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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Monday, March 25th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Monday show

March 25, 2013


Guests: Chief Jim Johnson, Mark Glaze, Joe Solomonese, Theodore Boutros

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Wanted, profiles in courage.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Remember John F. Kennedy`s book
"Profiles in Courage"? It`s about U.S. senators who had to cast courageous
votes that some of the people back home didn`t like. Such a vote is coming
soon to a senator near you. The issue, gun safety.

The NRA is out there working gun owners, loading them up with the worst
case scenarios. If someone does a background check on you, count on that
person to turn in your name to Washington. Next step, the creation of a
national registry of all guns and the name and address of all those who
bought them.

This means the pressure is now on the senators alarmed, in a personal
sense, by those young kids whose lives were wiped away at 6 years old.
Will they vote what they think is right or buckle to the National Rifle
Association and to 2nd Amendment fanatics? Tonight, we debate the profiles
in courage, those U.S. Senators for whom the gun safety vote could make all
the difference.

Mark Glaze is the director of Mayor Bloomberg`s group, Mayors Against
Illegal Guns. And Jim Johnson is the Baltimore County police chief and the
chair of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence.

Chief, I want you to start with this question. What is at stake for law
enforcement officials in having, say, the background check?

certainly, the safety of Americans is at stake here. Certainly, we know
there are 30,000 people a year killed by firearms violence. And a
background check -- nearly 6.6 million firearms each year are transferred
without a background check, nearly 40 percent of all these firearms that go
back and forth. Police officers are killed each and every year by
individuals who got their firearms outside of licensed firearms dealers.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to you, Mark. Your group and Mayor Bloomberg are
running a new ad in 13 states, hoping to put the same kind of pressure on
Congress, from your point of view, gun safety, that the NRA does from the
other side. And those states happen to be the homes of key senators,
especially Democrats in red states, who are crucial to getting background
checks through.

Let`s watch your ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, guns are for hunting and protecting my family.
I believe in the 2nd Amendment, and I`ll fight to protect it. But with
rights come responsibilities. That`s why I support comprehensive
background checks, so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can`t buy
guns. That protects my rights and my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell Congress, don`t protect criminals, vote to protect
gun rights and our families with comprehensive background checks. Demand
action now.


MATTHEWS: Well, the ad was meant by -- actually, met by a statement this
afternoon from Arkansas Democratic senator Mark Pryor, who said simply, "I
don`t take gun advice from the mayor of New York City. I listen to

What do you make of that is kind of reaction because that is the kind of
thing that I think that Wayne LaPierre was pushing on Sunday on "MEET THE
PRESS," pushing the idea that it`s really about Mike Bloomberg, it`s not
about your own safety from guns.

MARK GLAZE, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Well, a couple of things. You
know, that`s all we could ask for, that Senator Pryor listen to Arkansans.
And specifically, we hope he will listen to the 84 percent of Arkansans who
have said they think that every gun buyer ought to get a background check,
no matter who they buy the gun from or where they buy it.

About, you know, 60 percent of people in this country who buy guys already
get those background checks because they buy them at licensed dealers. But
you have this enormously unfair and dangerous system, where if you buy the
gun on line or you buy the gun at a gun show, there`s no background check.
So that`s where the criminals and the seriously mentally ill go to get
their guns.

All we want is to close that loophole. And we think it`s going to happen,
and we think it will happen with Senator Pryor`s support.

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you -- OK, what do (INAUDIBLE) what do you make of
LaPierre yesterday, going back to his attack? And here`s what I mean by
this. He is trying to make it one of these country mice against the city
mice. He`s trying to basically say, If you want to stand up for your
community against the big shots from Gotham, you can vote for more guns.
You can vote against the -- you know what`s going on here. What do you
make of it?

GLAZE: Well, if Wayne LaPierre is a country mouse, he may be the only
country mouse in the country making $1.3 million a year to preach -- to
preach the kind of stuff he preached yesterday.

Look, he tries to make this about Mike Bloomberg and about the NRA. And it
seems to me that that`s a waste of an important national moment, when
everybody in this country -- NRA member, gun owner, and person who has
never looked at a gun they liked in their life -- ought to be having a
conversation about where there is common ground.

And in discussing this with people out in the country since Newtown and for
the past five years, what we`ve learned it that despite what you hear on
news programs, there`s actually an enormous and pretty durable consensus
about what you would do if you wanted to save a lot of lives, but at the
same time respect the rights of law-abiding citizens. And it`s background
checks. That`s what everyone agrees on.

MATTHEWS: I think they do. Anyway, the numbers sure prove it. Anyway,
Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York argued yesterday that the public is on his
side when it comes to background checks in particular. In fact (INAUDIBLE)
they are, in fact. Polls show that about nine out of ten Americans support
the background check. But LaPierre chose to blame the messenger and attack
the New York City mayor himself. Here`s what he was saying. I was quoting
him. Here he is himself. Let`s watch.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK CITY: I don`t think there`s ever
been an issue where the public has spoken so clearly, where Congress hasn`t
eventually understood and done the right thing. If 90 percent of the
public wants something and their representatives vote against that, common
sense says they are going to have a price to pay for that.

$27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public. They don`t
want him in their restaurants. They don`t want him in their homes. They
don`t want him telling them what food to eat. They sure don`t want him
telling tell what self-defense firearms to own. And he can`t buy America!


MATTHEWS: Chief, back in the `60s, when we had some gun control, the Safe
Streets Act and stuff like that, it really was aimed at criminals, people
who were professional criminals, perhaps, who were heavily armed. And the
sense was here`s a chance to fight crime by having -- using gun control.
The right has sort of kidnapped that argument, in a way, and I want your
reaction to that. You need a gun to protect yourself because the cops
won`t do it.

JOHNSON: Well, certainly, all across America today, law enforcement
responds to hundreds of thousands of calls for service. Lives are lost.
Police officers` lives are lost each and every year defending our society.

Look, I`m a protector, like many law enforcement officers across the
nation. Elected officials and the citizens have asked us, what can we do
to make our nation a safer place? And background checks is one effective
way of making that happen, the capacity on these magazines, and certainly,
we continue to be unified in seeking a ban on these assault weapons, as
well. In this case, Bloomberg is on the mark.

MATTHEWS: What do you do when you get a call that there`s some criminal
out there, an assailant of some kind, who`s got a semiautomatic weapon in
his hands? I mean, what do you do? Do you have to escalate the police
response? Do you have to arm men up to the teeth? How do you do it? I
want to give people a sense of this, if you got -- what`s a police
patrolman carry in Baltimore County?

JOHNSON: Well, certainly, what we`ve had to do over the years is we
upgraded from a resolver that I used to carry when I was a rookie officer
to a semiautomatic weapon. And we`ve used -- of course, the shotgun`s been
in place for many years. Now we`ve upgraded to a patrol rifle, an assault
rifle with a magazine of about 30. In fact, I don`t think there`s any
place for more than 30 in law enforcement, for a number of reasons.

But in Baltimore County, we`ve had shootings at police officers using an
assault weapon. And frankly, you don`t take a semiautomatic pistol to an
assault weapons fight. You just can`t do it. You have to upgrade your
weaponry, as well.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I was thinking of. I carried -- a .38 you started
with, a special, .38. Believe it or not, I used to carry one of them when
I was a Capitol policeman. I wasn`t -- I was checked out, technically.
Anyway, I have to tell you that is real escalation.

And I want to get back to Mark on this. I mean, if you think about the way
this thing has been fought, I would fight it the way the chief`s fighting
it. I`d fight it the way you are fighting it with the mayors, the pitch on
television, which is the good guys don`t need these kind of guns. I mean,
the bad guys don`t need to keep them.

And they`re the guns that are going to kill you, whether a person who`s got
a mental, emotional problem, or a professional criminal, they`re the ones
who want these guns. They want to get them illegally. They want to get
them undercover. They want to get them through suitcases at some hotel
somewhere. They don`t want to go to a gun shop. That`s what you have to
keep fighting, it seems to me.

GLAZE: That`s exactly right. And that`s why -- look, as much as the NRA
wants to make this about, you know, Mayor Bloomberg, this is about 900
mayors around the country, their police chiefs, thousands of gun violence
survivors, leaders of clergy, university presidents, everybody you can
imagine coming together and saying, Look, the problem is not that, you
know, there are too many good guys who don`t have guns.

The problem is that sometimes, the good guys, like police, die because bad
guys also have guns, and we make it far too easy for them to get them, even
though it`s been illegal under federal law for 40 years for people with a
rap sheet to buy a gun, but they go somewhere other than a licensed dealer
and they get them all the time. Pretty modest reform.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about something in a (INAUDIBLE) I know this fellow.
I really respect him, Bob Casey, the senator from Pennsylvania. Now, he`s
going through it. I met his wife the other night at the St. Patrick`s Day
party. I talked to him. Here`s a guy who`s really going through a serious
development here.

Bob Casey, Democrat, who`d been a B -- A to B-plus member of the NRA,
talked about the reaction he`s gotten at home for his new support for gun
safety measures after the Newtown shootings. Here he is on "MORNING JOE."
Let`s watch.


SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, a lot of -- a lot of criticism,
but that`s -- but also support. That`s -- that`s the way it is in our
state. It`s a pretty -- it`s a tough issue for people in our state. But I
think for me, the criticism or the impact of that criticism will come over

This isn`t a question of taking guns away or confiscation. None of these
measures would have the impact of in any way taking away someone`s right to
bear arms to protect themselves, to hunt, or to do anything, really. If
you take a step now that could prevent one more Newtown 10 years from now,
50 years from now, I want to be able to say that when I had that vote, I
moved in that direction, as opposed to staying in the lane I was in.


MATTHEWS: Chief Johnson, how important is that voice we just heard?

JOHNSON: Well, I think it`s very significant. And frankly, law
enforcement across the nation, from small towns to major city chiefs,
strongly believe a national background check is necessary. Look, there`s
been a lot of improvement over the years, adding information into the NICS
system to help keep prohibited purchasers from getting these guns. But we
need to do more. And this measure will save lives across this great

MATTHEWS: Well, thank you very much. We haven`t had a chance to go to
Karl Rove, but I`ll get to it in the next couple days on this debate. Karl
Rove is out there demagoguing this issue, saying that if you have a
background check, you`re going to have a national registry, and
confiscation is just down the road -- unbelievable demagoguery coming out
of that guy.

Anyway, thank you, Mark Glaze. We got to keep up this fight. And Jim
Johnson, thank you, Chief.

GLAZE: Thank you very much.

MATTHEWS: And coming up, the biggest week ever on gay marriage. The
Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week, one on California`s Prop 8,
the other on the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA. The question is, will the
Supreme Court follow public opinion, which is strongly pro-equality, or
will it stand astride history and yell, Stop!

Also, in the 1970s the Democratic Party began two decades in the wilderness
when it swung too far to the left from where the country was at the time.
Now it`s the Republican Party`s turn on the right. New polling suggests
the GOP is at its worst -- well, it`s its worst own enemy, actually. The
hard right is trying to keep itself in office and the party out of the
White House, it seems.

Finally, remember last year how Republicans kept insisting all the polls
were dead wrong right up until Mitt Romney actually lost? Were (ph) those
numbers? And even after that? Well, they`re at it again. Now it`s the
polls on gay marriage that are wrong, they say. All those polls are wrong.
Don`t believe a word of them, they say.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the people who were the cheerleaders when
their job was to be referees, the press during the buildup to the Iraq war.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: As I mentioned, Karl Rove is apparently back trying to curry
favor with the hard right again after his call for more establishment party
candidates. Well, yesterday, he sounded (ph) the fears of gun owners who
think the government is overreaching. Let`s listen to him now in an
exchange with ABC`s Terry Moran.


Sandy Hook murders. Those guns were legally purchased with a background
check. This would not have stalled (ph) something like that. Let`s be
very careful about quickly trampling on the rights of people and -- and
look, do you want to get something done? Then stop scaring people. Don`t
say we`re going to keep a registry of all these guns.


ROVE: And let`s not make it so impractical...


ROVE: ... and stop scaring people...

MORAN: You`re scaring people with this Orwellian sense that black
helicopters and the government, if we register guns, are going to
confiscate Americans` guns. That kind of paranoia fuels...

ROVE: With all due respect, it is not paranoia!

MORAN: Well, who`s going to confiscate all the guns?

ROVE: People have a fear of this. Why do it? Why do you need it?


MATTHEWS: I guess we`re all fair game now, Karl.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It`s an historic week at the Supreme
Court, as two major gay marriage cases land before the judges tomorrow.
The judges hear arguments over whether California`s gay marriage ban,
that`s Prop 8 out there, could lead to marriage rights for -- their
decision could lead to marriage rights for same-sex couples all over the 50

The second case comes Wednesday, and that will determine whether the
federal Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, is even constitutional. Well, the
legal showdown comes at a unique time in the history of the gay rights
movement. A majority of Americans now back marriage rights for everyone.
Among young people, the numbers are overwhelming. And we all know this
right now.

By the way, a recent "Washington Post"/ABC poll shows how the tide of
history has actually turned on this question. Take a look at the shift
here. Nine years ago, only 10 percent of self-identified conservative
people backed marriage equality. Today, 33 percent. That`s the big

Among Catholics, supports has gone up by 19 points. Among minorities, up
28 points. What a change. Anyway, today that figure is 21 -- is 61
percent now.

Anyway, will the courts be equally guided by the winds of change? We`ll
find out soon. Theodore Boutros is the -- is one of the elite (ph)
attorneys in the Prop 8 case representing the two couples fighting the
California ban. And Joe Solomonese is an old friend of this show. He`s a
partner at the consulting firm Gavin/Solomonese. He`s a former president
of the HRC, the Human Rights Campaign. Joe, thank you for coming back.

You`ve been in this -- you`re like the Daniel Boone of this moment!


MATTHEWS: You go back so far. I`ve known you 15, 20 years. And this has
been -- I think when we -- a lot of us thought about marriage way back
when, a lot of people said, Well, don`t push it too far. You know, that --
Don`t let that be the issue. How about just the end of discrimination,
things like that?


MATTHEWS: What is your sense right now of what`s going to happen? I want
-- by the way, let`s talk about what really broke today. It keeps
happening. Today, two U.S. senators became the latest elected officials at
a very high level to come out in support of marriage equality.

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri wrote, quote, "I have come to the
conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on
who you love. My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many
of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long-term
committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye
without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality."

And Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, also a Democrat, announced today that
he also supported same-sex marriage.

So what do you make? This tide is turning here.

SOLOMONESE: Yes, I mean, one of the most powerful things I think central
to all of this is this atmosphere of inevitability that has been created
and that people feel, Senator McCaskill, Senator Warner, back to the
president, really back to the fight in New York, where so many different
people -- Barbara Bush, the daughter of the former president, sports
figures -- all felt the need to come out and be in support of marriage and
ultimately to stand on the right side of history.

And as those people come out, they lend to this atmosphere of inevitability
that I think has built up and built up, and really nobody, I think, has
played more of a role in that than the folks that Ted and others have
represented and...

MATTHEWS: Yes. I had a ski instructor once who said first that there`s
the horror, the terror then the horror, then the accident. And I think a
lot of people feared this. There was a lot of unclear, unknown fear. And
now once people see it in all these states, they go, Well, I don`t feel any
pain because of this. This isn`t bothering me. Right?

SOLOMONESE: Not only do they not feel any pain, but you know, the other
thing that we have on our side is the passage of time. And so as time goes
by, they see that these arguments that the opposition have made have fallen
by the wayside. And we were talking earlier that you can`t find a
consistent argument over this...

MATTHEWS: That`s what I want to get to, Ted. The Prop 8 case, went to the
appellate -- the ninth circuit out there. Nobody could come up with a good
argument against it. Explain that, how that`s going to play into this
debate this week.

know, when we put this on trial, which was really unusual -- we had a 12-
day trial. It`s now been three years ago. And the arguments that were
rolled out were different than had been used during the campaign. First,
it was protect your children from being taught in schools about gay
marriage. Then they switched to another argument they called "responsible
procreation." They`ve kind of abandoned that.

They really can`t stick to a rationale. And that`s why say this is harming
people. It`s harming their children, excluding our clients and millions of
Americans from this cherished institution of marriage for no reason.

MATTHEWS: Tell me about your clients.


BOUTROUS: They`re wonderful, two couples. I have now known them for

MATTHEWS: Male or female?

BOUTROUS: We have one female, one couple of lesbians, Kris Perry and Sandy
Stier, and Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami, fabulous people. They`re in
love. They want to get married.

MATTHEWS: How long have they been together?

BOUTROUS: Both over a decade, both couples. Sandy and Kris have four
boys, four children they`re raising. They just want to be like everybody

MATTHEWS: Now, they were legally married, right?


BOUTROUS: They were married in the first go-round. And then those were
invalidated. So, they sort of had it given to them and taken away.


MATTHEWS: Right. What`s your best argument, that once you give a right,
you can`t take it back? Or is it once you effective rights, you can`t deny
the title marriage?

BOUTROUS: It`s really that there`s a fundamental right to marry that
everybody has -- the Supreme Court has recognized this over a dozen times -
- and that our clients are being discriminated against for no rational
justification whatsoever.

MATTHEWS: Well, when arguments get under way tomorrow, no justice will be
watched more closely than Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy penned the court`s two
major previous decisions supporting gay rights, but he was also known as a
strong -- well, he is also known as a strong libertarian conservative.

Constitutional law scholar Garrett Epps wrote in "The Atlantic" -- quote --
"I have little doubt that his heart is telling Kennedy to strike down DOMA
and leave Prop 8 alone, to say in effect that marriage policy belongs to
the states. But it`s possible that that opinion as the justices say, won`t
write, meaning that there`s no way for Kennedy to embrace state authority
over marriage without saying something bad about gays and that has always
been -- he has always been unwilling to do."

I love this writing here. I watched him in the Lawrence case in Texas
about bans on, what`s that term, sodomy?


MATTHEWS: And all that stuff is thrown out. Once you throw that out,
there`s really no argument against same-sex marriage.

SOLMONESE: Right. Right. Yes.

I would defer to Ted on reading the tea leaves of the court and what
Kennedy would do.


MATTHEWS: Well, what`s your impassioned case? What do you say to people
who are against this?

SOLMONESE: What do I say for people who are against it?

Look, I think that at the end of the day as more and more of us come
forward and help people understand the circumstances of our lives and the
genuine inequities that we face in the absence of marriage -- and what is
so important to remind people is that the civil institution of marriage is
in place when we need it, when we are at our most vulnerable, when we`re
looking out for one another`s welfare and one another`s health care. Those
are the things I think that people don`t think about when they think about
the institution of marriage and why the institution of marriage is so
important, that we seek to build families and build homes and build a
safety net around one another, just like everybody else does, but that we
ought to be able to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as everyone

MATTHEWS: That`s the human argument.

The constitutional argument, it seems to me it`s about liberty, the liberty
clause in the 14th Amendment.


BOUTROUS: I have heard you say that before and I have always agreed with
you that -- and the Lawrence case talked about liberty, autonomy, dignity.

These are people who just want to be free and be like everybody else. And
these laws restrict that. And it puts a stamp of a badge of inferiority on
those couples and on their children. It`s causing harm. The evidence that
we had at the trial undisputed, children will be better off. Their own
expert, our opponent, said children will be better off.

And he even said we`d be more American as a nation the day we recognize
these unions as marriage.

MATTHEWS: Can you cite the Declaration, our founding document, in the
courts, pursuit of happiness?

BOUTROUS: We did indeed. In the conclusion of our belief, we cited it,
because I think that`s what it all is about, it`s all about.

MATTHEWS: It is our founding document. Lincoln was right four score and
seven years ago.


BOUTROUS: It doesn`t get any better.

MATTHEWS: You can`t beat the Declaration. It`s better than the


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, guys, Joe Solmonese.

Ted Boutrous, nice to meet you. Up next -- good luck in court.


BOUTROUS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, remember when Republicans said the polls were skewed
and Mitt Romney was really going to win the election? Well, they`re at it
again, the same crowd, this time marriage equality. All these numbers are
wrong, don`t believe a word of them. That`s what they`re saying. It`s
going to be fun. Gary Bauer, don`t believe a word he says.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."

Remember all the right-wing talk before the 2012 election about bad
polling? Well, several polls show that the country`s views on same-sex
marriage are now shifting in favor of marriage equality.

And here`s Washington Post"/ABC poll just last week; 58 percent said it
should be legal, just 36 percent illegal.

Enter Gary Bauer, president of American Values, a conservative group
opposed to gay marriage. On FOX yesterday, Bauer was asked whether he was
concerned that public opinion doesn`t line up with his group`s position.


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Do you worry that this only puts
the Republican Party further out of touch with the mainstream of American

GARY BAUER, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN VALUES: No, I`m not worried about it
because the polls are skewed, Chris. Just this past November, four states,
very liberal states, voted on this issue.

And my side lost all four of those votes. But my side had 45 percent, 46
percent of the vote in all four of those liberal states. In fact, those
marriage amendments that I supported that would keep marriage a man and a
woman outran Mitt Romney in those four liberal states by average of five

WALLACE: All right.


MATTHEWS: Well, even though the anti-marriage amendments he mentioned did
better than Romney, they still lost. And that`s another not-so-winning
argument for Gary.

Also, an interesting side note on this week`s Supreme Court hearings on gay
marriage. Tuesday`s hearing will be about Prop 8, the California law that
bans gay marriage. And one audience member in particular has a personal

Jean Podrasky, she`s a 48-year-old gay San Francisco resident who wants the
right to marry her partner. Well, the kicker, she also happens to be the
first cousin of Chief Justice John Roberts. Podrasky said she doesn`t know
her cousin`s position on same-sax marriage. She told "The L.A. Times" --
quote -- "I believe he sees where the tide is going. I do trust him. I
absolutely trust that he will go in a good direction."

Next, here`s a couple words you wouldn`t expect to be at all related, "Star
Trek" and the IRS. Well, here goes. The IRS is facing backlash from
Congress for spending $60,000 on instructional videos in 2010. And one of
those instructional videos was a "Star Trek" parody starring IRS employees.

And the video is now making the rounds.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just received an emergency medical distress call from
the planet. Chris, they`re dying down there of some newfangled disease. I
have never seen anything like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They call it the tax gap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell Scotty in engineering to get us back to Earth as
fast as they can. Everybody, grab your strategic plans and get ready to
beam down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shall I wear a ski cap to cover my ears, Captain?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nah, the ears are fine.


MATTHEWS: Well, the IRS now says that that video is not reflective of
overall IRS video efforts and they have put new standards in place.

By the way, the other part of the $60,000 cost was a training video in the
form of a "Gilligan`s Island" spoof.

Finally, the unexpected result of Chris Christie getting a visit from
former NBA star Shaquille O`Neal? From "New York" magazine -- quote --
"Chris Christie has to find a way to make Shaq his running mate. While
Shaq is in no way qualified to run the country, he is, however, an
extremely large person. All Christie has to do is stand next to him on the
campaign trail at all times and his size problem will disappear."

Hmm. Shaquille O`Neal was meeting with Christie to get involved with the
state`s gun buyback program. I like Shaq.

Up next, how far out of step is today`s Republican Party with the rest of
the country? We have got some new poll data that suggests the Republicans
are on their own. In fact, they`re their own worst enemy.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


"Market Wrap."

U.S. stocks started the day higher in optimism over the new bailout deal
for Cyprus, but ultimately all three mayor indexes closed lower, the Dow
Jones industrial losing 64, the S&P down five, while the Nasdaq was off
almost 10.

That initial investor enthusiasm soured today after a Eurozone official
said the Cypriot rescue could be a template for future European Union
bailouts. The market rebounded a bit after he later backtracked from that

That`s it from CNBC -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The beating that Republicans took last year has led to a lot of soul-
searching in the GOP about how the party could expand its base and become
more competitive nationally. But a new report by Andrew Kohut, the former
head of the Pew Research Center, suggests that the very things that keep
Republican members of Congress in office are keeping new people out of the
party and Republicans out of the White House. We will explain.

Check this out. In 1992, at the end of the George Herbert Walker Bush
presidency, the GOP`s favorability was at 48 percent. Now fast-forward to
this year, 2013, and only 33 percent of Americans have a favorable view of
the party, one in three, while 58 percent judges them unfavorably. That`s
the lowest favorability for Republicans in 20 years.

That same Pew study finds that 47 percent of Democrats are viewed
favorably, about the same percentage that views them unfavorably.

In a "Washington Post" article, Kohut said he recently "found out that only
the percentage of people self-identifying as Republicans had hit historic
levels, but that within that smaller base, the traditional divides between
pro-business, economic conservatives, and social conservatives had
narrowed. They stand with the Tea Party with taxes and spending, and with
Christian conservatives on key social questions such as abortion rights and
same-sex marriage."

Howard Fineman is of course the editorial director for The Huffington Post,
its media group, in fact. And Joy Reid is managing editor of
Both are MSNBC political analysts.

This is really something I never knew and now I know. You and I, and you I
think got used to this, too, that there are, Joy, that there are two kinds
of Republicans. There`s the two-fisted business guy, usually a man, who
wants to make money, he wants lower taxes, less regulation. That`s the
reason he`s a Republican. Then you have the evangelical Republican, who
basically his religion comes from church. It`s his basic moral beliefs.

According in this new poll, they`re the same people. In fact, better than
that, the business conservatives seem to buy into the cultural issues. The
cultural-driven people buy into the business issues. It`s a heterogeneous
political party.

heterogeneous internally, but they have turned inward. And they`re only
talking to each to right now.


FINEMAN: A generation ago, the Republican Party reached outward and they
reached to people who had been Democrats. They expanded demographically
because they got a lot of Catholics, they got Northern Catholics in the
party who hadn`t been there before, and they got the Southerners who had
been Democrats and who were economically diverse.

There were a lot of working-class and middle-class Democrats who came over
to the Republican Party. So they were expanding a generation ago by
reaching out. But what`s happened now? Because of ideology, because of
the focus on ideology, these two groups look for ideological overlaps and
that`s all they talk about. That`s all they talk about in common areas
that they can agree, whether it`s abortion or guns or lower taxes.


FINEMAN: They`re talking to each other, not to the whole country.

MATTHEWS: This is getting to be like a diner that only serves one meal.


MATTHEWS: You know, I mean, you want the blue-plate special, lady, or not?
What, you don`t want it? You don`t want the ham and eggs? What`s your
problem? So, you go to the Republican Party, you got into buy into pro-
life on -- I don`t like that phrase, but pro-life, anti-abortion rights.
You have the anti-same-sex marriage.

And, by the way, have to be for all the oil depletion allowance and all the
tax breaks in the world and you got to buy into that thing, and you have to
dislike the 47 percent.


MATTHEWS: So, it seems like you`re asking people to buy a whole lot and
agree on all this stuff they`re selling to go in.

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. No, Chris, and I think that what`s
happened in part is that the success of conservative media has in a lot of
ways served to isolate the Republican Party.

I think you`re absolutely right. These wings of the party are now all
narrowly focused and they`re being spoken to by a small set of media that
constantly reinforce a sense of displacement and a sense of real resentment
about a country that -- I think the common thread that runs through these
groups is a sense that they`re out of place in their country.

You have social conservatives who see the culture wars slipping away. They
are lost, if you`re talking about abortion being so mainstream. You`re
talking abortion being something that most Americans believe should be
legal. You`re talking about economic conservatives who want to hold on to
their Medicare and Medicaid, because by and large the Republican Party they
tend to be older.

But they see that immigrants, they believe that immigrants, that minorities
are soaking up all of these benefits that they feel they worked hard for
and that they`re the ones who deserve.


REID: This sense of resentment against others.

And I really think that crystallized when Barack Obama, who in a lot of
ways the person of him embodies a lot of the resentments that a lot of
folks have, that allowed it to just spill out. And that combination of
media and somebody who they can identify as the enemy, somebody like Barack
Obama, I think it actually has driven them almost into a small corner,
where they`re -- literally, like Howard said, they`re only able to
communicate with each other.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I don`t think we have seen anything like this in America
since FDR, where the Republicans hated him, just hated him.

FINEMAN: By the way, Chris, the gun -- the tone within that group on the
gun debate kind of exemplifies this.


FINEMAN: It`s very angry. It`s very scared.

And it`s -- and if you go on the NRA Web site, for example, you know, they
claim to be speaking for this lost sector that -- that Joy is talking
about. And they`re trying to tie defense of gun rights into it, which I
think is -- is a dangerous -- is a dangerous thing. And it sounds -- it
sounds pretty scary, actually.

MATTHEWS: Look at these numbers, Howard and Joy. Take a look.

Republicans won five of the six presidential elections from 1968 through
`88. And during that time, the GOP average, look at these numbers, 417
electoral votes in the elections, down to the Democrats, 113. That means
they beat the Democrats on average by more than 300 electoral votes during
that heyday.

But look up what`s happening since, in the next six elections from `92
through last year, the Republican electoral vote average fell to just 211,
while the Democrats zoomed up to 327.

And here`s another way to look at the shift in that same period. In those
earlier presidential six elections, four states, Vermont, New Jersey,
Illinois, and California voted Republican each and every time. In the last
six, they voted Democratic every time. And right now, those states account
for 92 electoral votes, a huge shift from red to blue.

You know, I`m amazed that Vermont once was Republican. I mean, I keep
thinking of Ben & Jerry`s and, you know, and Bernie Sanders.

FINEMAN: It`s no accident to me, Chris, that this began to shift with Bill


FINEMAN: Because Bill Clinton very much made it his mission to move the
Democratic Party, quote, "to the middle." You know, that was the
Democratic Leadership Council. They`re not going to give up on the South.

And even today, Bill Clinton is obsessed with this notion of the sorting
out of America. He`s always referring to Bill Bishop`s book called "The
Big Sort".

When I saw Clinton the other week, he mentioned it to me. Meaning, the
country is disaggregating. If Bill Clinton stood for anything, it was to
try to end that kind of thing.

He didn`t succeed, but he began to lay the groundwork for the type of
campaign Barack Obama ran and he`s won two elections on.

MATTHEWS: So, I`m fascinated by this moment.


MATTHEWS: He came up to you, the former president.

FINEMAN: We were talking.


MATTHEWS: An immensely charismatic gentleman.


MATTHEWS: And he came up to you and said, Howard --

FINEMAN: Yes, he mentioned it out of the blue, because -- no, there was a
reason for that. We were in Kentucky. We`re talking about the possibility
of somebody like Ashley Judd running.


FINEMAN: And is it possible for Kentucky to get a Democratic message these
days of a national Democratic message or not? At least the Democrats are
thinking in that way. That`s my point. The Republicans right now don`t
seem --

MATTHEWS: They`re holding on.

FINEMAN: They`re holding on. If you read that report, that $10 million
report they did, it doesn`t --

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk -- Joy, you know, remember -- I don`t know if
you`re old enough to remember the story about the dog food. That a great
can, a great label, a great name, but the dog wouldn`t eat the dog food
because they didn`t like it.


MATTHEWS: Is it content or packaging? Obviously, you know what it is.
It`s not packaging. I mean, their salesmanship they think is the problem.
Reince Priebus doesn`t think he`s a good salesman. But it seems like it`s
the product. And it seems like the message has gotten through. That 47
percent thing, you know, that got out there, thanks to David Corn and
others and Jimmy Carter`s grandson and that waiter, that bartender, that
was the real message.

REID: Absolutely. And what was that about? That was about saying the
question that was asked before Mitt Romney answered with that famous
infamous 47 percent was how can we get those people to take care of
themselves? Why do they want to be dependent and bailed out by us?

It was resentment, and the sense of resentment is what drives Republican
politics right now. And I think it`s not -- the reason that those numbers
are so small in terms of electoral votes is because the Republican Party,
and it`s not in this report, but it`s becoming a party of the South and of
that middle part of the country where each state has maybe four, five, six
Electoral College votes.

Republicans can`t win in the big cities. They can`t win in the big
metropolitan areas. They`re becoming rural and they`re becoming Southern.
So, it`s really no surprise the message is starting to sound very
Confederate, very alienated and very sort of almost as if they`re part of
the country, their America is at war with this new America that they don`t
understand and resent.

FINEMAN: Now, Joy, the next logical step in that is to try to disaggregate
the electoral votes in individual states.

REID: Exactly.

FINEMAN: There`s a drive in Pennsylvania now by Republicans --


FINEMAN: OK, to say let`s not have a statewide tally on electoral votes.
Let`s let the rural people --

MATTHEWS: I know what they`re doing.


MATTHEWS: They don`t want Detroit to count in Michigan.


REID: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: They don`t want Philly to count in Pennsylvania. So, they
disagree (ph)7j that way. They know what they`re doing. Everybody of any
color, white or brown or black, ought to notice what it`s about. It`s
about race.

FINEMAN: They don`t understand, if they go in that direction, they`re
driving themselves further --


MATTHEWS: The whole message to minorities, we`re trying to disenfranchise

REID: Right. And --

MATTHEWS: They`ll come up with a new literacy test, a new game, a new poll
tax --

FINEMAN: They`ll stick with rural areas where no people are.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, guys. Thank you, Howard. You`re all right.
You`re totally right.

And, Joy, you`re always right. Howard, always right. He`s more vintage
like me, but he`s equally right in different ways, though experience, you
through sheer genius. It`s caught up with us.

Anyway, thank you very much, Joy.

REID: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: Up next, buried, first, the truth, then the brave. How the
people who were supposed to be the referees in the war, going up to the
war, became its cheerleaders on the way.

We`ll be right back. We`re talking Iraq and how it happened.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, big news out of South Dakota, actually. NBC News has
confirmed Senator Tim Johnson says he won`t run for re-election in 2014,
giving the Democrats another open seat in a red state to defend. This is
going to be a tough one.

Senator Johnson`s retirement had been expected. He follows four colleagues
on the Democratic side to step down from the Senate this time -- Frank
Lautenberg of New Jersey, West Virginia`s Jay Rockefeller, Iowa`s Tom
Harkin, and Michigan`s Carl Levin. Pretty much heavyweights there.

On the Republican side, Nebraska`s Mike Johanns and Georgia`s Saxby
Chambliss are also stepping down.

I wonder if being a senator is such a great job after all.

We`ll be right back.



BILL KELLER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: "The Times" wrote a number of really bad
stories, inadequately sourced, unskeptical stories about particularly about
Saddam`s weapons capabilities. And those stories were rewarded with kind
of lavish front page display. "Times" also wrote a lot good stories, more
skeptical stories. And those tended to be buried on page, you know, A-13.


MATTHEWS: That`s our story tonight.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That`s "The New York Times" great Bill Keller on story placement in the
lead up to war. The editorial decisions wound up playing great weight, of
course, in getting the public to support the war.

In Friday`s "Washington Post", for example, Paul Farhi points out there
were some skeptical coverage but it was often buried inside the paper, like
this article which ran on page A-13 the day before we invaded Iraq. It was
headlined, "Bush Clings to Dubious Allegations About Iraq," page A-13 -- 13
pages into the newspaper.

And in the Sunday edition, three days before we went to war, "The
Washington Post" put this on front page, "Audacious Mission, Awesome
Risks." "Bold war plan emphasizes lightning attacks and complex
logistics," all that whiz-bang of an invasion."

But buried inside that edition of the paper, the same Sunday paper, were
mores skeptical articles headlined, "U.S. Risks Isolation, Breakdown of Old
Alliances in Case of War." "U.S. Lacks Specifics on Banned Arms." "U.S.
Missteps Led to Failed Diplomacy." This is an amazing story and a tragic

David Corn of "The Mother Jones" magazine was skeptical of the war before,
during and after. Joan Walsh as well, was news editor at "Salon" in the
lead up to the war, also were skeptic now. She`s "Salon`s" editor at
large. Both are MSNBC analysts.

Joan, you`ve been editing and this is the same thing, that you get Bill
Keller saying, and the same thing Paul Farhi, the media critic or media
writer for "The Washington Post," admitting now and it`s way too late, to
the placement of the stories to more pizzazz or embedding, or whatever you
want to call it, joining the troops. The old Edgar R. Murrow, we`re on one

But none of the good Edgar R. Murrow reporting like "Harvest of Shame" and
things like that, and "Point of Order" that later came, that we identify
with Murrow which was critical journalism, not rah-rah journalism.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Right. That stuff was there, Chris, but it was
really hidden. And, you know, Paul Farhi`s piece is very good. But
there`s a line in it that says, well, the press wasn`t a success but it
wasn`t a failure either. And I thought -- it made me think about like t-
ball, kids` t-ball games where nobody`s a loser, everybody`s a winner in.

And I think there`s a revisionism that goes on where it says, well, you
know, a lot of reporters did their jobs and that`s true and that`s great,
and those people all deserve their credit. But, you know, the most damning
thing in that entire piece is the great Walter Pincus, who, you know, wrote
a lot of critical things for "The Washington Post," was a skeptic of the
war and he averaged page A-18 for his wonderful coverage.


WALSH: While, as you said, all of the whiz-bang, goalie gee, patriotic
rah-rah stuff, was on the front page of both "The Washington Post" and "The
New York Times" and "The Washington Post," by and large.

MATTHEWS: And there was backing up all the op-ed writing, which is all war
hawish. Anyway --


WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- Pincus is a great reporter.

And, by the way, it was only in the days after we realized there was no
nuclear weapons or any kind of WMD in Iraq, after the invasion, that people
like Pincus and Dana Milbank and Dana Priest began to write a lot of those
stories in "The Washington Post" that said, wait a minute, all along we
should have done this.

CORN: But before the invasion, for a year prior to the invasion, people at
the "Knight Ridder" bureau, Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, and others
were writing pieces that were very critical.

MATTHEWS: All getting in the paper?

CORN: They were -- well, not all. Some chains weren`t covering that
stuff. Ann Walter and Jovie Roark (ph) and Dana and others at "The
Washington Post" in the run-up were coming up with some real good stories.

You know, "The New York Times" would do a story saying Saddam Hussein has
these aluminum tubes that are going to be used to make nuclear material for
bombs. Then a few days later, "The Washington Post" had a story saying,
wait a second, the experts within the government discount this. They don`t
believe these tubes are being used for this purpose. And that wasn`t put
on page A-1. It was put on page A-13 or A-18.

And the reason that was done at the time was two-fold. One was the editors
"The Washington Post" didn`t have full confidence in their own reporters.
Well, how do we know if they are really getting it right? They don`t want
to get caught on the wrong side if they`re wrong. But also, the tide, the
emphasis and media at large was going in favor of the Bush argument.


CORN: In favor of the war because --

MATTHEWS: The bottom line here, what happened?

CORN: Because it was after 9/11 and it was easier to go along -- and Ben
Bradley had this great line that he said a couple of years ago. He says
the hardest thing in the world for a newspaper guy in Washington is to call
the president of the United States a liar.

And that`s what this would have entailed. The big story -- and this is
what Paul Farhi, who I`d like, he`s done great stories, I think didn`t get
to -- the big story at the time was at the White House, we talked about
this, Bush and Cheney were perpetuating a gigantic swindle.

MATTHEWS: Yes. OK. Let me get back --

CORN: And that was something that they --


MATTHEWS: The biggest set in this piece, in the interview, the piece today
by Farhi, he points out the problem of any kind of journalist. If you`re
using government sources to get to the real sources, even your favorite
sources, even the ones you think are mavericks and honest with you, he said
there weren`t enough of them. The government didn`t know what was going on
in Iraq. I mean, you`re not over there on the ground.

You`re looking around the agencies, the spy agencies, these defense
intelligence, a lot of those agencies like the CIA were skeptical of the
war. Maybe the top guy, George Tenet wasn`t.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: But the men and the women in the troops, in the belly of it,
were thinking about this war being B.S.

WALSH: Well, yes, John Judis wrote a great piece about this in "The New
Republic" last week, which actually criticizes his own "New Republic" and
talked about the loneliness of being a "New Republic" writer who was
against the war.

MATTHEWS: Well, because Marty Peretz was there, too.

WALSH: Right.


MATTHEWS: There was a lot of push for war.

WALSH: It was one dimensional, and John was forced to write elsewhere
about his doubts. But he was saying there were CIA people, career CIA,
career State Department people. There were cadres of people who were
horrified of what was being done with their work, but they weren`t being
paid attention to.

MATTHEWS: As we say in journalism, more, more coming on this, baby.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you both. A lot more from us on this.

David Corn, Joan Walsh, thank you both.

We`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

There`s a scene in "Gone with the Wind", you might remember, when all the
well-turned-out young Southern boys are throwing their hats in the air and
cheering. What`s got them so thrilled is the news that war has broken out
with the North.

Well, the bookend to that scene comes at the end when we see the bodies
strewn as far as the eye can see of those same young men after four years
of bloody civil war, that would take the lives of 600,000 Americans --
killed in most cases by bullets fired in open fields between soldiers who
spoke the same language, shared the same religious faiths, the same
American history.

What can we do, we often but not always ask, at the end of war: what could
we do to have stopped it?

Well, one thing, of course, is a vital free press: men and women able and
set on reporting the truth -- the motivations of the warhawks, the faults
in the intelligence, the alternative paths that the leaders have failed to
explore, and, of course, a reasonable estimate of the horrors to come.

Well, tonight, we discussed the good journalism that was done during the
Iraq war build-up, and the bad decisions to bury so much of it.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


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