January 9, 2013
Guests: Douglas Brinkley, Michael Duffy, John Feehery
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Out of the way, Obama`s coming!
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. I think we`re looking at a new Barack
Obama. You know the old expression "Let Reagan be Reagan"? Well, I think
we`re seeing Barack Obama being Barack Obama. This appointment of Chuck
Hagel was just what the other side says it is, an in-your-face challenge to
this country`s right wing.
He`s putting in a guy who knows the lessons of Vietnam and Iraq and putting
him right out front, making him his point man as he heads into the jungle
of war-whooping right-wing hawkish Republicans who count the months between
wars as an unwanted time out, who like nothing more than the next war to
So Meet Barack Obama II. He`s going to run the foreign policy his way, the
way he believes in doing it. He`s going to show the gate to those
Republicans who plan to shut down the government every time they don`t get
what they want. I like it.
I think there`s one guy out there, by the way, ironically, rooting for
Obama. It`s the guy who got used by the hawks, saw his place in history
ruined by their lies and half-truths and subterfuges. His name`s George W.
Bush, and he`s sitting down there in Texas watching the same old
predictable crowd of war hawks trying to do their number one more time.
Only this time, there`s someone in the White House wise to their game.
Joining me right now is MSNBC political analyst David Corn from "Mother
Jones," and we also have Republican strategist John Feehery.
Now, here`s the question. I want to start with particulars. We can (ph)
all (ph) get general and you guys can throw in your ideas. My idea is
this. He picked Chuck Hagel after watching two or three weeks of him
trying to be destroyed by the right wing. He let him hang fire.
Give me your worst about this guy. Do it all, and I`m going to stick it
right in your face because I want a guy that thinks like me and maybe a guy
who`s a tad or two, a notch or two to my left. Take it.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the thing...
MATTHEWS: Is that a sign of his willingness to fight tough this time?
CORN: Well, I think -- I think Obama is the type of guy who picks his
fights. Sometimes he comes out and he goes for the bipartisan compromise.
Doesn`t work out. He`ll flip and he`ll do a fight. Health care, great
example. He tried to cut a deal with Republicans, tried really hard, too
hard, according to some people on the left, left out the public option.
And then when he had no deal, what did he do? He rammed it through, using
reconciliation and other methods that Republicans screamed about.
He also has this other thing. One other point. He`s really good at
driving them crazy so that they go -- they go to the excessive. I want to
know what you think about this. I think that Republicans attacking Hagel,
war hero, kind of a Republican, moderate guy -- they`re going to end up
looking terrible in the end, and I think Obama basically is good...
MATTHEWS: They better have...
CORN: ... good at setting traps.
MATTHEWS: ... guys and women on the other side of that table who are doing
the attacking who got some of -- something of a war record.
CORN: Like Bill Kristol?
MATTHEWS: Something. Well, something of it. Your thoughts about Hagel,
first of all. Then we`ll move on to the debt ceiling crap that`s coming.
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, personally, I like Chuck Hagel.
But I -- my opinion is definitely a minority in the Senate. And it`s not
just Republicans. I think...
MATTHEWS: What did you say about...
FEEHERY: Well, I think he doesn`t know the Senate very well. I think he`s
not using his political capital wisely. I think the problem that he`s got
here is he`s going to have a set of Democrats who do not like Chuck Hagel,
do not want to vote for him, see him as a problem...
MATTHEWS: Who are they?
FEEHERY: Well, they`ve already come out. I don`t have the specifics...
MATTHEWS: Give me names!
FEEHERY: Schumer. Schumer...
MATTHEWS: Schumer`s a question mark.
MATTHEWS: I think he`ll vote for him.
FEEHERY: Well, we`ll see. I mean, the thing is he`s putting -- doing a
MATTHEWS: Who do you want him to pick, John Bolton?
FEEHERY: I think he should pick Michelle Flournoy. She`d be...
MATTHEWS: ... fall in love with her? This is what`s going on here...
MATTHEWS: ... first time in your life. First time in your life you ever
heard of her.
FEEHERY: I heard of her, like, four years ago when she became deputy
FEEHERY: She`s actually pretty smart.
MATTHEWS: I know. And Dan Senor, my buddy -- they`re all pushing for
someone they never heard of before.
FEEHERY: She`d actually be a better...
MATTHEWS: You guys are such frauds!
MATTHEWS: Anyway, from the fiscal cliff to the Chuck Hagel nomination,
observers are noting the president`s playing more of a game of offense now.
Here`s how Politico`s Glenn Thrush put it today.
Quote, "After four-plus years of embittered partisan combat, he views his
GOP bargaining partners with more than a little contempt. His apparent
conclusion after watching the implosion of the House GOP`s effort to pass a
moderate tax increase before the final fiscal cliff deal is that the best
way to deal with the capitol is to throw rocks at it, then send Vice
President Joe Biden in to clean up the glass."
Your thoughts, Feehery?
MATTHEWS: Anyway, in nominating Hagel this week to be secretary of
defense, the president praised his record of independence in the Senate and
urged his former colleagues to confirm him quickly. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Chuck represents the
bipartisan tradition that we need more of in Washington. For his
independence and commitment to consensus, he`s earned the respect of
national security and military leaders, Republicans and Democrats,
I just want to repeat, I hope that the Senate will act on these
confirmations promptly. When it comes to national security, we don`t like
to leave a lot of gaps between the time that one set of leaders transitions
out and another transitions in. So we need to get moving quickly on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Feehery, do you deny that this is a statement naming Chuck
Hagel? He`s going to the left on foreign policy. He`s going away from the
neo-conservative universe. He`s not going to look for wars. He`s not
going to be Mr. Tough Guy bully in the schoolyard, that it is a statement
and it means something. That`s what somebody said the other day...
FEEHERY: There`s no question that he`s making a direct change in policy.
And I think the problem for that is it`s very controversial not only with
Republicans, and John McCain`s (INAUDIBLE) but also with Democrats, and it
uses up political capital.
I think it`s a big -- it`s a big...
MATTHEWS: By the way, who does John McCain like today besides Lindsey?
CORN: I don`t think so.
FEEHERY: He doesn`t like Chuck Hagel, I can tell you that.
CORN: Let me disagree for second...
MATTHEWS: No, no, no! He hasn`t come out against him.
CORN: This is not a change in policy. The president came in saying he
would end the Iraq war and he would get the Afghan war...
CORN: He would get rid of the Iraq war and take the Afghanistan war and
slow it down, basically downsize it. That`s what he`s been doing for the
last four years, despite the neocons screaming about it all the way. Chuck
Hagel is just a continuation of that. He had Robert Gates on his side
through all these policy debates. But when he had to, he stared down
MATTHEWS: ... two weeks to go was John Bolton.
FEEHERY: Listen, I don`t have...
MATTHEWS: You guys had John Bolton out there saying Mrs. Clinton was
somehow faking her injury and her concussion!
FEEHERY: I didn`t say that. The president can pick whoever he wants. My
only point is, from a strategy point, you only have so much political
capital. I like Chuck Hagel. And if he gets it, I`m fine with that.
MATTHEWS: So let`s go back to this. Suppose your guy had won this race,
the guy you guys all thought would win the race. And he got in there and
put this guy Bolton in, the strange mustache guy...
MATTHEWS: Would they have put him in there?
FEEHERY: I don`t think...
MATTHEWS: Would we have gone that far crazy...
FEEHERY: I don`t think Romney would have put Bolton there. I think he
would have gotten something else. He would not have gotten secretary of
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about the fiscal cliff. That`s behind us. That
turkey`s behind us.
CORN: We got others.
MATTHEWS: We have lived through Bill Clinton. And whatever you say about
Bill Clinton, he knew how to deal with these people when they say, Let`s
shut down the government. He`d say to them, Go ahead. I`ll have my pizza.
You go ahead.
MATTHEWS: You go ahead. And look what happened...
MATTHEWS: ... whatever else you say. And what happened? Newtster looked
like a fool. He looked like a fool.
MATTHEWS: So can this president show that kind of guts? First you,
because you`re for him.
CORN: Well, yes, well, I think we`re going to see the debt ceiling fight
first. And the president -- and the president...
MATTHEWS: That`s what I mean.
CORN: You know, that -- he feels so passionately...
MATTHEWS: Will he tell them to just go get lost?
CORN: I mean, he -- I -- you know, in the book I had out last year...
MATTHEWS: What`s the name of the book?
CORN: "Showdown." The first time he got into this, his aides were saying,
You know, you may have to cut a deal with these guys. He said, No way.
It`s not just my presidency, it`s future presidencies. We can`t let
Congress hold the White House hostage by not paying their own bills.
FEEHERY: His bills.
CORN: He feels that...
MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he...
MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he do it? Why didn`t he do it?
CORN: Well, actually, he did. He got -- instead of accepting a six-month
extension, he got a year-and-a-half. And now he`s not going to go back and
start negotiating. He may have to at the end of the day, but...
MATTHEWS: So you`re saying...
MATTHEWS: ... predictions time. Will the president of the United States,
when we run out of money under the debt ceiling and he`s forced to let
people lay off, closing down the national monuments and libraries and
things like that, national parks -- will he let that happen and blame it on
Boehner and his crowd?
CORN: Well, he`ll let the government shutdown happen if we get to that
because that`s easy to deal with. On the default, it`s going to be more
difficult because it could lead to...
MATTHEWS: Which comes first?
CORN: I think the debt ceiling may come first.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Will he let the government shut down, that`s what I`m
looking for, like Clinton did?
FEEHERY: I don`t think so because I don`t think John Boehner wants to have
the government shut down.
MATTHEWS: No, will the president let Boehner...
CORN: The Tea Party guys want it to.
FEEHERY: Listen, this -- this ultimately comes -- do you have the votes?
Do you have the votes to pass these things? And you know what? You have
to govern. This is what it`s all about. The president is responsible for
governing. Shutting down the government is not governing. And I think it
hurts the president harder than it hurts anybody because...
FEEHERY: In 1994 and `95 and `96, Newt Gingrich promised to shut down the
government. John Boehner has promised to keep the government open. If the
CORN: But he may not be...
FEEHERY: If the president makes these -- all these threats, it`s going to
hurt the president!
CORN: No, no. But he may not -- he may not be able to keep a single
promise he makes because he can`t deliver the votes. When he couldn`t get
FEEHERY: The president`s job is to lead. And if he`s not going to lead
and if he`s going to promise to shut down the government, he`s going to...
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s...
MATTHEWS: ... because I think he`s got to take a stand.
Anyway, part of the political calculus on the part of the White House, as
"The National Journal" points out, is to highlight splits in the Republican
Party over many of these issues -- in other words, get them to divide.
Quote, "The ambition to split the Republican Party asunder is part and
parcel of the White House`s second term game plan, and it`s exposing an
unpleasant truth for Republicans. There`s just not much -- there`s not
that much ideological unity within the party these days, even as the GOP
has united against Obama`s agenda."
We saw in the last campaign what unites Republicans, Obama, right? They
don`t like him. But when you think about it, I think there is a split.
You know it better than we do, whether you`ll admit it or not. There is a
schism between practical governing Republicans who believe in the republic
and basically renegades who want to shut it down, in many ways, who go off
-- they`re posse comitatus almost, some of these people.
FEEHERY: Right, and...
MATTHEWS: Alex Jones -- we saw him the other night.
FEEHERY: And I`ll tell you, if Barack Obama decides to be macho man, it`s
going to unite the Republicans and weaken his hand.
FEEHERY: There`s no doubt about that.
CORN: That didn`t work on the tax cut bill. They were...
CORN: It`s not going to work on immigration. They`re going to be divided
on that. And they`re going to be divided on the debt ceiling. You`ve got
people like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner saying, We can`t play...
MATTHEWS: You know what...
FEEHERY: The president has to be a seducer. He cannot be a macho man.
MATTHEWS: You know what (INAUDIBLE) the restoration of the old Northeast
Republican Party under the leadership of Chris Christie. I think
somebody`s got to bring back the moderate wing of your party, which, by the
way, you`re part of.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn. You don`t act like it sometimes.
MATTHEWS: When you grow up, John Feehery, you`re going to be one of them.
Coming up -- wouldn`t you like to be press secretary to Chris Christie`s
presidency? Would that...
MATTHEWS: Anyway, what`s wrong with -- now we get to the tough part for
the Dems. What`s wrong with this picture? Here`s what a gathering of
President Obama`s top cabinet officials and aides might look like, now that
we hear who`s going to be -- his chief of staff, Jack Lew, my friend, is
going to be secretary of the treasury, apparently. A lot of people are
looking at this and saying, Where are the women and minorities, the groups
who put the president back in the White House. It`s beginning to look this
Also, could the answer to the GOP`s problems be found somewhere in the
swamps of Jersey? Sounds like the colonial wars. Anyway, that`s Bruce
Springsteen`s reference, by the way. And one of the Boss`s biggest fans is
now Jersey governor Chris Christie. Christie may just be what the GOP
needs to break free of its Southern religious, super-religious television-
ite (ph) people -- anyway -- to (ph) their shackles.
But here`s my question. How does a pragmatist like Christie get through a
Tea Party-driven Republican primary season? And here`s why Christie will
have his work cut out for him. He wants to save his party from itself.
Republicans have reintroduced a bill to defund -- you believe it or not? --
Planned Parenthood. Republicans. If you want to remain a minority party,
keep it up.
"Let Me Finish" tonight with a pretty fabulous story about Dick Nixon on
his 100th birthday.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, another sign that the country`s getting a slightly blue
tint and that that time may be ripe for President Obama to press his
advantage. Gallup says today Democrats are gaining an advantage over
Republicans. Forty-seven percent of the American people surveyed by Gallup
over the past year identify themselves as Democrats -- 47 percent -- or
leaning Democrat. Forty-two percent call themselves Republicans or say
they lean towards the GOP.
So you got the numbers, 47-42 for the Dems. In 2010 and 2011, the parties
were neck and neck.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. As President Obama`s second term gets
under way, he`s making changes, of course, in his cabinet and his senior
staff. So this front page picture in "The New York Times" could not have
been a welcome sight -- look at that -- accompanied by the headline
"Obama`s remade inner circle has an all-male look so far."
Well, it shows the president with senior advisers in the Oval Office, all
of whom are male. The only female in the picture is just Valerie Jarrett`s
leg apparently there, is blocked from sight, all but for a small part of
her leg, as I said.
And she`s, of course, very influential. But look at the ratio there. The
piece points out that 43 percent of Obama`s nominees have been women, and
the White House itself employs almost exactly the same number of men and
But following a slew of nominations of white men for high positions --
we`ve seen them all. Today`s announcement that Jack Lew will be nominated
to replace Tim Geithner at Treasury, it looks like a lot of white guys
getting good jobs.
And late this afternoon, news that labor secretary Hilda Solis is
resigning. Another woman leaves the Obama cabinet, leaving me to talk to
Joan Walsh, which is a lot of fun in this circumstance, as "Life of Reilly"
would say, "a revoltin` development," is coming here. And "The Washington
Post`s" Eugene Robinson, who writes beautiful columns, and you did it again
on RGIII the other day.
But we`re back to something, a personnel matter that involves our -- our
future. Is there something wrong with this picture, Joan Walsh, as we look
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes. Obviously,
there is, Chris. I mean, it would be a somewhat different picture if
Valerie had been actually visible in it, so that`s a shame. But it`s not
enough. She is one of the most influential if not the most influential
person in the president`s inner circle. So we`ve got to give him a little
credit for that.
I also think it`s unfortunate that the "Times" piece did not talk about the
fact that he did nominate -- his only nominees for the Supreme Court so
far, two women, one Latina. And his court nominees have been really good
in terms of diversity. So those two things mitigate a little bit.
However, you`re right, that picture -- the general picture, the picture you
showed before our segment of these top-level appointees -- John Brennan we
didn`t mention -- all being men. It is a change. It is a little
disturbing. And the departure of somebody as luminous as Hillary Clinton,
too, makes it feel even more stark and even more like, you know, really
something that should be corrected.
And I don`t -- I think he will in future appointments, but he doesn`t have
another chance to correct those top, top appointments.
MATTHEWS: Gene, your thoughts? You lived through Jim Crow. You lived
through all this. You know what affirmative action looks like, if it ever
comes. That`s not affirmative action.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No. Look,
I`ve been -- spent my career preaching diversity and I`ll preach it to the
president, too. You know, it`s a process and you keep working at it and
MATTHEWS: What should...
MATTHEWS: We worked it out with the producers today. I`m trying to frame
this question. Things happen like this organically. People know people.
People -- you get used to certain people you`re more -- look, we know how
it works. But what is it he didn`t do that he should have done
affirmatively to make this not happen this way?
ROBINSON: Did he -- did he borrow, you know, one of Romney`s binders full
of women or something like that? Apparently, he didn`t.
Look, diversity -- it has to happen on all levels. So you look for
somebody to fill these top jobs. What ideally you have done is brought
people along, fostered diversity coming up through the ranks...
ROBINSON: ... so that when you sit down with the likely suspects and
you`re going to choose from among the likely suspects, among them are women
MATTHEWS: So who were the big kahunas in the campaign who showed -- I was
thinking of people that we deal with, Joan, like Stephanie Cutter I think
did a hell of a job.
MATTHEWS: I`m trying to think of people who showed their greatness in the
field and earned battlefield promotions that didn`t get them. I guess
that`s one way of looking at this. There`s also...
MATTHEWS: ... the glass ceiling, which is improving in the Senate. It`s
moving up in the Senate. Maybe by the time we`re real old, the Senate will
be close to even. Maybe.
WALSH: I hope.
MATTHEWS: But the presidency`s...
WALSH: Maybe not that old.
MATTHEWS: ... still -- it`s still out there. The vice president is still
But let`s look at the top five cabinet positions. We all know what they
are. State is the number one job in the world, I think. Number two is
Treasury. Number three is Defense. And then fourth, I guess, AG -- all
WALSH: Right. Well, let`s also -- let`s add the name of Susan Rice to
this discussion because I think we wouldn`t -- we might not even be having
this discussion had he picked Susan Rice and had she had a better shot at
Now, a lot of progressives are still upset that he didn`t pick her and
fight for her, like he`s going to have to fight for Chuck Hagel.
I want to leave that question aside because I don`t think that has anything
to do with gender. But if he had gotten his way -- by most accounts, I
don`t know for sure, he didn`t tell me that he wanted to pick her -- but
had he been able to appoint Susan Rice, this would be a very different
picture, literally and figuratively. We might not even be talking about
it. So that`s one thing we should remember.
MATTHEWS: Who did he pass over of quality that could have -- Gene, that
could have quality -- met the quality test here? You don`t have to be
exactly the same as John Kerry or exactly the same as Jack Lew, but in that
ROBINSON: Well, yes. Well...
MATTHEWS: This is the -- this is where the -- this what I think you`re
pointing out about bringing up the farm team.
MATTHEWS: You brought it up.
ROBINSON: Yes. Who is it, actually? I mean, who...
MATTHEWS: All the press, all the guys on the right now are saying
Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense.
ROBINSON: Right, Michele Flournoy.
ROBINSON: I don`t know her.
ROBINSON: Could have -- I don`t know her either, but I`m reliably told
that she`s terrific.
MATTHEWS: Her resume is dynamite.
ROBINSON: And would have been a great choice.
But, again, you bring people up and they develop a public profile as well.
But to Joan`s point, I am hearing from people that, gee, he`d fight for
Chuck Hagel, but he wouldn`t fight for Susan Rice. Now, that`s just a
function of optics.
MATTHEWS: You know why he`s fighting for Hagel? It`s a left/right fight,
and he`s very comfortable with it.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know exactly all the details of the Susan Rice thing,
but I know he didn`t want to go back into some of it, apparently.
MATTHEWS: Well, she pulled the plug anyway.
ROBINSON: And I think there are probably very good reasons for that. But
the optics of it are...
MATTHEWS: Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has been mentioned I think with the
implication, if Hillary Clinton doesn`t for president, as a possible
presidential candidate next time around from Minnesota, obviously, Amy
Klobuchar, the senior senator there. Let`s hear what she had I believe in
defense of the president -- had to say. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: First of all, let`s look at what the
president has done here. He had Hillary Clinton. You can`t get a stronger
woman in as secretary of state, a stronger person in. You have had
Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano, Karen Mills, small business director,
two Supreme Court nominees. Both Supreme Court nominees have been women.
So, he does have a strong track record here. Not all the nominees have
been announced yet. Obviously, I would like to see some women in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me talk to you about how this changes and how a president
can change. You said -- Gene said bring up to farm team. That was my
term. But bring up people to the deputy ranks so you can them have them
ready for possible principal positions. We know how that has been done in
Most second terms are filled with people who were deputies in the first
term and get advanced in the second term. That is not always healthy, by
the way. I can think of Ollie North and Poindexter and some of those other
people and Don Regan.
MATTHEWS: But it`s an ideal circumstance. How do you get more women and
more minorities in the sort of the clubhouse mentality of politics of
people running campaigns, people like Tom Donilon, people like Axelrod,
people that get in there in the room?
You think Donna Brazile as an excellent example a woman who has broken
right through into the boys gang right up there at the top.
MATTHEWS: Is that a problem of the culture of the boys club or the
clubhouse? Who was it that used to called Bill Clinton`s white boys club?
It was a problem back then, remember, Joan?
WALSH: Right. It`s always been a problem. You can`t expect our first
black president to solve that problem single-handedly in one or two terms.
Again, I don`t want to let him off the hook and I know Gene doesn`t either.
But he`s not -- he did not invent this problem. I think there have been
other complaints that there`s a lot of socializing and bonding that goes
on, on the basketball court and on the golf course and that women went to
Valerie Jarrett in the first term and they said that they felt a little bit
left out and a little bit sidelined.
You can`t forget about that. He lost somebody of the caliber of say a
Christina Romer who was doing great progressive things as head of the
Council of Economic Advisers. His inability to hold on to certain women
might be a problem too. So I think it is a culture where you really do
have to work at it and not do unconscious things that may sideline women.
MATTHEWS: Do you guys think the golf today -- I`m open to any possibility.
The golf game stuff, Bill Clinton played hearts with everybody. You know?
You`re laughing. Anyway, he was not gender specific when it came to card
games. But I agree.
WALSH: Card games are good.
MATTHEWS: I`m not a golfer. I know golfing has a certain gender aspect to
MATTHEWS: I understand. It has tended in the past.
ROBINSON: I once challenged Condoleezza Rice on her record of diversity at
the State Department and basically asked if she had done enough.
And she rather angrily replied, don`t judge me as I find this institution.
Judge me as I leave it. And judge me as to whether I have put people in a
position to rise and to succeed.
So I think that`s the way we should judge the president`s record on
diversity. Have he and his Cabinet appointees in their various departments
practiced diversity to the point where, you know, in the fullness of time -
- let`s hope not too much time -- the usual suspects...
MATTHEWS: You know what our job is here? To keep making noise about this.
Joan, I`m with you on this one. I think you got to keep making noise, and
the more noise the better. He can take it. The country cannot take an
exclusionary leadership class.
Anyway, Joan Walsh. I love when you smile. Thank you, dear.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Eugene Robinson.
Anyway, up next, think the loudmouth we showed you from Piers Morgan
screaming about guns last night was out of the right-wing mainstream?
Think again. This guy. Well, here`s the front page of the most popular
conservative-leaning Web site in the country, The Drudge Report. That`s
right, on guns. Hitler equals Stalin equals Obama. That`s what they`re
accusing the guy of because he`s going to apparently use executive action
to get some things done. They`re calling him a totalitarian.
We`re going to bring them up in the gun-crazy "Sideshow" tonight. And that
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now to the "Sideshow."
Yesterday, I showed you a taste I think of what gun control advocates are
up against when it comes to the extreme end of the pro-gun side. Radio
host Alex Jones talking to CNN`s Piers Morgan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT")
ALEX JONES, HOST, "THE ALEX JONES SHOW": Hitler took the guns, Stalin took
the guns, Mao took the guns. Fidel Castro took the guns.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": OK. How many...
JONES: Hugo Chavez took the guns, and I`m here to tell you, 1776 will
commence again if you try to take our firearms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Performance art.
Anyway, after that, how long would it take for the right to invoke Adolf
Hitler? As it turns out, not very.
After Vice President Biden suggested executive action could be taken in the
gun issue, here`s how The Drudge Report reacted -- quote -- "White House
threatens executive orders on guns," equating -- there the pictures are --
Obama with Hitler and Stalin.
So Alex Jones is not quite as far from the right-wing mainstream on guns
you may have assumed or hoped.
Next, add this one to the list of indications suggesting Republicans might
have missed the whole election. It turns out we`re in for this fight
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: The amendment that I bring to the floor
tonight would deny any and all funding to Planned Parenthood Federation of
America and its affiliates for the rest of the fiscal year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was Indiana`s Mike Pence leading the charge in 2011
to defund Planned Parenthood. Turns out the effort didn`t stop with his
exit from Congress.
Enter Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She`s on the show a lot --
and her kickoff this time to the 113th Congress.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: We felt like that, to start the year
off on the very first day that we would go ahead and get the bill filed.
What it does is to defund Planned Parenthood. It would block their ability
to get taxpayer money, and we know that Planned Parenthood is basically big
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it. And she`s not alone. Marsha
Blackburn`s colleague Diane Black also reintroduced the same bill.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards weighed in on the effort --
quote -- "They apparently learned nothing from the results of the last
election where Americans said overwhelmingly that they do not want
politicians dictating women`s access to health care."
Finally, people like me grew up seeing this classy signature on our paper
dollar, former Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon. Now that President
Obama has named Jack Lew to succeed Timothy Geithner in that same position,
we have got a problem, this.
Yes, the squirrelly mess is Jack Lew`s signature. And it`s soon to show up
at the bottom of paper money if he`s confirmed. "New York" magazine
offered up some comparison to Lew`s signature. The type of crazy straw you
get at Six Flags. Anyway, a slip of paper you would used to test pens on -
- to test out pens in Office Max. Anyway -- and a classic, the hair of
Peanuts character Sally Brown. There it is too.
Up next, can anyone save the Republican Party from itself? Well, the
answer may be on the cover of "New York" magazine -- actually, the new
"TIME" magazine. There it is.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Sue Herera with your CNBC "Market
A winning quarterly report from Alcoa helped buoy Wall Street today. The
Dow climbed 61 points, the S&P added three and the Nasdaq was up 14. AIG
announced that it will not join a lawsuit against the government over the
terms of the financial crisis bailout. The insurance giant says it thanks
America for its support.
And Facebook shares hit $30 for the first time in six months, this after
the company hinted a big announcement coming on Tuesday.
And that`s it from CNBC. We are first in business worldwide -- and now
back to Chris and HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Up, up, up. All politics is local and Chris Christie`s stock is rising in
Jersey after befriending the president and taking on his own party in
Hurricane Sandy relief money. Take a look at these numbers. You don`t see
these in politics much, a 73 percent approval rating among New Jersey
voters, 73 percent, even higher approval among independents and 62 percent
When you look at traditional Democratic voting blocs, Christie`s at 70
percent approval among women. That`s 70 -- 69 percent among non-white
voters, 62 percent of voters in homes with a public employee. He is on the
cover of "TIME" magazine this week and he may be the man to get the GOP
back on track politically, if his party will allow him to go beyond New
Jersey and all the way to the nomination for president.
My colleague Joe Scarborough is host of "MORNING JOE." He has got a hell
of a show. He made it himself. He built this place, like Moe Greene.
It`s all yours in the morning, Joe.
And I appreciate you coming back and working a double shift tonight.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Great to be with you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Your sense of your party that you grew up in and ran for office
and won office down in Florida. How does he fit in 2013 politics looking
forward to 2016?
SCARBOROUGH: I think he fits very well.
Like Henry Luce, the founder of "TIME" magazine, was a believer in the
great man theory of history, I`m a believer in the great man or great woman
theory of politics. Winston Churchill could do what Winston Churchill did
in 1940 and save Western civilization in a way that Clement Attlee or
Chamberlain or Baldwin couldn`t.
Same thing, only Margaret Thatcher could have done what Margaret Thatcher
did in 1979. And turning to America, of course, Reagan, instead John
Connally, who was able to do what he did. And Bill Clinton in 1992 took a
Democratic Party that had lost five out of the last six presidential
elections and turned that party around.
Right now, the Republican Party is absent strong leadership. And that`s
why we have seen the party go in the direction it`s gone. You know, I
think it`s fascinating that the past year-and-a-half, past two years has
even made me long for the days of George W. Bush, because you remember what
I mean, when Trent Lott, a good friend of mine, came out and said something
he shouldn`t have said about Strom Thurmond, they moved very quickly and
got him out as majority leader. They did not allow other people to make
extremist statements without punishing them.
And that`s just not the case anymore with this Republican Party. So I
think Chris Christie if he keeps providing strong leadership in New Jersey
actually shows Republicans you can stand up to the extremists. You can
work with Democrats in government. And you can be rewarded for it in a big
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look. Here`s Chris Christie talking to you this
morning. He knows how -- talking about how he knows how to get things done
and that means compromising with Democrats. Let`s watch him explaining
himself to you this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MORNING JOE")
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`m in divided government. I have a
Democratic Senate and a Democratic Assembly.
What that means is I`m not going to get everything I want. I wake up every
morning knowing that even though I think I`m right, I`m not going to get
everything I want. So, I have to decide, what are the most important
things to me and of that list, what do I think I can convince them of and
then get those things done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk history, Joe. And you follow history. You have
demonstrated many times your knowledge of it.
It seems to me if you look back in 1940 and that very tricky time you
talked about, the months going into World War II, when the United States
was indecisive -- we hadn`t been hit in Pearl Harbor yet, but we didn`t
know what to do. But we knew the Nazis were bad guys. We didn`t know
whether we could unite as a country to go in.
Along comes the Republican Party. And out of nowhere, in five days in
Philadelphia, a guy named Wendell Willkie beats all the establishment
Republican Party candidates, Robert Taft, what`s his name, Dewey, a whole
bunch of them, comes out of nowhere and says, damn it, we`re going to have
conscription. We`re going to have to have land lease. We`re have got to
go to war eventually. We have got to be prepared for it, at least.
Roosevelt is right on those issues. I`m not going to play no man on this.
MATTHEWS: And he wins the nomination. He gives Roosevelt the best fight
of his career.
And I tell you, if he had been running against anybody else, he would have
been president for a couple years -- a couple terms. Your thoughts.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, no, I agree with you completely.
And you have got so many Republicans right now talking about the example of
Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was constantly skewered by people on his
right from the very beginning.
MATTHEWS: I know.
SCARBOROUGH: Even when he was governor of California, William F. Buckley
had to write a stirring defense of Ronald Reagan, because Reagan refused to
shut down the government. He decided that he had to raise taxes in
California because he worked with Democrats as well.
And that`s one of the great frustrations that I have had, as conservative
as I am. I have had young Republicans on my show that have come on and
said they will not vote for a revenue increase, a tax increase no matter
what. They won`t compromise on guns no matter what. They won`t compromise
with Democrats no matter what.
And I have to politely remind them that we actually inherited for better or
worse -- I think for better -- the government of James Madison, the
constitution of James Madison. We`ve got checks and balances. Ronald
Reagan understood that. If that`s who we Republicans want to claim as our
hero, let`s take a closer look at the record of Reagan -- on taxes, on
budgets, I would say on assault weapons especially right now for a
Republican Party that seems to be veering, I think, dangerously close to
territory post-Newtown, that could cost them a lot of swing seats in 2014
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I`m sort --
SCARBOROUGH: We have got to learn, we`ve got to learn what Buckley always
told us to do. Look at the realities in front of us. And deal with those
realities in our politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re sort of doppelgangers, you and I. You`re center-right,
I`m center-left. And I have to tell you, that`s my view of this.
I have a jealous interest in this. I want to see two parties that I can
actually choose from. I don`t think I`ve got them right now. I don`t
think it`s a tough choice to vote in any election.
But I grew up in a state of Pennsylvania where people like Bill Scranton
and Tom Ridge I could easily have voted for. They were good, moderate
people from the center who are pragmatists. They were conservatives on
spending issues. They may not have been in bed with labor the way some
people like them to be, but they were good leaders.
And I think the country is better off having people like that before
Christine Whitman of Jersey. People like that before, before Christie.
MATTHEWS: We grew up with the Northeast packed with people like Ed Brooke
and people like that across. You`re losing them all, though.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Chris --
MATTHEWS: Olympia Snowe is leaving. You`re left with Susan Collins, the
only one left now.
SCARBOROUGH: Here`s the thing though -- Chris Christie is no Susan
Collins. I mean, Chris Christie isn`t even Christine Todd Whitman. Chris
Christie is a guy that I could have served with in the hardcore wing of the
1994 Republican Congress. He would have voted with me 100 percent of the
time on these "Contract with America" issues. He wouldn`t have gone soft
on some of the things that let`s say a more moderate Republican would go
soft on, which is fine.
But Christie is a hardcore Jeb Bush, Joe Scarborough --
SCARBOROUGH: -- conservative. And the fact that some people in
Washington, D.C. are angry at this guy, because he did what any governor
would have done, what Jeb Bush did when Bill Clinton came to the state of
Florida, when we were having trouble, Jeb Bush worked with the man who beat
his father in an ugly 1992 campaign. Because Jeb Bush --
SCARBOROUGH: -- he put the interest of Florida first. That`s what
Christie is doing.
I`m telling you, Republicans have been taught a lesson in 2012. I just
hope it doesn`t take 2013 and 2014 to drive that home --
MATTHEWS: Well, you know --
SCARBOROUGH: -- because we`re looking right now, Chris, a lot like the San
Francisco Democrats of 1984.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what? I don`t like the phrase San Francisco
Democrats. You and I love San Francisco --
SCARBOROUGH: I love it.
MATTHEWS: That was her knock on the city for the orientation of some of
its inhabitants. You damn well what she was doing, but I`ve got to tell
SCARBOROUGH: I love San Francisco, but that convention, you guys were
owned by special interests.
MATTHEWS: I never had more fun at a convention in my life. Anyway, thank
you, Joe Scarborough. I think you`re a smart guy.
SCARBOROUGH: You think I am.
MATTHEWS: And congratulations on that -- and thanks for the Christmas
present, you and Mika. That is great. It`s very discreet the little
"MORNING JOE" part.
SCARBOROUGH: You`re great --
MATTHEWS: That little "MORNING JOE" I can actually walk and flaunt that
Anyway, up next, quiz. What president established the EPA, it was more
liberal than Obama on health care, supported the Equal Rights Amendment,
the ERA, and started affirmative action all together. Would you believe,
Richard Nixon, born 100 years ago today? What a strange irony of his
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: While conservatives have been fretting that they`re losing the
culture war, today, there`s another sign that they`re right. The National
Cathedral in Washington is the site to start hosting same-sex weddings.
The beautiful building at the National Cathedral, the seat of the
Episcopalian Church of the United States.
And as Jonathan Capehart wrote in "The Washington Post," to say I do, there
is -- to say I`ve arrived. The decision is just one more sign of how much
Americans` attitudes towards gays and lesbians have changed in the past 20
years. You can bet on that.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
President Richard Nixon would have been 100 years old today. While much of
his legacy has been colored by Watergate, of course, the 37th president is
a dominant force in American politics and has been for 20 years. His
political achievements and range from opening the door to China, of course,
with his historic visit there, to a moderate even liberal domestic agenda
that included among other things the creation of the Environmental
Protection Agency which some Republicans today would like to eliminate, of
In his later years, Nixon became an unlikely adviser to another U.S.
President Bill Clinton. President Clinton eulogized him at his funeral in
1994. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: For the past year, even in the
final weeks of his life, he gave me his wise counsel, especially with
regard to Russia. One thing in particular left a profound impression on
me. Though this man was in his ninth decade, he had an incredibly sharp
and vigorous and rigorous mind. He made mistakes and they like his
accomplishments are part of his life and record. But the enduring lesson
of Richard Nixon is that he never gave up being part of the action and
passion of his times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more on Richard Nixon`s very complicated and in many ways
dark legacy, we`ve got two men who studied him extensively. Douglas
Brinkley, he`s professor of history at Rice University. And Michael Duffy
is the executive editor of "Time" magazine. He`s the author of "The
Presidents Club: Inside the World`s Most Exclusive Fraternity".
Give me -- let`s just start with I love these relationships in politics. I
love to write about them and think about them. What was the relationship
between Dick Nixon, Republican, scandalized by his own hand and Bill
Clinton was coming on as a young, fresh face out of the Ivy League schools?
What was their connections?
MICHAEL DUFFY, TIME MAGAZINE: Nixon really wanted to get to know Clinton
when he came in. He basically said (INAUDIBLE), call me, I can help you.
And Clinton resisted.
But then he did start calling. They became late night phone buddies. And
they had this sort of relationship talking about Russia and China, but also
talking, Chris, about how to do this job. You know, when do you get up?
Clinton wanted to know from Nixon. What do you eat? You know, how much
time do you spend in meetings? Where did you sit? Where would you like to
And Clinton found Nixon`s advice useful and he was thrilled to be back --
DUFFY: -- in the loop after all of these years in exile.
MATTHEWS: Yes, Douglas, my buddy. It seems like he did for Nixon what
Harry Truman did for Hoover, brought him back into public life after his
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Absolutely, Chris. And, you
know, there were reasons for that. Bill Clinton had been beaten up by the
press quite a bit himself, kicked around about Gennifer Flowers and on and
on. And so, he sympathized a little bit what Nixon went through. And,
also, it was just the right thing to do to extend a hand to Richard Nixon.
And he did.
Monica Crowley is a FOX News analyst who used to work for Nixon is his last
years. She writes extensively about that Clinton-Nixon friendship that
developed in his last few years. Nixon himself had brought Dean Acheson to
help him write the "Silent Majority" speech. When he started his early
career, he beat up Truman`s secretary of state as a being a pinko, Dean
Acheson`s communist school of cowardly containment.
So what Nixon did to Acheson, Clinton did to Nixon.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think Joe McCarthy called him the red Dean of fashion,
these guys, the name in the old days were terrible. Let me ask you about
the relationship, because I come across some interesting questions.
Reagan and Nixon, you think both California conservatives would have gotten
along. They didn`t, did they?
DUFFY: They kind of circled each other for their part of 30 or 40 years.
They had different ideas about what it meant to be a Republican. Nixon,
kind of an old fashioned, Northeast Republican. Reagan representing this
new generation, more Western --
DUFFY: A little more libertarian, certainly anti-government than Nixon
ever was. So, Nixon comes as president, he creates the EPA and does
revenue-sharing and does cancer research. And Reagan comes in and says
government isn`t for doing all of these things. He wants them to do just
less than general.
MATTHEWS: You know, I want to get to both ways on this, the moral issue
here. Nixon`s tapes are absolutely egregious. They`re terrible. The
anti-Semitism, the anti-black attitudes, the anti-Italian attitudes,
they`re just all through the tapes. They`re strange, even, the comments he
makes about ethnic groups.
I mean, they`re almost ludicrously funny and -- because they`re ridiculous.
And my question is, is he just a man who talked to different people
depending on who they were? Did he just go like a reed shaken by the wind,
Douglas? Is he like with a Jewish friend of his like Len Garment or Bill
Safire or Arthur Burns or Kissinger? Did he speak one way and then
(INAUDIBLE) think it was a bit of Nazi came into the room, did he talk
differently to him?
And that`s pretty pathetic. But that`s my reading of the guy.
BRINKLEY: You`re spot on with it, Chris. Exactly. And there`s a guy
named Luke Nichter, Texas A&M, who`s meticulously transcribed all of these
Nixon tapes and it`s still an ongoing process. You can see that the devil
was brought out of Nixon by H.R. Haldeman and Chuck Colson particularly.
BRINKLEY: Whenever they`re there, the dark side of Nixon comes out. But
when you see other parts of the tape to listen to Nixon on NATO affairs, on
detente, on dealing with the Apollo program, he comes off as quite wise and
shrewd. So you`re spot on.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he would never talk like that with Bill Clinton. Or
DUFFY: Bill Safire once described Nixon as a layer cake. Eight, nine
layers thick. There was the realist, the sort of conservative person, the
progressive pol, but also a loaner, a realist overseas, a hater at some
level. And, also, a really good poker player.
So he was a much more complicated piece of work than your average president
and most of them are complicated, 12 --
MATTHEWS: A good part of Nixon was just spooky.
DUFFY: Well, that`s what he says. At some point, he`d just been such a
striver and a scraper --
MATTHEWS: I want you to see the world of French, example. The Chinese
love this guy. The French love him. Maybe that`s like Jerry Lewis. Maybe
it doesn`t say a lot, but it is strange. You know that, Doug -- Douglas?
We look at him in a particular way. He`s ours.
Anyway, thank you. Happy birthday, Dick, wherever you are. And Richard
Nixon, I do have mixed feelings -- I am not a Nixon hater. It`s much more
Thank you, gentleman. Thank you, Douglas. And thank you, Michael.
The name of your book? "Presidents Club."
DUFFY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Your book, "Cronkite," hell of a book, hell of a book. When we
return, let me finish with a tale of two presidents those other guys.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. Today is Richard Nixon`s
birthday, as I said, his hundredth. So, let me tell you a story that`s
Back in April, 1947, two young men just back from World War II in the South
Pacific, were sharing an overnight train compartment, you know, the kind of
like in "North by Northwest", where you have one bunk on top of another
bunk. One was a wealthy, young Democrat from Boston, a real war hero, son
of one of the wealthiest men in the country, the world actually. The other
was a guy born to a family that ran a grocery store in southern California,
The two young men had just held their first debate out in Western
Pennsylvania. It was a Monday night and the two were taking a midnight
train back to Washington. They just had hamburgers together in a local
diner and impressed everyone with what normal guys they were. People would
say they couldn`t tell the rich kid from the other one.
Well, that night as the hours past, in the morning, the two World War II
guys talk about the rise of the Soviet Union and what would soon be known
as the Cold War. They were wondering how their generation could avoid the
mistakes of their fathers, how they could avoid a third world war they knew
could go nuclear.
Well, the names were, of course, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. They
were friends back then. And for many years after -- of course, they faced
each other in a far grander series of debates in 1961.
Yes, there was a time when people got along in politics, even as they
debated the big stuff.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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