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Weekend of Sept. 18-19, 2004

CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:

I really do believe, watching this week, that the cannon ball news, the big news this week, was the--the knowledge we now have that the intelligence world believes this war could really go bad.  And the question is, which way is this going to blow in the campaign?

Hard intelligence.  A big, bad leak warns of civil war in Iraq.  Why is this man so upbeat?

Smoke screen.  Kobe walks, Martha goes directly to jail, and CBS goes to the mat.  Is this perfect storm of news distracting us from the big choice about our future?

Unisex politics.  Why are women voting more like men?  Has the president convinced them that going to Iraq will keep their kids safe?

Plus, how you can't tell the difference between the presidential race, and the Miss America contest.  All that and more with a rousing roundtable on your weekly news show.

Announcer:  From Congress to the West Wing he's been a Washington insider, now he's one of the capitol's top journalists:  Chris Matthews.

MATTHEWS:  Hi, I'm Chris Matthews, and welcome to the show.  And let's go inside.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: BBC's Katty Kay, Time magazine's Joe Klein, US News &

World Report's Gloria Borger, New Republic's Andrew Sullivan

discuss presidential candidates President Bush and John Kerry

CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:

The incomparable Katty Kay covers Washington for the British Broadcasting

Corporation, Joe Klein writes a column for Time magazine, Gloria

Borger--hello--is co-host of "CNBC's Capital Report" and columnist for US News

& World Report, and Andrew Sullivan--welcome back--is senior editor of The New

Republic and also a Time magazine columnist.

First up, hard intelligence.  This week a national intelligence estimate

offered a bleak picture of Iraq's future which it says will remain dicey at

best and end in civil war at worst.  Here's John Kerry trying to use that

prediction against the president, and then Mr. Bush's own reaction.

Senator JOHN KERRY:  I believe you deserve a president who isn't going to gild

that truth or gild our national security with politics, who is not going to

ignore his own intelligence, who isn't going to live in a different world of

spin, who will give the American people the truth, not a fantasy world.

President GEORGE W. BUSH:  It wasn't all that long ago that Saddam Hussein

was in power with his torture chambers and mass graves.  And today this

country is headed towards elections.  Freedom's on the march.

MATTHEWS:  What a competition.

Joe, it's spectacular.  One guy has a hard time saying anything with passion;

the other guy is saying something that his own intelligence people aren't

squaring with and yet he seems more convincing.

Mr. JOE KLEIN (Time Magazine):  The national intelligence estimate this week

is the biggest story out there.  And it's really striking because Bush went to

war on the basis of a national intelligence estimate in October of 2002 that

said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  This week I was out

with Bush.  I ask Scott McClellan about it and just dismissed it and said that

this was the work of pessimists and naysayers, that it was just scenarios.  Of

course, all the scenarios are aw--awful.  Scott McClellan's beginning to sound

like Baghdad Bob.

MATTHEWS:  Andrew, this question of whether the war is going is going bad or

well.  The president, until this weekend, said, `The media's giving you all

the bad news; there's great news out there that's not being covered.' Now we

find out from the entire intelligence committee--the CIA, all the 17 agencies

that give us our intelligence--that we may be headed to a real hell over

there.

Mr. ANDREW SULLIVAN (New Republic):  Yeah, look, I've been a long-time

supporter of the war and I'm scouring the Internet for good news and I can't

find much.  And all the responsible reporters that I know out there are

telling the same story, `This is going to hell in a hand basket.' I think that

the--the gap between reality and this president's rhetoric is really alarming.

It--it's scary to think that he doesn't seem to believe the truth of what's

going on there.  Now the question is, is he just bluffing?  Are we--after

November is he going to go into Fallujah, or does he--does he have a plan for

this?  The amazing thing is, in this election so far is we don't have a debate

about this.

MATTHEWS:  The big question, Gloria, has been what's the president learning.

He's a smart guy.  He's absorbing all this intelligence before we ever get it

through a leak.  What's his reaction to the bad news?

Ms. GLORIA BORGER (CNBC):  Well, obviously, we don't know.  What--what we're

seeing out there is a--is a president who is optimistic, the glass is half

full.  And the real problem, Chris, is that Andrew just made the case better

than John Kerry has made the case about what is going wrong in Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  Yeah.

Ms. BORGER:  John Kerry is so tortured.  He's twisted like a pretzel about

Iraq...

MATTHEWS:  Katty.  Katty.

Ms. BORGER:  ...he cannot make a case.

Ms. KATTY KAY (Washington correspondent, BBC):  The focus of the media

attention has become, where is John Kerry's message?  We've almost immediately

drifted away from the situation in Iraq and what's happening on the ground to

`Why can't John Kerry find an answer to this?' He's going to go and try out

the--try and make the case that the war in Iraq has made the risk of terrorism

greater.  I think it's a case that he has believed but has failed to make so

far, and...

Mr. KLEIN:  Can I...

Ms. KAY:  ...and President Bush has managed to say to people, `Actually the

war in Iraq is a central plank in the war on terror and people are buying that

optimism.'

Mr. SULLIVAN:  But unfortunately you can't--you've got to have a constructive

case.  What is Kerry going to do, and he doesn't...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  ...have it.

Mr. KLEIN:  You don't have to...

Ms. BORGER:  He had it.

Mr. KLEIN:  ...you don't have to have a constructive case if you're John

Kerry at this point.  All you have to do is point out that--that Bush isn't

fighting this war.  And he can simply say to the president, `Either fight the

war, fight the terrorists in Fallujah or bring the troops home.'

Ms. BORGER:  But...

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Now that would work if John Kerry's record wasn't entirely

dovish.

Ms. BORGER:  Right.

Mr. KLEIN:  Correct.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  The only problem is that the only argument that will win is to

out-hawk Bush and Kerry doesn't have the credibility to do it.

Mr. KLEIN:  That's true.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  That's the problem.

Mr. KLEIN:  No, the ...

Ms. BORGER:  Kerry has no credibility on Iraq whatsoever.  Those of us who've

watched him right from the Iowa caucuses knew that he could not talk about

Iraq then, he cannot talk about Iraq now.

Mr. KLEIN:  But the real question...

Ms. KAY:  Can--can he make this case that people are less safe because of

Iraq, that Iraq is enhanced the risk of terrorism?  I think that is a very

valid argument to make, but I don't know how he's going to get that across...

Mr. KLEIN:  It's--it's going to be hard, but you're going to...

Ms. KAY:  ...when you have the Republicans and Bush saying the whole time,

`Anyone who criticizes what's happening in Iraq is a pessimist.'

Mr. KLEIN:  Could I...

MATTHEWS:  Sure, Joe.

Mr. KLEIN:  ...could I point out that we're--we're--we're nowhere near either

of these candidates.  When I--when we were asking the Bush people, `When's the

president going to come out and ask questions,' the first thing they say to us

is, `When's the last time John Kerry came out and ask--answered questions.'

And that was a long time ago.

MATTHEWS:  Good question.  Senator Joe Biden, who didn't run for president

this year, but seems to be pretty smart on this thing, said this week, `If the

central reality of President Bush's war against terrorism is Iraq, then we can

judge the success of his war on terrorism by how he's doing in Iraq.  We're

not doing well.' That seemed to be the way to make a case.  Kerry can't talk

that simply and that seems to be his problem.  Gloria:

Ms. BORGER:  No, you know, he was on--he was on "Don Imus" this week saying

that he--that he wouldn't have voted for the war, then he said that he would

have voted...

MATTHEWS:  Under any circumstances.

Ms. BORGER:  ...under any circumstances.  But in August he said, `He would

have voted for the war.' I mean, this is a man, as I--I used the word before,

tortured over Iraq.  Why?  Because during the caucuses he had to get to the

left of Howard Dean and from that moment he had a problem.

Ms. KAY:  We can...

Mr. SULLIVAN:  But the bigger question is, when you look at Kerry and you see

him shifting around like this and we're in a war, people think, `Regardless of

the issues can I trust this guy to be a good president in war time?'

Ms. BORGER:  (Unintelligible)

Ms. KAY:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Here's the--here's the...

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Are we going to elect another Jimmy Carter?

Mr. KLEIN:  You know, we're all--we're all still talking about John Kerry

here, and that's not the issue.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Ms. BORGER:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Let's talk about...

Mr. KLEIN:  The issue is George Bush and what isn't happening in Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let's talk about the conduct in the war and where are we going

as a country, because this is an election that's coming on fast.  If you begin

to read the newspapers and talk to people like Richard Holbrook, who is

the--may well be the secretary of state if the Democrats win, and Bob Herbert

of the New York Times this Friday, they begin to make this connection to

Vietnam and they say in 1964, 40 years ago when we had an election, people all

voted against the hawk, Barry Goldwater, and all voted for the peace

president, Lyndon Johnson.  Within a year we were deeply in Vietnam with huge

buildups and escalations going on.  Are we on the edge of a real serious war

problem in Iraq?  Not quite Vietnam...

Mr. KLEIN:  It's worse.

MATTHEWS:  ...but really dangerous?

Mr. KLEIN:  It's worse than Vietnam for this reason:  Vietnam didn't have

larger strategic significance.  Iraq has enormous strategic significance for

the whole region.  If it descends into chaos, you're going to have trouble

between the Kurds and the Turks.  You're going to have Iran and Saudi

Arabia...

MATTHEWS:  How does it effect us?

Mr. KLEIN:  ...playing in the south.

MATTHEWS:  Tell me how it effects us.

Mr. KLEIN:  Well we do use oil.

MATTHEWS:  Yeah, that's so.  Tell me how that works.  Just give me the

mechanics.

Mr. KLEIN:  A little bit of oil from there.  And also--also...

MATTHEWS:  If there's--now if there's a civil war in Iraq and the Basra breaks

off from the middle part, what happens to our oil?

Mr. KLEIN:  But it also in...

Ms. KAY:  I depends on who has the oil reserves in Ir--in Iraq.  If you have

an Iranian-backed group, say, in the south of Iraq in control of Iraq's oil

supplies, they can do what they want.  Of course they...

MATTHEWS:  So, the mullahs will have the oil.

Mr. KLEIN:  But it's not...

Ms. KAY:  That could be a very scary prospect.

Mr. KLEIN:  It's not just--but that's not the biggest problem.

Ms. KAY:  It may not happen, but it's a very scary prospect.

Mr. KLEIN:  The biggest problem is, if this descends into chaos and we're

perceived to be the losers, the winners are al-Qaeda, the--the enemy that Bush

chose not to fight.

Ms. KAY:  And the militants in Saudi Arabia...

MATTHEWS:  How so?  How so?

Ms. KAY:  ...who then have their strength who have their hands inside Saudi

Arabia.

Mr. KLEIN:  Because they're in power.  They've driven--you know, they've

driven America out of Iraq.

Ms. BORGER:  And we have consistently underestimated the number of

insurgents.  The Pentagon started out with a number of 5,000; now there's some

estimates that go above 50,000.

Mr. KLEIN:  And mis--and mis--and misdescribed them.  They are not Baathist

remnants.  In fact...

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Some of them absolutely are.

MATTHEWS:  Who are they?

Mr. SULLIVAN:  I mean...

Mr. KLEIN:  But the majority of them are not Baathist remnants.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Some of them in Sadr, some of them in Fallujah and Ramadi are

obviously al-Qaeda-influenced Islamists.

Ms. KAY:  And what's worrying is that you're getting new groups of insurgents

all the time.

MATTHEWS:  Let's take a look at strategy in Iraq and how we get out of there,

survive for a while there at least.  Let's go to the Matthews Meter.  This

week the Bush administration created so-called no-go zones in Iraq where we

aren't contesting the powers of those dangerous local militia, at least for

now.  We asked 12 of our regulars whether this is smart strategy or it's a

political decision to put off bloodshed till after the election.  Just one of

our 12 people said it's simply wise strategy.  A plurality, six, said it's

politics, and five said it's a combination of politics and strategy.

Do you think, Joe, that we're avoiding a big fight with all these militia over

there to avoid bloodshed before the election?

Mr. KLEIN:  I think that the turning point in this war took place when we

chose not to fight in Fallujah.  And until we actually make the decision of

whether we're going to do that or not, this war is lost.

Ms. KAY:  Yes, but...

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Here's the turning point:  The president, according to all of

the--all the commanders--ordered the attack on Fallujah, then reversed himself

three days later.

Ms. BORGER:  Go back.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Now we have a president who's campaigning about being solid

and firm on the war...

Mr. KLEIN:  Flip-flop--flip-flop.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  ...yet he's flip-flopping in Iraq like a fish out of water.

Ms. BORGER:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Why is he holding back from it?  Why are we not confronting our

enemy over there?

Ms. KAY:  There are Iraqis...

Ms. BORGER:  And we don't have the troops.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Because we're terrified in Fallujah, for example, that we...

Mr. KLEIN:  They're...

Ms. KAY:  And also we--we...

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Let--let me answer the question.

MATTHEWS:  Then you, Katty.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  That the--the--the confidence in the US and in the occupation

among the Iraqis is so low that massive casualties in Fallujah would make the

matters worse rather than better.  So in other words, we've lost the window of

opportunity.  It is now simply a matter of stemming our losses.

MATTHEWS:  Katty, your view of it.  Take a minute.

Ms. KAY:  You're talking about...

MATTHEWS:  I want to hear your view of why we're not fighting the big fight

over there.  Why are we putting it off?

Ms. KAY:  I think it's American politics; I also think it's Iraqi politics.

I think Andrew's right that there is so much anti-Americanism in Iraq at the

moment that the prospect of more American troops going to--into areas

undermines both the coalition...

Mr. KLEIN:  There's a third...

Ms. KAY:  ...and it undermines the Iraqi government.

Ms. BORGER:  But also, do--do we have the...

Ms. KAY:  And that's a real problem when we're facing elections in January.

Mr. KLEIN:  There's--there's a third ru--reason, is that we're undertrooped.

Even when we tried to go into Fallujah the first time, we didn't have enough

Marines to do it the right way.

Ms. KAY:  But they didn't have...(unintelligible.)

MATTHEWS:  OK, let's go right now to the Matthews Meter again.  This is the

big political question of the week.  We asked 12 of our regulars who won the

week, Bush or Kerry.  Here we go again.  Once again the group gave it to

George W. Bush hands down.  And as we count down the last eight weeks till

November, you can see on our tally sheet, that's two weeks so far for Bush,

zip for Kerry.

Andrew, Tucker Carlson and the others said the flap over CBS and the guard

records helped Bush this week.  What do you think?  Did it?  Was it--was this

flap over the CBS report that they had evidence that the president did things

wrong as a guardsman.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Not entirely sure.  I think that the National Guard story in

the news doesn't necessarily help Bush or hurt him, actually.  I think it just

becomes a distraction from the real issue which we've been talking about:

Iraq.

Ivan, Martha, all those stories, Scott Peterson, and so on, it just allows us

to have an election in denial.  I mean, I'm scared we're going to wake up

after the election and realize that the biggest problem in our lifetime is

facing us and we never really discussed it.

MATTHEWS:  We're missing the...

Mr. KLEIN:  But I--I refuse...

MATTHEWS:  The news is distracting us from the big news, right?

Mr. KLEIN:  I refuse to give this--yeah.

Ms. KAY:  Oh, it has been for weeks.

Ms. BORGER:  Oh yeah.  Oh yeah.

Mr. KLEIN:  Yeah.

Ms. KAY:  Has been doing for weeks.  We've been sitting here all through the

summer and we've been talking about the election campaign and we haven't

talked about Iraq.  There have been several times but not...

MATTHEWS:  What kept Iraq off the front pages?

Ms. KAY:  Because Americans have not been dying in Iraq, so it hasn't been on

the front pages of the newspapers.  And I think that...

Ms. BORGER:  No...(unintelligible)

MATTHEWS:  But July and August have been terrible.

Mr. KLEIN:  Tax--no.

MATTHEWS:  Check the numbers.

Ms. KAY:  Not--it's not just Iraqis.  Iraqis are dying in big numbers, but

we're not covering that.

MATTHEWS:  Is this a big story around the world and Iraq?

Ms. KAY:  We're not cov--we haven't been covering chaos.  Yes, it's a huge

story around the world.

Mr. KLEIN:  It's the biggest story around the world.

Ms. KAY:  It's the biggest story around the world.  Much bigger than the CBS

forgery documents, if they are.

Mr. KLEIN:  The reason why it's--the reason why it's been kept off the front

page is brilliant Republican tactics.  Swift boats, the Dan Ra--making the Dan

Rather flap into this huge thing.

Ms. BORGER:  I--but I don't think...

Mr. SULLIVAN:  No, the...

Mr. KLEIN:  It has been--I mean I...

Ms. BORGER:  I don't think--I don't think it's necessarily the swifties.

MATTHEWS:  Why are we--Gloria, why are we not talking about the war?

Ms. BORGER:  I think it's the John Kerry campaign...

Mr. KLEIN:  That's true, too.

Ms. BORGER:  ...has kept itself off the front page...

Mr. KLEIN:  That's--that's true, too.

Ms. BORGER:  ...because they have no clear message.  I've never covered a

presidential race, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Ms. BORGER:  ...where you don't know the stump speech of the candidate.

MATTHEWS:  OK, so our message here is, `Dear John, it's the war, stupid,'

right?

Mr. KLEIN:  This has been a...

Ms. BORGER:  Say that again.

MATTHEWS:  `It's the war, stupid.'

Ms. BORGER:  Yeah, it is the war, stupid.

Mr. KLEIN:  It's the wa--absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  OK, before we go to break, never underestimate the importance of

knowing your audience.  John Kerry, sports enthusiast himself, tried to show

Wisconsin voters that he's just one of the guys.

Sen. KERRY:  Listen, this has to be very last question.  I apologize, but

it's got to be, and in deference to Lambert Field and Vince, whom I've quoted

a few times, I've got to go to this Packer fan here.

MATTHEWS:  Great, expect it's Lambeau Field, not Lambert Field, senator.  Did

Bush and Cheney have anything to say on this matter?  You bet.

Pres. BUSH:  You know, it's traditional when politicians come to your state

that they talk about the Packers, and I understand my opponent did it the

other day, and he even mentioned the legendary stadium in Green Bay.  Listen,

I got some advice for him.  If someone offers you a cheese head, don't say you

want some wine.  Just put it on your head and take a seat at Lambeau Field.

Vice President DICK CHENEY:  The next thing you know he'll be convinced that

Vince Lombardi was a foreign leader who supports his candidacy.

MATTHEWS:  Well you're in trouble, Joe, when Dick Cheney, beats you in the

`who's cool' department.

Mr. KLEIN:  John Kerry--John Kerry's been having a very bad cheese year.

First he was going to put a Swiss cheese on his cheesesteak in Philly and now

this.

MATTHEWS:  Not that it matters.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Yeah, but if the voters in Wisconsin decide this election on

who can--who knows what Lambert or Lambeau Field is, they deserve the

president they get.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, take that.

Ms. BORGER:  But, Chris, let me ask you.  What would--what would happen,

though, if John Kerry had made fun of George W. Bush after he said that women

can't practice their love with their gynecologist?  Do you think he could have

gotten away with that, the way that--that George Bush and Dick Cheney can--can

get away with making fun of him?

MATTHEWS:  Depends on his bedside manner.  I'll be right back to talk about

women voters that seem up for grabs this year.  Why are they so cold on Kerry?

Plus my thoughts on the narrowing gap between beauty pageants and presidential

campaigns.  Stick around.

(Announcements)

MATTHEWS:  Why are so many Democratic women so cold toward John Kerry?  Stick

around.

(Announcements)

Pres. BUSH:  I wake up every morning thinking about how to better protect our

country.  I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes.

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back.  That was President Bush's message on security, which

has been helping him to make inroads with women voters.  Women typically lean

Democratic; men Republican.  Not this year.  The polls show Bush actually

slightly ahead with women.

Gloria, where did he lose the gender gap?

Ms. BORGER:  Well, I think John Kerry cannot talk to women about national

security.  They believe that he's a flip-flopper.  They don't see strength in

John Kerry and on the other issues they really care about.  They do care about

health care, prescription drugs, Medicare.  He hasn't had a clear message that

speaks to them.  Now he's slightly ahead with women, but the fact that George

W. Bush, who's softened himself--I saw that clip you just ran--who softened

himself at this convention, who said, you know, `You might not agree with me.

I might have some rough edges but you know where I stand.'

MATTHEWS:  So it's working.

Katty, it's working?  Look at this convention.  Bush is doing pretty well

among women.

Ms. KAY:  I--listen, every...

MATTHEWS:  He's doing better in most polls than--than the other guy.

Ms. KAY:  Every time George Bush stands up and says, `I--given that choice I

will always defend America,' he is appealing directly to all those women, and

particularly to mothers.  It's interesting that Republicans...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

Ms. KAY:  ...are really trying to target the married women because they're

more likely to be the ones with kids.  More than li...

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Katty, whenever you hear a noise in the night, do

you ever say to your husband, `Let me go check.'

Ms. KAY:  If it's terrorists downstairs?

MATTHEWS:  Or do you say, `I heard a noise downstairs.' Yes?

Ms. KAY:  No, listen, you know, women are like mother hens, they're cluck,

cluck, clucking away and they want to protect their chicks.  Somebody comes

along and says, `I'm going to protect you from that big bad fox.' They're not

going to ask him how.  They're going to just say, `Thanks very much.' And even

if they don't agree with that person on gay rights, on abortion, even if

they're more socially moderate, they're prepared to put those issues aside...

MATTHEWS:  So they don't want a sensitive male as president.

Ms. KAY:  ...in order to have safety for their children.

Ms. BORGER:  Well--no, they don't.  They don't.  But if they...

Ms. KAY:  They want safety for their kids.

Ms. BORGER:  ...but if national--but if national security is a domestic

policy issue, then what John Kerry has to do is he has to say, `You know what,

this president is not spending enough to defend you at home...'

MATTHEWS:  Right.  OK.

Ms. BORGER:  `...for homeland security.

Ms. KAY:  And Kerry, `I have a great Vietnam record.'

MATTHEWS:  Andrew--Andrew, you want a piece of this, Andrew?

Ms. KAY:  Going on about Vietnam doesn't make me feel safe.

MATTHEWS:  You say you did.  You want to say anything about this?

Mr. SULLIVAN:  I've never heard so much stereotypes come out about women

voters.

Ms. BORGER:  I...

MATTHEWS:  What are your thoughts?

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Well, I would think that women voters could make up their

minds like other voters.  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why has there always been a tendency of women to vote

Democratic?

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Because I think...

MATTHEWS:  More than men.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  ...I think--I think--I think you're right.  I think domestic

policy in general, there is more tendency to look after people, as--but Bush

has become the look-after president.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me--Kerry wins in Massachusetts...

Ms. KAY:  And he--and--and he does say, I have to say, you know, because in

the school yards, they care about the...

MATTHEWS:  ...all these years because of women voters.  There is trump.  Can

he get this election won without women?

Mr. KLEIN:  Kerry wins in Massachusetts all these years not only about women

voters, but about blue-col--but with blue-collar voters, which is an enduring

mystery to me.  I mean, this--what this is about is--is a fun--fundamental

mistake that the Kerry team made, which was to think that this could be about

domestic policy in the middle of a war.  And therefore he looks confused and

therefore he looks weak.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Katty Kay, the incomparable one, tell me something I don't

know.

Ms. KAY:  Well, since we're looking outside the election a bit today, since

Colin Powell declared that there was genocide going on in Sudan, women are

still being raped, children are still being killed, bodies are still being

dumped in wells to poison the water.  We're not doing anything about it.  If

we don't put troops on the ground in Darfur soon, we won't have a Darfur

problem because they...

MATTHEWS:  We, is who?  The United States or the United Nations?

Ms. KAY:  No, the international community.  We--we've known this is going on.

We can't look away.  But we're not going to have Darfur problem because

everyone's going to be dead or in camps.

Mr. KLEIN:  Well, we should have a trumpet clarion here.  The Kerry campaign

has finally decided that Iraq is the issue, not domestic policy where Kerry

has to establish his credibility.  They'll start trying to do it with a big

speech this week.

MATTHEWS:  And he'll stay with this.

Mr. KLEIN:  That's what they say.

MATTHEWS:  Gloria:

Ms. BORGER:  OK, let me go to Congress.  A good old tried-and-true Republican

constitutional amendment to ban flag burning is something that the Senate

Republicans say they're going to bring up on the floor so they can get Tom

Daschle to vote against it.  The Democrats are calling their bluff; don't

belive they'll do it.  But maybe they will.

MATTHEWS:  Well how do the Democrats stop them from having a vote on the

flag...

Ms. BORGER:  And they won't win, by the way.

MATTHEWS:  ...and whether you can protect it?

Ms. BORGER:  Well the Republicans might not do it if they don't think they

have the votes.  You need two thirds.  I don't think they've got the votes,

but they're threatening it.

MATTHEWS:  They'll pass the House with it.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Dan Rather...

MATTHEWS:  Andrew Sullivan.

Mr. SULLIVAN:  ...Dan Rather is a dead man walking.  There is no way he can

get over the scandal of pushing forged documents and refusing to acknowledge

it.  Someone's going to go at CBS News in the next week.

MATTHEWS:  Why won't it be the producer that believed in the documents?

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Because Dan Rather was front-and-center on this story.  It's

his story.  If it's not him it's going to be Hayward.

MATTHEWS:  Everybody agree with that?  Anybody agree with that?

Ms. BORGER:  I don't know.

MATTHEWS:  Strong prediction.  We're not used to such fire power here, Andrew.

And this is very, very personal.  This is very strong...

Mr. SULLIVAN:  Hey, I'm a blogger.  I just go for it.

MATTHEWS:  ...very strong prediction.  Yes?

Mr. KLEIN:  By--by--you know, by--by that standard, Donald Rumsfeld would be

gone.  This is an era where nobody ever pays a price.

MATTHEWS:  We need a British tradition of strong resignations.

Anyway, thanks to a great roundtable.  Katty Kay, Joe Klein, Gloria Borger and

Andrew Sullivan.

I'll be right back with some thoughts on that other Miss Congeniality contest

of 2004.  Stick around.

(Announcements)

MATTHEWS:  Want to have a beer with the president?  Stick around.

(Announcements)

Announcer:  Closed-captioning provided by...

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Commentary: Presidential race compared with Miss America contest

CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:

You may have noticed that the Miss America contest his now officially thrown

out the category for talent.  It's also added a new category in the looks

department.  You know, beyond the ones for bathing suit and evening gown

there's one for casual wear.  Less emphasis on talent, more on how regularly

you come across.

Sounds like running of president.  You may have noticed that Bush and Kerry

have been competing in the casual wear department.  Ah, yes, and there's a new

buzz along the campaign runway:  which guy would you most like to, quote,

"have a beer with?"

When women first got the vote back in 1920 they took a lot of grief for

helping to elect a good-looking guy who gave us Teapot Dome, arguably the

worst scandal of this century.  But while women might have gone gaga over

Warren Gamaliel Harding, they got over it.

It's not the female voter you hear say they have a certain chemistry with some

candidate these days, it's the men who seem--can't seem to get past that all

important question of which guy up for commander in chief feels right.

Guys, I think we need a gut check.  This isn't a Michelob commercial.  War is

real, dealing with terrorism is real, having a job with good wages, paying the

bills, a chance to cure some of the big diseases, that's all real.  The idea

of having a beer with the president of the United States is simply real cool.

You know, like watching the swimsuit division.

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Sign-off: The Chris Matthews Show

CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:

That's the show; thanks for watching.  And to everyone celebrating the Jewish

New Year, l'shana tova.  Happy New Year.  See you next week.