Guest: Bob Colacello, George Allen
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Today, one of America‘s favorite political rituals, the inauguration of a president. President Bush secures his place in history as he is sworn in as president of the United States for the second time.
Live from MSNBC‘s inaugural headquarters on the National Mall here in Washington, let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. And welcome to MSNBC‘s live coverage of the second inaugural of President Bush. We‘re broadcasting live from our headquarters on the National Mall in Washington, right down where you see us, the beauty of the Capitol dome right up there behind us. On a rainy winter day in Washington, thousands of people gathered in this city to watch all the pomp and pageantry of the official swearing-in ceremony and the rousing parade which capped off a day as traditionally patriotic to Americans as the Fourth of July.
But the celebration was subdued, as we are a country at war. And the nation‘s 43rd president delivered a one-themed, one-message secular sermon, his inaugural address, a promise to fight for freedom throughout the world.
My panel tonight, from NBC News, Andrea Mitchell and Campbell Brown, plus, “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman. In a moment, NBC‘s David Gregory is going to join us here at this beautiful spot on the National Mall.
I have to go to Andrea Mitchell, the chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC, to talk about the scope of this commitment.
The president of the United States, what did you make of it?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, he said it is not unlimited, but it sounded unlimited, in that we are going to promote freedom, that the message to people who are oppressed, particularly in Iran, for instance, although he did not say so specifically, is that we will help you if you want to rebel against your oppressors, that liberty is the force that can change the world and that it is vital to our national interests to do this.
It was a redefinition of American‘s vital interests.
MATTHEWS: Howard, I think the idea of freedom being indivisibly globally, that if there‘s a threat—I was just thinking of where I was in the Peace Corps. If there‘s a monarchy in Swaziland, that threatens us? I mean, an astounding statement. I don‘t mean to ridicule it, but powerful.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very powerful.
I think it is the biggest statement of American purpose in the world of any president I can think of. It is Woodrow Wilson on steroids. It‘s big.
MATTHEWS: Explain that historically.
FINEMAN: Well, Woodrow Wilson said that we needed to make the world safe for democracy. George Bush is saying, we need to make America safe by encouraging and guaranteeing democracy everywhere on the planet.
And, more important, if there‘s any place on the planet that doesn‘t have self-determination, if all souls aren‘t free, aren‘t freed by the force of political liberty, then we‘re all in danger. I mean, it is really a globe-girdling statement unlike any that any president has ever made.
MATTHEWS: Globe-girdling statement.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re right.
MATTHEWS: Campbell, I want to you respond to a piece of the speech. Let‘s just pick up on it and throughout the evening, let‘s look at different points of importance in the speech.
President Bush spoke of America‘s mission, as Howard said, to end tyranny. Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations.
The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it.
America‘s influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America‘s influence is considerable and we will use it confidently in freedom‘s cause.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I wonder if you were a foreigner who didn‘t particularly like us, who were suspicious of our foreign policies, oh, let me get this straight. The president of the United States reserves the right to decide which weapons countries have in the world. He reserves the right to change their governments if they don‘t meet our standards of democracy. I mean, maybe it is not that strict, but it sounded powerful today.
CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, but he was also talking to the American people. I mean, when I was covering the White House—and David, when he gets here, can talk about this, too—but forever after 9/11, in every speech, he addressed the American people and talked about the patience that was going to be required to deal with the war on terrorism.
And it was interesting to me because of having heard that so many times that today he acknowledged that people have in fact been patient and then asked them for a little bit more, because the polls right now show that people are shaky on Iraq and on whatever he plans to do beyond Iraq. I mean, it is going to take a lot more support than he has now.
BROWN: ... implement any further.
MATTHEWS: But it is not just what we‘ve done in terms of patience and trying to get past the casualties and the cost of this war. It is the commitment he‘s made in the—the covenant he‘s made with the American people to go further.
Let me get this straight. The president of the United States is responsible to be the chief law enforcement official of this country. The president today committed to his personal responsibility to make sure that he enforces freedom around the world.
MITCHELL: And what‘s so remarkable about that, Chris, is that he doesn‘t acknowledge that we are stretched thin already, something that, when I talked to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Myers this morning, he said we are pretty much up against the limit, but we could do more in an emergency.
But to make this kind of covenant, as you‘ve described it, with oppressed people everywhere, we can‘t let them down, as we did the Kurds back in the early ‘90s, after promising to liberate them and then, after the war, abandoning them. We can‘t make these promises and then not be there for them.
BROWN: But the question, I guess I would ask is, it was an inaugural address. Was it really—was he making a covenant or was it soaring rhetoric, idealistic...
BROWN: ... that people respond to and want to hear at a time like this?
FINEMAN: You can‘t have it both ways. I think this was a nonpolitical moment in a way. Inaugurations are nonpolitical in a sense. They‘re supposed to be for the whole country and speaking to the American people and the world. If you‘re going to do that, your words are supposed to be taken seriously.
They‘re supposed to guide the theory and the practice of your administration. It is remarkable. I found it almost stern in its tone. And I was up there watching it from a few feet away. The skies turned a little gray when he was halfway through, I have to say.
MATTHEWS: Andrea, chief foreign—in your capacity as chief foreign affairs correspondent...
MATTHEWS: Campbell, you have visited that part of the world and you‘re going to visit again in your career. Let‘s just talk about it. If you‘re King Mohammed of Morocco.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s just go right across the Arab world, a moderate Arab leader who is a king, an inherited monarchy, if you go across to Gadhafi, his kid, Seif Gadhafi, wants to be the next president of Libya. The father wants the kid to get the job, just like George Herbert Walker Bush wanted his kid to get the job through democracy.
If you‘re Bashar Assad, you got the job because Hafez Assad gave it to you. If you‘re Abdullah of Jordan, you got the job because your father, Hussein, had it. Just a minute. These people are now being told, friend and foe alike, Baathists, monarchists and jihadists, they‘re all being told this. From now on, kids, you are not going to give the job to your kid. We have a new dispensation. You‘re going to have democracy in your country and you‘re going to elect your leaders.
Wow. Who are we? I‘m sorry. It‘s the president‘s decision, but it is a dramatic statement, isn‘t it?
MITCHELL: I think it is. And it is completely in character with this president. It is religious in nature. It is also a powerful evocation of the American dream. But as a foreign policy statement, you‘re right. If you‘re the Saudis, what is the message there?
MATTHEWS: There‘s a name for you, Crown Prince Abdullah. It doesn‘t sound very much democratic, does it?
FINEMAN: Well, I just have to say, George Bush Sr., I was trying to think what he is thinking up there, the father, the ultimate pragmatist.
MATTHEWS: He has dealt with these guys.
FINEMAN: The ultimate pragmatist, who has dealt with all those people.
MATTHEWS: Prince Bandar.
FINEMAN: And he is up there thinking, you know, I told George Bush, my son, to value democracy. I‘m not sure I want him to take it this seriously.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take look at some of the president‘s words again. And I do them—take them seriously. Here he is speaking directly, it seems, to the Iraqi people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
G.W. BUSH: America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal, instead, is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: David Gregory, many times on HARDBALL, we have talked about taking the president at his word. Should we?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I think that he wants the Iraqi people to fashion their own democracy. The question is how realistic it is to think they can overcome a period of civil war and get to the kind of democracy he‘s talking about.
MATTHEWS: He never said the word Iraq today.
GREGORY: He never did.
MATTHEWS: He talked about the world.
GREGORY: He talked about the world. And he also talked about the fact that we‘ve taken on obligations that would be dishonorable to abandon at this point. Everybody understands what that means. He‘s talking about Iraq.
But I got in here a little bit late to this discussion, but I do think it is significant that the president told the American people and the rest of the world that, I‘m not just a cowboy who goes out and fights wars. I do believe in something, however farfetched some people may think it is, however long-term the vision is. We have to get about the business of being about freedom and democracy and not just about taking out governments.
MATTHEWS: But we are talking about the willingness to use whatever mean necessary, because he made clear, and the vice president did today on the “Imus” show, we‘ll try the U.N. route. We‘ll try that route.
MATTHEWS: If that doesn‘t work, we‘ll take the next step.
GREGORY: Well, I think he also said that this has to be a matter of choice, that people do have to ultimately choose. The Iraqi people have to choose.
GREGORY: It is distinctly possible that Iraq fails as an American enterprise to usher in any kind of democracy there, because they have to make the choice. All he can do is overthrow the tyrant and give them a shot to do it.
Now, it fails, it doesn‘t mean that the whole Middle East strategy fails if Iraq fails, necessarily, but it is a huge flash point.
MATTHEWS: I think he went further. Check me on this. Didn‘t he say that, if we don‘t bring about results, not an attempt to bring about the results of democracy, if we fail to establish democracy in those dangerous states like Libya, Syria, Iran, the troubling states to us, then they will be festering grounds for terrorism and anti-Americanism.
MITCHELL: He says here, advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation‘s security and the calling of our time. It is—our national security is at stake if we don‘t advance freedom around the world.
MATTHEWS: This seems to me the ideology of the administration now.
BROWN: I want to follow up on Andrea‘s earlier point, too, which goes to what you just said about what they‘re able to do in terms of action because of the limits on the military right now.
What you hear from a lot of the military leaders is, it is not just about stabilizing Iraq. Stabilizing Iraq is one component in terms of fighting terrorism and al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is still the enemy. And if we lose in Iraq, that is a foothold for al Qaeda beyond just the insurgents and beyond...
GREGORY: But they have got to kind of look around the corner, too. It is more than just—it just more than rogue terrorist groups. It‘s bad actors who get nuclear weapons.
And I don‘t think this is new, by the way. This is been the ideology now. This has been the ideology for a while.
MATTHEWS: But if you‘re a monarchy or you‘re a Baathist, in the case of Syria, still, if you‘re a jihadist, he seem to me saying, I don‘t care what you‘re trying out there. What we want you to do is democracy.
FINEMAN: But, also, the specific political purpose of this, though, was also to prepare the American people for a longer slog in Iraq than they may think is in prospect.
Don‘t forget, those elections are coming up on January 30. He was putting the biggest possible surround, the biggest philosophical surround around what is going to be a very tough situation that Campbell is about to go cover.
BROWN: And—well, and the leaks we‘ve been hearing over the last few weeks about preparations or a timeline for getting troops out of Iraq, I don‘t think you heard that at all today. And I think that‘s what Howard is saying, is that was the president‘s point and trying to get across to the American people they‘re there for a long time.
MITCHELL: This is all about 9/11. This has to do with 9/11.
Right at the beginning of the speech, he said we had years of sabbatical after the Cold War and then we had the days—there came a day of fire.
MITCHELL: And this, 9/11 is what informed every decision they have taken since.
GREGORY: And, look, look, this is getting buy-in for something bigger than something tangible, which is WMD in Iraq, something that could actually warrant preemptive force.
This is selling the idea that, if we are really going to avoid 9/11, it is not just about using a force of arms. It is about convincing people that there‘s another way. And that other way is to build freedom, to use the Internet, to open your societies, to give people a choice beyond despair and terror. And so this is significant because the president is now trying to get buy-in from the American people.
He didn‘t want to talk about how long troops are going to have to be there and how many more young men and women have to die. He wants people to try to wrap their minds around this new idea. And, in some ways, it reflects their own failure of emphasis, because they spent so much time talking us that the smoking gun in Iraq would be a mushroom cloud.
MATTHEWS: I think it was heroic. It was a bold, a rare bold statement by a president of his personal ideology of the rest of his life. It is going to be unbelievable to see the impact of this.
Our panel is going to stay with us for the entire hour tonight. And later, a look at the ceremonies you haven‘t seen yet. Today, by the way, the inaugural balls, and they‘re coming up tonight. All through the night, there will inaugural balls. The president will be touching base at each of them.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of President Bush‘s second inauguration on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...
throughout our great land, and to them, I say thank you for watching democracy‘s big day, for democracy belongs to us all, and freedom is like a beautiful kite that can go higher and higher with the breeze. And to all, I say, no matter what your circumstances or where you are, you are part of this day. You are part of the life of our great nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘re here live on the National Mall. And when we come back, our panel will review President Bush‘s inaugural address earlier today.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live inaugural coverage.
We‘re back with our panel.
Howard Fineman, you start.
On Capitol Hill today and across this country, the president has allies. Many of them are here in town celebrating along with him. He also has something of a political opposition out there. How will the politicians who read the tea leaves read his speech today?
FINEMAN: Well, the Republicans will like it, if not love it. I was up on the Hill while he was delivering the speech. And here you had these Republicans cheering the echoes of Martin Luther King about liberating the soul of all mankind. It was really quite a moment. And I think they Bush into it.
A lot of Democrats are going to say, he is blowing this up to monumental proportions in order to deal with the political problems that he has and that he‘s going to have in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Another case of creating a crisis.
FINEMAN: Well, create—as I said before, creating the biggest possible philosophical surround, as David says, so you don‘t have to worry about WMD anymore. If you don‘t like the way the government is, you go because it‘s a threat because people aren‘t free.
MATTHEWS: Is it also a way of saying, I‘ve learned as a politician for the last 10 years or so at the highest level in that country that values are my strong suit.
MATTHEWS: I can sell values. I may not be able to sell strategy or performance, but, when I say freedom, when I—how many times did he say it?
MATTHEWS: When I say liberty—how many times?
FINEMAN: ... it was a sermon.
MITCHELL: Well, what Karl Rove said to David in his interview, to me again today, is that the key moment in this campaign was when the president said to him, I want to campaign on big ideas. And this was the culmination of that.
GREGORY: And not only that. I think there‘s two points.
One is, it‘s values. It‘s values that you believe in and you stick to, even when they‘re under fire. And he thinks that matters.
MATTHEWS: OK. Imagine you‘re Ted Kennedy this morning listening to that speech at noon and you‘ve been fighting against him and the neoconservative philosophy now for a couple months or years now. And what are you reading? Are you reading it is on to Iran, it is on to Syria? Or are you reading, we‘ll consolidate what we‘re doing in Iraq?
BROWN: A little of both. And I think they‘ll hype it even more, because I was also on the Hill today during the inaugural address. And Democrats want to keep the focus on Iraq. They don‘t want to allow to it shift to the domestic agenda and Social Security.
MATTHEWS: What about further forward-leaning military strikes, in—going after terrorists in Syria, going after missile sites of potential nuclear danger in Iran? Did you read that in today?
BROWN: I don‘t think—I didn‘t. I didn‘t see it going that far. I think you‘re jumping the gun a little bit. I wouldn‘t be surprised, though, if Democrats didn‘t use that to say, hey, here is a warning. Here‘s what this guy wants to do.
GREGORY: See, I think that‘s right. I think that‘s right.
And I think you could be jumping the gun too much. But, at the same time, if you‘re an American citizen who is worried about Iraq, and you think, well, gosh, after Iraq, they‘re going to be realists now, they‘re going to take a breath, and then you hear this president say, if you are going to push to depose your tyrant, America will stand with you, you have got to be standing back and saying, whoa, whoa.
MATTHEWS: Mubarak. What is President Mubarak, our oldest ally in the Middle East, what was he saying after he read the dispatches today of this speech, do you think?
MITCHELL: I think he was saying, whoa, we have to worry again about George W. Bush. I think that those leaders...
MATTHEWS: He‘s off the reservation again?
MITCHELL: Exactly. Those leaders who want to see a much more conciliatory George Bush, who want to see an opening to Europe, a recommitment to the Middle East peace negotiations and to really doing something about the Israeli-Palestinian track, that‘s what they want to hear.
MATTHEWS: Did he mention something today?
GREGORY: No. No.
GREGORY: What he talks about is—again, he talks about democracy and he means for a Palestinian state, for Palestinians to create democratic institutions.
MITCHELL: Before he will negotiate.
GREGORY: Right. But, emotionally, he‘s not saying to that part of the world, I‘m going to recommit myself to making sure that happens and pressuring the Israelis.
BROWN: But all this hinges on, did it resonate with the American people? I mean, if you look at the polls, and they are paying attention to the polls, the people are not with him on this war. They‘re giving him this much leeway. And every American casualty personalizes this war.
GREGORY: And that‘s precisely why this is the argument, because they‘re not with him on the war. They are with him on the overall strategy against terror. That‘s the important part.
FINEMAN: He made the deepest, most sweeping possible argument right now for the whole administration‘s direction. This was it.
FINEMAN: This was it.
MATTHEWS: He didn‘t say to the parents and loved ones of those doing the fighting, the 150,000 over there, they‘ll be home soon.
FINEMAN: No, he didn‘t.
MATTHEWS: It was the opposite message.
FINEMAN: He said the opposite. But he said they won‘t be home soon, but this is how noble, just how noble the cause is. That‘s all he could do. That‘s all he could do.
GREGORY: This is also the election message. This is the campaign message, which is, let‘s not just focus on Iraq. I‘m tough on terror. Forget just Iraq. Think sweeping war on terror. And Americans, they respond to that.
MATTHEWS: The ABC/”Washington Post” poll, the No. 1 concern of the American people, particular concern, is Iraq, not the war on terrorism. That comes in second.
GREGORY: I‘m not disagreeing with that. I‘m suggesting to you what his motivation is.
GREGORY: What he‘s trying to do.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, our panel will be back with us later in the hour.
And after the break, I look inside the real political party, the inaugural balls.
You‘re watching—I should say the word party like in party.
MATTHEWS: HARDBALL‘s live coverage of President Bush‘s second inauguration continues on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If any of you would like to cut in, please do so. We‘ll be there. All right.
G.W. BUSH: But before we start the work, there‘s some dancing to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of President Bush‘s second inaugural.
Tonight is a big night for parties. The president is expected at several inaugural balls. A lot of them are here at the Convention Center.
But HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster is at a special ball tonight. He is outside of it right now. It is called the Commander in Chief‘s Ball at the National Building Museum.
David, tell us about this unique ball tonight.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, there‘s been a lot of criticism this week that the Bush administration, the Bush supporters, even though it is private donations, that $40 million is a lot of money to spend on a party when the nation is at war in the wake of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia.
So the administration said, well, wait a second. One of these parties is for our troops. And that is in fact what is happening here at the Commander in Chief‘s Ball. This is the first time they‘ve actually had a ball specifically just for military. And these are mostly service men and women who are serving in Iraq, who have just come back from Iraq or are headed there.
It is very, very different tone, Chris, from some of these other balls, where you might hear Republicans talking about which person is going to be the ambassador over the next term to which country. Here, the conversation is very much about where in Iraq these service men and women are going to be posted, a lot of those types of conversations.
The members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are expected here later, as well as Secretary Rumsfeld, when President Bush comes in late tonight.
MATTHEWS: We‘ve got about 10,000 wounded out of Iraq right now. Any of those people there tonight?
SHUSTER: Chris, we haven‘t seen any. We thought that we might see some kids on wheelchairs or the prosthetic limbs that we saw at Walter Reed. We haven‘t seen any of those, although we‘re told that some of those were invited. But it‘s basically just been soldiers on active duty who are just back from Iraq or heading there in the next couple weeks.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, David Shuster, from the Commander in Chief‘s Ball at the National Building Museum.
Our panel is back after this break with more analysis, more discussion, perhaps some friction about what we think of what happened today, this historic day in Washington and what the next four years could hold based upon what we heard.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of President Bush‘s second inaugural here on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back to our panel, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Campbell Brown and “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman.
I am going to stir things up. I‘m going to play tumbler here. The old man, George Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, was a realist. He was surrounded by Brent Scowcroft, by James A. Baker. They understood the world the way it was. They were not trying to change it. They were trying to live with it. Was the son, George Walker Bush, saying to the old man tonight, I‘m going to be different to you and here‘s how?
You said, we live with the world. We live with the crazy tyrannies. We live with the monarchies. We live with the Prince Bandars, the oil barons and the guys with the big rings. And fine. That was the deal. In fact, old man, you still live with them. You‘re still hanging out with them. I‘m new. I‘m better. I‘m going to get rid of all that crap, no more monarchies, no more tyrannies, no more Baathists, no more jihadists. I‘m going to have democracy in the Middle East because I‘m a bigger dreamer than you are, Brent Scowcroft and Jimmy Baker.
You‘re the expert. Is that what‘s going on here?
MITCHELL: I‘m not sure about the family dynamic. But I can talk about the policy.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what I want to talk about.
MITCHELL: Wait. Wait.
MATTHEWS: ... the father-son thing. A little bit of that.
MITCHELL: A little bit. Let me talk...
MATTHEWS: Just humor me. Is there a father-son rift here?
MITCHELL: Sure. Well, sure there is. There is a big father-son rift on foreign policy.
There has been for several years. And it is now much more pronounced. Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, and, to a certain extent, Colin Powell have a different sense of the world. They are pragmatists. And Colin Powell is perhaps the best example of it. By the way, Powell is leaving on Saturday for the Ukraine to go to the inaugural.
And I have to say, he‘s had a bum rap and we‘ve been part of that. “The Washington Post,” “The New York Times” and NBC, yours truly, has talked about him not traveling enough, because the White House was putting this out, frankly, that Condoleezza Rice is going to be more committed and more energized.
And—well, the bottom line is that he has traveled more than Jim Baker, more than Warren Christopher, and not quite as much as Madeleine Albright, but she lingered in various countries when she traveled and did a little bit more sightseeing.
GREGORY: Chris, can I just...
MATTHEWS: OK, back to pop and the kid. Let‘s go back to pop and the kid.
MATTHEWS: Poppy believed the world was what it‘s going to be when he died and very much like when he was born. It ain‘t going to be much different. There‘s going to be Arab sultans. They‘re going to rule their lands under different titles and different dispensations. But, basically, the Arabs are not democrats. The kid says, I can turn them all into democrats.
MITCHELL: He has a different vision. And his vision is a riskier vision. And we‘ve already seen it in Iraq. Now, if it is successful, it is the big idea that Karl Rove is talking about. It is freedom. It is what Dick Cheney believes in.
But if it is not successful, we get—quote—“bogged down” and it is a much tougher strategy and much tougher on our military.
FINEMAN: It‘s what we all believe in. George Bush is right. The Constitution, the country is founded on the idea of freedom. The question is whether we have the will as a country to do it. The interesting this...
FINEMAN: Wait a minute. The father...
MATTHEWS: Don‘t include what we all would agree on until there‘s a vote here.
MATTHEWS: We don‘t all agree on the ability to sell democracy to everyone.
FINEMAN: No, I didn‘t say that. I didn‘t say that.
MATTHEWS: Because there‘s certain cultures that have come to who they are now their own route.
FINEMAN: I didn‘t say that. I said that‘s what the Constitution talks about.
FINEMAN: But George Bush the father was a realist because he had fought in World War II and had been shot down. George Bush Jr., the son, is a product of the ‘60s more than I ever would have thought. This speech that he gave today...
MATTHEWS: Our ‘60s?
FINEMAN: Our ‘60s, our ‘60s.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at what he had to say. Let him speak for himself, the president of the United States today in his inaugural speaking about the preservation of America depending upon the success of freedom elsewhere. Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
G.W. BUSH: We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion:
The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.
G.W. BUSH: The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Powerful statement.
BROWN: It‘s a big vision. And isn‘t it in a sense the lessons learned from the father? Wasn‘t part of the reason 41 was not reelected is for lack of vision? They looked at that and they said, we‘re going into the second term with a big, bold agenda.
MATTHEWS: OK, the vision itself, David...
GREGORY: Can I just get back to your original question? Can we do that? Can we be at the dinner table with father and son?
And the son says to dad, dad, an important point here, 9/11. You were a realist and I respect that. And there was time for realism in the first Gulf War; 9/11 happens and it is a rejection of the realism of the past 40 years and the coddling of dictatorships in the Middle East. We have got to try something else. We have got to take this entire region and shake it up and see where the pieces fall.
MATTHEWS: ... called them dictators. The president called them friends. Mubarak is a close personal friend of the Bush family. He‘s one of the—he was—these guys who came to kill us on 9/11 are from Egypt. They‘re from Jordan. They‘re from Saudi Arabia. They‘re from our friends.
They‘re not from Iraq especially.
GREGORY: Why are you looking at all this in a vacuum? Of course, they are, but, I mean...
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m just asking, does this mean that we‘re for turning over all those governments?
GREGORY: No, not tomorrow. We need their help.
It‘s the same argument about, there‘s a realpolitik aspect to this administration as well. They‘re not all daydreamers. They understand that, if you want to go in and take out Saddam Hussein, you have got to have the cooperation of Saudi Arabia.
MATTHEWS: We‘ve learned that the most dangerous people come from the countries closest to us. They‘re the young generation of those countries like Saddam who are rebelling against the people who have been close to us, right?
GREGORY: Well, right, but I‘m trying to answer your point, which is, I don‘t know that it is a personal rift. It is a reaction to 9/11 and the judgment that the years of coddling this part of the world was not working.
So, whether he‘s prepared to knock off these regimes tomorrow is not as much the point as saying, we have to set something in motion where this part of the world transforms itself. And that is saying to Mubarak, you‘re a friend, you‘re an ally, but, years from now, this isn‘t going to work.
MITCHELL: But the difference is that George Bush 41 would not react, has not reacted to 9/11 in the same way. The clearest signal on that is that Brent Scowcroft, James Baker and the others have not as well.
GREGORY: Right. I think that‘s...
MITCHELL: And so I can‘t play Dr. Freud. I don‘t quite understand the father-son dynamic perhaps as well as you.
MITCHELL: But I think there is something like that going on.
FINEMAN: It‘s the product of different experience.
GREGORY: Right. That‘s important. Right.
FINEMAN: It‘s the product—and George Bush the son is now expressing the idealism that the father expressed when he volunteered for war in World War II. That‘s how I think the son views it, that this is his mission in his time. The difference is, as president, he didn‘t have the experience of war that the father....
GREGORY: Right. And, by the way, this may be a terrible vision, what this president is laying out. We should not pass judgment either way.
But the point is—or I‘m not going to. What I‘m suggesting to you is that this is the genesis of that vision. It may be terrible, but this is where it is coming from, in my view.
MATTHEWS: And maybe half the country believes it is perhaps one of the great historic blunders of this country‘s history.
GREGORY: I think that‘s probably right.
MATTHEWS: That is part of the argument here we‘re watching.
Let‘s take a look at—here‘s the president looking like a million bucks with his first...
MITCHELL: She‘s the one who is looking like a million bucks.
MATTHEWS: OK, go to it. Explain why. What is she wearing? Let‘s do it right.
MITCHELL: I‘m sorry. I hate to be the girl thing here. But it is fabulous.
FINEMAN: Let David plunge in here.
MATTHEWS: How about a price tag on that dress? What do you figure?
MITCHELL: Oh, that dress? Well, there is no price tag on that dress.
MITCHELL: That‘s $15,000.
GREGORY: That‘s not backless, is it? Because it‘s elegant. It‘s fitting, but it‘s...
MATTHEWS: I see the president has not going over to the—I see the president has not going over to that straight tie thing we saw at the Golden Globes this week.
MATTHEWS: He‘s dressed like you, Howard.
FINEMAN: That was strictly for Hollywood, the straight tie thing.
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s very interesting why you‘re dressed like...
FINEMAN: Well, I‘m dressed like this because those of us who are going to go cover and participate in some of these things are supposed to be dressed like this.
GREGORY: When you say participate?
BROWN: Yes, what do you mean by that?
MATTHEWS: Are you undercover tonight? Are you deep undercover?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go listen to the president of the United States right now.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
G.W. BUSH: I love my wife Laura. And...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: And I‘m looking forward to dancing with her.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: It may be the first time in four years.
G.W. BUSH: I‘m really proud of Barbara and Jenna. They are great women and I‘m proud to call them daughters.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: Vice President Cheney and Lynne will be coming here shortly. He is a great vice president. I‘m proud to have him by my side.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: I want to thank the governors who joined us. You know, I‘m a member of the ex-governors club and I always feel comfortable being around our nation‘s governors.
First, I want to say thanks to the governor of the great state of Mississippi, Haley Barbour and his wife, Marsha.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: The governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, and...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: My friend, the governor of American Samoa, Governor Tulafono, is with us. Thank you, Governor.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: And thank you for bringing Mary Ann.
I appreciate Governor Vila from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: (SPEAKING SPANISH) Luisa.
Thank you all for being here. We‘re also up here with my friends Bill and Kathy DeWitt and Mercer and Gabby Reynolds. They‘re the national co-chairmen of the inauguration—of the Inaugural Committee. And they‘ve done a fantastic job in making sure this inauguration gone well.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
G.W. BUSH: We‘re having the time of our life. It‘s such a fantastic moment in our country to celebrate democracy.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was the president of the United States there live tonight. He caught us off guard.
Howard, since you‘re dressed like the president, you can take the first strike at this. Is he actually going to dance tonight? Because the last time, he did not actually dance.
FINEMAN: Well, I was telling Campbell that he‘s the kind of guy, a Texan, who believes that any man who can dance is not trustworthy.
MATTHEWS: Apparently so.
FINEMAN: It makes you an object of suspicion if you can actually dance.
MITCHELL: I love what he said.
MATTHEWS: But you can dance, Howard, right?
FINEMAN: I can‘t.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s get serious. I‘ve got to you. We only have so little time. I get so little time with you people. And you‘re such high-level intellects. I just want some thought here.
MATTHEWS: On the level with you. I have got to go with Andrea first.
The world listened to that speech. They got it in many languages. Most of the world only speaks their own language, like we only speak English. But Putin got a copy of that today, Chirac, Tony Blair, Mandela, all the Arab leaders. I mentioned Mubarak certainly, the Abdullahs and the crown prince and all. What do they make of it?
Let‘s start with Putin. Did he say, he is a dreamer? Is he thinking, he‘s telling me I‘ve got to be a democrat; I‘ve got to democratize my country?
MITCHELL: I think he is worried that we‘ll somehow come to the support of the Chechnyans.
MATTHEWS: He doesn‘t actually dance. I‘m sticking to my guns on that. Well, he‘s moving a little bit.
BROWN: Oh, he‘s dancing. What are you talking about?
MATTHEWS: He‘s dancing this year.
MITCHELL: Well, what he said when he...
MATTHEWS: Let‘s listen to these sweet nothings here. Come on.
Well, he‘s not very happy doing this stuff.
MATTHEWS: But there have been a lot of men who are watching right now have done just this to keep the wife happy.
FINEMAN: He‘s probably thinking, I‘m president. Why do I have to do this?
MITCHELL: What he said was, I love my wife, Laura. Well, you heard him say, I love my wife, Laura, and I‘m looking forward to dancing with her for the first time in four years.
MITCHELL: That was honest.
MATTHEWS: There he is. He‘s getting a little—well, he‘s getting a moving...
BROWN: Well, wasn‘t it inaugural four years ago where he did the jig with Ricky Martin on the stage?
GREGORY: Yes. Yes. That was unfortunate.
MATTHEWS: Was it as good as Nixon and Sammy Davis or not?
GREGORY: Well, when he pretends like he wants to get serious, and so he puts his shoulders into it. That‘s a sign that he doesn‘t dance a lot.
MATTHEWS: Well, he‘s obviously having a good time tonight. And so the first lady, who sometimes looks like she‘s putting up with him.
But look at this. This guy is cool. Howard..
MATTHEWS: The president of the United States is dancing for our pleasure here.
FINEMAN: I will just say that I, having covered them since he started running for governor of Texas, Laura Bush is one gracious person, I find. I think she is a great spouse in politics and always has been. And he is never more alive and never more secure, I think, than when he is around her.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that one of the great songs, “I Could Have Danced All Night,” Lerner and Loewe, from “My Fair Lady”?
FINEMAN: But even her presence is not enough to make him calm in this atmosphere, because I just don‘t think he likes this kind of thing particularly.
MITCHELL: I think he is having a great time. He is one of only 16 men to win a second term. He has vindicated his father‘s failure to be reelected and has had a day where he gave a speech with his values.
BROWN: And you can never imagine—for all the criticism of the inaugural festivities, you can never imagine this president actually going the way of FDR and doing this very reserved inaugural ceremony. He is so unapologetic. And they were going to celebrate, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Well, I was out with a bunch of them last night, the people who have come to this town to celebrate. And they are all having a great time. I guess they‘re mostly Republicans, but it doesn‘t seem that partisan. It just seems like the guy won. We‘re going to help him and have some fun with him.
FINEMAN: But this speech today was so stern. The mood of the speech itself was not really celebratory. It wasn‘t even congratulatory to the country for—after what happened after 9/11, as everybody came together.
FINEMAN: It was more setting out this very big, stern, sober mission for the future.
MATTHEWS: I think if you‘re not caught up in the charm of the president, if you‘re not caught up in the charm of today, if you just read this speech somewhere, you might be petrified by it. It is a frightening claim of American moral authority over the world. It is a powerful statement of mission, an almost open-ended commitment to bring down tyranny in the world, to pay the price.
John Kennedy said we should pay any price to defend liberty. He‘s talking about extending it to the world that doesn‘t particularly have a history with it, not just Baathist regimes—and there‘s one more to go. That‘s Syria—but monarchies, certainly all those emirates over there that are all run as monarchies, all our friends, to take on a government which is almost a modern power, Iran increasingly a modern power.
And to go to war with Iran or even attack its installations of nuclear weapons is to go to war with them. That is an act of war. There‘s no limited campaign of war against Iran. If we strike Iran and knock out all their facilities, the entire country will unite together. The modernists and the clerisy will get together and we will face a nationalist movement on the border of Iraq to more than match what we‘re facing right now.
And I think that‘s an honest assessment of what we will face.
MATTHEWS: And if we‘re talking about that in so many words today, look out, because an attack on Iran while we‘re still consolidating almost desperately our victory in Iraq and in Afghanistan is one big bite.
And you know this better than I.
MITCHELL: I think if they—no, I think you know it very well. I think if they felt that they could take out those nuclear facilities and even knew where all of them were, it would have happened already. The problem they‘re having is that they don‘t have a military option.
MATTHEWS: But it would start a war, wouldn‘t it?
MITCHELL: Would start...
MATTHEWS: Why would Iran just sit there and say, oh, what a bad day we had; we were just bombed in all these places; I guess we have to take it? They would start rounding up Americans, like they did back in ‘78, ‘79, won‘t they? They are not going to sit there.
MITCHELL: Well, and in fact it might create more nationalism. You might even find this very young country, because Iran is a very young country, so many people under the age of 20.
You might find them reacting nationalistically, rather than, as the administration expects, reacting with the feeling of...
MATTHEWS: This administration, fairly or not, can be criticized for not thinking of the second step. They knew how the take over Baghdad. They knew how to take over the country militarily. They didn‘t imagine perhaps the nationalistic forces and the remnant of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein‘s henchmen they would have to face in the field.
Is it possible that they could consider the need to knock out the nuclear installations in Iran without considering that second round?
GREGORY: Of course it is possible.
MATTHEWS: That they could not think of that?
GREGORY: That they could not think of it.
But here‘s something else, which is, politically, I asked the question to the president this week, when I had a chance to sit down with him, which is, could you ever do this again, what you did in Iraq? Could you preemptively strike a country? Could you preventively strike a country? Look what happened to his allies. Look what happened to President Aznar in Spain. Look at the heat that Tony Blair took. Could he go back to leaders like Tony Blair and say, we have got to go into Iran this time?
MATTHEWS: The new government in Ukraine.
MATTHEWS: Because of that issue.
GREGORY: I think that is a really tall order.
No matter how much of a visionary George Bush is, depending on your point of view, whether it is dangerous or the right thing, it is no easy thing to just go to war against another country.
MITCHELL: And Tony Blair...
BROWN: And it requires asking the American people for sacrifice, which he has yet to do. Financially, we don‘t have the resources to do this. And beyond the service men and women who are in Iraq and their families, he has not directly said to the American people, you know, we‘re not going to make those tax cuts permanent. We can‘t afford to right now because of other things required by...
MATTHEWS: It‘s one thing to speak like Viktor Lazlo, like did he today.
MATTHEWS: Like a world visionary.
It‘s another to realize the consequences of going to war with countries that don‘t buy that right away.
Anyway, thank you, everybody. It‘s a big day for the country and a happy day for many people. And it is a day of hope for everyone, as all these great rituals of American inaugurations are.
David Gregory, thank you for joining us. Thank you, Andrea Mitchell. Good luck if you have to travel. Campbell Brown and Howard Fineman, as always.
After the break, Bob Colacello from “Vanity Fair” magazine joins me to talk about the lighter side of inaugurations. And Senator George Allen of Virginia, another presidential wanna-be, he‘ll be here. He‘s been at the parade today.
And the Marines were well represented among hundreds of American service men and women. And on Tuesday, January 25, we‘re going to the home of the Marines, Camp Pendleton, California. Make sure you tune in for our HARDBALL heroes tour. And that‘s what it‘s going to be, our tribute to the Marine Corps. That‘s next Tuesday on a very special HARDBALL.
Once again, we‘re going to meet with the troops.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live inaugural coverage.
We‘re joined right now by Senator George Allen, the Republican of Virginia.
And I have to ask you about what has been going on politically, because this is a great—first of all, about the speech, how did you like the speech?
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA: I loved the speech. I thought it was the statement of purpose for our nation. It was a wonderful ceremony. The view from up—the snow—was the type you would want to be made into a painting for prints.
But the speech itself was talking about our foundational principles, the concepts of freedom, and how we want to advance it.
MATTHEWS: Right. Are you worried that it might be too bold a mission of democratizing the world?
MATTHEWS: That‘s basically what he was saying.
MATTHEWS: Pretty strong stuff.
ALLEN: First of all, these are God-given rights. We have a country that protects those rights, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, private property, and the rule of law. And what we want is other people in the world also to have that.
And if they do have that freedom and that liberty and individual rights, we‘re a more secure country. That makes a great deal of sense.
MATTHEWS: Aren‘t we saying our way or the highway? ALLEN: What, freedom vs. totalitarianism?
MATTHEWS: No, having a democratic form a government. Yes. We‘re saying, if you don‘t have the form of government we like, we‘re going to change it.
ALLEN: Well, the people in those countries ought to be able to form a government that meets their needs and their ends.
MATTHEWS: How did we get that job? How did we get that job?
ALLEN: That is our aspiration for the people of the world. Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election changed all the dynamics of the Cold War from one of containment and coexistence with the Soviet Union to the advancement of freedom. And what do we see? Hundreds of millions of people now tasting nectar of freedom in Central Europe that are friends and allies, not enemies.
MATTHEWS: And, quickly, right now, Senator, we‘re talking about the Middle East. We‘re talking about the world of Islam. If you imagine King Mohammed VI of Morocco listening tonight, what do you think he makes of it? What does Gadhafi and his kid he wants to replace him think of this? What does Bashar Assad, who replaced his old man, what does King Abdullah of Jordan, who replaced his old man—they‘re all hereditary monarchs of one form or another.
Even the Baathist governments live like that. How do you take governments where it is all about the old man giving the job to his kid and have the kid of our president, who was elected, obviously, say, we don‘t like that form of government; we want you to have democracy? What are they going to say to him?
ALLEN: Let‘s assume there are aspirants in those countries who feel that they have repressive leaders. We‘re going to be on the side of those who want self-determination, of individual rights and freedom.
MATTHEWS: But we are not going to go in militarily, are we?
ALLEN: No. I don‘t think we‘re going to go in militarily. But we are going to support those efforts. Why wouldn‘t we?
MATTHEWS: Would you be scared if the president meant today he‘s going into Iran to hit the nuclear sites?
ALLEN: I think you‘re extrapolating way more from it.
MATTHEWS: I‘m just asking. I put an if there.
ALLEN: If what? If he actually...
MATTHEWS: Would you be concerned if the president of the—attacked Iran tomorrow morning because they have nuclear weapons? Would that concern you? Start a war with another country?
ALLEN: It concerns me that Iran has nuclear weapons, if they did have them and have those capabilities. That is a great concern.
What actions are taken to make sure that they don‘t have nuclear weapons, you have to look at what tactics are used. That‘s the concern. I don‘t think the president tomorrow is going to do that. Nevertheless, it is not just the United States. The French, the Germans, the whole free world is concerned about that.
MATTHEWS: OK, hold on, Senator.
Let‘s go to Bob Colacello.
Let me ask you about today‘s event today. Culturally, what was it?
What happened today?
BOB COLACELLO, “VANITY FAIR”: Today? The big balls tonight. Last night was the big really glamorous party at Mandarin Oriental. Buffy Cafritz has been giving these parties every year for every inauguration.
MATTHEWS: You went to the Democratic party last night, Bob. I was invited to that. That was a party that was sort of like the one...
COLACELLO: Colin Powell was there, with Brent Scowcroft clinging to him. And there was ambassadors from Colombia, Italy.
MATTHEWS: Wasn‘t Vernon Jordan the host of that one?
COLACELLO: Vernon Jordan was the co-host.
MATTHEWS: The big Clinton guy.
COLACELLO: Phyllis George. But so was Bob Day from L.A., a big Bush backer.
COLACELLO: President‘s good friends, Brad Freeman from L.A. was there.
MATTHEWS: He‘s a good guy. I know it.
COLACELLO: It was a real mixture.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the opulence on display. And I‘m not against the flaunting part of this. People have jewels. They have furs. Show them off. Is it consistent with our commitment to this fight for freedom in the world and the cost thereof?
COLACELLO: Well, one of the most opulent inaugurations was Ronald Reagan‘s first inauguration. I think the Clinton inaugurations, the big Democratic money came out of the closet with the fur coats and the lavish parties.
This is a country that celebrates success. And I don‘t think there‘s really anything wrong with enjoying, you know, what we have, so long as we also remember the people who have less. One thing doesn‘t really have anything to do with the other. I think it is a time to celebrate.
MATTHEWS: Great. Thank you, Bob Colacello. I can‘t argue with that.
Thank you, Senator.
ALLEN: Good to be with you.
MATTHEWS: It‘s good to have you on and spar with you occasionally.
He is going to run—you are running for president, still, right?
ALLEN: I‘m running for reelection.
MATTHEWS: You‘re giving up a safe seat for life in the United States Senate to risk going to the presidency. Are you still going to do that?
ALLEN: I‘m going to run for reelection.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks.
ALLEN: And then worry about the future in the future.
MATTHEWS: George Allen, senator from Virginia.
Outside on the National Mall, we want to say hello to all the history students here in Washington for the inaugural. They‘re all dressed up. We are going to looking at them right now. They‘re all in their best.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Look at them all. Don‘t they look great? Look at them.
They‘re all shined up and got their shoes shined and white shirts on.
They‘re from Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Guess who lived there? John Wayne lived at Newport, I happen to know.
Anyway, their teacher is Phil D‘Agostino. It‘s great to have you all there. I think that might be Phil there.
Anyway, HARDBALL back for a special 9:00 edition tonight.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with my buddy Keith.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
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