December 20, 2013
Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson, Nia-Malika Henderson, Michael Crowley, Ann Hornaday
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Going on offense.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this big, growing and scary difference in
how people are doing in this country. I`m talking about what you know I`m
talking about, the vast difference between what the CEO at the top is
getting and what the person down the line is taking home.
Well, let me tell you, this vast difference in how people are doing is
political pay dirt, and guess who knows it? Well, first of all, obviously,
Second, the Republicans. They hate this talk about the minimum wage
being too low. As a former Republican member of Congress told me, he
didn`t like it when the issue of minimum wage stayed up there for months in
a row. Why? Because the American public overwhelmingly thinks a jump in
the money we pay people working at the edge of the workforce is a wonderful
idea. And guess what? This means tens of millions of workers stand to
benefit if the president`s able to get a minimum wage bill through the
And another thing -- and this is something every labor leader with
moxie knows -- the more you boost the minimum wage, the more you pressure
wages all the way up the line. You give the dishwasher a jump to $10 an
hour, and you sure as heck have to give the person doing the cooking a
So welcome to 2014. This is going to be a year when, with any luck,
the president`s going to be riding a gung-ho economy, a lower jobless rate,
a hairier (ph) stock market, and some real economic growth out there, the
perfect time to be talking to middle America about shrinking that huge
disparity between the top and the rest of the country.
Eugene Robinson`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The
Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst, of course, and Joy Reid is
managing editor of TheGrio, and an MSNBC contributor.
To give you an idea how many people would benefit from an increase in
the minimum wage, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that 14 percent
of the U.S. workforce -- that`s one in seven workers -- would be affected
and that 30 million workers would get a raise if the minimum wage increased
to $10.10 by 2015.
Well, today, in his final press conference of the year, President
Obama talked about his goals for 2014, the year coming up. Without using -
- although he didn`t use the term "minimum wage," the president made clear
-- a clear reference to living wage -- the need to give living wages to
Let`s listen to him make the point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think 2014 needs to
be a year of action. We`ve got work to do to create more good jobs, to
help more Americans earn the skills and education they need to do those
jobs, and to make sure that those jobs offer the wages and benefits that
let families build a little bit of financial security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Gene, let`s talk about this. You know, so many things are
controversial, but when you pick up the paper, and two thirds of the people
say they want it.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
This is not controversial. People like the idea of a higher minimum wage.
People understand that the minimum wage has lagged and that $7.25 is
ridiculous, at this point...
ROBINSON: ... and not just in the city. That`s...
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s $280 a week before taxes and before FICA and
everything that`s taken out of it.
ROBINSON: Exactly. And you know, sure, try living on that in the
Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, but also try living on that out in
West Virginia, or you know, down in Georgia or any place. I mean, that`s
not very much money.
And you know, I think if the president frames this as a way to
preserve the middle class character of this society because that`s in many
ways, economically, what makes this country great...
ROBINSON: ... is -- is that being a middle class country...
MATTHEWS: The huge number of people who think of themselves that way.
ROBINSON: Exactly. And if -- and if we`re separating out, some are
rising on top and some settling to the bottom, it`s a different country.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about -- Joy. Think big about -- I mean,
you always think big, Joy, but talk us (ph) big about -- it`s not just a
wage issue or a labor union issues, it`s an issue that affects the whole
structure of wages because you kick it up at the bottom, you push it all
the way up. It`s cost (ph) push (ph) in (ph) economics.
And the question is, is that going to be good for the economy? I
remember Henry Ford, who wasn`t the nicest guy on some issues, the great
Henry Ford, but he said, I want my workers to be able to buy one of my
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly.
MATTHEWS: ... which is pretty smart.
REID: No, exactly.
MATTHEWS: You know?
REID: And you know, the difference is -- one of the things that the
great recession did, it was a great leveler, right? Whereas before, you
had a middle class that was sort of a striving middle class and sort of
identifying themselves in a lot of ways with the rich, the aspirational
1990s, where everybody feels like, Somehow, I could be a dot-com
Well, now you have a lot of people who found themselves for the very
first time in the lower middle class, who used to think of themselves as
middle class. I mean, when I was a kid, you go into a fast food joint, the
person behind the counter was a teenager. Now the person behind the
country, you go into a fast food joint, is a parent with kids, a mom
raising a family.
REID: You now have adults, not just seniors and teenagers, in those
kind of low-wage fast food checkout-type jobs. You actually have people
who are trying to run a household on that income. And Americans really
And so now you have an issue that`s broadened out to the middle class,
where they now can identify themselves with the lower-wage worker. They
are not some alien...
REID: ... who`s too lazy to get a better job. They`re your neighbor,
they`re your dad, they`re your brother-in-law. And people, when they can
understand that, the minimum wage feels like something that affects them,
MATTHEWS: You know, I always go to the airport -- when I go to the
airport here, National, Reagan Airport, all the time.
MATTHEWS: I mean, Republicans call it Reagan Democrats call it
MATTHEWS: ... but I`m getting used to Reagan. I got to get used to
MATTHEWS: But you know, there`s always a bunch of people making
burgers. There got, like, an assembly line, you know, the five guys? And
one thing is they don`t stop working.
MATTHEWS: They are working eight hours -- and making hamburgers out
in back of your house is sort of fun. How would you like to do eight hours
straight of nonstop burger making? Nonstop.
ROBINSON: Yes, and...
MATTHEWS: And people -- because you can see them working.
ROBINSON: It`s called work. It`s hard work.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what they`re making. I don`t think they`re
making 10 bucks.
ROBINSON: And this is -- right. And this is something that Americans
understand, and that some in the Republican leadership don`t understand, is
that Americans understand that people are working for the minimum wage or
near the minimum wage, work -- punishing hours, and often because the wages
are so low...
ROBINSON: ... have to take a second job or a third job in order to
make ends meet.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about this. You write columns about this
all -- the big picture question of America. Good conservativism -- we
don`t see much of it these days -- good conservativism says you got to keep
society together. That`s what you do.
MATTHEWS: You have to have Social Security. You have to have
national health care of some kind. You have to have something to make
everybody a participant. Otherwise, you have revolutions (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: It doesn`t hold together. It seems to me one way to keep
people together is to give them a decent wage.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, members of the Senate Democratic leadership team --
that`s Harry Reid on down -- are clearly going after this income inequality
issue. They say it`s going to be a top priority come next year, and that`s
And Senator Dick Durbin, who`s number two, even referenced Pope
Francis in this regard. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: He warned that income inequality
leads to, in his words, quote, "a economy of exclusion and inequality and a
globalization of indifference."
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: There`s no greater challenge
this country has than income inequality. And we must do something about
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The decline of middle class incomes
and the difficulty in average people getting good-paying jobs has overtaken
the deficit as the number one problem facing our political economy today.
Our Republican colleagues should take note.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, the politics of this -- I`m now going to get in
the ethnic piece of this. Bitching, if you will, about people getting food
MATTHEWS: ... and doing the ethnic stereotyping of the fingernails
and all that stuff, which is clearly racial and ethnic, and then saying,
Well, we don`t want to give people free money for not doing anything, so
why don`t they go to work, the bums?
MATTHEWS: And then they go to work and people catch the bus at 6:30,
not the greatest way to spend your day, but it`s the way to provide for
your family, and you may have two jobs to do it. And then they`ll say, But
screw them. I`m not going to give them minimum wage. It seems that`s a
lot harder for Republicans...
ROBINSON: Well, it`s harder, and it makes no sense. You know, we
MATTHEWS: Get them off the welfare rolls!
ROBINSON: ... people to work, right, everybody go to work. So people
go to work, and yet they don`t make enough money to live. They don`t make
a living wage. So then you have to supplement what they make with food
MATTHEWS: Yes, or else...
ROBINSON: ... and housing assistance...
MATTHEWS: Or else tell their bosses to kick up their wages a little.
ROBINSON: Well, exactly. Exactly. If you get them a living wage,
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to this...
ROBINSON: ... fewer federal benefits.
MATTHEWS: ... conundrum. Joy, you young lady, I`ve got to ask you,
do you see the conundrum here? They sit around and lace into people that
aren`t working. They`re watching television all day, whatever, you know,
sitting on the couch. And then when they find out that they`re working...
MATTHEWS: ... and they are getting the bus, they`re doing the 40 --
then how can they get a mad at them for that, having said, Get off the
couch, go to work? Oh, you`re at work? Let`s cut your wages. Oh, let`s
keep you down at the bottom here.
It seems to me you`ve got to give them a little relief in some
direction. If you don`t give relief money -- how about some relief for the
guy who`s working or the woman that`s working?
ROBINSON: Exactly. And then you wind up, as Eugene said, subsidizing
them with the very thing that conservatives hate the most, which is food
stamps and public assistance, because the wages aren`t enough.
And then on the other side of it, there`s a conservative case for
this, too, because to your point earlier, Chris, if you don`t have
consumers -- the great bubble, the huge economic bubble that took place
after World War II was about this influx of consumers. It wasn`t just
because Americans were going to work. They were going to work for wages
that allowed them to buy the refrigerators and the home gadgets and to get
the latest television technology...
REID: ... and to bring that in the home. If you have people...
MATTHEWS: And what did you learn?
REID: ... who aren`t making enough to consume, then how does our
economy continue to work?
MATTHEWS: And the box that came in, of course -- and you know how I
can tell by the way you`re saying it, Joy, is that they thought there`d be
a big recession after World War II.
MATTHEWS: But there wasn`t.
REID: There wasn`t.
MATTHEWS: There was a boom. Harry Truman got reelected in 1948 in
that surprise upset. You know why he won? 6 percent real growth.
REID: That`s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: We haven`t seen that kind of number in a long time.
Anyway, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour has broad support
in this country, even from Republican and Tea Party supporters. The
NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that among all respondents -- catch
this number -- 64 percent favor raising the minimum wage. Among
Republicans, 47 percent -- that`s not bad -- favor it, 50 percent oppose
it. That`s pretty close to even. Among Tea Partiers, almost even there,
45 percent favor the raise to $10.10 and 55...
Gene, there`s the interesting dichotomy, too, their social attitudes
of, Oh, we`re crusty and tough and (INAUDIBLE) minorities and -- you know?
MATTHEWS: And yet they`re one of them. They benefit.
MATTHEWS: ... say, Wait a minute, this is my pay raise going up.
ROBINSON: Well, exactly. I mean, people understand. People are a
lot closer to the situation in America...
MATTHEWS: I don`t think George Wallace would have...
ROBINSON: ... than politicians...
MATTHEWS: ... opposed a raise in the minimum wage.
ROBINSON: No, I don`t think so.
MATTHEWS: I have no idea how I can speak for him!
ROBINSON: But it`s a populist issue.
ROBINSON: It`s an issue that helps the guy down the street or helps
my cousin Jeff, or whatever.
MATTHEWS: Now that you`re effusing (ph) it, like I am, will they win
with this? They get it through the Senate. That`ll happen.
MATTHEWS: They start in the Senate. And what kind of deal can they
make with the Republicans in the House? Do they offer something less than
$10? Can they negotiate it and haggle over it? Do they give something for
small businesses, like they used to do back in the `90s? How do they put
the sweet -- how do they put the sugar into this pie?
ROBINSON: Well, you know, that figure, 64 percent -- I mean, that`s a
big figure! A lot of those people are...
MATTHEWS: ... push them on this.
ROBINSON: I think they can be pushed on this and -- and...
ROBINSON: ... because I`m not interested in another...
ROBINSON: ... bipartisan increases in the minimum wage...
MATTHEWS: Joy, I don`t want an issue here. I want some results. So
your thoughts. How do they get John Boehner and Eric Cantor and Kevin
McCarthy to clear this for a vote in the House after it comes out of the
Senate? Can they get it done?
REID: You know, I honestly think that you`re not going to be able to
get it through the House. Strangely enough, even though it seems to be
obvious sort of easy politics, I think Republicans are going to demand
something in exchange. And I think they`re...
MATTHEWS: And what would that be?
REID: Probably something for small business, you know, something on
the tax rates, taxes for small business. But this isn`t a party that
operates in a normal political way.
MATTHEWS: I think (INAUDIBLE)
REID: That`s normal politics, when you`d offer them something and
then they give on minimum wage. But this isn`t a normal party, and the Tea
Party politicians -- they are completely immune to the realities that we`ve
just been discussing.
MATTHEWS: OK. I`m more optimistic.
REID: They don`t care that the majority of people want it.
MATTHEWS: I`m more optimistic. I think they can win on this one. It
may take six months of work, but a smart president putting his focus on
this -- now, the trouble is, he will focus some on immigration, everything
else, and then touch this. I think he`s got to push this. Anyway --
because I think he needs -- what we say in baseball, get a double.
REID: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: OK. Get the guy in scoring position. Anyway, thank you,
Gene Robinson. Thank you, Joy Reid.
REID: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: What started out as offensive comments by the
star of a reality TV show has turned into a real political story. Ted
Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and yes, of course, Sarah Palin are all out there
defending the star of "Duck Dynasty," Phil Robertson, reminding everyone
that the Republican Party -- there it goes again -- is ignoring the lessons
of 2012. Remember that autopsy? Well, still dead.
Plus, the big fight brewing over sanctions against Iran and its
nuclear program. If the Senate imposes even harsher sanctions, this entire
deal could come apart and that would be bad news for those of us who don`t
want another war.
And one of my favorite things, the best movies of the year, especially
the political ones. Wait until you see these, one all about Abscam. We`re
going to count down that one especially. Imagine, Abscam, the biggest
scandal of the `70s, maybe being the number one movie of 19 -- I`m sorry --
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the need for America to speak with a
single voice on matters of nuclear war.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: One of the highest-profile governors races next fall is in
Florida, where Republican governor Rick Scott faces a real challenge from
his predecessor, Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist.
We`ve got new polling on that race, and for that, we check the
HARDBALL "Scoreboard." Here it is.
It`s Charlie Crist with a 5-point lead over Governor Scott, Crist 49,
Scott 44. And that`s according to an internal poll conducted for Governor
Scott and obtained by Politico. So it`s Scott down 5 in his own poll.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. When a Bible belt reality TV
legend and the far right collide, watch out. Phil Robertson, the star of
"Duck Dynasty" on A&E, has sparked a national firestorm thanks to comments
he made about gays and blacks in the January issue of "GQ" magazine.
Robertson is fervently religious and a self-described "Bible thumper."
His cult of personality has helped catapult a series about Louisiana duck
hunters into the most popular reality show in the history of cable
television. But what began as a family-friendly spotlight on a Southern
good ol` boy has descended into something much more disturbing.
Here`s what Robertson told "GQ" on the topic of sinful behavior.
Quote, "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,
bestiality, sleeping around with a woman and that woman and that woman and
those man. Don`t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the
male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the
slanderers, the swindlers -- they won`t inherit the kingdom of God. Don`t
deceive yourself. It`s not right."
And this is what he told the magazine about pre-Civil Rights blacks.
Quote, "They`re singing and happy. Never heard one of them, one black
person say, I tell you what, those doggone white people. Not a word. Pre-
entitlement, pre-welfare, you say, were they happy? They were godly. They
were happy. No one was singing the blues."
Well, the far right has rallied around Robertson, decrying everything
and everyone in their path. That includes A&E, which suspended Robertson
from the show the same day his comments were published. Well, the gay
rights groups that have criticized his remarks and the media for their
coverage of the story -- they`re taking the hit.
Here`s what Louisiana governor Republican Bobby Jindal said just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: To me, this is an issue about
religious liberty. It`s an issue about freedom of expression. It`s about
the fact that left keeps saying they`re for tolerance, except for people
that disagree with them. You know, it -- it`s stunning to me, after all
those antics that Miley Cyrus would still be on TV and Phil`s the one
getting kicked off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Ted Cruz, of course, had this reaction. Quote,
"The reason that so many Americans love `Duck Dynasty` is because it
represents the America usually ignored or mocked by liberal elites. In a
free society, anyone is free to disagree with him, but the mainstream media
should not behave as the thought police, censoring the views with which
Wow. We got some people to talk about that stuff. Ron Reagan`s a
MSNBC contributor and Nia-Malika Henderson`s with "The Washington Post."
And I miss her dearly!
MATTHEWS: I haven`t seen you in a while, at least not sitting across
Ron, you don`t have the advantage of sitting across from me and being
Nia-Malika Henderson, but...
MATTHEWS: ... this question...
RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I know.
MATTHEWS: I have to -- I have to play ignorance, of course, because I
don`t watch everything on television. I watched "The Good Wife," and you
know, "Homeland" and things like that. I don`t watch "Duck Dynasty"...
MATTHEWS: ... but I`ve been educated. It is a huge cultural event.
This guy`s a major figure in our culture, maybe a subculture, but it`s a
huge subculture. It`s country people.
What do you make of the whole thing? The combination of his
importance, the people like him, they root for him -- now they`re still
rooting for him, especially the right, which has jumped the opportunity
here to exploit this fight. Ron?
REAGAN: Oh, I`m sorry. I thought you were talking to Nia. Well,
listen, you know, there`s a lot of hypocrisy going around throughout this.
The right wing is all exercised because this guy is having his free speech
rights interrupted by A&E that don`t want to associate themselves with, you
know, the remarks that he made about gay people and black people.
But at the same time, ask yourself, if he had declared himself an
atheist and characterized the Bible a self-contradictory relic of the Iron
Age, do you think that Ted Cruz would be coming out and championing his
cause if A&E had let him go on that account? I don`t think so. You know,
MATTHEWS: So what do they have in common? What does the Tea Party
have in common with this guy?
REAGAN: The -- 20 percent of America, and most of them are
Republicans, and a lot of them are even elected officials, agree with this
guy. Bill O`Reilly says the same thing that he does. Many elected
officials in the Republican Party say the same sorts of things that Paul
(sic) Robertson has said. You know, they`re speaking to their constituency
MATTHEWS: Yes, there`s some -- let me go to Nia on this. There`s
some venom here, first of all. First of all, there`s -- I think there`s
some profound ignorance. I mean, you`re African-American. I haven`t heard
anybody saying -- I mean, the old joke was, I guess if you go back to "Gone
With the Wind" or "Birth of a Nation," you got singing black people that
sort of enjoy their bondage.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes, that`s right, and...
MATTHEWS: And being whipped all day. I mean, they`re supposedly
enjoying that. Then you got this guy with a later -- latter-day version of
it, which is prior to Civil Rights.
By the way, pre-civil rights days were so great that people walked
into biting dogs to try to fight it.
HENDERSON: Yes. Yes. And there was a whole movement.
MATTHEWS: Yes, because they were so happy with the ways things were.
HENDERSON: Right. Right. I mean, this is the kind of thing. I grew
up in South Carolina and Strom Thurmond would often say these kinds of
And you do hear this from some older Southerners, Trent Lott, for
instance, praising Strom Thurmond, saying, if you had won, things wouldn`t
have been so bad. So, I mean, that`s part of that sort of polite Southern
I do think, within the Republican Party, there had been moments sort
of built into the system where politicians could sort of give the wink and
the nod to these sorts of things. When Republicans would go to South
Carolina, they would always weigh in either way on terms of how they felt
about the Confederate Flag.
They would go to Bob Jones University, for instance. Your dad, Ron
Reagan, right, he goes to Philadelphia, Mississippi, praising states`
rights. So, there always those sorts of things.
But now that doesn`t really exist. So, here is this opportunity in
this very kind of big way for them to do the same sort of thing with these
pop culture figures.
MATTHEWS: I want to get a little bit more political here.
MATTHEWS: The far right`s defense of Robertson, I want to talk about.
It has been built around the concepts of freedom of speech and religion.
This is Sarah Palin with Sean Hannity last night warning of the end of
American civilization on this point. Take a close look at Palin. She`s
dressed in camouflage, which also happens to be the unofficial "Duck
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HANNITY")
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: This is all about freedom,
free speech. So many American families have spilled blood and treasure to
guarantee Phil Robertson and everybody else`s right to voice their personal
opinions. And once that freedom is lost, Sean, everything is lost in our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Yes, these are the people that didn`t believe in loyalty
oaths, right, Ron?
MATTHEWS: I mean, the idea of free speech...
REAGAN: These are the people that have spent the last month
threatening to boycott stores that say happy holidays instead of merry
Christmas. They`re not exactly avatars of free speech themselves.
But they do have a point here. I mean, really, how ignorant can`t you
be and still keep your reality television show? Of course this man Paul
(sic) Robertson is a fool. Of course he`s ignorant. Of course he`s
totally ill-informed. But many other people are too.
So is A&E doing a right thing by indefinitely suspending him, yet
continuing to air the next season of "Duck Dynasty," by the way, which will
feature Paul Robertson? They have already got that in the can.
MATTHEWS: Politicians -- but, Ron and Nia, politicians are rational.
HENDERSON: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: What are they playing to here? They`re playing to a public
not just of hard right. They`re playing to a bunch of people on the
center-right and right who feel there`s been too much regulation of speech,
to the word politically correct.
I don`t know who came up with it. Somebody came up with it years ago.
HENDERSON: Stanley Fish.
MATTHEWS: And the idea of a term where there`s only one way to talk.
MATTHEWS: You can only talk liberal.
MATTHEWS: And I think that`s part of the thing they play to. I think
that`s why Ann Coulter, as offensive as she can be, plays that, because she
says things because she doesn`t have a job that everybody else on the right
is sympathetic to, but doesn`t want to say, but loves it when she says it.
HENDERSON: Right, and this idea that sort of they`re losing their
space and place here, right, that there`s this nostalgia about the way
things used to be. Of course, things didn`t used to be so good for
African-Americans and women. And there`s been obviously lots of progress.
And even with the issue of same-sex marriage, right? Utah came out
today. They have overturned that ban that that state had on same-sex
marriage. So, there is...
MATTHEWS: We got polygamy back in action out there now.
MATTHEWS: It is. It`s back in the courts.
MATTHEWS: Don`t think everything is not in play now.
HENDERSON: Yes. So, I mean, they`re playing to this identity.
MATTHEWS: How much of this is just lingo? I get the feeling that a
person that can -- anybody in the United States can come on the air and say
call me old-fashioned, but I`m only for straight sex. I`m not for gay
marriage. I`m not for gay sex. I don`t like it. I`m against it.
And it seems somebody would say that would not be problematic. But
when you come on and you`re showing venom, when you`re making it personal,
it`s not the sin, it`s the sinner, it`s who I don`t like, it`s who the bad
person is, and you start using the lingo of that hatred, I think that`s
when people say you have turned a corner from what we consider a free
speech country to a hate message.
Your thoughts, Ron.
REAGAN: Why do they -- why do they always go towards bestiality?
What is the obsession with that?
REAGAN: Bill O`Reilly does the same thing.
MATTHEWS: That`s a Rick Santorum favorite...
REAGAN: What is it about gay people that makes Republicans think of
having sex with animals? I have no idea what that is. But you`re right.
REAGAN: That is a dog whistle, if you will.
MATTHEWS: It`s the slippery slope, Ron. It`s the slippery slope.
MATTHEWS: You take away one of my handguns, you will take away my
whole -- I guess that`s the slippery slope, driven to extremes.
REAGAN: Take away the handgun, I have got to marry my dog, yes.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, I don`t know whether -- the question for both of
you, given the powers that be.
MATTHEWS: Will this fellow Phil Robertson be reinstated at A&E, yes
MATTHEWS: Will the powers of people on the side of...
HENDERSON: I think the dollar is going to matter here. This is a
show that gets nine million viewers.
MATTHEWS: The hiatus, as they call it, will be short-lived.
HENDERSON: Yes. I think his -- the whole family is now expecting to
MATTHEWS: Ron, you betting on right or left on this on the culture
REAGAN: The new season, as I said, is already in the can. So he will
be -- Phil Robertson will be on the air in the next "Duck Dynasty" season.
MATTHEWS: Will they bring him back for payday in the future?
REAGAN: Will he be on the season after that? We will see.
MATTHEWS: Oh, come on. I`m asking you to predict.
MATTHEWS: We will see? I`m taking a wait-and-see attitude.
REAGAN: I think he will be on the air.
MATTHEWS: That`s what reporters say. They put a raincoat on. They
stand outside the building and say, we`re waiting and seeing here.
Anyway, thank you, Ron Reagan, for that courageous call.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Nia-Malika Henderson, who says the guy is back on
MATTHEWS: Up next, "Duck Dynasty" has become fodder for the late-
night comics now. And that`s next in the "Sideshow."
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Getting close. The
Christmas season is upon us. It`s that special time of the year when the
man with a big white beard makes a bunch of homophobic and racist remarks
and gets kicked off his reality show.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Yes, the head of A&E said, I`m shocked
that an old bearded duck hunter who lives with his kinfolk in the Louisiana
bayou did not have progressive views on gay people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is great.
Welcome to the "Sideshow."
That was Jay Leno and especially Conan O`Brien last night on the
continuing fallout over Phil Robertson`s suspension from "Duck Dynasty."
Conservatives rallying behind the embattled reality star were joined
last night by Steve Colbert, who defended Robertson`s rosy depiction of
Southern life under Jim Crow, including his claim that blacks were happy,
and that -- quote -- "No one were singing the blues."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Black people had nothing
to sing the blues about. For Pete`s sake, they got their own water
COLBERT: In fact, they had it so good, white people pretended to be
COLBERT: I tell you who I feel sorry for, folks. A&E. With this
controversy, they may have just lost "Duck Dynasty"`s massive black and gay
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Up next: Democrats are up against Democrats in the fight
over sanctions against Iran.
That`s ahead. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in Utah. A federal judge struck down
the state`s gay marriage ban earlier.
President Obama and his family boarded Air Force One a short while
ago. They are heading to Hawaii for the holidays. And just as they head
out of town, other holiday travelers may have a rough go of it this
weekend. Parts of the Midwest and New England are expecting snow, while
heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected from Texas to the Ohio Valley --
now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
And here`s a story we will be talking about a lot this coming year,
Iran. The Islamic republic has agreed to essentially freeze its nuclear
program in exchange for a slight easing of sanctions. Intensive
negotiations will soon begin to come to a final agreement.
Well, the sides have agreed to a six-month timetable so far. And yet
some U.S. senators seem to be trying to set their own foreign policy. A
group of 27 senators, including Senator Robert Menendez, who is chair of
the Foreign Relations Committee, 13 other Democrats are pushing to impose
harsh new sanctions, including a total embargo on Iran`s oil exports.
Well, the senator say the sanctions would be delayed until after the
six-month talks. But the White House says voting on new sanctions now
would dramatically undermine the diplomatic effort. And the president said
he would veto that effort.
In his press conference today, President Obama said the effort in
Congress going on right now is unhelpful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not surprised that
there`s been some talk from some members of Congress about new sanctions.
I think that the politics of trying to look tough on Iran are often
good when you`re running for office or if you`re in office.
I don`t think the Iranians have any doubt that Congress would be more
than happy to pass more sanctions legislation. We can do that in a -- in a
day, on a dime. But if we`re serious about negotiations, we`ve got to
create an atmosphere in which Iran is willing to move in ways that are
uncomfortable for them. We don`t help get them to a position where we can
actually resolve this by engaging in this kind of -- this kind of action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, David Corn is Washington bureau chief for the "Mother
Jones" magazine and an MSNBC political analyst. Michael Crowley is "TIME"
magazine`s chief foreign affairs correspondent.
Let ask you objectively, what good can come of 27 U.S. senators in the
midst of negotiations which are tricky as hell with the Iranian republic,
the Islamic republic in Iran, trying to get a deal between two tricky sides
who don`t particularly like each other...
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... to jump in and say, only, by the way, screw you, we
have got a lot more pain to give you? What gain -- what do you gain out of
CORN: None, because there were tough sanctions already that the
president and Congress put on. And more importantly...
MATTHEWS: Which led to these talks.
CORN: Which -- yes. They got other countries to agree.
You can have tough sanctions on your own, but if other countries don`t
abide by them, they don`t do any good. But they got other countries,
Russia and others, to go along with this. And it brought Iran to the
table. Rouhani got elected in part because they had to do something about
And so we`re only talking about a five-week -- a five-month window
now. And so if you can`t give the president, especially if you`re a
Democrat, the time to do this delicate diplomacy, you`re really not
helping. It`s only creating more reason for the hard-liners in Iran to
say, we can`t trust the Americans. We can`t deal with them.
And talking to people who know what`s going on behind the scenes, this
is all being driven by AIPAC. They`re putting pressure...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this. The American Israel Public
Affairs Committee, it`s always been, of course, by its nature pro-Israeli.
MATTHEWS: Is it hawkish? Is it -- is it Likudnik? Does it got --
does it represent a particular brand of Israeli politics at home?
CORN: Well, it`s more -- it tends to be more hawkish. It`s always
very supportive of Likud, particularly when is in power.
And I have to believe they would not be doing this unless they thought
that this is what Netanyahu and others back in Israel want.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And I keep thinking, just getting into the question
of -- without getting pro- or anti-Israeli, because most Americans are very
pro-Israeli. It`s the question of Tzipi Livni. Where is she really on
that, the former Labor leader? Where -- or middle-of-the-road leader in
fact for a while there.
Where is Shimon Peres, the much beloved president of Israel, on this?
I would think he would be against any new sanctions at this point as long
as there`s a chance for a peace deal.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, DEPUTY BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Sure. I don`t know
where those exact people stand on this question, but that -- it`s not at
all clear that it`s in Israel`s interest to step up the sanctions.
I mean, it`s a matter after how you analyze the situation.
Netanyahu`s analysis happens to be -- and I think some of the senators who
support this bill sincerely believe -- you will never get a deal with Iran.
You can`t trust them.
But the administration...
MATTHEWS: But, if they don`t think it`s possible, why are they afraid
of trying? It won`t happen, so why are they afraid of it?
CROWLEY: Because they think you waste time and they`re maybe doing
MATTHEWS: Let me get to this point.
MATTHEWS: Do we all agree, the three of us, that no U.S. president
can survive, Democrat, Republican, left or right will survive if it`s known
that Iran has nuclear weapons? You can`t get away with it. A containment
program won`t work, politically.
CORN: Well, politically speaking.
Well, yes, but Obama`s not running again, so he doesn`t have to worry
MATTHEWS: No, I`m asking, do you think he would live -- he would live
with nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians?
CORN: Not with this -- he said he wouldn`t, and not with this
particular regime. In the long run, we may have to at some point.
CROWLEY: You mean live with, you mean would me maybe not bomb?
MATTHEWS: In other words, if the worst fears of the hawks in this
case who are pushing for more sanctions, are they justified because of the
fear that maybe down the line Obama will buckle and say, oh, right, you can
have a dozen weapons?
CROWLEY: I think it`s plausible.
He has said over and over he won`t accept it. You talk to people who
are close to him and they say they have really -- I have heard this from
people inside the administration. He means it. He`s really convinced me.
But there`s doubt and what happened in...
MATTHEWS: As a political person, I can`t see an American president
surviving. It`s too much heat. It`s too much heat.
CORN: But they won`t have -- they won`t have it on his watch. They
won`t have it within three years. I mean, that`s...
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think Hillary would put up with it? Do you
think Christie would put up with it?
CORN: That would be a big issue.
MATTHEWS: Hillary wouldn`t put up with it.
CORN: No, but your -- your big point is right. What are they worried
MATTHEWS: I think it`s irrational.
CORN: Are they worried about -- the next five months is not going to
be the key make-or-break moment on whether there`s a nuclear Iran. It may
actually be a key make-or-break moment whether we do something about it
MATTHEWS: OK. Dianne Feinstein is chair of Intelligence Committee.
She has all the intelligence there is.
She`s pointing to this national intelligence estimate that says, if
you push for tougher sanctions now, in the middle of these talks, you could
And I think a key point is that it`s not just the Iranians, who, first
of all, really don`t trust us. We don`t trust them.
CROWLEY: But I think people in America don`t understand the degree to
which they think we might not be acting in good faith.
But the other really important component here is the countries
applying sanctions. They aren`t going to go much farther, any farther.
Vladimir Putin, the leadership in China, India, South Korea, Brazil, and
other major powers that are cooperating, if we push more sanctions, the
assessment of the intelligence committee, the administration and a lot of
people who I think are looking at this in a fair-minded way is that we are
the problem, not Iran. That would be a disaster.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take happy times, Christmas and everything else
and the holidays are upon us.
What are the chance -- let me start with you, the expert on foreign
policy. Is there a plausible chance that Secretary Kerry, John Kerry, will
succeed in keeping the Iranian government far enough away in weaponizing
that reasonable European powers and even the more moderate people in Israel
will say, you know, we can live with that? Can he reach that goal?
CROWLEY: I`m not sure, because I think that there are -- Netanyahu
and some of the people around him think that any domestic enrichment
program is too much. They have to completely get rid of it and you can`t
get less than that.
MATTHEWS: Centrist in Israel. Is there a way to get through a deal
that we can all agree on?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, you know what?
CROWLEY: Yes, that I think that is doable. I think that`s doable.
CORN: One thing Netanyahu is afraid of is that they`ll come up with
an agreement that will be arguable and he`ll be -- you know, people say we
can accept that. He won`t accept it and he`ll be again ostracized --
MATTHEWS: My hunch about Netanyahu, by the way, last thought, is it`s
not just a nuclear -- he`s afraid of the emerging economic power of Iran,
which is a legitimate concern.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Michael Crowley.
Up next, one of the biggest political scandals of the 20th century is
now perhaps the best movie of the year.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I`m thinking big. All right. This is going
to be fantastic. We`re doing video surveillance. I`m doing this from the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will never do it properly because you`ve got
too much government attitude to be small and sleek.
I`m a con man, all right? I`m in and I`m out. I was there the whole
time. You don`t know it, all right? Become somebody who people can pin
their beliefs and dreams on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Marriage equality is on the move. Late today, a federal
judge struck down Utah`s ban on same-sex marriage, potentially clearing the
way for same-sex marriages in that state, one of the most conservative in
the country. And a Salt Lake County clerk`s office has started issuing
marriage licenses to gay couples. Wow.
Yesterday, New Mexico`s Supreme Court ruled unanimously that it is
unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. That makes
New Mexico the 17th state to approve gay marriage.
Last month, Illinois and Hawaii both legalized marriage equality.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
2013 has been a banner year for movies and as a movie buff myself, I
can`t possibly review all the favorites out there. But there are three
that made my final cut for the year.
Here`s HARDBALL`s year in review.
Joining me to tackle the film that standout this year is Ann Hornaday,
the great movie critic for "The Washington Post."
Let`s start with "American Hustle", which was awarded best picture in
2013 by the New York Film Critic Circle. It`s a film about the Abscam
scandal, one of the greatest political corruption scandals since Watergate,
where one United States senator and six members of Congress were convicted
of bribery and conspiracy back in 1981.
In the movie a very idealistic New Jersey mayor who cares deeply about
the people of his city is seduced by the promises of the good he can do
when a federal agent posing as a Middle Eastern sheikh insists that cash
can grease the deal. The movie paints a sympathetic view actually of this
politician, which is rare in any movie or television show today, a good
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going to do this because you`ve got to
choice. You work for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep changing the rules. You`re getting a
little power drunk, Richard. You want to wake him up?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I said we shouldn`t do any of it. You know
I said that. So, now, I support Richie. He`s got vision. (INAUDIBLE)
don`t do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s the one ruining America. Not me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) am I ruining America?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because people just got over Watergate and
Vietnam, all right? And you could (EXPLETIVE DELETED) all over politicians
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ann Hornaday joins us.
This movie is rich in passion and character. I`ve never seen a movie
like it. I don`t know who to root for, there`s so many people root for.
I think Christian Bale is unbelievable. And he`s a Welshman talking
like somebody from the neighborhoods around New York somewhere, or Jersey.
I don`t know how he`d do it.
ANN HORNADAY, THE WASHINGTON POST: But he does get in a Delilah, that
great Tom Jones song. So, he has a little of his Welsh roots in the
Delilah song that he sings with Jeremy Renner.
MATTHEWS: It`s an interesting take on Abscam. I remember Abscam. A
lot of congressmen went down there, a couple of Philadelphia guys
(INAUDIBLE). Myers, remember, B.S. walks, whatever her name, money talks,
B.S. walks. All those great lines that came out of it.
They caught these guys on tape. They caught the mayor of Camden on
But in this movie, they make the mayor of Camden a good guy, you know?
HORNADAY: Well, you know, everybody has a little goodness. This is a
not a cynical movie, and that`s what I -- you know, David O. Russell, the
writer and director, he`s a humanist. You know, I think what he`s
depicting is people who are inventing themselves, people who are desperate
to sort free themselves from their identities and create something new. I
mean, it`s a real sort of homage to the American spirit of creativity and
MATTHEWS: Yes, it was both American and a hustle.
MATTHEWS: Americans, we`re not like Europeans, if you`re a waiter in
Europe, a French waiter, you want to be a waiter for the rest of your life.
MATTHEWS: In America, you`re always thinking for the next rung up.
HORNADAY: Right, in that wonderful speech that Jeremy Renner`s
character delivers in the casino in Atlantic City, we build things, we
dream, we build, you know, this is what we do. There`s this idealistic
streak beneath all of sort of bad acting and conning and self protection.
MATTHEWS: I like it when Amy Adams, gorgeous in the movie, looks at
the guy and says, this is me. She admits, she has American accent, she
drops that hoity-toity accent and they couldn`t handle it. Bradley Cooper.
What are you talking about?
HORNADAY: I know, it`s all about the facades that we put -- and just
the sheer verb and energy of the picture. It`s so much fun to watch.
MATTHEWS: Everybody`s looking for the moment.
HORNADAY: Anyway, next on my list is Lee Daniels, "The Butler". A
movie about the African-American experience during the civil rights
movement and how one black male provides for his family by serving as White
House butler to eight U.S. presidents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d like to invite you to the state dinner next
week. No, not as a, not as a butler, Cecil. I`m inviting you as a guest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the president prefers for me to serve in
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t you worry about Ronny, I`ll take care of
that. So, we`ll see you next week, you and your wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s Jane Fonda. Of course, Forest Whittaker`s a
killer in this movie. I don`t know how you beat him. I don`t know what
we`d do --
HORNADAY: Well, it`s a tough year for best actor.
MATTHEWS: I know.
HORNADAY: But it was a stunning -- what a beautiful movie.
MATTHEWS: Let me -- here`s my take. I think it`s about being an
African-American, they`ve been here, the people who are African-American in
this country, have been here since the 16th century. Slave ships came.
They`ve watched wave after wave of Americans and Asians, European
Americans, come in. Italians, Jewish, Irish. Each new boat load comes in
and they`re here all this time and they welcome them and here`s this butler
at the White House, one president after another coming in.
And he`s got to get used to each political wave. That`s how I saw it.
I know it probably is too big, but the way I saw it was, there`s nobody
more American besides Native American than African-Americans.
MATTHEWS: They`ve always been here.
HORNADAY: Right, right.
MATTHEWS: But we`re always coming of age.
HORNADAY: Right. That`s such a fascinating take on it. I think
that`s such also, what I love about this movie is, a couple of years ago, I
wrote a story on why haven`t we seen that great American epic about the
civil rights movement.
HORNADAY: I mean, it`s been the backdrop to a lot of films, and some
films, have, you know, zeroed on one chapter, but just the breadth, the
scope, the weight of it hasn`t really been captured on film, but this movie
did it. I mean, the way that it weaves sort of the history of the civil
rights movement and also just the black middle class in Washington and
depicting the family life. It was just gorgeous.
MATTHEWS: Cuba Gooding in this movie.
MATTHEWS: It popped (ph) and also Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey.
HORNADAY: What an ensemble.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think anybody doesn`t see this as great.
HORNADAY: She was astonishing.
MATTHEWS: Black or white, you`ve got to see this movie.
Here`s another one that got to me. A doc, "20 Feet from Stardom". A
documentary about African-American women who were the back-up singers to
some of the great songs of my era, in the `60s, when I was a kid. Watch
this. This is going to grab your heart, "20 Feet from Stardom".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One particular Christmas, I was cleaning this
lady`s bathroom. And Christmas baby please come home. My Christmas record
came on the radio while I was cleaning this bathroom. And I just looked up
and said, OK, all right, darling, this is not where you`re supposed to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Here`s a woman working as a house cleaner. She`s working
as a maid. And she hears on the radio, the owner of the house, and it`s a
song she recorded, but got -- the weirdness of ownership in the recording
industry, got somebody else`s label on it. And these are -- even the white
singers in the early `60s had this wonderful youthful sound, this wall of
sound, they call it.
HORNADAY: That was the beauty and ugliness of Phil Spector in one
full circle there. He created such an --
MATTHEWS: It wasn`t a down beat movie. Just the way things are.
Some people make it, some don`t. And these women got right up to the edge
of making it. In fact, one was promoted heavily, it didn`t work.
HORNADAY: Right. No, it`s really poignant and there`s something kind
of symbolic and meaningful that they are mostly African-American women and
most of the people in the film are --
MATTHEWS: Great critic. Ann Hornaday, I worship at your altar.
Thank you. We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
Like the president, I`m not surprised that 20-some senators are out
there pushing to punish Iran harder, just as the moment were trying to
establish some kind of coexistence with them -- some way to keep them from
building nuclear weapons, some way of avoiding war.
I don`t know the motives of those senators. I don`t know if they
really do want to derail the negotiations, and thereby put us on the course
toward war with Iran, perhaps they`ve convinced themselves as the president
himself allowed that they are somehow putting more pressure on the
But I think they may just likely ending up undermining the talks, and
with them, any chance to avert war. And for this, I reject what they`re
doing as strongly as I can. When you cut off the route to peace, you leave
only the path toward war and no one ever said blessed are the war makers.
And it used to be that when nuclear was the issue, politics ended at
the water`s edge. When Ronald Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev in
Reykjavik in 1986, the Democratic speaker of the House urged colleagues
like Ron Dellums of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts to hold
off on their nuclear freeze vote because he didn`t want to undermine the
Republican president`s talks with Gorbachev. He wanted America to speak
with one voice.
I write about that, by the way, in "Tip and The Gipper: When Politics
Worked". Christmas is coming. The book`s a great gift, a great positive
reminder that great guide to the way things worked when they worked.
That`s the book, like ending the Cold War. That was a big one.
So, merry Christmas to everybody and happy holidays to all. This show
is more than you can imagine. The people work about me, the people you
don`t see, but show me every day their generosity, their commitment to
getting the truth to you, and the passion we all share for this country.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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