January 31, 2013
Guests: Jeanne Shaheen, Peter Beinart, Carolyn McCarthy, Bob Shrum, Bradley Cooper
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hawks or buzzards?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. The boiling hatred of the American right
poured over today in hearings on Chuck Hagel`s nomination to be secretary
of defense. Hatred, pure and simple seeped from the mouths of John McCain
and Lindsey Graham as they slashed away at war hero Hagel. Badgering the
witness is too nice a description of what went on today.
The hawks swirled like buzzards, sweeping down, pecking and pulling at the
skin of a former colleague who dared to say this country`s been too ready
to enter wars the American people quickly wished we`d never gotten into.
What`s with this hatred, now centered in the American sunbelt? What do we
make of this poll showing that two out of three Texas Republicans now want
our president impeached? Why the cussedness? Why the range war? Why the
hatred of anyone who dares to stand with Obama? Why can`t politics be a
matter of belief and honest disagreement, not hatred? Why the sick little
intramurals we saw today?
We begin with Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Senator, I want you
to watch this back-and-forth between John McCain and the witness today,
Chuck Hagel. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Were you correct or incorrect when you said
that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this
country since Vietnam? Were you correct or incorrect?
CHUCK HAGEL (R), FMR. NE SEN., DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: My...
MCCAIN: Yes or no.
HAGEL: My reference to the surge...
MCCAIN: Are you going to...
HAGEL: ... being the most dangerous...
MCCAIN: ... answer the question, Senator Hagel? The question is, were you
right or wrong? That`s a pretty straightforward question.
MCCAIN: I would like you to answer whether you were right or wrong, and
then you are free to elaborate.
HAGEL: Well, I`m not going to give you a yes or no answer...
MCCAIN: Well, let the record show that...
HAGEL: ... on a lot of things today.
MCCAIN: ... you refused to answer that question. Now, please go ahead.
HAGEL: Well, if you would like me to explain why...
MCCAIN: Well, I actually would like an answer. Yes or no.
HAGEL: Well, I`m not going to give you a yes or no. I think it`s far more
complicated than that, as I`ve already said. My answer is I`ll defer that
judgment to history. As to the comment I made about the most dangerous
foreign policy decision since Vietnam was about not just the surge but the
overall war of choice going into Iraq.
MCCAIN: I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir,
and you`re on the wrong side of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator Shaheen, I don`t know what to make of that. It looked
like badgering the witness. I mean, it was McCain with some vendetta
against this guy. It looked personal. And I don`t know what it had to do
with his qualifications, his abilities, to simply pound away trying to get
him to agree on John McCain on something McCain believes in.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, this was the longest hearing
for a nominee that I`ve ever attended in my years here. I think -- I
thought Senator Hagel answered forthrightly as he could all the tough
questions that were in front of him.
And you know, I would hope that we could all be respectful and be willing
to give the witness an opportunity to answer when there are serious
I was pleased to hear Senator Hagel. I didn`t ask him about the surge in
Iraq. I wasn`t there for that interchange. But I was pleased to have him
recommit, as he did when we met privately, his support for maintaining the
defense of Israel and point out that his voting record has consistently
been to support Israel.
I was pleased to hear him talk about Iran and his support for international
sanctions and the president`s position on Iran. So I think he is -- and
this hearing is still going on. I think he`s been...
MATTHEWS: I know.
SHAHEEN: ... trying to be very forthright and responsive to all the
questions that have been asked by the committee members.
MATTHEWS: Well, it seems like a rearguard action here on the Vietnam war.
A few minutes later, in the very hearings I was showing you there, Chuck
Hagel returned to the topic of the surge in Iraq and gave a more thoughtful
response, and more completely, but much more emotional. It related to his
decision making in his time, as McCain had time there, too, in Vietnam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAGEL: I saw it from the bottom. I see what -- I saw what happens. I saw
the consequences and the suffering and the horror of war. So I did
question a surge. It wasn`t an aberration to me, ever.
I always ask the question, Is this going to be worth the sacrifice, because
there will be sacrifice. In the surge case in Iraq, we lost almost 1,200
dead Americans during that surge and thousands of wounded.
Now, was it required? Was it necessary? Senator McCain has his own
opinion on that, shared by others. I`m not sure. I`m not that certain
that it was required.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator Shaheen, we`ve had so many wars recently, some of them
bite-sized, but they always involve casualties, Vietnam, Granada, Somalia,
Iraq, Iraq again, Afghanistan, Iran maybe, Libya to some extent. Now
McCain is pushing us to go into Syria.
Some people are hawks, pure and simple. Every war is good to them. Every
war is justified from the second it`s discussed. All wars that even come
up as potential wars are good wars for these characters.
Why is this a standard for whether you can be a good secretary of defense,
that you have a knee-jerk love of war?
SHAHEEN: Well, I thought and believe that...
MATTHEWS: Didn`t you hear that today? I mean, McCain seems crazed on this
issue, like if you`re not for every surge, every war that comes along,
you`re not to be trusted. And the other guy said, I served in Vietnam as a
grunt. I know what it`s like. I know the grunts are the ones who take it.
The big shots take them into war. The big shots talk about climate change
two weeks later, they`re still in the ditch fighting the war. Your
SHAHEEN: Well, and I think it will be good to have somebody with Senator
Hagel`s perspective on war, somebody who understands that sometimes we have
to go to war because there aren`t any other alternatives and we`ve got to
defend our values, but who also understands the horrible consequences of
And certainly, Senator Hagel does that as a former enlisted man who was --
got two Purple Hearts in Vietnam. He knows what the human fallout is from
SHAHEEN: And I think that`s a perspective that it`s important to have.
And you know, I think it`s unfortunate to impugn people`s motives.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
SHAHEEN: We look at two sets of circumstances, and we can have very
different views on what we should do. But the important thing is, when it
comes to the bottom line, we all need to work together, and we all need to
MATTHEWS: OK, what happened...
SHAHEEN: ... each other`s point of views.
MATTHEWS: Quickly, what happened to the U.S. Senate you and I grew up
with, where people actually respected each other? It doesn`t have to be a
club again, but what about mutual respect? This rat pack attack on people,
led by the so-called "amigos," McCain and Lindsey -- it looks personal as
What did you think on that question? Is this personal, this vendetta
you`re seeing today against Chuck Hagel?
SHAHEEN: You know, I don`t know if it`s personal or not. But I think it
is important for us to set a standard for the American people because we
need to keep our comments civil. We need to be respectful...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Thank you.
SHAHEEN: ... because that then plays...
MATTHEWS: Like you. Like you do.
SHAHEEN: ... for the rest of the country.
MATTHEWS: Like you do, Senator. Thank you so much.
SHAHEEN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
We`ve got more reaction to the hearing now from Peter Beinart, editor of
the DailyBeast OpenZion blog. Peter, thank you. You`re always interesting
Let`s look at this today. Here`s Lindsey Graham, one of the "amigos," you
might say, not an amigo of Hagel, also grilling the witness today. Listen
to how he went after his past reference to, quote, "the Jewish lobby."
Let`s watch him go after this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Name one person in your opinion
who is intimidated by the Israeli lobby in the United States Senate.
HAGEL: Well, first...
GRAHAM: Name one!
HAGEL: I don`t know.
GRAHAM: Well, why would you say it?
HAGEL: I didn`t have in mind a specific person.
GRAHAM: Name one dumb thing we`ve been goaded into doing because of the
pressure from the Israeli or Jewish lobby.
HAGEL: I have already stated that I regret the terminology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What is he trying to do there, Peter? I mean, he`s trying to
bait him, it seems to me -- I`ll answer my own question -- into saying
something against a fellow senator. First of all, if he were to name a
fellow senator, that would be the headline tomorrow morning and tonight on
the news. It`d be -- it`d be McCarthyism. Oh, this guy got prodded into
voting a way he didn`t want to vote because he`s worried about some
influential people somewhere.
What kind -- it was like, Did you stop beating your wife? I mean, it`s
that kind of a question. There`s no good answer to that question.
PETER BEINART, DAILYBEAST/OPENZION: No, you`re right. It was entirely
gotcha. And look, the problem here with Hagel is that he came into a
gunfight with a water pistol. These guys, as you said, were going after
him. They had made up their decision. And instead of Hagel actually
defending the arguments that he`s made, saying, Yes, we should have
military action against Iran on the table, but we should be very open about
how dangerous military action would be, yes, we support Israel, yes, we
want to give it military aid, but we also think that some of its policies
in the settlements are bad for Israel and for the United States -- he
didn`t really defend those policies. And in that way...
MATTHEWS: I think that`s what they wanted him to do. I think Lindsey
Graham was trying to get him to take some shots at Israel. The minute he
did that -- you`re good at analyzing the news, how the headlines will run,
then the headline will be, Nominee attacks Israel.
BEINART: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And the pro-Israeli press or pro-Israeli analysts will say,
There he goes again, taking a shot at Netanyahu, or somebody over there in
Israel and their politics. And then Lindsey gets what he wants. I mean,
maybe I`m being Machiavellian here. I`ll always admit that.
BEINART: No, I think that`s exactly right. But I think Barack Obama chose
Chuck Hagel because he doesn`t fully agree with Lindsey Graham and Benjamin
Netanyahu on everything.
BEINART: In fact, most of Israel`s security establishment doesn`t agree
that what Netanyahu is doing in the West Bank is good for Israel.
MATTHEWS: Most of the Israeli security establishment doesn`t agree with...
BEINART: Not at all! And Hagel has a good case that he could have made
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, he didn`t do it. So what do you think? Was it
Obama`s first debate? Was it just a bad night, or was there...
BEINART: You know...
MATTHEWS: Or was it a rope-a-dope, meaning he said, I`d rather take the
punches today, I`ll still get a 14 to 10 vote out of that committee, but if
I were to attack back -- it`s almost like Ted Kennedy in the old days when
he was attacked by an opponent. He decided, If I attack back, I`m in the
mess with them. If I don`t attack back, I`ll be...
BEINART: Yes, I think...
MATTHEWS: It`s a calculation sometimes.
BEINART: ... that`s right, but I think it was a mistake. It was like
Obama`s first debate. It`s like, Let`s not try to lose this thing.
BEINART: I don`t think that works in sports. I don`t think it works in
politics. Hagel has to go out there...
MATTHEWS: Yes, prevent defense wasn`t the answer here.
BEINART: That`s right. Hagel has a good case for why he believes what he
-- for goodness sake, the last 10 years of American foreign policy, these
disastrous wars reaffirm Hagel`s basic instincts about the danger of taking
America into war casually. He should have made that case. That`s why
Obama chose him.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he has an articulation problem? I mean, is this
endemic, do you think? And he`s going to have to stand up to a lot of
people in the world. He`s going to have to fight with generals. Do you
think he just doesn`t have it, or do you think he didn`t have the strategy
for tonight, or today, all day today?
BEINART: I think -- I think whoever was counseling him did not say to him,
You go out there and say what we -- what you believe because that`s why we
want you. They went and they said, You basically try to show there`s no
difference between you and John McCain. There is a difference, and that`s
why he should be secretary of defense.
MATTHEWS: OK. Just remember, watch the tape. McCain never gave him a
chance to explain himself.
MATTHEWS: Lindsey Graham, his amigo, never gave him a chance. They sat
badgering that guy to answer their yes or no questions for their own
Anyway, Peter, you`re the greatest analyst I`ve ever heard of.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. Just kidding. No, I love it because I can`t
predict you, buddy! I think you`re very honest.
BEINART: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, gun fight. What did we learn at yesterday`s gun
hearings, that the pro-gun lobby continues to trot out nonsense to oppose
background checks? Take Wayne LaPierre`s claim that criminals would ignore
background checks anyway, so why have them?
By that logic, Wayne, we shouldn`t have any laws at all because criminals
will break them. That`s what we do with criminals. We expect them to
break them, and that`s why we have those laws because they`re bad things
they shouldn`t be doing.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, that rainy day has come. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton is leaving her post tomorrow, and today she`ll give the gavel --
actually, the final speech of sorts to the Council on Foreign Relations.
She talked about the global challenges facing America and the progress
we`ve made over the past four years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: What we faced in January of 2009 --
two wars, an economy in freefall, traditional alliances fraying, our
diplomatic standing damaged, and around the world, people questioning
America`s commitment to core values and our ability to maintain our global
leadership -- that was my inbox on day one as your secretary of state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Quite an inbox. Clinton went on to say that since then America,
has strengthened its standing both at home and abroad. Well, tomorrow John
Kerry will be sworn in as Clinton`s successor as secretary of state.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It feels like we report news like
this far too often, but today a student was shot in the head at an Atlanta
middle school and remains hospitalized. The suspect, a fellow student, has
Keep that in mind as you listen to the right-wing voices resisting even
common sense gun restrictions. They emptied their entire bag of tricks, by
the way, at yesterday`s Senate hearing, everything from why have laws when
criminals won`t follow them anyway, to citizens need military-caliber guns
because police budgets have been slashed.
But one argument made by Gayle Trotter of the conservative Independent
Women`s Forum was slippery and misleading, and one Democratic senator
called her bluff. Here`s the sequence at a hearing designed in part to
consider whether assault weapons should be banned.
Trotter told the story of a single mother who used a gun to protect herself
and her baby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAYLE TROTTER, GUN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I would like to begin with the
compelling story of Sarah McKinley (ph). Home alone with her baby, she
called 911 when two violent intruders began to break down her front door.
As the intruders forced their way into her home, Ms. McKinley fired her
weapon, fatally wounding one of the violent attackers. The other fled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: No mention of the type of weapon the woman used. In fact, the
woman defended herself with a shotgun and a pistol, neither of which would
be affected at all by the assault weapons ban.
A little later, she gave a hypothetical example of a woman using an assault
rifle for protection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TROTTER: An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her
babies in her home becomes a defense weapon. And the peace of mind that a
woman has as she`s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in
her home, with her children screaming in the background -- the peace of
mind that she has, knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more
courage when she`s fighting hardened violent criminals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So all mothers should have assault weapons. I mean, it`s like
happiness is a warm gun here. Anyway -- but Rhode Island senator Sheldon
Whitehouse, one of the real coming stars of the U.S. Senate, didn`t want
there to be any confusion or conflation here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Ms. Trotter, a quick question.
Sarah McKinley, in defending her home, used a Remington 870 express 12-
gauge shotgun that would not be banned under the statute, correct? Under
the proposed statute.
TROTTER: I don`t -- I don`t remember what type of weapon she used.
WHITEHOUSE: Trust me, that`s what it was. And it would not be banned
under the statute.
TROTTER: I think you can understand that as a woman, I think it`s very
important not to place undue burdens on our 2nd Amendment right to choose
to defend ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Absolute propaganda. With that final line, Trotter gave it
away. She appropriated phrases from the pro-choice reproductive rights
movement about undue burden from the Casey case and about choice. Every
trick in the book we`re seeing here.
Joining me now is U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who`s had real-life
experience and doesn`t need tricks here, and MSNBC contributor Ron Reagan.
What do you think of that performance, Congresswoman, where she`s using the
language we`re familiar with from the Casey case on abortion rights, undue
burden, even using the word choice, as a woman, the language there
appealing to gender? I mean, you`re a woman. What do you make of it?
REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: Well, to be honest with you, I was
shocked, because, obviously, she doesn`t know what we`re trying to do.
Number one, that woman will have the right to defend herself, and she will
have the gun of her choice, even if she wants to use a large magazine. She
will because it will have 10 bullets and one in the chamber. That`s 11
I would tend to think that this is not an issue between men and women and
the right to be able to own a gun. We`re not even going there. Excuse me.
So what you have seen in that hearing yesterday, not just with her, but
really on the whole side, LaPierre was way out of line as far as he was
saying on something that he said a couple weeks ago -- we will think about,
you know, background checks.
They`re backing away right now, and in my opinion they`re running scared.
MATTHEWS: You know, in Catholic school, when everybody did something wrong
in the old days, they would say, what if everybody did that?
Can you imagine a country, Congresswoman, where everybody had not a sawed-
off shotgun, not a shotgun, but everybody, every mother, especially, had to
have a semiautomatic rifle at hand at all times, everybody had to live like
that, because if it wasn`t the bad guys coming in, like five of them,
according to her, in this situation, the government might be coming, and
you might have to protect your babies from the government?
I mean, this thing, doesn`t it reach an absurdity of paranoia at some
point? Your thoughts.
MCCARTHY: Well, this is perfectly true.
Paranoia and fear is definitely what the NRA has been doing. And I wish
they would listen to the majority of their members that are saying we
should have universal background checks. An awful lot of them are saying,
I don`t need a large magazine. That`s not what I hunt for. I have a gun
home to protect my family.
We`re not taking any of that away. But there`s still -- if you read all
the blogs and everything, I mean, what`s being put out there is so far from
the truth. But when you think about it, you know, what we`re trying to do
is holistically. We`re trying to look at the guns that cause the most
damage, the large magazines which obviously, once you go over that 15, 20,
30, 40, up to 100, they say, well, that`s taking away our right, but why
did we ban machine guns?
That became legal. That`s legal by the Supreme Court. I still go back to
the Supreme Court, which they seem to be ignoring right now, the NRA. They
don`t even want to listen to their own people in the Supreme Court saying
that the municipalities and the states have the right to make laws to
protect their citizens.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Ron Reagan on these thoughts.
Ron, I want you to watch something by Leslie -- Leslie -- I mean Lindsey
Graham here. Lindsey Graham has been all over the place doing bad work I
think the last couple days. Here he is warning that cuts to police budgets
-- talk about Republicans going crazy -- are one reason citizens need guns
with high-capacity magazines. In other words, you got to reproduce the
local police department. Let`s listen here.
RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Because of the fiscal state of
affairs we have, there will be less police officers, not more, over the
next decade. Response times are going to be less, not more.
There can be a situation where a mother runs out of bullets because of
something we do here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, now we have got a new Pearl Harbor slogan, cut the police,
pass the ammunition. I mean, it`s unbelievable, Ron.
REAGAN: Well, it`s ironic, too, because Republicans have been promoting
the slashing of local budgets that results in fewer police on the streets
And there`s an unstated irony in this as well that Lindsey Graham knows
full well, Wayne LaPierre knows full well, Gayle Trotter knows full well.
And Sheldon Whitehouse alluded to it. He asked LaPierre a question about
it, which LaPierre ducked. And that is, if you talk to members of the NRA,
hard-core members of the NRA, they will admit, as Mr. Whitehouse, Senator
Whitehouse said, they will admit that you don`t need an AR-15, an assault
rifle or anything, to defend your home or go hunting or go target shooting
or anything else.
They want those guns because the police have those guns. And they believe
that they will have to fight the police, and they want to be as heavily
armed as the police when that happens. That is the underlying philosophy.
So they think in terms of a barricade situation, where it`s them against
REAGAN: Absolutely. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Well, Congresswoman, that is new. It used to be they would say,
we`re sportsmen, and they would say, we`re hunters, and then they would
say, well, whatever, self-protection, if you live in a tough neighborhood
Now they openly say we have to fight the government. That`s pretty much
close to insurrection time, isn`t it? We have got to be ready to fight the
MCCARTHY: And this is what we have been hearing now for a couple months,
to be very honest with you.
We heard these arguments going all the way back to Aurora and going back to
Gabby Giffords. This is the fear and the mongering that they put out
there. And, remember, LaPierre had said when they came out and spoke for
the first time, oh, we should be having more police officers on the street,
well, and in schools.
I agree with that. I would love to have more police officers in all of our
communities. That alone will not solve the problem. It`s got to be
everything together holistically.
MCCARTHY: More police, better education, certainly mental health, those
are the things that we need to do.
So those that want to work with us, that`s great. But the NRA, which they
kind of gave us hints that they were willing to work with us, but now they
have totally flipped and they want nothing to do with us.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s nothing from the NRA.
Anyway, the NRA`s Wayne LaPierre, you mentioned him -- by the way, we`re
out of time. We`re going to keep this conversation up for months, I`m
afraid. This is a battle royal right now between yourself, Congresswoman,
who I`m -- who is great at this, and you have had the experience of knowing
how important it is, and of course, Gabby Giffords` husband, Mark Kelly,
and all the other people with firsthand knowledge. I think you have really
made a difference with the thinking people.
MCCARTHY: And that`s the difference. Other victims are now speaking up.
And for Gabby, to see her yesterday and her husband by her side talking
about this, these were very strong NRA supporters, and yet they see what
can be done.
MATTHEWS: I think...
REAGAN: Twenty dead first graders has...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Ron.
REAGAN: I was just going to say, in closing, 20 dead first graders has a
way of concentrating the mind.
MCCARTHY: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: It`s a serious conversation. It`s an American conversation.
Thank you, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Ron Reagan.
MCCARTHY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We have one more note about the epidemic of gun violence in this
Yesterday, we told you about 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton of Chicago who
was fatally shot in what may have been a gang turf war. After having
performed in Washington with her high school band for the inaugural music
festival, it all happened since then, today, we learned that in 2008 she
was featured in a video speaking out against gun violence. Here is part of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HADIYA PENDLETON, 15 YEARS OLD: So many children out there are in gangs,
and it is your job as students to say no to gangs and yes to a great
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. We`re in the "Sideshow" now.
First, yet another way for Republicans to avoid gaining support from low-
income voters? Enter Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield with this
bold proposal. Slash welfare benefits for parents whose kids do poorly in
school. Well, that`s right. According to Campfield, somehow, the threat
of less food on the table is the ticket to getting parents to help their
kids in school. Figure that one out.
Anyway, something Campfield said on this network was catnip for the folks
at "The Tonight Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Tennessee State Senator
Stacey Campfield advocates -- he wants legislation that will reduce welfare
payments to families if their kids are getting bad grades. They cut their
welfare payments if the kids get bad grades.
I`m not sure he did that well in school himself. This is a segment we call
the botched cliche of the day, senator edition.
STACEY CAMPFIELD (R), TENNESSEE STATE SENATOR: Well, first off, we`re not
sitting -- I`m not saying the bar like the kids have to become rocket
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Rocket surgeons? Is that like tree surgeons?
Next, let`s take a look at this headline from "The Washington Times."
Quote: "Reagan`s home could become a parking lot for Obama`s library."
We`re looking at what you might call an extreme case of jumping the gun
here. Here`s the real story. This is an apartment building in the Chicago
neighborhood of Hyde Park, where President Reagan spent a bit of his
childhood. The site is now owned by the University of Chicago and they`re
planning to tear it down to provide parking space for the expanding campus.
Cue the right wing. Since the University of Chicago could eventually be
the site of Barack Obama`s presidential library, isn`t it possible that the
parking lot might be for people who might want to visit the library, which
could destroy the place where Ronald Reagan spent less than a year of his
youth? Just think of the desecration.
A right-wing explosion ensued. And even "The London Daily Mail" dove into
this one, prompting White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to have to enter
the fray last night -- quote -- "To those chasing the `Mail` online scoop
about alleged Obama library parking lot, stand down. The report is false.
Shocking, I know."
Still, FOX News used -- or actually asked viewers to weigh in this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, what do you think about this story?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should that happen or should it become a landmark?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or should the president just say, listen, if it means -
- if my library -- if I have to steamroll Ronald Reagan`s house to build a
library, I shouldn`t have a library.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, there`s FOX, and then there`s FOX in the morning,
which is even lower than the rest of it.
Anyway, the university itself shot down the rumor, and, by the way, it
hasn`t even been confirmed that the presidential library will even be at
the University of Chicago. The University of Hawaii remains a contender
for that one.
Finally, yesterday, we found that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick had
selected Mo Cowan to be interim senator from Massachusetts. Curious how
Barney Frank reacted to the news, after announcing publicly that he was
very interested in getting that shot.
Well, too bad. Here is what he told "The Hill" when asked how he felt
about not getting the Senate seat: "If I wanted to talk about feelings, I
would have called Oprah."
MATTHEWS: Barney, that`s exactly why we love you.
Up next: Republicans are still talking about, well, like half the country
is a bunch of takers. Maybe they didn`t learn the lessons of the 2012
election, you know, the 47 percent stuff?
More of that coming. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC
The Dow had its best January since 1994. Despite a loss today, the S&P
fell three, but had its best January since 1997. The Nasdaq ended flat.
Jobless claims rose by 38,000 last week. That was a bigger gain than
expected. Meanwhile, according to ADP, private sector employers added
192,000 jobs this month. And tomorrow we get the latest payroll numbers.
A gain of 168,000 is expected, with the unemployment rate remaining steady
at 7.8 percent.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Republicans say they`re in the process of soul-searching. They may want to
search a little deeper, actually. To listen to Tea Party Republicans about
immigration, social programs, and impeaching President Obama, you would
think they haven`t learned anything from 2012 in some cases.
For example, take a look at what Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
writes in his upcoming book. It strikes a similar note to Mitt Romney`s
old problem about that 47 percent. Remember?
Well, here is a new version -- quote -- "One of their favorite ways to
increase their power" -- and he`s talking about the Democrats here -- "is
by creating programs that dispense subsidized government benefits, such as
Medicare, Social Security, and outright welfare, Medicaid, food stamps,
subsidized housing and the like. These programs make people dependent on
government, and once people are dependent, they feel they can`t afford to
have the programs taken away, no matter how inefficient, poorly run, or
costly to the rest of society."
Well, does the Republican Party have a chance when folks like Cuccinelli
are still around?
Well, Bob Shrum is a Democratic strategist and Daily Beast columnist, and
Michael Steele is a former RNC chair and MSNBC political analyst.
Bob, I want you to talk about this, because it`s fairly familiar talk. And
whether it has any logic to it or not, there is something of a ratchet
effect. People certainly who are on Social Security benefits don`t want to
see the program taken away. They have been paying into it all their lives,
so they`re going to have anything say -- or Medicare, same deal. Who is 70
years old today is going to say, oh, I don`t want Medicare? I only paid
into it for the last 50 years.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, look...
MATTHEWS: So, there`s an argument that these programs become popular.
Right. Where are the Republicans wrong in what they`re saying now in
Cuccinelli`s version of the truth?
SHRUM: Well, first of all, people, as you just said, pay into those
programs. They pay in all their working lives.
Secondly, the idea of a social safety net in this country that helps the
elderly, that helps people when they`re over 65 deal with their health care
expenses, that helps the unemployed, who, by the way, pay unemployment
insurance, and before they got unemployed, paid the taxes that support food
stamps, has been widely accepted in this society, including by Ronald
I have no idea why this guy Cuccinelli would want to borrow one of the
worst lines ever uttered in American presidential politics and put it out
there as he`s starting to run for governor of Virginia. He needs to get
support in Northern Virginia. This is going to hurt him there. He`s going
to have a very tough race against Terry McAuliffe. And he may actually
break the streak that`s been going on for decades that whoever wins the
presidency, their party loses the governorship of Virginia the next time.
Michael Steele months ago, I think, on this program with me said the 47
percent line was a disaster. I don`t know why anybody would repeat it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you this.
MATTHEWS: Look, it comes down to numbers. Everybody knows there`s some
welfare cheating. Everybody knows there are some people who just aren`t
looking for a job. They grab the unemployment check.
The thing is, do you build a whole philosophy about maybe 5 percent of the
people on welfare --
MATTHEWS: -- are just taking it easy? Or the Republican notion 90
percent of the people on welfare are cheating and just grabbing the check?
I mean, that is the way to look at it. Which way is it?
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: And that is not reflective of
rank and file Republicans, by the way, that 90 percent of the people on
welfare are cheating and shouldn`t be there.
I think to Ken Cuccinelli`s point, and to what Bob just said, I think
the reality is he`s going to have to square that with the people in the
state as he runs for Virginia, number one. Number two, I don`t think
that`s reflect -- that sentiment or that idea is reflective of the party as
a whole. But there is a legitimate point to be made about I think
underneath that argument, is how these programs function? I have been
paying into the system since I was 14 years old and got my first job. I
don`t expect to reap the benefit of all the dollars that I have put into
the system --
MATTHEWS: Which programs are you talking about you won`t benefit
STEELE: The Social Security program, for example. I have been
paying since my first job at age 14 years old.
MATTHEWS: You tot.
STEELE: I know.
MATTHEWS: You don`t think you`re going to get anything out of Social
STEELE: I`m not going to get that money back.
But this is the broader point -- I get it. But the question we have
to look at is for future generations, that 20-something-year-old, that 30-
year-old in the next 20 to 30 years, how this program is going to be
designed in such a way --
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s get back to the argument your party has been
making, not all of you.
MATTHEWS: This argument it`s basically all a trick. Get the people
to buy into these social programs so they`ll become dependent people.
That`s the old Romney line.
STEELE: And that to me is just a cynical view of the American spirit
and it shouldn`t have any --
MATTHEWS: Bob, respond to this editorial in "The National Review".
It`s called "Amnesty Pointless," saying, quote, "Take away the Spanish
surname and Latino voters look a great deal like many other Democratic
constituencies. Low income households headed by single mothers and
dependent upon some form of welfare are not looking for an excuse or action
to join forces with Paul Ryan and Pat Toomey." In other words, they`ll
never be Republicans.
And there`s Pennsylvania Congressman Lou Barletta. Here`s what he
said about the immigrants that would be affected by the senator`s plan.
Quote, "They will be Democrats. I hope politics is not at the root of why
we`re rushing to pass a bill. Anyone who believes that they`re going to
win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken. The majority that are here
legally -- or illegally are low skilled or may not even have a high school
diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give
more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social
programs they will depend on."
In other words, Latinos are Democrats endemically. They`re going to
vote -- my belief, by the way, this is a case of the Republicans, I think
as more Latinos make it into the middle class, more become upper middle
class, more become entrepreneurs as inevitably is happening already, more
will become Republicans. That`s the bottom line.
SHRUM: Sure, absolutely. That will happen.
MATTHEWS: They come from countries have that lousy governments.
They`re not government lovers. They want to have their own stakes.
SHRUM: That`s going to happen if they`re not insulted, insulted, and
insulted. The people you just cited prove Louisiana Governor Bobby
Jindal`s comment that the Republicans need to stop being the stupid party.
You can`t go out during this immigration debate and insult these people
over and over again in a kind of semi-racist way, in a way that looks down
You know, George Bush, and I know this all too well, got about 44
percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. That`s how he narrowly beat John
Kerry. In a close election, that Hispanic vote is critical. If
Republicans are stuck at 27 percent --
MATTHEWS: You kissed off the Hispanic vote, Shrummie. It was your
fault. It was your fault.
SHRUM: No. You know what? It was -- Rove and Bush did a good job
of reaching out to Hispanics.
MATTHEWS: I`m kidding. It was good for George W, by the way, I give
him a lot of tribute the fact that he and his family have been very
positive on the Hispanic relations between Anglos and Hispanics. There`s
no problem I got with those people on that one.
STEELE: And the party needs to listen more to that George Bush
MATTHEWS: That and AIDS in Africa, the two good things the Bushes
Anyway, thank you, Bob Shrum. We found a good Republican argument
here through all the mess here. Thank you, Michael Steele.
Coming up --
SHRUM: Thanks, Michael.
STEELE: Thanks, Bob.
SHRUM: Take care.
MATTHEWS: -- a real treat here. All the women and men come out. We
have Bradley Cooper coming here. The superstar, the new movie "Silver
Linings", my favorite of this year, one of the best Philadelphia movies of
all time, that`s movies of all time. And the star of the film, Bradley
Cooper, is coming to sit right where Michael Steele is sitting. Take care
of that chair.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Bradley Cooper, star of the great new movie "Silver
Linings Playbook," one of the great Philly movies of all-time, one of the
great movies of all time, Bradley Cooper is coming to HARDBALL right now.
MATTHEWS: Back to my sweet spot, Philadelphia, my hometown. It`s
the backdrop to "Silver Linings Playbook", a movie that`s earned eight
Academy Award nominations, including best actor for Bradley Cooper`s
portrayal of Paul (ph) Solatano, a bipolar man just released from a mental
institution, who hits rock bottom after moving back home with his parents.
Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK"/THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY)
BRADLEY COOPER AS PAT SOLATANO: I already looked all over there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s somewhere!
COOPER: It`s not here, mom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just calm down.
COOPER: I`m not calming down. I don`t give a -- I`m not calming
down. Everybody can wake up. I`m not ashamed of it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it!
COOPER: Let the whole neighborhood wake up. I don`t care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it, stop it.
COOPER: No, mom!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going on? What?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it!
COOPER: It`s my wedding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!
COOPER: I can`t watch a video now? It`s all in my head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Best movie of the year, Bradley Cooper is with me here.
And I really mean it. Not just Philly. I have never seen a more
heartwarming movie about what humans can do together and how families do
stick together and they really do work things out and life can be really
I don`t know. Where did you hear this story first?
COOPER: Matthew Quick, the guy who wrote the novel and Sydney
Pollack got the rights to it.
MATTHEWS: The great Sydney Pollack.
COOPER: Yes, yes. And Anthony Minghella. Both of them since
passed, gave it to David O. Russell, and it took him five years to make it,
wrote about 20 drafts. But it`s just a personal movie. That`s what it is.
It`s such a personal movie for David. And then when we all came around
him, it became personal for all of us.
MATTHEWS: It`s even about the Super Bowl. It`s about families
getting together watching pro-football together in Sunday.
MATTHEWS: And that means (INAUDIBLE) and really believing that you
can do something in the house holding napkins or what -- holding rags that
are green. I saw those people down at the Super Bowl, the Eagles, the fans
down there when they`re all painted in green, staying up all night in
This obsession with football and how it becomes your life, that`s so
much a part of that movie.
COOPER: Yes, it`s a part of my childhood. I don`t know if it`s part
of yours. But, yes, you know, sometimes, it`s hard for certain generations
to talk about issues and for example, Pat Sr., the only way he gets to talk
to his son was through football.
MATTHEWS: And sitting there watching games with him.
COOPER: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And the mother making that special food. What was the
food she made?
COOPER: Crabby snacks and homemades.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about your dad, I heard your uncle, your dad
passed. But your uncle got a whole --
COOPER: First of all, it`s an honor to be on here.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you.
He got ahold of Robert de Niro and insisted that the guy do Philly
right, the accents, all the things that (INAUDIBLE) and all this stuff, all
the Philly talk. He insisted that de Niro, one of the great actors of all
time, get it right.
COOPER: Yes, and Bob really is --
MATTHEWS: Did you like being able to call Robert de Niro Bob?
COOPER: Yes, I like better calling him dad. That was the great
thing of this movie. I think I said dad a hundred times in this film.
MATTHEWS: Did he become a father figure?
COOPER: Yes, of course, I mean, yes.
Four people in this movie, actor, best actor, best actress, best
supporting actress, best supporting actor, all four nominated for an
COOPER: Yes, first time in 31 years since "Reds".
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Jennifer Lawrence.
MATTHEWS: I think, and my friend, Gary Ross, who did a director in
"Hunger Games" --
MATTHEWS: -- the greatest actor, female actor of our generation.
I`ve never seen a greater performer. I thought it was my cousin, Terry,
Theresa. I thought that somehow she knew what it was like to grew up in a
COOPER: This is a girl from Kentucky.
MATTHEWS: How did she figure out what it was like acting a part of a
COOPER: I think she`s a sponge and she`s one of those people who
effortlessly, you know, exudes this talent and so smart and so loose at the
same time and dexterous comedically. I mean, she can really do it all. I
mean, this character Tiffany is the closest to her.
MATTHEWS: But her attitude.
COOPER: Yes, it`s her attitude.
MATTHEWS: Attitude, it`s so real.
COOPER: She`s unbelievable, Chris. I don`t understand.
MATTHEWS: This is Philly.
Let me ask you about mental illness, because sometimes you get a
sense -- we`re talking about it with all kinds of things and emotional
problems and bipolar, we know about autism and things more than we ever
did. The sense that things don`t get better, but was there a reason to
believe that the character could actually -- I remember a movie years ago,
David and Lisa, about two people came together, autistic, and the
MATTHEWS: That they found -- the relationship did something that all
the doctors in the world couldn`t do.
Your character, this was so great in America about it, is this hope
that even if you got problems, really severe emotional problems, that you
can solve them with the right people around you.
COOPER: Well, that`s the whole point. And Tiffany serves as the
catalyst for that. She`s the first person who actually seized who he is.
And that`s the thing that this film has done is that, you know, I`ve gone
around the many cities around the country and people are talking about how
I actually feel like this film sees who I am, because it`s very heavy
stigmatized. It`s not a very treatable disease.
And it`s a condition -- if we liken it to cancer -- it`s diagnosed as
stage four. That`s a way too late. So hopefully, a movie like this will
help it become, you know, in the onset.
MATTHEWS: Let`s come back and look at some pictures for this great
movie. It is my favorite this year. Bradley Cooper is going to join us
again. He`s going to stay around for the second segment. We never do
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with Bradley Cooper, star of the great new
Philadelphia movie, I must say "Silver Linings Playbook".
Here`s another clip of the movie, but you`ve got to go see it, when
Pat, his character, explains his problem at that therapy session. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about something that you did before
COOPER: Yes, about a week before the incident, I called the cops.
And I told them that my wife and the history guy were plotting against me
by embezzling money from the local high school which -- wasn`t true. It
was a delusion. And we later found out from the hospital it`s because I`m
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Undiagnosed bipolar.
COOPER: Yes. With mood swings and weird thinking brought on by
severe stress which rarely happens, thank God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is that actor really from South Asia? Or is that an
COOPER: Yes, that`s Adam Pomkar (ph). He`s fantastic --
MATTHEWS: He is so funny. So real and so funny. He ends up at the
Eagles game, what they call the Indian --
COOPER: Yes, my president green (ph).
MATTHEWS: Yes. You guys all defend him. And the bad guys go after
him. I love that.
There`s a scene in this, by the way, when you do something, I wish
the president in the inaugural to do was dance. Actually they learn to
dance. I`m bragging on this the other week because these guys like Obama
and W. don`t even bother taking dancing lessons. They go out there pretend
But you went out there dancing in this movie.
COOPER: We certainly did. We trained. Every moment we were on set,
Jen and I were up there training. She had a lion`s share. There were no
dance doubles. That was us, doing a very bipolar dance.
MATTHEWS: It was kind of an embarrassing shot in there, the slip.
There`s a scene in the movie which I think is the treasure of the
movie. We probably don`t have the clip. When Robert de Niro, your dad,
realized that your first wife, which basically dumped you.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t the right one, never was the right one.
COOPER: Oh, yes --
MATTHEWS: And he has this great line with where he says she may have
loved you once, maybe. But she doesn`t love you now and this one does.
COOPER: Yes, that`s great. And that was a great moment. In fact,
when we were shooting that moment, right after Bob did that, looked at each
other, he had tears in his eyes and we just thought, wow. I mean, it`s so
MATTHEWS: What a dad. One of the great --
COOPER: That was one of the great scenes and to come together.
MATTHEWS: When you win the Academy Award for best actor, I think you
should show that scene.
Let me ask you about, are you going to see the troops down at --
COOPER: Yes, we`re going to go right now. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Walter Reed.
COOPER: Yes, that`s right. We`re going to show it to about 50 guys,
do a Q&A afterwards.
MATTHEWS: You`re going to show the movie.
COOPER: We`re going to show them the movie. It`s the best thing
about this thing, the fact that it`s able to reach out and make people feel
included. So, I can`t wait to go.
MATTHEWS: They`re going to love it. They`re going to love it. What
they`re all going through, with missing arms and legs.
MATTHEWS: And that`s the other thing they gotten hurt by, and post-
COOPER: That`s the main thing.
MATTHEWS: Post-traumatic. Serious business.
Thank you, Bradley Cooper. It`s great to have you on.
COOPER: Thank you for having me, Chris.
MATTHEWS: It`s great to have you on, obviously.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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