Guest: Deborah Orin, Chuck Todd, Jim Wallis, Jon Meacham
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: After a week of inaugural events, this morning, official Washington bowed its head as the Reverend Billy Graham delivered the opening prayer at the inaugural service at the National Cathedral.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
Today, the president‘s inaugural ceremonies concluded with this morning‘s national prayer service. The religious tone of yesterday‘s inaugural address left no doubt the president is a man of faith and that he believes freedom is every person‘s God-given right.
Jon Meacham is “Newsweek”‘s managing editor. He‘s also author of the book, my favorite, “Franklin and Winston.” And he covered this morning‘s prayer service here on MSNBC. Jim Wallis is founder of Sojourners, a Christian organization, and author up “God‘s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn‘t Get It.”
Well, let‘s ask you a question. Let me go to Jim right now.
Thank you, sir.
JIM WALLIS, FOUNDER, SOJOURNERS: Yes, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the president‘s words yesterday in the inaugural address were just about right with regard to references to the lord? Or did they overdo it or underdo it?
WALLIS: Inaugurals are full of God. Two presidents only did not
reference God, Coolidge and Theodore Roosevelt. So it‘s always there. It
was there this time.
George Washington I‘m told ad-libbed at the end of his oath “So help me God.” And every president since then has done the same thing. So it‘s always there. The question is not whether faith is there, but what it means. That‘s always the important question. What does our faith mean? James says faith without works is dead. And Amos was tougher. He said take away from me the noise of your solemn assemblies. Maybe he meant Inauguration Days, perhaps.
WALLIS: But let justice roll down like waters, righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
So, the content of the faith is more important than just the presence of the words.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Jon, Jon Meacham.
Jon, the question I guess a lot of people are asking, and whether they be religious, mainstream, evangelical, secular, Jewish, whatever, they‘re wondering whether the president has accepted to himself a kind of a messianic notion that he was put in that job of president of the United States not so much by an electoral process as by God.
And he is there to do God‘s will and his particular mission, in other words. He‘s going to bring democracy to the world and thereby supplant the seeds that are there for terrorism and tyranny today.
JON MEACHAM, MANAGING EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK”: I think the president probably does believe that, a good bit of that. I think most presidents believe that they are ordained in some ways. They are set apart.
I think that this president, when you look at his life story, rather like Dante, who was in a dark wood wandering when he was about 40, and he came to the lord. Like Saint Paul, who was on the road to Damascus, there was is a kind of conversion moment. The president remade his life about 18 years ago. And I think, after September 11, I think it is a fair supposition biographically to argue that the president decided that all this had been for a purpose, for a plan.
And I think that, yesterday, you saw references both to the idea that we are all God‘s children. We are all made in the image of God. And so, therefore, we do have an instinct, an impulse for liberty. And he wants to remove the obstacles as much as he can to realizing that.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think a lot of us—I‘m Roman Catholic. A lot of us would like to hear from God occasionally. We do, we think, some call to mission, some purpose. Do this. This is what you were meant to do. This is who you were meant to be.
I guess, though, there‘s the question of whether some of us become Joan of Arcs, though, that we go all the way and we see—we hear voices and we go so far as to start wars, because we believe we‘re being called to do so. Implicit in the president‘s case yesterday was a willingness to do what is necessary to spread democracy and end tyranny. Do you think that was there?
WALLIS: You know, I think Jon is right. His personal faith is very real. I‘ve been in meetings and talked to him a couple times myself. The question is, what theology is there? Is there a theology?
If you can‘t see evil in the face of September 11, you‘re suffering from some kind of postmodern relativism, I suppose. But to say they‘re evil and we are good is bad theology. Jesus said, don‘t just see the beam in your adversary‘s eye, but not the log in your own eye. The Catholic Church, the pope, the Vatican, the bishops here were all against the war in Iraq, the war conceived in confusion, carried out in arrogance and now resulting in chaos.
The Catholic Church said this was not a just war. So you‘ve got religious leaders, every church body in the world, even evangelicals around said the war in Iraq was a mistake, not the best way to deal with the real threat of Saddam Hussein. So with a theology here, some theologians sense almost a theology of war coming out of the White House, a language of empire, righteous empire, and now this claim of mission, divine mission.
MATTHEWS: I‘m always suspicious of how religion seems to follow what you might call the ethical trends. For example, when Urban II called the first Crusade—I don‘t know the whole history, but when the pope called the knights in chivalry to go and save the holy lands from the heathen, from the Islamic forces, that was done in the name of religion. Now you‘re hearing in the name of religion, don‘t do that. Well, what has changed?
If there‘s a obdurate, permanent notion of law and right and wrong from God, why would it change?
MEACHAM: I would argue that we‘re talking about less a theology of war than a theology of liberty. And it is an idea that is as old as America itself. John Winthrop preached that sermon that we‘re as a city upon a hill.
And our idea of being a divine mission, of being on a divine mission is—was born out of enlightenment. It was born out of the Reformation. We came here to worship as we wished. We wanted to get away from an established church. But that idea that we are here in a way to project liberty and to project American values is an old and, I think, noble tradition. I think the world by and large is better off because we have done that.
MATTHEWS: We are on the verge now of military action, at least potential military action, against two states, Syria with regard to terrorism, cross-border terrorism toward Iraq, and the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran. This president claims extraordinary rights to take us into combat in the world.
I‘ve never heard a president say we‘re going to war in a country all the way on the other side of the world as an option, as a decision we make. With regard to Iraq, that was the case.
MATTHEWS: Now, will he use these religious arguments he‘s been making to say we also have the right to go into Iran?
WALLIS: Well, I think Jon is right.
Liberty is part of our tradition. It is a religious and a political value. That‘s a good thing. But this is more now. And we‘re talking about foreign policy that sees war as a first resort, not as a last resort. Unilateral preemptive war is not the best way to preserve liberty and freedom. I didn‘t hear a Lincolnesque reflection in this—this is a president who is sure. It is actually a funny thing, Chris.
He is an evangelical. Yet there‘s not much of a sense of sin, of the sin of this nation, that we have not always lived up to that tradition of liberty and freedom. We have fallen short. We have not always been on the right side. Dr. King said we‘ve often been on the wrong side of history on liberty and freedom. The Bible is full of freedom balanced with justice. Social justice and liberty are both traditions there.
MATTHEWS: But, Jon, this is so new. He said that we, as part of our Declaration of Independence, accept the kind of—we accept natural law. Man is endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights, life, liberty and pursuit—I think that‘s natural law. I accept it.
But we‘ve never accepted the responsibility to take that belief about the rights of man being endowed with us by our creator and going around the world with a sword and saying we‘re going to make sure everybody in the world is free because we believe they should be.
MATTHEWS: Now, that‘s a big leap.
MEACHAM: Well, I would argue that you have heard this before, Chris.
MEACHAM: You heard it from John Kennedy on January 20, 1961.
MATTHEWS: No, he said defend liberty. He didn‘t say go out and kill people to create it.
MEACHAM: Well, I think that, on Earth, God‘s work must truly be our own was the last line of his inaugural. That‘s a pretty big idea.
WALLIS: But is Iraq God‘s work? That‘s the question, isn‘t it?
MEACHAM: Well, of course it is. And this is where we always get into trouble. The virtue of American civil religion...
MATTHEWS: Oh, by the way, just because Jack Kennedy said it doesn‘t make it true, OK, Jon?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s move on from that notion. That‘s endowing him with a knowledge that is supernatural...
MEACHAM: No. But there‘s a sense there‘s kind of a tyranny of the present, that we always sort of discover something and it is all new.
I don‘t think President Bush is talking about something that is entirely new. I think there are incredibly important implications that Jim is alluding to and that you‘re alluding to. But great leaders often speak in terms of black and white and govern in gray. And...
MATTHEWS: OK. And let me tell you, we‘ve lived lives long enough to know that people around the world use wonderful words to describe terrible deeds.
The Soviets probably, when they got together in the rooms they were in, probably said we‘re going to go out there and bring liberty to the world. We‘re going to have wars of national liberation against Batista in Cuba or against the government in South Vietnam when we were there or against the government in South Korea.
MATTHEWS: Those were all great wars, in Africa, elsewhere, of liberation. I‘m sure it sounded fine on their lips.
The reality was, they were shipping guns to rebel movements around the world, stirring up trouble, rebel-rousing and getting lots of people killed. Our reality, beyond the beatific language, is, we went into a country, Iraq, with our soldiers. We took it over. And anyone who got in our way, we killed.
And we continue to kill them, and, in some cases, torture them. And now we say, if we can‘t break our own rules by torturing them, we send them to Cairo to have them tortured at the same time we‘re calling for a liberalization in Cairo.
Jon, this doesn‘t make any sense, that we are calling countries like
Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Jordan to task for their failure to show liberal
· liberalism toward their people and, at the same time, we‘re shipping people over to those countries like Egypt to be tortured. What is our policy? Is it freedom or torture?
MEACHAM: Well, hey, as we‘ve seen, it depends on what we‘re talking about. There‘s a central element of potential hypocrisy. The president has set the bar incredibly, incredibly high. Obviously, he did that on Thursday. He is raising and making real and making legitimate all the issues you‘re talking about.
And in the eyes of the rest of the world, we now have to be held to an even here standard than we were before.
WALLIS: But who will hold him to that standard?
MEACHAM: I think we have to.
WALLIS: We were not on the side of liberty in the Philippines, in Guatemala, in Chile. We support feudal Arab regimes in the Middle East, which is why people are so angry with us. We‘ve not been on the side of a just two-state solution in the Middle East.
And now, in Abu Ghraib, were we champions of liberty at Abu Ghraib? There are contributions here. And somebody has to hold them morally accountable.
MEACHAM: There are. We absolutely do. And you have to do it and I have to do it and Chris has to do it and anyone who lives in this country gets to do that. That‘s what a democracy in our sense is.
And I think that we all have genuinely a moral obligation to now try to keep the president to stick to the text that he laid out yesterday.
WALLIS: And how often have many people, like Chris just did, raised civilian casualties in Iraq? Tens of thousands, it seems, have died. And they‘re never raised up as the consequence of our crusade for freedom and liberty. Freedom and liberty are things that we must fight, give everything for. But are we on the right side here? That‘s I think a fair question.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, a lot of people in the Arab world, the Islamic world, may read some of the president‘s words today in translation. But what they‘ll see every night on television is us killing Arabs.
WALLIS: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: And I‘m telling you, the message they‘re going to get is, we kill Arabs and talk about God.
We‘ll be right back with Jim Wallis, author of “God‘s Politics,” and Jon Meacham.
And be sure to tune in on January 25 for a live edition of HARDBALL from Camp Pendleton, California. That‘s next week, home of the Marines for the HARDBALL Heroes Tour. That‘s next Tuesday at 7:00 Eastern right here on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, how has President Bush‘s personal faith influenced his grand vision to defeat tyranny throughout the world?
More with Jim Wallis and Jon Meacham when HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: I‘m back with “Newsweek”‘s Jon Meacham and Sojourners founder Jim Wallis.
The idea, Jon Meacham, of limited government is central to Western philosophy. Government has limits. Countries have limits. National sovereignty is recognized. It‘s sort of a live-and-live—live-and-let-live philosophy, which has brought peace to Europe. Countries in Europe don‘t fight with each other anymore. Latin American countries don‘t fight with each other anymore. The idea of border wars, a lot of that has been solved by recognition of sovereignty on the other side of that border.
Even in Africa, with all its troubles, there‘s a sense that we leave these European territories set up and divided as they are. In the Middle East, everything doesn‘t work. But why don‘t we play by the old rules anymore?
MEACHAM: The old rules?
MATTHEWS: Meaning a country, we don‘t like the way they govern themselves, we live with it.
MATTHEWS: If we don‘t like the fact there‘s dungeons in Cairo, we may protest, we may send notes, we may demonstrate, but we don‘t go in and invade the country because we don‘t like its form of government.
MATTHEWS: I hear in the president‘s words yesterday a right, almost a God-given right to change governments we don‘t like.
MEACHAM: Because the president believes—I‘m not advocating this. I‘m explaining this. As I understand it, I think that the president is articulating a philosophy that our security is now dependent on other—on the security and the democracy of other nations.
Huge problems with that, because you can‘t always get what you want with democracy, as we know, and that the more we can bring hope, bring a middle class, bring prosperity, bring self-government to countries which have produced people who have done harm to American innocents—I‘m sitting in New York not far from where that happened—then in fact, we will be safer here and people will be happier over there.
Now, has anyone asked us to undertake this? No, not particularly. But the president has decided that that is in fact the mission of the new century in a world after September 11. It is obviously enormously complicated and it is complicated chiefly by history, which is that things never go as man wants them to go.
And I think that the speech raises as many questions as it answers. You talk about the reaction in the Arab world. That‘s exactly right. But we do have to at some point figure out whether we‘re talking about a sense of—where our own limits are, as you‘re saying. Where can we intervene?
MEACHAM: Where should we not? Because those attackers came from Saudi Arabia, our ally. So..
Well, Zarqawi the other day, Zarqawi, we read the release today and then we read the wire stories this morning of this guy. He‘s a bad guy. He‘s a terrorist. He‘s associated with al Qaeda—saying that we‘re acting under the name of God, Jesus, the lord, in our activities in that part of the world. And, in a sense, could you not say that the president‘s word yesterday was a crusading speech?
Jim, was that a crusader‘s speech?
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to go over there and fix things.
WALLIS: It sounded that way to me.
And, Jon, we‘re not safer here and they‘re not happier over there. This—on a pragmatic basis, this policy isn‘t working. And, theologically, it is very troublesome. We are often not on the wrong side. We‘re on the wrong side time and time again. And if we want to talk about defeating terrorism, let‘s talk about defeating—there‘s root causes here, there‘s policies that make people angry. They don‘t hate us just because we‘re free. People hate our policies.
We have policies that have to change. And that‘s been talked about. Now, nobody wants to say that because it will justify terrorism. Now, poverty doesn‘t cause terrorism. That‘s simplistic. But unless you drain that swamp of injustice in which these mosquitoes of breed, you are never going to solve this problem. We can‘t just say, they hate us because we‘re free.
And why all the selectivity? Why not Rwanda? We don‘t intervene where places clearly need our intervention to save countless lives. Why Iraq? This is geopolitical. And theology is put on top of it to justify it. And I think it is wrong politically and it is wrong religiously.
MEACHAM: You know, it‘s interesting. The Gospel this morning at the national prayer service was from Matthew, with Jesus saying, it‘s easy to love your friends. You must love your enemies as well. It‘s a very challenging part of the Gospel.
MEACHAM: And one of the most—and one of the most interesting things to me was I wondered if the president—how closely the president was listening.
In an interesting way to me, there was a kind of conflicting thematic between the Old Testament lesson, which is also the lesson or the verse on which the president put his hand yesterday, which is from Uzziah (ph) about being strong and we shall go as on wings of eagles. We shall never grow weary, which echoed his last line about tested, but not weary, we will go forward for the greatest achievements in the history of human freedom.
I think a lot more humility and a lot less hubris would get us a lot farther along the road.
WALLIS: And, to be honest, how many sermons have we heard at churches since September 11 on those tough texts about loving your enemies and blessed are the peacemakers?
The religious community has to at least say, what do those texts mean now? Shouldn‘t we have a debate about what that means in a world of terrorism and tyranny? This is a question we have to deal with not just on a political level, but, as you say on, a religious and theological...
MATTHEWS: Leaders have been asking the lord to bless their wars for centuries.
Anyway, thank you very much, Jim Wallis. Thank you very much, Jon Meacham.
MEACHAM: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: There were a lot of celebrities attending last night‘s inaugural balls. And HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster caught up with some of them. That‘s coming up next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Last evening, President Bush was making the rounds with the first lady at all the inaugural balls.
HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster was manning the red carpet at one of them, hosted by the Creative Coalition.
Here‘s some of the attendees he ran into.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: We‘re in Washington celebrating the president‘s inaugural and probably based on the fact he‘s a Republican, there are going to few celebrities here.
You smoking any cigars?
REP. MARK FOLEY ®, FLORIDA: Not yet tonight.
FOLEY: Yes, that, I‘ve had.
SHUSTER: What kind of champagne?
FOLEY: A little Perrier Jouet.
MARIO VAN PEEBLES, ACTOR: We had the Democratic apple pie and the Republican steak and the middle-of-the-aisle potatoes.
SHUSTER: It seems like a strange party for you, though.
MATTHEW MODINE, ACTOR: Why? Macy Gray is going to be here. I love Macy Gray.
SHUSTER: And tell us about these threads.
JOE PANTOLIANO, ACTOR: Oh, this is my friend Alexander Julian. He designed this. And it‘s, I think, the only the pinstripe tuxedo in Washington this evening.
JOE PISCOPO, COMEDIAN: We just had a baby six weeks ago, so I‘m up to my knees in diapers and that‘s what we‘re concentrating on right now.
SHUSTER: What‘s the No. 1 issue for the little Piscopo?
PISCOPO: For the little baby? Keep the diapers dry.
MODINE: This president has promised to be a uniter and not a divider.
SHUSTER: And you believe him?
MODINE: Why not? I think that the first administration, what he was doing was something very different than what he‘s going to do in this next...
SHUSTER: What was he doing wrong in the first administration?
MODINE: Well, I don‘t want to talk about it. He‘s the president of the United States. And I‘ve got to respect him because of his position.
SHUSTER: Running for governor of New Jersey?
PISCOPO: Well, I‘m not quite sure yet. I thought the political dust would settle a little more than it has. It‘s getting a little dicey there now and we want to do what is best for the people. So I‘m just standing by. And I just want to do what is best for the great people of the greatest state in the United States.
VAN PEEBLES: I‘m just American. And there‘s a great quote. My favorite quote by Malcolm is not by any means necessary, but I am for the truth no matter for tells it. I‘m for justice no matter who is for or against it and I am for whatever and whoever benefits humanity as a hole. So...
PANTOLIANO: This is exactly what Tony Goldwyn and Robin Bronk and I wanted to do, is to like unite Republicans and Democrats to celebrate tonight‘s wins for everybody, for President Bush, for the new freshman senators and Congress men and women, and to let everybody know over the next four years what our agenda is at the Creative Coalition, which is an arts advocacy group, and the business that we want to do. And, hopefully, we can all get along and get it done.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Shuster.
“The Hotline”‘s Chuck Todd and “The New York Post”‘s Deborah Orin on yesterday‘s inaugural events.
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MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For more on the politics of President Bush‘s inaugural speech, we turn to the Washington bureau chief of “The New York Post,” one of the most happening newspapers of the country, Deborah Orin, and editor in chief of “The Hotline” and columnist with “The Atlanta Monthly” magazine, Chuck Todd.
You write a little online thing that everybody reads in this town.
And you write the hottest paper in New York, right?
DEBORAH ORIN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “THE NEW YORK POST”: We like to think so.
CHUCK TODD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, “THE HOTLINE”: Yes. Just say yes.
TODD: If you‘re going to say it, yes.
MATTHEWS: Somebody once said, before you read “The Times,” you have got to read “The Post” to get your blood flowing. It‘s your caffeine in the morning.
ORIN: You‘ve got to wake up, yes.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about this. And maybe you have different views and that‘s all the better.
That speech was very high-toned yesterday. It didn‘t talk about casualties, really. It didn‘t talk about bloodshed and enemies in the Arab world or in Iraq. It talked about our role of basically taking our Declaration of Independence language, which is, man, God, we were endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and getting them around the world, around the Islamic world.
How does that tie into a very bloody campaign in Iraq, a continuing effort in Afghanistan and a possible military action in either Syria or Iran?
ORIN: Well, I‘m not sure we can say there is a possible military action in Syria or Iran.
But what it was, was the explanation of why we needed to liberate Iraq. It was the explanation. The fundamental thing that the president has been saying is that free societies don‘t breed terrorists the way tyrannies do. And so we are—it‘s no longer—in many ways, the president‘s speech sounded like John F. Kennedy or even like Woodrow Wilson. It was, in a bizarre way, more Democratic than the traditional Republican realpolitik, where we make deals with dictators if they‘re on our side.
This was a sort of pragmatic idealism. We are better off with democracies, because democracies don‘t go around killing each other. And history tends to support that. So, that is the rationale. And we will be better off with a democracy in Iraq. And in 10 days, when we have elections in Iraq, we‘ll find out whether that‘s true.
MATTHEWS: Had we followed this formulation successfully, brilliantly, successfully, and found ways through economic pressure, diplomatic pressure, in some cases military action, to make sure that countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, were democratic, you argue we would not be facing the terrorists that we are today?
ORIN: That‘s the president‘s position, yes.
MATTHEWS: Why was there a Sirhan Sirhan who came—lived in this country briefly and then killed one of our beloved leaders, Bobby Kennedy, over the issue of the Middle East? Could that have been prevented by any policy, unless we became an enemy of Israel?
ORIN: I don‘t know if you can answer that.
MATTHEWS: But that‘s a classic case of terrorism and you‘re—I just want to go through the particulars. Do you think that could have been prevented by having a nicer government in Jordan or a nicer government in Palestine?
ORIN: The issue isn‘t a nicer government. The issue is, do we or don‘t we believe in the idea that all people want to be free and should be free?
MATTHEWS: Sirhan Sirhan killed Kennedy and he would say so—and I think he has said so—because he did not like our policy toward Israel. He thought we were too pro-Israeli.
Can‘t we have to grow up and face the fact, some people in the world are simply not going to like our politics in the Middle East and they‘re commit terrible crimes against us because they don‘t; and no matter how nice their governments are, I‘m sorry, how more moderate they are, more democratic they are, they‘re still going to hate our politics, they‘re still going to come and hurt us?
ORIN: Yes, but, Chris, we have murderers in this country, too.
MATTHEWS: No, I mean political killers.
ORIN: We have political killers in this country, too.
You‘re talking—we don‘t live in a perfect world. What you‘re talking about is, would we be better off? Look, we have a democratic Germany now. It doesn‘t go around killing people the way Nazi Germany did.
MATTHEWS: How would we have prevented Mohamed Atta from coming to New York with a band of 19 men and destroying the torn the hell out of the lives of thousands of New Yorkers and come down to the Pentagon and done the same thing? What change in the atmospherics, the political atmospherics of the Mideast would have stopped them from doing that?
ORIN: Well, you know, Chris, you‘re acting as though you could snap your fingers overnight and everything would be perfect.
MATTHEWS: No, if we had months and years to change things, how we would change things to stop that?
ORIN: Well, it‘s not just months and years. It‘s as the president said last night. It is generations.
What you‘re talking about is a society that breeds terrorists. And you can‘t stop it from breeding terrorists overnight. But you can try to start changing it.
MATTHEWS: The president says something completely different at other times. And I don‘t know what is right here. It is very murky. He says at time it is the failure of those societies to provide opportunity and lives for those people, free lives for those people. So they get so frustrated, they become terrorists.
But the president in other circumstances says something totally different. He says, they don‘t like our freedoms over here. He says, they don‘t like our way of life over here, our diverse cultures, our diverse religions and ethnicities. Is that why they come over and kill us? Or is it because they‘re frustrated by their own leaders? He keeps changing the statement here, doesn‘t he?
TODD: Here‘s my problem with the whole...
MATTHEWS: Yes, Chuck.
TODD: Here‘s my problem with why the speech to me had so much empty rhetoric. I grew up in South Florida. I grew up 200 miles away from one of the outposts of tyranny in Cuba. If I were listening to that speech, and I guarantee you the Cuban community in South Florida heard that speech, and I think a lot of them said, hey, buddy, why haven‘t you taken care of the problem in Cuba, talking about this? This is an—it is everything you‘ve described.
And you have a people that actually want democracy. Why? You see it proven every three months when you see more people climbing in on a raft to try to get over here. So it is really empty rhetoric when he doesn‘t back it up. They‘re almost trying to find rhetoric to support a whole other reason why they went into Iraq.
MATTHEWS: But let‘s get back to what we‘re trying to get here.
TODD: I understand.
MATTHEWS: The American people, the only reason they‘re having this conversation is 9/11. Let‘s be honest about it, because we know the president is fundamentally right about one thing. These people are so angry with their lives, they‘re so angry at us, they‘re angry at Israel, they‘re angry with their rulers, they are willing to throw their lives into buildings.
By the way, the first people killed at 9/11 were the guys going into the buildings. They blew themselves up as they hit the wall of the buildings. So they‘re killing themselves to make a point. What is it and how can we have people not there who want to make that point?
TODD: Well, it is hatred of Jews. It is—this is a religious hate.
That‘s what it is.
MATTHEWS: Well, you can‘t do much about that.
TODD: No, you can‘t.
MATTHEWS: Except try to calm things down in the West Bank.
TODD: No, not unless you‘re going to make Israel go to Africa.
TODD: The alternative plan was to make Israel...
MATTHEWS: These things do come in cycles. And, sure, we did have periods of relative tranquility in the ‘90s. And I‘m not sure whether it was going to last. But if you don‘t believe that, then you‘re really in trouble. If you believe this is just going to get worse and worse and worse, then I don‘t know what we‘re going to do.
TODD: And if you‘re going to push for democracies, Jordan right now is the example of something that works right now in the Middle East. It is a combination of...
MATTHEWS: So you‘re saying don‘t push these governments over the top.
TODD: If you push them too far—Iran is a democracy. It‘s more of a democracy than a lot of these Middle Eastern countries. And they‘re not exactly a friend of ours.
MATTHEWS: What should we do in countries like Saudi Arabia. Let‘s take the hottest issue. And the people on the far right who are pushing the war in Iraq really hate the Saudi government. What do we do about the Saudi government? They pump oil for us. They‘re buddies over here when they come over. They hang out with the Bush family, Prince Bandar. You know these people. They wear the big rings. And they have got the big airplanes and the girlfriends in London. And they go gambling, all that. They‘re complete hypocrites, maybe, but they got along with us.
What are we supposed do to Saudi Arabia?
MATTHEWS: What does the president want us to do?
ORIN: What the president wants us to do, I think, is to slowly—we‘ve been prodding the Saudis towards some form of democratization. It‘s a very delicate balance.
MATTHEWS: But who wins an election over there if they do have a vote?
ORIN: Right now, we might not like to know who would win an election.
But, Chris, you talk as though the president is talking about magic. I say this and everything gets fixed. It isn‘t. It is setting a goal. I thought it was very interesting. There was a poll last night which checked with people, did you like his speech, and do you agree with the idea that democracy—that spreading democracy is a good idea? And a big majority said yes. Do you think we can get rid of all tyrannies? An equal majority said no.
People understand, this is a goal. It is not like overnight it turns around. But it is an entirely different concept of approach. Under Bush‘s father, the attitude from many of the senior advisers on Bush‘s father‘s team like Brent Scowcroft was basically, we often have to make deal with the devil and as long as the Saudis keep their people down, that‘s fine with us. It turns out, it wasn‘t fine, because the result of that led directly to 9/11.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Well said. I agree.
ORIN: So, you‘ve got to start looking in another way.
It is ridiculous that women can‘t drive in Saudi Arabia. You know, we are in the 21st century. And so you start pushing, encouraging people to take steps toward liberalization.
TODD: But I think that we have to understand there‘s a difference between democracy and freedom. We were a democracy before all of our people were free in this country. It took over 100 years before we had freedom, meaning democracy. Jordan is free. It is not a democracy. And I think we need to...
MATTHEWS: I would just like to see down the road, like a lot of people, peace. I would like to see us somewhere down the road make the best deals we can with certain governments, take on the ones we have to.
But I don‘t know whether going to war in Iraq, for example, enhanced the possibilities for peace in the rest of that region. It just created one more front. And maybe we‘ll have others in Iraq.
And, by the way, I do think Iran is a threat. I think Israel might go or we might go, right?
You think neither will go?
ORIN: You know, might, yes. The vice president said that just the other day.
MATTHEWS: OK. And when he says things, they tend to happen.
We‘ll be—more with Chuck Todd and Deborah Orin when we come back.
It‘s not just words, words, words, like Henry Higgins.
And next week, HARDBALL goes back on the road, starting on Monday, with a special edition of HARDBALL from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. I‘ll be out there in Park City and I‘ll talk to Robert Redford, the guy who runs the whole show out there. Then on Tuesday, HARDBALL is live from Camp Pendleton, California, the home of the Marines on the HARDBALL Heroes Tour.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, OK, who is gearing up to run for president in 2008? Chuck Todd and Deborah Orin will be here when HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with “The New York Post”‘s Deborah Orin and “The Hotline”‘s Chuck Todd.
Chuck, you know how when a president gets inaugurated, he usually like throws a nice bouquet to the guy he beat? Where was that? Where was that this week? I didn‘t see a bouquet flying through the air to John Kerry.
MATTHEWS: Not even a mention of the guy.
TODD: No. In his first inaugural, of course he said gracious things about Gore.
MATTHEWS: And about Bill Clinton.
TODD: It seems like he says nicer things about Bill Clinton now all the time. Bush and Clinton are like these buddies.
MATTHEWS: Didn‘t you find it odd, Deborah?
ORIN: No. I think...
MATTHEWS: You‘re tough, but do you really think it is normal for a guy to beat another guy, what, 51-48 and not even—and he‘s sitting right up there on the platform behind him, not even to acknowledge him?
ORIN: Well, what was he going to say?
MATTHEWS: Well, nice try.
ORIN: I would like to acknowledge—I would like to acknowledge John Kerry, who is so petty, he voted against Condi Rice the other day?
TODD: No. But, in all honesty, in his speech, he talked about he was truly going to try to make this effort to unite the country. Well, he can say I want to thank Senator Kerry for being gracious in defeat. That‘s all.
MATTHEWS: Are you surprised there was no olive branch to the D‘s?
ORIN: Absolutely not surprised there was no olive branch.
TODD: Well, that‘s true. I‘m not surprised either.
ORIN: No, because...
TODD: I‘m just saying, it should have been done.
ORIN: Look, to me, watching Kerry since the election, I‘m starting to think Al Gore had the right idea. When you lose a close election and you‘re bitter, it is a good idea to take some time off, because Kerry has been acting petty and petulant.
MATTHEWS: A little bit like Jack Paar, too, a little bit like he‘s—no, I mean he‘s been out of it. He showed up at those hearings the other day, he was almost solipsistic.
ORIN: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: It‘s like, he did not know the other members. He wasn‘t listening on television.
MATTHEWS: No, you could tell he hadn‘t been listening before he came out. He is living in his own world.
MATTHEWS: Say what you will about Nixon, but Nixon was a wise man about other people. And Nixon said, never make a big decision after a big win or a big loss. Your brain doesn‘t work. You got to get away from it or else you‘ll make, like his decision to run for California governor back then, it hurt him.
Let me ask you about future politics. Now, you are uniquely able to track this.
TODD: It‘s all I do, all I do.
MATTHEWS: Because every day, you get, you track all—let me go through the Republican side. Here, I want you to check me on this. Rudy Giuliani is still running for president.
TODD: I think he‘s going to try. That doesn‘t mean—that doesn‘t mean...
MATTHEWS: John McCain is clearly running.
TODD: Yes, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: OK. The other guy clearly running is Dr. Frist.
TODD: Bill Frist is running. George Allen is running.
MATTHEWS: I know that from last night.
MATTHEWS: He‘s definitely running.
TODD: And Allen is my dark horse front-runner. I‘ll be honest.
MATTHEWS: OK, a very likable guy, very regular guy.
MATTHEWS: If the Democrats had a guy like George Allen, they would be in heaven, because he‘s totally normal.
TODD: Allen is—Allen is W.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he‘s totally normal.
TODD: He‘s underestimated all the time. He‘s a big football...
MATTHEWS: And there‘s no difference between the guy sitting there on television and the guy you meet outside in the hall afterwards.
TODD: He‘s the same guy.
MATTHEWS: Same guy.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts on that list, Rudy, McCain, Frist and Allen?
ORIN: Well, you forgot Governor Pataki, who thinks he is running.
MATTHEWS: Why is it, not that we don‘t like the advertisement...
TODD: Don‘t forget Mitt Romney.
TODD: We got to put Mitt Romney in there, too.
MATTHEWS: Every time we go off the air for five minutes, I see a commercial with George Pataki in it. What is that about?
ORIN: Well, that‘s your New York state taxpayer dollars at work promoting Governor Pataki‘s image in the state of New Hampshire.
MATTHEWS: Governor who, tacky?
MATTHEWS: Oh, I thought you said Pataki—tacky.
ORIN: No, I didn‘t.
ORIN: I said Pataki.
And it is interesting, because you have two moderate pro-choice Republicans, both from New York state who both are thinking about running for president. And guess what? They can‘t both run for president. One of them is going to knock the other out. Or they‘re going to knock each other out.
ORIN: And if you look at any polling data, it is Giuliani who is much more popular.
MATTHEWS: They can win. They can win. Either one can win in Iowa. Either one can win in New Hampshire. But they both can‘t win. And somebody could win.
MATTHEWS: And then they have to go down to South Carolina and fight it out.
TODD: There‘s a route. Chris, there‘s a route. And the route goes through Hillary. And I think Pataki has to do this more than Rudy. If Pataki is serious, he should run in ‘06 against Hillary, slay the dragon that conservatives hate the most.
MATTHEWS: Who would win that race right now?
MATTHEWS: Who would win that race?
ORIN: So that‘s why he won‘t run?
TODD: That‘s why he won‘t do it. But if he really wants the nomination, that‘s the way...
MATTHEWS: OK. I think Rudy is going to run. And I noticed that Trent Lott brought him to the party yesterday. He was the one who got him a place up there on the platform.
MATTHEWS: Trent Lott told me that Rudy Giuliani, long ethnic name, pro all this, pro-gay rights, but is still an absolutely big-ticket item. Bring him into Jackson, every Republican in the state shows up. He is enormously popular among Republicans.
TODD: How many Bernie Keriks does he have? How many other Bernie Keriks...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Democrats, who is running? Hillary for sure?
TODD: I think it is 50/50. I‘m not 100 percent.
MATTHEWS: OK, anybody else? Evan Bayh for sure.
TODD: Edwards is in. Bayh already has started a PAC.
MATTHEWS: Edwards is in.
ORIN: John Kerry.
MATTHEWS: Bayh? Bayh in?
TODD: Bayh already has a PAC.
MATTHEWS: OK. And is Kerry running again?
ORIN: Kerry thinks he‘s running. I don‘t think—he will not.
TODD: Mark Warner.
MATTHEWS: Mark Warner, governor of Virginia.
TODD: And Wesley Clark. He thinks he‘s running.
MATTHEWS: OK. He‘s a young guy.
OK, so we have a field here dominated on the Democratic side by whom?
TODD: It‘s Hillary.
ORIN: It‘s Hillary.
TODD: There will be two primaries in the Democratic primary. You are going to have the subprimary to be the anti-Hillary candidate. And then you‘re going to have the ultimate...
MATTHEWS: That will be a male.
MATTHEWS: Will it be someone to her right or to her left?
TODD: It will have to be to her right, because she‘s already positioning on the left.
MATTHEWS: OK, so Hillary vs. X.
ORIN: I actually disagree with you on that.
TODD: She is viewed as a liberal. She will try to run right.
TODD: No, no, I agree with you.
MATTHEWS: Nobody believes that she is against gay marriage. No one really believes she is a hawk.
TODD: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: OK. Who knows with her?
MATTHEWS: But let me ask you this. Who is going to be the front-runner on the Republican side?
ORIN: It depends on who runs.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go through this list, Rudy, McCain, Frist, Allen, Pataki, and Romney.
ORIN: Rudy starts out as the front-runner if he runs. But one problem he has in New Hampshire, very interesting this week.
ORIN: Exactly. In New Hampshire, McCain is...
MATTHEWS: Do we all agree, if McCain wins the Republican nomination, he is unbeatable?
TODD: He‘s the president, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: President of the United States. That‘s what is so attractive. And his running mate will be Jeb Bush.
Anyway, thank you very much, Deborah Orin. We‘re finished? No, we have got four years ahead here.
ORIN: Condi Rice.
MATTHEWS: She should have run for senator for California.
TODD: Jeb. He‘s right. It‘s Jeb.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Chuck Todd, thanks, buddy. You know everything.
You know everything with a certain point of view.
A look back at some of the highlights from yesterday‘s inaugural events when we return.
And don‘t forget to check out Hardblogger, our political blog Web site. Just go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Thousands of people gathered in the nation‘s capital yesterday to watch all the pomp and pageantry of the inaugural ceremony and the festivities that followed. Here‘s a recap of the some of the highlights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, George Walker Bush.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Richard Cheney, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, George Walker Bush...
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST, U.S. SUPREME COURT: ... do solemnly swear...
BUSH: do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will, to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States...
REHNQUIST: So help me God.
BUSH: So help me God.
BUSH: At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together.
The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.
BUSH: Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives. And we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.
We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes. And I will strive in good faith to heal them.
Renewed in our strength, tested but not weary, we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.
BUSH: May God bless you, and may he watch over the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: Join us again next week when HARDBALL goes out on the road. On Monday, I‘ll be in Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival, where I‘ll talk to Robert Redford. And on Tuesday, it‘s the HARDBALL Heroes Tour, a special edition of HARDBALL live from Camp Pendleton, California, home of the Marines who were part of yesterday‘s inaugural event. That‘s the HARDBALL Heroes Tour, 7:00 p.m. on January 25, right here on MSNBC.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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