CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:
Today, on THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW, monster's ball. Rummy takes it in the
Plus, separate tables. Still black and white in the red, white and blue.
Those hot topics and more on today's show.
Tracking the Iraqis. Interrogation of the prisoners shows the ugly side of
occupation. Is this how we lose the war?
Is it worth it? More and more Americans say no but stick with the president
and the cause. Meanwhile, Kerry stays wary.
The race divide. Fifty years after separate but equal, equal is still the
goal, separate is still the reality.
Plus, the nifty '50s, from Willie Mays to Elvis Presley.
All that and more with a razzmatazz roundtable on your weekly news show.
Announcer: From Congress to the West Wing, he's been a Washington insider,
now he's one of the capital's top journalists: Chris Matthews.
MATTHEWS: Hi, I'm Chris Matthews, welcome to the show. Let's go inside.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Profile: BBC's Katty Kay, Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page, NBC
News' David Gregory, and Atlantic Journal-Constitution's Cynthia
Tucker discuss White House response to Iraqi prison abuse and
the racial divide in America
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:
Katty Kay covers Washington for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Clarence Page writes a column for the Chicago Tribune. David Gregory covers
and uncovers the White House for NBC News. And Cynthia Tucker is the
editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
First up, cracking the Iraqis. These are the pictures that try men's souls.
Will the mea-culpa amend it, or does Rumsfeld need to resign? Here's the
President GEORGE W. BUSH: I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the
Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families.
MATTHEWS: David, it seems like the White House got the message, `This is big
trouble for us.'
Mr. DAVID GREGORY (White House Correspondent, NBC News): They got the
message, but they again got it late. These pictures came out, they were
horrible. The story was building and again this White House is reactive. The
president speaks to Arab television, he finally apologizes. He gets mad,
we're told, that Rumsfeld--which is so unusual for them to leak that little
detail--so he got mad, he got mad late. They're still in damage control mode.
The question is will it satisfy the rest of the world what we ultimately do
about this, not just what we say about it.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of the world, Katty Kay, is this a problem? I notice that
Karl Rove, who never speaks out of turn, the president's conciliarly, his
chief political advisor, said, `This is a problem that's going to hurt us in
the Arab world for de--a generation.' Why did he say that in public and is it
Ms. KATTY KAY (Washington Correspondent, BBC): Well, certainly, these
photographs have made the job of the Americans, of the Brits, of the Coalition
in Iraq much, much harder for the soldiers, for the aid workers. For anybody
working there it's much more dangerous. If you were an American soldier and
you were picked up by Iraqis now, you are in trouble because of these
photographs. Your future is a lot more uncertain. But you also have to
remember Arab sensitivities here. These photographs show something that is
particularly humiliating for Arabs. This is an area of the world where men
and women don't interact very much. Shaking hands is sometimes frowned upon.
Sex is completely hidden. For an American woman soldier to be there dressed
with Arab men naked in front of her is a real humiliating gesture, and it's
going to be taken by all of the Arab world as that.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that this is something the president has been able to
deal with, or is this going to burn a couple of weeks?
Mr. CLARENCE PAGE (Chicago Tribune): It's burning rather brightly right now,
and it's hard to imagine it going away. And I suspect, as a lot of
oth--other--other people do, we haven't heard the last of this. Are there
more photos to come out? Is there more information? The--the report that
Rumsfeld and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs haven't gotten around to reading
is about a foot and a half thick. Just the summary of it is over 50 pages. I
mean, there's a lot out there that's still going--going to come dribbling out
in coming days. Is it the drip, drip, drip that will bring Rumsfeld down? I
think that's the big question.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Cynthia, it seems like the climactic moment will be
when another American does get picked up over there and they decide with their
own camera crews to show what they can do to us.
Ms. CYNTHIA TUCKER (Editorial Page Editor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution):
Absolutely. I think we already understand from the American contractors who
were shot and their bodies burned and mutilated that many Iraqis are capable
of hideous cruelty, and I think that our torturing Iraqi prisoners is just
going to open the door for more of that. I think there's another problem
here. Rumsfeld talked this morning about--or Rumsfeld talked earlier about
the fact that a lot of this will be taken care when Iraqis meet with American
soldiers day after day after day. A lot of goodwill will be built up by that.
But you've got to remember, there are teen-age boys in Egypt and Saudi Arabia
and Algeria who are never going to cross--come across a US soldier.
MATTHEWS: And this is the picture they're going to have.
Ms. TUCKER: They will see these photos.
Ms. KAY: This is the other problem, though. This response of, `We're going
to have an investigation. We'll have yet another investigation.' There was
Rumsfeld listing all the investigations we're going to have. This is part of
the problem in the Arab world at the moment is that they don't think there's
been a response, they don't think that somebody has taken responsibility. And
Ms. KAY: ...`Hold on a second. You knew about this in the Pentagon back in
January. Why has it taken for an American television network to bring these
photographs out for it to be publicized?'
Mr. GREGORY: Well, this is why it's going to take a generation. But despite
these particulars, this is humiliation. This is--we are the occupying power.
We own this place, we do it alone. How are we going to be a force for good in
the world or at least for Iraq leading toward democracy when this is our
public image? To say nothing of the fact that what this does on the quote,
unquote, "Arab street" in so many Arab countries who already hate us.
Ms. KAY: And the conser--the conservative argument that, well, Arab
countries are doing this too and that there are people being tortured in Arab
jails simply doesn't wash, because Arab countries didn't come to America...
Mr. GREGORY: But--but it's true.
Ms. KAY: It's true, but Arab countries didn't invade America on the grounds
that they were going to...
Ms. KAY: ...bring better human rights and democracy and to end that kind of
MATTHEWS: Let--let's speculate that it's really bad in the Arab world and
that Karl Rove is a pretty good political judge here. He's right. It's going
to last us a long time to work this down. How do we make a down payment on
apology, on atonement?
David, are they talking to the White House about really giving a nudge to
Secretary Rumsfeld to quit?
Mr. GREGORY: I don't think so. The president was emphatic this week saying
that, `He's a part of my cabinet.' Maybe you could parse that statement a
little bit that it wasn't--he wasn't completely behind him, but he is standing
behind him. It's the president's style to kind of work around problems, not
to jettison somebody like this under great pressure. But I do think there's a
lot of people who will think someone's got to go, somebody has got to pay for
Mr. GREGORY: There's got to be a result of some investigation.
MATTHEWS: I thought he was parsing words the other day when he said he
thought he had done a very good job. Very careful language about the kind of
service he had rendered.
Mr. GREGORY: Look, the--goal one here is to insulate the president, make
sure that the president...
Mr. GREGORY: ...is the one saying, `Darn it. Why didn't I know about this?
Somebody has made a big mistake and I was let down just like the American
MATTHEWS: Well, let's take a look at some of the guesses or predictions of
our Matthews Meter. These are the 12--we asked all of our 12 regulars about
the Defense secretary's fate? Will Rumsfeld resign? Ten said no--this is at
of the end of this week--but two of our Matthews Meter heavyweights say yes:
Time magazine's Joe Klein and Newsweek's Howard Fineman. I guess Macy's talks
Will Rumsfeld Resign:
(Photo of Donald Rumsfeld)
MATTHEWS: Is--do you think this is--is this in flow here, Clarence?
Mr. PAGE: Well, it's in flow. The president's statement the other day,
you're right. It was tepid in--in its support and was surprising in its
criticism of Rumsfeld. The president had to show not just Americans but the
world that he takes this seriously. Will Rumsfeld be a scapegoat? Will some
low-level enlisted person or officer be a scapegoat?
MATTHEWS: But do you think the bad-apples thing will sell at this point in
the world, Katty? Will the world buy the fact this is five or seven people
who just misused their authority?
Ms. KAY: No. I think there is a perception out there, and this report from
the International Red Cross that was handed to the Pentagon in January did
seem to show that there was a systemic problem. But I think on the Rumsfeld
issue, the trouble is that if he fires him now, if Rumsfeld has to go out now
it looks weak because you're responding to criticism. If Rumsfeld had gone a
month ago, that might have been one thing and it might have satisfied the Arab
world. I think Rumsfeld going now, frankly, wouldn't satisfy many people
MATTHEWS: You're kidding.
Ms. KAY: No, I don't think that--I think that they...
MATTHEWS: Well, what do we have to do, chop off our heads?
Ms. KAY: I think the damage had been done on this one. I think it's very
hard to be over with damage just by Rumsfeld going. I think...
MATTHEWS: Well, I'm going to say something about that. One thing in this
country that does really unite us is the belief you can only solve a problem
and the question is is there a solution. You say there's none.
Ms. KAY: Because--it would be--it would be seen to be in response to
criticism rather than being...
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, what's the solution?
Ms. TUCKER: There is no solution to the brutality of occupation. That's the
problem here. This is something Americans are in complete denial about.
Unfortunately, occupation, no matter who does it, whether there's the French
in Algeria, whether the US in the Philippines, occupation always breeds
savagery, brutality in the occupiers.
Ms. TUCKER: So there will be more episodes like these ones
MATTHEWS: And more technically, if you occupy you're going to face
insurgencies. If you're going to face underground insurgencies, you're going
to interrogate prisoners to crack those insurgencies, and some people get the
wrong message. Let's take a look at...
Go ahead, David.
Mr. GREGORY: Ultimately the Iraqis have to make some demonstrable progress
here to help us look better. And we have to be seen as at least getting out
of the way of that progress. But that could be a long way off.
MATTHEWS: OK, next, politics in the national media. The French postcards,
those cards, those awful pictures from Iraq have royaled the presidential
race. But who gets the job in November could depend on how many jobs there
are in this country. We've got new jobs numbers that came out that show that
the president is getting some help there. Numbers are going up, lower--lower
unemployment in the battleground states especially. Look at what they're
talking about in Ohio.
Unidentified Reporter #1: (From WKYC/Cleveland, Tuesday) President Bush's bus
tour is rolling through the Buckeye State. His talks in Dayton focus on the
Unidentified Reporter #1: (From WCMH/Columbus, Tuesday) While Bush won Ohio
in 2000, it was by a narrow margin. President Bush talked to a crowd of
mostly friendly, invited guests about the economic recovery.
MATTHEWS: And just to get something else on the table, we also add a Matthews
Meter Match-up here. We asked our 12 regulars, `Who won the week, Bush or
Kerry?' Last week it was almost unanimous for Bush, this week, no big
surprise, the entire dozen gave it to Kerry. It could have been a baker's
dozen, everybody was so convinced.
Who Won The Week?
(Photo of John Kerry) KERRY 12
(Photo of George W. Bush) BUSH 0
MATTHEWS: What did Kerry do right this week besides disappear?
Mr. PAGE: He stayed--stayed out of the way, yeah. I mean, Kerry didn't do
anything on his own. He won the week by default because so much bad news came
in regarding the Bush administration that hardly anybody noticed the jobs went
MATTHEWS: Yeah, on Friday.
Mr. PAGE: ....this week. That was the kind of news that on a normal week...
Mr. GREGORY: You know...
Mr. PAGE: ...it would have been for Bush.
Mr. GREGORY: ...at the same time, Kerry is still not capitalizing on what
has been about the most dreadful month, the month of April, for the Bush team.
He still has to redefine himself to voters, he's still losing in the
MATTHEWS: Kerry does?
Mr. GREGORY: Kerry does, yeah, so I don't think that he's as far as he'd...
MATTHEWS: The flip-flop thing...
Mr. GREGORY: ...like to be.
MATTHEWS: ...excuse me, the flip-flop thing is working. I looked at all the
advertising, we've all seen it, and I looked at the numbers that came out from
The numbers this week, the polling, it shows, Cynthia, that it's working.
They're looking at him as a flip-flopper.
Ms. TUCKER: It is. Negative ads do, in fact, work. And they work in part
against John Kerry because he is little known to the broader American public,
so it's easy for President Bush's team to define him as they want. But here's
where John Kerry could be helped. It's still very early and this campaign is
MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I think people are going to pay attention until
the big conventions.
Anyway, before we go to break, some comic relief. And I mean it. Here's the
president tickling Kerry about his claim that foreign leaders tell him they're
rooting for him in this election.
Pres. BUSH: He said, `What I said is true.' I mean, you can go to New York
City and you can be in a restaurant, and you can meet a foreign leader. Just
because somebody has an accent and nice suit. and a good table, it doesn't
make them a foreign leader. Whoever these mystery men are... They won't be
deciding the election.
Audience: (In unison) Yeah!
Pres. BUSH: The voters will be deciding the election.
MATTHEWS: The velvet glove. I'll be right back with the all-time American
divide: Not red and blue states, but black and white America. Plus, my
thoughts on those surprisingly nifty '50s.
MATTHEWS: Relations between blacks and whites in America. How are we doing?
Plus, the nifty '50s. Stick with me.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Fifty years ago next week, the US Supreme Court
struck down the separate but equal defense of school segregation. So today,
what's with the wall? Is it race, class or both? Here's the brilliant Chris
Rock and how he sees it.
Mr. CHRIS ROCK: (From HBO/"Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker") There isn't a
white man in this room that would change places with me. None of you. None
of you would change places with me. And I'm rich!
MATTHEWS: Well, I hate to do this, Clarence, but respond. Agree? What was
he saying there?
Mr. PAGE: Well, he was saying that, yeah, class is a lot more important than
it was 50 years ago, and we can thank God and a lot of sacrifices people made
for that, but race is still important too. Race is still a factor out there.
We still have what I call "gilded ghettos" out in the suburbs, where, you
know, those of us who have started to make it and we move out to the suburbs
to a nicer house find the white folks are moving even farther out.
MATTHEWS: Well, is that...
Mr. PAGE: And so that's happening at Prince Georges County, right here
outside of D.C., for example.
MATTHEWS: Sure. On the part--on the part of the people who move out to those
nicer neighborhoods and do get together, is that a choice?
Mr. PAGE: There's a lot of mythology around race still. And unfortunately
we don't have enough candid conversation about it.
MATTHEWS: Well, we're trying to do it here.
Mr. PAGE: Blacks and whites still look at it in different ways.
MATTHEWS: Is that a choice? Do some people who make some money and can
afford to live in a nice neighborhood choose to live in a neighborhood that's
Mr. PAGE: Well, a lot of people are discovering that they don't have to go
to a neighborhood that--that is all--I'm sorry. You're talking about black
MATTHEWS: Yeah, exactly.
Mr. PAGE: I--well, I have had some friends say, `I'm tired of chasing white
Mr. PAGE: Meaning, `I'm tired of moving to an integrated neighborhood and
find it resegregates after I move there.' But I think that's changing now
Mr. PAGE: In this new century I'm more optimistic.
Ms. TUCKER: Well, Chris...
MATTHEWS: What do you think about what he just said?
Ms. TUCKER: I think one of the most...
MATTHEWS: Do you agree or disagree?
Ms. TUCKER: ...interesting and most distressing observations about America
is 11 AM on Sunday mornings is still one of the most segregated hours.
Ms. TUCKER: Why is that? I think that great strides have been made, but
socially, in our social lives, when we go home at 5 PM or 6 PM or 7 PM we go
to our segregated worlds. And I remained a very optimistic Martin Luther
King Jr./John Lewis integrationist. I believe in the beloved community. But
MATTHEWS: You live in an integrated community in Atlanta.
Ms. TUCKER: I live in an integrated neighborhood, but I believe that many
African-Americans have also given up on that idea, and it doesn't matter how
much money they make.
Ms. KAY: Yeah, it...
Mr. GREGORY: But see, I think there's two things.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, David.
Mr. GREGORY: I think there's two things that are happening at once. It's
interesting. I mean, on the one hand, you know, people of my generation and
now, you know, my young son, as he'll grow up I think he'll be less aware of
the difference of race in his schools.
MATTHEWS: He is already, probably.
Mr. GREGORY: I--well, he's almost two years old.
MATTHEWS: My kids were never. Let me tell you what's changed. I heard this
from a parent over 20 years ago, the first time I ever heard this, it was at a
Peace Corps doctrine, and he said, `You know, my kids came home the other day
and it wasn't until I went to PTA night I knew the teachers were black because
the kids never mentioned it.' It wasn't considered noteworthy. Back in my
generation, your generation, we would note these things.
Ms. KAY: I think that's true of people you know, don't you think? So our
kids in school, you know, my children go to a school where I don't--they
wouldn't mention it whether their friends were black or white particularly.
And I think if you know somebody in a school context, in a work context, in a
social context, you don't notice it as much. You know them because they're
friends of yours. But it's to do with the people you don't know, people en
masse. In that situation, are we still more comfortable with people who look
like us, be they Asian or black or white? Or--or is it...
Ms. TUCKER: Well...
Mr. PAGE: Well, the kids are aware in a different kind of way now. You
know, this is the hip-hop generation, and like, my son has a friend of his at
school, a white kid that wants to be black desperately.
Mr. PAGE: And just kind of--every time he comes around my son saying, `Eh,
Grady, what it is man!'
MATTHEWS: And he is not alone.
Mr. PAGE: You know, my son suddenly sounds like a Harvard don because he's
trying to get away from this kid. But--but seriously, the saddest thing,
though, Chris, is the resegregation in the classroom. Look at your gifted and
talented classes, almost all white and Asian.
MATTHEWS: These are magna schools?
Mr. PAGE: I'm talking about magna schools and general...
Mr. PAGE: ...integrated suburban schools, say, or grade high schools.
Ms. KAY: Certainly, my children go...
Mr. PAGE: And you'll find special ed is going to be black and latino. And
that translates for a lot of these kids into a achievement being, quote, "act
and white." I mean, we got all those kind of problems to deal with, too.
MATTHEWS: What's interesting too is you know what the paradigm is, like if
you go to any local station where there's a big community and there's a
diverse community, there's always a black and white anchor team, for example.
It's always the case. So we know that's what we want it to be, because we
know that's what will sell in a very commercially oriented society. In fact,
our business especially, TV, is very mixed up. I mean, it's not like--but
I--every--you and I give speeches a lot, right?
Mr. PAGE: Mm-hmm.
MATTHEWS: And every time you--tell me about your experience going out to give
Mr. PAGE: Well, I find that--well, when--whenever we're talking about race,
it's interesting because sooner or later somebody is going to say, you know,
`This is the first time I've talked about race in a mixed group since the
Mr. PAGE: Because over the last few decades it's kind of been either, you
know, it's not PC or it's not polite or people are worried about being
intimidated or whatever.
Ms. KAY: You know, what really struck me when I moved to America was how
little people talk about race between each other. Why are they so terrified
MATTHEWS: Let's get helpful or unhelpful.
Cynthia, you're an editorial writer. You write lead editorials for that paper
down in Atlanta, which is the city too busy to--what is it? Too busy to hate
Ms. TUCKER: Too busy to hate.
MATTHEWS: Is that a fact?
Ms. TUCKER: That's--that's a mythology.
MATTHEWS: Is that a fact down there?
Ms. TUCKER: There are some wonderful, remarkable things about Atlanta,
mostly evident in the rise of this huge affluent, black middle class. But
does race remain a factor? Absolutely. There as it does everywhere else in
MATTHEWS: OK. You're younger than me. Give me a trend line. From the time
of your youngest memories to now and then projected in the future, is there
Ms. TUCKER: Oh, of course, there's progress. I mean, I wrote a column
recently about feeling ashamed. I have a five-year-old niece who is part
black, part Mexican. She never--she has all kinds of friends. You go to her
birthday parties and they're like a little United Nations. But I want to know
exactly what color her friends are. So I know that I am still stuck with
MATTHEWS: Yeah, and she's not.
Ms. TUCKER: ...in a way she won't be.
MATTHEWS: So, anybody that's ready, we only got a second here, is it getting
Mr. GREGORY: I just see a static trend line. I mean, I think there's better
awareness, better relationships, but still so much separateness in positions
Mr. GREGORY: ...even in--even in major institutions like our businesses.
MATTHEWS: How about the US Senate? Start there. Let me go to Katty.
Tell me something I don't know.
Ms. KAY: In June, the Supreme Court will rule on the Guantanamo detainees
and the two Americans who are being held in the war on terrorism. Republicans
were worried before these photographs came out that the Supreme Court would
rule in favor of the Guantanamo detainees and the two Americans.
MATTHEWS: What's the issue?
Ms. KAY: The issue is whether they should have some sort of legal process to
have their--their cases heard. Republicans were all worried--already worried
that the Supreme Court was going to rule in their favor, which would be a blow
to the White House. After these photos it looks even more likely.
MATTHEWS: Clarence, tell me something.
Mr. PAGE: Chris, the world of marketing suffered a setback when baseball
rejected a Spider-Man logo on the bases, but it's not going away. You're
going to see more over the next year, so maybe on the catchers' mitts you'll
Mr. PAGE: ...Acme products. Yeah.
Mr. GREGORY: A prediction, Chris. I think we may be looking in the wrong
direction when we're talking about Rumsfeld stepping down. I think--think
about it, Iraqis see US troops in their presence. I think General Sanchez may
be the one who's...
MATTHEWS: Fifth commander.
Mr. GREGORY: ...vulnerable here as the top commander in Iraq.
Ms. TUCKER: I think by October, President Bush will have a secret strategy
for ending the US occupation of Iraq. I think he'll be talking about drawing
down US troop involvement drastically in 2005.
MATTHEWS: Will that be announced before the election?
Ms. TUCKER: Absolutely. October.
MATTHEWS: So Iraqification before the election.
Ms. TUCKER: He'll find himself in a tight election race.
MATTHEWS: You're announcing the October surprise here in May. Thank you very
Thanks to a great roundtable--Katty Kay, Clarence Page, David Gregory,
Cynthia Tucker. We should continue this conversation for the next couple of
years, by the way.
Next week we've got another all-star lineup: Sam Donaldson, Ed Gordon, Norah
O'Donnell and Peggy Noonan. She hasn't been around in a while.
I'll be right back with some golden oldies from a surprisingly rich decade.
Wait until you catch it. Stick around.
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Commentary: The Nifty '50s
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:
Fifty years ago the US Supreme Court killed the separate by equal defense of
segregated schooling. Looking back, 1954 was a year of other intriguing
transitions, a time of records getting broken, doors being thrown open, and
not just in the classroom. It was the year that Roger Bannister broke the
four-minute mile, that Jonas Salk beat polio, that Ernest Hemingway won the
Nobel prize for a little book about a Cuban fisherman who loved Joe DiMaggio.
It was the year that that other graceful centerfielder, the "Say-Hey Kid,"
Willie Mays, led the Giants, still playing in the polo fields of Manhattan, to
a four-game sweep over Cleveland in the World Series. You knew he'd catch it
once he patted that glove.
There are other breakthroughs in the middle of a supposedly conformist decade.
It was the year that "On the Waterfront" attacked dockside thorny and the
longshoreman's unions, but really landed a blow for any guy or woman with the
guts to tackle the powerful, to show us all that the way things are is not the
way they have to be. It was the year that my city of Philadelphia gave the
world a queen, Grace Kelly, whose father had been kept from competing in
England's Diamond Skulls because he had worked with his hands. The year the
kid from Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Presley, took R&B and made it rock. His
first big song: "That's All Right, Mama."
Speaking of that, Happy Mother's Day.
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Sign-off: The Chris Matthews Show
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:
That's the show, thanks for watching. See you right here next week.