June 6, 2013
Guests: Neera Tanden, John Feehery, Steve McMahon, Rick Perlstein
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Knowledge is power.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this story that the National Security Agency
has been collecting information on our phone calls, who`s calling who, and
for how long. This is a good, important debate, I think. We need to be
vigilant about what kind of stuff the government`s collecting and decide if
it`s truly helpful to catching terrorists, especially and ideally before
they attack. We need to find a balance between doing too much of this and
not doing what should be done to protect ourselves.
I try to ask in matters like this a simple question. If we are hit and it
comes out that the president had the ability and the authority to take
action that could have prevented the attack, what would the critics
justifiably say then? What would you say if you knew that our leaders had
failed to do something they could have done and didn`t?
But again, nothing is healthier in our country than a real neverending
debate on what we believe is necessary to our defense and what is
necessary, too, to protecting our liberty.
We begin with NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, I think
it`s a balancing act. Tell us what this new program that we`re discovering
about at the NSA is actually doing.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the first question I guess, is
whether it`s new, and members of Congress say it`s not. They say that this
is -- what we`ve seen here is a little peep into what`s been going on for
the past at least seven years, they say.
And what it is is a request or a demand to the phone companies that they
turn over data to the United States, to the NSA, on all the numbers that
are in America that have called any other numbers in the U.S. or overseas.
That`s a huge amount of data, and it`s gathered every day and turned over
to the National Security Agency in this enormous database.
Now, that`s part one, and that`s what this court order that was reported by
"The Guardian" newspaper talks about. It`s the gathering of the data.
It says nothing about part two, which is, What can the government do with
it? Now, the program is classified, so we don`t know all the details, but
what we`ve been told today by members of Congress and people in the
government is that the government must have a specific need to get into
They have to demonstrate to the FISA court what procedures they`re going to
use, and that if they get a telephone number that`s found overseas, for
example, or that comes up in an investigation, and they want to now check
to -- and it`s a suspected terrorist, they can run it through the database
to see if that suspected terrorist number has called numbers in the U.S.
and what numbers those numbers have called.
So what they say is that you can`t just idly sift through the data. You
can`t take the data and run it through a computer to do so-called data
mining. But you have to wait until you have a specific need before you can
dip into the database.
MATTHEWS: And I guess the question most people ask at that point is, Can
the government, with that information, that database, that bank of
information -- can they translate that into wiretapping? Can they find out
-- once they know phone call was made from A to B at a certain time and for
how long, can they use that data to then find out what the conversation
was, or not?
WILLIAMS: No because, remember, all the data that`s stored is the fact
that number A called number B, how long the call lasted, where the two
phone numbers were, the people with those cell phones, for example, were.
But nothing was recorded then. You can`t dip back into the data and say, I
want to listen to this phone call that happened on such-and-such a time.
That doesn`t exist.
If they want to do a wiretap on any of those suspected phone numbers, they
would have to go to court and get a wiretap order. Remember, the records
we`re talking about here look backwards, what calls were made. If you want
to do a surveillance, that`s looking forward or in real time, and that data
-- that data doesn`t exist, you`d have to actually go do it.
MATTHEWS: Mike Rogers said that they didn`t use this technology, which you
say may have been longstanding here, may well have been longstanding, to
stop one of the terrorist attacks. Do we know that yet?
WILLIAMS: Well, that`s what he says. It`s undoubtedly played a role in
investigating terrorism cases. He says he`s trying to get the government
to declassify when it was used...
WILLIAMS: ... to see if more can be said about it, and the Obama
administration is struggling with what more they can say about it.
I think what`s fascinating here, Chris, is what you alluded to, the
different responses from members of Congress. We`re now seeing in full
bloom, if you will, what -- a debate that`s happened to a large extent
privately in the Congress or in closed sessions about whether this is a
good idea or not.
But there`s no doubt that members of Congress knew about this program, and
now some feel free to say they thought it was a good idea or a bad idea.
MATTHEWS: Right. It`s great to this debate, and it`s great to have you as
our reporter. Thank you, NBC`s Pete Williams.
Joining me now is former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and
former RNC chair Michael Steele. Both are MSNBC political analysts.
Your gut reactions first, gentlemen, to this kind of conversation because I
think we`re going to -- and I love this about our country. We`re going to
have this kind of debate as long as we live. I love the fact that we argue
about this stuff. They don`t argue about it in other countries. It
doesn`t matter if they argue. Your thoughts, Robert.
ROBERT GIBBS, FMR. W.H. PRESS SECY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. No, I
totally agree. And as Pete said, this literally is a debate and a
conversation that we`ve had ever since the very first debates on the
Patriot Act in late 2001, after what happened on September 11.
We have had these debates. This particular -- these particular provisions
were reauthorized in `05 and `09 and on a couple of occasions since then.
So I think it is healthy that we are having this debate and discussion. I
think what`s most important, though, is, in listening to smart people like
Pete Williams, to explain what this is and what this isn`t because if you
picked up the paper today and you`re a Verizon customer, your first thought
is, My God, they`re listening to every one of my phone calls!
MATTHEWS: Right. They`re on my party line, yes.
GIBBS: Right. And that could...
GIBBS: That might make a lot of people nervous.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think -- I think that`s when people think of
wiretapping. They think of the old Martin Luther King thing...
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: ... and the Kennedys.
MATTHEWS: And they`re listening to me. In fact, what they`re finding out
is, OK, I called my wife...
MATTHEWS: ... you know, ideally my wife, in most cases, and I talked for
three minutes and I said, What are we having for dinner tonight or where
are we going tonight or whatever...
STEELE: And now the government knows what we`re having for dinner.
MATTHEWS: And now they know that. And then I guess, if -- but I want to
know this -- I care about this. Inevitably, it`s my big question. I know
it`s totally political. But when something goes wrong, I always want to
know, could we have stopped it? If somebody had been less politically
correct maybe up at some airport and saw four guys from the Middle East all
walking together in somewhat of a suspicious fashion -- in fact, they
didn`t have the right ID the first time, apparently, in some of these cases
-- would they have flagged them? And they said, Well, I thought that was
improper to do that.
Did this stop some terrorism? I think that`s the first question. I think
Mike Rogers says yes.
GIBBS: And -- and...
MATTHEWS: The chairman of the House committee.
GIBBS: ... my gut tells me because of the amount of information that it`s
certainly likely. And let`s be clear. If we were to pick up the
understanding that somebody that was bad overseas had a certain cell phone
number, you could -- through the data mining, with a warrant, you could
find some -- you know, who is that person calling in the United States?
And in the United States, who`s that person calling?
MATTHEWS: My question, would this have stopped 9/11? And every time
something bad happens, I say, Would you be giving flight lessons to a
couple guys that say they`re German?
STEELE: Right. Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: I always (INAUDIBLE) where are these people from you were giving
flight lessons to? Oh, I think they`re from Germany. Well, they`re from
the Middle East, fine. But you don`t get that stupid answer from a person
who really cares about looking out for this country.
STEELE: Well, the question about whether or not this would have prevented
a 9/11 is problematic because to -- to what Robert just said, you would
need a warrant to listen in on the conversation.
STEELE: This doesn`t do that. This is just collecting the data, the phone
numbers. You know, number A, as -- as was said, number A calls number B.
STEELE: That`s the problem.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a person who disagrees. Fair enough. Here`s Rand
Paul, a libertarian, Ayn Rand objectivist, a Tea Party favorite, of course,
frequently mentioned as -- I think by himself, as a 2016 contender, called
the NSA surveillance "an astounding assault on the Constitution."
And he said he`d introduce legislation that, quote, "would restore our
constitutional rights and declares that the 4th Amendment shall not be
construed to allow any agency of the United States to search the phone
records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause."
So he would basically shut this operation down because he says you need a
search warrant for a particular customer of Verizon.
GIBBS: But to be clear, if you found a number -- and all this information
is, as I understand it, is numbers.
GIBBS: Numbers and time (ph) links. If you wanted to listen or if you
wanted to observe a certain number, that would require going back to...
GIBBS: ... the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court and getting a
specific warrant for a specific number, based on a specific set of
MATTHEWS: Do you think this story got overhyped because it came out of
London, because it came out of "The Guardian," "The Guardian" newspaper,
which is a liberal paper in Britain? Fair enough. Or do you think it got
a lot of play, Michael, because this is a week where there`s a lot of talk
about this kind of thing...
STEELE: I think it`s the latter.
MATTHEWS: ... because of Jim Rosen and Fox and because of AP?
STEELE: I think it`s the latter. I think it`s absolutely coming on the
heels of the Iraq investigation, Jim Rosen. There are a lot of folks on my
side who want to immediately jump and pin this on somebody in the
MATTHEWS: But they did know all...
STEELE: But they did. But...
MATTHEWS: Lindsey Graham, Mike Rogers, and we haven`t heard from McCain
yet, but only the guy, the outriding libertarian...
STEELE: Right. Right. And that`s, you know, consistent for a libertarian
to have that view about the government`s ability...
MATTHEWS: Good enough.
STEELE: ... to do that.
MATTHEWS: That`s why he`s there.
STEELE: Exactly. So I think that there`s a lot of hype there and raises
that flag (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Speaking of outliers -- I don`t mean to be sarcastic because
(INAUDIBLE) a lot of respect for him. Al Gore got into the fray.
MATTHEWS: He hasn`t been in a lot of frays lately. He tweeted his
displeasure. Quote, "In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it
just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?" Well,
that was an economical way to make a statement.
GIBBS: But again, if you read the story and your impression is that every
phone call made in this country is listened into by the government, then
the answer to that would be absolutely. That`s not what this is, though.
MATTHEWS: He just sold his station to Al Jazeera, by the way.
MATTHEWS: ... to put some things in perspective.
GIBBS: But I think -- but again, I -- look, I think what you -- to go back
to your original point...
GIBBS: ... which is these are debates we should have. We should have
these debates. And I hope that in the next few days, the debate that we`ve
had intermittently, and the debate, as Pete said, we have had in closed
halls in Congress because of its classification -- we have a little
discussion and discernment about (ph) in the news media to explain to
people what it is, why...
MATTHEWS: OK, is Boehner right, the speaker right in saying the president
owes it to the American people to justify this program? You`re laughing,
but is it a good call for him?
GIBBS: I`m laughing because -- I`m laughing because...
STEELE: It`s an old program.
GIBBS: ... John Boehner has voted to reauthorize this program on at least
no less than three occasions.
STEELE: Right. So it`s an old program. It`s not something that was just
made up in the last few years. But Chris, the bottom line is, it`s a
legitimate question coming off the 9/11 and the Patriot Act how we create
that balance, as you rightly say, between the privacy component, as well as
the needs of the government...
MATTHEWS: OK. I think...
STEELE: ... to help national security.
MATTHEWS: ... we`re being pretty grown up about this. Thanks so much,
gentlemen. It`s great to have you on, Robert Gibbs and Michael Steele.
By the way, Michael has just co-authored an e-book called "The Recovering
Politician`s 12-Step Program to Survive Crisis." We`ll have to talk about
that at a future date.
Coming up: What is President Obama fighting for in his second term? That`s
the great question, why is he there? And where does he want to take the
country in the next three-and-a-half years? Republicans have made it clear
they don`t really want to work with this fellow. Fine.
So what do you do to make them want to -- well, what do you do if you`re
Mr. President right now? Not what the haters will let you do because not
much there. Tell us what battles you want us to fight, Mr. President. I
think many in this country are ready to follow you.
Also, we`ve been saying it for days now, Darrell Issa is trying to turn
every administration misstep, real or imagined, into Watergate times 10.
It`s irresponsible and embarrassing, and now even some Republicans are
saying secretly, Quit it, buddy.
Plus: It`s been 45 years since Bobby Kennedy was assassinated -- believe it
or not, 45 years since this guy, damaged himself, of course, tried to bring
together African-Americans and working-class whites. What an effort he
And finally, who`s going to play Hillary in the movie? Turns out there`s a
new front-runner and her name isn`t Scarlett Johannson, Amanda Siefried
(ph) or Jessica Chastain.
This is HARDBALL, the place for news like that! We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, the body of Senator Frank Lautenberg was brought to the
chamber of the United States Senate today. Senators and members of the
public were able to pay their respects to this five-term Democrat from New
Jersey, who died earlier this week. Senator Lautenberg -- and I mean, he
was a great American, a good liberal guy -- will be buried at Arlington
National Cemetery. He, by the way, served in world war II, the last person
to do that still in the Congress.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Well, today, actually "Washington Post" columnist E.J. Dionne --
I always like to read him -- he echoed a theme I`ve been hitting. I don`t
think he thought it was an echo. It was his original thought, too -- that
the president`s got to get on offense, state his goals out there for the
country and tell us how he`s going to get there.
Dionne`s column today began, quote, "What is President Obama fighting for?
What is the point of his second term? His ability to answer these
questions in a compelling way will have more to do with his success or
failure than all the Republican congressional investigations combined."
Well, this week, announcing three nominees to the D.C. circuit court and
putting insiders Susan Rice and Samantha Power in powerful security and
foreign policy positions. He certainly did that. And he showed he`s ready
to give efforts at conciliation a rest right now and push forward with his
agenda, the one he believes in and the people he believes in.
Joan Walsh is an MSNBC political analyst and editor-at-large for Salon and
Neera Tanden is president of the Center for American Progress.
Neera, I want to start with you, and then to Joan. It seems to me that,
you know, this president is always, I don`t want to say behind me because
I`m always, you know, excited. Maybe I`m excitable.
MATTHEWS: And he`s one of these "Cool Hand Luke" characters that slowly
gets to where you want him to be, like beating Hillary back in 2008. I
thought he gave her a 20-point lead was enough of a lead!
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I`m just getting over my...
MATTHEWS: So now he`s getting -- he does tend to come through in the
clutch, like lose the first debate to make it interesting, like the NBA
playoffs, but win the seventh game, OK?
He`s doing something now. I`m not sure it`s more than tactics, though. He
put in three people, two women, an African-American -- maybe that`s
incidental, maybe not, or accidental, or whatever. But he picked three
people, who are probably progressives, as judges, I assume. And he said,
In your face, buddies. I got three vacancies. You can call it court
packing. I`m filling the court up. That`s my job -- the D.C. circuit.
Then he picks two -- and I think it`s hard to read her until she`s got the
job, but the reputation certainly of Susan Rice is a for real person who
has real strong beliefs, is going to let you know what they are. And
Samantha Power, I really like, maybe because she`s Irish. I don`t know
what it is, but she is very strong, too, strong progressive foreign policy
people with real human rights concerns, OK?
He`s not sitting around, waiting for John Boehner to agree or Eric Cantor.
MATTHEWS: So what does it tell you?
TANDEN: I mean, look, I think second terms are places where you can
actually not be so worried about the voters, et cetera, and really do what
the right thing is. But I also think we should recognize what`s happened,
which is the Republican Party has moved so far right that for them to --
for you to conciliate with them at this point, you have to move far right.
So you know, I think the president...
MATTHEWS: You mean there`s no deal halfway.
TANDEN: You know, it`s not like they like moderate Democrats. They just
don`t like Democrats in general who are...
MATTHEWS: So unless he picks a neocon for one of these foreign policy
position, they`re going to trash him.
TANDEN: Yes. So if there`s not a lot of points...
MATTHEWS: I think that`s true.
TANDEN: And I mean, it`s not -- and that`s -- it`s not the job of the
president to let the opposition dictate the terms.
MATTHEWS: OK. You know what I like to do, Joan? I like to rattle the
cage of the other side. I want to see the cage -- I want to see the lion
in the cage growling!
MATTHEWS: I want to see -- (INAUDIBLE) rattle and I want to hear the cage
jumping around with the crazy guy inside that cage. I got to believe that
today, when they were really absorbing the fact, Oh, God, we got Susan Rice
as national security adviser and we got Samantha Power over there all to
the left, maybe -- it`s hard to say left or right on some of those things,
certainly to the human rights side of John Kerry, even. They`ve got what
they want now, and we lost again.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I`m really happy
that he did that. I`m happy that he gave Susan Rice the job that she very
much deserves, Chris. I`m happy about the three judicial nominees. I
think that this is the right tone.
Now I think we need to see some movement on domestic policies, you know...
MATTHEWS: Tell me.
WALSH: Well, Neera, CAP, is out with a great report saying we`ve got to
give up on this austerity kick. Austerity politics ruined Europe. We know
that. The deficit is dropping, and jobs are the real crisis.
WALSH: The president has to give up on this idea...
MATTHEWS: Can we sing it all together? One word, all three of us, jobs.
WALSH: Jobs, jobs, jobs.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
TANDEN: Well, I mean...
WALSH: And infrastructure. You know, and infrastructure. We had a bridge
-- we had a bridge fall down, and very little attention to our
You know, the president was very good about crusading for a grand bargain
that most of us thought he was never going to get. He needs to crusade for
things that he thinks he might not get...
MATTHEWS: Real things.
WALSH: ... but that we really need.
WALSH: ... minimum wage bill went down to defeat in the House. He wants a
-- he wants a hike in the minimum wage. We need to be talking about that.
Just because it can`t happen -- you`ve got to give people a reason to vote
Democratic in 2014.
MATTHEWS: And why is the minimum wage important? Why is it important?
WALSH: Because we have got so many people living actually below the
poverty line who are making the minimum wage. You can`t support a family
on it. You can`t support even...
MATTHEWS: And you`re a labor guy. You know this. When you move up the
bottom, you move everything up in the middle.
WALSH: You move everybody up. You move everybody up.
TANDEN: People can buy more when they have more income.
MATTHEWS: Now, let me ask you about this, because I do this ad, the ad --
leaning forward ads. And the one I`m really proud of, I caught this
morning watching, I think, Chris Jansing.
And it`s an ad about me in front of the -- one of the most wonderful spots
in the world, Mount Rushmore. It`s so inspiring. You feel like an
immigrant when you go there. You feel so great about America. And I`m
talking about Lincoln. In the middle of the Civil War, he built the
MATTHEWS: People in government say, well, we can`t do that because these
times are tough.
And, wait a minute, he built the railroad across this country in the middle
of the Civil War, when he`s facing the rebel war across the river.
MATTHEWS: And look what he did.
MATTHEWS: And Ike in the `50s built the railroad. And we`re sitting
around waiting for somebody else to do it some way down the road. When are
we going to catch up to Europe? When are we going to catch up to Asia? We
are falling behind.
TANDEN: Yes, absolutely. And, actually, the reason why we did this report
MATTHEWS: Tell me what you want to build.
So, CAP basically put out a report today that says the problem is
Washington is having the wrong conversation. We have actually done really
well on deficit reduction. We were supposed to be at 8 percent of deficits
to GDP in 2023 a decade from now. It`s now dropped to 3 percent.
TANDEN: We`re actually doing deficit reduction really well.
What we`re not doing is economic growth really well. So, you could have a
MATTHEWS: Who`s advising the president on austerity? Who is pushing catch
up with the Republicans?
MATTHEWS: You will never be as good as them at talking about it.
TANDEN: I think the challenge is -- and we demonstrate how austerity is
failing in Europe. And it`s a bad strategy and why we need to have
investments now. And we have a -- we put forward a proposal where you
could actually invest in...
MATTHEWS: All I know is, Joan, in every college, every university, every
hospital, everything that ever does anything has a building program.
MATTHEWS: They come to you every year. It`s called their capital
campaign. And they build stuff. And that`s why these schools get bigger
like Georgetown over here.
Why doesn`t the United States government build anything?
WALSH: Well, I want to be clear, and I know Neera knows this, too. The
president cannot do this on his own.
WALSH: He can`t build the buildings on his own, Chris, and he can`t get
the money out of Congress to do it.
So, I`m not -- I really don`t want to be someone who`s saying, he could do
this, he`s just not trying. What he`s not trying, though, he`s not using
his bully pulpit as effectively as he could.
WALSH: And he`s not articulating what our -- I`m a Democrat -- what our
agenda as Democrats is going to be to give people a reason to come out and
turn out these Republicans in 2014 and 2016. That`s the only thing to do
at this point. He cannot build a railroad or a college himself. I have to
say that on the record.
MATTHEWS: You know what my speech is at every college graduation? Make
them say no.
WALSH: Make them say no.
MATTHEWS: If you`re a minority up for a job and a minority has never
gotten that job before, make that guy on the other side of the table say no
to you. Make him say it. Don`t say no to yourself.
If you`re a liberal and you want to do things, don`t say no to yourself.
MATTHEWS: Make them say no.
If Boehner wants to screw a jobs program, let him do it again every day of
WALSH: Every day.
MATTHEWS: Neera Tanden, thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Joan Walsh. We agree.
WALSH: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next -- happy Friday.
Turns out New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was against holding a special
election before he was for it. Well, wait until you catch this guy`s
record, a little inconsistent.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
First, a roundup of Democratic reactions to Chris Christie`s plan to fill
the Senate seat of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg. Recap, Christie`s
taken the expected partisan heat for choosing to hold a special election
this October, three weeks before the general election. It will cost $12
million, but allows Christie to avoid sharing the ballot that day with
popular Democrat Cory Booker, which must have meant a smaller victory --
could have meant a smaller victim victory for Christie.
Let`s go to Jon Stewart on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": I tell you the one
option he`s not going to take, that weird October special election, you
know, the one that is going to happen three weeks before the general. I
know he`s not going to do that, because, in 2009, Governor Christie
commented specifically on what he would do when he was asked -- and this is
true -- if Frank Lautenberg died.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I don`t think any responsible
governor at this point would call for a special election that would cost
STEWART: Of course they wouldn`t. What did Governor Christie choose?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christie set a special election for October 16.
STEWART: What the...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: He chose...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Another reaction, we turn to a "Sideshow" standby, of course,
Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert. Well, apparently, the Texas winger and
birther is upset because the governor didn`t just appoint a Republican to
serve out the full remainder of Lautenberg`s Senate term all the way
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: If he had just up and appointed a
Republican replacement, as he`s authorized to do, do you think the bromance
would continue? Do you think the president would come and let him win a
little toys for him and stuffed animals down at the fair?
We`re known by our friends. I think Machiavelli pointed that out. And so
you think he would ever get another hug out on the beach from the president
if he were to do that?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
Anyway, so Christie is getting hit from the right and from the left.
That`s probably good news for him. By the way, Christie announced today
that the state`s attorney general, Jeffrey Chiesa, who is a Republican,
will replace the late Senator Frank Lautenberg until that special election
in the fall.
Next, in addition to the short list, the movie version. Last week, I told
you about the lineup of possible candidates to play the young Hillary
Clinton in an upcoming movie about her early days in Washington. Well,
names like Jessica Chastain, Amanda Seyfried, and Scarlett Johansson were
on the list.
But, according to "The Hollywood Reporter" now, there`s a new front-runner.
It`s British actress Carey Mulligan, who is now starring in "The Great
Gatsby." Nothing is firm at this point, but "The Hollywood Reporter" says
the producers and so is Mulligan. Who wouldn`t be?
Also, what to do after a rough week capped by an extremely tough night?
Well, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, one of my favorites, talked to
"The Boston Herald" recently about the 16-hour manhunt that led to the
capture of one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing and what he
did after it was all over.
Quote: "I went for a quick swim and I went to a local restaurant. And
Maggie, who runs, the restaurant asked, do you want to be near people or
away from people? I said as far as away as I can."
I love this guy.
"So, she put in the corner, me and my book on my iPad. She starts bringing
me things to drink as a celebration. And by the end of the meal, I was
actually quite drunk by myself."
Patrick later realized that he had forgotten to bring any money with him
that night, though the woman who served him confirmed that he did pay up
Up next, I have been saying it, and now some Republicans want Darrell Issa
to cool it with his over-the-top rhetoric about the Obama White House.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Kayla Tausche with your CNBC
Stocks staging a serious comeback after a midday dip, the Dow Jones
industrials finishing 80 points higher, the S&P 500 adding 13, and the
Nasdaq climbing 22.
Investors now looking ahead with even more anticipation than usual to
tomorrow`s government jobs report for May. That`s because Fed Chairman Ben
Bernanke has indicated the Central Bank could start tapering off its bond-
buying program if the jobs market continues to improve.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Has Darrell Issa gone too far even for some of his fellow Republicans?
Well, the California Republican congressman who chairs the House Oversight
Committee is the face of many these investigations dogging the White House
right now, everything from Benghazi to the IRS. But Issa also has a
tendency to say things he probably should not, I think.
For example, he made this comment about Jay Carney on CNN this past
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE
CHAIRMAN: The administration is still, their paid liar, their
spokesperson, picture behind, he`s still making up things about what
happened and calling this local rogue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, Politico reports today, a big story, that in response to that
particular comment about Jay Carney being a paid liar, House Republican
leadership staffers had a message for Issa to cool it -- quote -- "GOP
leaders are concerned that the sometimes unpredictable chairman could
jeopardize the biggest gift handed to them in months, public outrage over
the IRS scandal, combined with questions over Benghazi. They think Issa
should stop personalizing the scandals by insulting Obama and his aides and
focus on the facts."
And they are right -- are they right to be concerned? That`s our big
question right now. Have they overdone it?
John Feehery is Republican strategist. I don`t know what he thinks. And
Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist. I think I know what he thinks.
MATTHEWS: John, sometimes, fire-eaters work, if you get your guy, like
Nixon got Alger Hiss back in the `40s. And I guess there are other
examples where it`s OK to be a bit over the fact, but facts...
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Facts matter.
I think the most effective chairman I saw in this committee, which is an
important oversight committee, was Bill Clinger, because he was a guy who
just did the facts. He was very calm, didn`t say anything silly. The most
-- the guy after him, Dan Burton, was a little bit crazy, a little bit
kooky, would say some things that would make it more about Dan Burton.
MATTHEWS: He was out shooting cantaloupes.
MATTHEWS: Wasn`t he?
And then you had Tom Davis. And now you have got Darrell Issa. Issa has
driven a lot of stories very effectively. When he says that Jay Carney is
a liar, he makes the story about him and not about the story in front of
us. He has to keep on the straight and narrow, keep it very close, as you
said, close to the facts and not make this about him.
MATTHEWS: Yes, especially when you call somebody a liar, which I`m very
careful about, because when you call somebody a liar, you`re saying I know
for a fact this person lied.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. That`s right.
MATTHEWS: I know he knew or she knew the truth and told me something else,
when, even in these tricky cases, certainly about the Benghazi thing, we
don`t know what information was given to Susan Rice. We don`t know what
she asked for or what she ended up with or what she was thinking at the
People start using words like perjury and stuff like that, they have got to
be real careful, I think. Your thoughts, Steve?
MCMAHON: Well, I think John has actually summarized it perfectly
He`s more like Dan Burton than he is like the responsible subcommittee
chairman that John was describing. And the problem for the Republicans,
and the reason they smacked him down, is this is how brands are made. The
Republican Party is trying to run a campaign in 2014, and if they become
known as the overreaching parties, the party that is known for coarse
insults, it`s not going to go very well for them.
MATTHEWS: OK. While you`re on the business of helping the Republicans get
their act together, Steve McMahon...
MCMAHON: No, I`m not trying to help them get their act together.
MATTHEWS: No, I mean it. I mean it. I mean it. No, it`s a great
question. What`s the right way to use information that you got?
MATTHEWS: First of all, there`s good reason to believe that there`s people
over at the IRS making decisions that had a taint to it, had a point of
view to it.
From what the evidence of the I.G. report is, they were basically turning
their vengeance on the Republicans. If that`s a fact, you have to find out
why they were doing it, who it was doing it, and if there was, if any, a
White House connection or campaign connection, but nothing so far.
FEEHERY: There`s an art form to this, because some of the work that
they`re doing is kind of dull.
And for -- Darrell Issa is really good at actually getting the media
attention to it and pushing the story forward. The problem is, is when you
go over the top and when you kind of promise more than the story has. So
that`s why you have got to really have some good lawyers and stick to the
facts and keep driving them forward.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think that point was made a minute ago, which is you
have got such a good story in the IRS scandal. Everybody is ticked about
FEEHERY: Oh, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: I thought the president should have been the first guy out
blowing the whistle.
Look, here`s Greg Walden. Here`s the congressman from Oregon. He`s
chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. So, this guy
has to get Republicans elected. Here`s what he said about Issa`s use of
the phrase paid liar about Carney -- quote -- "I think you have to choose
your words carefully, and I will leave that where it is."
Hmm. Nicely put.
MCMAHON: Hmm. Yes, think before you speak.
MCMAHON: And, remember, it was Dan Burton who pushed the committee and
pushed the impeachment hearings, to the point where the American people
rejected the Republicans, the Republican leadership, and Newt Gingrich...
MATTHEWS: He was the guy accusing the Clintons of murder, wasn`t he?
MCMAHON: He was accusing the Clintons of everything.
MCMAHON: But he was the beginning of the overreach for the Republicans
that culminated in an impeachment hearing and resulted in Republicans
losing 52 seats and Newt Gingrich being gone.
FEEHERY: Well, that`s not actually what happened.
MATTHEWS: what happened?
FEEHERY: In 2008, they kept the majority. They lost...
MCMAHON: I`m talking about 1998, when they overreached.
FEEHERY: In 1998, they kept the House. They lost..
MCMAHON: They lost 52 seats.
MATTHEWS: They lost Newt Gingrich.
FEEHERY: Well, they lost Newt Gingrich.
FEEHERY: But they kept control of the House.
And I think the bigger point here is that you need -- and Greg Walden is
exactly right. I have talked to Greg Walden about this. You really need
to be careful on these explosive allegations, because if you mishandle
them, they will explode in your hand.
MATTHEWS: Well, Darrell Issa sometimes uses a technique that "The
Washington Post"`s Dana Milbank dubbed accuse first, ask questions later.
On CNN this weekend, he alleged that the Tea Party targeting was coming
straight from Washington, but did he have proof? Well, listen to what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN)
ISSA: The reason that Lois Lerner tried to take the Fifth is not because
there`s a rogue in Cincinnati. It`s because this is a problem that was
coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters, and
we`re getting to proving it. We have 18 more transcribed interviews to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This is all you need to self-condemn this guy. He makes a
statement and then he says in all likelihood that there was a connection.
MCMAHON: And we`re getting it.
MATTHEWS: And we`re getting it.
And then he says, "We`re getting to proving it." I don`t even know if
that`s good English. "We`re getting to proving it."
In other words, here`s the fish I caught today. I`m going fishing. I look
at it, and it doesn`t make any sense.
MCMAHON: It makes absolutely no sense.
MATTHEWS: He says I`ve got this story made then I`m going to go make it.
What is it?
FEEHERY: I think this story is the story that keeps on giving.
MATTHEWS: Did the president have anything to do with the IRS scandal?
FEEHERY: I doubt it very seriously the president --
MATTHEWS: He said he`s on the way to proving it.
FEEHERY: He said Washington, he didn`t say Obama. The question is, where
did this culture of trying to attack the Tea Party from? And obviously,
the president had disregard. The other thing that`s interesting about this
story is how senators asked the IRS, Democratic senators asked the IRS to
target the Tea Party, and I think that was a little bit outrageous.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at on Benghazi. Here he is, just moving ahead
here. Here`s just the full picture of this guy`s overreach. Here he is on
"Meet the Press" on May 12th. Let`s take a look at this. Issa going after
-- in this case, fighting I out with David Gregory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: The fact is we want the facts. We`re
entitled to the facts. The American people were effectively lied to for a
period of about a month. That`s important to get right.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: I just want to be clear what you believe the lie
ISSA: This was a terrorist attack the get-go. The attacks succeeded, very
quickly, in no small part because the consulate or diplomatic facility in
Benghazi was denied the kind of support it needed. They were, in fact,
covering up an easy attack that succeeded that was about -- was from the
get-go really about a terrorist attack. It was never about a video.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEEHERY: Well, I think the question I have is why did Susan Rice say that
this was about a video when clearly wasn`t about a video?
MATTHEWS: The CIA gave her the talking points.
MCMAHON: You know how that happened.
MATTHEWS: -- the big hero of the Republican Party, Petraeus.
FEEHERY: Well, Petraeus said he did not approve the talking points. And
the fact of the matter is, she went out there and said in five shows, she
should have known better. She should have known better that this was --
what she was saying was patently false.
MCMAHON: How could she know better? She wasn`t there. She got the
talking points from the CIA and defense.
FEEHERY: You got to go on TV, you have your own credibility, you got to do
your due diligence.
MCMAHON: She relied on the experts at State Department.
FEEHERY: Nobody believed this was done by a video. I mean, this is -- I
think this was patently false what Susan Rice said.
MATTHEWS: You know, I thought she did a hell of a job that day. I watched
the thing --
FEEHERY: Turned out to not be accurate.
MATTHEWS: I thought she did a good job of representing the administration
FEEHERY: It was wrong.
MCMAHON: -- based on the expert analysis.
MATTHEWS: It was a moving story -- using the word lying is very dangerous
because that means you have to get into her heart and mind and know that
she knew there was something else she was saying wrong. And you don`t know
You don`t know she thought it was something else.
FEEHERY: Well, I don`t know if she did --
MATTHEWS: You think she`s a liar? You would say the word "liar"?
FEEHERY: I thought she was patently false. What she said was wrong.
MATTHEWS: Lots of people say wrong. They say a guy`s going to win a
basketball game tonight and they lose. Are they a liar? They don`t know.
Anyway, thank you, John Feehery. You`re mostly right here.
Anyway, Steve McMahon.
Up next -- I don`t like the word liar because it assumes so much.
Up next, 45 years since the assassination of Robert Kennedy. In that time,
I haven`t seen anyone really pulled together what this guy really worked to
bring together -- working whites who have now gotten more and more
conservatives, and African-American. It`s an attempt that hasn`t been made
as hard as he made it. Of course, he was killed in that campaign. And
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Take a look at this fascinating new poll on the acceptance of
homosexuality around the world. It`s fascinating.
Pew polled people in 39 countries and found that countries in Europe, North
America and Latin America had the highest tolerance for gays and lesbians.
In Spain, look at this number, 88 percent say homosexuality should be
accepted by society, 88 percent. That`s the highest number of the
countries in the poll, by the way.
In Canada, almost as high, 80 percent say it should be accepted. Three
quarters in the U.K. say it should be accepted. Here in the U.S., 60
percent agree -- right in line there with Brazil.
In China, only a fifth say homosexuality should be accepted. The number is
lower in Russia. The poll found Nigeria the least tolerant of the 39
By the way, while opinions haven`t changed much recently, the U.S., Canada
and South Korea are the only countries who register double digit gains --
double digit gains in acceptance over the past six years.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It was 45 years ago, I can`t believe it, today, that Robert F. Kennedy died
from an assassin`s bullet. His death left a question for many Americans
about what could have been, of course, we`ll never know.
But in his campaign for president, he seemed able to reach out to working
class whites and African-Americans. It`s a big part of his legacy, of
And two months after his own death, another major figure in America was
violently taken from us. That was Martin Luther King. The civil rights
icon`s murder led to riots in some cities and Bobby Kennedy was right there
in Indianapolis where the city`s police and mayor suggest he cancel his
Kennedy went ahead and spoke right the night -- in fact, when you watch
this, he`s actually telling many of the people in the crowd of what
happened. They hadn`t known yet. It was before the Internet. They didn`t
know, before 24/7 cable. They didn`t know -- the people in the crowd who
are mainly African-American -- didn`t know that King had been killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOBBY KENNEDY (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: What we need in the United States
is not division, what we need in the United States is not hatred. What we
need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and
wisdom and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward
those who still suffer within our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Kennedy`s message that evening was also a big part of his
legacy. I want to get to that with two people who know what they`re
Rick Perlstein, author of "Nixonland." He`s also a contributor to "The
James Peterson is the director of Africana studies at Lehigh University.
He`s also an MSNBC contributor.
James, I want you to start with this. You`re a young guy. I`m thinking
about the legacy you teach in this regard.
Right now, more and more the Republican Party, with the exception of the
Clintons, and Hillary Clinton included, haven`t been able to make a lot off
penetration with working class whites. They`ve been doing really well on
pulling them over to the conservative side for a lot of social -- I think
social reasons, not economic reasons necessarily. And in the old days, in
the `60s, when bobby was killed, he was out there trying to hold together
that Democratic coalition of working class people in both groups, white and
JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: And he was. And at least based on his
rhetoric and his appeal, I think he was doing a great job and the coalition
that he was pulling together at that particular point in time, you know, 82
days into that campaign, unfortunately, he lost his life. The coalition he
was pulling together is the coalition that essentially re-elected President
Obama. Minus this working class white folks who had broke more towards the
A couple of things have happened. One, it`s the rise of the military
industrial complex and the ways in which we think about the military and
how that gets politicized between Republicans and Democrats has made some
of those white folk break from the conservative party.
But, also, Chris, as you know, for some reason, all of the New Deal
policies and the entire social safety net has been very effectively
designed to people of color, black folk, and immigrants, as opposed to the
very, very real sort of population of poor folk who live in the South who
are white also who use social services. There`s been a very effective
campaign on the right to sort of say that the social safety net is for
those other folk, for those folks who are not really --
MATTHEWS: For welfare queen stuff, that kind of thing?
PETERSON: Exactly. Exactly. It`s created it and it`s difficult to
Here`s our colleague, Mike Barnicle, made this point on "MORNING JOE" today
about why both African-Americans and working class whites found Kenned,
that`s Bobby Kennedy, so appealing. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think it was because both groups of
people, poor, whites, in Gary, Indiana, steel workers, poor blacks
(INAUDIBLE) in central Louisiana -- Los Angeles, they knew that they
recognized in him a figure who had been hurt by life, who had his own life
diminished by loss and who knew, had a sense of what their lives were all
about, being diminished and having lost things. That was a huge, hug
attraction for both groups of people towards Robert F. Kennedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Rick, I can`t say it better than Mike did. Your thoughts?
RICK PERLSTEIN, THE NATION: Well, Chris, I hate to rain on the parade like
the pedantic professor on this day and we honor his legacy, and it was a
remarkable legacy. Hut he only got 15 percent of the white vote in Gary,
Indiana. He got 90 percent of the black vote.
It was a little bit of a myth that he was able to pull these groups
together. Robert Novak did a house to house poll before the election. He
visited 43 houses and found that he was doing better than his opponent,
Eugene McCarthy, by about two to one in the white kind of working class
areas. But on Election Day, he lost 13 of the 14 townships where George
Wallace had won to Eugene McCarthy.
People really wished -- they dearly wished that someone could bring this
country together after Martin Luther King`s assassination. In fact, the
pundit Joseph (INAUDIBLE) said he united black power and backlash, which
meant the black militants and white factory workers.
MATTHEWS: Where were the working class Democrats voting in the primaries
in Indiana and places like that?
PERLSTEIN: A lot of them were voting for Eugene McCarthy because Kennedy
really was associated with civil rights. He had said some very bold things
about the riots. He said if he was black, maybe he would have rioted, too.
That he understands the rage and the black working class.
And as a matter of fact, one of his campaign advisers said he really need
to back off the black issues and in the closing days of the campaign he
lost about 14 points among undecided voters. Now, that`s not to say that
he wasn`t pointing in that direction. And who knows what would have
happened? I mean, that`s the tragedy of Bobby Kennedy. He truly wished to
transcend these divisions.
But, unfortunately, also, in the primary in California, he kind of race-
baited Eugene McCarthy a little bit like Bill Clinton race-baited Barack
Obama in North Carolina by saying in a debate that if Eugene McCarthy was
elected, he was going to build public housing in Orange County.
MATTHEWS: I know, I talked to Gene -- by the way, Rick, I talked to Gene
before he died and he never forgot that charge, that he was going to bring
blacks into Anaheim.
Anyway, your thoughts, James, on the other side, because I remember -- in
fact, I`ve got legal rights, we can`t show them, a great picture of working
class guy and his son both covered in dirt. They`ve been working all day
saluting Bobby Kennedy`s train as it went by. I`ll tell you, I think it`s
a powerful statement on the other side.
Quickly, you got 10 seconds.
PETERSON: It is powerful and he`s compelling. Listen, the point of the
matters in terms of political coalitions, he doesn`t need a large
percentage of white working class voters, right? The future of politics
for the Democratic Party is about stiffing off a smaller percentage of that
voting population to expand the coalition that Obama faces for his re-
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, Rick knows his stuff as well, as anybody in the
business. But I do think Bobby might have given Nixon a run for that
working class whites come November.
Anyway, thank you. We`ll never know.
Of course, Rick, thank you. Rick Perlstein, "Nixonland". And James
Peterson, thank you, professor.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me end tonight with Bobby Kennedy, the hero we lost 45 years
I heard the news early in the morning on radio. I was up in a Montreal
hotel, actually. At first, like others, I thought it was a re-
dramatization of Dallas five years earlier. I tuned in to find out who had
won the California Democratic primary that night, between Gene McCarthy and
Only after listening for several minutes that I realized this was all
happening live. Bobby Kennedy had been shot. People don`t remember all of
this, he was shot by a Palestinian angry at Kennedy`s pro-Israeli campaign
Sirhan Sirhan was, if you think about it, an early case of Mideast
terrorism directed at the United States. He shot Bobby Kennedy because of
what the New York senator stood for in foreign policy.
To most Americans, Bobby stood for something altogether different. He was
a tribune for the people who needed one, a victim himself because of his
beloved brother`s assassination, he came across to people of color and
people who are denied a real chance in this country as a fellow soul,
someone who knew what it meant to be hurt by the system.
I think people loved this guy for something else. He was a liberal who
didn`t believe in all the B.S. sometimes and too often associated with it.
He believed in giving people who needed a break and he saw the unfairness
But he also believed in people playing by the rules. You broke the law and
you were a criminal, whether you were a criminal in Bobby`s eyes, whether
you`re a big shot or not. He was a law and order liberal, a liberal who
never stopped being an Irish cop.
And that`s how I like to remember him because that`s the kind of person I
want to see in politics, the kind of person I want very much to be myself.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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