Date: January 29, 2015
Guest: Ron Fournier, Anne Gearan, Amy Chozick, Kathleen Parker, Dick
Cavett, Jackie Kucinich, Charles Ellison
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Attack on Fort Hillary.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
All of a sudden, it`s open season on Hillary Rodham Clinton. The
attacks on her are becoming more common. No wonder she`s decided to put
off her campaign start. As the Republicans sharpen their assault, she`s
decided to take more time to sharpen her weapons.
Well, last night, the party`s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, spoke at
Mississippi State University and used the stage to take aim at the likely
Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. He`s just the latest GOP White House
hopeful to target his shots directly at Secretary Clinton. Quote, "How can
Secretary Clinton provide opportunity for all if she doesn`t know where the
jobs come from in the first place?"
Well, Romney was referring to what Hillary herself said on the
campaign trail last fall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: Don`t let anybody tell you
that, you know, it`s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You
know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That
has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Romney went after that comment, and Romney also
attacked the former secretary of state`s record on foreign affairs, calling
the Obama administration timid, and saying that Secretary Clinton
"cluelessly pressed a reset button for Russia, which smiled and then
invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation. The Middle East and much of North
Africa is also in chaos," he said.
Well, Ron Fournier is senior political columnist and editorial
director of "The National Journal," and Anne Gearan is political reporter
with "The Washington Post," and Amy Chozick is a political report with the
great "New York Times." Thank you. We`ve got the heavyweights here
First of all, what is this about? Is this the new macho test, like at
a carnival, you got to bring the hammer down and show you can hit the bell
at the top? You have to hit the presumed Democratic nominee to show you`ve
RON FOURNIER, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": Yes, that`s -- and it`s the easiest
thing for the Republicans to do, is to go after the presumed nominee to
show that they`re tough enough to stand up against her. And the problem is
that`s not all they should do. They also have to show that they have a
governing philosophy and an inspirational message. If all they do is
attack Hillary Clinton, she`ll be the next president.
MATTHEWS: Wasn`t -- maybe he wasn`t interest in politics more than a
few years ago, but Governor Romney familiar with the fact that already --
we had a reset button. We were trying to open things up with Russia, maybe
putting a smile on it because you never know with the Russians back then.
But at least Hillary Clinton didn`t do what W. did. He said, I looked into
Putin`s soul and I found, what, God? I mean, I would be careful of that
Russian -- that future look at Russia, if I were a Republican.
FOURNIER: I was the one who asked the question, where Bush said, I
looked into his soul. And as Bush was saying it, I couldn`t hear him
because I was looking at Putin`s eyes, who was looking at me, like, You`re
not getting out of this country, young man. It was the scariest thing I`d
FOURNIER: ... was the look in his eyes as Bush was saying...
MATTHEWS: Well, Bush saw something different, I guess. Anyway...
FOURNIER: Yes, I saw -- I saw something (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Anne, let`s talk about this because, you know, the gender
issue comes into this thing always, you know, because you never know -- you
know, we`ve seen debates between a male and a female. We`ve seen that
certainly with George, Sr., George Bush, Sr., taking on Ferraro -- a great
woman. We saw it, of course, with -- with Joe Biden then taking on Sarah
So how`s this going to go? Can you make direct shots like this,
basically saying, you know, You`re no good?
ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I mean, Hillary Clinton is none
of those people, right? She is a -- she completely a creature apart.
There`s no other equivalent that combines all of the former things she`s
been, plus her celebrity status, plus her inevitability, you know, twice
now as a candidate. So attacking her is totally fair. However, you might
not want to do it using words like "timid" and "clueless," which have, you
know, some sexist connotations, potentially, but also...
FOURNIER: And happen to be wrong, too.
GEARAN: Well, in -- certainly in the -- in the...
MATTHEWS: I don`t think the word is "timid."
GEARAN: ... in the example you just used about Russia -- I mean,
Hillary Clinton was anything but timid on Russia during her tenure as
secretary of state. I mean, she had a pretty clear-eyed view of exactly
what was happening there and tried to make it a very transactional
relationship. I`m not defending the...
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, actually, I would go from the left on her and
say -- you wanted to get into Libya. You wanted to get into Syria. A
little busy out there in terms of hawkishness. I don`t see how you can
accuse her of being dove anyway.
GEARAN: Right. And she tried to figure out where Russia could help
on those things and where -- and where...
MATTHEWS: Well, they did help. They did help in Syria.
GEARAN: In -- in -- in...
MATTHEWS: On the chemical weapons.
GEARAN: I mean, they helped on Afghanistan, frankly. They helped --
they allowed a land route for resupply, which was hugely important during
the years that the Afghanistan war was heating up. And she credits them
with that. But she`s also now saying very tough things about Putin. I
mean, just last week in Canada, she had this rather odd moment where she
mimicked him and made fun of him. But her point was you can`t trust the
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Amy on this question of -- of strategy.
I think one of the most effective things in politics -- Ronald Reagan was
schooled in it -- is called the attack from the defensive position. Set it
up so your opponent`s attacking you. It`s not a like a fake foul in the
NBA, but your opponent looks like they`re coming at you too strong. And
you do something like, Well, there you go again, and you win the election.
It seems to me Hillary Clinton must be getting ready, I assume, for
all these arrows coming her way, and she`s going to set up an SDI system,
where they`re going to wish they never took the shot. Your thoughts? And
maybe that`s something to do with her putting off the campaign for three
AMY CHOZICK, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, 100 percent I would say that
Hillary Clinton is the most effective when she`s on the defense. Remember
the New Hampshire primary, when Obama said, "You`re likable enough." When
she looks like she`s being attacked too hard, I think that`s when voters
kind of connect with her and that she resonates more when she looks
vulnerable. Her highest approval ratings ever were during the Lewinsky
scandal, when she looked like a victim.
And I think when she looks vulnerable, it actually helps -- can help
her numbers. So they have to be -- Republicans have to be a little bit
careful of that. But I definitely think part of this primary is going to
be who can ding Hillary Clinton the most, just like, you know, she made the
argument in 2008 that she would be better than Obama to take on McCain.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think two gutsy things in a row she did there. Back
in `98, during the whole Monica mess, she went up and campaigned hard for
Chuck Schumer in `98, made her name up there in New York, established
herself as a New York player, and then had the guts to run for Senate up
there -- two things in a row that`s moved (ph) everything. Anyway...
CHOZICK: People like her when she looks like she`s down. That`s for
MATTHEWS: I think it`s very American generally about the underdog,.
But anyway, I mentioned Romney. This is the first 2016 candidate to take
on Hillary. A crowded field of aspiring Republicans -- I think they`re
always going to be aspiring -- have been piling on Hillary for a while now,
trying to prove that she`s not beyond reproach, and they are each uniquely
suited, actually, to take her down. That`s their argument. Let`s watch
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: When Hillary Clinton was asked for more
security, she turned the ambassador down. I find it a dereliction of duty.
Her failure to provide our ambassador in his mission with adequate security
should preclude Hillary Clinton from ever holding high office again!
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Hillary Clinton today apparently says she
regrets that four brave Americans lost their lives. If she was really
sorry -- talk`s cheap. She needs to stand up and demand action.
JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: This last week, I saw something
that was breathtaking, a candidate -- a former secretary of state who was
campaigning in Massachusetts, where she said that, Don`t let them tell you
that businesses create jobs.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: She embodies Washington. She lives
in Washington. She worked in Washington. You look at everything that
people dislike about Washington, she embodies it!
CARLY FIORINA (R-CA), FMR. SENATE CANDIDATE: Like Hillary Clinton, I,
too, have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But
unlike her, I`ve actually accomplished something.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Boy, Hillary Clinton is certainly used to attacking from a
defensive position. Here she was back in 2007.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: When you are attacked, you have to deck your opponent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Deck! Go ahead, you respond to that. I mean, that is a
very evocative verb.
GEARAN: Yes, and she will clearly be swinging back hard when the time
comes. But for now, from -- from her perspective, it makes some sense to -
- to stay if not totally out of the fray, at least a bit above it because
while at the same time as Republicans are shooting at her, they`re also
going to be shooting at one another. And there`s nobody really on her side
to be shooting at her that hard, so why not stay quiet?
MATTHEWS: Amy? Amy -- I want to get Amy back on this thing about --
about the timing now. Is there a sense that what she has to do as a
candidate the second time around, get the message sharpened up, get in
training in some way or another, get in -- in training in terms of being
able to do the back-and-forth. And how do you put off the campaign?
Is there a trade-off here, where you say, Look, I -- I could use in
some time in New -- in New Haven getting the show ready, basically, doing
Broadway. I got to bring it to Broadway. I got to get it ready. But if I
go out there too early, I`m getting in the way of all this Republican
fighting back and forth, and I don`t want to distract from that.
I want -- somebody said the other day, I think it was John Brabender,
who`s on the right, said, Every day that Hillary Clinton`s not in the
newspapers is a good day for her.
CHOZICK: Gives us less to talk about.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CHOZICK: But I would say that, you know, in terms of -- in terms of
delaying the announcement because it will make her look political or make
her subject to attacks, I mean, look at what Mitt Romney was talking about.
She is already being treated like she is a candidate. So the wisdom of
waiting a long time -- I think she -- you know, she`s smart to disappear
for a while, fall out of the headlines, figure out her strategy, assemble
her team. But I also think if she waits too long, you know, it just adds
to the sense that she`s the inevitable anointed nominee and she...
MATTHEWS: But she is.
CHOZICK: ... doesn`t have any competition...
MATTHEWS: But she is!
CHOZICK: Right, but I think that...
MATTHEWS: And that`s true.
CHOZICK: That image...
CHOZICK: ... that image hurt them in 2008.
MATTHEWS: How does that hurt, if it`s true? Can she come up with
some phony sparring partner and have he or her run against her so it looks
CHOZICK: I mean, even at the steak fry, you know, the hurricane steak
fry, when she was playing coy, is she or isn`t she going to run -- you
know, I heard...
MATTHEWS: I don`t know about that part.
CHOZICK: ... Iowans saying, Just come ask for my vote. Don`t come
and play coy. They didn`t like it. It didn`t -- it didn`t rub them well,
MATTHEWS: Well, I think the fact that I was kidding with Anne in the
dressing room tonight -- if you delay something three weeks or three
months, it must mean there something you`re delaying, you know, right?
FOURNIER: There`s no problem with -- there`s no problem her taking
MATTHEWS: She`s running.
FOURNIER: ... to get this right. Well, of course, she`s running.
And lookit, her problem is not the Republicans. And the question isn`t
whether she can deck the Republicans.
The question -- there`s two to me. Can she use the technology in this
era that we`re living in to connect intimately with voters in a way even
greater than Obama did, that shows all Americans what a lot of people who
know her see in her, a really authentic, a really decent, a real passionate
person? Can she be inspirational? Can she talk to people and make them
realize that this is campaign is about them, not about her, not about
Clintons, not about Washington.
And lastly, can she convince them that she would run a government in a
way that would be totally transformational, run a government like a start-
up? It would be nimble. It would be transparent. It would be a whole new
way of doing things.
She`s got to run a campaign in a way that`s never been done before and
inspire people and convince people that she can run government in a way
that`s not been done before. Let the Republicans fight for the next year.
She needs to come up with a new -- she has to be the Bill Clinton of this
MATTHEWS: I`m waiting to see how she manages to do what some people
can`t ever do, show who you are in a small group to a larger group. That`s
a hard thing for a lot of people to do.
GEARAN: It`s always been a difficult thing -- I mean, a difficult
thing for any candidate, but it`s a particularly difficult thing for her,
again, given all of the things that she`s been in her life and the very
many experiences that she`s had where she feels wronged by...
MATTHEWS: I agree.
GEARAN: ... by -- by going public.
FOURNIER: But don`t miss this, Chris. It`s never been easier to do
that because of the new technology...
MATTHEWS: ... never heard that before. If there`s another way to do
it, I think -- because when you`re with her, it`s totally different than...
MATTHEWS: It`s just different, and...
FOURNIER: ... on social media.
MATTHEWS: With some politicians, it`s dramatically difficult, and I
think she`s the most dramatic difference between the person you meet like
this and the person you watch on TV, and I wonder...
FOURNIER: If she could expose that, what would it do?
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see how it works. I think social media might
be the trick. Thank you, Ron Fournier. And thank you -- maybe she needs
MATTHEWS: Anyway -- anyway, Anne Gearan...
FOURNIER: I`m fine where I am.
MATTHEWS: ... thank you, Amy Chozick. Thank you for joining us all.
MATTHEWS: Coming up -- I`m sure we`ll be talking about this for a
while. coming up -- Sarah Palin`s back on the scene. Yes, she says she`s
interested in a presidential run. The big difference this time around is
that even Republicans, a lot of them, have grown tired of Palin`s act. And
that`s what they think it is. But are they embarrassed by her or afraid of
her? I think they`re afraid of seeing her up there on that debate stage
because she does tend to grab the attention.
Anyway, plus, the Obama administration is said to be outraged over
Bibi Netanyahu`s upcoming speech before the Congress. John Boehner invited
Netanyahu to talk Iran nukes without ever telling the president he was
going to do it. And the speech comes two weeks before Israel`s general
election over there, as the White House is trying to make a deal with Iran.
This is not a good thing, and it`s getting nasty.
And we have a very special guest tonight, a man who elevated talk on
TV, the great Dick Cavett`s joining us here.
Finally, a sneak preview of best of this Sunday`s Super Bowl ads.
They`re already going viral, and we`ve got them here tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, this could get awkward. Chelsea Clinton and her
husband, Marc Mezvinsky, will appear side by side at a luncheon tomorrow
with Mitt and Ann Romney. The luncheon is for a good cause, to draw
attention to the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases up at Boston`s
Brigham and Women`s Hospital. Chelsea`s husband sits on the center`s
board. But the Clintons and Romneys will meet just two days after Mitt
Romney called Hillary Clinton "clueless" on foreign policy.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Sarah Palin`s speech at this
past weekend`s Iowa Freedom Summit has created a wave of conservative
criticism from former supporters, who`ve called it everything from
disjointed to rambling. Let`s listen to part of Palin`s speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: It must change!
Things must change for this cover -- our government. Look at it! It isn`t
too big to fail, it`s too big to succeed! It`s too big to succeed so we
can afford no retreads or nothing will change with the same people and same
policies that got us into the status quo -- another Latin word, status quo.
And it stands for, man, the middle class, everyday Americans are really
getting taken for a ride. That`s status quo!
And GOP leaders, by the way -- you know, the man can only ride you
when your back is bent. So strengthen it! Then the man can`t ride you and
America won`t be taken for a ride because so much is at stake, and we can`t
afford politicians playing games like nothing more is at stake than, oh,
maybe just the next standing of theirs in the next election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Palin`s unique delivery has been baffling some
listeners since she burst onto the national stage back in 2008. This
speech, though, set off a stampede in the conservatives circles Palin used
to reign in to disparage her this time.
Conservative columnist Matt Lewis wrote in a column headlined, "You
betcha I was wrong about Sarah Palin" -- "Maybe her early critics saw some
fundamental character flaw, some harbinger of things to come that escaped
Conservative writer Byron York -- and he`s a smart guy -- wrote in
"The Washington Examiner," "More than a few GOP loyalists came away shaking
their heads at the performance of a party star."
Bill Kristol, one of the most ardent and early Palin supporters -- I
think he discovered her -- talked about her political gifts back in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": She`s a huge political
talent. She has a real populist streak and a real feel for sort of middle
America in a way that very few politicians do. I think her biggest
mistake, from which you probably can`t recover, was stepping down as
governor partway through her term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`d say. Anyway, today`s "Washington Post" notes
that Kristol also said Palin, quote, "might be kind of formidable in a
Republican primary." "Did I say that recently," Kristol said when reminded
of that comment in an interview. Anyway, conservatives are abandoning
Palin following her speech in Iowa this weekend. And Kathleen Parker in a
"Washington Post" column called them out for it. "In the end," she wrote,
"the story of Palin`s rise and fall is a tragedy, and the author wasn`t the
media, as accused, but the Grand Old Party itself. Like worshipers of
false gods throughout human history, Republicans hand-picked the fair
maiden Sarah and placed her on the altar of political expedience. They
Kathleen Parker joins us right now, along with MSNBC political analyst
Joan Walsh, who`s editor-at-large for Salon.
Let me say this, Joan, my friend is here, and Kathleen -- you have
been constant. You have made this comment about the weaknesses, the
gaffes, whatever you want to call it, in this person, the lack of
preparation to be vice president of the United States way back when.
KATHLEEN PARKER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I recognized it early
It was after her third interview and -- with Katie Couric. And it was
so sad. It was clear that she wasn`t ready to be in that position to be in
the national spotlight. And, of course, at the time I urged her to go
ahead and step off the ticket, which I didn`t expect her to do, but,
nonetheless, it was the point I was trying to make.
MATTHEWS: Back in -- by the way, I will quote you, back to you.
In the "National Review," you wrote of Palin -- quote -- "No one hates
saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I have been pulling for
Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I have
also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious
parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful.
Unfortunately, it often does."
Now, you were quick to the attack here.
PARKER: Look, I knew everybody in the world was saying this. They
were talking about it behind closed doors.
And I just simply did what I do as a columnist and say what is, number
one, obvious and, number two, what people were talking about. It was the
zeitgeist. But the Republicans and the conservatives didn`t want to come
out and say anything publicly.
And when I did, they were aghast, because we`re not supposed to
acknowledge. It was the classic emperor with no clothes phenomenon.
PARKER: Nobody wanted to say that.
And then -- and of course the backlash was immense and immediate. I
got 20,000 hate mails over a period of three weeks, and lost friends.
"National Review" canceled my column, and on and on. It was quite a
phenomenon to be a part of.
Well, Joan, I think what is stunning here in the last couple of days
is not who Palin is, but what the Republicans are saying about her. It
sounds like -- you know, a friend of mine once said to me, people don`t
mind being used, but they mind being discarded.
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: It`s like they just decided to get her off the stage as
fast as they can, because they`re scared to death, I think, she will show
up in that debate group for the next year or two.
MATTHEWS: And they don`t want her in there, because she will grab the
WALSH: Right. She will.
No, I didn`t think it was really possible for me to feel pity for
Sarah Palin, but I do. I agree with Kathleen. She really was used and
thrown away. She was not ready for that job. She was a heart -- she would
have been a heartbeat away from the presidency. Bill Kristol brought us
the Iraq war and brought us Sarah Palin. He should go home. He needs to
leave the stage.
MATTHEWS: I`m afraid he is always going to be with us.
WALSH: I know. He will.
But -- and I do think that there`s something very cynical about it.
Remember when Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy were caught on a hot mike? I
believe it was on MSNBC. They were talking right after her nomination
about what a disaster she was.
WALSH: And so a lot of people knew this, but most of them kept
silent. Kathleen was brave and she told the truth, and she paid for it.
But, you know...
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about how she was used, because they
needed a little bit of a pep in the engine back in `08.
They needed to put -- McCain was old, and he was -- sort of been
around a long time and there`s nothing new. He didn`t have any racing
stripes on his car. There was nothing to sell.
MATTHEWS: So, they said, let`s put some racing stripes on our ticket.
let`s get somebody who is obviously attractive, fresh, young, gung-ho, and
can give a hell of a speech. And she did just that, until Katie Couric
PARKER: What do you read?
MATTHEWS: .. one of those -- why are you running for president?
Which is the worst question you can ask a guy running for president or a
woman, the obvious one. Why do you want to be president? And what do you
That was a killer question.
Well, remember, too, it was -- I think they were determined to get a
woman because of Hillary running -- Hillary Clinton running on the other
side. And they just -- in a sort of classically obtuse male way, if I may,
they just said, oh, look, she`s governor, she`s pretty, she`s hot, she did
the thing, she`s a reformist, let`s take her.
They didn`t really vet her. They didn`t put boots on the ground in
Alaska and ask about what she was really like. And they just really were
kind of smitten, I think.
MATTHEWS: That sounds like the selection, you know, Joan, of Dan
Quayle, or the selection of John Edwards.
I know they`re different genders, but the words you just used, the
physical attractiveness, and it`s always some smart consultant saying,
well, the idiots are going to go for this. You know what I mean? It`s
never the person themselves saying, I think they`re great.
MATTHEWS: It`s, the crowd will go for this.
PARKER: Oh, but I think they did think she was great. I think they
MATTHEWS: Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol?
PARKER: Well, I think there was the "National Review" cruise in
WALSH: They went on a cruise.
MATTHEWS: That`s a great cruise. I went with my father-in-law on his
birthday. But I got to tell you, she comes running out to meet the boat,
right, something like that.
PARKER: Well, I think she had them to the governor`s mansion, and
MATTHEWS: Smitten, as you said.
PARKER: They were completely smitten. And she was impressive.
You remarked back then that you had never -- she had so much pizzazz
as a politician.
MATTHEWS: I have a word for her, kinetic, kinetic.
MATTHEWS: On the stage, she`s kinetic. You can`t -- I don`t think
she ever worked for Roger on, what do you call it, FOX -- what do you call
it, FOX -- in that booth up there in Wasilla.
But you put her out on the stage, and there`s such a thing as
political stagecraft. And she would move around up on that stage. You
couldn`t not look at her.
PARKER: Yes, remember?
MATTHEWS: The hands too.
PARKER: She was stunning.
WALSH: There was a moment in that acceptance speech where it was a
little bit scary.
She really had charisma. She had that crowd in the palms of her
hands. But there was also a meanness to it. I mean, there -- this is what
they`re afraid of now. She is a very wonderful attack dog. She herself,
you know, talked about the pit bull with lipstick.
MATTHEWS: Well, they don`t mind that.
WALSH: They don`t mind it when it`s directed at Barack Obama, the
community organizer, but they do mind it when it`s directed at them.
I don`t really think she`s going to run. But she`s going to keep her
name out there and she`s going to keep taking these shots at Republican
leaders. And that`s why they want her off the stage.
You know why they liked her on the stage? Because most politicians
are as boring as cold toast.
MATTHEWS: And they said at least she lights up the camera for a few
PARKER: She had a heartbeat.
MATTHEWS: Because most politicians are dreadfully boring. And she
isn`t, anyway, for better or worse.
Thank you, Kathleen Parker. Congratulations on the column.
And, Joan Walsh, as always, have a nice, what can we call it, Super
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next, the great Dick Cavett is coming here. I
can`t wait. Cavett interviewed the biggest names in American culture and
got them to talk about things that really mattered to the country.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For years edge, legendary TV host and writer Dick Cavett has
entertained and enlightened. His program "The Dick Cavett Show" always
found a way to elevate the national conversation, whether he was hosting
celebrities from film, politics, comedy, or music.
Yet, despite the marquee names, it was Cavett`s characteristically wry
humor, his infectious curiosity and on-point observations that enabled him
to build a special relationship with his audience, one that few in his
business have ever been able to match.
Now Dick Cavett is out with a new book, "Brief Encounters:
Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks," a collection of
essays, anecdotes and reflections on the hundreds of characters that have
crossed his path through his life.
And two of those famous characters were John Lennon and his wife, Yoko
Ono, who Cavett famously hosted for their first ever TV interview after the
Beatles broke up at the time. Many fans were blaming Lennon`s marriage to
Ono for the breakup of the Beatles. And that night, Cavett`s reflexive
sense of humor was on full display.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN LENNON, MUSICIAN: I sat in a restaurant in Spain, and the
violinist insisted on playing "Yesterday" right in my ear.
LENNON: And then -- then he insisted me to sign the violin. And I
was -- I didn`t know what to say. I was saying, well, actually, OK. And I
signed it. And Yoko signed it.
And I -- one day, he`s going to find out that Paul wrote it.
DICK CAVETT, AUTHOR, "BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: CONVERSATIONS, MAGIC MOMENTS,
AND ASSORTED HIJINKS": That`s better than if they had played "Wedding
Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine."
LENNON: I guess so. I guess so.
CAVETT: Maybe I -- maybe I should have saved that for later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that as incisive.
Anyway, I`m joined right now by the great Dick Cavett.
Dick, thanks for coming on to promote the book, "Brief Encounters."
And that`s what I want to help you do, because I remember all those
CAVETT: Hey, Chris. You are looking good.
MATTHEWS: That`s my generation, your generation. And I have to tell
you I don`t think anything has ever matched it since, those interviews you
did with Katharine Hepburn. Nobody thought she would talk. And she opened
up completely about Spencer Tracy, everybody. How did you do that?
CAVETT: Well, she didn`t want to do it for a while.
A friend of hers, Irene Mayer Selznick, said she should do it. And
she`s the only guest who ever came to the studio to see what it was like if
she did it and where she would sit. And so we got this classic thing I
taped secretly, dangerously, where, for example, a stagehand says, "We
would have to unscrew that thing if you want -- "Don`t tell me what`s
wrong. Just fix it."
CAVETT: It was like that.
CAVETT: And then we couldn`t shut her up, to put it tastelessly,
because she was just -- it was a brilliant personality display.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, you never shied away from political subjects. In
fact, our current secretary of state in his youth, John Kerry, was just 28
years old when he came on your show to speak out against Richard Nixon`s
policies in Vietnam. Here he is, John Kerry, with Dick Cavett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. VETERAN: If in fact we have stated that we do have a
date certain, even if it hasn`t been put out in front of the people, then
some American is going to be killed and is going to be the last guy to die
for an admitted mistake. Now, I don`t think that`s right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What did you think back then? I guess -- I assume you were
against the war at that point. It was after Tet. The war was definitely
not going to be won in any traditional sense by our guys, with 500,000 over
What was your sense of Kerry when you first met him, that he was a
political wannabe? Or what is your sense at the time?
CAVETT: Well, first, the phrase good guest rang immediately in my
head because he talked so well.
CAVETT: And he was convincing.
And the other little fellow -- the other fellow on the show, the
right-winger that the Nixon administration lied about coaching and putting
on the show -- can you imagine a lie from Nixon?
CAVETT: And, anyway, he -- but he did well. He -- and later he gave
his wife a kidney, presumably his own.
MATTHEWS: Yes, John O`Neill. But he was also part of the swift
boating that came years later, attacking Kerry when he ran for president.
CAVETT: Yes, he did. He turned around and got another shot in. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, you also managed to...
CAVETT: Hey, by the way, you...
MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead.
CAVETT: You made me realize just now what it is about Sarah Palin.
She seems to have no first language.
MATTHEWS: Well, anyway -- well, she got a little hung up there. I
think she was just having flop sweat there.
Anyway, you managed to make an enemy of Richard Nixon`s.
MATTHEWS: Here`s an audio recording of the former president while in
his office with his aide H.R. Haldeman discussing how they would get
revenge against Dick Cavett here.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What the hell is
H.R. HALDEMAN, PRESIDENTIAL AIDE: Oh Christ. He`s -- he`s, God,
NIXON: He`s terrible?
HALDEMAN: He`s impossible. He loads every program automatically.
NIXON: Nothing you can do about that, is there?
HALDEMAN: We`ve -- we`ve complained bitterly about the Cavett Show.
NIXON: Well is there any way we could screw him? That`s what I mean.
There must be ways.
HALDEMAN: We can try.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Did you ever sense that that screwing was occurring of
yourself by the president and his people?
CAVETT: It`s a strange feeling to have the most powerful man in the
world -- I became an enemy of the Nixon administration through various
things, including that Haldeman, his lickspittle, who introduced John
Lennon to him verbally as a man who could sway an election and also just in
any numbers of things I crossed with the great unindicted co-conspirator.
But somebody asked me, I hope you saw my -- Dick Cavett`s Watergate
special on PBS. And if not, would you watch it tonight?
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.
Let me ask you about your quality of your programming. When I was
over in the Peace Corps, and I was asking how the Carson show was going,
people said, no, everybody is watching Dick Cavett now instead.
And when I got home in the early `70s, that`s all I watched, was your
show, because it was a way of -- it was America, it was the culture, it was
the politics, it was entertainment.
And you paid tribute to America`s greats. Like, you would be the only
guy that knew that Bob Hope was once really, really great. You would
understand the greatness of Groucho Marx.
You had this vintage sense of what we were really good at and who were
the really great stars of our country. And you brought them to us in
intimate conversation. I don`t know of anybody who`s ever been able to do
CAVETT: Gee, can I get a copy of that for my scrapbook?
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s true. You know that. You were experiencing it.
CAVETT: I have got to ask you one thing.
Somebody claims that the last time I was on your show, you said to me,
how were talk shows different in the old days, and that I said, we let the
MATTHEWS: I know. Well, you were kind -- kinder now than then.
CAVETT: People -- people...
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
CAVETT: Hey, I`m plugging -- I`m in a play in Los Angeles about
Hellman and McCarthy, Theatre 40.
Anyway, thank you.
CAVETT: Come on out.
MATTHEWS: That`s Mary McCarthy, right?
CAVETT: Mary McCarthy, yes, hellish lawsuit that the old bag Lillian
Hellman caused and caused people`s -- to shorten their lives and millions
of dollars. Great show.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, she was a great playwright, regardless of her
politics. I loved the -- I loved the plays.
"Watch on the Rhine," what a great movie.
CAVETT: Yes, a great writer and a great Stalinist.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I know all that, by the way. I`m on the liberal
side. That`s the left side.
Anyway, thank you, Dick Cavett, sir.
MATTHEWS: Good luck with the book, "Brief Encounters."
Up next: John Boehner is not backing down after inviting Prime
Minister Bibi Netanyahu to speak to the Congress without ever telling the
president. And, privately, the White House is not happy. And that`s
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. And here`s
President Obama is in Philadelphia, where he`s speaking to house
Democrats at their issues conference. He`s been rallying the party, and is
expected to reiterate his commitment to growing the economy by boosting the
The Senate passed a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Nine
Democrats voted in favor of that measure.
And the studios of Dutch national TV were evacuated earlier after an
armed man got past security and demanded airtime. The man was arrested,
and no one was injured -- and now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, Speaker John Boehner is facing more criticism after he
blindsided the White House last week by inviting Bibi Netanyahu to address
the Congress. Not only will the speech happened just two weeks before the
Israeli elections, but it will also come in the middle of a hugely
consequentially negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
Publicly, the president says he won`t meet with Bibi when the Israeli
leader is in town because it will be so close to the Israeli elections, but
privately, the White House is reportedly fuming. According to "The New
York Times", the outrage the episode has incited within President Obama`s
inner circle became clear in an unusually sharp criticism, who said the
Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer who helped orchestrate the invitation had
repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu`s political fortunes above the relationship
between Israel and the United States."
Well, last night, Speaker Boehner told FOX the White House has shown
open hostility toward the Israeli leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Do you think there`s some antipathy in this
administration towards Netanyahu?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Of course there is.
They don`t even try to hide it. Israel has been or strongest ally in the
region for decades. We have a great relationship with them, and we have to
look for ways to work together on behalf of our shared interest, not have
the kind of antipathy that we`ve seen over the last several years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, for more on this diplomatic and political flap, I`m
joined by today`s roundtable: Perry Bacon is an MSNBC senior political
reporter, Jackie Kucinich is senior politics editor for "The Daily Beast",
and Charles Ellison is Washington correspondent for "The Philadelphia
Tribune", and a contributor to "The Root".
Let me ask you, first of all, Perry, I think cheap, cheap, below-the-
belt politics. Our relationship with Israel is a diplomatic issue, the
president leads diplomacy. This is partisan politics by Boehner. Your
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SR. POLITICAL REPORTER: It`s very unusual, I
agree with you, Chris, that Boehner`s inserted himself. We know Netanyahu
and the president don`t love each other, it`s been established for a long
time. But just sort of invite him to Congress at this time and just sort
of provoke the White House in this way is highly unusual.
It shows you how the Republicans view this as a wedge of sorts. They
can drive a wedge between the president and between Israel and the American
Jewish community as well, and you can tell the Republicans view that as an
issue they can take advantage of.
MATTHEWS: I just wonder if there`s a new party being formed here, the
Likud Republican Party.
The Likud is the party of the right. They believe in basically
settling the West Bank, that`s been their policy ever since the beginning
with Begin, Menachem Begin. That`s what they believe in. They don`t want
to give it up. They`re going to hold on to it in some way.
They put more settlements in -- I was over there with Vice President
Biden a while back, right there a thousand new housing projects are going
up. So, clearly, he`s not in agreement with our policies. I`m not sure
he`s for a two-state solution. I don`t believe it at all. So why is the
Republican Party siding with a guy who`s not with U.S. policy which goes
way back in a bipartisan way?
JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: Chris, it`s politics. You boil it
down, this is John Boehner playing politics with his relationship, because
this makes him look good. This is a way -- for John Boehner, sticking his
finger in the eye of the president is a good thing. And this is one he`s
MATTHEWS: Whose idea was this?
KUCINICH: Whose idea was this?
MATTHEWS: We want to know. We don`t know yet, do we?
KUCINICH: I mean --
MATTHEWS: Who came up with this little game?
KUCINICH: Well, bottom line it was Boehner who extended the
invitation at the end of the day, but, you know --
MATTHEWS: Dermer is a Republican political operative. That`s what he
was. Who`s to say?
MATTHEWS: We`ll find out, and history will find out.
KUCINICH: But, just when you think the relationship between Obama and
Netanyahu can`t get worse.
MATTHEWS: You know what, you know, Charles, if this thing lands like
a bad pancake, this is a disaster, we`ll find out whose idea it was. If it
wasn`t Boehner`s, you`ll blame it on the Israelis.
CHARLES ELLISON, THE ROOT: Yes, it`s the dog whistle and pony show.
I mean, it`s essentially, Republicans seeing electoral advantages that they
can get in 2016, domestically, it plays very well with their conservative
base. Also, they figure it plays well with the Jewish-American lobby and
Jewish American political base here. There`s a big fight --
MATTHEWS: You think it might a cleanup act if they discover Scalise
was out there hanging out with the neo-Nazis? You think a couple days
ELLISON: Nobody wants to talk about that. Nobody wants to talk about
MATTHEWS: This is like a quickie fix-up, isn`t it? Oh, yes, we`re
embarrassed by -- I feel sorry for Matthew Brooks who handles the liaison
to the Jewish community for the Republicans, for the RNC. You know,
instead of advertising the fact he`s got Scalise at the leadership level,
the guy was hanging out there with Duke, now they`ve got something to sell.
ELLISON: They sweep it under the rug, Chris.
BACON: Also, the Republicans now have the problem where the economy
is doing well, jobs are increasing, so they can`t focus on domestic issues
as much. They can`t say Obama is the jobs-killing president anymore. So,
now, they switch to foreign policy.
I was out in Iowa over the weekend, and a lot of the speeches were
Obama is weak on foreign policy and that`s their new argument now. I think
that`s what you`re seeing from Boehner --
MATTHEWS: My question is, are the Republicans trying to jettison this
whole thing? I`m afraid, what they`re really willing to risk is, a failure
of the negotiations with Iran, no hope for stopping the nuclear program,
going all the way to weaponization and a war. It looks like they`re
willing to risk that to score some cheap points.
KUCINICH: It is certainly complicating those negotiations. You`ll
remember -- I mean, this is also good for Netanyahu, too. He`s got
elections in two weeks. He`s going to the United States, telling him what
he wants. This makes him look great right before these elections.
MATTHEWS: I wonder. I think he might get knocked off, we`ll see.
ELLISON: You can make the argument, maybe, you know, Republicans are
trying to balance -- Republicans and also Netanyahu`s camp trying to
balance something between, OK, let`s see if we can derail the negotiations
with Tehran, but let`s also see what we can leverage out of them.
A lot of people talking about, OK, what would the U.S. get out of --
what will the U.S. and Israelis get out of the negotiations with Iran, not
just geopolitically or militarily, but also economically as well, when
suddenly you lift those sanctions? What sort of place will Tehran be? Can
it be the type of place we can do business with? And what do we get out of
MATTHEWS: A good question.
The roundtable is staying with us.
Little lighter subject coming up, something much lighter. The best
Super Bowl ads. We`re going to get a look at them. They`re already out.
We`ll be back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Senator John McCain lashed out as protesters today before a
Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Members of the anti-war group
Code Pink chanted "Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes" as the former
secretary of state entered the hearing room. Here is how that played out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Could we have some order here?
MCCAIN: You know, you`re going to have to shut up or I`m going to
have you arrested. If we can`t get the Capitol Hill police in here
immediately -- get out of here you low-life scum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator McCain called that protest the most disgraceful
outrageous and despicable demonstration he had ever seen as a member of the
Armed Services Committee.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back, tune in tomorrow when I will be anchoring a
special Super Bowl version of HARDBALL, live from Phoenix. We`ll have
plenty of politics with Joe Scarborough, and Mike Brzezinski, and New
England`s own Mike Barnicle.
The anticipation is building for the game and the commercials are as
cultural phenomenon as the game itself. This year, it will cost you about
$9 million for a 60-second spot, $9 million. Many of the ads are already
going viral on the Internet. It`s a supersized mix of celebrities,
controversies, puppies, beer and one major backfire.
I`m back with the roundtable, Perry, Jackie and Charles.
Let`s start with a Super Bowl spot that a lot of people will be
talking about after the game, it is a chilling PSA really from the NFL on
the subject of domestic violence. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPERATOR: 911 operate, where is the emergency?
CALLER: 127 Bremer (ph).
OPERATOR: OK, what`s going on there?
CALLER: I`d like to order a pizza for delivery.
OPERATOR: Ma`am, you`ve reached 911. This is an emergency line.
CALLER: Yes. Large with half pepperoni and half mushroom.
OPERATOR: Do you have an emergency or not?
OPERATOR: And you`re unable to talk because --
CALLER: Right, right.
OPERATOR: Is it someone in the room with you? Just say yes or no.
OPERATOR: OK, it looks like I have an officer about a mile from your
location. Are there any weapons in your house?
OPERATOR: Can you stay on the phone with me?
CALLER: No, see you soon, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "The Associated Press" reports that the reenactment is
inspired there by true stories of women using the tactic of disguising
their calls while reaching out for help.
Jackie, that`s tough.
KUCINICH: It`s a positive thing the NFL is doing and I think they
have to. I mean, they`ve really focused on this. Like, they`ve even done
deflate-gate. Again, we listen for things about footballs for months, not
months, for weeks and yet domestic violence, they didn`t react as quickly.
So, I think this is a positive stuff for the NFL.
MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, BMW Super Bowl ad features a throw back to the
old "Today Show" with Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric, back when the
Internet was a strange new concept.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is at amfeedback.com. I mean, what is
the Internet anyway? What do you, write to it, like mail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s Alison. Can you explain what Internet
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, that`s what I said. What do you mean there
is nothing under the hood. Katie said she thought this was a car.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it`s built from using wind, like from a
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or a fan, or a turbine, or a fanbine?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. I mean, what is I-3 anyway?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alison, can you explain what I-3 is?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know who Alison is. What do you think, Charles?
ELLISON: It`s a clever ad, but I`m just trying to figure exactly
like, who is the demographic. So, it`s like the ad -- well, the car is
built for millennials, but the ad is, it`s for gen-y and baby boomers.
ELLISON: It`s kind of really --
MATTHEWS: You know what, I completely identify with that.
Anyway, mix beer and puppies and you`ve got yourself a viral
commercial. Budweiser`s Super Bowl ad about a lost puppy and Clydesdale
friends has racked up more than 6 million views online already.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MATTHEWS: Perry, my friends, did that get to you?
BACON: It`s a great ad. Budweiser always has great ads, Mitt Romney
should hire whoever does their ads and maybe he can win the third time.
MATTHEWS: And now, the biggest backfire, the Web hosting company Go
Daddy released its Super Bowl ad Tuesday via the Internet. The commercial
led to a massive social media backlash the company pulled the ad on the
same day. Here is the spot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look, it`s buddy! I`m so glad you made it home.
Because I just sold you on this website I made with Go Daddy. Ship him
ANNOUNCER: Get your domain and website all in one place at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Who dare thought that one?
KUCINICH: That is messed up.
ELLISON: It is a funny ad. It`s a funny ad. But, I mean, for the
Super Bowl, 42 percent of the fan base is female. And they love dogs and
KUCINICH: I can confirm that.
ELLISON: The Go Daddy folks should have spoke to the Budweiser folks,
I think, you know, in terms when they cut the ad.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of Romney, didn`t he have a dog on his roof?
BACON: That`s true --
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Perry Bacon. Thank you, Jackie Kucinich. Thank
you, Charles Ellison.
We`ll be back after this.
MATTHEWS: A reminder, tune in tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for a
special Super Bowl edition of HARDBALL. We`ll be live from Phoenix, as the
New England Patriots get ready to take on the Seattle Seahawks. We`ll be
there to talk politics, of course, and I will be joined by Joe Scarborough
and Mika Brzezinski, as well the mayor of Seattle and Boston`s own Mike
Plus -- actually please join us tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern right
here on HARDBALL.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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