Guests: Matt Miller, Rob Reiner, Laurence Tribe, Cynthia Tucker, Howard Fineman
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Fast, furious and fiction.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with a shocker. You know that story of how the
U.S. government agents allowed guns to go to the Mexican drug cartel, that
scandal that has the catnip for Darrell Issa, the NRA and the entire
American right? Well, according to a new report from "Fortune" magazine --
not "The Nation" or "The New York Times," "Fortune" -- it didn`t happen.
The U.S. government never used a tactic of letting guns reach the bad
guys in Mexico. It just didn`t happen. Which raises an even bigger
question. If it didn`t happen, why has Eric Holder and the Obama
administration failed to kill the story? Didn`t they learn from the
Swiftboating charges against John Kerry that if you don`t knock down a
story, it knocks you down?
Our guests tonight are Matt Miller, former spokesman for the
Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder, and MSNBC
political analyst David Corn of "Mother Jones."
So help me out here, Matt. It`s great to have you on tonight, by the
way. How did I and so many of our viewers and so many people in the
country believe for the last 18 months that the United States government
was so risk-prone that they sent guns or allowed guns to fall into the
hands of the bad guys in Mexico, the cartel people, as a tactic to somehow
track them down?
According to "Fortune," having interviewed a whole bunch of agents at
ATF -- Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- that never happened.
MATT MILLER, DAILYBEAST, FMR. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I think
there are two things. I think, first, the Department of Justice has tried
to conduct its investigation in a responsible manner, in the way that
Departments of Justice typically do, where the gather the facts, they
interview people, and it takes a long time. The AG appointed the -- or
asked the inspector general to start investigating this in February of last
year. That`s still ongoing and...
MATTHEWS: February of last year.
MILLER: February of last year. And it`s still ongoing...
MATTHEWS: Does Eric Holder know there`s an election being held and
this is one of the issues?
MILLER: Well, the Department of Justice doesn`t take those things
into consideration and -- for better or for worse. But what happens is the
inspector general`s investigating and that takes some time. The other
MATTHEWS: OK, I don`t like that answer. OK?
MILLER: I can tell.
MATTHEWS: Eighteen months of...
MATTHEWS: ... messing around. The "Fortune" magazine blockbuster
says House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa`s investigation is
built on lies.
It reads, quote, "There`s a fundamental misconception at the heart of
the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw
purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that
eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge, however, that
the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk" -- to "walk," that`s their term
of art -- "as an operational tactic. But five law enforcement agents
directly involved in the Fast and Furious effort, tell "Fortune" that the
ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposely allowed guns to
be illegally trafficked, just the opposite. They say they seized weapons
wherever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws which
stymied them at every turn."
Now, this is part of the malarkey about this. The 2nd Amendment
fanatics out there say you can`t stop trafficking and even semiautomatic
weapons going drug dealers. You can`t do it.
MATTHEWS: David, get in here.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean,
MATTHEWS: Let me get -- I want your take on this. How did we all
believe for 18 months that the ATF was stupid enough to allow guns to go to
the drug dealers?
CORN: Well, to begin with, there`s nothing nuttier in American
politics than gun politics. Democrats run to the hills when gun -- when
issues involving guns comes into the political debate.
And also, ATF is a dysfunctional agency. I don`t say that the way
Darrell Issa says it. I say it because it`s always the target of
conservative attacks. This agency, which is supposed to do something about
guns going into Mexico, is hampered by budgetary restrictions placed on it
by Republicans who are basically doing the bidding of the NRA, which hates
So this is the only law enforcement agency on the books that is
despised and targeted again and again by the right, conservatives and
Republicans, and thus it throws everything out of kilter. You go after the
ATF. They Justice Department doesn`t know how to respond. Gun politics
puts the White House on the defensive. And we don`t talk about the policy
issues and we get lost in this...
MATTHEWS: I agree with that. Let`s get back to the focus here. Did
the United States government ever let guns move down into Mexico, into the
cartels, and eventually allow people to get killed as a way of tracking
those cartels? Did they ever do that?
MILLER: Yes. Yes, they did. One of the things that`s come out...
MATTHEWS: They did allow them to do it?
MILLER: Yes. Under...
MATTHEWS: So the "Fortune" magazine article is wrong.
MILLER: So -- well, no. They didn`t -- it appears in the "Fortune"
magazine article, it didn`t happen in Fast and Furious. It happened in
several other operations, one that started under the Bush administration
that Attorney General Mukasey was briefed about, something called Wide
Receiver that Darrell Issa never talks about. And it happened in another
MATTHEWS: But it didn`t happen under the watch of Eric Holder.
MILLER: It happened in another smaller operation. I don`t think we
know if the guns made it to Mexico or not.
MATTHEWS: Did it happen under Holder`s watch, under Obama`s watch?
MILLER: It happened -- there`s one case that`s mentioned in the story
where guns were allowed to be tracked, ironically, by one of the
whistleblowers who`s then complained about -- about...
MILLER: ... gun-walking in other cases. Yes, Dodson. That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Well, clarify this to me. No one`s charged that the United
States government went out and bought guns and gave them to these straw
buyers and allowed them to go into Mexico, did they? Has anybody charged
that, that we actually...
MILLER: Issa has. Issa has...
MATTHEWS: He`s saying that we paid for the guns?
MILLER: I don`t know if he says -- his -- his charges have shifted
many times. But yes, many of the -- many of the Republicans on the Hill
have said that we`ve actually paid for the guns or U.S. taxpayers were --
were -- funds were used. And at other times, they`ve just said that we let
all the guns walk.
I mean, you have to remember where this comes from. This is a --
there is a conspiracy theory on the right that the administration did this
intentionally to drum up support for gun control.
MATTHEWS: But that`s crazy.
MILLER: Of course it`s crazy, but people believe it. Darrell Issa...
MATTHEWS: ... our viewers. I like to get the facts first, then the
analysis and then the opinion. Let`s start with the facts. Did the United
States government in Fast and Furious, the campaign being held -- run by
this administration -- did they allow guns to go into Mexico that could
have been used to kill people?
MILLER: According to the "Fortune" magazine piece, no. But the
inspector general has not yet finished the report, and I don`t think we`ll
know for sure...
MATTHEWS: When do you think he might get around...
MILLER: ... until that`s done.
MATTHEWS: ... to finishing this report?
MILLER: It`s been reported that it`ll happen sometime in the next few
MATTHEWS: And it`s been going on since February 2011.
MILLER: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Jesus! Excuse me.
MATTHEWS: I don`t like to use bad words.
MATTHEWS: Do you really think that`s OK?
MILLER: I think that`s how long it takes to do these reports. If you
looked at -- if you looked at -- if you looked at...
MATTHEWS: It takes two seconds to make a charge and it takes a year-
MILLER: Well, that`s the problem, but they don`t work under...
CORN: Darrell Issa knows that. And he has been going after the
administration at -- every which way he can. And the thing is he`s mad
because he says...
MATTHEWS: How about innocent until proven guilty? How about saying,
We don`t know that`s true. Why do you allow it to look like it might be
true -- why don`t they just deny it?
CORN: He pretends...
MILLER: Well, they did deny it early, and then they found -- and what
happened is when they went and looked at it, they found conflicting
allegations. So you have some people in the ATF that say it happened, you
have others that say it didn`t happen...
MATTHEWS: OK -- I mean, some actually...
MILLER: It takes a while to sort it out.
MATTHEWS: Some people in the ATF, in the United States government who
say that under this administration, under its campaign of Fast and Furious,
they were sending guns into Mexico, hoping to somehow trap somebody.
MILLER: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I don`t even know how that traps anybody.
MILLER: That`s right. Dodson -- Dodson...
MATTHEWS: Anyway -- because it`s legal to buy the guns in this
country. Anyway, the NRA and Darrell Issa -- they are, of course, working
together on this -- say the Fast and Furious operation is a White House
conspiracy to crack down on gun rights here in the U.S.
Here`s Issa on Fox in December. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Very clearly,
they made a crisis. And they`re using this crisis to somehow to take away
or limit people`s 2nd Amendment rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Absolutely pandering there, absolutely crazy pandering...
MATTHEWS: I`m not kidding. The conspiracy theory cooked up by Issa
and the NRA is so far-fetched that Stephen Colbert laid bare the insanity
with this explanation. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISSA: Very clearly, they made a crisis, and they`re using this crisis
to somehow take away or limit people`s 2nd Amendment rights.
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Yes, very clearly! Obama
started this gun-tracking program in 2006 when he hypnotized George Bush.
Then he secretly ordered Attorney General Holder to order the Justice
Department to order the ATF to order gun shops to sell guns to Mexican drug
cartels and then lose track of them, thereby panicking Americans to gin up
support for the draconian gun control measures that Obama has never
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Can`t say it better myself. Even House Speaker Boehner
won`t support this conspiracy nutcase stuff. Today he was asked about
evidence for Issa`s assertion that Fast and Furious was all a plot to
create a gun control initiative here in the States. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`ve never indicated
that that was the case. I don`t know whether that`s the case because we
don`t have the documents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, you`re laughing because you think it`s funny.
But here`s a guy, a sane conservative, Boehner -- he`s sane...
CORN: Well, he`s...
MATTHEWS: ... having to deal with people who are not.
CORN: But at the same time, he won`t shoot it down. He says, I don`t
MATTHEWS: He`ll be defeated if he does.
CORN: Of course. Listen, the big...
MILLER: ... birther answer.
CORN: The big issue here is that they say they`re upset that the U.S.
government sent guns to Mexico. Actually, the problem was that there are
lots of guns going to Mexico. This isn`t a ginned-up crisis, as Darrell
Issa says. It`s a tremendous crisis.
CORN: Tens of thousands of guns a year, if not hundreds of thousands,
are flowing from the United States to Mexico, arming the drug cartels
there. They`re killing sometimes Americans in the border regions. But
it`s a tremendous...
CORN: ... and it`s legal because...
MATTHEWS: Of the NRA.
CORN: ... the Republicans and the NRA prevent any laws or regulations
from going to...
MATTHEWS: Let me explain this because what I`ve been able to read
from the "Fortune" piece, which is a well-written piece -- you can go to
Phoenix right now. There are over 800 gun shops that legally sell
semiautomatic rifles down there.
Any kid 18 years old can walk into the store, buy 20 of them, walk
down the street, sell them to somebody who`s going to Mexico, working for
the cartels. All legal because there`s nothing wrong with selling to
somebody else once you -- if you held the gun for five minutes, you`re
allowed to own it and then sell it five minutes later to anybody you want
to, all legally semiautomatic weapons. They go right down to the cartels.
MILLER: Right. That`s right. And when the administration proposed -
- just to -- just to illustrate how crazy things have gotten -- when they
proposed that just the sale of those guns be tracked, when someone went in
and bought multiple assault rifles and other what are called "long guns"...
MATTHEWS: They`re discounted.
MILLER: That`s right. The NRA went crazy about it. House
Republicans went crazy about it, and they voted to block it. It didn`t go
anywhere in the Senate. But just the -- just the tracking of that was
MATTHEWS: Final point. Not only is the story apparently not true, it
apparently is fictional that we, in fact, were encouraging guns to go down
there so we could track them, the -- and this conspiracy theory that was
all an attempt -- it`s all an attempt by the establishment, you know, bad
guys in Washington, to track down your guns at home, where if you happen to
have a semiautomatic -- the politics of this. It`s on display now.
David, you start on this. It looks like 30-plus Democrats in the
House of Representatives will now vote for a criminal charge of criminal
contempt of Congress against the attorney general not because they believe
in the merits of the case, because the NRA has listed this as one of those
votes that decides whether you`re pro or against guns.
CORN: Yes. As you know, there are a bunch of Democrats who support
gun rights, and more importantly, are scared of the NRA back in their own
MATTHEWS: In West Virginia...
MATTHEWS: ... and places like that.
CORN: For good reason. And here comes the NRA saying, you know --
this isn`t a gun rights issue, but they`re going to make it a gun right
issue so Democrats are going to be put in a box and it`s going to give some
form of bipartisan cover so tomorrow, Darrell Issa will be crowing...
MATTHEWS: Look, I think...
CORN: ... this is a bipartisan...
CORN: ... effort against Eric Holder.
MATTHEWS: The wrong (ph) thing about this is there are a lot of
Democrats who are in the NRA. This is a partisan move. This is to help
the Republicans, not help the gun owners. Anyway, thank you -- and I`m
saying this to the NRA. You guys are working for the Republicans now, and
you`re not supposed to do that.
Anyway, thank you, Matt Miller.
MILLER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you. It`s a complicated case here. Tell them to
move their asses over there anyway.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) David Corn, and thank you.
Three strikes and you`re out. Strike one was the Supreme Court
stopping the 2000 recount in Florida. Strike two was Citizens United that
said corporate fat cats can spend all they want on political campaigns.
Could strike three be killing the historic Obama health care bill? And
that`s coming up tomorrow morning at 10:00 o`clock Eastern.
Also, the Obama campaign smells blood on Bain. They`re calling Mitt
Romney the outsourcer-in-chief and it seems to be working. One thing for
sure, Romney hates it.
And what`s more interesting -- or what more entertaining than watching
a birther run for Congress? How about two of them running against each
other? The battle of the birthers, that`s coming up in the "Sideshow."
What a joke that is.
Up next, remembering Nora Ephron, who wrote the screenplay of our
lives and knew more about how we live than most politicians will ever know.
Her friend and director Rob Reiner will join us.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: The latest Quinnipiac poll shows President Obama with a
slim lead in several states over Mitt Romney. Those are key states. Time
to check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
In Ohio, Obama`s up by 9 points over his likely Republican challenger,
47-38. Similar story in Florida, where the president leads by 4, 45-41.
In both cases, Obama`s lead has increased since early May.
But in Pennsylvania, it`s gotten slightly tighter, Obama up by 6 in
the Keystone state, 45-39. That`s down from 8 last month.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The wonderfully multi-talented
Nora Ephron was the woman who wrote hit movies, including "You`ve Got Mail"
and "Sleepless in Seattle," finding humor in love in the lives of regular
people. Nora passed away last night after battling leukemia, but she left
behind a stable of classic lines and terrific moments in movies like this
one, in 1989`s "When Harry Met Sally."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEG RYAN, ACTRESS: It`s just that all men are sure it never happened
to them, and most women at one time or another have done it (INAUDIBLE)
BILLY CRYSTAL, ACTOR: You don`t think that I can tell the difference?
RYAN: Yes! Yes! Yes! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh, God. Oh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll have what she`s having.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Here to remember her is actor and director Rob Reiner, a
friend of Nora`s, who directed that movie, "When Harry Met Sally," as well
as many others. And also with me is our friend Joan Walsh, who -- editor-
in-chief at Salon who called me or e-mailed me at dawn today and she wanted
to talk about this, my buddy. I know why you did.
Rob, it`s great to have you on, even on this sad night, any night to
have you. But you directed that film. And I got to tell you, I don`t
think there are many movies that I can think of -- maybe besides
"Casablanca" -- that people talk about all the time as having gotten them,
as connected with them.
ROB REINER, DIRECTOR: Yes. No. I mean, it`s -- it was so sad. I
mean, I -- I had a really hard night last night. It was hard for me to
sleep. It was so shocking for me to find out what happened to Nora.
But she -- you know, she touched us all. I mean, you know, she made
all our lives richer, and I`m going to miss her terribly. I mean, I`ll
miss the times I spent, you know, having dinners with her at her house and
with her and Nick and -- it`s -- it`s really, really sad.
I mean, she really brought a lot of joy to everybody who she touched,
not just through her films, but if you had the fortune to have dinner with
her, I mean, it was always the best. And just like in the film "When Harry
Met Sally," she had a way of -- she made you eat what she wanted you to
If you were at a restaurant, she made you order. You order this. You
have this. And she just basically orchestrated your life for you. It was
-- she was such a pleasure.
MATTHEWS: And that was your mom...
REINER: She was so much fun.
MATTHEWS: And that was your mom who said, "I`ll have what she`s
having," right? It was your mom who said...
REINER: That`s my mother, yes. That`s my mother. That scene -- that
scene was Nora`s idea, the idea of the woman faking an orgasm, which she
said -- I said, Nora, I need something where there`s going to be something
that men don`t know about women.
She said, Well, you know, most women have faked an orgasm at one time
or another. I said, No, that`s not possible.
REINER: And so we did a little survey around the office and found out
that that was true. And so that became the basis of that scene.
That last line there, that`s my mother delivering the last line, which
is considered now one of the great lines in American film.
MATTHEWS: Mrs. Carl Reiner. Anyway, who can forget Sally`s
incredible ordering skills in "When Harry Met Sally." Same film, but let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. What can I get you?
CRYSTAL: I will have a number three.
RYAN: I`d like the chef`s salad, please, with the oil and vinegar on
the side, and apple pie a la mode.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chef and apple a la mode.
RYAN: But I`d like the pie heated, and I don`t want the ice cream on
top, I want it on the side. And I`d like strawberries (INAUDIBLE) if you
have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it`s
real. If it`s out of the can, then nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not even the pie?
RYAN: No, just the pie, but then not heated. What?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know. I`ve actually worked at restaurants...
MATTHEWS: I`ve worked at restaurants. I don`t want her as a client.
Anyway, Joan, your thoughts about this because I`m thinking about single
women, divorced people, people who are still dating in later years, people
who have had memories that never go away in this area of male-female
relations or whatever these days, but this is male-female we`re talking
about. Your thoughts.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, she was
brilliant in that, Chris. She was brilliant about it, and she really
brought a feminist sensibility to screwball comedy. And she gave us female
characters who -- with rich complexity, they`re hilarious, they`re
maddening, they`re annoying, they`re confused. The men are confused, too.
We are equals in this realm in Nora`s movie. We`re equally crazy
And I think she brought a lot of comfort to women and to women and
men. You can be traveling, all of us travel. And I know I have found
myself in a strange hotel and there is "Sleepless in Seattle" or there`s
"You`ve Got Mail" or there`s "When Harry Met Sally."
And it`s like the soundtrack to our lives. It is comforting. It`s
repartee. You remember -- you remember them as funny and then they are
funnier the second or third or fourth time you see them. You know, it is a
tremendous loss important women, frankly.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think she was more connected to us than most
politicians I have come across.
Anyway, in 1998, "You`ve Got Mail," Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan played
competing booksellers, one "The Shop Around the Corner." The other is the
big chain she hated, but then she met the guy. Let`s watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "YOU`VE GOT MAIL")
TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Kathleen Kelly, hello. This is a coincidence.
Would you mind if I sat down?
MEG RYAN, ACTRESS: Yes, yes, I would, actually. I`m expecting
HANKS: "Pride and Prejudice."
RYAN: Do you mind?
HANKS: I bet you read that book every year. I bet you just love that
Mr. Darcy and your sentimental heart just beats wildly at the thought that
he and, well, whatever her name is, are truly, honestly going to end up
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Can I get you something?
RYAN: No, he`s not staying.
HANKS: Mochachino, decaf, nonfat.
RYAN: No, no. You are not staying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, you know, this is about the -- this is for the
even younger than me and younger than you, Rob. This is people who are
dating over e-mail and getting to know each other. And she finds out that
the guy she hates is the guy she loves because she hates him in real life
but loves him on e-mail. And there she meets him and decides ultimately
after two hours that she does like this guy.
No, she had a wonderful way of observation. She just was the greatest
observer of this awkward dance that men and women do with each other. She
had -- she was able to tap into herself. She was able to observe others.
And she expressed, as Joan points out, for all of us what we all went
And that`s why she was so good. She made us see ourselves in ways
that we knew were exactly true and she had the wonderful, curvy way of
MATTHEWS: You know, I was thinking, Joan, you know, about connection.
And here we are watching pictures of her with all these people.
And I want to you to just make one final thought, because we want to
show a scene here from "Sleepless in Seattle" which certainly got to me and
everybody else who watched it. I have got a comment about this at the end
of the show tonight about the timelessness of these stories, how Cary Grant
and Deborah Kerr can have the same scene basically that Tom Hanks has 50
years later with Meg Ryan and nothing has changed.
MATTHEWS: It is as fresh in the morning and they will prove it again
in about a minute.
But here is your final eulogy. Why is a single woman, a woman of
great brains and great poise and beauty, like yourself, in fact yourself,
why is -- why is this writer so important that we have just lost, Nora
WALSH: Because I think she really did show us who we are and also
reassure us that it all turns out well in the end. There`s always a happy
And she lets you embrace all of your own neuroses and inconsistencies
and reassures women that they are beautiful the way they are, the world is
complicated, and that they can have fun. She made feminism fun. Women, we
can care about equal pay and we can also care about our love lives. We are
complex people. And I think she really brought that out into American
culture in a way that I don`t think I had seen before.
MATTHEWS: OK. I`m not sure "Heartburn" had a happy ending, but I
will have to go see it again. Anyway, thank you.
Rob Reiner, my friend, good luck with your political work this year.
It`s always important.
And Joan Walsh.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE")
HANKS: It is you.
RYAN: It is me.
HANKS: I saw you in the street.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Are you Annie?
HANKS: We better go. Shall we?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. We are in the "Sideshow."
Mitt Romney has been racking up Facebook fans the past month. But is
the uptick in social media all for the best? Well, you asked Jimmy Fallon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON")
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": So, let`s take a
look at the pros and cons of Mitt Romney being on Facebook.
Pro, he changes his status every five minutes.
FALLON: Con, mostly in section titled of political views.
Pro, Facebook have a like button. Con, Romney`s Facebook page has an,
oh, you like that, then I like that, too, button.
FALLON: Pro, Romney`s latest status update is hopping in the car for
a family road trip. Con, his dog`s latest Facebook status update is,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Romney has been gaining fans, by the way, at a faster pace
than the president of late, but is still way behind, about two million fans
for Romney on Facebook, 27 million for Obama.
Next, the Supreme Court this week struck down much of Arizona`s
immigration law. The part upheld by the court requires police officers to
check the immigration status of anyone they detain or arrest if they have a
reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally.
Well, Illinois Democrat Luis Gutierrez, he`s a congressman, unleashed
on that remaining portion today with some props in tow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez,
apparently a happy couple. I`m sure Justin helped Gomez learn all about
American customs and feel more at home in her adopted country. Oh, wait a
minute. I`m sorry. Because I`m not a trained Arizona official, I somehow
got that backwards. Actually, Ms. Gomez of Texas has helped Mr. Bieber of
Canada learn about his adopted country.
Justin, when you perform in Phoenix, remember to bring your papers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Pretty smart move there by Gutierrez. Gutierrez was
criticizing what Arizona Governor Jan Brewer calls the heart of the law.
Now, here is a question. What`s worse than having a birther running
for Congress? How about two birthers running against each other? That`s
what`s happening down in North Carolina in a Republican primary. Here is
one of the candidates, Mark Meadows, at a Tea Party rally earlier this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: What we are
going to do is take back our country. 2012 is the time that we are going
to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is. We are going to do it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What a loser. Anyway, it doesn`t end there. Here`s
Meadows` opponent, Vance Patterson, responding to a question on the
president`s citizenship just days after that rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANCE PATTERSON (R), NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I know
you are concerned. I`m concerned, too. I hate the thought that it would
be led by somebody who is not an American. And there`s something there
that`s not right.
Yes, he`s produced a birth certificate. But it is not the one that I
have got and most of us here in the room have as far as proving our origin.
MEADOWS: I see it as, if we do our job from a grassroots standpoint,
we won`t have to worry about it. You know what? We will send him back
home to Kenya or wherever it is.
MEADOWS: You know, we will send him back home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Dancing pander bears. And here`s the kicker. When asked
those comments during an interview with "Roll Call" yesterday, Meadows said
-- quote -- "I think it is a non-issue. Obviously, bringing it back is
probably a poor choice of words on my part, more than anything else. I
believe he`s an American citizen and I believe, in my district, he is going
to lose overwhelmingly."
I don`t know when what it means, then, what he said days before.
Anyway, opponent Patterson was also in the backpacking or backing-up
mood there on the birther remark. Standard procedure, I suppose, by now.
You throw it out there for the yahoos and then pull it back after someone
with a pen and notebook shows up. Disgraceful.
Up next, the Supreme Court that is taking up health care in the most
conservative -- it`s the most conservative since the 1930s. Are these
justices really out there to dismantle President Obama`s signature policy
achievement? Are they going to do it or not? Let`s find out tomorrow.
But we are going to talk about it tonight and what we can look for
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."
Stocks moved higher for a second straight day. The Dow gains 92
points. The S&P is up 12. And the Nasdaq adds 21 points. Shares of Arena
Pharmaceuticals surged nearly 30 percent after the FDA approved the
company`s obesity drug.
On the economic front, orders for big-ticket items jumped a stronger-
than-expected 1.1 percent in May. And pending home sales rose 5.9 percent
last month. The gain was larger than economists had expected.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tomorrow is of course going to be a very dramatic day in Washington
and across the country when the Supreme Court releases its decision on the
fate of the president`s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable
Care Act. Will the justices uphold it? Will they throw it out? Will they
gut it by taking away one of its key provisions, the individual mandate?
Well, tomorrow`s decision will have major implications for millions of
Americans and it could be a turning point -- we all know that -- in this
But it will also be a milestone for Chief Justice John Roberts. He
presides over an increasingly partisan court, a court that`s moved right
certainly in recent years. How much has that -- will that be weighing on
him when he considers this case?
Laurence Tribe is a Harvard Law professor. He has the unique
distinction of being able to say he taught both President Obama and Chief
Justice Roberts. Both were students of his at Harvard Law. And Ezra Klein
is a columnist for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC policy analyst.
Gentlemen, let me ask you to go at this from separate ways. First of
all, from the -- entirely the legal question, Justice Roberts, what are his
concerns, do you believe, Professor Tribe, if he were come to be part of a
5-4 striking down of this law? What would be a concern to him if he were
part of that?
LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think, Chris,
it would concern him, as it would any good chief justice, that the court
would appear to be very partisan and politically divided. Even if all of
the justices in very good faith voted their constitutional principles, you
couldn`t blame the country for looking at that, especially after Citizens
United and Bush V. Gore, in saying that this is a more political than legal
And he would want very much to avoid that because that would undermine
the wellspring of trust that the court commands, a court that`s already
less trusted than it was just a few years ago. I think that would bother
MATTHEWS: Ezra, I want -- you haven`t written about this
particularly, but let`s think about three strikes, you are out in the sense
of baseball or the law.
Here is the court that basically interrupted the recount down in
Florida in 2000, I think the best thing we ever got to cover, but then they
just blew the whistle and said no more counting. It is going to be Bush.
And then, of course, they brought Citizens United and they approved
basically unlimited cash, basically overruling all the reforms of
Watergate. Big, fat money now dominates politics, thanks to this
If they now do it again, do you think it is going to bring into real
question their moral and legal authority in this country?
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think it will be an -- it will be an
(INAUDIBLE) and in this way in particular.
Right, these aren`t just big controversial rulings. What you have
named here, and particularly with Citizens United and Bush v. Gore, are
major rulings slanted in the same direction towards the same party, in
which the court helped elect Republicans. Right? Bush v. Gore was a
decision. It`s a decision they have never -- where they have never applied
the reasoning to another case, in which they clearly helped tilt the
election to George W. Bush.
People can argue which way the recount would have gone in Florida, but
it wasn`t allowed to proceed. And Citizens United, it had very clear
partisan implications, frankly. We are seeing them this year. It may be a
significant reason that Barack Obama could lose reelection.
And what`s dangerous about this -- and you add the health care in, of
course, which would certainly harm Obama if it is overturned -- what`s
dangerous about this is that it`s one thing for the court to be able to
have this kind of last word on the Constitution and for people to say, OK,
it is a fair player and we have to abide by that.
But when they can kind of self-perpetuate a certain ideology on the
court by electing people who will put into office other people who, you
know, believe in these things, and then that court will in turn help elect
those people again, that makes the court a partisan player in a way that I
think people are going to find frankly illegitimate.
You know, back in the Nixon administration, Professor Tribe, when he
was holding in there -- or holding on, I should say, he proposed an
employer mandate which I would argue was even be tougher than the employee
mandate. It says to every business, if you`re going to hire somebody,
you`re going to give them health care.
No one talked about the constitutionality of that proposal at the
time. It didn`t seem to be vaguely unconstitutional.
TRIBE: Well, a lot has changed in the years since. There are more
justices now who have a very strong belief in states rights and more
skeptical about national legislative power. My own sense, although I don`t
want to go out too long a limb, my own sense is that six of the justices of
the current court are likely to vote to uphold this mandate and vote to
uphold expansion of Medicaid.
I would actually be more surprised if the court strikes it down than
if it upholds it. I would expect the chief justice to write an opinion and
-- perhaps saying that the mandate isn`t really mandate at all. But a
choice people have, either to purchase health insurance or to pay more
taxes so that there isn`t as much free riding. It is, after all, basically
Republican idea that they ended up with.
And I actually expect the court to uphold the mandate so that the
idea that this would be the third strike just may not come to pass.
MATTHEWS: You know, one other concern here, Ezra, a friend of mine,
who`s a fellow Roman Catholic said, he does want to be the second Roger
Taney. Roger Taney, of course, is a Roman Catholic who upheld the fugitive
slave law back before the Civil War and was villainized throughout history
because of that, that he doesn`t wan t to do something so egregious as to
strike down something that`s passed with 60 Senate votes, with a majority
in the House and signed by the president, with full mandate of the American
people reflective in the election of 2008, to strike down something like
that really does seem radical.
My question to you is do you think he suffers that same fear, either
of those fears, that he is just too radically conservative or he doesn`t
want to go down individually as the guy who struck this thing down?
KLEIN: This is a -- it`s a big move you would have to make here. I
think he takes it seriously.
On the other hand, I think, if you look at it from his perspective
and it probably looks somewhat different, right? That he sees it, he comes
out of conservatism, right? He`s got a lot of conservative friends,
conservative traditional and the way it`s pushing in this direction has
been very, very strong.
So, he probably also doesn`t want to be a huge betrayal to his side,
which now almost universally believes that he should strike down this
mandate, that this is one of their biggest (INAUDIBLE) in generations to
limit the Commerce Clause.
And significantly, and then -- I think it is important to say this
while Barack Obama did come in with a significant majority of 2008,
conservatives in the Republicans that have done a good job making the bill
unpopular, majority of people do think the bill is arguably
unconstitutional. I think if he is looking for the idea that he would have
a certain amount of public support for this, or at least enough expectation
without it no longer be seen as incredibly radical, I think there has been
a good job laying the groundwork for that. I don`t think people would be
shocked the way it would create an immediate, and very, very heavy and
MATTHEWS: Are you a lawyer?
KLEIN: I`m not.
MATTHEWS: You should be. I think you should be on the court. No,
really. You`ve got a great mind, a great mind. I love your calms. I`m
KLEIN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We need more liberal minds like yours on the court.
Anyway, thank you, Professor Laurence Tribe. It`s an honor to have
you on. We`ll see you.
TRIBE: Great to be on.
MATTHEWS: Wishful thinking or brilliant clairvoyance in these words
of yours tonight. Thank you, sir.
TRIBE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the reason for the Obama campaign just won`t give
up on those Bain attacks because it is working. Wait until you hear what
this guy is yelling out. He went to "The Washington Post" today to
complain about it. That`s Romney. He is crying at the door of newspapers
he won`t even read.
We come back -- the place for the politics, we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, our friend Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill is
responding to critics who question her decision to skip the Democratic
National Convention in September. Here`s what she had to say this morning
on "MORNING JOE."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: You`ve got to say to people at
home, which is more important, going to a place with a bunch of party
honchos and cocktail parties, or being at home and talking to them? So,
this has never been a hard call for me. Everybody is trying to make this a
big deal and narrative. It`s stupid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Some people suspect McCaskill and several other Democrats
are trying to distance themselves from President Obama by missing the
convention which is not an -- rather an irrational observation.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, this will be hot. And we are back.
The Obama campaign`s Bain attack against Mitt Romney got a big boost
on Friday when "The Washington Post" reported that Bain Capital was a
pioneer investing in firms specializing in outsourcing American jobs,
sending them overseas.
And the latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows the attacks
seem to be working, having their effect. Nationally, 23 percent say they
feel bad or good rather about Romney`s experience, 28 percent of five more
say they are down on it. In swing states, catch these numbers with the
attack ads have been running, by the Obama people. Just 18 percent are
positive about Romney`s business background, 38 percent are down it,
negative on it.
It`s got the Romney campaign so concerned that it sought to retract
it from "The Washington Post" this afternoon. After a meeting with "The
Washington Post," candidate himself or spokesman for the candidate told us,
quote, "We are very confident in our reporting."
So, "The Post" is sticking to its story.
Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst and director of the
Huffington Post media group. And Cynthia Tucker is visiting professor of
University of Georgia.
You know, these numbers basically tell me Cynthia that this populist
campaign that the president is running against big money, big outsourcing,
big whatever you want to call it, capitalism seems to be working.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Well, of course, it`s
working. You know, just because a few affluent Democrats didn`t like the
Bain ad doesn`t mean they don`t work. They work among people who have had
some bad experiences with the manufacturing economy. They work with people
who know somebody, whose jobs have been outsourced.
You know, they may not strike folks inside the Beltway as particular
fair to Mitt Romney, but if you don`t have a college education, if you`re
working class, if you`re in one of those swing states that has been hit
hard by the loss of manufacturing -- yes, you are interested to know that
Mitt Romney helped to ship jobs overseas.
MATTHEWS: Is this his way of getting to the white working class, his
only route to the sea, if you will? Because the African-Americans feel
obviously tremendous kinship with this candidate, right, Howard?
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Obviously, anybody would. And Hispanics feel they`d just
beaten up, buffaloed basically by the other candidate.
But in the case of white working class guys and women who didn`t go
to college, we`re seeing like 31 percent of our polling yesterday.
Could this be a route to say, wait a minute, you said talking to a
guy and he says, I`m thinking of voting for Romney." You`re going to vote
for that guy that`s outsourcing our jobs?
FINEMAN: Yes. And I think of all the things that the Obama campaign
has tried, they sort of have been proving along the line here.
FINEMAN: I think the outsourcing, offshoring, call it what you want,
taking jobs from here and putting over there abroad is a really good way to
get at a fears and the passions of the people that we`re talking about.
FINEMAN: It`s one thing to complain about CEOs getting big salaries.
Not every white working class, not every working class person complains
about that. They just want to make sure they get theirs and that they are
treated fairly OK. And when you talk about manipulation of stocks and all
that, it`s mystery to them. But when you say, they`re shutting down the
plant down the block, and they`re sending the jobs to China or to a call
center to India, or to a circuit board manufacturer in Indonesia or
whatever, they get it.
And also, Mitt Romney, who spent the last couple of weeks out on the
campaign trail, talking a tough game about trade and jobs, saying "I would
keep the jobs in America." So, he kind of set himself up for this and
that`s one reason they complained.
MATTHEWS: You know, Ezra Klein, should be in this event (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: I know you one of these international union bosses.
Anyway, with "The Post" story run on Friday, the Romney campaign`s
response hinged on the nuances. Now, get this, a spokesman, Andrea Saul,
wrote this, quote, "This is a fundamentally flawed story that does not
differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring, nor versus
work done overseas to support U.S. exports."
As you might imagine, President Obama had find -- of course not my
voice, making hash (ph) of that explanation on Monday night in Boston.
Here`s the president trashing back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His advisers tried to
clear this up by telling us that there was a difference between outsourcing
and offshoring. Seriously. You can`t make that up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Cynthia, here we go again. And, obviously, they`re
trying to draw a distinction there without a difference. People don`t care
what you call it. In fact, if they think the jobs are going out of the
country, they`re mad.
TUCKER: Exactly. And that is what "The Washington Post" story said
happened. These jobs weren`t outsourced from Kansas to Nebraska. They
were shipped to China, Indonesia. An Americans understand and Obama, you
know, can be very good about having a little fun at the expense of his
TUCKER: It was very awkward response, which meant that they really
didn`t haven any defense and the president went right back at them.
MATTHEWS: Could this be, you know, I think part of the reason it
works so well is everybody here, Mitt Romney -- Howard is saying how tough
he`s going to get with China. Now, a word goes forth that he`s been
FINEMAN: Right. That`s what I -- I think that as it happens, they
set themselves -- the Romney campaign sets themselves up for this because
of what he`s been saying on the campaign trail. I checked with them and I
asked, what`s your response? You know, I`m going on HARDBALL, tell me what
to say, you know?
And their point was that the Obama campaign has been doing nothing
but negative advertising, that they`ve have only negative --
MATTHEWS: Huge --
FINEMAN: They`ve only negative ads.
MATTHEWS: That`s what we watched them do all year.
FINEMAN: So, I did --
MATTHEWS: Did they really say that?
FINEMAN: Yes. And I think they`re right.
FINEMAN: I think they`re right, but I think that`s but -- I think
this is called HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Are we going to outlaw negative advertising? I think they
FINEMAN: I hope not. All the TV stations will go broke.
MATTHEWS: OK. I know.
Howard, you`re great. Thank you, Howard, so much. I do think
international union presidency awaits you at some point.
Cynthia, thank you for joining us, from academia.
When we return, let me finish with the tribute to the woman who wrote
the screenplay of our lives, Nora Ephron. Wait until you hear the movies.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with Nora Ephron. Why? Because
this is about us -- you know, people who have dated, have dealt with the
surprises, joys, troubles, heartbreaks, and downright mysteries of romantic
Like screenwriter Nancy Meyers who I just met but have long admired,
Nora Ephron was a master at writing movies about relationships, usually
from a woman`s point of view and therefore, certainly, in my case, of deep
fascination to men. She wrote about this emotionally treacherous place of
which a woman gets asked out on a date and has no idea whether she`ll ever
hear from the guy again.
Guys, of course, have another hardship, you take a leap of asking
someone out who can shoot down cold, that can hurt. You struggle to hold
on when you think the relationship is fading. Let`s face it, we`ve all
been hurt. But there`s hope and that`s what kept us, or keep some of you
I love "Sleepless in Seattle" because it`s about a story that goes
back to the days of Carrie Grant and Deborah Carr and stay fresh as can be
for Tom Hanks and the great Meg Ryan and will be as fresh as can be another
half century, another millennium if there`s still people out there who are
lonely and hopeful of not being.
The belief that there`s a Jack for every Jill is, let`s all shout it
to the heavens, is the one uniting religion shared by billions, and it`s
the faith that Nora Ephron preached, despite one too many horror stories,
one date or husband from hell too many when one is itself a lot to survive.
"When Harry Met Sally," which our guest and my friend, Rob Reiner,
directed so brilliantly, and "You`ve Got Mail" and "Sleepless," we get the
good news that comes after the bad news of "Heartburn." Nora gave it to us
all, the bad, the ugly and finally, the good.
To Nora Ephron, who wrote to us in the old "Esquire" about men`s
obsession with women`s breast, who wrote movies about how men need to
believe they can satisfy a woman -- I can`t believe we showed that scene
here tonight -- to Nora Ephron who told us we are not alone, that our
dates, our relationships are not out there on some other planet from
others, I salute you.
Thank our mutual friend Steve Wiseman (ph) for introducing us. Miss
you already. Wish now I had told you -- I like you from the start.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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Guests: Matt Miller, Rob Reiner, Laurence Tribe, Cynthia Tucker, Howard Fineman