September 25, 2013
Guests: Steve McMahon, John Brabender, Amy Davidson, Dana Milbank, Charles
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: You think Fidel Castro gave long speeches.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Everyone who watches this program knows
of my devotion to Winston Churchill, the courageous British leader who
stood alone against the Nazis, stood alone knowing that if Britain were to
lose the war, he and everyone else in the government would be killed, and
in the most terrible way. I admire Churchill. I look up to him as the
greatest example of all that`s good in democratic society, all that`s good
in true political leadership.
Ted Cruz, whatever else we decide he is, or he decides he wants to be, is
no Winston Churchill battling Hitler any more than Snoopy was battling the
Red Baron. Just today, minutes after declaring himself the man daring to
stand alone, he gave up the colors and voted the same way as all the other
The startling delusion here is Cruz`s claim to history. It was Barack
Obama who made history three years ago not by making some long-winded
speech like the kind Fidel Castro liked to give, he did it by achieving
what presidents going back to Teddy Roosevelt have tried to do but failed,
get health insurance for the tens of millions who`ve had to plead for
unpaid treatment in emergency rooms.
Cruz is out to make a name not by uniting a country in danger, as Churchill
did, not by building up a country`s defenses and morale, as Churchill did.
His calling card is just the opposite. He seeks to divide. He seeks to
destroy. He seeks to demoralize until the country is so divided, its
ability to govern so destroyed, its morale so depressed that even someone
like the freshman senator from Texas starts to look credible.
Howard Fineman`s the editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and David
Corn is the Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones." Both are MSNBC
I want you gentlemen to watch this. For 21 hours, Ted Cruz stood in a
self-made spotlight on the Senate floor to denounce the president`s health
care law -- law, not bill, sir. At times, he preached to a near empty
chamber. Make no mistake about it, the senator`s marathon speaking session
was designed as pure self-aggrandizing theater, a one-man show casting
himself in the hero`s lead role.
To that point, Cruz began his filibuster-style speech by likening his
critics, those who oppose funding (sic) the Affordable Care Act, to Nazi
sympathizers, Nazi appeasers, rather, before World War II.
Let`s listen to his story here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany. Look, we saw
in Britain Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, Accept the
Nazis. Yes, they`ll dominate the continent of Europe, but that`s not our
problem. Let`s appease them. Why? Because it can`t be done. We can`t
possibly stand against them.
And in America, there were voices that listened to that. I suspect those
same pundits who say it can`t be done, if it had been in the 1940s, we
would have been listening to them. Then they would have made television.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, those comments did not sit well with Senator John McCain,
whose father and grandfather both served in World War II. Here`s Senator
McCain speaking just moments after Cruz finished his 21-hour talkathon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I resoundingly reject that allegation.
That allegation, in my view, does a great disservice. There were those who
went to war because of the barbaric and great threat to civilization and
everything we stand for. Amongst them were my father and grandfather. I
do not agree with that comparison. I think it`s wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it. I want David Corn to start here.
David, I don`t think I`ve heard anything like this in a long time,
comparing himself to Churchill and the heroes who fought World War II, and
his enemies on an issue of procedure, really here --
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: -- to those who basically buckled or were afraid of the Nazis,
in his sort of contorted view of the history. By the way, his facts are
almost all wrong. But I get the point. They`re the bad guys. Anybody
opposes him is the bad guy buckling to Nazism.
CORN: It was very easy to see this silly-buster -- filibuster, faux
filibuster -- as in his own political benefit because I think it catapulted
him ahead of Rand Paul in the primary contest for the yahoo vote of the
Republican Party, which is now the dominant faction of the Republican
But to have him compare himself to Winston Churchill and to say that he was
standing between America and Nazism by opposing Obamacare showed a certain
level of self-delusion that here before I thought we could only attribute
this to Newt Gingrich --
CORN: -- who always is talking about how he`s stopping fascism in this
country. And I think what we`ve seen in the Republican Party, with McCain
out there and Ted Cruz out there, is this divide between reality and
whatever you want to call it, bizarro-land, you know, which used to be the
provenance of the House and out in the grass roots has now fully infected
the Senate, the highest chamber in the land.
This civil war is not far from over. It`s going to play out through 2016
and the Republican presidential primary contests and down the road, and you
have people like Ted Cruz, you know, who believes he`s the savior of the
nation now, or trying to be, really in the driver`s seat of the party. I
don`t know how they`re going to get control back from him.
MATTHEWS: Howard, what did you make of this thing? Because in normal
time, we`d be coming up on October 1st, where we`d be talking and watching
how "Obama care," or the president`s affordable care plan, goes into
effect. We`d looking at the mistakes, looking at the hard tryout and where
it would have to be fixed or whatever and debating it as we watch it, the
implementation. But instead, we`re focusing on this -- this act.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, a couple things. First, for 30 years, Republicans have been talking
now, over two generations, about limiting the size of government. They
haven`t done it. And for the most part, actually, they`ve voted and worked
to expand it in one way or another through wars or prescription drug
benefits or deficit spending, or whatever.
Now comes this generation -- Ted Cruz is an example of it -- that has taken
on an apocalyptic view of how they want to proceed. Everything has to be
good or bad. Everything has to be good or evil. Everything has to be a
confrontation. They despise the institution that they`re a part of.
Ted Cruz doesn`t care about the Senate of the United States. He doesn`t
care about procedure. He cares about --
MATTHEWS: But that`s all we have with the republic.
FINEMAN: I understand --
MATTHEWS: That`s all we have --
FINEMAN: I saw him speak to a sympathetic audience to him of Young
Americans for (ph) Leadership. This is a group that was founded by Ron
Paul, that Rand Paul is a sponsor of.
FINEMAN: A thousand kids in a ballroom, basically saying, We`ve got to
tear down government. We`ve got to go back. We`ve got to dismantle all of
what`s happened in the last 40 years. That`s the background.
Now, as to him personally, he definitely has a sense of mission --
MATTHEWS: OK --
FINEMAN: -- that borders on the messianic. That`s the way he is --
MATTHEWS: But let me -- let me --
FINEMAN: -- out of touch. Out of touch.
MATTHEWS: I understand, but let`s step back and grade him on this. I
mean, if we don`t count the fact that the Democrats and Republicans
actually had a vote and they voted on health care --
MATTHEWS: -- and the president got reelected afterwards, and it all
became law by normal democratic process --
FINEMAN: That`s what --
MATTHEWS: -- and then to mock that --
MATTHEWS: -- to try to destroy that, what do we have left --
FINEMAN: Well, that`s what --
MATTHEWS: -- in this country if we don`t have democracy?
FINEMAN: By the way, that -- that was John McCain`s main point.
FINEMAN: He said the people have spoken. There was a vote. Votes mean
something. Elections have consequences --
MATTHEWS: Or else why have them.
FINEMAN: Or else why have them? And actually, if you`re going to make
comparisons to tumult and democracies of the old style, it`s Ted Cruz who`s
showing his contempt for democratic process here.
MATTHEWS: David, let`s watch more of his speech (INAUDIBLE) speech on the
Senate floor. Ted Cruz made a quick stop at Rush Limbaugh`s radio program
to attack his fellow Republicans. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CRUZ: The single biggest surprise on arriving to the Senate is the
defeatist attitude here. I mean, we don`t even talk about how to win a
fight! There`s no discussion about that. We talk about, Hey, look, let`s
get a show vote so we can go tell our constituents we`re doing something.
But it -- I promise you, Rush, if you had to sit through one Senate lunch,
you`d be in therapy for a month.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Defeatism. Let`s go there. I mean -- I mean, the guy -- where
are we headed here, David?
CORN: Well, listen, you know, it was kind of, you know, nice to see John
McCain come out and try to put down this analogy and this excessive
rhetoric that Ted Cruz is throwing around.
But I think, in a lot of ways, by putting Sarah Palin on the ticket, the
Republican establishment that was John McCain -- John Boehner rode into
power on the backs of this Tea Party tiger -- they have really handed over
the keys to the car to these folks. And now they`re kind of upset with the
gasoline, you know, provided by Rush Limbaugh and other talk radio, that
they`re out there connecting directly to the base of the party. That`s
what`s going to happen again and again.
And it`s quite clear that, you know, Ted Cruz is not in town to legislate.
He`s there to do what Sarah Palin and others want him to do, to talk about
death panels, to be excessive, to bring things down.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CORN: They don`t want to -- they take hostages not to get leverage, but
they want to blow up the bank. They want to shoot the hostage.
MATTHEWS: Howard --
CORN: That`s where we are with the Republican Party, and we got there
because people like John McCain and John Boehner made common cause with
FINEMAN: Well, I call them -- I call them the "blue meth Republicans."
MATTHEWS: What`s that mean?
FINEMAN: That`s a reference to "Breaking Bad."
CORN: "Breaking Bad"!
FINEMAN: Which -- you can read it on HuffPost. But the point is that
they`re obsessed with purity. They`re obsessed with the purity of their
views. They want 96 percent pure. And they have contempt for the give-
and-take of the political process. There`s no other way to put it --
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s -- let`s -- let`s --
FINEMAN: -- because Ted Cruz`s only interest in the Senate is to get
himself on television --
MATTHEWS: What they can`t stand --
FINEMAN: -- in events like that.
MATTHEWS: -- is Barack Obama was elected president. What they can`t
stand is that health care, after decades and generations of fighting for
it, the Democrats finally delivered. Even some Republicans were for it,
like Nixon and Teddy Roosevelt. A lot of people were for it. He finally
got it across the finish line, and they`re saying, It`s not a touchdown, it
doesn`t count, we`re going to take it back.
FINEMAN: Well --
MATTHEWS: And that`s what --
MATTHEWS: -- because they can`t stand Obama.
FINEMAN: It`s because, as I said, Chris, for 30 or 40 years, Republicans
going back to Reagan have talked a game about dismantling government. They
never did it. Ted Cruz seems to think --
MATTHEWS: Is that what he`s doing?
FINEMAN: -- in addition to being --
MATTHEWS: He`s not doing anything!
CORN: No, no, but --
FINEMAN: I know he`s not. I`m just telling you where --
MATTHEWS: OK, here`s what I --
FINEMAN: -- where he`s coming from.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s part of it, and some of this is race-based. This
thing that`s gone on since the beginning of this presidency -- he`s not
really president. I had a character on here recently, a member of
Congress, who wouldn`t say he was a legitimately elected president. I`ll
bet there`s 30 or 40 of them in the House right now who would-
CORN: This --
MATTHEWS: They couldn`t get that out of their -- their mouth --
CORN: This fight --
MATTHEWS: -- a legitimately elected president!
CORN: This fight is about the fight. They will never let go, whether it`s
the illegitimacy of the Barack Obama, the illegitimacy of the Democratic
progressive viewpoint. That`s not really America. There are obviously
elements of race involved.
They did the same thing to Bill Clinton back in the day, as well, that he
was a Manchurian candidate and had illegitimate kids --
MATTHEWS: I know. He went to Russia.
CORN: I mean, again and again and again, you know -- and I hate to say
this because it sounds really archly ideological, but I think conservatives
have a much harder time accepting political diversity than liberals do.
When Reagan won -- you remember this -- liberals hung their head and said,
OK, the country`s behind him now and we`ll have to kind of weather the
storm. We may have to work with him or fight him. But no one said he
wasn`t legitimate and didn`t represent America.
These people actually believe that something weird and perverse is
happening to America --
FINEMAN: Well, yes --
CORN: -- and they don`t have to acknowledge Obama --
CORN: -- and what he -- and his accomplishments!
FINEMAN: There`s an apocalyptic tone to what they`re doing. Going to
their meetings and listening to them, it has sort of almost religious
overtone to it --
FINEMAN: -- that doesn`t relate to legislating, doesn`t relate to --
MATTHEWS: But do they know this is moonshine --
FINEMAN: Ted Cruz is a slightly separate issue --
FINEMAN: -- from that movement. I think there`s some legitimacy in the
fear of that movement.
MATTHEWS: But didn`t you notice Ted voted with the majority of 99 senators
FINEMAN: Yes. Ted Cruz is being dismissed on the Hill today as nothing
but a grandstander.
MATTHEWS: Look, I think -- I think there`s elements here of what we saw
back in the early 1950s for four-and-a-half years, and I do think
demagogues like Joe McCarthy and this guy don`t have great career plan. I
think they`re Roman candles politically. They`ll last a couple of years.
He`s going to be around for a while.
But where`s it going? It ain`t going to the White House. It`s going to
some Sarah Palin-land, where you quit your job and you run around giving
speeches because, in the end, all it is, is a speech.
CORN: Well, that --
MATTHEWS: In this case, not even a legitimate filibuster.
CORN: That may be an optimistic read. I tend to think that whoever is the
most extreme, you know, legitimate candidate, that`s someone who has a
paying job already, has a very good chance of becoming the Republican
FINEMAN: And I disagree --
FINEMAN: David, I disagree with you there. I think Ted Cruz did a favor
for Rand Paul.
MATTHEWS: Rand Paul`s going to --
FINEMAN: -- one step to the inside.
MATTHEWS: Rand Paul will be to Joe McCarthy what Nixon was to the real
Anyway, thank you. They need -- they need a more white collar version of
this guy. Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. I still predict it`s Rand
Paul, not this McCarthy guy.
FINEMAN: I --
MATTHEWS: Even Joe McCarthy --
FINEMAN: -- take that back.
MATTHEWS: -- couldn`t be elected president. Please take it back. Thank
you, David Corn. You`re almost always right, until this moment.
Coming up, backlash. Republicans have been expected to hold the House and
make a run at the Senate next year, but could Ted Cruz`s antics give the
Democrats something they really haven`t had in a long time, luck? Also
Also, Hillary Clinton. She`s been everywhere lately, from the cover of
"New York" magazine to introducing two presidents at the Clinton Global
Initiative. And today, she may just have told us her plans for the future
through 2015. Fascinating stuff from Hillary Clinton tonight.
Plus, U2`s Bono showed off his -- Bono himself showed off his comedy chops
yesterday with a really good impression of Mr. Bill. It`s good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BONO, SINGER/ACTIVIST: When I first met Bono, he walked into the Oval
Office and I -- actually, I thought it was a member of his road crew.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He`s not even from the States! More of that bit in the
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with a reminder that, believe it or not --
doesn`t seem this way -- (INAUDIBLE) politics wasn`t always this bad.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: Most Americans could not give a flying flip (ph) about a bunch of
politicians in Washington! Who cares? You know, almost all of us are in
cheap suits (ph) with bad haircuts.
You don`t want an IRS agent deciding if your mom lives or dies.
You know, it`s a little bit like the World Wrestling Federation.
I`m a big fan of eating White Castle burgers.
Mike Lee, I am your father.
Obamacare is a far less intimidating foe than those that I have discussed,
with the possible exception of the moon.
I am not in my argument boots. And I`ll confess, I really do feel
embarrassed by that.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: New Jersey governor Chris Christie is cruising to a second term.
Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Christie`s doubling his Democratic
opponent, Barbara Buono, among likely voters. It`s Christie 64, Buono 30.
But Jersey voters are more divided over whether Christie should run for
president -- 43 percent say he should, 41 percent say, No, he shouldn`t.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Ted Cruz spent a good chunk of his
21-hour rant on the Senate floor calling out people in his own party. That
came after many Republicans urged him not to mount his faux filibuster
As "Washington Post" reports today, Democrats see a chance here to exploit
this Republican disunity we saw right now for political gain coming next
Yesterday, Hillary Clinton had this warning. Now, her speaking about
politics is interesting. This was a warning for Republicans. Quote --
Hillary Clinton -- "They ought to go back and read history because I will
just say it wouldn`t be the worst thing in the world for Democrats if they
tried to shut the government down. We have seen this movie before" -- this
is Hillary Clinton talking -- "and it didn`t work out very well for those
who were obstructionists."
Well, that`s her because she is -- when she was first lady, they went
through this whole rigmarole in the `90s.
Anyway, meanwhile, Congressman Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee, who is in charge of winning those seats
next year, told "The Washington Post": "We`re going to make the case that
2014 is going to be a referendum between extremist Republicans and crisis
and leaders with reasonable solutions."
Well, the polls show that the public deeply disapproves of the tactics
being used by Cruz and the others. According to the latest "New York
Times"/CBS poll out just today, just 16 percent, one in six of us say it`s
an acceptable way to threaten a government shutdown in order to negotiate
and 80 percent say it`s not the way to do things. Even among Republicans,
less than a quarter say it`s an acceptable way when it comes to threatening
Well, joining me are two HARDBALL strategists. John Brabender is a
Republican strategist. Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist.
John, I don`t know what you think of these numbers, but I have to tell you,
I know that the president`s health care plan, affordable health care plan,
is going to have some rocky beginnings. I know that. But I also know that
every plan that`s been approved by Congress deserves to have a rocky
beginning. It deserves to have a tryout before we start trying to destroy
I think the public knows there`s some problems with the plan, but they
don`t seem to like cutting and destroying the government process itself to
kill it. They don`t seem to like that tactic. Do you agree?
JOHN BRABENDER, FORMER SENIOR SANTORUM CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, and the
bigger problem is -- I agree.
And the strange thing about the whole thing is, if you talk to a Rand Paul
or Priebus, our party chairman, everyone`s going to tell you, we don`t want
a shutdown. The problem is, we suffer from sort of message insistence that
isn`t what the public is saying.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute, John.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute, John. You`re a good guest and I appreciate you
The reason there`s talk of a government shutdown is the Republicans are out
to shut down the government. Let`s not kid ourselves here.
BRABENDER: No, let`s be clear. The House passed something where the
Senate is saying, we want a vote.
MATTHEWS: No, the house passed a bill, a government continuing cost --
paying the cost of government, with the condition that we eliminate the
entire health care law, just eliminate it.
BRABENDER: Right, and that we continue to fund the government, and we want
a vote on that.
MATTHEWS: That`s called shutting down the government.
BRABENDER: But the problem is we outsmart ourselves sometimes.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Out-dumb yourselves. Out-dumb
yourselves is what you`re doing.
BRABENDER: Well, but the problem is, we`re right on the issue. Obamacare
MATTHEWS: It is? Why was it enacted by the Congress and the government
and signed by the president?
BRABENDER: Have you seen the polling numbers? The polling numbers for
Obamacare keep going down and down and down. If it becomes the big issue
in 2014, it will be a great issue year for Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you let it -- if you are really so freaking confident
that the public won`t like it when they get the subsidies and they get to
have health care coverage --
MATTHEWS: -- when they didn`t get it before, for example, you won`t be
just like the pill thing that Bush gave everybody? They didn`t like it
when it came started, section D, or whatever it was. But they sure like it
now. And they sure like Medicaid now and they sure like Social Security.
And that`s what I think your party`s afraid of, aren`t they?
MATTHEWS: People are going to like it?
MCMAHON: Yes. Yes, they are.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about next year`s election.
MATTHEWS: Who`s Cruz helping? What`s he`s hurting?
MCMAHON: Cruz is helping himself and he`s hurting his own party. And he`s
hurting his party`s ability to hold Congress in 2014. There was an
election in 2012. John McCain made this point today.
In 2012, there was an election. Obamacare was the issue in the election.
The Republicans said, repeal it. And the voters said we want to reelect
Obama. Now the Republicans are doing this where they say we don`t want to
shut down the government, but we are going to shut down the government
because, after all, we have to.
And the election that they may want to be about Obamacare in 2014 is
instead going to be about this 83 to 16 number.
BRABENDER: Do you want it to be about Obamacare next year?
MCMAHON: It already was. We won. We won in 2012 on Obamacare.
MATTHEWS: John, I want to treat you with great respect, like an elected
official. Was President Obama legitimately elected president?
MATTHEWS: Was Obamacare legitimately passed by the Congress and signed by
the president, legitimately?
MATTHEWS: Well, then why don`t you let it take effect?
BRABENDER: Because now the more people know about it, the less they like
MATTHEWS: No, but it hasn`t taken effect yet. It hasn`t taken effect yet.
BRABENDER: But people are learning more about it.
MATTHEWS: So, it can be eliminated?
BRABENDER: They`re getting letters in the mail that say that their
premiums are going up dramatically. What I think it should be --
MATTHEWS: Stop the government if you don`t --
BRABENDER: No, no, no. I`m not saying that. I`m not advocating that.
And I think Republicans are wrong and are going to hurt 2014 if we do that.
But I do think we want --
MATTHEWS: Let me ask about this new form of the Republican Party, this new
amalgamation. Sarah Palin is now apparently a big Republican again without
office. She took French leave on that one up there.
Anyway, she has come out strongly backing Ted Cruz and accusing other
Republicans of waving the red flag. On FOX yesterday -- she`s back on FOX
-- Palin -- Palin had this political observation about the split in the
Republican Party. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "YOUR WORLD WITH NEIL CAVUTO")
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: People talk about maybe a need
for a third party. I dare say we already have a third party. We have got
the liberal Democrats. We have got the GOP machine and then we have got
the good guys. That is the third party, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul,
some of these guys working so extremely hard for, again, standing strong on
at least what used to be the planks in the Republican platform.
I have always been very independent up here in Alaska. It`s why I`m not in
the good graces of the Alaskan political party perhaps when it comes to
Republican machinery up here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How do you describe that appeal? It`s a mix, isn`t it?
MCMAHON: Michele Bachmann.
MATTHEWS: No, no. There`s something more.
MATTHEWS: That`s an interesting kind of appeal there. And I`m not sure
what she`s offering.
MCMAHON: Neither is she. Neither is she.
MATTHEWS: Is that an attractive appeal politically, what she just did
BRABENDER: Well, first of all, I don`t think she`s wrong. I think the
Republican Party --
MATTHEWS: No, is that an attractive appeal, what she`s making, a new
political party splitting off from the Republican machine, she calls it?
And what kind of government would that form? If you`re half Republican
Party, you`re half at 50 percent at most, what government are you going to
BRABENDER: This is simply symptomatic that we don`t have a voice, a
singular voice within the Republican Party. We don`t know what our
branding or message is.
MATTHEWS: But she said you`re better off splitting in half.
BRABENDER: Well, she`s wrong. The problem is, we need someone who can
pull us together and know what that message is.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Ted Cruz is a uniter or a divider?
BRABENDER: I think Ted Cruz --
BRABENDER: I think he`s right on a lot of the issues.
MATTHEWS: Is he a uniter?
BRABENDER: I think he`s right on a lot of the issues.
MCMAHON: Of course he`s not a uniter. He`s dividing the Republicans and
BRABENDER: And you guys have had the same thing, where you have had --
MATTHEWS: I`m asking. Is he a divider or uniter?
BRABENDER: I think that he`s right on the issues.
BRABENDER: And the problem is that we have nobody who is a voice that
pulls everybody together.
MCMAHON: He`s a divider.
MATTHEWS: I think he`s a divider. I think he wants to divide. I think
he`s one of those people in American politics for whom bringing down a
country`s morale works for him, because it makes him looks relatively good.
Destroying everything that`s been created makes him look good. Dividing,
that`s the key to it. This is Agnew stuff.
MCMAHON: But this isn`t divide and conquer. This is divide and destroy.
He`s going to destroy the party that he`s a member of by going after its
leaders. And Sarah Palin, what she`s offering is disruption.
And it`s the old outsider/insider thing. I`m as far outside as you can
get. They won`t even accept me out here in Alaska.
BRABENDER: Here`s the problem. Neither party likes it when somebody gets
up and is that passionate they will say what they want.
I remember Rick Santorum going to the Senate floor and saying, where`s Bill
on a balanced budget? Everybody went crazy because he hadn`t signed. You
see Cruz doing this. I remember President Bush getting mad at all the
people protesting the Iraq war and say, why don`t they do something more
responsible and pick up garbage? I thought they were great Americans.
BRABENDER: They`re out there protesting.
MATTHEWS: I watched "Last of the Mohicans" again the other night. And you
know what the Republican Party reminds me of today?
One part of the establishment party is the well-perfumed, well-coiffured
Republican leadership. Everything is sort of formal. The other hand is
Magua and the guy is out there taking scalps.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
BRABENDER: But you know where the guy is.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, John Brabender.
Now, he won`t answer the question. Uniter or divider?
BRABENDER: I think he`s right on the issues.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. You didn`t answer the question. Thank you,
Steve McMahon. Thank you, John Brabender, for coming here and not
answering the most important question. Is Ted Cruz good for the party or
Up next, U2`s Bono says his impression of it -- makes his impression of
another rock star, Bill Clinton. Pretty good impression coming up of Bill,
although I got one, too.
Anyway, the place for politics right here.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL, and now for the "Sideshow."
Ted Cruz`s grandstanding against Obamacare has received plenty of attention
on cable and Twitter, of course, but his recent speechmaking is less of a
filibuster and more like political theater. Technically, a filibuster is
used to prevent action in a legislature. But in this case, Cruz planned to
stop at noon. Procedurally, he had to. So, let`s just call this a pseudo-
Nevertheless, if you weren`t up all night glued to the screen watching the
full 21-hour marathon on the Senate floor, we have cut a recap for you.
Here now for your viewing pleasure or displeasure is Ted Cruz`s pseudo-
filibuster, the abridged version.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The senator from Texas.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Madam President.
The only path if we`re going to oppose Obamacare is to stand together and
oppose cloture. And I would ask for my friends on the Democratic aisle to
listen to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hour -- the hour of noon having arrived.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, did you notice he had a few stuntmen filling in for him
there? Even a publicity stunt needs stuntmen.
Anyway, next up, Bill Clinton`s practically a rock star, practically, but
even real rock stars want to be like him. Let`s face it. U2 front man
Bono gave his best shot at impersonating the former president at an event
for the Clinton Global Initiative last night and he was pretty good. Let`s
take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BONO, MUSICIAN: When I first met Bono --
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BONO: -- he walked into the Oval Office, and, actually, I thought it was
a member of his own road crew.
BONO: He wasn`t really dressed right. Actually, I felt like the rock star
on that occasion.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I must be really easy
to make fun of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Almost better than the real thing there, don`t you think?
Anyway, coming up next: Hillary Clinton lays out her plans for the future,
at least through 2015, and really interesting development here from her.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. I`m Veronica De La
Cruz. And here`s what`s happening.
Chilling video released by the FBI today showing Aaron Alexis creeping
through the Navy Yard just before his deadly rampage. Officials said
Alexis left a note saying he was driven to kill by radio waves.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to raise the state`s minimum
wage to $10 an hour by 2016.
And Team USA won the 34th America`s Cup in San Francisco. The sailing team
came from an eighth-race-to-one deficit to beat New Zealand.
I`m Veronica De La Cruz -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Hillary Clinton speaking today at the Clinton Global Initiative represented
actually a goal for herself, leading an effort to gauge just how far women
have come in the 20 years since she made her famous declaration at the U.N.
World Conference that human rights and women`s rights are one and the same.
Here is Hillary Clinton is today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: 2015 will mark 20
years since that conference in Beijing.
So I believe it`s time for a full and clear-eyed look at how far we have
come, how far we still have to go, and what we plan to do together about
the unfinished business of the 21st century, the full and equal
participation of women.
I will be leading an effort here at the Clinton Foundation, including
through CGI, to bring together partner organizations, international
institutions, governments, businesses, NGOs and others, to evaluate the
progress we have made in time for the 20th anniversary in September 2015.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Did you see that beautiful person there sitting there right in
the camera front there? Not Hillary Clinton, although she`s attractive,
obviously, but the one in front of her? That was my wife, Kathleen, who is
up at the Global Initiative, right there in the camera. I hope we get that
Anyway, Hillary Clinton`s 1995 speech and its resonant refrain about
women`s rights was one of the most powerful of her time as first lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. CLINTON: If there is one message that echoes forth from this
conference, let it be that human rights are women`s rights, and women`s
rights are human rights, once and for all.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
In a week when the Clintons, Bill, Hillary and Chelsea, of course, have
showcased their newly broadened foundation by assembling business and world
leaders together, Hillary Clinton has clearly declared her focus, one she`s
had for years, women.
Amy Davidson is a senior editor with "The New Yorker" magazine whose most
recent piece for its Web site is provocatively headlined "The Coming
Hillary Clinton Train Wreck." Also with us is Dana Milbank, who covers
train wrecks. He`s a columnist with "The Washington Post," sometimes
Amy, you have caused a provocative statement. Hillary Clinton`s very
popular in these quarters where I work, very popular, not just here in
D.C., but maybe especially up in New York.
MATTHEWS: People I know can`t wait for her to be president. You say the
coming train wreck. Explain.
AMY DAVIDSON, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, I wonder if everybody who`s so
excited about her candidacy and her presidency is being realistic about
what a campaign would look like.
What provoked my post was something -- was a piece in "The New Republic"
about the Clinton Foundation and a lot of the financial dealings there and
a lot of the questions about that. There`s an awful lot that in a campaign
would be asked about there.
That -- the tone -- sort of every single piece, big piece on the Clinton
Foundation so far has read like an assignment, a set of assignments for
investigative reporters to look into more.
I think that the Clintons have made a lot of choices in the last few years
that might not really lead to the best campaign. They`re going to lead to
a lot of scandal stories that are going to lead to a lot of questions about
the relationships they have formed.
DAVIDSON: And I just -- it`s a great vision to have a woman as president.
It`s a great goal, but is she the right candidate and is this the right --
MATTHEWS: Well, I think that`s pretty strong.
But let me read from the end of your article. The coming Hillary -- the
coming Hillary Clinton train wreck. You write about murky accounting at
the Clinton Foundation. You write this, "It doesn`t even encompass Bill`s
social life or Hillary`s own shortcomings as a campaigner. It has to do
with debts Hillary and her family have taken on and might be asked with
currency voters to give them to pay back."
The argument, Dana, is that Amy`s article, just to do a little explication
here, is about the fact that years and years of fund-raising, with big fat
cats, with no limits to what they can get t the foundation and the library
and others, these people want access if she gets in. That`s the argument.
DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. No, I think it`s a very good
point. I might not go with train wreck. It`s more like, you know, a DC-10
that has a lot of miles on it. It might have some cracks in the fuselage
and, you know, you don`t want to get in there and look at the wiring.
We could be looking at -- playing the same tunes all over again. You know,
the issues being brought up with the Clinton Foundation, that`s Lincoln
bedroom all over again. Now, you are going to get that --
MATTHEWS: Explain the Lincoln bedroom because people think it`s about sex.
It`s about fund-raising.
MILBANK: Well, right, it --
MATTHEWS: It`s the Motel 6 thing.
MILBANK: Yes, the whole idea is pay-to-play, that access to the Clintons
is achieved through donating lots of money. That`s how politics works on
both sides, with everybody right now. It has been uniquely associated with
MATTHEWS: The other thing, Amy, I noticed about the Clintons is that they
really do, I know this sounds total, totally awful, they like their
contributors. A lot of politicians put up with their contributors. They
use them to get the money, but they don`t really want to hang out with
The Clintons really like those people. They want to buy access socially or
whatever, they like them. They really do like their company.
DAVIDSON: That pleasure leads to carelessness. It leads to a lack of
wariness, a lack of built in radar, that maybe if you`re traveling to this
country with this guy who might have something to talk about with, say, the
minerals minister in that country, that maybe you should just back up for a
second and think about it and just assess the risks. And that`s not always
And that`s got to happen in the campaign, because it doesn`t happen in the
primaries in 2016, it will happen in the general election.
And that`s where you wonder also if this is good for the Democratic Party
to really be shutting off discussions so early about who the other possible
candidates are. And, you know, it`s great it hear her speech about women.
It would be so great to have a woman president, but there are a lot of ways
you can do good in the word and for the progress of women that don`t
involve transparency of finances.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me (INAUDIBLE) on this. And I`m going to start with a
guy here. Two guys talking about it, two political experts -- I think we
I have felt and have learned this the hard way, but come inside me, it
shouldn`t have made (ph), that women my age in this country, in their 60s,
50s, whatever, middle-aged you might call it, have seen it all. They`ve
seen the lousy job done by men. And they`re tired of it. And they want a
woman to get a chance. And the only woman with a chance to do the job is
MATTHEWS: I`ve seen this in my face. It`s real. It`s palpable. They
want Hillary to be president. They don`t want to hear any more talk about
anything like this.
MILBANK: I don`t think --
MATTHEWS: They`re tired of excuses.
MILBANK: I don`t think it`s just women.
MATTHEWS: Women especially. But go ahead.
MILBANK: But all Americans were proud of electing the first African-
American president. I think Hillary made a mistake that last time around
about not making an issue of being the first woman president. She was
deliberately downplaying it until --
MATTHEWS: Would that have gotten a bigger majority, gotten a bigger wins
to those primaries --
MILBANK: Well, I mean, you can always do the second guessing now, but she
didn`t really make that a central focus until she dropped of the race.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama didn`t make the case that he was black.
MILBANK: Well, it was hardly necessary and he did --
MILIBANK: No, but she was deliberately downplaying it until we got to the
end and we heard about the cracks and the glass ceiling --
MATTHEWS: My problem with her is probably that embrace there of Henry
Kissinger. And my problem with Hillary Clinton back then is she supported
the Iraq war. Everybody I know who`s progressive or thoughtful about that
war thought that was a terrible judgment on the part of everybody who went
along with it, for whatever reason, a reason of judgment. And I held that
But the trouble is there are so many Democrats who support the war, like
Biden, like Kerry, like them all, it`s hard to narrow it down to her.
Your thoughts -- last thought, Amy. Do you think Hillary Clinton will have
a difficult road to the White House?
DAVIDSON: I think she`s going to have a very difficult road to the White
House. She might not have as difficult a road to the Democratic
nomination, but that`s because some questions might not be asked before
hand, that need to be asked after. And some of those are going to be about
how good a job she did as secretary of state. And a lot of that was travel
and making connections. And you have to ask whose connections?
MATTHEWS: Yes. And I think the Republicans are going to say Benghazi one
million times. I`m not sure it`s going to add up to one thought, though.
I`m not sure it`s going to add up to one thought, though. I`m not sure.
They will try, though.
Thank you, Amy Davidson, for that piece, for "The New Yorker."
And, David Milbank, as always. He writes brilliantly and sometimes
satirically for "The Washington Post."
We`ll be right back. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Republicans are already trying to tie Hillary Clinton to
President Obama`s Affordable Care Act. Here`s South Carolina Senator
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Bill and Hillary Clinton,
particularly Hillary Clinton, fully embraced Obamacare today. They`re
selling this bill as hard as they can sell it.
I will never call it Obamacare anymore. I`m going to call it Clinton-care.
Hillary Clinton decided to own Obamacare. So, in 2016, when this thing
falls apart and the economy is in shambles because of Obamacare, I`m going
to hereafter call it Clinton-care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I think the bigger concern for Graham and the Republicans
generally is that by 2016 is Americans may actually like the Affordable
Care Act. They may well like it and that will give Democrats a big
advantage over Republicans who wanted to get rid of it.
And Senator Graham says if that`s the case -- catch this -- Hillary Clinton
will actually win. He`s admitting the problem in a certain backhanded way.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, Senator Cruz stood on the floor
for 21 hours. And what he accomplished was that he alienated many of his
colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And he showed the American people
what he was up to. He`s holding the American people hostage because so
sure he is right. And everybody else is wrong.
I was appalled by a couple of things. The analogy to World War II and
Hitler was way out of line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
That was powerful Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York reacting this
afternoon to Senator Ted Cruz`s marathon overnight speech on the Senate
floor. Now that the Cruz show is over for now, or at least in
intermission, will the government avoid a shutdown and what`s being done to
get a compromise between House Republicans and Senate Democrats to avert
Senator Schumer joins us now.
Senator, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
SCHUMER: Good to be here, Chris.
MATTHEWS: What is the outlook? I mean, you`ve said what you said about
Cruz. What is the future for Cruz after his marathon?
SCHUMER: Well, his marathon flopped to speak for 21 hours and then have a
100-0 vote. Amazing. What he said, we all saw it. I particularly like he
used green eggs and ham, and didn`t know the result, which is the purpose
of the book, the whole moral of the book, which is try something before you
reject it, you may like it.
I said to Ted Cruz, you may find you like Obamacare once it happens. But I
think that our hand is strengthened. Republicans are divided. They are
angry at one another.
And the folly of Ted Cruz` strategy is becoming apparent. I think it makes
it more likely that they will just send us a clean C.R. after we finish
stripping out the writers that they put in.
MATTHEWS: Do you think there`s a chance that John Boehner, the speaker of
the House, is able to corral a House, even allowing Democrats to vote his
way, where he can actually get 217, the required votes for a clean C.R.?
SCHUMER: Well, John Boehner knows the right thing to do. You can see the
pain on his face and his body language, because he knows that Ted Cruz is
leading his party over a cliff, but too many people are willingly following
But, hopefully, after what happened today, there will be enough in the
Republican caucus to say, John, put the clean bill on the floor and we`ll
vote with you. If there are 118 of those Republicans, I think he`ll do it
and think there is a good chance there will be.
MATTHEWS: What`s the Republican Party look like across the aisle? You
have been there a number of years in both Houses, is the Republican Party
that party of Cruz and Paul, or is it still a party of John McCain and
people like that?
SCHUMER: Well, Cruz and Paul --
MATTHEWS: Whose party is it?
SCHUMER: Cruz and Paul have a huge influence. Not themselves, personally
so much. But, you know, the sort of right wing machine that threatens
every Republican with a primary who doesn`t go along. And your typical
office-holder says, why should I bother with the primary, I may as well go
What`s happened in the last six months I think increased by what happened
today is there are many mainstream Republicans who say enough already. He
is not helping our party win elections. He is not helping our party gain
converts. He is not helping our country.
And so, I think you find the irony that Cruz and DeMint and the Heritage
Action Foundation, their actions may well have boomeranged and strengthened
the mainstream wing of the Republican Party. They`re still conservative
this mainstream wing, but they`re not fanatical, certain that they`re
MATTHEWS: We spent five years through your help and others trying to
rebuild what this country -- the mess we got -- the catastrophe that beset
us with the financial crisis five years ago. Do the people on the right
know that danger they`re playing with if we default on our debt?
SCHUMER: I don`t know think they do because they`re just so they`re right.
They don`t listen to anybody else.
But let me tell you, if we default on our debt, there is a good chance that
the effect may be even greater than the default of Lehman and AIG back in
2010. You know, you have all these computer programs that are locked in.
And when the U.S. government`s debt goes down a whole bunch, people sell,
prices go down, values go down -- and as we learned in 2008, it is hard to
Now, I`m hopeful, and this is only hopeful, that the business community
will be so frightened with this prospect that they will be calling up
Republicans. And they will stand up and say we cannot do this. We cannot
do this to our country. It will hurt us substantively and politically.
But you know in this crazy Republican world we have out there, you`re never
sure, because again, a group of ideologues that have maybe a 5 percent of
America has such a sway on the Republican Party apparatus that they scare
MATTHEWS: It`s great to have you on. Senior senator from New York, Chuck
Schumer, thanks for coming on, Senator.
SCHUMER: Nice to talk to you, Chris. Bye-bye.
MATTHEWS: When we get back, let me finish with the reminder that politics
doesn`t look like what we`re seeing today. It usually hasn`t been like
this for the last couple hundred years.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
This Sunday, I go on "Meet the Press" to talk about the way politics used
to work in this country, about the book I have written about the way things
were back then, between my boss, Tip O`Neill, and Ronald Reagan, back when
I spent every minute of every day on the middle of that thing.
Also this weekend, the cover of "USA Today", "USA Weekend", which comes to
tens of millions of Sunday newspaper readers, offers an excerpt by book
"Tip and the Gipper," it`s a morale boost I`d say, a reminder that American
politics doesn`t have to be the way it is today because it hasn`t been that
way for long.
Not too many years ago, a Democratic speaker of the House and a
conservative Republican president knew how to get things done, things they
believe in, without all the craziness and negativity that`s going on today.
Their great strength was their wisdom. They when to find and for how long,
they knew when it was time to compromise and find common ground, they knew
how to move this republic forward -- and that made all the difference.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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