May 10, 2013
Guests: Danielle Pletka, John Feehery, Josh Weiner, Nia-Malika Henderson,
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, GUEST HOST: Scandal, or just playing politics?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Michael Smerconish, in for Chris Matthews.
"Let Me Start" tonight with Benghazi. Do Republicans have a smoking gun?
No. Do they have enough to keep the story alive? Yes. And today we
learned the State Department asked for and received changes made to the
administration`s talking points after the attack.
That doesn`t mean that Hillary Clinton or President Obama orchestrated a
conspiracy to cover up some sort of malfeasance, but it does give
Republicans fuel to keep this story alive, and they are.
Throw in Lindsey Graham`s call for Mrs. Clinton to testify before Congress
and a new anti-Hillary ad by Karl Rove, and you`ve got a growing political
David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine and an
MSNBC political analyst. Danielle Pletka is vice president of the American
We now know that the talking points used by Susan Rice were changed 12
times in a 24-hour period and the White House and State Department were
more involved in that process than was previously revealed. The first
draft of the talking points included a specific reference to, quote,
"Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda" participating in the attack.
That was eventually scrubbed.
Also, there was this paragraph, as ABC reported today. Quote, "The agency
has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al Qaeda
in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that since April, there have
been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by
unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British
ambassador`s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has (ph)
previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the
efficacy of the attacks."
In an e-mail, according to ABC, State Department spokesperson Victoria
Nuland took issue with that information because it could, quote, "be used
by members of Congress to beat up the State Department for not paying
attention to warnings. So why would we want to feed that, either?
Concerned," unquote. The entire paragraph was eventually scrubbed.
All the news today made for a testy White House press briefing, with press
secretary Jay Carney clearly playing defense on the talking points.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: Jay, you told us that the only changes that were
made were stylistic. Is it a stylistic change to take out all references
to previous terror threats in Benghazi?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I appreciate the question,
again, and I think that what I was referring to was the talking points that
the CIA drafted and sent around, to which one change was made. And I
accept that "stylistic" may not precisely describe a change of one word to
KARL: Jay, this was not a change of one word to another.
CARNEY: No, no. No, I`m just...
KARL: These underwent extensive changes after they were written by the
CARNEY: Sure. There was an interagency process, which is always the case,
because a lot of agencies have stakes -- have a stake in a matter like
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: That was Jonathan Karl asking that question. He`s the one who
broke these stories -- this story for ABC.
Danielle, let me begin with you. When you look at the editing of the
talking points, is this the way it looks when you`re watching sausage being
made, or is this evidence of some form of cover-up?
DANIELLE PLETKA, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, I think it`s a
little bit of both, honestly. Clearly, in any executive branch discussion,
you`re going to have different agencies fighting with each other. You`re
going to have them trying to protect their interests and their turf.
That`s the sausage making part.
The issue here is, what was the White House looking for in taking out all
references to terrorism? That`s the part that really concerns me because
it goes along with what was later said about this not being terrorism,
suggesting that, in fact, it was all about a YouTube video.
SMERCONISH: But what would be the upside? What would be the upside for
the White House in trying to keep a limitation on terrorism? In other
words, I`m of a mindset that says eight weeks out from an election, it
might not -- politically speaking, it might not be a bad thing if it is a
case of terror because we have a tendency to rally around the chief
PLETKA: That`s a little bit -- that`s a little bit Machiavellian even for
me, but I think you`ve asked exactly the right question.
Now think about this from the Republicans` perspective. We get why the
president didn`t want to admit that this was a case of terrorism because,
in fact, the entire meme of his reelection on national security was, I
killed Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda is on its heels. So they didn`t want to
admit it was an act of terrorism.
But there`s a bigger problem here, and that is that despite the fact that
they knew that it was an act of terrorism, they kept pressing back. They
kept trying to go back to this other story.
I think, honestly speaking, that`s one of the reasons why people are so
perplexed. They keep trying to cover up what actually happened. It makes
people think something worse happened.
SMERCONISH: David, I want to ask you...
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Wait a second!
SMERCONISH: David, let me ask you about Victoria Nuland. She took further
issue with the talking points several hours later, and she wrote, quote,
"These don`t resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership,"
obviously, what we think a reference to Secretary Clinton.
CORN: Well, she meant, you know, the leadership of the State Department.
A couple of points here. You said earlier, Was this politics, was it
scandal? It`s kind of in between. Jay Carney did get caught not giving
the full story about the process that led -- of these revisions when he
spoke about this a couple of months ago.
David Petraeus, the former CIA director, has told why the CIA took out the
references to the al Qaeda-linked group that were in the early versions of
the talking points. That`s what explained it, Danielle. You may not agree
or accept, but that wasn`t a White House revision.
The major revision came from the State Department, not from the White
House. And it had to do with their -- what happened before the attack, not
whether you call this terrorism or not.
So I think in a lot of ways, the conservative theory of the case here has
been almost disproven by these revisions.
SMERCONISH: David, let me ask you this question because you would know
these -- David, you would know these facts better than I, perhaps. To an
outsider, to a layperson, to hear that there were 12 revisions to the
talking points, that sounds ominous. In the normal...
CORN: Well, no, no, no...
SMERCONISH: In the normal course of events, how often is something like
this edited, revised?
CORN: Oh, I mean, if you look at some of the revisions, if you go through
them -- and I salute Jonathan Karl for putting this on line -- you can see
that some -- in some of these revisions, some forms, one or two words were
taken out that had no real substantive meaning.
But it`s not unusual for an interagency thing that involves multiple
agencies to bounce around again and again and again and again and -- before
it`s all resolved. So that`s not unusual at all.
PLETKA: Hang on. Hang on a second, David. Hang on just one second.
First of all...
CORN: The process here?
PLETKA: The e-mails that were released by "The Weekly Standard" of Dave
Petraeus`s reaction to this were not, Oh, this was all fine with me, I
wanted it to be taken out. He was very surprised that these were taken
out. So that`s number one.
Number two, you`re totally right, lots of revisions happen. That`s very
normal. The issue is, what was the intent here with the revisions, and why
did the White House feel the need to lie about it? Why did they feel the
need to keep lying about it? Why did they feel the need to keep saying
that this was about something that it wasn`t about?
I think that everybody who looks at this objectively can understand that
the White House gave every appearance of having something to hide. And
that`s a big part of the problem here.
PLETKA: In addition...
SMERCONISH: ... allow me -- allow me to respond to that, if I might. I
want to show everybody something. The idea that there was a vast cover-up
involved was shot down by Ambassador Thomas Pickering. He co-authored the
most extensive independent investigation of the Benghazi attacks, and
here`s what he told Andrea Mitchell this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS PICKERING, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I believe, in fact,
the accountability review board did its work well. I think that the notion
of, quote, "a cover-up," has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction
attached to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I play this because, Danielle, that`s an individual...
PLETKA: Hang on! Hang on a second!
SMERCONISH: ... who looked at the facts and has come to the conclusion...
PLETKA: No way.
SMERCONISH: ... that there was not a lie nor a cover-up in this case.
CORN: What`s the cover-up?
PLETKA: Stop! Stop, stop, stop!
CORN: In Watergate...
SMERCONISH: Let Danielle respond to that, and then you, David.
CORN: Stop for a second. You asked me a question. Thanks. OK. I`ve
known Tom Pickering for almost 20 years. Tom was the author of that. He
is an esteemed diplomat and a former foreign service officer.
The bottom line is, they did not talk to Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of
mission in Baghdad. (sic) They didn`t talk to the chief security officer.
They were doing a job for the State Department. He`s very loyal to them.
I appreciate that.
But I would also add that Tom Pickering turned down an invitation from the
House of Representatives to defend the administrative review board.
Instead, he went on and talked to a much more sympathetic interlocutor,
SMERCONISH: David Corn, respond...
PLETKA: Nice for NBC...
SMERCONISH: ... to that please.
PLETKA: ... but not good for the country.
CORN: Listen, not appearing before Darrell Issa`s committee when he`s made
all sorts of outlandish charges about this I don`t think is -- you know,
gets to the credibility of Tom Pickering.
But the big issue here is, What is the cover-up? What do you -- you know,
if you look -- the review board, you know, found wrongdoing on the part of
the State Department, and some of the people have been punished. Some
people have been -- resigned. And that`s been resolved.
If you look at -- if you make -- the conservative charge is that the
president is covering up some malfeasance or something, but if you look at
the revisions, you don`t see the White House being involved in covering
these things up. It`s Victoria Nuland, who actually is not a political
appointee but a career foreign service person who worked for the National
Security Council during the Bush years. So -- so...
SMERCONISH: Hey, David, when you see -- when you see Jay Carney at 4:00 PM
on a Friday holding a briefing, having already had a background briefing,
that tells you this thing is very high on the attention scale of the White
House. I think...
SMERCONISH: ... unlike any time in the whole era post-September 11,
meaning this September 11 that we`re talking about.
CORN: Yes. Well, yes, Jay Carney got caught saying something that wasn`t
completely true. Now, we...
PLETKA: That`s called a lie, David.
CORN: No, no. We in Washington -- well, everything you say that`s not
true may not be a lie, but if you want to accept that premise, I`ll happily
accuse you of lying when you get things wrong.
PLETKA: OK. I`ll let you try that out on your kids.
CORN: But nevertheless, you know, in this city, if something is wrong, we
have a scale of zero to 10. And so you have Lindsey Graham out there
saying this is Watergate. You have Darrell Issa making all sorts of
ludicrous charges. If Jay Carney and the White House didn`t tell the
complete truth, that is something that deserves reporting and conversation,
but it doesn`t make it a major league scandal yet.
SMERCONISH: Well, and I watched Jay Carney handle this this afternoon, and
frankly, he didn`t back off from his prior assertion. On the issue of how
far this might lead, according to critics of the White House, as you were
just referencing, earlier this week, Mike Huckabee predicted the president
would not fill out his term due to Benghazi.
CORN: Oh, God!
SMERCONISH: And today on a radio program, Senator James Inhofe...
PLETKA: Are you two guys enjoying your conversation?
SMERCONISH: ... predicted that people would soon start discussing the "I"
word, impeachment. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: Of all the great cover-ups in history --
we`re talking about the Pentagon papers, the Iran-contra, Watergate, and
all the rest of them -- this, I said back on November 28th on Fox, is going
to go down as the most serious, most egregious cover-up in American
history. People may be starting to use the "I" word before too long.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, OK. The "I" word meaning impeachment?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Danielle, is that farfetched to you?
PLETKA: Yes. I think that what he said was silly. But I also think that
by trotting out all of these strawmen, you`re failing to address the
central problem here, which is A, the president of the United States went
out when he knew there was a terrorist attack and he said that it was all
about a demonstration and a YouTube video. The ambassador to the U.N. did
the same thing. So did Hillary Clinton.
I`m less excited about the talking points and much more excited about why
they felt the need to lie for five days to the American people. If that
doesn`t merit an investigation, I don`t know what does.
SMERCONISH: I can`t...
SMERCONISH: Wait a minute, David. I can`t let it pass that you used "lie"
word. Lie assumes malice aforethought. Lie assumes someone knows what
PLETKA: I think that we know...
SMERCONISH: ... is deliberately untrue.
SMERCONISH: I listened to you. Just permit me a final word. I don`t
think the record...
PLETKA: Not much.
SMERCONISH: ... speaks to that fact. It may never speak to that fact.
Now we`ve both been heard. And I do thank you. Danielle Pletka and David
Coming up: We know Republicans are eager to rough up Hillary, and some are
happily discussing impeachment. Wee going to look at whether there`s real
political fallout here.
Also, the horror of the Cleveland kidnappings has left many wondering how
those women and the little girl will ever recover. We`ll talk about their
chances, which, it turns out, are better than you might have expected.
And the latest in our series "The Unkindest Cut." Tonight, how those
sequester cuts are hurting the victims of domestic violence both in and out
of the military.
Finally, Democrats, Republicans and the Beatles. Which party prefers John
and which favors Paul? That and more of the red and blue musical divide on
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SMERCONISH: New Jersey governor Chris Christie defended himself against
his critics on the right who say he`s not conservative enough. Take a look
at what he told NBC`s Brian Williams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`ll worry about the presidency if
and when I ever decide to run for it. But if you`re saying to me, How do I
feel as a Republican? I`m a damn good Republican and a good conservative
Republican who believes in things that I believe in, but that does not mean
that I would ever put party before my state or party before my country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Brian`s interview with Governor Christie airs tonight on "ROCK
We`ll be right back.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Fair or not, Benghazi fever has
resulted in a serious political headache for the administration. While
claims on the far right that this controversy will cost Obama his job are a
bit far-flung, there are very real and potentially perilous side effects to
The main GOP target has been and will continue to be Hillary Clinton, but
even if she`s vindicated as having done nothing wrong, has the political
damage already been done?
Let`s bring in our strategists. Ed Rendell was governor of Pennsylvania
and is now an MSNBC political analyst. John Feehery is a Republican
Governor, I want to begin with you, a personal question about her because
you know her so well. Is Secretary Clinton the type who looks at this
emerging controversy and relishes the opportunity to confront it, or does
the possibility, the prospect, exist that she says, You know, this is a
reminder to me of the underbelly of politics, who the hell needs it, I`m
staying out in 2016?
ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a little bit
of both. But I don`t think this controversy would be a factor in her
decision whether to run or not. And I think she probably would relish
getting another chance to answer to critics here. Remember, when she had
that fall, the right said she faked the fall to avoid testifying in front
RENDELL: She came back and testified again in front of Congress, and as I
recall, she handed most of those Republican male senators their hats. So I
don`t think she`s worried about the controversy. She can take on
controversy. She`s been doing it all her career.
But I will say, if I could, Michael, on this, people are forgetting, if
this was such a concerted cover-up, why did the president when he went and
talked to the Rose Garden two days after this incident use the word
terrorist attack? Remember, that word came out during one of the debates
with Governor Romney. He used the word terrorist attack. The president
didn`t make any bones about the fact that it was a terrorist attack.
SMERCONISH: Well, and in the immediate aftermath of Boston, this same
semantic issue, John Feehery, was raised. I had callers to my radio
program saying, Aha, he doesn`t want to acknowledge that Boston is a case
of terrorism. How do you see that issue?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, how I see this whole issue
unfolding with Hillary Clinton and whether she runs -- I think that we
don`t know how this is going to play out quite yet. I think that there`s
still some rope (ph) to be tied (ph).
And the other thing that`s interesting to me is, does there -- at some
point the White House decide that they`ve got to throw Hillary Clinton
under the bus and kind of protect itself? We don`t know how this is all
going to play out.
I do know that as she left the secretary of state`s office, everyone was
kind of giving her this great, big sendoff. This just kind of reminds
people there was some controversy at the end. And I think that`s going to
be one of those things that comes up during the campaign.
And there are plenty of Democrats who want to be president and would be
happy to throw Hillary Clinton under the bus and take over that job. So
this is not an easy road for her.
SMERCONISH: Well, Karl Rove wasted no time. His group, American
Crossroads, has a new Web ad out today. It focused entirely on Secretary
Clinton. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 22-year diplomatic veteran intimidated for daring to
blow the whistle, all under Hillary Clinton`s watch. How could this
happen? Why did she blame a video? And was she part of a cover-up?
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: Was it because of a protest, or
was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they`d go kill
some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The difference is a cover-up and four American lives
that deserve the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Governor Rendell, there are some controversies that are
readily understood. Watergate -- we all get that. We don`t want our homes
broken into. There are other controversies that I think are too confusing.
Whitewater fell into that category, in my view. Where does Benghazi fall
in that spectrum, if you buy into it?
RENDELL: Well, first of all, I think Karl Rove has lost his mind. You
know, we saw a little bit of him losing his mind on election night, when he
wanted to call for a recount in Ohio. And for him to put on an ad
attacking a potential candidate who may never run three years from now --
Karl, get a life. Take up tennis or do something. That`s number one.
Number two, Hillary Clinton`s stint as secretary of state, she`ll be like a
pitcher who had 20 wins and 2 losses during her stint as secretary of
state. You know, if this is a blot on her record, her record was almost
perfect in the eyes of the American people, and this won`t have any long-
I guarantee you, three years from now if Hillary Clinton is a candidate,
less than 5 percent of the American people will remember this.
Look, this is all about spin. It`s not about cover-up. It`s about spin.
If there was a cover-up, let me repeat, the president of the United States,
whose administration is supposedly orchestrating this cover-up, wouldn`t
have admitted that it was a terrorist attack. He wouldn`t have used those
SMERCONISH: John, let me ask you as a Republican strategist, I maintain
that Benghazi, heretofore, and I`m referring to the 2012 election, never
resonated beyond the very conservative hardcore on the right. It became a
buzzword associated with all evil things that they wanted to believe about
What is the prospect that Benghazi moving forwards a political issue has
more resonance in the middle?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, Michael, I was with you,
and I didn`t think that this was going to be that big of a controversy. I
kind of sloughed it off.
And I`ve been pretty surprised by seeing really respected journalists like
Jonathan Karl and Ron Forney (ph) really go after this. They think there`s
something there and they`re going to continue to pursue it. Now, I
understand what Governor Rendell is saying, that 20-2.
If your last game is a loss in the World Series and you get shelved, I
mean, that`s a problem.
I do think that for Hillary Clinton, she could get thrown under the bus by
the Obama White House. We`ll see how that plays out.
I do think that this is a much easier thing, much easier scandal for people
to understand than Whitewater because you had those four deaths and there`s
a lot of explaining as to why the embassy did not get enough security to
SMERCONISH: Well, I`ve been asking -- Governor, I`ll let you respond to
this. Because I`ve been asking aloud, to what end would there have been
this cover-up? And Peggy Noonan in the "Wall Street Journal" today I
thought put it together better than others up until now.
Here`s what she wrote. "The inconvenient truth about Benghazi, the genesis
of the scandal, it looks to me like this: the Obama White House sees every
event as a political event. It could not tolerate the idea that the armed
assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist
terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political
implications and demand certain actions, and the American presidential
election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away,
or at least to bleed the meaning from it."
Governor, why is that not a convincing way to analyze Benghazi?
RENDELL: No, I think that`s right. I think the Obama White House wanted
to spin this in the least damaging way possible. But I think you made a
very good point when you said, look, let`s look at what happened that led
to the deaths of the American people. I think this spin post-incident --
the American people aren`t going to give two hoots about it. They`re going
to think it`s the usual political parties pointing the finger at each other
playing the blame game.
But I do think it`s a legitimate inquiry to why the system broke down, why
the warning signals that were sent weren`t responded to.
Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with that. She never saw the cables and
I think that`s pretty well-established. But we`ve got to put in place.
We`ve got to find out what went wrong and how we fix it going forward.
Now, they`ve taken some steps, but I`m not sure those are enough steps.
That`s the real problem. The four Americans who lost their lives didn`t
lose their lives because this was characterized one way or the other after
it occurred. Let`s get real about that.
SMERCONISH: Well, and John, we still don`t have answers. We still don`t
have justice in terms of avenging those four American deaths. I think
that`s the biggest issue of all.
FEEHERY: Well, there`s a lot of issues here. I think that focusing on
those poor four souls, folks who got killed in Benghazi is important. I
think we need to get to the bottom of this. I`m, like I said, surprised by
how this thing kind of rose up again and there are some very respected
journalists that are digging into it. So, I don`t think this story is
SMERCONISH: Governor, thank you.
John Feehery, thank you as usual.
Up next, we found something on which Democrats and Republicans actually
agree. Justin Bieber, it seems most people don`t like him regardless of
And don`t forget, I can now be heard daily exclusively on Sirius XM`s POTUS
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just revealed
he had secret lap band surgery in February. Apparently he`s tired of
people making fun of his weight. But really, who would do that?
Chris Christie`s approval rating has gone up 12 points. Usually the only
time he picks up a dozen is when he goes to Krispy Kreme. So then he said
he`ll just think about pancakes. He said, I`ll collapse that bridge when I
get to it.
Get to breakfast from each place. Talk about his initiative, let`s sit.
On Twitter, he tweeted out, really, Jimmy Fallon, you got another joke in
the monologue? You guys need more material. And I go, you know what needs
more material? Your suits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Back to HARDBALL. This is the "Sideshow".
First, Joe Biden spoke to a group of first responders in Washington, D.C.,
last night, and thanked them for coming to his aid in several past
emergencies in more ways than one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In 2004, that summer, I
was down here doing a Sunday program, and lightning struck my home and
destroyed a significant portion of it. And you got my wife out. In
addition to my wife, you got my second best love out of the house, my `67
Corvette. So thank you, all.
And so, I owe you. When I say I owe you, I mean I owe you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The vice president really does have strong feelings about his
Corvette. In a 2011 interview with "Car and Driver Magazine" he said,
quote, "I still have my 1967 Goodwood-green Corvette. The Secret Service
won`t let me drive it. I`m not allowed to drive anything. It`s the one
thing I hate about this job."
Next, try to make the connection between politics and cicadas. You know
those really loud creepy looking insects that reemerge en masse every 17
years or so? Well, this is set to be one of those years here on the east
coast and our friends at "Mother Jones" found the insects have actually
made a mark in politics over the years.
In June of 1987, President Reagan name-dropped them in a radio address
against government spending. Quote, "Like the cicadas, the big spenders
are hatching out again and threatening to overrun Congress."
In the same address, Reagan asked people to support his own budget and,
quote, "Make the cicadas in Congress go back under ground."
Sometimes they just get in the way. On Memorial Day of 1902, Teddy
Roosevelt gave a speech about America`s role in foreign affairs at the
Arlington National Cemetery. A biography written years later had this to
say about it, quote, "Invisible choirs of 17-year cicadas buzzed in
counterpoint to Roosevelt`s voice."
For a more recent example, take this anti-Kerry RNC ad from the 2004
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: Every 17 years, cicadas emerge, morph out of their shell and
change their appearance. Like a cicada, Senator Kerry would like to shed
his Senate career and morph into a fiscal conservative, a centrist Democrat
opposed to taxes, strong on defense, but he leaves his record behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: As for how the current administration is prepping for the
oncoming swarm of cicadas, the administration told "Mother Jones," quote,
"The Obama administration currently has no plan to suppress the cicada
Finally, what do our tastes in music say about our political views?
There`s a poll for that, some results from PPP. For favorite music genre,
Democrats like classical music, while the top pick for Republicans,
Now to the favorite member of the Beatles. Democrats chose John Lennon
over Paul McCartney 39 percent-36 percent. It was the opposite for
Republicans, but by a wider margin, 49 percent for McCartney, 15 percent
As for which singer people would want to see as president, both parties
were in favor of Justin Timberlake taking on the White House.
Bad news for one pop star, though. Justin Bieber. With 54 percent
unfavorability in the poll, Bieber came out as the only pop star to be
viewed unfavorably by the majority of Democrats, Republicans, and
Up next, the last of the three women kidnapped in Cleveland is released
from the hospital. Tonight, we look at the chances they can recover and
lead normal lives. Experts say the outlook may be better than you might
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Just a few days after the discovery of three women in Ariel Castro`s
Cleveland home, the final victim, Michelle night, released from the
hospital. Preliminary DNA tests confirm Castro fathered the now 6 -year-
old daughter of Amanda Berry.
Just how do these victims pick up their lives of a decade in captivity?
Can the long road ahead offer encouragement and hope of a new life?
Dr. Josh Weiner is an adult and child psychologist.
Welcome, Dr. Weiner.
What might therapy consist of for these three women?
DR. JOSH WEINER, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, what these women are going to need is
intensive psychotherapy where they`re looking at the traumas they
experienced. They`re going to be able to slowly in their own time talk
about the experience in a nice, safe, comfortable environment where they`re
able to go through each of the experiences they had.
And there`s a specific type of therapy that`s been shown to be specifically
helpful for people who have undergone traumas. It`s a therapy called EMDR,
which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. This is a type
of therapy that has been shown to help people who have experienced
SMERCONISH: Having been held captive for a decade, what are the prospects
they could make a recovery that would allow hem to re-enter society?
WEINER: Well, you know, I think if you`re looking at re-entering society
and defining that as being able to have fulfilling relationships, being
able to trust people, being able to maybe go on and get married, I think
there are is a decent chance of that happening.
However, I think it`s really likely that these women are going to struggle
for a prolonged period of time.
You know, there have been reports that Amanda Berry is in good spirits and
she said she`s feeling well. I think that`s a fleeting phenomena right
now. I think she`s doing OK right now because of the new freedom that
she`s facing. But the likelihood that she`s going to experience
nightmares, flashbacks, feeling unsafe, being hyper-vigilant, constantly
worried about her safety around her -- there`s a great deal of likelihood
she`s going to deal with that for a prolonged period of time.
You know, fortunately, these are really rare experiences for people to
have, and because they`re so rare, we don`t have many studies to really
guide us in giving us an idea to how well these women will actually do.
You know, we have the idea of people who come back from combat and about 15
percent to 20 percent of people who go to combat come back and develop
post-traumatic stress disorder. There was a study that was done in Italy
that was conducted in 2000 and looked at on average people who are
kidnapped for about 100 days. So, obviously much less than 10 years.
And what that study found was even two years out, 46 percent of those
kidnapping victims were still experiencing symptoms of PTSD. So, we`re
talking two to three times as many as those that develop PTSD from wartime.
So, clearly this is a very, very traumatic experience. It`s going to
SMERCONISH: Dr. Weiner, presumably the way they were able to survive was
by relying on one another, the sisterhood of sorts of these victims, these
Might they need each other going forward? If you were to treat them, would
you perhaps recommend treating them collectively?
WEINER: Actually, you make a great -- you make a great comment there. And
actually that is something that I think would be a good idea. I think it`s
going to depend upon the women. Of course, you`re going to want to know,
did they all experience similar things? Did some of them -- were they
separated? Maybe did Michelle Knight -- because apparently she had five
miscarriages. So, and Amanda berry was able to eventually carry on and
have one of the babies.
So, it`s possible for certain situations, it may not be appropriate for
them to be in the same room talking about what happened to them. But, by
in large, I think you make a good point which is they are a family and it`s
possible they could make a good point which is they are a family and it`s
possible that they could make up some sort of a family therapy.
But I think the therapy is going to involve both them individually, them as
a group, and, of course, it`s very hard to get reintroduced in society and
back into your nuclear family, your real biological family. So they`re
going to need family therapy.
Again, for people coming home from war, one of the hardest things for them
to do is re-integrate into society, re-integrate back into their family of
SMERCONISH: And what, sir, would be the approach with regard to the 6-
year-old child? Published accounts say the child was introduced as the
girlfriend`s daughter when the presumed evildoer would take the child out
into society. I can only imagine the confusion that the 6-year-old must be
facing and, perhaps, would have good feelings toward Ariel Castro.
So, what would be the approach with regard to the child?
WEINER: Well, you know, with regard to the child, I think it`s really
difficult because the child experienced the first several years of their
lives in such a horrific experience and in a horrific atmosphere. And we
know that the first few years of life are so critical in shaping somebody`s
sense of safety, their sense of attachment to people. Their ability to
recognize their needs can be taken care of.
I think we don`t know the specifics yet of what this little girl
experienced in the house, but I think it`s safe to assume that it was a
very, very abnormal first six years of her life she experienced.
SMERCONISH: No doubt.
WEINER: And so, those are critical times that often are extremely,
extremely difficult to counteract. So, this girl is going to need a long
therapy and I think it`s going to take her particularly a long time to get
over this, longer than the women.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Dr. Josh Weiner. We appreciate your expertise.
WEINER: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Up next, Congress` spending cuts are hurting the victims of
domestic violence both in and out of the military. It`s the latest in our
series "The Unkindest Cut." This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SMERCONISH: Two days ago, we told you about one of the authors of the
Heritage Foundation`s report that immigration reform would cost the country
trillions of dollars. It turned out that one of the authors of that
report, Jason Richwine, had written a doctoral thesis saying that Hispanic
immigrants to the U.S. had lower IQs than those of native whites and would
likely prove to be a long-term drag on the U.S. economy.
Today, Jason Richwine resigned from Heritage.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: If the man in charge for the Air
Force in preventing sexual assaults is being alleged to have committed a
sexual assault, this weekend, obviously there`s a failing in training and
understanding of what sexual assault is and how corrosive and damaging it
is to good order and discipline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, expressing her exasperation
that the person in charge of responding to sexual assaults for the Air
Force was charged with sexual battery, himself. This week, a Pentagon
report shined a harsh light on the problem of sexual assault in the
military. It said that in 2012, an estimated 26,000 members of the
military were sexually assaulted, up about 35 percent from a year before.
And the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequester will hurt the
very programs designed to help these sexual assault victims. In a series
called "The Unkindest Cut", we`ve been looking at how these sequester cuts
hurt real people and real programs. Today, we look at cuts to programs for
sexual assault victims in both the military and civilian worlds.
In the military, Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff General
Ray Odierno told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a written
statement, sequestration and associated civilian furloughs are likely to
degrade aspects of our Sexual Harassment, Assault Response and Prevention
program, efforts from slowing hiring actions, to delaying lab results,
which hinders our ability to provide resolution for victims."
Joining me, "The Washington Post`s" Nia-Malika Henderson.
Nia-Malika, this I guess is what cuts look like. You know, there`s always
somebody at the end of the line that you often don`t think about when the
conversation is abstract.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s right. And you saw last
month that Ray Odierno, he testified that they initially wanted to hire
about 850 additional workers, to oversee some of these problems and to
close the gap there where you have so many incidents and very few people
But, again, with these cuts, the Pentagon is facing about $8 billion in
cuts and they`re very steep cuts, right? I mean, they happen from now
until September. So it`s not just the money that they`re talking about.
They`re talking about pulling this money out very quickly.
And you imagine all that programs like this, not only the military level,
but also at the civilian level, will be hurt.
SMERCONISH: Congresswoman Jackie Speier is joining us now.
I`m thrilled to have you, Congresswoman.
I think that many in the country, I`m so glad that Chris is doing this,
because I think many in the country think we threw a sequestration and
nobody came. In other words, we heard the hue and cry, but really has
there been any impact? And we`ve just exhibited how there, indeed, will be
a serious impact.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, indeed. In fact, my colleagues
on the Republican side spent a couple of hearings that I was in, on
Oversight and Government Reform, saying, see, there was nothing wrong. And
then two weeks later, we were passing the FAA sequestration fix.
So, yes, they`re real cuts. And, you know, losing the majority in the
House has had real consequences. And it`s important for Americans that
think that, you know, our values should include providing services to
victims of domestic violence. Many shelters will close now. Many people
won`t access domestic violence services because of these cuts. I mean, it
goes to every single program in the federal government.
SMERCONISH: And the cuts, the sequestration cuts are taking a toll on
programs from sexual assault victims in the civilian world, too. Tim
Murphy of "Mother Jones" magazine reports on cuts to these programs across
For example, in Louisiana, the sexual assault nurse examiners, a group of
11 nurses who made house calls to collect evidence from rape victims,
considered closing for good; the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
cutting a sexual prevention coordinator and asking another to go part time.
If funding is not restored by the next year it, it may be forced to close
Nia-Malika, when the concerns were over the FAA and the travel delays, OK,
all of a sudden, there was some reviewing (ph) of that. Do you see
anything taking place when the subject is sexual assault?
HENDERSON: Well, so far, no. You had yesterday, a group of legislators
went to the White House, talked to Valerie Jarrett, talked to Tina Tchen
about this program of sexual assault, particularly in the military. I
think the problem that the sequester has always had in terms of gaining a
lot of track traction with the American people is that it hasn`t been
widespread in terms of the impact that it has and you see something like
the FAA and flights being delayed, people can see that. You see the long
lines of people and flights being delayed.
But a lot of these other programs, whether sexual assault victims, or
people who get their meals delivered as part of Meals on Wheels, that`s
something that people don`t necessarily see. So, when it`s taken away,
there`s not a real raucous over it, and there`s also not a real strong
lobbying arm, right, on the Hill for victims of sexual assault.
So, what you have here, a lot of praise of Violence Against Women`s Act was
passed by the House and the Senate and passed by the White House. But
again, you`re going to have $20 million in cuts. So, you`ll see a lot of
these programs having closed their doors and we`ll have to see over these
next weeks as they try to restore some of these cuts, whether or not these
programs are included.
SMERCONISH: Congresswoman Speier, what is the likelihood that something is
done about sequestration where the economy -- and I`m thinking of housing,
I`m thinking of the Dow at 15,000, I`m thinking of a number of indicators
that the whole economy is finally getting back on track and the debt and
deficit are being impacted favorably -- might that now make it more
difficult to undo some of the sequestration cuts?
SPEIER: I think it`s going to make it more difficult. I mean, the
revenues coming in in April were higher than expected, the actual cost and
the movement to which we would get to the debt limit seems to be slowing.
Now, we`ll still get there but we`re going to have to raise the debt limit
again. But it has had -- there are some parts of it that have been very
appropriate in terms of seeing the cost of government go down.
But here`s the problem. When you`re a senior on Meals on Wheels, when
you`re a victim of domestic violence, you don`t have a voice and that`s the
problem. And for those of us that care deeply about those kinds of
programs, people in need, we`re going to have to really stand firm moving
forward. No more fixes relative to sequestration unless we fix some of
those programs that have people that just don`t have the voice.
SMERCONISH: Congresswoman, I only have a minute left with both of you.
But I said at the outset when I was chatting with Nia-Malika, that I think
the perception across the country in some quarters is that there`s been no
impact, no negative -- it`s the Y2K of budget cuts, this whole business of
Take my final 30 seconds and tell me, what would you like to say to those
SPEIER: Well, I would say to those people -- they are not living in the
real world. These are programs that are needed. We have expectations that
people aren`t going to be on the street, who are recently victims of
domestic violence -- 70,000 people, mostly women, won`t be able to access
shelters because of this sequestration. So, it`s really going to harm
SMERCONISH: Thank you both for being here. Happy Mother`s Day as well.
Thank you, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Nia-Malika Henderson.
We want to hear more on the effects the budget cuts are having. Tweet us
at #unkindestcut. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook page
at Facebook.com/hardball. And be sure to like us while you`re there. And
go to our Web site at TV.MSNBC.com, and click on HARDBALL.
When we return, let me finish with why we could all stand to be a little
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SMERCONISH: Let me finish tonight with this.
All week, we`ve been hearing horrific details from the Cleveland kidnapping
case. One person keeps coming to my mind: Gladys Kravitz. Do you remember
her? The nosy neighbor who lived next to the Stevens in the late 1960s
She was on to Samantha`s witchcraft because she was paying attention,
oftentimes too much attention. While weighing on conflicting reports about
what was told the police and when, I`m wondering, where was Mrs. Kravitz?
My hunch is that it speaks to a current era of going alone.
Let me explain. I can picture the block from where I was raised, about 20
feet separated our house from our next door neighbors. The Shots (ph) were
on one side, the Haggertys were next to them, the Wrigleys, they were on
the other. The McFarlands were across the street, next to the Bruzos (ph),
the Stockles (ph), they were down the block, the Wodaks (ph), the
Krauthammels (ph), and, the Kentops (ph), they all lived behind us.
And as a kid, I knew all of them. I knew who was in their house. I knew
what their fathers did for a living. Today, I know that our sons don`t
have that kind of awareness of our neighbors and frankly nor do my wife and
I`m not blaming the Cleveland neighbors. I`m just making an observation.
We`ve become much more insular, caught up in our electronics, but less
connected to our surroundings.
Many had relatives living with them or close to them. There`s less to
that, too. They kept an additional eye on things.
In Cleveland, the neighbors say they called the police several times, the
police say that their records don`t support that. When the dust settles,
it might be that the police blew it, that they were called and that they
did nothing. Or, we might find that despite 20/20 hindsight, the neighbors
missed all of the signs. Mrs. Kravitz, she would have known.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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