October 23, 2013
Guest: Ezekiel Emanuel, Peter Baker, Cynthia Tucker
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Party poopers.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in Boston.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Yes, party poopers. Everyone`s heard of
them, has watched them in action. They show up in a room, and suddenly,
things turn bad. You can feel it immediately. They don`t come to join the
evening, they come to ruin it because that`s who they are, negative forces
in a room, in a party, in society, in the body politic.
These destroyers of politics, led now by Ted Cruz, have tried to shut down
everything, the government, any movement by the parties toward compromise,
and any step toward positive government in this country.
And don`t think people haven`t noticed. We start tonight by looking at the
damage to the Republican Party, most importantly to the reputation of its
character. The poopers have left behind a trail of negativity and
disruption whose aroma lingers as nothing before.
Howard Fineman`s editorial director for the Huffington Post Media Group.
Steve Schmidt`s a Republican strategist. Both are MSNBC political
The body blows to the Republican Party just keep on coming. First, we`ve
now got four major polls showing the Republican Party in dismal condition.
The latest is a CNN/ORC poll with a favorable opinion of the GOP at just 30
percent, an unfavorable whopping 64 percent. That 64 percent is an all-
time high dating back to 1992, the first time that question was asked in
Then there`s the image problem, which was clear -- clear historical context
today in a "New York Times" opinion piece by John G. Taft -- yes, that Taft
family, five generations of stalwart Republicans, including a president.
He writes discouragingly, quote, "There is more than a passing similarity
between Joseph McCarthy and Ted Cruz, between McCarthyism and the Tea Party
And in a clear key indication of which party has more enthusiastic donors,
new fund-raising numbers show that among the committee -- the campaign
committees out there that back House and Senate candidates, Democrats are
out-raising Republicans now, and among the super-PACs, which in 2012
shoveled heaps of money to the Republican causes.
Well, this time around, the Democrat super-PACs are out-raising Republican
super-PACs by about 2-and-a-half to 1.
Let me start with Steve. You`re the insider. The Republican damage
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s
very significant, Chris. And we saw it play out in a month, in an off-year
election cycle. So we have a lot of time for things to get worse.
And one of the things, if you`re a Republican, that has to be really
alarming is when you look at the Ted Cruz wing of the Republican Party, the
fact that this has backfired so spectacularly, that those numbers are where
they are, are not a sign of reflection, they are, at the end of the day, a
sign, a testament of their virtue, the rightness of their cause. And that
just makes for an electoral disaster when you play that out through the
MATTHEWS: Does it bother you that Palinism is metastasizing, that the Ted
Cruz part of the party, the Sarah Palin party, is there and growing, that
they seem to be up to --
MATTHEWS: -- his state -- even in the Northeast, you see a lot of Tea
Party action, hard right -- not conservative, not Goldwater, not William F.
Buckley, but very hard right in tactics, as well as in ideology.
SCHMIDT: I`ve always believed the no-nothing wing of the Republican Party,
this ideological wing that doesn`t have a grounded point of view aligned
with the traditions of American conservatism -- that it was going to have
to be confronted by the party as a whole.
And we`re going to have an enormous fight, as we get ready for the 2016
nominating contest about what the direction of the party`s going to be.
And if we put up the wrong person into the general election, then we`ll
have a blow-out of simply epic proportions, and we`ll have a live test of
the proposition that`s before us, whether Cruzism, properly explained and
articulated to the American people, is going to rally them to a great
I think it`s ludicrous, but we may have to test that out in order to prove
MATTHEWS: Howard, you always know more than I know about what`s happening
politically right this moment. Is -- I mean it, right -- your reporting
always beats mine.
My question to you is, what`s worse for the Republican Party of all these
leading indicators, the money drop (ph) and (ph) the money, which is really
fickle, of course, depending on who`s going to win, the major crash in the
polling, or the statements by historic -- well, certainly, John Taft. I
don`t know the fellow, but I know the name, as you do -- the fact that
somebody speaks out in a "New York Times" ed piece -- op-ed piece and says,
Look, this is an attack on our party. This is McCarthyism in tactics.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, Chris, based on the Republicans I talk to, I`d mentioned two other
things, as well. One of them is the fact that it looks quite possible that
Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat, is going to win the governorship of
Virginia. And if he does so, that will be in good measure because of Ted
Cruz and the shutdown of the government --
FINEMAN: -- and Ted Cruz`s embodiment -- embodiment of what the
Democrats are up against. And they will even accept Terry McAuliffe --
MATTHEWS: How do you tag that? How do you get that causality figured out,
for people that are skeptical of that?
FINEMAN: Well, for one very simple -- one very simple fact is that the
shutdown put about 150,000 people in Virginia who are federal employees out
of work for a few weeks and caused major disruption to the economy in
northern Virginia especially. That`s number one.
Number two, the Virginia voters had an example to look at right across the
-- right across the river, and they tied Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican
candidate, to the Tea Party, even though -- even though Cuccinelli doesn`t
always agree with everything the Tea Party says.
Another thing I would mention is the fact that with all the criticism of
"Obama care," the polling numbers for "Obama care`s" popularity actually
ticked up a couple of points in the last week or so. And I would put that
down entirely to the fact that Ted Cruz is against it.
So the only thing -- the only thing that is keeping "Obama care" afloat
politically at all --
FINEMAN: -- is the fact that Ted Cruz is on the other side.
MATTHEWS: Well, because -- I was just thinking of that old line, "What a
revoltin` development this is," you know --
MATTHEWS: -- by William Bendix.
FINEMAN: But that`s true!
MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s take a -- let`s take a look -- the two Tea Party
leaders, of course, Cruz and Lee, who recklessly marched their party toward
disaster a while back, a few days ago, are now paying the price. A
majority of Utah residents now view Senator Mike Lee unfavorably. This is
out in Utah. Just 40 percent have a favorable opinion of this guy. Back
in June, his numbers were a mirror image of where they are now.
In a front page article in "The Washington Post," former Republican
governor from Utah and presidential candidate -- we know him here -- Jon
Huntsman, said people in his state of Utah don`t favor extreme politicians.
Quote, "You don`t have ideological whack jobs. For all of us -- all of its
labeling as a red state, underneath it, all Utah is a pretty pragmatic
And more evidence here that the government shutdown has -- he led has hurt
Senator Cruz, the new CNN/ORC poll has Cruz`s favorable number nationwide
at 23 percent, his unfavorable at 42 percent. His favorables dropped 7
points, his unfavorables rose 6, compared to a poll taken right before the
Again, back to Steve. Steve, your thinking about -- you know, I worked for
-- I worked in politics in Utah. It`s where I got my start in Democratic
politics out there.
But it`s so interesting that Orrin Hatch is not some crazy right-winger.
Bob Bennett certainly one -- wasn`t one. He got thrown out. I just wonder
whether there is a more reasonable center-right out there than has been
given credit because of all the noise from the Tea Partiers.
SCHMIDT: Well, Chris, Utah is an amazingly well-governed state. If you
look at the Olympics, you look at the economic development, you look at the
sheer number of technology jobs leaving California, for example, moving to
Utah, it`s a state where government is working efficiently. It`s really
achieving as it was (ph) a conservative, that level of functionality that
you`d like to see out of government.
So you know, this caricature that Utah is a crazy right-wing place I think
is dispelled by that poll. And in fact, in reality, it`s not.
The other thing I`d mention, too, you know, on top of what Howard talking
about in Virginia with the Cuccinelli race, of course, there`s another
model on display, and that`s the Republican governor of New Jersey,
arguably one of the bluest states in the country, someone who doesn`t carry
the Tea Party baggage with him, about to be reelected overwhelmingly, and
when you look at what the problems are that ail the party, very much
someone who, in a typical year, would be looked at as an antidote to cure
what ails us, but instead --
SCHMIDT: -- is attacked by a lot of the people who are celebrating an
approval rating of 23 percent as somehow virtuous. And the simple fact is,
is being unpopular is not a route to victory and winning elections in the
American system of government.
MATTHEWS: Are you saying that Utah is sober-minded as well as sober?
SCHMIDT: It is both sober-minded, and at times, sober, Chris. That is
MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, six-term Mississippi senator Thad Cochran is
getting a primary challenge from state senator Chris McDaniel down there.
As "Mother Jones" magazine reported today, McDaniel recently addressed a
group they say is neo-confederate and promotes secessionism.
Well, this announcement from the 19th annual Southern Heritage Conference
invites "all you politically incorrect folks," as they put it, "to come
celebrate the South."
In addition to McDaniel, another speaker promoted as the co-author of the
book "Red Republicans and Lincoln Marxists," and attendees are encouraged
to dress casual or dress out, well, in Confederate uniforms and antebellum
You know, this is something -- there is tradition, Howard, and then there`s
political honorifics here. What`s up here? Is this opponent just too far
over into the cause of the old days?
FINEMAN: Well, I think he may turn out to be, for sure. And this is on
one level laughable, but on another level, serious. I mean, there are
small but existing secessionist movements in six or seven states.
And in certain respects, Cruzism, if that`s a term -- and Steve used it --
Cruzism emphasizes a disdain for, disengagement from, a distrust of the
federal government at a deeper level than we`ve seen really at any time
since the start of the Civil Rights movement.
I mean, this is a -- this is a big and arguably very low moment in American
politics right now because you have people basically suggesting that the
whole idea of the federal government is not to be trusted. And if you`re
not going to trust it, whether it`s on "Obama care" or a whole host of
other things, then what`s left? And that`s sort of what the symbolism that
the "Mother Jones" article about addresses.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think in the wording we`re hearing and a lot of
commentary, it goes beyond, Steve, our experiences in politics, this
strange evocation of the Civil War and the fighting spirit that led to the
Civil War. It`s very strangely being brought back by these people.
Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, Steve Schmidt.
Coming up: Senator Dick Durbin said that during negotiations with the
president, a GOP House leader told President Obama, I cannot even stand to
look at you. Well, the White House says that never happened. Either way,
Republicans have shown only contempt for Barack Obama, the man and the
president, of course.
Also, as the Obama administration desperately tries to fix the health care
rollout, Republicans are making business (sic) claims -- baseless claims
and openly cheering for failure. No wonder their poll numbers are in the
Plus, if you weren`t already against the war in Iraq, this quote from an
anonymous Bush administration official should help. "The only reason we
went into Iraq, I tell people now, is we were looking for somebody`s ass to
kick. Afghanistan was too easy." What do you think of that for a reason
for all the deaths of Americans?
And the resignation of a White House staffer who anonymously tweeted things
like, "Was Huma Abedin wearing beer goggles the night she met Anthony
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: another poll out there puts Congress`s disapproval at an all-
time high. According to a new CBS poll, 85 percent of Americans say they
disapprove of the way Congress does its job. That`s the highest percentage
since CBS began asking the question 36 years ago. Only 9 percent approve
of the job that Congress is doing. I wonder who they are? And that
matches the all-time low from two years ago. That`s bad already.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reforms I`m proposing
would not apply to those who are here illegally.
REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!
OBAMA: Not true.
MATTHEWS: So you accept the fact he was a born American?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not -- no comment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, if I could write that bill (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do it!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was -- excuse me. It would be a dream come true. I
feel your pain. I know. I stood 12 feet away from the guy and listened to
him talk (ph). And I -- I couldn`t stand being there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Those were just a few examples of how
members of the United States Congress treat President Obama with blatant
Now Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has posted this message on his Facebook
account. Quote, "Many Americans searching for something to say in defense
of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn`t
try hard enough to communicate with Republicans. But in a negotiating
meeting with the president, one GOP House leader told the president, I
cannot even stand to look at you." Let me repeat that, "I cannot even
stand to look at you," a person said to the president of the United States
in his company.
Well, White House press secretary Jay Carney said today the exchange didn`t
happen, and aides to both House speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader
Eric Cantor and their bosses say it didn`t happen, nor did they recall
anyone else saying it. But make no mistake, this president`s been
subjected to pattern of disrespect unprecedented in its vitriol and its
scope, and I think this happened.
Joining me right now, MSNBC political analyst David Corn, who`s the
Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine, and Cynthia Tucker,
who`s a visiting professor at the University of Georgia.
Cynthia, I believe Dick Durbin`s an honest man. I believe he`s a
responsible, sober-minded leader. When he (ph) say something like that, it
staggers me. It must have staggered him when he heard it. I do understand
why the White House would want to not make a big issue out of it because,
in a way, certain insults are truly insulting, even if they were delivered
by a bad person. They hurt both sides.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Well, Chris, the reason that this
remark is so plausible is because there has been so much disrespect hurled
at the president. I, too, understand why Obama would like to minimize this
and say it didn`t happen. Perhaps he`s gotten used to it. You know, they
have called the man everything but a child of God.
But we know for a fact that Joe Wilson yelled out "You lie" during the
middle of a presidential address to Congress. We know for a fact that ever
since Barack Obama`s first presidential campaign, prominent Republicans
have been suggesting that he wasn`t born in the United States, that he`s a
usurper who came to the White House illegally.
That bandwagon in the first campaign, by the way, was led by Sarah Palin,
who was the vice presidential nominee on the Republican ticket.
So we have witnessed so much disrespect heaped on this president that it is
easy for us to believe that what Dick Durbin said was true.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to David Corn. Your view on this subject, because I
think it gets to this -- I think it`s beyond even tribal. I`m trying to
think of a word for -- "tribal" is not a good American word -- something
about personal tissue rejection, we don`t accept, like in the body, the
human body, we don`t accept this artificial arm that`s been put on us, or
artificial heart. Our whole being is -- this is only about 20 percent of
My God, I`m so thrilled when I think about it, how 75 percent at least of
this country has accepted Obama (INAUDIBLE) disagreement with the guy, but
he`s our president and we disagree. That`s all. It`s not personal.
But some people have this visceral thing where they got to say -- that guy
-- whatever his name is from the Midwest -- I couldn`t stand standing next
to him for 10 minutes. I couldn`t figure that guy out. I`m not sure he
was in great shape when he said that, either. But he said that. What else
could it be?
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris --
MATTHEWS: I`ll give him a break. Maybe he wasn`t in great shape when he
CORN: Chris --
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.
CORN: We`ve been talking about this for years now. It goes on and on.
You know, and it`s not -- you know, sometimes, it`s outright disrespect,
like "You lie." And I think more prominent members of the Republican Party
do it a little differently.
Mitt Romney, when he ran for president last year, two years ago, he put out
a presentation in which he said Barack Obama doesn`t believe in the
American experiment. Newt Gingrich, who`s gotten a TV gig on another
network, called -- said the only way you can understand Barack Obama is if
you thought of an anti-colonial Kenyan.
Mike Huckabee said he didn`t believe that -- Obama didn`t believe in
American exceptionalism. Again and again and again, we see people on the
right, Republican leaders, either using crude language, like "You lie," or
more sophisticate arguments, all to say, This guy doesn`t deserve our
respect. He`s not really one of us. He`s not an American. He doesn`t
understand Americans or the American experiment, the American nation. And
it just doesn`t stop, whether it`s birtherism, otherism --
MATTHEWS: I know.
CORN: -- or something else, I mean, it just goes on and on.
I happen to think, I actually find it really hard to believe that John
Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, as much as I might disagree with
their policies, would actually say that to the president`s face. But,
nevertheless, they lead a party that again and again has taken the low
road, the cheap shot all to sort of make Obama different.
TUCKER: And they don`t swat that down. They don`t object --
MATTHEWS: That`s a good point.
TUCKER: -- to that kind of language when they hear it.
CORN: They exploit it.
In fact, remember during the health care debate, there was a Tea Party
rally on the steps of the Capitol that was authorized and was blessed by
John Boehner and the Republican leadership. And people started shouting,
"Nazis, Nazis, Nazis" about the Democrats and Obama who wanted to pass the
health care law.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CORN: And John Boehner and Eric Cantor just sort of stood there. They
don`t -- they don`t mind this. They exploit it.
But it`s where the energy on the right is these days.
MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Doug Lamborn -- or actually Lamborn of -- a
Republican from Colorado, said that being associated with President Obama
would be similar to touching -- well, here he goes -- a tar baby.
CORN: Oh, God.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. DOUG LAMBORN (R), COLORADO: Even if some people say, well, the
Republicans should have done this or they should have done that, they will
hold the president responsible.
Now, I don`t want to even have to be associated with it. It`s like
touching a tar baby and you get it -- you`re stuck and you`re part of the
problem now and you can`t get away.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you heard it. I didn`t say it. I didn`t make it up.
That`s a congressman.
MATTHEWS: Lamborn`s spokeswoman later said that the congressman sent an
apology letter to the president, appropriately.
But what caused the instinct to talk like that, Cynthia?
TUCKER: I am delighted when I hear that sort of rhetoric because it peels
back the covers.
You know, Republicans want to deny that this disrespect for the president,
this vitriol, this hatred, quite frankly of the president has anything to
do with race. Of course it does.
It has everything to do with race. That`s its foundation. Am I saying
that anybody who agrees with President -- who disagrees with the president
is a racist? No, I`m not. But I am saying that in that 20 to 25 percent
of Tea Partiers are people who will never be comfortable with the idea of a
Howard was talking about Cruzism earlier and how bad this disrespect for
the federal government has become. Well, for a bunch of people who see a
black man heading that federal government, hatred is the only way they know
how to respond.
MATTHEWS: Put this together, if you can, with another explanation. That
may well be the truth, by the way, what you just said, Cynthia.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I just am afraid to say it because then you have got
to get into somebody`s heart and mind if you say it.
But on the outside, historians will probably look at it and say, let`s look
at Occam`s razor here. Why did they talk about him in a totally different
way than they talked about other presidents? Could it obviously be the
But, Howard -- I mean, Howard -- I mean, David, look at this. Phrases like
I can`t stand to look at you, I couldn`t stand being 10 feet from you, this
personal, almost like kids who are like I don`t want your cooties. That`s
how kids used to talk, 8-year-olds. I don`t want your cooties. I can`t
drink out of the same soda bottle as you.
And this weird kind of separate thing they do, calling it tissue rejection,
because it has nothing to do with ideology or debate or different parties
CORN: No, you`re right.
MATTHEWS: It seems to have some kind of weird thing. I don`t want to be
seen at home as comfortable in the presence of this guy. I don`t want to
look like I`m awkward.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Your thoughts.
CORN: There`s something quite visceral, emotional, psychological about
It`s not about policy differences. Obamacare came from the Heritage
Foundation, right? It`s not -- and Obama in a lot of ways has made
concessions, hasn`t been nearly as liberal in some ways that liberals would
like him to be.
MATTHEWS: That`s for sure.
CORN: He has reached out on the stimulus bill. He gave one-third in taxes
when liberals and progressives didn`t want that, trying to bend over
backwards to get Republicans on board. So he hasn`t been this radical,
wide-eyed, wild-eyed liberal that they think, and the country has not
fallen to pieces.
But yet they have this character -- character view of him where he is a
secret socialist or Muslim trying to destroy the country, not that he`s
just wrong or has a bad set of policies.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes. I never thought that George W. Bush or Dick Cheney
wanted to destroy America.
I may have disagreed with what they were doing, but I never thought they
wanted to actually destroy and bring America down. Well, a lot of the
people on the right do believe that about Barack Obama. And you have to
wonder that`s coming from and why that is and why they just can`t accept
that he might see things differently from them and that he is as patriotic
and cares as much about America as they think they do.
MATTHEWS: What a strange lefty he is, isn`t he, David and Cynthia? He
kill ours enemies and doubles the stock market.
Thank you, David Corn.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Cynthia tucker.
Up next, Jon Stewart uncovers the real source of the Tea Party craziness of
the past couple of years. It`s not who you think.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL, and time for the "Sideshow."
Senator John McCain might be an outspoken critic of the Tea Party these
days, but as Jon Stewart pointed out last night, he bears more
responsibility for their rise to power than he`s willing to admit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": You don`t get to
complain. McCain, you don`t get to complain, at all, because if I remember
correctly, no matter how cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs you think your wacko bird
colleagues are, they don`t come anywhere close to your hatchling.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: And I have found just the right partner to
help me shape up Washington, D.C.
MCCAIN: Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.
STEWART: You opened Pandora`s box.
STEWART: You were the guy who gave the mogwai a post-midnight all-you-can-
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: You don`t get to complain that now the party`s overrun with
gremlins. What`s happening?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I love that guy. He`s so true.
Anyway, next, The Daily Beast has outed a White House official as the mole
behind national security wonk, the anonymous Twitter account known for
leaking internal information and criticizing the administration over the
last two years.
The man responsible is Jofi Joseph, who was a director with the National
Security Staff at the White House before stepping down last week because of
Well, some of his choice tweets include this about Anthony Weiner. These
are his words, not mine -- quote -- "Was Huma Abedin wearing beer goggles
the night she met Anthony Weiner?"
And this about Darrell Issa and Benghazi -- quote -- "Look, Issa`s an ass,
but he`s on to something here with the Hillary Clinton whitewash of
accountability for Benghazi."
Talk about burning bridges.
Next up, healthcare.gov may have a bumpy road ahead, but one state is
coming up with creative ways to boost enrollment. The Colorado Consumer
Health Initiative has released a series of Web ads to promote the
Affordable Care Act to young Colorado residents. And among the many images
they have created, one looks more like an ad for "Animal House" than for
Look at this. The tag line reads -- quote -- "Brosurance. Keg stands are
crazy. Not having health insurance is crazier. Don`t tap into your beer
money to cover those medical bills. We got it covered. Now you can too."
Well, finally, you may have noticed that former Vice President Dick Cheney
has been making the media rounds to promote a new book about heart health,
something he should know a lot about after suffering a quintet of heart
attacks over the years. But it turns out Cheney`s health was a political
issue back in his first campaign for Congress in Wyoming back in `78 after
his first heart attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Having had a mild
heart attack led me really to pause and reflect.
And upon reflection, we decided we did in fact want to continue the
campaign, primarily because we all enjoy being part of something larger
than ourselves, something that goes beyond our own personal self-interests,
something as big, for example, as representing the people of Wyoming in the
United States Congress.
There`s ample precedent certainly for people who have heart attacks, Dwight
Eisenhower, LBJ pursuing active political careers, and I expect to be one
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I wish him the very best with his health, by the way. He`s been
very gutsy. This has nothing to do with politics.
Up next, Republicans are cheering for the Affordable Care Act to fail and
are making up baseless claims to make sure it does. You bet they`re
rooting against it.
And that`s ahead. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins.
NBC News has learned the deadline for individuals to buy health insurance
will be pushed back as much as six weeks. The White House is calling it a
fix to the law they would have made even without Web site issues.
A judge has ordered a retrial for Michael Skakel, a cousin of the Kennedys,
for the 1975 murder of a teenage girl.
And a 14-year-old boy is charged with murdering a Massachusetts teacher.
Colleen Ritzer`s body was found in the woods behind a school. Video
surveillance linked the teen to her death.
Now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Nobody says
the site is working the way we want it to. Certainly, the president
acknowledged that yesterday. No one could be more frustrated than I am and
the president that this isn`t smooth.
People are frustrated with a Web site, but the product is there. The
prices are good. It will not sell out. And the prices won`t change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in her interview, this
time since the Affordable Care Act`s troubled rollout. In this interview,
Sebelius also said that President Obama was not made aware of the problems
facing the Web site until after its launch. Well, that`s something to
And earlier this week, the president announced he was launching a full-out
offensive to root out and fix the massively complex system. Well, progress
is being made, if slowly. As "The Washington Post" reported today, so far,
there have been huge improvements in the number of Americans able to get
into the site and create accounts.
But insurers aren`t reporting much improvement either in successful
enrollments or in the more serious data transcription errors. Well,
whatever that means. But no one actually knows whether the system will be
fixed in the next few weeks or not.
In this case, time is not on the president`s side. Of course, many agree,
experts out there agree that if the site, the Web site isn`t functioning
normally by Thanksgiving at the very latest, it could create real havoc
with the law`s implementation.
We have got a real expert joining us now, Zeke Emanuel, senior fellow at
the Center for American Progress and a former special adviser to President
Obama. And Sam Stein is the White House correspondent for The Huffington
Thank you, Zeke.
It`s good to have on somebody who can be a critic, but is rooting for the
success of the program. Let me ask you a very general program -- question.
All the people out there on the right and some in the center, but mostly on
the right, are loving these problems. Is this constant drumbeat of attack,
dumping on this process, hurting its implementation?
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Of course it
And, most importantly, it hurt it before October 1, when we were trying to
get it up and running, and there was constant threats of defunding and
trying to undermine the system. And I think that`s a big, big problem.
But I also do think you have to implement well, no matter what the incoming
MATTHEWS: Was there a -- was there a kind of a passive aggression on the
part of these conservative red states where they waited pretty late before
they said, oh, you in the federal government take over? We don`t want our
option of running. Even though we believe in states` rights, we don`t want
to run the program.
And it was way too late in the game. And 30-some states said, OK,
Washington, you do it. Nobody thought it would be that -- people would be
that passive or indifferent that they would throw it to Washington to do it
all. A friend of mine has been telling me that`s been a real problem and
he is an expert with regard to some of these programs.
EMANUEL: Yes, it`s not just the passiveness, because actually,Chris, you
need state cooperation.
Remember, state insurance commissioners have to approve what`s going to be
listed in a state in terms of insurance. They actually have to intersect
with the system. So it`s more than just passive. They`re actually
actively out there trying to thwart it.
But I do think that the White House has taken an important step in
appointing Jeff Zients to oversee the current improvements and revisions.
And I hope that they appoint someone on a more long-term basis. They`re
going to institute briefings now on a daily basis to inform the American
public about what the problems are and what the solutions are.
So I think they clearly had a sort of come to Jesus moment and are turning
the ship around. And I applaud them for that. But, as you point out, they
have got five weeks. And there is a lot of time pressure.
MATTHEWS: Well, it seems to me there`s two concepts at war here.
One is implementation and one`s the concept itself. Lincoln fought the
Civil War with bad generals until he found U.S. Grant. But nobody said
quite the Civil War and let the South secede, and whereas that seems to be
the position of -- let me go to Sam on this.
That seems to be the position of the right. If this were the civil war,
they`d say oh, give up, let Robert E Lee win this baby and let them
secede, rather than, why don`t we go find a General Grant?
My question to you, as a real outsider to the White House -- and you are
truly outside the orbit there -- let me ask you, are they still needing a
General Grant to run this program, somebody to come in and really be a
winning, winning general, a lucky general?
SAM STEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think it`s a great question. I think Jeff
Zients is going to have to take on that role.
You know, I`m a little less forgiving of the White House I think than Zeke
is because they did have three years to put up that Web site. And, yes,
there needs to be state contribution to that Web site. But three years is
plenty of time to get the coding right. And what we`re looking at right
now is a real coding failure.
That said, you are seeing a patchwork of health care reform basically
develop in this country, in which some states are buying into the concept
of Obamacare, places like Kentucky, California, New York, et cetera. And
even now in Ohio, where John Kasich just announced that he would expand
Medicaid to about 300,000 poor and lower middle class Ohioans. And then
you see states that are actively trying to not participate in the law.
So, what you`re going to end up with I think in a year`s time, regardless
of whether this Web site works or not, is a real patchwork system of health
care coverage in the United States.
MATTHEWS: Is this like nullification? Zeke, is this like nullification
where if a state wants to oppose a federal charter, which is basically
passed by the U.S. Congress, they don`t like the federal government, so
they`re saying, OK, you run it, we hope it fails? We`re not helping you?
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: But I think -- they`re
certainly taking that attitude. But I think in the end, and the end will
be in the next year or so, the Web site is going to work and people in
those states are going to be able to buy insurance and are going to be able
to get coverage at a very good price.
The people who are going to be left out are basically the hard-working
people mo earn less than 100 percent of the poverty line. So, for a family
of four, less than about $23,000, $24,000, and aren`t going to be covered
in the exchange and won`t get Medicaid. And those people are the poorest
of the poor in this country. And that`s a real tragedy.
MATTHEWS: And where are they going to be? What part in the country --
EMANUEL: They`re going to be in Texas, in Florida, in Alabama, in
MATTHEWS: Because the governors have said we don`t care about those
MATTHEWS: They don`t vote Republicans.
Go ahead, Sam.
STEIN: The critical moment was when the Supreme Court decided that states
could opt out of the Medicaid expansion, and that basically incentivized a
lot of conservative governors to show their ideological bona fides and say
we`re not going to expand Medicaid, even though the government was taking
100 percent of the cost in the first year and 90 percent thereafter.
So, you will have predominantly Southern Republican-run states, a huge
swath of very poor people who could get access to health care under the
construction of Obamacare but won`t because of the decisions made by their
MATTHEWS: So, gentlemen, both of you, this sounds like a realization in
the 47 percent line in the campaign. It sounds like, you know, the
Republican candidate, Mitt Romney might not have been the most
philosophical person in the world, but he certainly nailed it when he was
caught talking to the Republican fundraising crowd down there in Florida,
he said, we don`t really care about the 47 percent. And now, writ large,
we see that philosophy such as it is exemplified by their refusal to
cooperate and getting medical care to people in need -- Zeke.
EMANUEL: I think there is something to that, Chris. And I think that the
best revenge of the Democrats is going to be to get this up and running
and, again, to have the states that are really enthusiastic, the ones Sam
pointed out, like California, Colorado, and Kentucky and New York and show
them you get lower health care cost, you get a better healthy population,
and it turns out to be business friendly.
And businesses like the arrangement and show it`s better for your economy.
That is going to be the ultimate proof that health care reform was worth it
for the country.
STEIN: And let me just add, when you talk to administration officials,
they basically make this point, which is that in one or two years times,
states like Alabama are going to look at Kentucky and say, wow, they were
able to implement the reform in their own version and variety and they did
it at much lower cost than we anticipated. Maybe we should revisit what we
initially stated a year ago.
You know, we`re going to have to take time. A lot of this requires a bit
of patience which is not in high demand in Washington.
MATTHEWS: That`s not an American virtue.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I love the spirit of your -- this conversation.
By the way, good for John Kasich. I always knew he had something good in
him, good for expanding Medicare up in Ohio.
Thank you, Zeke. Thank you, Zeke. And thank you, Sam Stein.
We`ll be right back. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, time`s running out in the Virginia governor`s race. New
polls now showed Terry McAuliffe`s lead is holding firm.
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
According to the new Quinnipiac poll, McAuliffe leads Republican Ken
Cuccinelli by seven points, with less than two weeks ago. It`s McAuliffe,
46, Cuccinelli, 36. And the libertarian in the race, 10.
McAuliffe and Cuccinelli meet for their final debate tomorrow night.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Of the stains on the Bush-Cheney White House, the leak of Valerie Plame`s
identity as a CIA officer remains one of the worst. The leak came after
Plame`s husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson accused the administration of
using faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destructions in Iraq. The
vice president`s chief of staff Scooter Libby was ultimately convicted of
lying to federal investigators while he was not the original leaker, he did
talk to some reporters about Plame.
In spite of what he first told reporters, we now know Libby first learned
about Plame`s identity from Dick Cheney himself who was upset about
Wilson`s revelations. To this day, questions remain about the role Cheney
played in authorizing the leak. As "New York Times`" Peter Baker accounts
in his new book, "Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House," even
President Bush believes Libby was protecting Cheney, and that ultimately
became the single greatest source of tension between the two men and led to
Bush`s decision not to pardon Libby.
Cheney`s strong rebuke to the president was, "You are leaving a good man
wounded on the field of battle."
Terry Baker joins me now.
Terry, thanks-- I mean, Peter, thank you so much.
Peter, it seems to me, I was totally focused on this during those months to
the point that really bugging scooter Libby that I was so focused on him
and the V.P. I don`t believe he was a criminal in the sense of someone
robbing gas stations or an embezzler. I believe he was doing what the boss
Now, maybe the boss didn`t say go do it, but clearly, Cheney wanted to get
Joe Wilson, wanted to diminish the credibility of Joe Wilson, outing his
wife as an agent may have been part of that. But my question to you is,
how did you find out that Cheney was perceived by Bush as benefitting from
that pardon himself? That he would somehow benefit by pardoning Scooter
PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, the discussion they had, really
this fight that they had, President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the
last days of their administration consumed by this discussion about whether
to pardon Scooter Libby. The president decided to send his lawyers out to
relook at the case, look at the trial transcript, even met with Scooter
Libby at a seafood restaurant near the White House. And they came back to
the president and they said, look, we looked at it, and we think the jury
had ample reason to convict.
What was interesting is the president on his mind was this idea of special
pleading. The vice president in effect was pleading for the man that the
president seemed to believe had taken a bullet for his vice president. And
that ultimately did influence the decision not to give that pardon. And it
was a big break between the two men.
MATTHEWS: And it`s about -- you don`t have to read between the lines,
because Cheney himself said, we`re leaving a soldier in the field. It
wasn`t like he broke the rules. He was accused of doing something Cheney
would like to have gotten done. Maybe he didn`t say lie to the special
prosecutor, or whatever.
But, by the way, he had a great lawyer, Ted Wells. I mean, I understand
why they decided he was guilty and they shouldn`t get a pardon.
Let`s talk about what you were able to figure out about Cheney. I always
thought that Cheney and Scooter were big hawks. They really support the
Iraq war. And yet, as much as I focused them, and the general group called
the neocons, I have never been able to figure out exactly why we went to
war with Iraq.
In all your work on this, have you figured out why did Cheney want to go to
war in Iraq? Let`s start with him.
BAKER: That`s a great question. You know, a lot of people speculate he
thought he had unfinished business in 1991 Gulf War when he was a defense
secretary to Bush`s father. You know, he said and I found this oral
history he gave just months before running for vice president. Nobody had
seen him before from the Miller Center, where he actually said, even then
in 2000, we made the right decision not to go to Baghdad. It would have
been a disaster.
So, something actually happened between 2000 and the beginning -- the end
of 2001 when they began thinking about Iraq. Obviously, 9/11 played a huge
role. You can`t discount the atmosphere of fear, responsibility that was
infecting the White House at that time.
MATTHEWS: I`m not a brain surgeon. But I notice one thing about Cheney
all the years, when I was on the other side from him, he`s a ferocious --
maybe I am, too. But he`s a ferocious partisan at times.
I have seen him go after opponents. He wants to beat them. He wants to
crush him. And there`s something about Hussein that, did he -- did he
thumb his nose at Cheney? Did thumb his nose at the United States in the
way Cheney figured, this guy must be killed? What made him so determined?
I mean, we lost 4,000 people. We killed, what, tens of thousands if not
hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to do this. For what?
I look at what`s happening over there and say, for what?
BAKER: Yes, yes. Look, I think Cheney spent the `80s going through the
continuity of government exercises and participating in scenarios,
imagining apocalyptic scenario of a nuclear war. But by the time he comes
into the office and 9/11 happens, this is everything he`d been fearing.
This is everything that he had literally prepared for.
MATTHEWS: But what`s Iraq got to do with it? You`re talking about impulse
to go attack somebody, but why Iraq? Was Afghanistan good enough?
BAKER: He saw -- Saddam Hussein, he was told after the Gulf War he was
closer to a nuclear device than intelligence knew at that time in 1991. So
he didn`t believe in 2003 to say he might not have it this time because he
thought the intelligence got it wrong last time. He was afraid that they
were further along that, in fact, the intelligence that turned out to be
MATTHEWS: Where did the get the evidence -- where did he get the evidence
that was push the mushroom cloud by Condoleezza Rice endlessly? Everybody
talked about nuclear, nuclear, nuclear.
MATTHEWS: What evidence did he have that Saddam Hussein was near to having
a nuclear weapon? What evidence, hard evidence? Not the other way, we
couldn`t prove this, though, but what made him justify a war of killing
lots of people?
BAKER: Yes. That was --
MATTHEWS: That`s what he did.
BAKER: That was always the weakest part of the WMD intelligence. Even
within the intelligence community. They felt stronger about chemical
weapons, somewhat strong the biological weapons, nuclear.
There was a big debate inside the administration. Cheney chose to see the
most dangerous version of that. His idea was if there`s a 1 percent chance
of something like that happening, we have to treat it as a real possibility
and act accordingly.
MATTHEWS: OK. In a couple of words, what did Cheney think of Bush?
BAKER: Well, I think he had a lot of respect for him over the years. But
I think by the time he left office, he was disappointed in him. I think he
thinks that Bush moved away from him, their relationship changed over time.
By the time they left office, they really moved significantly apart.
Today, they had a proper, polite relationship. But they don`t talk very
often and I think it`s --
MATTHEWS: Well, Peter, I`m going to read your great book. I am going to
read this book. Good luck with this book.
BAKER: Thank you very much.
MATTEHWS: The book is called "Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney and the White
By the way, his name is pronounced Cheney.
And thank you, Peter Baker.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
I`m up here in Boston to emcee the Kennedy Forum for Community Mental Hala
Gala at the John F. Kennedy Library. These are people doing something
Meanwhile, the drumbeat of criticism at the rollout of the Affordable Care
Act reminds me of something Franklin Roosevelt said as the country battled
itself out from under the Great Depression. Quote, "Better the occasional
mistake of a government that cares than a constant omission of the
government frozen in the ice of its own indifference."
Does anyone think the critics of Affordable Care want to improve it? Do
they wish it well and hope the best efforts to get it up and working?
Well, here`s a clue: when the Democrats passed Affordable Care Act in 2010,
was there an alternative plan to ensure ten of millions sitting in the
emergency rooms in this country`s hospitals? Was there a Republican
alternative to determine people with preexisting conditions were covered?
Was there a GOP plan to get health care to those protected?
Well, today, the air waves are clogged with the voices of indifference.
Those long content with doing nothing, suddenly complaining about the
shortcomings of those trying to meet the challenges. Who are you going to
trust, the clamor of the indifferent, or the people trying to change things
-- the people trying to get health insurance to those who never had it?
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, October 23, 2013