Guests: Eugene Robinson, Amanda Drury, Richard Wolffe, Tim Carney, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Joshua Micah Marshal, Jared Polis, Velma Hart
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Protect the plane.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Future shocks. You don‘t like the new TSA security procedures? So think about what the world would be like five minutes after a plane blows up. Imagine the questions. Who let that guy on the plane? Why weren‘t stricter procedures followed? Who‘s at fault?
The right wing is ginning up this controversy, but you want to know who is the right wing going to blame if someone does get through that screen at the airport? President Obama, that‘s who. So before we get all the way to that and all our arms up about the inconvenience at the airport, ask yourself how you‘ll feel after the next terrorist attack and what you think we should do to stop it now.
Plus, taking on the right. Progressives are setting up their own outside fund-raising machine to answer outrageous and sometimes bogus charges and to match the Republicans‘ machine for raising money dollar for dollar.
Also, President Obama was in Kokomo, Indiana, today, which has benefited from both the stimulus and the Chrysler bail-out. So where‘s the love? Why hasn‘t the president received more credit for his accomplishments? Is it just a messaging problem, or is it something more?
And remember the woman who confronted President Obama at that town hall saying she was tired of making excuses for him? Well, her name is Velma Hart. She was laid off yesterday, and she joins us tonight.
Finally, Sarah Palin is still angry about flubbing Katie Couric‘s famous question, What do you read? The thing is, she‘s angry at Katie. How about being angry at herself for all those days she didn‘t read the newspaper or any newspaper or anything? Her twisted logic in the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”
Let‘s begin with the right wing‘s ginned-up controversy over those new airline security procedures. MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson‘s a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post,” and Tim Carney is senior political columnist for “The Washington Examiner,” which I read every morning first thing, thanks to your great editor, Steve Smith.
Let‘s start with this question, and I go back to you on this, Mr.
Carney. I love the name by the way.
TIM CARNEY, SR. POLITICAL COLUMNIST, “THE EXAMINER”: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Art Carney! And here‘s the question—
CARNEY: No relation.
MATTHEWS: The day after—well, that‘s your problem! The day after we get hit again—and we—in our lifetimes—you‘re a young guy, you‘re probably going to see it—what‘s the big problem? Is it going to be, Who did it? Who let them through the door? Or were we too tough on letting people on the planes? What‘s going to be the question? I just ask you that.
CARNEY: I think you‘re going to have the government doing what it
always does after something like that, coming up with some new government -
MATTHEWS: No, what are the American people going to say the second after it happens? What are they going to be looking for? They‘re going to be looking for a scalp, aren‘t they, of whose fault it was that somebody got on that plane.
CARNEY: Sure. And if it‘s like—
CARNEY: If it‘s like the—Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, he got in on Paris. Maybe we‘ll blame them. If it‘s like the undie bomber, he got on in Amsterdam.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough.
CARNEY: Whether you can blame the TSA for somebody getting on a plane, especially when the GAO has said they might not have even detected that underwear bomb—yes, even the technology they‘re rolling out now might not even catch it.
MATTHEWS: So? Your concern? What would you do?
CARNEY: What would I do?
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) what would you do to catch the bad guys before they plant a bomb on a plane? Or before they commit suicide on a plane or whatever. How do you catch them?
CARNEY: I think we do as much we can without violating—
MATTHEWS: No, no. Specifically. You‘re a critic.
CARNEY: OK. You know, Congressman Chaffetz said bomb-sniffing dogs.
We do what we can to make—
MATTHEWS: He‘s against the body screening. Why is he against the body screening?
CARNEY: Because he—because it‘s wrong for the government to be forcing us to get naked pictures taken of us or to get felt up at the airport—
MATTHEWS: No, wait a minute.
CARNEY: -- in order for us to get on an airplane.
MATTHEWS: Gene, you and I travel all the time. Excuse me (INAUDIBLE) We travel—it‘s fair enough. I think you‘ve been smart on this, but let‘s go through it. Every time I get on a plane, I put up with it. I wait in line. You know, I go through the stupid driver‘s license, which everybody—there‘s so many phony driver‘s licenses around anyway, it doesn‘t make a—I show the driver‘s license, though I think that part of it‘s Mickey Mouse. The guy puts a little flashlight (ph) on and he puts me in a line. Most of the time (INAUDIBLE) metal detector. Sometimes you have to go through the air blower on you. I‘ve never been felt up or all that stuff, or gone through that—that frisking. But have you? What‘s been your experience?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, my experience is basically yours. One time, I went through the—the—the body scanner line. I don‘t mind the body scanner.
MATTHEWS: Anybody complain while you were there?
ROBINSON: No. Not—no. Not while I was there.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve never seen anybody complain.
ROBINSON: But one time, I must have had, you know, something in my pocket or something. Anyhow, I got asked to step to the side and got frisked. It was—
ROBINSON: I didn‘t actually give it a second thought. I didn‘t give it another thought and—
MATTHEWS: Does it happen to you much, Tim?
CARNEY: No, I—
MATTHEWS: Does this bother you?
CARNEY: It would bother me—
MATTHEWS: What they do now.
CARNEY: It would bother me if they wanted to send my daughter through the body scanner or if they wanted to—
MATTHEWS: Why would that bother you? How old‘s your daughter, just to get a sense here?
CARNEY: Well, my daughter‘s 3, but—
MATTHEWS: Would it scare her?
CARNEY: Would it—I don‘t know if it would scare her, but if—when she‘s older, if they wanted to send one of my sisters-in-law or my niece—I don‘t want—I don‘t think young people should have to go through—I don‘t think anybody who doesn‘t want to have a naked picture taken of them by the U.S. government should have to have it. You know the U.S. Marshals Service accidentally or supposedly accidentally held onto thousands of these photos, and—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at—
CARNEY: -- they leaked out.
MATTHEWS: -- some polling data here. A new “Washington Post”/ABC (INAUDIBLE) American Broadcasting poll shows that 64 percent of Americans, about two thirds, support the use of scanners in airports., 32 percent oppose them. That‘s about right, I guess. I‘m not sure how many of those people are travelers.
Let‘s take a look at this question. Should we look for terrorists instead of weapons, like Israel does? And this gets to the serious question. This is—the public is split on whether to use manual pat downs (INAUDIBLE) let‘s get the pat down question -- 48 percent say people think they‘re justified and 50 percent say they go too far. So on the pat down, it‘s used now—as we understand it, it‘s used as a recourse or as a first recourse? How‘s it used now?
CARNEY: If you don‘t—if you‘re not willing to go through the nudie scanner, you get the—
MATTHEWS: The nudie scanner?
CARNEY: -- the hand pat down—
MATTHEWS: What is this, the—you—first of all, when you were at the airport, you don‘t see anything like what you‘ve just described. You go through the pat—you go through the screener, and then—what‘s offensive about that again?
CARNEY: The—people should not have to get naked pictures.
MATTHEWS: They‘re not—who are getting—who are getting these naked pictures?
CARNEY: Anybody who goes through one of those—those scan—I mean, it‘s amazing to me that—
MATTHEWS: Who—who is seeing the—
CARNEY: -- that you think the government is OK—
MATTHEWS: -- scanning—who is looking at the—at the (INAUDIBLE)
CARNEY: TSA officials. But in the past, when they said they weren‘t holding onto these pictures, they have. Look it up. The U.S. Marshals Service—
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re looking at one. What do they—
CARNEY: -- got a hold—
MATTHEWS: What are they doing—
CARNEY: -- got a hold of these photos—
CARNEY: -- that you‘re concerned about?
CARNEY: And now through a Freedom of Information Act, there have been Web sites that have gotten their hands on these pictures.
MATTHEWS: Oh, they have?
CARNEY: No, I mean, why do you—did you object when the—when Bush‘s NSA was listening in on phone calls? I did. I know you did. I read your columns at the time.
MATTHEWS: Well, what—
CARNEY: And Bush‘s TSA listening to our—or NSA listening to our phone calls—
MATTHEWS: Yes, look, my—
CARNEY: -- is no worse than Obama‘s—
MATTHEWS: My question is this—
CARNEY: -- TSA.
MATTHEWS: How do you stop people from going on airplanes and blowing them up?
CARNEY: Well, one thing—there‘s lots of ways to do it, but I‘ll say this—
MATTHEWS: No, practically.
CARNEY: I‘m going to reject—I‘m going to reject the premise of your question because, again, the GAO said that this might not have picked up the undie bomber. We know it doesn‘t pick up stuff that‘s in your body cavities. We know that—I mean, my brother‘s got a fake knee, OK? It‘s a metal knee. How—how are you going to tell a difference between a metal knee and a guy who puts—
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you—
CARNEY: -- in his knee?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. 9/11, the guys were carrying box cutters. Wouldn‘t you like to stop people from carrying box cutters in airplanes?
MATTHEWS: Well, wouldn‘t this be one way to do it? Nobody‘s going to put a box cutter inside them. Is this a reasonable thing?
CARNEY: A metal detector would catch a box cutter.
MATTHEWS: So what‘s wrong with a metal detector?
CARNEY: I‘ve got no problem with a metal detector.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t like—
CARNEY: A metal detector isn‘t taking a naked picture of me.
MATTHEWS: A naked picture? What is this obsession!
CARNEY: It‘s going through my clothes!
MATTHEWS: There‘s something weird about this. There‘s—when did you first get onto this—
CARNEY: You—you say something—
MATTHEWS: When did you first get obsessed with it? What is—this seems to be a right-wing rant. I don‘t know anybody on the left or the center that‘s obsessed with this. It seems to be right-wing thing being pushed by Drudge and the people on the right. Why are you on the right, who are generally for stop and frisk laws—
CARNEY: I (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Generally, the right wing is for -- (INAUDIBLE) tell me—generally speaking, the American right is pretty tough on law and order, and if a cop wants to stop a guy and frisk him, you‘ve never had a problem with that on the right, ever. Now you have a problem with people being scanned on airplanes. Why is there a big difference?
CARNEY: Well, if—if this is leading to Americans, you know, conservative being more skeptical of government power—
MATTHEWS: No, I think it‘s just—I think they‘re seizing it as an opportunity to put the president under pressure and to attack his administration because you know what I think? The minute we get hit, they‘re going to be blaming him for not being tough enough. If somebody gets on a plane with a gun, if somebody gets on a plane with an instrument that could be used to bring a plane down—
CARNEY: Just because you‘re being tough in one area—
MATTHEWS: -- you guys are going to blame them.
CARNEY: -- doesn‘t mean you‘re being broadly tough. He might, just like Bush going after Iraq—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at Huckabee—
CARNEY: -- might have (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: -- because everybody seems to be getting in on this fun show. Here‘s Mike Huckabee, one of the guys competing on what I call the western conference, the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, calling for the president and the first family to go through an added airport security measure. Let‘s listen to him enjoying this fun fest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he thinks this is an appropriate way for us to deal with security, as he has defended—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has.
HUCKABEE: -- then I‘ve said, OK, Mr. Obama, take your wife, your two daughters and your mother-in-law to Washington Reagan National Airport and have them publicly go through both the body scanner and the full enhanced pat down in front of others. And if it‘s OK for your wife, your daughters and your mother-in-law, then maybe the rest of us won‘t feel so bad when our wives, our daughters and our mothers are being put through this humiliating and degrading, totally unconstitutional intrusion of their privacy!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me (INAUDIBLE) The language here and the heating up of this is like Rush Limbaugh with an echo chamber. Drudge is on it. You‘re on it. “The Washington Examiner” is on it. Let me tell you—
MATTHEWS: -- degrading, dehumanizing—
ROBINSON: Right. These aren‘t—these aren‘t naked pictures, first of all. And—and—
ROBINSON: -- you should go on the Internet sometime. There are a lot better naked pictures than—
ROBINSON: I mean, these—these are—
MATTHEWS: They‘re skeletons!
ROBINSON: These are out—these are shadowy outlines that are supposed to—supposed to give you—
MATTHEWS: They‘re not flashing up, by the way—
ROBINSON: -- you know—
MATTHEWS: -- on the big screen, either.
ROBINSON: This is not a controversy -- 64 percent in our poll, 80 percent in another say, Go ahead and use the scanner, if this is the best technology you have. Now, let‘s ask the question. Is this the best technology? It‘s not the best technology. But—but we should use the best technology we have in order to keep people from bombs -- -- with bombs from getting onto airplanes. That‘s basic. That‘s what people want. And I—so there‘s actually not an actual controversy here, it‘s kind of an artificial one.
MATTHEWS: I got to tell you, I don‘t know what happens—going to happen at the airport tomorrow, but I‘ve been going on plane—I mean, (INAUDIBLE) 200, 300 trips a year, constantly back and forth to New York or somewhere else, constantly. And I never have a problem with this thing. I wait in line. I go through the line. I‘m glad they‘re doing it. I‘m glad these guys work hard. They don‘t get paid a whole lot of money, and I‘m for them, OK?
ROBINSON: Well, but—
MATTHEWS: And I never complain.
ROBINSON: The thing is—
MATTHEWS: Do you ever complain?
ROBINSON: We asked TSA to be—
MATTHEWS: Have you ever refused to go through one of these scanners?
CARNEY: I‘ve had fights with TSA guys because I don‘t think they have legitimate authority—
MATTHEWS: You have fights with these guys?
ROBINSON: I mean, I try -- -- my wife points out, No, it‘s the rules half the time. Half the time they‘re misreading the rules. But I don‘t think the TSA has legitimate authority to force me to do this before getting on an airplane.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at—here was another one of your crowd here. Ginger McCall last night of the Electronic Privacy Information Center said the United States was spending billions of dollars on scanners because of what she called a, quote, “revolving door” of government officials—
CARNEY: She‘s right.
MATTHEWS: -- and of consulting for companies that make the machinery. And she specifically cited former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff as someone who‘s had tied to one of those companies.
In the interests of fairness, as I said last night, we contacted Chertoff, and his office released the following statement. “In 2009, the Chertoff Group did represent Rapiscan Systems. However, we do not represent them now and have not done any advisory work for this client in 2010. Further, the Chertoff Group does not lobby. Any statements to the contrary are false. The Chertoff Group played no role in the sale of the whole-body imaging technology to TSA. Further, Secretary Michael Chertoff was in no way compensated for his public statements in which he has consistently expressed long-held beliefs on the deployment of effective technologies and techniques that eliminate security vulnerabilities such as those illustrated last year during the terrorist attempt on Christmas Day.”
Do you think we should go as far as Israel?
CARNEY: Well, I (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: No, no. Yes or no. Well, let‘s go to Israel. Should we go to Israel and have the kind of interviews they do with people?
CARNEY: Israel‘s got such a smaller crowd going through their airports, I don‘t know that we could—
MATTHEWS: Yes, but—
CARNEY: -- do the same thing—
MATTHEWS: But we‘re increasingly facing the same enemy as them. We‘re increasingly facing the same organized terrorist conspiracy operation to try to find a hole in our security. They go through the whole examination (INAUDIBLE) 40 years ago, I was (INAUDIBLE) coming out of Israel, and they asked me, Why did you stay at an Arab hotel? The simple answer was, it was a dollar a night. Why do you have a typewriter? Are you a reporter? What are you going to write about? They have very serious efforts to find out who you are. They don‘t go for technology, they go for the person. Should we be doing that?
CARNEY: I‘d like to see us doing more going for the person. I doubt we could pull off what Israel does because we have so many more people flying.
ROBINSON: You know, it‘s—I did my—I wrote my column about this in today‘s paper. I did my Internet chat on this. And people were writing in, saying, Let‘s go to the Israeli system. That would last one hour, if that—
ROBINSON: -- in this country. It‘s no way! Because it—
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘ll tell you one thing—
MATTHEWS: I must say, when I‘m flying to Israel, and I‘ve done it four or five times, I like being on those planes because I like that security system. I know it works.
ROBINSON: Fine. You can do that at Ben Gurion airport. You‘ve got one airport, and you‘ve got, you know—
MATTHEWS: OK, look—
ROBINSON: -- 50 flights a day (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: -- thank you, Gene Robinson. Thank you, Tim. You‘ve been a good guest.
CARNEY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up—you‘re always a great guest, sir. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you.
ROBINSON: And you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Countering Karl Rove, David Brock, creator of Media Matters, is building a liberal counterweight to Rove‘s group and other right-wing groups that spent tons of money on this year‘s elections. Will it make the difference for Democrats come 2012?
You‘re watching HARDBALL—HAADBALL, as they say up north—only on
MATTHEWS: After losing governors races from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Democrats feared the worst for President Obama‘s chances of winning those key states coming in 2012. But a new study casts doubt on the importance of governors in these presidential races. I love this study! Analysts at the University of Minnesota looked at 550 statewide presidential results dating back to 1968, and they found no correlation between which candidate won the presidential race in the state and the political party of the state‘s governor. Isn‘t it amazing, after all this talk about who the governor is? Democratic presidential candidates won roughly the same percentage of states in which they have held control of the governor‘s mansion as those which Republicans controlled. Wow! it doesn‘t matter. And the same was true for Republican presidential candidates.
We‘ll be right back with more HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Today a new Democratic group called American Bridge launches to take on Republicans in 2012 and try to balance the right-wing groups that dominated last year. Can it fight back crazy accusations and theories being lobbed by the right wing?
Well, joining me now is a real expert, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is—will serve as chairwoman—or chair, as we say—of American Bridge. Can you take on Karl Rove? I mean, mano a mano here, we‘re talking.
KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND, AMERICAN BRIDGE: Absolutely. I mean, this is ridiculous. Karl Rove has not told the truth to the American people. He‘s raised $70 million more than the Democrats in the last election and pretended—
MATTHEWS: Where‘s he lied?
TOWNSEND: He‘s lied about what is good for this country.
TOWNSEND: And what is—
MATTHEWS: The big lie.
TOWNSEND: The big lie. And the big lie, as you know, is much more compelling than—
MATTHEWS: OK, I want to talk—
TOWNSEND: -- the (INAUDIBLE) lie.
MATTHEWS: -- about some of the people that you‘re up against. I want to show you right now an interview with one of our favorites—
MATTHEWS: -- on this show, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, because we thought—we thought we‘d had a master (ph) as a real loony tune at one point. And what we had done is we‘d launched her—
MATTHEWS: -- into space because she thought we ought to have investigations by the media of all Democratic members of Congress for anti-Americanism, like bring back Joe McCarthy. Well, anyway, here she is, trying to answer that question, why she‘s thinking the president‘s anti-American. This is an interview she did last week with the BBC. This, Kathleen, is what your group is going to be up against. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘ve suggested that President Obama‘s anti-American. Do you really believe that?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Well, you know, I‘ve been really concerned about the policies that come out of the White House, and I think I share that agreement with people who voted at the ballot box on the first Tuesday of November. They‘re rejecting the federal government foray into buying and owning an equity share—
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that‘s a different thing.
BACHMANN: -- in private businesses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he‘s anti-American? Do you think that the president of America is anti-American?
BACHMANN: Well, the policies that are anti-free enterprise are ones that are not familiar to the people of the United States. And that‘s why we saw such a strong reaction to the ballot backs (ph). In fact, the government takeover of health care is a great example. That‘s not what we‘ve done here historically in the United States, and the people don‘t want to see the federal government control and dictate our health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Look at her eye contact. I asked her when we had her on election night if she‘s under hypnosis. She doesn‘t answer the question.
She looks straight ahead in that kind of zombie-like manner, like she‘s
waiting for somebody to flash a card, like in “Manchurian Candidate.” I
mean, I don‘t know what her state is. She apparently just got blown away
running for leadership, so the members of the House on the Republican side
TOWNSEND: Well, they know.
MATTHEWS: -- know who she is.
TOWNSEND: They know that she‘s a problem.
MATTHEWS: But this kind of bizarro behavior, where you come on, Moonie-like, if you will, and just stare into the camera and recite this—the question was, Do you think the president‘s anti-American?
TOWNSEND: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: Yes or no? No, she talked about, what, equity shares and -
TOWNSEND: It‘s totally strange. And the fact is, she‘s wrong about what‘s going—what we need to America. We need a strong health care system, which every other industrialized country has. And if you do polls, as you know, Chris, of the American people, they want health care. In fact, they wished it were stronger.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the president.
Are you confident—I have read some of the material from David Brock.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Yes.
MATTHEWS: He‘s a smart guy. He‘s behind your group or one of the people running it or the person running it.
And he said, basically, the question is, can the president win this argument? I am stunned constantly by this president and his inability to try to command a group of surrogates. In other words, the Republicans, there are so many of them, like Michele Bachmann, all over the place. The president seems to be out there all alone.
Are you guys going to field surrogates? Are you going to get them in the administration? Are you going to get people out there? What?
Well, we‘re an independent expenditure.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: We‘re going to make sure that our message, which will support President Obama and health care and financial reform and clean energy, so we can be competitive with the emerging markets in the 21st century, we‘re going to make sure that we have got our message out there.
I think too many—I mean, if you look at the polls, you can see that most Americans agree with the Democrats on the issues. What happened in the last election, because of the Supreme Court Citizens United case, is that a small group of very wealthy Americans bombarded the airwaves with a very narrow message to help the special interest groups.
We have got to fight against that. And that‘s what we‘re going to do on all sorts of issues. And we‘re going to have people out there talking, and we‘re going to be on the airwaves, and we‘re going to say, this is what‘s going on in America, and we can make a bridge to the future.
MATTHEWS: You know, I have always been taken by the people along the railroad tracks when your dad was taken to Arlington.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And what I always was impressed by was the working white people, the regular people—
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Right.
MATTHEWS: -- who had been Democrats and had some questions about some of the craziness in the Democratic Party, but stuck with Bobby.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Right. Well—
MATTHEWS: How do you get those people back in your party, the kind of working-class—I will put it right—the white guys, the Archie Bunkers, the regular people that don‘t benefit from big corporate money, don‘t benefit from a lot of these trade policies, and yet they voted Republican, maybe out of cultural reasons?
How do you get them back into the Democratic fold?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: First of all, I‘m so glad you mentioned about my father. And I think it‘s because they knew he fought for them. He took on, as you know, thugs—
MATTHEWS: I‘m getting emotional.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Well, it‘s true. He fought for them. And what you need is—
MATTHEWS: Well, how do you get the regular Democrat back to the Democratic Party?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: I think it would be very helpful for the Democrats to show that they‘re actually out there fighting for working men and women.
And that means making sure that people understand that health care, we‘re fighting for it. And this is going to be better for your and it is going to be better for your families. The same for financial reform. Who has been ripped off by credit card companies who have raised rates and haven‘t told you the truth?
You‘ve got to show it. You‘ve got to be there. You‘ve got to walk with people. I think one of the things that my father did so well is he walked with people. He was in their homes. He listened. He heard.
MATTHEWS: Well, he liked them, too.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: And he had a good time with them.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: But he was not—
MATTHEWS: Do you think the Democratic Party‘s gotten too elite, too intellectual, too Ivy League?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: I think most of Washington is a lot of—as you know, most people in the talking heads make over $250,000 a year. And that‘s really what has happened in the last 30 years.
That wasn‘t true when you were growing up. It wasn‘t true when I was growing up. I came from a very well-off family, but a lot of friends weren‘t so lucky. Now, you only talk, unfortunately, to yourselves.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Happy Thanksgiving.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Happy Thanksgiving to you.
MATTHEWS: To Ethel, of course, your mom.
We‘re joined right now by Joshua Micah Marshall—I‘m used to calling him Josh Marshall—founder and editor of Talking Points Memo.
I guess this is part of the rebuilding of the Democratic Party, what we‘re seeing with David Brock and Kathleen Townsend here, this effort to try to match what looked to be a lot of firepower by the Republicans. I mean, Karl Rove is amazing. Whatever you think of him, demoniac or whatever, he is darned good at organizing, raising money and belting out the message.
JOSHUA MICAH MARSHALL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Well,
you know, a lot of this, weirdly—and we have so say this about President Obama—a lot of this was actually unilateral disarmament, because the Democrats had groups something like this in 2004 and 2006.
And President Obama wanted to—you know, for reasons that were maybe good reasons in 2008, wanted to sort of centralize everything within his campaign. And they basically froze out these outside groups. And for the same reason, they weren‘t any in 2010. Now, after President Obama won in 2008, I think a lot of people thought, well, OK, maybe he knows what he‘s doing, and—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk the law for a second.
MATTHEWS: When you turn on television in Philly or anywhere else around the country, when I move around, I see it. The ads that come on television and really probably have a lot of impact the last couple of days before elections, the last couple weeks, nobody pays attention to where the disclaimer is at the end.
And it come from some 501©(3), all kinds of—not 501©(3)s, but all kinds of organizations, that basically blast the party message on one side or the other. A lot of these have been directed at nailing Democrats. Is that what these kind of organizations have the power to do, which is to get a message out without a real return address on it?
MARSHALL: Yes. I think you‘re basically right.
I think the people who these kinds of ads are trying to convince are people who have a fairly casual focus on politics anyway. So, they‘re really not focusing on is it the DNC or is it this outside group.
The key is, and I think what was a big deal in 2010, it‘s not so much that President Obama and the Democrats needed someone out kind of there making the argument about that his birth certificate is in Hawaii or whatever. There was no one taking—
MATTHEWS: That would help.
MARSHALL: Well, it would help, but I think the key—
MATTHEWS: Well, why does he have to single-handedly defend the fact he‘s one of us, when there ought to be all kinds of people? You need a Greek chorus, don‘t you? Don‘t you need a peanut gallery once in a while to just say, he‘s right, he‘s right?
MARSHALL: I think that‘s key, but I think, in a political context, what‘s even more important is, you need someone on their side basically launching attacks on the other side.
It‘s sort of like, if you‘re in a boxing match and one side is throwing a lot of punches, and the only side—and the other side is kind of holding up its arms, kind of Muhammad Ali and trying to block as many of the punches as possible, the person who is just blocking, at best, it‘s going to be a draw. You‘re not going to win that since you‘re not hitting.
And I think what—the Democrats were going to have a hard election this cycle regardless.
MATTHEWS: You know how Henry V won the Battle of Agincourt? With a lot of guys shooting bows and arrows.
Anyway, thank you, Josh Marshall.
Thousands of them.
MARSHALL: Thanks so much.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much for joining us.
MATTHEWS: And up next—thank you, Kathleen, who is chuckling here.
Up next: Sarah Palin says she won‘t do another interview with Katie Couric. Wow, that‘s tough. She‘s a real mama grizzly. She is afraid of Katie Couric. She says she wants to clean up journalism, what she calls the sorry state of journalism. By the way, she‘s doing it on Sean Hannity. Hmm. Maybe she ought to read a newspaper once in a while before she becomes a newspaper critic.
The “Sideshow” is next. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
First tonight: What do you read? Them‘s still fighting words for mama grizzly. She‘s not going to give that Katie Couric another sit-down. You can betcha on that one.
Here‘s Governor Palin on Sean Hannity last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HANNITY”)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: If you were to get back out there in the public arena and run for president, I mean, would you then do interviews with the lamestream media figures? Would you even do another interview with Katie Couric?
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You know, I would look forward to being even more open than I already am—am in speaking to the public.
As for doing an interview, though, with a reporter who already has such a bias against whatever it is that I would come out and say, why waste my time?
No. I want to help clean up the state that is so sorry today of journalism. And I have a communications degree. I studied journalism, who, what, when, where and why of reporting.
I will speak to reporters who still understand that the cornerstone of our democracy, that expectation that the public has for truth to be reported.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, let‘s get this straight. She‘s on FOX talking to Sean Hannity decrying opinion journalism.
She‘s restricting herself to journalists who agree with her so that she can teach other journalists how to get it right. Right.
Katie Couric made her look bad because Katie Couric asked her a wide-open, easy question. It was the answer, or the lack of it, that caused Palin all the heartache. “What do you read?” It‘s still not a bad question.
Next, a very special relationship. Last night on Larry King, George Herbert Walker Bush and his wife, Barbara, praised former President Bill Clinton, you know, the guy who beat him and moved the Bushes out of the White House. That‘s class.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LARRY KING LIVE”)
LARRY KING, HOST, “LARRY KING LIVE”: What do you think of his relationship with Bill?
BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: I liked it. It took me a little while, I confess. But you can‘t dislike Bill Clinton. He‘s very likable.
And he was so good to George. George told me over and over again he would
he would let George have the bed. And, I mean, he‘s just really nice.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we traveled.
B. BUSH: I have a feeling that Bill wishes he had a father like George, truthfully.
You know what Bill said when—I called him my boy, Bill, when I introduced him at something, just being funny. He said, “Those Bushes will do anything to get another president in the White House.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. She‘s a tough cookie, but I think she‘s so right about Clinton wishing he had a dad like George Herbert Walker Bush.
Anyway, the elder Bush said that, while he enjoys living a quiet life, he still plans on marking his 90th birthday with another skydiving expedition. Just remember, this guy was a flier in World War II, got shot out of the air a couple times, got fished out of the water. He knows what it‘s like to be a risk-taker and to be a hero for a country.
Up next: President Obama‘s failure to communicate. Why does this White House seem to have so much trouble selling its good accomplishments?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Amanda Drury with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks getting pummeled with an Irish debt crisis and military tensions in the Koreas. The Dow Jones industrials plunging 142 points, the S&P 500 losing 17 and the Nasdaq tumbling by 37.
Funds, checking Korean stocks, tumbled after North Korea shelled a small South Korean island. The widely held fund MSCI South Korea and I.Q. South Korea Small Cap fund both diving nearly 6 percent.
And piling on, we have got Ireland‘s ongoing debt crisis. The head of its Central Bank says Ireland‘s banks are basically up for sale. Major Irish firms traded in the U.S. were firmly in the red. And the dollar moved higher against the euro, another drag on the markets today.
Well, back here at home, minutes from the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve they are sharply divided over more stimulus vs. unwanted inflation. But some good news on the jobs front of everybody -- 41 states gained jobs in October, the unemployment rate falling in 19 states.
And that is it from CNBC for now. We are first in business worldwide.
It is now back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There were those who were prepared to give up on Kokomo and our auto industry. There were those who said it was going to be too difficult or that it was bad politics or it was throwing good money after bad.
You remember the voices arguing for us to do nothing. They were pretty loud, suggesting we should just step back and watch an entire sector of our economy fall apart.
We made the decision to stand with you because we had confidence in the American worker more than anything. And today we know that was the right decision.
OBAMA: We know that was the right decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the elections are over, but he‘s out there on the stump.
That was President Obama today in Kokomo, Indiana. There‘s a new Web site set up, by the way, by some Obama supporters that brags about his administration‘s accomplishments. It‘s called What the—I can‘t use the word—Has Obama Done So Far?
We can see there‘s a lot to go on. The list of actions taken by the president is extensive.
We‘re joined now by Colorado Congressman Jared Polis and MSNBC‘s Richard Wolffe, author of the new book “Revival.”
Congressman, I go through this list and I am really impressed by this. Here are some of the big things in the first two years of this administration: Economic stimulus plan. GM and Chrysler bailout. And, by the way, Chrysler, GM and all these are doing well.
Health care reform, it‘s passed. Financial reform law, passed. Ledbetter fair pay, so that women get the same pay as men. The first Latina justice on the Supreme Court. Three women on the Supreme Court now. The most ever U.S. combat success in Iraq. Well, Iraq ended. That combat has ended there. The Dover Air Force Base is open to the media, no more covering of people coming home, or the remains of our soldiers. And stem cell funding is official.
So, you could argue that a lot of things got done. And yet in the old days, members of Congress would go home with a cart of accomplishments and brag on them. Does that still happen or have they given up on bragging on accomplishments, sir?
REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: You know, this has been incredibly active two years. You highlighted some of the achievements. Doesn‘t mean that everybody agrees or disagrees with every one of those. They‘re all controversial, but it would be hard for anybody to say that this president didn‘t accomplish a lot, really on a historical scale, in those two years.
And a lot goes into the implementation phase over the next two years. It‘s hard to take credit during the ugly sausage making process. And the Republicans made it—dirtied up the waters as much as possible. They made the—they extended the sausage making. And now it‘s time to start taking credit and moving forward.
MATTHEWS: You know, Richard Wolffe is joining us right now.
You know, he got credit for bringing the unemployment rate back down to where he started, I mean, you know, morning in America.
MATTHEWS: There was a morning before he came along, you know?
How do you—this president seems to get a lot done. And if the unemployment rate goes down a couple points, is he going to be able to, at that point, get credit? Is that what we‘re waiting for?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well—
MATTHEWS: If the jobless level—jobless number goes down, then we look back and say, he‘s done a pretty good job, but we won‘t say that until then?
WOLFFE: It isn‘t just one measure, right?
I mean, look, you saw him today. He looked like he was campaigning. He‘s got a story to tell about the auto bailout, which everyone said was a terrible waste of money.
MATTHEWS: We have an auto industry.
WOLFFE: We have an auto industry. I had lunch with Paul Ryan in the middle of this, when he said, you know, just let the whole thing collapse. It doesn‘t matter. We need to let things collapse. Well, how—
MATTHEWS: By the way, that‘s the talk you get from guy that just won the Senate race in Pennsylvania, too.
WOLFFE: Right. Well, how are you going—how are going to—
WOLFFE: -- how are you going to win back votes in Upper Midwest by telling that kind of story for him. So, he‘s got to go out there and talk about his record and Democrats do, too, because they have a story to tell now.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s the question, Congressman—if moderate, you might even call it center-left politics. Let‘s just call it center-left politics, which in this case, went along with Bush politics, which was we got to save our major industries. We can‘t be so libertarian or so free market that we let the key industries die. And why is that not a sellable argument?
And why is the libertarians out there like Rand Paul and Toomey and those guys, and Paul Ryan, saying, let them die? How does that sell? Of course, because they didn‘t die, I guess.
POLIS: Well, you know—a lot‘s up to the implementation. I mean, do they do it well or do they do it poorly?
Frankly, I was skeptical about the involvement of the federal government in the automobile industry. It‘s not something that I supported initially, but it would be hard for anybody not to say that it was implemented well. Taxpayers will be made whole and we kept a major American industry on its feet. And that‘s something that the president should take credit for.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at this new poll. It shows who should take policy lead in this country. Now, this is fairly damning. This is “New York Times”—“Wall Street Journal” poll that found the majority of country wants Congress, Richard, to take the lead: 52 percent compared to 39 percent for the president. Now, that is a verdict against him.
WOLFFE: Which part of Congress—the Democrats in the Senate or the Republicans in the House? I mean, we got a mixed verdict here.
MATTHEWS: Well, but right now, the Democrats control both houses at least through January. So, it must mean the Democrats.
WOLFFE: Right. You know, what‘s interesting is seeing independents and Democrats saying they want to see compromise, they want to see these two sides working together. Republicans saying, no compromise, stick to your guns. I don‘t know that people have really gained out what policies they want enacted here.
Clearly, economy is the most important thing. But Congress takes the lead? Who‘s the leader here?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at three things that are coming up right now, Congressman, before Christmas.
Number one, the Bush tax cuts. What is your bet now as a legislator representing a district in Colorado? What is your bet? Will we get a tax cut for everybody, a continued tax cut for everybody under $250,000 a year? Will we get that for sure or is that in jeopardy?
Let‘s start with that question. Is that in jeopardy?
POLIS: Yes. I think the key thing that the president needs to accomplish and the Democrats need to accomplish is to extend those tax cuts for the middle class. We can‘t let taxes go up for people making $60,000, $70,000, $80,000 a year on our watch. I think the president is exactly spot-on with that. If we have to deal to get the votes to that, so be it.
MATTHEWS: Would you give away the store to get? Would you give complete extension of all Bush tax cuts in order to protect those—people under $250,000 a year?
POLIS: Well, you know, it‘s incumbent on the Republicans to figure
out how to pay for that. And so, we‘re certainly—as the president said
MATTHEWS: Not if you‘re determined it. No. But you‘ve just given away.
POLIS: It costs a lot of money to do that.
MATTHEWS: But you‘ve said you‘re determined to get the tax cuts for the people under $250,000 and the only way to do that is to get 60 votes in the Senate. You can‘t get that without Republican help. They do have the ransom possibility here, don‘t they?
POLIS: They do and I think one key thing to make sure we do that is that it‘s a short-term extension for all the tax cuts.
MATTHEWS: I see.
POLIS: We‘ll just do it for a year, pay for it for a year, and make sure it‘s not permanent.
MATTHEWS: And let the Republicans come in next year and give the tax cuts to the rich. Ha! That‘s what they will do.
Anyway, thank you, Congressman. It‘s great to have you. Happy Thanksgiving to you for joining us on HARDBALL.
Richard Wolffe, sir—
WOLFFE: Happy Thanksgiving to you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: -- a yeoman service, as always. Good luck with the book.
Name of the book?
WOLFFE: “Revival: The Struggle for Survival.”
MATTHEWS: It will reach the top.
Up next, remember Velma Hart? She‘s that wonderful woman that came on and talked to the president for her heart about the economic jeopardy she and others faced. Well, she‘s faced it. She‘s lost her job since that meeting we‘re looking at right now. She‘s going to join us right next, coming back in a minute, to talk about the real world that she feared was coming. And now, it has arrived.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, some changes come sooner than expected to the Obama White House. Senior advisor David Axelrod will be stepping down earlier than expected right after the State of the Union speech in January or early February, late January or early February, and heading back to Chicago to start the campaign effort out there. And David Plouffe, who ran the Obama campaign, will be coming aboard the White House in early January.
The White House needs to get back on track politically, of course, after suffering the biggest midterm defeat. And President Obama—well, he‘s ever suffered in decades. And Axelrod or Plouffe may not be the bold move the president needs right now.
HARDBALL will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VELMA HART, OBAMA SUPPORTER: I‘m one of your middle class Americans and, quite frankly, I‘m exhausted. I‘m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply with where we are right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, Velma Hart at the CNBC town hall meeting on September 21st, her comments obviously struck a chord with a lot of Americans who also felt frustrated with the pace of economic change. Now, Ms. Hart will soon find herself in the same boat as roughly—get this—
15 million Americans out of work, unemployed.
Velma Hart joins us again on HARDBALL. Thank you for being with us right now. Thank you, Velma, for joining us.
HART: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re not going to waste your time today because we want anybody who has a great job offer for you right now—first of all, it would be very practical to call Mr. Robinson. Write that name down—
Mr. Robinson here at HARDBALL on MSNBC.
Now, Velma, let me ask you this question. You said at the time you were in that town hall looking face to face with the president that you were exhausted with defending the guy. Are you more exhausted now?
HART: Absolutely not, Chris. There‘s been a lot that‘s happened since September 20th and I think the president has made his case about what he believes is positive advancement for this country, what he‘s done over his last 21 or so, 22-odd months to impact the country in a positive way, and I‘ve been pleased with that.
Prior to the 20th, I think either if he was saying it, I didn‘t hear it or I tuned it out, but I‘ve been paying attention and I‘ve been impressed with that.
MATTHEWS: Do you have any sense of how to understand—the knack on President Obama, you hear it, I hear it. He‘s cold. He‘s remote. He‘s a little too Ivy League, a little too elite. He likes to go off and play basketball or play golf with his staffer pals. He doesn‘t really get out with people and feel their pain.
Is that where you‘re at with him or do you think he does connect with somebody like you?
HART: I felt the connection when I was standing 10 feet away from him asking my question. I felt the connection when he came through the line and took time to shake my hand and, you know, to give me a word of encouragement. I don‘t know him as a person. So, I don‘t know what he does—
MATTHEWS: Neither do I. Yes.
HART: -- outside of what I see. But that one with encounter, I think, impressed me and influenced me to believe that he is a very personable person.
MATTHEWS: You think you got to him?
HART: I don‘t know. I think he answered very deliberately my question, very succinctly over and over again post-September 20th and I don‘t know whether I triggered that or there was a host of people triggering that. He cited several people in several of his comments that he had spoken to across the country that wanted to have, like I did, faith that he had it all under control or that somebody‘s, you know, got it.
And I remember specifically a speech where he talked about a person that he had met at a town hall forum or some type of a forum that said, I just want to go to work tomorrow, knowing that you all had this under control. That‘s my exact sentiment. I can appreciate that position.
MATTHEWS: Well, my sentiment is that you are our Joe the Plumber, OK?
And I think I like you a lot more.
But let me ask you about this hot dogs and beans comment. You know, we grew up with hot dogs and beans. I think it was Saturday night—my brothers will correct me on this—but I think it was Saturday night, you know, we had our Spam years early on. We had our chipped beef on toast which I actually detested. We didn‘t have much money growing up.
Remember chipped beef on toast? That was not what I‘m looking for again in life?
HART: No, no, no, Chris, I don‘t remember that. I‘m too young.
MATTHEWS: Ha! Well, you—let‘s talk—oh, you want to get macroeconomic—let‘s talk about the big picture. Are we in a reset mode in this country? Are we all going to get—not me, I‘m pretty well off, I‘m doing fine. But do you think we are all into a reset mode where people are just going to get used to fact, we‘re going to have a lot of unemployed people in this country for years to come?
HART: I don‘t think people are ever going to get used to being unemployed. And I don‘t think they‘re going to get used to high unemployment. What has given me hope is that the unemployment rate has stayed flat for such an extended period of time. I‘m hoping that in fact that is a sign of good things to come.
You know, Chris, when we met before, I‘ve told, I‘m a realist, I‘m data-driven. The data tells me—at least if I can trust it—that, in fact, we are on the road to recovery. It is a slow, painful process. But the hole that was dug to get us here was a very elongated process, much longer, I might add, than 22 months or 23 months that this president has been in office.
And so, the process to get us out is going to take a bit longer and I‘m OK with that, as long as there‘s communication—as long as I understand that progress is being made, as long as I hear and see that certain things are being done that are intended to benefit me whether they benefit me or not.
One of the things that I talked about is—you know, maybe I will try that loan modification through the mortgage process and see if it works now. That was one of the things the president spoke very specifically to me about. He said, Velma, you know, that‘s something that was designed for the middle class. Well, now, I‘m going to try that program and see if it works.
MATTHEWS: You know, I like to think that I have some instinct about people—and my sense watching you care very closely with the president, of course, it must be a huge moment in your life, was that you knew something was coming in terms of your employment status—am I right?
HART: No, I didn‘t know anything in terms of my—
MATTHEWS: You didn‘t know it?
HART: But I did know that my organization, like all nonprofits—
well, I don‘t want to speak for all of them because some of them are doing
very well. But the community on a whole is challenged. You know, we are -
HART: -- the effects of bad economy affect nonprofits lastly and longest, and I knew that lots of organizations were being challenged, not to mention the one that I worked for.
HART: So, that‘s all I knew. And I was very concerned about what the long-term implications of that—of that elongated negative impact, if nothing happened. And I think hard decisions have to be made and I‘m—you know—
MATTHEWS: OK. Velma Hart, you‘re great to come on the show. And thank you—
HART: Thank you. Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: -- by telling us what your situation is.
By the way, the name here is Mr. Robinson. If you a position worthy and appropriate for Velma Hart, please call MSNBC‘s HARDBALL.
When we—thank you so much. Have a happy Thanksgiving as much as possible.
HART: You too. OK.
MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with my—why President Obama is right to step up airport safety, no matter how many travelers are inconvenienced.
You are watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a reminder of what we expect of our government.
Job number one: protect us. That‘s what the president of the United States has on his assignment sheet every morning he wakes up. It‘s what he has to worry about every night he goes to bed. Is he up to the job? Is he doing it?
So, think about airline security from Barack Obama‘s point of view—from anyone who would be in the White House right now. They have to be thinking about one thing, what if it happens again? And then comes this question, what if it‘s right now happening? If right now, a cell of people in Hamburg, Germany, or Newark, New Jersey, or somewhere in the murky world beyond our western civilization, in a cave somewhere, someone is plotting in detail, an intricate precision about getting someone on an American airline, amid all the 200 or more passengers with an instrument to blow that plane to kingdom come?
You know what? All the evidence and all that we hear directly and right now from al Qaeda is that this is precisely what the president of the United States, our leader is confronting—that it‘s his reality, that it‘s his world, as he goes about getting up each morning, living through the day, working, trying to live and going to bed each night. That is the knowledge he carries rent-free in his head. And yes, we have to believe in his heart.
So, when I do my job here, I try to think not about the anger,
frustration or testiness of the traveler, which I am about 100 times a year
but about the duty of this country to protect itself. You have to believe this one thing—the day, the minute, the instant after an attack, the question will not be how many tens of thousands of people moaned about getting scanned or searched, it will be one searing question from left, right and center—who let that guy on the plane? And why didn‘t the president stop him? Why did they let those hundreds of people die?
So, this Thanksgiving, let‘s thank God we have people who do worry, who do try their best, not to lead the complaint line, but to prevent the horror from happening—because when it is all over, that is all anybody will give two cents about.
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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