Guest: Stephen Hayes, Robert McFarlane, Jon Meacham, Richard Land, Jim Wallis
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight a HARDBALL-“Newsweek” special report.
The passion of the right. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. We‘ll get to the special report on the passion of the right in a moment. First, NBC News has learned that the International Atomic Energy Agency will report next week that Iran is still producing an ingredient used to help enrich uranium. This discovery puts Iran in violation of an agreement made with European nations earlier this week to suspend its nuclear program. And the disclosure comes on the heels of Secretary of State Colin Powell‘s comments that Iran is actively working on a delivery system for nuclear warheads. Andrea Mitchell is NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent. What do we know about the nuclear planning over there in Tehran?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we do know is that they are working, still working to produce a key ingredient, a feed stock that is used in the enrichment of uranium which is the fuel for nuclear weapons. They have claimed all along that they have a peaceful nuclear program. Although skeptics have said, and certainly the American view has been, why would such an oil rich state need nuclear energy? That said, this new development is going to create problems, potential problems for the Iranians with the Europeans. The Europeans accepted a promise from Iran that as of this coming Monday, the 22nd, it would stop all work on nuclear enrichment. And now the international inspectors have found that it is still producing this ingredient. If it is, that is a damning piece of evidence.
MATTHEWS: Is there a centralized command in Tehran? Is there one government that would make military decisions and establish diplomatic deals?
MITCHELL: In fact, it is more centralized now. It is a good question. Initially, a couple of years ago, we felt there was a division. In the last year or so, the reformers have really been pushed back. They have been really crushed by the hardliners. And it seems as if there is a centralized command and they are taking very tough actions, very aggressive actions against the United States and now potentially the rest of the world.
MATTHEWS: We‘ve seen before that European can recognize truth but not necessarily agree to act. Could we have a situation here where the Europeans say darn it! I guess they‘ll have a nuclear program. We wish they hadn‘t moved ahead but they are moving ahead. So we‘re not going do anything about it.
MITCHELL: Well, it is pretty alarming. The Europeans have deep economic interests in Iran. They‘re very skeptical about American intelligence. They will to have listen to the International Atomic Energy Agency and Mohammed El-Baradei. That group has more credibility. Certainly Colin Powell and the Americans do not have a great deal of credibility because of what we said about Iraq‘s nuclear program which proved to be false.
MATTHEWS: Colin Powell is not a man you would accuse of looking for trouble.
MATTHEWS: He tries to avoid trouble and looks for the diplomatic solution and he hopes things will turn out for the best. He is not a worst-case scenario fellow like the Vice President Dick Cheney for example. Why do you think he was the one this time to blow the whistle on a threat from that part of the world?
MITCHELL: It is hard to say because—without accepting what you said about Dick Cheney, because I think in the private counsels of government, he has needed to be persuaded on some of the intelligence. In fact, Powell seems to be picking a fight now in a lame duck context. He is heading to the Middle East. He will be meeting with Ariel Sharon. He will be meeting in Ramallah with the Palestinians. Then he goes to Egypt and will be at the same conference as the Iranian foreign minister. So he is really isolating himself and doing it when he really doesn‘t need this argument.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of his determination to stick with his story through his bureaucracy over at the State Department? They continue to insist that he was right in the first instance. What is this questioning that‘s going on about him having a single source if it is not a valid criticism of his disclosure?
MITCHELL: The “Washington Post” reported today that this was based on one source and unverified intelligence source and what is called a walk-in. Someone who came in with a lot of documentation but was not a well known intelligence asset. That said, both intelligence and State Department officials are insisting today that Colin Powell did not say this lightly. He did not misspeak. He was not confused. That he had other data that corroborated this. So I‘m being very cautious, if you can see how cautious I‘m being. Because we were all wrong about Iraq. And I don‘t want to make claims that we can‘t back up.
MATTHEWS: Where is John Bolton on this? He is the undersecretary of state. He‘s the man on arms control. He‘s a bit of a hawk to say the least. Is he out there pushing this story?
MITCHELL: Very much so. As are the Israelis. So in this context, you‘ve got you‘re Iranian exiles who marched today in Washington insisting this is all true. You‘ve got the Israelis. You‘ve got John Bolton and other hawks within the administration. But interestingly, you have Colin Powell. That makes you pause and say, wait a second. Why would he put his reputation on the line again if it were questionable intelligence? So that‘s why we‘re all waiting to evaluate this. I‘m not drawing any conclusions. I‘m being very careful, as I say, but I think it does bear study.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. It is great having your report. Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News.
Robert McFarlane served as national security adviser to president Reagan, is one of the central figures in Iran-Contra. And Stephen Hayes is with the “Weekly Standard.” Let me ask you, there‘s been many years, there‘s been an attempt by our government, starting with your administration, to try to find moderates in the Iranian government, people that were less interested in a vociferous militant foreign policy. Do you see any division over or is it now centralized government?
ROBERT MCFARLANE, FMR. REAGAN NATL. SECURITY ADVISER: Chris, there are huge divisions. There are pragmatists but these are not people that exercise power. Clearly the extreme hardliners dominate governance.
MATTHEWS: The mullahs.
MCFARLANE: That‘s right. They are pragmatic mullahs but they‘re not governing. They‘re fringe elements and in short, the hardline mullahs do control the centers of influence, power, the economy, and they are not brooking any moderation.
MATTHEWS: Under the Shah, you had a European level of military force over there. You had a very sophisticated military certainly on the level of anybody, almost one of the top forces in the world. Is that still there? Is it still the caliber of the military operation in Iran that it was when it was more or less a Shah‘s army?
MCFARLANE: Well, it has declined a lot. It doesn‘t have nearly the capability it did of air or ground forces. And yet it is a considerable force. It‘s such a force as to pose, I think, to make it quite unwise for to us ponder any kind of overt military intervention there. We‘re going to have to use other means.
MATTHEWS: So it would be a hell of a war if we went to war with Iran.
MCFARLANE: It would. Plus, we don‘t have the means and resources, the troops to do it.
MATTHEWS: How about a hit?
MCFARLANE: Well, a hit is awfully hard. The nuclear facilities are dispersed. Some of them are hardened. We can take what I would call deterrent steps helping the Gulf states across the way beef up their own defenses. We could put in a more visible American presence in the Navy offshore. But deterrence is of doubtful value in this kind of circumstance. I think what we need to do is get the people who supply them into an arrangement where there‘s a win, win, win proposition. That‘s Russia.
MATTHEWS: What is Russia giving them right now?
MCFARLANE: Russia provides the technical assistance for the nuclear program.
MATTHEWS: And they know what they‘re doing?
MCFARLANE: Oh, yes. They know what they‘re doing.
MATTHEWS: So Putin knows that he‘s arming a new nuclear power?
MCFARLANE: I think he‘s becoming persuaded. Up until now, Putin has said that there are adequate safeguards to prevent that. I think if we can structure a deal, and that is one that provides Russia with some real incentive, enormous amount of money frankly to get into the nuclear spent fuel transport business, and permanent storage, we could really solve four problems. First, our own storage problems. Russia could agree in the bargain to cut off their support and make sure there‘s very intrusive inspection in Iran for the nuclear assistance. And all in all, we can close the program down. But it will take time and a lot of diplomacy to make that happen.
MATTHEWS: Stephen Hayes, tell me about the ambition of the post-Shah Iranian government, the one that took power after the Iranian hostage crisis and the fall of the Shah. What do they want nuclear weapons for?
STEPHEN HAYES, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”: I think everybody wants nuclear weapons to increase their stature in the region. And I think they‘ve basically been that blunt about it at times when they‘re in their less guarded moments.
MATTHEWS: The conundrum of nuclear weapons, ever since Nagasaki and Hiroshima is people don‘t use them because once you use them that is the end of the story. You have killed hundreds of thousands of people at least. You are hated in the world. Your enemy now seeks everything it can to kill you. What is the strategic or—the strategic use. Israel has weapons, it is believed. Is that to say they can go toe to toe with Israel on something they want to say and they say don‘t try to use that threat against us, we‘ve got a counter force?
HAYES: I think that‘s part of it. I also think that they want to show force to the rest of the region, frankly.
MATTHEWS: How do you do it? Is it like brinkmanship? Do you say if you don‘t give us this, we will blow you up? Is that a credible threat?
HAYES: No. It is never that overt. I think it is basically showing the force. It is one of the things that people said Saddam Hussein was doing if he didn‘t indeed have the weapons that we thought he had. He was still, you know, puffing his chest out and pretending like he did because he couldn‘t be seen as the weak horse in the race.
MATTHEWS: But he was a man quite willing to use it looked like. He would lob one into Tel Aviv and not really think about day two. Day one would be his...
HAYES: I think that‘s exactly right. And then we come to the shorter
term problem. Which is to say that Iran has a wide variety with
connections we know with al Qaeda, with Hezbollah
HAYES: I think that‘s exactly right. And then we come to the shorter term problem. Which is to say that Iran has a wide variety of connections we know with al Qaeda, with Hezbollah, with any number of groups. And there is the question of passing this material on to terrorist groups which is a terrifying and immediate prospect.
MATTHEWS: But it would be a recognized transfer, wouldn‘t it? They wouldn‘t get away with it, would they? Everybody would know they did it. If they dropped something on a terrorist, they dropped it in Tel Aviv, they dropped it New York, everybody would know they did it, right? Or would they?
HAYES: I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: Any way they could hedge this thing. That would be the horrible horrible thing. They dump it on somebody. They use it and kill 10 of thousands of people, and then it‘s not clear what the rest of the world does to react to it.
HAYES: Well right. And I think that‘s—you put your finger on one of the key problems here. What happens before—certainly what happens after that. But what do you do before that to prevent that?
MATTHEWS: Because the main thing about mutual assured destruction is if you use it, you die. We‘ll be right back with Robert McFarlane and Steven Hayes. And later a HARDBALL/Newsweek special report, “The Passion of the Right” as we examine the roll religion plays in the Bush administration. And in American politics. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re back with former national security adviser Robert McFarlane and Stephen Hayes of “The Weekly Standard.”
Mr. McFarlane, why don‘t you just take a minute and tell me your assessment. You deal with clients, you talk to people about this. How does the United States confront this reality of an emerging nuclear power in the Persian Gulf?
MCFARLANE: Well I think the scale of risk is pretty clear to the French, Germans, British and others. I think the conflict comes, and how you can overcome the political resistance inside Europe. There‘s a lot of commercial interest in Iran, in France especially and elsewhere.
I do think that you have less of a chance of coping with this by going to Europe than would you with Russia. And there you have to hold out something of benefit to Russia to make it happen. But you can do that.
The nuclear transport business, and specifically, allowing Russia to transport spent fuel back from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, that we send, could earn tens of billions of dollars for Russia. And then if you put it in the ground permanently, as well as what we put in the ground, we‘ve had this Yucca Mountain proposal for years, it‘s never going to work. Russia is a solution for us, too.
But in the bargain, Russia would have to cut off their support to Iran. I think that could work.
MATTHEWS: So, we could all get together and agree on a way to dump spent fuel...
MCFARLANE: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: ...and it would not be here.
MCFARLANE: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: That‘s always a good political answer.
HAYES: Well I think it‘s important to keep having these conversations that we‘re having through the Europeans, with the Russians. But at the end of the day, it feels like treading water. I don‘t know that we‘re making any progress. I don‘t know that we‘re necessarily moving backwards. But at some point, I think there are going to have to be hard decisions that are made. And as we talked about before, there are no real good options here.
MATTHEWS: What are the options? Because people watching right now are saying are we going through as—Steve Wiessman from the New York Times in his sidebar piece on the front page today, said he is beginning to hear the same words he heard in the build-up to the war with Iraq, regime change. That sort of thing. Are those real options, to go to war with this government?
HAYES: I‘m not hearing those kinds of talks. I don‘t know too many people who are. I think that there are things...
MATTHEWS: Well, Michael Adene of—those kind of real idealogues have talked of it.
HAYES: Sure, you know. They make a valid point. I mean, certainly, we want to encourage the reformers who are being killed or jailed in many cases. At the same time, showing the Iranians that we‘re serious. We‘re not going to let them get away with making an agreement one year and walking away from it the next.
MATTHEWS: The western world to get together on this. The Soviet—the Russian parts, obviously are a great opportunity.
Anyway, thank you Robert McFarlane, thank you Steven Hayes.
Up next, a look at the role of the religious right in American politics in our HARDBALL/Newsweek special report, “The Passion of the Right.” You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome to a HARDBALL-“Newsweek” special report on “The Passion of the Right.” Joining me in a moment is Jon Meacham, managing editor of “Newsweek” and author of “Franklin and Winston.” And Patrick Buchanan, veteran of the Reagan White House.
But first, there is a battle raging for leadership of this country‘s cultural right. The spoils of that battle are the votes of millions of religious conservatives who voted this month for President Bush. But who will command this treasure of national power? President Bush? Competitors for the presidential succession, like Republican Senate leader Bill Frist of Tennessee? Or the leaders of the groups themselves?
Let‘s start with what the whole country learned about the power of the religious right on election night.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For a clear choice in this election is on the values that are so crucial to keeping our families strong.
MATTHEWS (voice-over): Twenty-five million voters listed moral values this November 2nd as their primary political concern. Eleven states voted to reject the notion of same-sex marriage. A majority of Roman Catholics voted for President Bush, while four million Christian Conservatives, evangelicals, entered the political process. And 44 percent of Hispanics voted for Bush.
BUSH: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
MATTHEWS: The precise percentage who oppose abortion rights.
A look at the post-election map shows a sea of red. The Democrats lost not just the South, but also the states of Missouri and West Virginia and Ohio. Anywhere that people think of themselves as, quote, “country” went for Bush.
Let‘s go back. “The Passion of the Christ” made $370 million domestically.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING ARAMAIC)
MATTHEWS: The critics worried about the film stirring ethnic dissension. They missed the passion of those who saw up there on the screen the Son of God and all his love for man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lots of people, though, were talking about the last seconds of that halftime show.
MATTHEWS: The intellectuals also underestimated the uproar over Janet Jackson‘s notorious halftime striptease, which may cost CBS over a half million dollars in fines.
Just last week, many ABC stations said they were worried about the same FCC rap, and opted out of showing “Saving Private Ryan,” with its real-life battlefield horror and beachhead use of the F-word.
Many think the country‘s reaction to this scene, and a Massachusetts court‘s one vote majority for gay marriage, brought out more of the conservative tide.
All this blasting at the moral sensitivity of a country where almost half the people maintain a fundamentalist belief in the Bible, including a literal reading of Genesis.
Nor is America alone. As we look around the world, we see dreadful civil strife, ethnic warfare, religious division of the most appalling kind.
Many Americans also face an uneasy time. Lots of immigration, people carrying two jobs. There‘s not enough time for kids, wives, and husbands. There‘s tremendous terrorism about which we know little, either of the source, the motive, or the power. It‘s a real life “Fear Factor.” In this turbulent sea, people cling to any life preserver they believe will float.
So what are the political parties doing? They‘re looking for votes. From the cultural right and from those who fear it. To recruit and maintain the strongest possible base of support, they keep it simple. They inspect their troops for any sign of deviation, especially on those cultural issues, to drive up their vote and fill their war chests.
BUSH: We stand for a culture of life, in which every person matters and every being counts.
MATTHEWS: They enforce the new partition that makes one party pro-choice, the other pro-life. Choosing the one issue for which there is the least possibility for negotiation and agreement, the least common ground of values.
But the parties still have options. The culture war may be the new kid on the political block, but it is not yet the only game in town. Not yet, at least.
MATTHEWS: Will President Bush govern from the cultural right, or will he be like Ronald Reagan in his second term? Will he avoid the moral values issues and work with issues like Social Security and tax simplification?
The Democrats can do the same from their end of the spectrum. Instead of competing with the Republican for the votes of the cultural right, they can take up their traditional fight for middle- and lower income families on the same line the president has decided to fight—Social Security, taxes, federal spending.
So the big question of 2004 will lead to the big answer of 2005. Will both parties jump to the new tune of cultural conservatism at home and abroad, especially in the Mideast, or will they refocus on the secular work of mending and strengthening man-made institutions like Social Security, Medicare and the progressive income tax. Interesting question and a powerful answer. When we come back, we‘ll hear from “Newsweek‘s” managing editor Jon Meacham and MSNBC‘s Pat Buchanan. This HARDBALL-“Newsweek” special report continues after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to this HARDBALL-“Newsweek” special report, “The Passion of the Right.” I talked with MSNBC‘s Pat Buchanan and “Newsweek” managing editor Jon Meacham about the role of religion in politics. And I asked Jon Meacham what he expects from this second Bush term.
MATTHEWS: What‘s it going to be? More culture war in the next year of this administration? Or are we going to move to those secular issues like Social Security reform and tax simplification?
JON MEACHAM, NEWSWEEK MANAGING EDITOR: I don‘t think you can rally separate God and Mammon in this equation. I think you‘re going to hear the word “values” until we‘re all tired of it beyond belief. But the Democrats understand, as you pointed out, that they have a problem. There is at least a perceived values gap here, because the president got his 52 percent, he did talk about the culture of life, he talked about wanting to stand for something amid an ocean of chaos.
And more people voted for order than voted for what they thought might be a more chaotic culture under the Democrats. Whether that‘s fair or not is a whole different question.
MATTHEWS: Who is in charge? Is it the president, people like Bill Frist, who want to replace him and are now siding up against Arlen Specter in that big dispute over the chairmanship of Judiciary? Or is at the leaders of the groups themselves, like James Dobson of Focus on the Family? Who is calling—who is carrying the stick right here?
MEACHAM: I think the beauty part of a second term is that President Bush is, at least for two more years. And he has got—he doesn‘t have to face the voters again.
It‘s very unlikely to me, in my mind, that there is going to be some kind of blowout in a midterm against Bush. And I think you‘re seeing that the most prominent leaders of the religious right are actually increasingly marginalized, particularly by the White House. You didn‘t see them talking a lot about Robertson or talking to Falwell or bringing those guys out.
What they want to do is talk directly. They want to go around the filter. President Bush loves talking about going around the filter of the press. He also wants to go around the filter of the more lightning rod kind of leaders and actually make his agenda real. And I think his agenda is about a tone of moral restoration.
But he‘s talking a lot about, as you were talking about, the mammon issues and really putting our fiscal house in order.
MEACHAM: So I think you‘re talking about both a theatrical tone and then a different kind of substance. And that‘s exactly what the Reagan example shows us.
MATTHEWS: You were the first person to talk about the culture war back in ‘92 at the Houston convention. Does the president hold the stick here on issues like gay marriage? Can he avoid trying to bring the constitutional question up again? Can he pick a judge who won‘t necessarily be for overturning Roe v. Wade? Can he pick a position which is adversarial, for example, to Ariel Sharon and the right wing to Israel?
Can he be in any way adversarial to the Christian right that helped reelect him?
BUCHANAN: Well, let‘s take them one at a time.
There‘s only one leader of the religious right right now, one political leader. That‘s George Bush. It is not Bill Frist or anyone else. Secondly, on the issue of Supreme Court, Chris, that is key issue. What the religious right needs is what it had this November, 11 separate elections where it could come out and march to the polls. What it will get...
MATTHEWS: You‘re talking about the marriage amendment question.
BUCHANAN: The marriage amendment question. But the key issue will be the United States Supreme Court, because judges have ignited the culture war. It hasn‘t been legislated.
MATTHEWS: You mean that 4-3 decision in Massachusetts.
BUCHANAN: Oh, yes. Not only that. Who drives prayer and the Ten Commandments out of the schools? It is not legislators. It‘s judges, Supreme Court judges. That‘s where the great battle will come.
Now, the issue of Israel, you have raised a very interesting point. I don‘t think the president is going to stand up to Ariel Sharon. But if he did stand up to Ariel Sharon and demand that he negotiate a give-back of some of the settlements on the West Bank, he would have a firestorm, not only from the neocons.
MATTHEWS: From the Christian right.
BUCHANAN: Only from the neocons, but from the evangelical right.
Many of them do not believe Israel should give up the settlements in Gaza.
MATTHEWS: Tom DeLay has been quite open about that, for example, the Republican leader.
BUCHANAN: Well, DeLay has been over there and spoken to the Knesset.
MATTHEWS: I know.
BUCHANAN: He basically said, our battle is your battle.
So—but the president, I think, agrees with that. The president is the only figure, Chris, who in his heart has gotten up and said things like Jesus Christ is the philosopher who taught me the most or did the most for me.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, that‘s true of most Americans, probably, if you really get down to it, just based on the fact that they‘re exposed more to his philosophy than they are to others .
BUCHANAN: But what gives him his reach in this community is, he is a man that gets up and says it. Have you heard anyone else since Ronald Reagan used to speak at those evangelical meetings. Neither Kerry, who talks about being an altar boy, or George Bush I had this rapport with this community.
MATTHEWS: But Ronald Reagan would always say he was a pro-life president, but, in effect, he wasn‘t because he never really pushed the cause.
He would address the right-to-life meetings every year in Washington.
A quarter million people would come down, most of them Roman Catholics.
They would meet in Washington. And he addressed them by public address. He wouldn‘t even go out and stand with them. Wasn‘t that a pro forma support for their cause?
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think so.
In every State of the Union, he had, we must—we need to overturn Roe vs. Wade in every State of the Union. This president hasn‘t gone as far as Reagan has. But, again, Chris, the only way to affect something here—and we all know it—is the Supreme Court. That‘s the battle.
MATTHEWS: So you think he has to make the fight to put people on the court.
MATTHEWS: When Rehnquist steps down, when anyone else steps down, he has got to make the case. You‘re saying, to keep his rapport with the right, the cultural right, he has to call for the—he has to nominate someone who is clearly against Roe vs. Wade.
BUCHANAN: Here‘s what he has got to do.
Gonzales would have been a disaster if he had put him there. He needs put up someone who is a conservative. Take the chief judge of the Fourth Circuit down there, Wilkins.
BUCHANAN: Yes. He‘s a strict constructionist. Whatever his personal views on Roe v. Wade, he has got to be someone who is willing to overturn precedent and go back to the Constitution.
A conservative like that, if he sends him up, if I were Bush, I would not ask him the question about, what are you going to do? You shouldn‘t. Let the Senate ask him the question. But he has to do that. That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Even if he loses? Even if he loses?
BUCHANAN: Even if he loses. Send another, for heaven‘s sakes and make a recess appointment.
But if he sends someone up there who goes up before the Judiciary Committee and says, I think Roe v. Wade was rightly decided, he will completely demoralize the Christian right in this country.
MATTHEWS: Will you oppose it if he does that?
BUCHANAN: Well, I will oppose the Supreme Court nominee. It won‘t do any good. But I will say it is time really to get out of politics or find a new party again.
BUCHANAN: You have still got a lot of force us on there, Pat. I wouldn‘t underestimate your legions, you pitchfork brigade.
Thank you, Pat Buchanan.
Jon Meacham is staying with us. And when we return, we‘ll talk to Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Jim Wallis of the Christian anti-poverty group Call to Renewal.
You‘re watching a HARDBALL/”Newsweek” special report, “The Passion of the Right,” only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, the Southern Baptist Convention‘s Dr. Richard Land and Jim Wallis of “Sojourners” magazine, when our HARDBALL/”Newsweek” special report, “The Passion of the Right,” returns.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to this HARDBALL/”Newsweek” special report, “The Passion of the Right.”
Dr. Richard Land is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention‘s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. And Jim Wallis is editor of “Sojourners” magazine and president of Call to Renewal, an umbrella group of Christians organizations dedicated to fighting poverty. And Jon Meacham of “Newsweek” is staying with us.
Let‘s go right now to Dr. Land, Richard Land.
Let me ask you this. Does President Bush have to make a real fight to end abortion in this country to be qualified to have received that tremendous support from the evangelicals earlier this month?
RICHARD LAND, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: He has to take a strong stand in favor of strict constructionist judges and returning the question of abortion to the American people.
You know, there are too many people on the liberal side of the agenda who say that if we overturn Roe, it outlaws abortion. No, it doesn‘t. It just turns it back to the people. And I thought we believed in democracy in this country. The left knows that, if it is left to the people, we won‘t have anymore partial-birth abortion and we won‘t have abortion on demand. We‘ll have more restrictive, rather than less restrictive laws on abortion. In most states in this country, that‘s what the people want.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Jim Wallis, what is your view on that? Do you think abortion should be returned to the states and the people for decision making, not certified as a right by the Supreme Court?
JIM WALLIS, PRESIDENT, CALL TO RENEWAL: I think we need a new conversation about abortion, like how to actually do something to reduce the abortion rate. Pro-life and pro-choice people on both sides could agree to prevent unwanted pregnancies. We could deal with teenage pregnancy, adoption reform. Both sides use as a litmus test.
Rather, we should target the abortion rate dramatically for reduction. That would be some common ground that we‘re really desperate to find right now.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that, Richard?
LAND: Well, I‘m happy to find common ground that will reduce abortion. But most abortions in this country are purely elective. They have nothing to do with the health of the mother, nothing to do with the life of the mother, nothing to do with incest, nothing to do with rape.
They‘re post-conception means of birth control. And most Americans don‘t want sex selection abortions. They don‘t want abortions for minors without parental notification, as the Florida referendum showed 2-1 in this last election, and they don‘t want partial-birth abortions. And they want it out of the hands of the courts and given back to the people‘s elected representatives.
MATTHEWS: What about the main issue of abortion and the right of a woman, a grown-up woman or, say, a woman of majority, who wants to have an abortion in the early terms of—at early terms, one—the first term, for example? Should that be allowed?
LAND: I don‘t believe so. And I believe that I‘m willing to slug that out in the state legislatures of the states. I believe that no individual person, mother or otherwise, should have absolute right of life and death over another human being in this culture.
And I, like millions and millions of traditional Catholics and evangelicals, believe that that unborn child is a human being that deserves the legal protection of the law.
MATTHEWS: Should there be any punishment for a woman having abortion, Richard?
LAND: No. I would focus on the doctors that perform them.
MATTHEWS: In most cases of behavior we find repugnant, we try to punish the person, so as to discourage them from pursuing what we don‘t what them to pursue, which is to find a doctor to perform an abortion. Why wouldn‘t you want to punish the woman, stop her from going for an abortion?
LAND: Well, I‘ve worked in crisis pregnancy centers and I‘ve worked with people who are recovering from post-abortion traumatic stress syndrome. And I see abortive mothers as victims, as well as the children. And I don‘t think that—my goal is to stop the killing of unborn children, not to go punitively after mothers who find themselves with problem pregnancies.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Richard, about this question of the politics of this thing.
Your communities around the country—and they‘re so diverse. They do include, as you point out, conservative Catholics, traditional Catholics. They include certainly the bishops who were with you on this election in terms of the abortion rights issue. Did you ever—have you talked to Karl Rove and tried to discuss with him what are your reasonable expectations of this administration, which benefited by those so many votes?
LAND: No, I haven‘t discussed that with Karl, at least in the last year and a half or so.
My conversations with Karl—I‘ve known Karl a long time. My conversations with Karl mostly go along the lines of, if you want your candidate to get the votes of evangelicals, you have to support the issues that evangelical support. The only person who can deliver the votes of evangelicals and traditional Catholics who go to church more than once a week or once a week is the candidate himself.
And I think Pat Buchanan was absolutely right in the earlier segment when he said the chief guy here is George W. Bush himself. He‘s the chief social conservative. And he‘s the one who had more to do with getting those three and a half million to four million extra evangelical votes out there. He‘s the one who got more Hispanics to vote for him than any other Republican candidate in history. He‘s the one who got a majority of traditional Roman Catholics to vote for him. It was George W. Bush. It wasn‘t...
MATTHEWS: Well, why do you think he was so successful with those communities—and I admit they‘re diverse—without actually saying he would like to overturn Roe v. Wade?
LAND: Well, because he said he wants a culture of life where children are protected in law and welcomed in life.
MATTHEWS: But, Richard, he said he also said that he wants to recognize—he says it many times—he wants the culture to come first and the law to come second. He wants the country to change its heart on the issue of abortion.
LAND: Chris, the country has changed. Election results are the consequence, not the cause, of social change. And between the Hudson and the California border, the majority of the country has changed on this issue. The vast majority of this country does not want abortion on demand. And they do not want partial-birth abortion.
Now, a majority doesn‘t want the abolition of most abortions yet. Each state will find its own equilibrium. But the country has changed. If that‘s not the message of this election, I don‘t know what is.
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m just trying to figure out...
LAND: Between the Hudson and California, it‘s changed.
MATTHEWS: I‘m trying to read the president, who you say is the leader of the movement and I‘m trying to figure out whether he is ready to make a hard stand—take a hard stand against abortion rights by picking judges who will clearly overturn Roe vs. Wade over the next couple years if they gain the majority.
LAND: I‘m certain of it.
I‘m certain of it, because, for him, this isn‘t politics. This is his own heartfelt conviction. This is the core of the man.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll come back to Richard Land, Dr. Richard Land, Jim Wallis, and Jon Meacham when our HARDBALL/”Newsweek” special report continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1960)
JOHN F. KENNEDY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope that no American, considering the really critical issues facing this country, will waste his franchise and throw away his vote by voting either for me or against me because of my religious affiliation. It is not relevant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to this HARDBALL/”Newsweek” special report “The Passion of the Right.”
We‘re back with Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Jim Wallis of Call to Renewal and “Sojourners” magazine, and “Newsweek”‘s Jon Meacham.
Let me go to Richard.
The president toward the end of the campaign talked about his openness to letting the states decide the issue of gay marriage, along the lines of perhaps something like partnership rights, whatever. Are you comfortable with duking it out, to use your phrase, in the states on that issue?
MATTHEWS: Or do you want a constitutional amendment to ban it purely and simply nationwide?
LAND: Well, the constitutional amendment only bans marriage nationwide and it leaves the decision of what degree of benefits that would be similar to a marriage relationship that would be given to a gay couple to the state legislatures of those states, not the state courts.
LAND: The state legislatures. And I‘m more than willing to allow the American people to speak to that issue through their elected representatives, but not have elitist courts shove it down our throats.
MATTHEWS: Jim, how do you get past these very visceral issues? I don‘t know how anybody can be—I guess I—I guess a lot of people are undecided about gay marriage. I will put myself down on that one, or partnership rights or where it ends up. My kids, all the young people, seem to have different views on this thing.
Are we going to ever get past these cultural questions to the issue of poverty and things like that?
WALLIS: We have got to. We have got to.
We talked about—you talked about the mammon issues. Jesus talked about mammon all the time. He says, as you have done to the least of these, you have done to me. Poverty is a religious issue, is a moral values question. Abortion and gay marriage are important, but we are acting like of our Christian ethics can be squeezed down or reduced to two hot-button social issues.
I want to reduce the abortion rate, too, but if you elevate the status of low-income women, you always reduce the abortion rate. Jesus talked about the poor again and again and again. The Bible has 2,000 verses on the topic. So let‘s have a broader, richer, deeper conversation about values. Iraq is a life issue, not just abortion.
The Catholic bishops talk about a consistent ethic of human life. Let‘s have a wider, deeper conversation here. And then I welcome this discussion about moral values and politics, but not just sticking to two issues.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I haven‘t seen my church get as deeply involved in the war and peace issue as they had on the issue of abortion rights.
WALLIS: Well, the pope was very outspoken on the war. He was against George Bush and the war.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he was outspoken, but he hasn‘t sent letters around telling people how to vote on the war, where their letters were sent around right through the election as to how you can vote on issues of life.
Let me go to Jon Meacham.
How do you get past the political debate? It is so red hot, Jon. Every guy or woman walking into the polls in those 11 states where marriage rights were on the ballot, or the issue of gay marriage was on the ballot, it is hard to walk past that and say, well, let me think about poverty and tax law now.
MEACHAM: Right. No, I think that‘s right.
But we have been talking about how the country may be more purple than red and blue. And I‘m Episcopalian, so we try to have—cut everything in half.
MEACHAM: So I will admit that. But an Anglican approach to these issues actually I think has a lot to argue for.
MATTHEWS: But aren‘t you having a dispute within your own church on the issues of gay...
MATTHEWS: ... etcetera?
MEACHAM: We are. We are. We are having a dispute within our own church. But we‘re within our church. We are staying in the tent and we‘re trying to work it out, which is what we are going to have to do in the country.
I have been thinking as I have been listening to Dr. Land and Mr. Wallis, thinking about Lincoln, with malice toward none, with charity for all, thinking about President Kennedy. The last line of the great inaugural was, on Earth, God‘s work must truly be our own. You think about President Reagan speaking in terms of good and evil. You think about President Bush Sr. talking about Saddam as good and evil.
MEACHAM: We have always had a debate about the role of our moral values in our public life. And I think that we are not in danger of theocracy. If anyone thinks that we are going to push too far too fast on either side, I think the old proverb pride goeth before a fall applies here. This was a 52 percent election. It was decisive for the president.
But it did not suddenly settle all questions confronting God and man.
MATTHEWS: I think it opened them up. Anyway...
WALLIS: There‘s a couple things that we need.
MATTHEWS: Richard, go ahead.
WALLIS: There‘s two things we need.
One is a broader conversation so that we are talking not just about abortion and gay marriage, but about the broader questions of justice and peace and a consistent ethic of human life. We also need some common ground. In a bitterly divided electorate, where do you find the common ground? I think poverty, doing something about poverty might be part of a new common ground that could people on both sides together here. I really do.
LAND: And I agree with that to some degree.
First of all, the president‘s welfare reform proposals on promoting marriage, the single thing that would eliminate more poverty in this country than any other thing would be if mothers married the fathers of their children. So anything our government can do to help promote the formation and the maintenance of marriage in those who are impacted by the welfare reforms is something that will manifestly impact poverty.
WALLIS: But work isn‘t working for a lot of families.
MATTHEWS: The best way to make a husband is to make sure he has got a job, Richard, because he makes a better husband if he can provide for his family.
Anyway, thank you, Richard Land. Thank you, Jim Wallis. And thank you, again, Jon Meacham.
Join again on Monday night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.
Right now, we leave with you some sights and sounds from Thursday‘s opening of the Clinton Presidential Library.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Bill Clinton led our country with optimism and a great affection for the American people.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One-time political adversaries have the tendency to become friends.
G.W. BUSH:rMD-BO_ The William J. Clinton Presidential Library is a gift to the future by a man who always believed in the future.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The record is all in there, what we did at home, what we did abroad.
CLINTON: Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.
CLINTON: I want young people to want to see not only what I did with my life, but to see what they could do with their lives.
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