangering the lives of Americans.

Also, the professional left has been gunning for Rahm Emanuel and may get its wish if he leaves to run for mayor of Chicago.  Will progressives be happy with Emanuel‘s replacement, or is the real problem they have with President Obama?

Plus, remember this ad?


BEN QUAYLE (R-AZ), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE:  Barack Obama is the worst president in history.


MATTHEWS:  Jesus!  I think he was the worst candidate I‘ve ever seen in history.  That‘s Dan Quayle‘s son, Ben, who is running for Congress out in Arizona.  And tonight, the Democrat who hopes to beat him joins us on HARDBALL.

And President Obama wasn‘t the only one getting—or actually taking on John Boehner.  The would-be Speaker was forced to answer some tough questions today about, well, being the notorious “tan man.”

Let‘s start with the president‘s speech in Ohio today.  What a humdinger it was!  “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst and Bob Shrum is a Democratic strategist.

Let me start with you, Howard.  Big speech today, highly hyped.  He went on offense, first time named names, none of the Chicago tactic of old days of pretending you don‘t have opponents out there.  He named him, Boehner.

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, Chris, I think that was one of the best political speeches that the president has given.  It was pointed.  As you said, it drew distinctions, tried to frame the election as a choice between two visions and not as a referendum on him.  That‘s obviously the battle here.

I think he was speaking mostly to Democrats.  He was saying to the Democrats, Look, this is who we are.  Don‘t forget who we are.  We want you to turn out.  You need to turn out to defend our view of the world.  And right now, as you know, the polls show a big gap between likely voters among Republicans and Democrats.  I think that‘s who the president was aiming for, and I think in that regard, he succeeded today.

MATTHEWS:  Well, here he is taking on, Howard—here he is, taking aim at John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House who would be Speaker if the Republicans grab 39 seats.  Here he is going after Boehner and selling his own economic plan.  Let‘s listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  A few weeks ago, the Republican leader of the House came here to Cleveland and offered his party‘s answer to our economic challenges.  There were no new policies from Mr. Boehner.  There were no new ideas.  There was just the same philosophy that we had already tried during the decade that they were in power, the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place—cut more taxes for millionaires and cut more rules for corporations.  Now, Cleveland, that is not the America I know.  That is not the America we believe in.



MATTHEWS:  You know, Bob, it just seems (INAUDIBLE) something and politics is unfair.  We all know that sometimes.  But seems to be particularly unfair that a bunch of guys who sat on the bench and all they did is hoot and catcall for the last two years and say no and screw this guy‘s program up as much as they could, in this see-saw politics, if he goes down, we go up—


MATTHEWS:  I mean, that‘s all they got, Boehner and Mitch McConnell. 

He went after them today.

SHRUM:  Well, yes.  The strategy of “no” worked in the sense it kept the stimulus too small, made it impossible to have a second stimulus.  But the president today—

MATTHEWS:  And forced them to build a health care bill entirely on the left.

SHRUM:  Right.  Well, and it‘s kind of actually a “Romney-care” bill.  It‘s kind of bill that Romney and Ted Kennedy negotiated in Massachusetts that Romney‘s run away from.

What was great about the president‘s speech today—I think he got his voice back—was that he laid down real dividing lines.  Do you want a tax cut for the wealthy, or do you want a tax cut for the middle class?  Do you want to invest in America, help build our roads, help build our railroads, or do you want to continue to let corporations have tax loopholes for shipping jobs overseas?  Those kind of dividing lines are very similar, by the way, to what Harry Truman did in 1948 --


SHRUM:  -- and they give Democrats some hope they can come back and—

MATTHEWS:  Here he is on that point here.  He‘s saying the Republicans

going after them on the deficit argument, using it against them, and again, casting John Boehner, the man with the tan, as the enemy of the middle class and a friend of the rich.  Here he is going after a guy who‘s basically a country club Republican, nailing him.  Let‘s listen.


OBAMA:  Now, I believe we ought to make the tax cuts for the middle class permanent, but the Republican leader of the House doesn‘t want to stop there.  Make no mistake, he and his party believe we should also give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  Let me be clear to Mr. Boehner and everybody else.  We should not hold middle class tax cuts hostage any longer.



MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s exactly what they‘re up to.  Let‘s get to that legislative point.  Howard, the Republican strategy going between now and November is to say, No, no, no.  You‘re not going to give tax relief to the people that make below a quarter million a year because we‘re going to protect those who make above that amount, and that‘s the deal.

FINEMAN:  Well, I think Barack Obama‘s making the best argument he can make under the circumstances.  In polling, Chris, two things test very well, the notion that tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are out of hand, and even more to the point, that corporations are shipping jobs overseas.  These are proven winners politically for any Democratic candidate and for any Democratic president arguing the case.

My point here is that he‘s making the best case he can.  You‘ll notice, by the way, that the president did not mention or only glancingly mentioned the health care bill—


FINEMAN:  -- that he spent a year getting through Congress.  That was going to be the signal achievement of the first couple of years.  He didn‘t even mention it.  And the reason he didn‘t mention it is because he realizes now, maybe too late for his party, that the jobs issue was the one he should have been on first, last and always from the very first day of his administration.  This is a speech the tone and content of which he should have been giving day after day after day going back a year-and-a-half.

MATTHEWS:  What I liked, Bob—and your thoughts on this—I liked the comment he made as a preparation for it, a prelude.  He said, you know, As much as I‘m proud to be a Democrat, I‘m an American first, and re-establishing that connection with the middle.  Let‘s take a look at that.  I think this is powerful stuff.  It did echo a lot of the way he talked running for president, the spiritual revival he offered of belief in our country but also a belief that our country has to do certain things.  It can‘t just be laissez-faire, sit on with your hands under your butt and cut taxes.  It‘s got to do other things.  Here he is.  Let‘s watch.


OBAMA:  We also hoped for a chance to get beyond some of the old political divides between Democrats and Republicans, red states and blue states, that have prevented us from making progress because although we are proud to be Democrats, we are prouder to be Americans.


OBAMA:  And we believe—and we believe then and we believe now that no single party has a monopoly on wisdom.


MATTHEWS:  Nothing is more bothersome to me—and Howard, you get in on this.  You know, this notion that somehow only conservatives and right-wingers are patriotic is nonsense.  Check the military.  What are most of the people in the military—what families do they come from?  Who are we kidding here?  And I—the way that crowd reacted out there in middle America, in Cleveland, a hard-hit area, Howard, when you just say “America,” they go wild.  How do they get away with it, these Glenn Beck characters, with the idea they got some weird-ass monopoly over the flag and God?  Who gave them that?  I don‘t think God gave it to them.  And I don‘t think George Washington was sitting around, thinking, Let‘s—who‘s the most right-wing guy around here I can help out?

FINEMAN:  Well, Barack Obama‘s great gift but also his great challenge, Chris, is to be able to speak like that reasonable unifier figure, the one that a lot of independent voters and others supported in 2008, who were drawn to that, as you said, almost spiritual quality, embracing quality that he has, while at the same time having to be a very partisan leader of his party here and remind Democrats what Democrats specifically are all about.

If he can do both of those things at the same time, he can succeed again.  It‘s not easy, especially in a highly partisan mid-term election, but that‘s what he‘s got to try to do.

MATTHEWS:  I want Bob to respond to this, and then Howard.  Here‘s one of my favorite scenes from “The Untouchables.”  It‘s about the Chicago way.  Let‘s watch Sean Connery tell us how it works.


SEAN CONNERY, “THE UNTOUCHABLES”:  He pulls a knife.  You pull a gun. 

He sends one of yours to the hospital.  You send one of his to the morgue. 

That‘s the Chicago way.


MATTHEWS:  Did we see the Chicago way today, Bobby?


SHRUM:  Well, we saw—we saw him do those really tough dividing lines, give people tough choices.  But you‘re right, he did it in a context like Ronald Reagan did, by the way, like JFK did, where he also spoke to the country‘s ideals.  He also created a narrative for his presidency for the first time in a long time—


SHRUM:  -- whether it was health care, which he did mention, or financial reform or these issues we‘re now having over taxes.  He said the real question is, Whose side are you on?  The Republican side with special interests.  We‘re fighting for ordinary people.  That‘s the argument that he has to make.

MATTHEWS:  You know, this word “narrative”—it‘s overused, I think,

but it‘s a great word for today.  It‘s really right because I think he did

Howard, we‘re going to get to it in the “Sideshow,” where it belongs tonight, but Haley Barbour—I have no problem with Haley Barbour.  I like him personally, I got to say.  But I tell you, his number today about, I don‘t really know about this man‘s background, we really don‘t know who he is—he wrote a frickin‘ book!  He wrote a book as good as “Huck Finn.”  It‘s an amazing book, picaresque, American—it gave a color of a kid growing up in unusual circumstances but an American way.  And Haley comes along and says, We really don‘t know much about this guy‘s background.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Well, I agree with—

MATTHEWS:  Maybe he has to sell his biography one more time to these clown.  I don‘t know.

FINEMAN:  I think he does.  I think he does.  And that‘s why I said I thought it was one of the best political speeches he‘s given and why you said it reminded you of a campaign speech and why Bob just said it restored the narrative.

I thought one of the stronger parts here is when the president said, Look, here‘s my background.  Here‘s my grandparent—my grandfather had the GI bill.  My grandmother worked in the plant.  My—my—you know, I had student loans.  Michelle‘s dad worked for the government.  You know, those are the kind of values, the mainstream American values that he was talking about.  At first, I said, My gosh, here we are more than a year-and-a-half into his presidency, why does he have to recite this all over again?

MATTHEWS:  Yes!  Well, he has to.

FINEMAN:  And the reason is because he has to.


FINEMAN:  He has to do it.

SHRUM:  Well, they‘ve lied about him.  I mean—

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s right.  They‘ve called him a Muslim.  They‘ve called him an alien.  They got everything in the world.  They got a quarter of Republicans now believing he‘s an American, a quarter believing he‘s the religion he says he is, Christian.

SHRUM:  And you have people like Haley Barbour, who know better, saying things like, Well, I‘m just not sure about his background.


MATTHEWS:  By the way, I‘m going to get to it, Howard.  My father got us to be middle class by the GI bill, like most people watching.

FINEMAN:  Me, too.  Me, too.

MATTHEWS:  You, too?  And that‘s how we all got to the middle class, most of us.  And number two, I went to school on an NBA (ph) loan from the government.

FINEMAN:  Me, too!

MATTHEWS:  You, too.


MATTHEWS:  So you know, this is pretty American stuff here!  Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman, and thank you, Bob Shrum.

Coming up, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is asking the media not to cover that Koran-burning event down at that church in Florida.  She‘s worried that the video will go viral—of course, it will—and go around the Arab world to every cafe in the Middle East, and it‘s not going to help our soldiers.  But the pastor behind the event says he‘s not backing down.  Well, we‘ll see.  He may.  I‘m going to ask one of his colleagues if he‘s ready to take the heat and perhaps the horror if he does stick to this next.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, things could get interesting up in Alaska.  Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost the Republican nomination to tea party favorite Joe Miller, says she‘s not a quitter and isn‘t ready to give up just yet.  Senator Murkowski told the AP that she may run as a write-in candidate or on the Libertarian Party ticket.  And with Murkowski and Miller vying for votes on the right, that could open up the door on the Democratic side.  Sitka mayor Scott McAdams might win it in a three-way.

We‘ll be right back.



TERRY JONES, PASTOR, DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER:  We are very, very convinced of what we are doing.  It is by no means a stunt.  We have thought this out.  We have prayed this through.  We believe that this type of message is right now very, very necessary in America before it‘s too late.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Florida Pastor Terry Jones says, as you just saw, he will follow through with his plan to burn Korans on the anniversary of 9/11.  Wayne Sapp is also a pastor with Terry Jones with the Dove World Outreach Center. 

Pastor Sapp, are you armed at this point?


MATTHEWS:  Why are you armed?

SAPP:  Well, it‘s better to be prepared and not need it than need it and not be prepared.

MATTHEWS:  Well, fair enough.  If you think you face firepower coming at you, what do you thinks‘ going to happen to the American soldiers after this picture of the burning of the Koran goes worldwide?

SAPP:  Well, I think they are—

MATTHEWS:  Should they all be armed and ready?  Should they be armed?

SAPP:  -- prepared to respond.  I believe they‘re—they‘re—they‘re prepared to respond in the way they‘re prepared to respond right now.  They know they‘re facing a radical element of Islam.  That‘s why they‘re there.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that the missionaries and the other civilians around the world who are in Muslim communities right now should be armed, as you are?

SAPP:  They—if able, yes.  If they feel like they need to be, sure.

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re creating a situation in which missionaries have to arm themselves to respond to what could be the response to what you‘re doing.  In other words, you‘re creating a round of activity here that could threaten the lives of our own religious people around the world.  And I‘m dead serious about this.  They are very exposed around the world, missionaries.

SAPP:  No, sir, I‘m not creating anything.  What we‘re doing is exposing what‘s already there.

MATTHEWS:  Well, then, why are you wearing a gun?

SAPP:  What‘s already there—

MATTHEWS:  If you‘re not creating—


SAPP:  -- radical element of Islam.


SAPP:  What I‘m—what I‘m doing—what we‘re doing here is we‘re exposing an element of Islam that is known to everybody, the missionaries, the soldiers—


SAPP:  -- that are in these areas where Islam is dominant.


SAPP:  They know the element they‘re dealing, and yet they go there anyway.  So we‘re not—we‘re not—we‘re not putting them in any situation they don‘t already—are not already aware.

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s something illogical—

SAPP:  What we‘re doing is exposing—

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this—


SAPP:  -- that is much greater than what we think it is now.

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  Why were you—why—are you usually wearing a gun, or only since your colleague, Pastor Jones, has made this commitment to burn the Koran?  When did you start wearing a gun?

SAPP:  Approximately three, four weeks ago.

MATTHEWS:  And why did you start wearing the gun?

SAPP:  Due to death threats against myself and my family.

MATTHEWS:  Because of what?

SAPP:  Because we‘re willing to stand up for what we believe.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me show you this piece from General David Petraeus.  He‘s over there in Afghanistan, as you know.  Let‘s listen to him, and I want you to react to whatever you hear.  Thanks.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR., U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN:  We‘re concerned that the images from the burning of a Koran would be used in the same way that extremists used images from Abu Ghraib, that they would, in a sense, be indelible.  They would be in cyberspace forever.  They‘d be non-biodegradable.  And they would be used by those who wish us ill to incite violence and to inflame public opinion against us and against our mission here in Afghanistan, as well as our missions, undoubtedly, around the world.


MATTHEWS:  Pastor Sapp, what‘s your reaction to that? 

SAPP:  Well, I believe we are also concerned.

But, if they—if they would use this, what we‘re doing today, to recruit and to act against American troops, what will they use tomorrow?  They are always going to find something they don‘t agree with, that they don‘t like that is against what they believe. 

They believe in dominance of the world.  That‘s what they believe.  That is the radical element of Islam.  And they are never—and unless it completely agrees with their message and their wants and demands, then they -- they will come against it.

MATTHEWS:  I just want to ask you—


SAPP:  So, today, it‘s us.  What will it be tomorrow?  What will it be in -- 10 years from now? 


MATTHEWS:  I was in Egypt last year, and I was lucky to get over there, and I remember walking around the neighborhoods of Cairo, which are rather peaceful, obviously, and there are people, you know, in cafes having dinner, smoking a pipe or playing cards or whatever.

And I—and I just want to ask you, when you sit around in a cafe like that, regular, peaceful Muslim people, and they look up at the television screen and they see an American pastor, a man of God, of the cloth, burning their religious book—these are peaceful people—what do you think their reaction will be? 

SAPP:  Well, if they don‘t agree with it, they can pray for us. 

We‘re not—we‘re not commanding that everybody has to agree with us.  What we‘re saying is that the radical element of Islam is going to react the way the radical element of Islam reacts—violently.  They are going to demonstrate.  They are going to come out.

If you‘re not, then—I mean, if this—if someone was burning the Bible, we would not threaten to kill the president.  We would not storm embassies.  We—we would not—we would not have marches against—against embassies.  We would not threaten to bomb buildings.  We would pray for them. 

We would have mercy on them.  Maybe we would even pity them, but we wouldn‘t threaten lives with something we disagree with. 


Thank you for coming on, Pastor Wayne Sapp, from down there in Florida. 

The Reverend Dr. Welton Gaddy is president of the Interfaith Alliance.

Reverend, I don‘t—I don‘t know how to continue that conversation, because it seems like a reasonable question:  What would a reasonable Islamic person—there‘s a billion Islamic people in the world—what would a—I always come back to this.  I want you to jump on this. 

The war we‘re fighting with terrorism is really about recruitment. 

You can‘t do much against—


MATTHEWS: -- a guy or a woman who is already a terrorist, all ready to strap the bombs on.  You can‘t stop them.  They are going to do it, and we are going to have to deal with that horror when it occurs. 


GADDY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You can‘t apprehend them in the act, because it‘s all done sneakily.

GADDY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But you can stop a young person in their 20s from losing hope—

GADDY:  Sure.

MATTHEWS: -- in their own lives, to the point where they become suicidal. 

GADDY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Your thoughts? 

GADDY:  Chris, I need to tell you, first of all, I‘m not armed. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 


GADDY:  I don‘t feel—


GADDY: -- need to be.


MATTHEWS:  I didn‘t think you were, sir. 


GADDY:  You know, you‘re trying to deal reasonably with a mind-set that is totally antithetical to reason. 

In the mind of a—an extremist, a fundamentalist, criticism feeds ego and strength, and it has been pointed out that a real extremist narrows everything down to eventually having even God in a box.

And, so, when he says pray, he‘s talking about praying to himself, basically, because he‘s creating his own image of God.  My experience is the same as yours with people in the Muslim world. 

I was in—in Egypt earlier this year for a conference, and they are peace-loving people.  You—any time that you try to judge a religion by someone who says they hold that religion, but acts in a way that is contrary to that religion, you—you might ought to decide that person is not all that religious.  And that happens in the United States.  It happens in Cairo.  It happens all over the world. 

What I would hope is—I don‘t think there‘s anything we can do about this guy, I really don‘t.  I think what we have to do is, we have to get the message out, this is not about American patriotism.  It is not about Christianity.  It is not about religion.  It is about hatred and divisiveness and a person who, while saying that Muslims want to control the world, he wants to control the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me—let‘s watch together Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today on this matter and see what you think.  Let‘s listen. 


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  We are, as you have seen in the last few days, you know, speaking out. 

General Petraeus made the very powerful point that, as seemingly, you know, small a group of people doing this, the fact is that it will have potentially great harm for our troops. 

So, we are hoping that the pastor decides not to do this.  We‘re hoping against hope that, if he does, it won‘t be covered—


CLINTON: -- as a—as a—you know, as an act patriotism. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s a word, and I think appropriately used there

by the secretary of state. 

What do you think? 

GADDY:  Well, I—I agree.  That‘s why I said earlier that it‘s not patriotic. 

Chris, I had an opportunity yesterday to do an interview with television, an international television network that goes all over the Middle East.  And what I said to them was what I want to say to Americans as well. 

To confuse what this guy is doing with patriotism or with religion would be the worst possible scenario.  This is not what America is about.  You talked about America a while ago and the spirit that comes when we talk about the nation.  We‘re talking about inclusion.  We‘re talking about people who—who are peace-loving people. 

That‘s not what this guy is about.  I‘m sorry that he‘s getting the attention he‘s getting. 

MATTHEWS:  I know. 

GADDY:  But we have to take it seriously, and we have to set it in a context that lets the world know he doesn‘t represent us.  He represents some fringe that is neither a patriotic American, nor a very authentic religious person. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Reverend, you know who is rooting for him?  Some guy with a long beard in a cave probably in the Northwestern Frontier region of Pakistan -- 

GADDY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS: -- named bin Laden, who can‘t wait for this to happen—

GADDY:  But you know what, Chris? 

MATTHEWS: -- because this makes the point he wants, which is an East-West war. 


GADDY:  But you know what, Chris?  The best thing we can do to counter that is to see to it that the politicians in our nation quit playing with religion and quit playing with these kinds of situations with Islam to divide the nation, just in order for them to get elected. 

That‘s not patriotic either. 


GADDY:  If we want to show that guy with a beard what we are, let‘s show getting together in a common cause to make this world a community in which everybody is safe to practice their religion. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I—I wish I was in your religion, sir, or you were in mine.  You‘re a great guy. 

Thanks for coming on. 

GADDY:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t really mean that.  I‘m glad to be what I am, but thank you for coming on. 


GADDY:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  You seem like a great man of God, Reverend Welton Gaddy. 

Up next:  What‘s Haley Barbour talking about when he says we know less about President Obama than any other president in history?  I can think a few we don‘t know much about.  That‘s ahead in the “Sideshow.” 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 



MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.” 

First tonight:  Is there a fan for the man with a tan?  Catch this awkward incident with John Boehner today on “Good Morning America.”


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR:  There‘s actually been a—


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- poll out in your state of Ohio saying 30 percent of the voters think you spend too much time on your tan, and 27 percent don‘t like it.

Is this something you have to overcome?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  Well, they probably weren‘t there yesterday when I was out cutting my grass or when I was out riding my mountain bike.


BOEHNER:  All right?

STEPHANOPOULOS:  So, no worries there?

BOEHNER:  Thanks, George.




MATTHEWS:  Wow.  I think of Boehner as guy on the golf course who just blew a putt. 

Next: some curious moments or comments out of Haley Barbour. 

At a morning breakfast, the Mississippi governor was asked why so many mistakenly believe that President Obama is a Muslim.  Well, Governor Barbour said he believed the president was Christian, but he also offered up this little teaser—quote—“This is a president that we know less about than any other president in history.”

When asked by reporters to clarify, Barbour continued: “There‘s not much about his background, in college, growing up.  We don‘t know any—any chopped-down-the-cherry-tree stories.  We don‘t know any of the childhood things.  We know about Ronald Reagan.  I didn‘t say it as an insult or as anything other than just an observation.”

Well, I guess someone should point out that, 15 years ago, Barack Obama published “Dreams of My Father,” as detailed and honest a biography as any—anyone has ever read of everyone, much less a future president of the United States.  In fact, when you the read the book, it had in fact a Mark Twain quality.  That‘s about as American as can you get. 

“Dreams of My Father,” Governor, take a look at it.  It‘s in your local Mississippi library. 

Up next:  The so-called professional left—netroots, I guess, progressives—haven‘t been happy with Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff of the president.  And they may be happy that Rahm is out to run for governor of Chicago, apparently.  Well, what kind of chief of staff does President Obama need to bring in to run the show without Rahm there?  Will the netroots be looking for somebody or the progressives? 

Well, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is joining us, as well as Joan Walsh. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks giving back some early gains on a no-surprises Beige Book report from the Federal Reserve, the Dow Jones industrials managing to hold onto a 46-point gain, the S&P 500 adding seven, and the Nasdaq climbing nearly 20 points. 

Stocks starting out strong, as financials bounced back from Tuesday‘s concerns about European debt, but moving lower this afternoon after the Beige Book showed steady, but slowing economic growth in many parts of the country—that report backing what investors are feeling, one describing stocks as bouncing off the walls, with no overall confidence to kick them out of this tight trading range. 

Meanwhile, “The New York Times”‘ shares surging 8 percent on a rumor Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is planning on upping his 14 percent stake in the company. 

And Goldman Sachs managing a modest gain, despite word it will face a $31 million fine for failing to tell British financial officials that it was under investigation by the SEC.

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

If the so-called professional left, as it‘s called by some, has been critical of the Obama administration, they have been angriest at the chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, apparently.  Here‘s just a sample of their comments. 

Markos Moulitsas of The Daily Kos says Emanuel is “far too quick and happy to accommodate that Democratic Party‘s corporatist—corporatist wing.”

The executive director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, says Emanuel focuses—quote—“less on policy outcomes and more on maintaining a Democratic agenda that will keep the party in power.”

And the Progressive Change Campaign Committee Web site has a hold Rahm accountable pledge that ends with, “We won‘t forget the choices you made, Rahm.”

If Emanuel decides to run for Chicago mayor and President Obama has to choose a new chief of staff, what can he accomplish with the choice? 

Joining me is Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and‘s Joan Walsh. 

Joan, let me ask you, what‘s your definition of a professional lefty? 

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM:  You know, I‘m not now and I never have been a member of the professional left. 


WALSH:  And that‘s what it feels like, Chris. 


MATTHEWS:  It feels like a really diminishing term.  And I‘m sorry that Robert Gibbs ever introduced it. 

It—it makes it seem like those of us who are periodically critical of the president do it out of some kind of financial interest, we‘re paid to criticize him, rather than out of a sincere difference of opinion about the—what our country needs. 

So, I think it‘s Rovian, it‘s invidious, and I hope that they will finally retire it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he only said it once. 

WALSH:  Well, that was enough, and I guess the rest of us keep repeating it.  But I—


MATTHEWS:  So, what‘s—what‘s worse or better, Governor Rendell, to be a member of the professional left or be a fruit loop, a wacko, a far-out crazy? 


MATTHEWS:  Your words today.  I have never heard you so demonstrative in going after the right wing. 

WALSH:  Good for you. 

MATTHEWS:  Governor, do you like those words now?  Will they be part of your vocabulary?  Or is this just a one-day wonder? 

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  No, no, I think it‘s legitimate. 

First of all, if I can answer the professional left—


RENDELL: -- I think what Robert Gibbs was saying, was referring to the

you know, the left wing of the Democratic Party. 


And I don‘t know how he got the word professional in, but, you know, they are people who tend to feel very passionate, and they are critical at times.  But they have the right to their passion.  And I think they are a lot more reasonable and a lot more sensible than the—I would analogize them to the right wing, but the responsible right wing of the Republican Party.

But the Republican Party is now dominated by people who are flat-out nuts.  They are wackos.  They are fruit loops.  They‘re—


RENDELL:  -- you know, you name it.


RENDELL:  And there‘s no question about it.

MATTHEWS:  While you‘re hot, which one is Pat Toomey, the guy running for senator from Pennsylvania—a fruit loop, a wacko or far-out crazy, which one is he?

RENDELL:  No.  I think Pat Toomey is on the extreme right wing, but I think he‘s responsible.  I think he‘s a responsible right wing politician.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, my God.  That‘s an endorsement from you.

RENDELL:  No, no, it‘s not an endorsement.  But the problem is—the problem is, if Pennsylvanians vote for Pat Toomey saying, well, he‘s not so bad, he‘s not really as crazy as a lot of them, the crazies are taking over that party.

WALSH:  Right.

RENDELL:  And Pat Toomey‘s election is going to empower that party to have the reins of government, and that‘s the problem.

So, it‘s not that Pat himself is a wacko, he certainly isn‘t.  But his election will help that party go one step further to controlling, and we‘re going to deal with repealing the 14th Amendment, attacking the president because we‘re not sure he‘s born here, attacking people who are on unemployment compensation, saying they don‘t want to work—ridiculous statements.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  And let me go back to the argument here and I think you‘re both very much aware of this argument.  We have a president who is center-left, a progressive—a moderate progressive I guess you would say.  A man who obviously has—

RENDELL:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  -- some strains of his thinking which are pretty liberal, an old word for us, my favorite word is “liberal,” and some are more moderate and some are just American.  So, it‘s a mixture.  He‘s a mixture of a lot of views.

WALSH:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  But here‘s the question.  Are people on the left—and I don‘t mind that word political, as long as we say the American left, maybe that should be a phrase, the American left.

WALSH:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Are they looking for someone to come in here, Joan, and legitimately demand say, for example, that the president should name Howard Dean as his chief of staff or Sherrod Brown or someone clearly the 100 percent ADA rating, someone who‘s clearly on the left?  Do you think that‘s reasonable if they make that demand?

WALSH:  No, and I—you know, and I‘m not hearing that demand.  I‘m hearing—I‘m hearing a concern about what is a crazy notion that he would appoint a Republican.  He‘s not going to do that.  I‘m not really hearing anybody coalesce around a particular ideological figure—


WALSH:  -- although Sherrod Brown is a great—would be a great choice.  But I‘m not hearing that.

Here‘s what I am hearing, Chris.  I‘m hearing people say that they would like it if Obama‘s chief of staff did not refer to the progressive base as F-ing retarded and did not refer to unions also using the F-bomb.  They would like it if Obama‘s chief of staff treated the progressive base with the respect, with the respect that we are due.

And I think they would also like it if that person cannot have ties to Wall Street, because Rahm left the White House, God bless him, made a lot of money in banking for his family.  I think there‘s a feeling that the Obama White House has been too close to Wall Street and it would be great to have somebody with a little bit of life diversity in their background.

MATTHEWS:  What about—what about a man who is—who is, I think, in many ways a progressive and he‘s certainly a good government person, Governor, and that would be Michael Bloomberg, if you could get him to be COO with the government.  I don‘t think this administration has ideological problems.  I think it‘s where it ought to be ideologically, somewhere center-left.  But I think it really needs to do a better job running the country and the real chain of command, get the job done.

What do you think, Governor?  To you first, and then Joan.

RENDELL:  Well, first of all, I think Joan has to realize and everyone out there watching us has to realize, chief of staff‘s main job is to implement the policies set by the president or the governor.

No chief of staff has ever shaped policy for me.  I‘ve told them what the policy is, go out there and get it done.  Mike Bloomberg, if he would do it, and I‘m not sure Mike would, would be fabulous because he knows how to get things done.  And in some ways Mike Bloomberg is non-political.  He‘s just a doer.  He‘s an achiever.

And he‘d be a great choice.  I thought when I heard you say that last night—I thought it was a great idea.  I‘m not sure that Mike would likely do it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s a public servant and somehow, if he wants to be the leader of this country, he may be happy to be COO if he‘s not going to be CEO.

Joan, your thoughts.  The people that you talk to a lot and read about and read their blogs and read their Web sites—

WALSH:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  -- do you think there‘s a call for someone of the—not professional, I‘m not going to be derogatory, someone of the left, American left to be chief of staff, or is it not enough just to have a pro-business type?

WALSH:  I think it‘s not enough to have a pro-business type.  And I certainly understand what Governor Rendell said and I‘m kind of uncomfortable even mucking around in this decision.  It‘s the president‘s decision.  It really is about making his White House run, his administration run.  It‘s not an ideological position.

MATTHEWS:  I agree.

WALSH:  I would just say it would be great not to have somebody who makes it ideological with unfortunate remarks about the president‘s base.  That‘s all I‘m asking for.

MATTHEWS:  I agree.  By the way, every party is a mix of left and right and center—

WALSH:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  -- I‘m sorry—center left or center to right.  And Democrats have nothing to be embarrassed by.

Let me ask you this, Governor: Who is in first place in the National League East right now?

RENDELL:  The Phillies, for the first time since May.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Small point for us.

Thank you, Joan.


WALSH:  The Giants—the Giants are fighting there, but we‘re going to—we‘re going to win the west.

MATTHEWS:  The Giants are doing well.  They are in second place, which is fine, but the Phillies were in first.

WALSH:  One game back.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s still one game.

Up next—thank you.  Up next:  Dan Quayle‘s son, Ben—boy, we got more Quayles than we need—is running for Congress in Arizona, and he calls President Obama the worst president in America—I‘d stay away from those superlatives if I were a Quayle.  We‘ve got the Democrat who hopes to beat him next.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, live by the daily tracking poll, the Gallup organization, die by the Gallup daily tracking.  Just last week, the poll showed Republicans with a 10-point lead among registered voters in the congressional ballot question, that‘s the one that asks whether you‘re going to vote for a Republican or Democrat in your congressional race.  Well, today, the poll has Republicans and Democrats, at least among registered voters, even at 46 percent.

Why such a change?  Well, Gallup said the end of President Obama‘s vacation, the end of combat operations in Iraq and the attention given to Glenn Beck‘s rally on the Mall may have been the factors, but the bottom line is the Gallup numbers are closing.  They have been all over the map and it should be taken with a grain of salt.  They keep changing.

By the way, it‘s got to be seen as a good day for the Dems.

HARDBALL back in—right after this.



Charlie Cook‘s latest House projection saw Republicans gaining over 40 seats this November, and thereby regaining control of the House of Representatives and picking their own speaker, the aforementioned John Boehner.

Well, in the Arizona 3rd district is one of this year‘s marquee open races with a seat available to either party, and Ben Quayle, son of the former Vice President Dan Quayle, is running as the Republican candidate.  Quayle‘s already made waves with this primary ad.


BEN QUAYLE ®, ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE:  Barack Obama is the worst president in history.  And my generation will inherit a weakened country.  Drug cartels in Mexico, tax cartels in D.C.—what‘s happened to America?

I love Arizona.  I was raised right.

Somebody has to go to Washington.  And knock the hell out of the place.

My name‘s Ben Quayle, and I approve this message.


MATTHEWS:  God, he seems like a weak read reading very tough words, you know?

We have joining us right now Jon Hulburd who‘s running against him.

Jon, thanks for coming on.  Your opponent looks like a guy who is giving tough talk but seems like a weak figure to be delivering it.  He—he‘s nervous.  He looks like a neophyte.  I don‘t know where he gets the brains to say that he‘s the worst president in history.  What historic background does he come from except his father?  Your thoughts.

JON HULBURD (D), ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE:  Oh, he‘s entitled to his opinion.  I think he studied history in college.  I‘ve got different people I would have picked—maybe Harding, maybe—oh, I don‘t know, Coolidge.  I could think of a fair number.  Hoover is up there.  Nixon.  There‘s plenty.  I think—

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re being tough.  You mean, President Obama ranks near the bottom with those characters?

HULBURD:  No, absolutely not.  His term is less than half over.  I think it‘s silly.  I—you know, let‘s let the voters decide in C.D. three this fall who‘s the best candidate for their spot.  I would tell you that ad was done in large part to change the subject out here in Arizona and, frankly, to make it more of a national race for Ben.

MATTHEWS:  Can a big wave election like we‘re seeing that may be coming, especially in Arizona, carry such a weak read onto the beach?  I mean, I‘ve never seen a weaker performance by a candidate.  I mean, he seems scared, out of his league, reading words that someone else wrote.

Clearly—he doesn‘t—he‘s not a macho man this guy.  And there he is using macho man language.  It just seems odd this tough talk coming from this personality here.

HULBURD:  You know, we‘re going to have other ads.  We‘ll have my ads.  Ben will have more ads.  Hopefully, he won‘t just be playing that ad again for the rest of the fall.  We‘ll see how he—how he matches that as we now move into the general.

I suspect that the general audience out here in congressional district three, which for Ben will need to include independents and maybe some Democrats to win this seat, he‘s going to have to reach out to them with a slightly less partisan message I would hope.

And our message, which we‘ve been giving all year long to independents, Republicans and Democrats alike is that I‘m an independent thinker, willing to cross my party on issues, and I would hope that Ben would be in a position to cross his party on issues because out here in Arizona, and in this district in particular, there are a lot of independents, 31 percent, but there are a lot of independent thinkers in both the Democrat and Republican parties.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s—you used the word Democrat as an adjective. 

Actually, it‘s called the Democratic Party.

HULBURD:  Fair enough.

MATTHEWS:  Are you sure you‘re a Democrat?  Are you sure?

HULBURD:  Just since I was 18 years old.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, let‘s—you‘re talking like a Republican when you say Democrat party.  That‘s a noun.  Not an adjective.

Listen to your tough ad running now on Christian radio.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  As a Christian and a mom, I‘m worried that morality is slipping away in our country.  I‘ve read that congressional candidate Ben Quayle helped create one of the most offensive Web sites I‘ve ever seen.  The site promotes drugs and prostitution, is filled with meanness and foul language, humiliates women and even mocks people with Down‘s syndrome.

Please—please tell me there are some things we can say no to, even in today‘s society.

HULBURD:  I‘m Jon Hulburd.  I‘m a father of five.  I approve this message because I believe we can do better.


MATTHEWS:  Jon, did he really have a role in mocking people who are born with Down‘s syndrome?

HULBURD:  He absolutely had a role in this—in this Web site.  The owner of it has said that if it were not for Ben Quayle or what he called “Brock Landers,” there would be no  Those are his words, not mine.

MATTHEWS:  Well, how fair do you think that you would say that this is the thinking of Ben Quayle, the son of the former V.P., that he believes in this kind of derision of people born with special needs and with, obviously, handicapped people?

HULBURD:  You know—

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s his thinking?  Would you say he thinks that people born with Down‘s syndrome should be made fun of?

HULBURD:  Chris, I don‘t know what he thinks because he won‘t own up to it.  In the very beginning, he had no knowledge of it, then had he some knowledge of it.  Then he changed his story.


HULBURD:  And said he was willing to drive some traffic to it with these posts.  So, we don‘t know.

MATTHEWS:  Jon, good luck in the race.  Jon Hulburd running as the Democrat in that race on the third district of Arizona this November 2nd.

When we return, let me finish with some thoughts about what President Obama said today.  I‘ve been wanting him to say this.  He said—I want to tell you what I think it was, something really particularly American today, not especially partisan.  Something that makes everybody I think feel better about this country.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with some things the president said today in Cleveland.  It was a partisan speech—as the president can be expected to give in a tough election season.

But deep in his message today was the heart beat of the campaign that won in the White House, quote, “Although we are proud to be Democrats, we are prouder to be Americans.  Our families believed in the American values of self-reliance and individual responsibility, and they instilled those values in their children.  But they also believed in a country that rewards responsibility, a country that rewards hard work, a country built upon the promise of opportunity and upward mobility.  They believed in an America that gave my grandfather the chance to go to college because of the G.I.  bill.”

I think a lot of us could have given that speech the president gave today.  My father went to college in the G.I. bill due to his service in the Navy during World War II.  It‘s probably the reason I and my brothers grew up in comfortable middle class surroundings, why we‘re able to go to private high school.  I went to college with the help of loans from the National Defense Education Act passed during the height of the Cold War.  It‘s the reason I was able to go to Holy Cross.

But the deeper message from the president here is the gratitude he expressed today—gratitude for being born in this great country.  I know this is what thrilled people with Obama‘s campaign.  It‘s what—it certainly what thrilled me.

It is fundamental that in this heated national campaign, that he the president return to addressing his country‘s basic belief in itself—his belief in the America that made him, because it is on in this that his and the country‘s return to success must be founded.

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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