Guests: Eugene Robinson, Howard Fineman, Julia Boorstin, Pat Buchanan, Ron Brownstein, Roger Simon, Edward Markey
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Teddy.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in New York. Ted Kennedy was the last hurrah, the big baritone out there demanding justice for the left-out people—the African-Americans, native Americans, the old person, the immigrant family that wanted to be American, the sick, scared person waiting in the ER for hours with something really wrong.
Why would a big, good-looking guy like him, a rich guy, spend his life worrying about the people left out? Was it tribal memory of his own people left out, sent away, told to go back where they came from? Was it those old Boston signs that said “Irish need not apply”?
What was it that made health care such a crusade for this guy? Who do you know who has a broken back who spends his life and time thinking about other people‘s troubles? Was it because his older brother was secretly sick most of his life? Bobby liked to say that if a mosquito ever bit Jack, it was the mosquito that would die. Was it his sister, Rosemary, who never got the right care?
This much we know for sure. He had two brothers shot and thought gun control made a certain sense. He saw violence in Northern Ireland and wanted peace for the people where his family came from. He saw a war coming in Iraq and voted against it and said it was the best vote of his life. And yes, he was human, so human, in the poet‘s words, he was “the emperor of ice cream,” the man filled with life when everyone else was grieving and lost—“Call the roller of big cigars, the muscular one.” At too many funerals, too many brothers lost, he was the man filled with life, sometimes too much of it, the one we crowded to, leaned against, needed, Edward M. Kennedy, Ted, Teddy.
His people fought the nickname. They said, Call him Edward, they protested. But those who cared for him, the tens of millions, they loved what his nieces and nephews called him, Teddy, the emperor of ice cream, the big guy filled with life at all those too many funerals. And now there is his.
Let‘s bring in a pair of MSNBC political analysts, “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman and “The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson. Howard, you and my friend Eugene, both my friends, it‘s a night to think, to be a little Irish, I suppose. Howard, you qualify. Eugene, you qualify.
Let‘s talk about this guy, and let‘s start with the partisan stuff. This is the place for politics, and let‘s talk about Mr. Democrat, Ted Kennedy. We‘ll talk with his friends, you two guys. I think I can call you his friend, Howard, even though you‘re an objective reporter. I know Eugene‘s his friend. And then we‘ll bring in Pat Buchanan, a rival, in the next segment to talk about what he was like as a rival. Let‘s get it all together tonight here in the place for politics. Howard—leader of the Democratic Party, Ted Kennedy.
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, Ted was Ted—and I just reflexively called him that—was both the last of the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt liberals in the Democratic Party, and that‘s what his 1980 campaign was about against Jimmy Carter, and he was the last of the great bipartisan Irish-American dealmakers.
I just got done writing a piece for MSNBC.com which I always wanted to write about the Irish in American politics. And I can talk about this maybe more than you can. For 150 years, the Irish were the essential—the lubricant in the gears of American public life. They made the thing go. They made it happen. And I think Ted Kennedy was the embodiment of that.
Whatever gift the Irish had for politics, for public life, for both idealism and deal making, Ted Kennedy had and he had almost more and more convincingly than his brothers. And it turns out that he was the one who did the hard work, the consistent work, and the work that won him the hearts of so many people in the Senate on both sides of the aisle, that bipartisan spirit and desire to make the deal and the joy in making the deal that met his ideals and advanced the causes he cared about. It‘s something that everybody in public life, whether an elected person or somebody like Gene and I who cover politics, can be inspired by.
MATTHEWS: Well, for 41 years, he beat the gunman. He avoided getting killed like his brothers by people carrying guns. Eugene, for most Americans living today, he was the Kennedy. They don‘t remember Joe. Joe died in World War II fighting the Nazis, and Jack was killed in a cold war situation by a real communist lover, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Bobby was killed supporting Israel, basically, in the Middle East. These were politically motivated killings. The youngest brother survived. For most people, he was “the Kennedy.” Your thoughts about the Democratic leader, Ted Kennedy.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the first thing that popped into my mind this morning when I heard had he died, Chris, was, perhaps inconveniently, a line written by an Englishman. I thought of the at the end of “Hamlet,” when Hamlet dies, and “flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,” not just because it‘s perhaps the most beautiful eulogy ever written, but also because Hamlet was a prince and Teddy was a prince in a family of kings and queens.
His father was a king. His brother Jack was a king. His brothers Joe and Bobby were supposed to be king, but they died young. He was fated to be a prince, and that‘s a much more difficult role to play. And he—it took him a while to grow into it, to learn how to play that role. But he came to play it not just with tremendous grace as a leader—as the leader of the Democratic Party, as the soul of the Democratic Party, but also to tremendous effect. His stamp is on so much of the landmark legislation of that that‘s been passed in the last 40 years. It‘s a very sad day and a very historic day.
MATTHEWS: Well, you quoted the greatest—well, the greatest writer of poetry in British English history. Now let‘s go to the greatest writer of prose, Machiavelli, many believe the greatest writer of prose in the language. Howard, you‘re laughing, but “The Prince,” the very words used here, bring to mind the job description of a U.S. senator, to be a prince, not a king, to deal with others of equal power and to get those men and women of equal power to do your bidding.
FINEMAN: Well, Chris, the thing I remember most about Ted Kennedy is his laugh, that big, bursting, joyous laugh of his. He never wrote anybody off. He never wrote anybody out of his story. In that sense, he was a generous spirit. And I think that the tragedies that he suffered and the mistakes that he made, made him a less judgmental person.
FINEMAN: And while he kept his ideals, he was always willing to go back to people, not write them off. And in the United States Senate, where he served for all those many decades, nobody was ever written out of his universe because—and that‘s the way the Senate should operate. And when he laughed, it was a laughter that embraced the whole chamber and took joy in the process of legislating.
Now, we make fun of it, we are cynical about it, but the floor of the Senate is one of the places where the will of the American people is expressed. And Ted Kennedy never forgot the solemnity of the responsibility that he had, but the joy that he had in trying to do the people‘s work. And he conveyed that to everybody on both sides of the aisle or none. Anybody who was around him felt his sense of joy as the process of being a public person in a democratic country. That was the key to it, and that‘s really what made him so successful, I think.
MATTHEWS: You know, there‘s a great story, Gene and Howard, of David
Nyhan, the great “Boston Globe” reporter, who was going—he was working -
he had a deal—he was a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy school, and Teddy was kidding him and saying, You finally got into Harvard, David. And he said, yes, I‘m having trouble with my Spanish exam.
MATTHEWS: And Teddy said, I‘ve got somebody who can help you!
MATTHEWS: I mean, and here he is laughing, Gene, about the fact that he got in trouble for cheating on a Spanish exam 50-some years ago. And because he did, he got kicked out of the school for a period of time, went into the military, and probably became a better man for having served as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army, working his way back to Harvard.
ROBINSON: He probably did become a better man, and he certainly retained throughout his life the ability to laugh at himself. There was a fundamental generosity about Ted Kennedy that extended to his relations with fellow senators and others, as well. I was at that 1980 convention when he gave that incredible line, “The work goes on, the cause endures and the dream shall never die.”
ROBINSON: And right after the convention, I was assigned to do my first big political story for “The Washington Post,” and it was about Ted Kennedy and what was he doing to help the Carter ticket.
MATTHEWS: Well, that wasn‘t much!
MATTHEWS: There‘s a short column!
ROBINSON: It was a short story...
FINEMAN: But a well written one. But a well written one.
ROBINSON: But he made it more than it otherwise could have been by being extraordinarily generous with his time and access and candor to a 26-year-old political reporter from “The Post” who didn‘t know which way the Capitol was and which way the White House was, and didn‘t know nothing. And he gave me the same sort of consideration he would have given to David Broder, had he been doing the story.
ROBINSON: He was just a generous guy.
MATTHEWS: You know, Howard and Eugene, we grew up with leaders in both parties who were sort of central to the party. They weren‘t presidents necessarily, but they were the heart of the parties. It‘s hard to imagine the Democratic Party in the ‘50s without Hubert Humphrey, for example, the great leader of Civil Rights who really fought that fight from ‘48 on. It‘s hard to imagine a Republican Party without Everett Dirksen or with Barry Goldwater, people that weren‘t—or even the Republican Party without Nelson Rockefeller, believe it or not.
Without a leader like Teddy, where is the Democratic Party right now, Howard?
FINEMAN: That‘s a really good question, Chris, and I‘m not sure because you don‘t have those—those independent leaders of stature in the Congress that you used to have. They‘re just not there. The Senate in recent years has become much more like the House. They‘re raising money all the time. They‘re sticking with their ideological brethren all the time. They‘re preaching to their respective choirs all the time. They‘re not independent persons. They‘re not independent personages, if you will.
FINEMAN: They‘re not independent moral forces. And whether it was Barry Goldwater, as you said, or Gene McCarthy that—somebody else you might mention, or Hubert Humphrey or Ev Dirksen on the Republican side, those kinds of figures who provide ballast and identify for the party are gone. Right now, all the identity of the Democratic Party is concentrated in Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a lot of weight...
FINEMAN: That‘s a lot of weight.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a lot of weight on one guy‘s shoulders.
FINEMAN: It‘s too much weight. It‘s too much weight to carry, and I think he‘s finding that that makes his efforts in health care and other reforms more difficult because he doesn‘t have other people holding onto the oars to row along with him.
MATTHEWS: In the term of—in “Ghostbusters” language, who you going to call, Eugene, if you‘re Barack Obama? Who you going to call?
ROBINSON: Well, that‘s a good question, and...
MATTHEWS: Without Ted there.
ROBINSON: ... and the answer is, under other, happier circumstances, to get health care done, he would have called on Ted Kennedy, you know, and who would be—who would be leading the fight, leading the negotiations, leading the process in a way that, frankly, no one in the Senate is able to do for him right now.
FINEMAN: And I‘m sure Gene and I can tell you exactly how it would have gone down, Chris. Ted Kennedy would have been at his desk in the back there in the Senate, pounding on the podium for the full public option as part of the deal. And then at the very last minute, to get the best deal he possibly could, he would have brokered the compromise with Republicans to get the kind of all-encompassing deal done that he‘d want and that the president would want because I think the president‘s instincts are like Teddy‘s, in the sense that he knows that for a big piece of legislation like health care reform, you need the broadest possible consent.
FINEMAN: But it‘s become so difficult in this country and in the Congress and in our political system, the way it‘s set up...
FINEMAN: ... to get broad consent for anything. And that what dies with Ted Kennedy here, I fear. I hope that‘s not the case.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe someone will come in...
FINEMAN: Let‘s hope not.
MATTHEWS: ... from right field, like Mike Enzi of Wyoming. You just never know.
FINEMAN: You never know.
MATTHEWS: Somebody‘s going to come in and win this game for both sides, perhaps, for the country.
Howard Fineman, Eugene Robins, we‘ll be talking to you later tonight. Stay with us. And when we return—in fact, we‘ll be talking to you in a minute when we bring in Pat Buchanan to sot of mix it up here. Maybe it‘s been one-sided in terms of focusing on the Democratic Party. I want to talk about with Pat Buchanan‘s what Ted Kennedy‘s importance was as an opponent, as a lightning rod, if you will. We‘ll be right back to talk to Pat Buchanan about what it was like to go after Ted Kennedy. I mean, they had a few—well, they had a few people up there checking up on him over the years. I think Pat knows about that. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His extraordinary life on this earth has come to an end, and the extraordinary good that he did lives on. For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was a defender of a dream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL and our coverage of the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman is with us, as well as “The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post.” And joining us right now is MSNBC‘s political analyst Pat Buchanan.
I remember the old joke, when it wasn‘t so much a joke after the Nixon White House in the ‘70s, when they named Archibald Cox a special prosecutor basically because Ted Kennedy demanded that he be named special prosecutor, and the joke in the White House was Nixon said, I thought it was Eddie Cox they named, his son-in-law.
MATTHEWS: He pulled one over on you.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: We knew it wasn‘t Eddie!
MATTHEWS: Archibald Cox ran the Kennedy speech-writing operation in the 1960 campaign against you guys, Pat, and he ends up as special prosecutor against Dick Nixon and brings him down. I would say that‘s partisan politics by Ted Kennedy. I guess you think so.
BUCHANAN: Well, I think, look, the Kennedys were—I mean, let‘s—let‘s get it out front—were savage partisans. Nixon felt they had stolen Illinois and Texas, with some justification. He had been himself audited by the IRS. He had Larry O‘Brien was deep into the Hughes stuff. All of those things—Archibald Cox was a Kennedyite and Kennedy‘s right there when he‘s sworn in. And Nixon thought that they were trying to take him down, and he was exactly right. They played hardball. And Nixon played hardball himself, Chris. I recall Nixon wanted me and others to find out exactly what happened in those cables going to and from Saigon...
BUCHANAN: ... before the assassination of Diem. That‘s the way the game was played.
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think Nixon was smart to try to find out what Larry O‘Brien‘s deal was with Howard Hughes?
BUCHANAN: I think he would probably...
BUCHANAN: ... have not gone about it the way did he, I would say. I think—as we said at the time, Chris, when we sent in those Cubans, like Kennedy, we forgot to send in air cover.
MATTHEWS: We‘re talking about the Watergate break-in as a bit of a political hardball that got, I‘d say, out of hand, Pat.
BUCHANAN: They would send in Cubans without air cover!
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s step back from the brink of the criminality here for a second to the question of political hardball. What was it—what was the importance of Ted Kennedy as an opposite number for you guys on the right?
BUCHANAN: Well, I felt that—I think first, Jack Kennedy was a conservative, in my judgment.
MATTHEWS: I agree with you on that, a gut conservative.
BUCHANAN: And I think Bobby Kennedy moved very sharply to the left to run against LBJ. Teddy Kennedy—the original Teddy Kennedy I think would have within a formidable candidate, but he evolved into the kind of liberal, quite frankly, on issues like abortion and gay rights and out front on spending and social and economic policy, all these things that his own brother, Jack Kennedy, would have mocked when Adlai Stevenson was for him. So Kennedy evolved.
But there‘s no question before Chappaquiddick, Kennedy looked like the odds-on favorite. He would be forced to run against us in 1972, no doubt about it.
MATTHEWS: Pat, was that McNelly‘s (ph) cartoon that had Teddy waiting outside with his bags, reading to go into the White House right after you guys were inaugurated?
BUCHANAN: Well, no, I think McNelly came a little later, Chris, I think than that. McNelly died young. But his cartoons were phenomenal, I agree, but—got about three Pulitzers. But no, I think—but I would have felt Teddy would have been the nominee. But I always felt, for example, Chris, in ‘68, that Humphrey was the strongest candidate. He‘s the only one who could bring the LBJ-John Connally wing and the liberal wing together because of his human rights—I mean, his civil rights record...
BUCHANAN: ... his former liberalism.
Bobby, I think—I think—and others don‘t—I think we would have beaten Bobby very handily.
MATTHEWS: But you beat Humphrey.
BUCHANAN: We did beat Humphrey, but it was very close.
MATTHEWS: Well, why are you saying he was the best candidate?
BUCHANAN: Because, when the Democratic Party came together, it was almost twice as large as our party.
BUCHANAN: And he gained 13 points in October alone. I mean, I had—
I was out in—breaking out and everything else. And I—and we heard we were down 43-40 in the Harris poll.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
BUCHANAN: It‘s—at the end, we thought we were going to lose.
MATTHEWS: I think Bobby would have spooked Nixon.
BUCHANAN: Some of us.
MATTHEWS: Nixon would have started sweating. He would have had a flop sweat. He wouldn‘t have known what to do with Bobby. That‘s my thought.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What‘s the question?
MATTHEWS: Your witness.
MATTHEWS: No, we want to move around here.
Howard, your sense, as a reporter, of how important Teddy was as a punching bag for the Republicans all those years.
FINEMAN: Oh, I think he was very important.
And—and the—the amazing thing and the important thing is that he didn‘t mind being the punching bag. As—as—as Pat said, you know, the Kennedys played the hardest of hardball. The stuff going on in the Senate for the most part was—was patty-cake by comparison to some of the stuff on the presidential level.
FINEMAN: And I think Teddy understood that it was OK to be a lightning rod. It was OK even in some cases to be a caricature, because that would draw attention to him. That would allow him to make his case.
And, more important, that would allow him to do the deals that he did. Yes, he was a—as I said, he was the last of the FDR liberals. He became that in Pat‘s recounting of the story. But he also knew precisely when—and developed that sense over the decades—of when to cut the deal, of when to get the half-a-loaf, of when to do incrementally what couldn‘t be done all in one piece.
And then he would come back a few years later and get another amendment to push—push the thing farther along.
BUCHANAN: You know...
FINEMAN: He did that repeatedly, with Republican support.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s Gene in here.
Gene, your sense of this fight, where Teddy became the lightning rod.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I—I agree with Howard that it was in fact very useful for him to be the lightning rod, because it provided cover, not only for the deal that he would eventually make, but for other Democrats as well, who could come—who could in to the right of Ted Kennedy. That—that wasn‘t very far to the right at all because he was—he was staking, you know, the purest position.
And, as long as people—you know, people were shooting at him, figuratively, he could take it. He was safe in—in his seat. Nobody was going to beat him in Massachusetts, whereas other Democrats had—had—had opponents and—and problems. And he could provide cover for them.
MATTHEWS: Pat, why do you think he went left?
BUCHANAN: I—I think probably he was not—he was formed in his convictions, the way Jack Kennedy was.
I look at Jack Kennedy as—as Howard, I think, did it very well on Teddy. Teddy‘s a big Irish guy. You can see him as a bartender in college singing Danny boy and all the rest of it.
BUCHANAN: Jack Kennedy was a cool customer. He was an Irish WASP.
BUCHANAN: I mean, he was somebody who was a aristocratic, and he his got hand in his pocket and he‘s perfect all the time.
BUCHANAN: Kennedy is this big gregarious—hey—even with me, “Hey, Pat how are you doing?”
MATTHEWS: But why did he go left?
BUCHANAN: Why did he go left?
I think he moved with the—I don‘t think he had firm, deep convictions.
BUCHANAN: I think he moved with the ‘60s, right on along with that whole generation. And frankly, he was staying out in front of it the whole time. I mean, I can‘t see Jack Kennedy or even Bobby taking some of the positions, say, on right to life and things like that that Teddy eventually did.
MATTHEWS: Well, one theory I had, Gene, is that...
MATTHEWS: ... his brothers moved on civil rights pretty strongly.
MATTHEWS: And Jack was there by—well, by coincidence, in a way, and he became a...
ROBINSON: All right.
MATTHEWS: ... a forceful spokesman because of history.
Bobby became passionate. And I think Teddy followed it one further step toward a real committed liberal on civil rights.
ROBINSON: Yes, I think he—I think that‘s absolutely right. That‘s
that‘s the way it happened.
But, you know, the whole family, I would argue, might have evolved with the country. So, it‘s very difficult to say what Jack Kennedy would have been like in 1968 and—or what Bobby Kennedy would have been like in 1972.
ROBINSON: And it‘s—it‘s—you know, the country was moving so—so rapidly and changing so rapidly, it‘s difficult to be able to parse that...
FINEMAN: Well, the other—Chris—Chris, the other—the other thing that happened was, when—when Jimmy Carter became president, I think Ted Kennedy saw the legacy of the Democratic Party...
FINEMAN: ... as he read it, going back to Roosevelt under assault...
FINEMAN: ... because Jimmy Carter, as you know, was a different kind of Democrat. And I think Teddy moved...
MATTHEWS: He was Grover Cleveland.
FINEMAN: Yes. And Teddy moved even more to the left...
FINEMAN: ... to challenge—to challenge..
FINEMAN: ... Jimmy Carter and preserve the legacy of the old Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: Gentlemen, all three of you, as they say in Massachusetts, you‘re the smart ones. Thanks very much to have—be on the show.
MATTHEWS: You are the smart guys. And I mean it.
Thank you, Howard Fineman, Eugene Robinson...
BUCHANAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... and Pat Buchanan.
Much more on the life and death of Senator Ted Kennedy—it‘s just happened—and the future of the issue which he fought for, for so many decades, universal health care—when HARDBALL comes back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 25, 2008)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans.
So, with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1980)
KENNEDY: And some day, long after this convention, long after the signs come down and the crowds stop cheering, and the bands stop playing, may it be said of our campaign that we kept the faith. May it be said of our party in 1980 that we found our faith again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Tonight, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, it‘s the premiere of our documentary “The Kennedy Brothers,” an unprecedented look at the lives and impact of Ted, John, Robert, and Joseph Kennedy Jr.
Here now is a look at Ted Kennedy‘s speech at the 1980 Democratic Convention.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, “THE KENNEDY BROTHERS: A HARDBALL DOCUMENTARY WITH
MATTHEWS (voice-over): At the convention, Ted gave more of an acceptance speech than what it was supposed to be, an endorsement of Carter.
KENNEDY: For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ROBERT SHRUM, FORMER ADVISER TO SENATOR TED KENNEDY: They got to see the Ted Kennedy they should have gotten to see earlier in that campaign.
MATTHEWS: By convention‘s end, with the balloons falling and the Democrats (INAUDIBLE) President Carter, Kennedy speechwriter Bob Shrum quietly counseled Ted to be a good soldier and a team player.
SHRUM: I looked at him and said, “Are you going to raise his hand, aren‘t you?”
And he said, “Yes.”
And he went up. And I went out into the audience. And it never happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And some people in the crowd still shouting: “We want Ted. We want Ted.”
You know, this is slightly awkward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, finally, I guess, at the very end, there was some sort of, you know, brief hand touch. But it was on full view of the nation, this absolute physical contempt for the senator toward the president.
MATTHEWS: “The Kennedy Brothers” premieres tonight at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC, almost tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern, right here on the place for politics.
We are going to have much more on the life of Senator Ted Kennedy
Coming up next: one of Ted‘s closest friends and allies in the U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts. He joins us—when HARDBALL comes back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 8, 1968)
KENNEDY: My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, who saw suffering and tried to heal it, who saw war and tried to stop it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks ended the day relatively flat, despite some encouraging economic reports. The Dow Jones industrials are up four points, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both up a just a fraction of a point.
More good new from the housing sector: New home sales shot up more than 9.5 percent in July. That number blew past expectations and brought the inventory of unsold homes to its lowest level in 16 years.
Homebuilder stocks soared on the news. Hovnanian is up more than 9 percent. And Beazer Homes moved almost 5 percent higher.
In the financial sector, Citigroup, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all finished slightly lower on the day. But, in what one analyst is calling a dash for trash, trading on these three stocks alone has accounted for about one-quarter of all trading volume on the NYSE over the last three days.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So many of his foes embrace him, because they know he made them bigger, he made them more graceful by the way in which he conducted himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, the vice president paying tribute, very emotionally, to Ted Kennedy, who just died.
Joining me right now is—we couldn‘t have a better guest on this right now than Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey, a close colleague, so close.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
And you and I are friends. And I—I am so admiring of and what you have been able to do all these years. And what I don‘t know and I have never really asked you, and I‘m going to ask you right now, what was Ted Kennedy like to work with inside the scrum, more or less, when you really have to get something done?
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, on the one hand, during the six years that the Republicans controlled the Senate during the Reagan years, during the six years they controlled it during the Bush years, as you know, he was a warrior. He was going to fight to block bad things from happening.
But, on the other hand, if Senator Hatch or Senator Kassebaum or Senator McCain wanted to work with him towards putting together bipartisan packages, he was willing to do so as well. So, it was almost your choice. If you—if you wanted to fight, he enjoyed the fight. If you wanted peace and you wanted to find a way of moving forward together, he was willing to do that as well.
MATTHEWS: What was he like, Congressman, as a spotter, you know, telling you how to work with somebody, when he said, what‘s that—what‘s that guy‘s story, that kind of thing? Hatch, what‘s his story? Did he ever tell you that stuff, how to work with Hatch and that kind of thing?
MARKEY: He knew everything. It was like he‘s a human encyclopedia of American politics. There really has never been anyone like him, in terms of his family‘s history, his personal history.
There was no one he didn‘t know, no one that he hadn‘t already had some kind of a relationship with that would give him an insight as to what would motivate that member on a particular issue. If you had one person to call and it was, you know, and you‘re on the “Millionaire” show, you would call Ted Kennedy on politics, because he would know the answer.
MATTHEWS: Could you ever—I mean, this is such dangerously close to psychobabble, but let‘s try it. Why did he care so much about health care? Were you ever able to get that from him?
MARKEY: Well, you know, his entire family and its history was touched by his sister Rosemary, by the illnesses and the tragedies that befell his family, almost in a—in a Greek tragedy-like way.
And, so, I think as the years went by, he became more and more empathetic as to how health care issues would affect ordinary families. And because he was the chairman of the committee, it gave him an opportunity to touch the lives of every single American and to give them the access to the health care which he knew his family had been provided.
MATTHEWS: How was he with the casework in Massachusetts? You know, some politicians are big picture. They think it‘s scut work.
But I have a sense that Ted Kennedy relished the ability to help people with particularly strange little problems they had that he only knew about and he only cared about, in addition to them caring about them.
MARKEY: You could only imagine what the reception was on the other end of the line when someone handed a phone to a bureaucrat, saying, “Senator Ted Kennedy is on the line,” in terms of what the likely outcome was for...
MARKEY: ... constituent if there was a problem.
Again, there‘s really no one else like him. He—he—he was someone who transcended mere mortals in politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, what was it about constituent service? Because a lot of guys—I think of Pat Moynihan of being so big picture—they‘re almost ethereal.
What brought him down to earth when—when—when a mayor wanted something, for example?
MARKEY: Well, remember his grandfather was the mayor of Boston. So he grew up in that culture with his grandfather, Honey Fitz helping him in his first campaign, being there—I mean for his brother Jack in that first campaign.
So all of this was part of the family history. They understood that the foundation was at the grassroots. It was block to block. It was ward by ward. And each of them had an ability to talk about Chicopee or to talk about Everett.
MATTHEWS: I know about Chicopee.
MARKEY: -- as though they were the ward boss in those communities.
MATTHEWS: I went out with somebody from Chicopee once. Let me ask you—long time ago—let me ask you, Congressman, about Vicki Kennedy. We haven‘t talked about her tonight. Ted Kennedy‘s second wife. His first marriage ended badly with Joan. Vicki seems to be someone who really gave him a second effort in life. Not just in politics.
MARKEY: You know, Vicki for the last 17 or 18 years has been inseparable from Ted Kennedy. I cannot think of a single place that I saw Ted Kennedy that I did not see Vicki as well. They became a team, a partnership. And because of that, he became even greater than he had been in the past. And Vicki is as much of this story as is the senator, because they did create that partnership that made it possible for him to become the greatest senator of all time.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, our condolences from MSNBC and everybody here to you, sir. I know how close you were. And to Judge Reggie (ph), and to Dorris Reggie, the parents of Vicki, and Vicki, of course, herself, who has been, from my perspective, an amazing, loving spouse. I think you‘re right. I think she gave him that booster rocket these last 20 or so years.
MARKEY: Can I say this, Chris?
MARKEY: If I could just say this. You and I know where we were when Jack Kennedy died. We know where we were when Bobby Kennedy died. That‘s the power of this family. And I‘ll never forget the day that Ted Kennedy passed away either, OK? It‘s been an incredible gift that this family has given to our country, and to me personally, and I think to millions of other people who are out there.
They inspired me to go into government. They changed our country for the better. And there‘s no way of really measuring how much they had an impact on the families of millions of people all across our country.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Congressman Markey, thank you so much. What a great brother Ted Kennedy was to his brothers.
Up next, much more in the life of Ted Kennedy, the senator from Massachusetts, and his impact on the debate we‘re having right now. It‘s very much alive on health care. We‘ll be right back with HARDBALL after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
T. KENNEDY: As long as I have a voice in the United States Senate, it‘s going to be for that Democratic platform plank that provides decent quality of health care, north and south, east and west, for all Americans, as a matter of right and not of privilege.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
T. KENNEDY: Join in this historic journey to have the courage to choose change. It‘s time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was the American University speech last year. We‘re back. Joining us right now is “Politico‘s” Roger Simon and the Atlantic Media political director Ron Brownstein. It‘s so great, gentlemen, to have you two on tonight.
I‘m not going to lead you much at all. Roger, you first. Stories about Ted Kennedy. You‘re very good at finding these stories.
ROGER SIMON, “POLITICO”: You know, after I heard the news last night, I went down to the basement and looked up my old Ted Kennedy columns. You know, he was always a great interview, but there was always this—I found anyway—this air of sadness over him and the rest of the family.
I found a column I had done in October of 1974. This was a low point for Ted Kennedy. He had just been chased off the stage in Boston by anti-bussing demonstrators, who were shouting impeach Kennedy. This was where he was—a tomato was thrown at him. A woman punched him in the shoulder as he left the stage. He had decided not to run in 1976 for president, even though he thought the Democrats could win.
And yet, he still—he went to southern Illinois to give a speech for Paul Simon, who was running for Congress. There was no national press there. I had come down from Chicago. That doesn‘t qualify as national press. And Kennedy gave everything for that speech. I mean, he gave a rip roaring speech.
And when it was all over, he went back to the airport. And he turned to his advance man, Jim King. And he said, did I do a good job? Did they like me? Was I good tonight? And Jim King said yes, senator. They liked you. You did very well.
It always amazed me that real politicians care about every speech. And they care about connecting to every crowd. And Ted Kennedy was like that.
MATTHEWS: So great. I had the same—a similar experience in Utah in 1971, in the Wayne Owens campaign, where he came in there and gave a barn burner for his former aid.
Ron, your thoughts on, your memories of Ted as the politicians, the one he became, the top Democrat in the country.
RON BROWNSTEIN, ATLANTIC MEDIA: Perfect compliment to Roger‘s story. That was Ted Kennedy the stem winder, at the stump. My memory is Ted Kennedy as the legislator on the inside of Congress, making change happen. I remember talking to him in 2006 when he was engaged in very difficult, very arduous negotiations with Republicans like John McCain, business and labor, trying to pull together an immigration reform package with the Bush administration.
And he was talking about the effort to kind of reach out beyond the traditional Democratic coalition and work with voices that were not often heard in Democratic counsel, which became his hallmark, really, when he returned to the Senate after the 1980 presidential race.
I asked him what the tolerance level was for his negotiating with—on both sides, for McCain and him engaging in these negotiations. He said, you know, the old guys understand it. But for the young guys, it‘s not where they‘re at.
And, in fact, Ted Kennedy was, as I said in “The Atlantic”—he was really a last of a breed, a senator who believed that an individual senator, through the dint of their intelligence and work and understanding, could build coalitions that wouldn‘t be formed otherwise, and could make change happen that wouldn‘t happen otherwise.
Now we‘re moving towards a much more parliamentary system, where everybody is expected to stand with their own side against the other. And the opportunity for someone to do what Ted Kennedy did so well for almost three decades really is eroding.
MATTHEWS: A friend of mine who worked for the leadership said the worst thing that ever happened in the U.S. Senate were those weekly lunches where is they all get together and agree on being in the same party. They‘d be better of being committee chairs again.
By the way, as tribute to the fact that Ted Kennedy could put a
coalition together, the people who are speaking at the wake on Friday night
this is an unusual format far a Catholic service, but it‘s going to be a wake up there in Boston. Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, who spoke so emotionally today; he‘s going to speak. John McCain of Arizona, who was the Republican nominee, he‘s going to speak. And John Kerry, the junior, now senior senator from Massachusetts.
Roger, it looks to me like a ticket that Ted Kennedy forged.
SIMON: It was. As Ron said, he really could bring people together. But he cared about doing so, and now there‘s just not the same feeling. I know there‘s the natural instinct whenever a great man passes to say oh, there will never be giants like this again. And in the olden times, everyone was great, not like now.
But it is hard to view the passing of a figure like Ted Kennedy and look at people today in the Senate who are going to devote their lives, decades, to doing what he did, who really care more about passing legislation than about advancing a partisan cause.
It‘s very hard to see that. And I don‘t think that argues good things for the years ahead.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I agree.
MATTHEWS: I‘m feeling older an older. I tell you, I was in politics with Kirk O‘Donnell and Tip O‘Neill and Teddy Kennedy and Pat Moynihan, and they‘re all gone.
We‘re going to come right back and talk to Roger and Ron about what‘s coming up next in terms of Kennedy and Obama. Boy, talking about the Kennedy legacy and the saga. There‘s one more step in this saga. The new brother, Barack Obama. He got the torch handed to him last year. We‘ll be right back to talk about that as politics continues here in America and on HARDBALL. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
T. KENNEDY: For all my years in public life, I have believed that America must sail towards the shores of liberty and justice for all. Know there is no end to that journey, only the next great voyage. We know the future will outlast all of us. But I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. We‘re back with the “Politico‘s” Roger Simon and Atlantic Media‘s Ron Brownstein.
I want to ask you, gentlemen, about the new brother, Barack Obama. The Kennedys passed the torch from brother to brother, from Joe Kennedy Jr. to Jack, to Bobby, to Ted. And then Ted Kennedy last year gave it to Barack Obama. He said he is the new brother.
I want to ask you that responsibility and what it means. It seems to me he has yet to take that full responsibility. And I‘m being tough here. I‘m being tough. Roger and Ron, when‘s he going to do it?
BROWNSTEIN: Certainly the endorsement from Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, in particular, was an absolute turning point in the race. It signaled that the presumed advantage of Hillary Clinton with the Democratic establishment was not as solid as it seemed, and really was a turning point.
I think Barack Obama is putting his stamp on the Democratic party. He‘s not there yet. It‘s not clear exactly what this project becomes. But he has the potential to lastingly change the coalition and the nature of this party.
You‘re right, though. As a new president, it‘s inevitably a work in progress.
But don‘t forget, even Ted Kennedy was very much a work in progress. After his presidential run, his actual impact on American politics I think was very different than what it was before. He was less—in voice, he was always the champion of traditional liberalism. But in practice, he was a master legislative craftsman, certainly the best in modern times.
SIMON: If he—if President Obama wants to carry the torch that the Kennedys have passed to him—and I think that‘s an apt metaphor, Chris—
President Obama is going to have to pass health care. There‘s just no two ways about it.
Ted Kennedy ran against Jimmy Carter, a sitting president of his own party, in 1980, because Carter had not pushed for health care in his first term, as Carter had promised. And Kennedy, we are told, extracted a promise from Barack Obama that he would, indeed, push for universal health care in his first term, in return for not just an endorsement, but it was a very strong endorsement.
MATTHEWS: Right, thank you. Roger, he has three more years to do it. Anyway, thank you, Roger Simon. Thank you, Ron Brownstein. Great to have you on.
I‘ll be back in an hour, at 7:00 Eastern, for another live edition of
Then at 9:00 Eastern, the premier of our documentary. We‘re very proud of it, “The Kennedy Brothers.” Right now it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or
other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>
Watch Hardball each weeknight at 5 & 7 p.m. ET