Guests: Mike Barnicle, Julia Boorstin, Anne Thompson, Michael Beschloss, Ryan Lizza, Melinda Henneberger, Bill Delahunt, Sen. Chris Dodd
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: We‘re looking at an aerial shot of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum out there at Columbia Point. I‘ve been there many times. It‘s an astounding place to visit if you‘re at all interested in that period of the 1950s and ‘60s in American history. It‘s built right out over the water. It‘s a beautiful, nautical place for someone like John F. Kennedy to be memorialized, and now tonight it‘s the place for the repose of the body of Ted Kennedy, the youngest Kennedy brother. You‘re looking at the crowd there. The cortege has just arrived.
We‘re going to be talking to people throughout this hour who were very close to Ted Kennedy, and I couldn‘t think of anyone closer than the man right now, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. Thank you, Senator, for joining us tonight. You know Ted Kennedy better than anybody I know, and you‘ve been with him out in the water in tough seas, dangerous weather. What was it like to be Ted Kennedy?
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT (via telephone): Well, Chris, first of all, I appreciate the tremendous effort in wrapping up this guy‘s life. Awfully difficult to do. And historians will over the next decades, of course, write about him and talk about him, his accomplishments. And to me, he was just a great friend, I mean, a personal friend of over 30 years.
And he was about as loyal a friend as you could ever have. I mean, the stories are legion. Just where you‘d least expect it, at the moment you most needed it, that call would arrive, that note, that knock on the door, and he‘d be there. And I know that those who‘ve known him over the years, his own constituents in Massachusetts—I can tell you, I don‘t think my daughter, first born, Grace, was an hour old before the call came from Teddy welcoming Grace into the world.
When my sister died about a month ago, the first call was from Teddy. When I lost the Iowa caucuses, not that anybody ever thought I was going to win it...
DODD: ... the first call I got was from Teddy and Vicki. So just in every critical moment I can think of over the last 30 years, my friend was always, always there. So beyond all the accolades about his legislative prowess and ability, and all those other wonderful qualities—I don‘t minimize them at all—for the rest of my life, my memories will be about a great pal, a great friend.
MATTHEWS: When you were with him in those quiet moments as social friends and having a good time or not, being sentimental maybe, did you ever get struck by the fact, I‘m sitting with the brother of Jack Kennedy, I‘m sitting with the brother of Bobby Kennedy, the son of Joe Kennedy? Did that history ever come into your head or into the presence, or was he always just your pal?
DODD: Well, I suppose back maybe when I first met him, a new senator, a congressman in the late ‘70s, I may have thought about him in those terms, but he would quickly dispel that. Not that he ever made the point that he diminished in any way the accomplishments and contributions of his family, but Teddy had a wonderful ability to make you feel very much at home with him. And it was the great success of him, in many ways. And I don‘t minimize, obviously, the accomplishments of his two brothers, who I didn‘t know at all. I met them as a child, in the case of President Kennedy, and as a young teenager in the case of Robert Kennedy 40 years ago.
But Teddy‘s ability to connect with people was very, very real. And it was whether you—he could meet people that he had never known before, and I‘m sure initially, there was some awe that they were in the presence of someone whose family had contributed so much, but he had the incredible ability, literally within minutes almost, of making you feel like you were important. What did you have to say? What was your contribution? What do you think about this?
And he drew people out in wonderful ways. I saw him do it with my children. I just remember seeing maybe about—I guess it may have been about maybe last March, April. I‘m walking down, going out with my then just 7-year-old and newly 4-year-old, Christina, and Teddy happened to be coming out with Splash and Sunny, his two dogs. And Teddy made more of my girls because he knows that Grace has severe allergies to dogs and other things. And he said, Let‘s try out, you know, Sunny and Splash with your daughter.
And my two daughters to this day—I mean, they‘re—I had to be very careful in talking about what happened to Teddy in the last two days, the last day-and-a-half because of what he meant to two very little children in making them feel very, very important.
And with everybody I ever met around him, you might step back every now and then and realize this guy has seen more history and lived it, and yet that wonderful, remarkable ability—as you remember, Chris. I mean, you‘ve known him a long time...
DODD: ... working with Tip and others—just a great touch. It was not phony, not a phony bone in his body. And it was really, in many ways, the reason why he was successful. I know people are going to talk about his knowledge of the Senate and his ability to know parliamentary procedure. Let me tell you, at the end of the day, you know what it was? People liked him.
DODD: They liked him!
MATTHEWS: Senator, how did he deal with the weight of being a lightning rod for the right, to have all those—not just the black Irish begrudgers out there, but people on the right who didn‘t have any idea who he was except he was the enemy. How did he deal with that burden?
DODD: Well, I think he found it almost amusing in many ways because it—in fact, his Republican colleagues in many cases would come back and tease about it. I mean, they‘d go back home years ago and they‘d talk about the evils of Washington and they‘d personify it in his name.
And then, of course, they‘d tell him what a great guy he was and how much they loved being with him. And by the way, could he help out on their bills? And he had someone that needed a job, and could Teddy—so it was this dichotomy that he found interesting in many ways, that some of the very people who would sort of use him as a caricature for all that they thought was evil within the country politically, they‘d turn around, and of course, be almost ashamed and embarrassed they had done so.
So I think he handled it well. He understood that in politics this happens, but he never, I thought—at least, he never showed. He may have and he certainly never indicated to me that it affected him in a way that he felt somehow that he was being abused by the political right, although certainly, he must have felt that from time to time with some of the scurrilous things that were said about him.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, Senator, back in the early ‘70s, when I got back from the Peace Corps, I would go to hearings and watch him preside—he wasn‘t the presiding chair yet, but he was in the committee behind the desk up there. And I used to watch him watch everybody come in the room, and maybe I was just picking up on something I was imagining, but I always sensed he was aware that he had to look out for his own security.
DODD: Well, probably so. I mean, I—you know, the sense, obviously, Chris, that—you know, it was, you know, what, 1963 with his brother, ‘68 with his other brother. I mean, that sense of that is certainly, I think—may have been on his mind. But again, on a personal level, having spent, you know, countless hours with him in various places with people, he—I never saw any of that evidenced by any dramatic change in his persona.
I suspect more than anything else, it goes back to what I said a minute ago. This was a guy who genuinely—I mean, you and I know people in politics and you and I wonder why they‘re in the business at all because they just don‘t seem to enjoy people.
MATTHEWS: I know. They don‘t like the life or relish the demands.
DODD: They like the job. They like the title. They maybe like even the legislative work. But they really don‘t like their constituents that much.
DODD: Teddy thoroughly enjoyed people. And so coming into that room
and probably didn‘t have any idea you were a former Peace Corps volunteer or whatever else, but I suspect it was nothing more than a human interest of a young guy walking in the room and maybe thinking to himself, I wonder what this guy‘s got on his mind?
MATTHEWS: Yes, no, I meant in terms of watching strangers, not me, but looking at the crowd out there. I‘m always amazed by somebody like him, as big a fellow as he is historically, caring what other people thought about him. He once—this is a small point he said about me. He once said, You know, I don‘t think he liked me back when he was with Carter, but I think he likes me now.
MATTHEWS: I mean, the fact that he‘d even give me two seconds thought is amazing to me!
MATTHEWS: But he‘s a human being, I guess, and everybody cares what everybody thinks.
DODD: No, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: It must have been such a treat to be his best friend.
DODD: Oh, just great. I can‘t—the other day, I just—I literally—yesterday morning, I got, obviously, very early the news, as everyone did. And I dropped off my 7-year-old at a day camp here in Connecticut and then took my 4-year-old out to pick raspberries and blueberries. And I decided I wasn‘t going to let the day become maudlin and I was going do, I think, what he‘d appreciate, and that is you live your life.
And he would say so many times to me—and I‘ve had a, you know, rough year, and just went through cancer surgery about two weeks ago, and he—you know, he called me as I was coming out of the recovery room, Chris.
DODD: I mean, I—I mean, the first call I had, Jackie put the phone up to my ear and he said, Welcome to the club, you know? This is two weeks ago, you know?
DODD: So just a great friend, and I‘m just going to miss him terribly, beyond words.
MATTHEWS: And he was at peace with God, too, right?
DODD: Oh, just the best. He cared about you. I mean, you‘ll hear more stories in the weeks to come about him, just things, the calls that he made, the times he‘d show up. You know, Joe Biden talks about it, when he was going through his physical tragedies, obviously, with his aneurysms, and Teddy just being there.
I remember Frank Church was dying. I don‘t know how many times Teddy‘d show up in that hospital room and just to be there with his family. No one asked, no one called, no press, no one was going to write a story about it, just a human being understanding what a family was going through. And he was as reliable as any human being I‘ve ever known on that level.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he called me on my diabetes, and I had a bunch more serious problem once, and he‘d call me and he was great. By the way, my favorite story is one that Joe Biden told months ago, about how when he first got—you know, the tragedy that occurred when he came into office, with his wife being killed, that very Christmas week and the daughter being killed, just a horrendous—and being holed up, up there on the sixth floor of Dirksen, where nobody even knew there were any offices up there. And Teddy came by and took him over to the gym and introduced him to all these old codgers at the gym, like Jack Javits, all those old naked 80-year-old...
MATTHEWS: ... wandering around, smoking cigars. I mean, it‘s a great
it‘s a rich—it‘s a rich world you‘re in there. Senator Chris Dodd, good luck, sir, with your own health and coming back yourself to being a great senator. And thank you so much for coming on, on this sad night for the country.
DODD: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
DODD: Thanks very much.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir.
DODD: You bet.
MATTHEWS: NBC‘s Anne Thompson is at the Kennedy Library in Boston. Anne, thank you. It seems to me that the ritual is following the course a bit behind schedule. Father Monan, the great president of B.C., is up there to preside at this point, right?
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: He is, and he is joined by Father Donald McMillan, who is the head of campus ministry at Boston College. And both priests have been very close to the Kennedy family through the years. They are at this hour saying a prayer inside the Kennedy Library.
When the senator‘s body was brought into the library, he went through a column of about 100 current and former staffers, Chris. And you know, in recent days, talking to some of those staffers and people who know the senator, they said if you were on Kennedy‘s staff, you really never left. It was—these weren‘t people who just worked for Ted Kennedy, but they loved Ted Kennedy. And they have come here to pay their respects today, and some of them will be sitting vigil.
There‘s going to be a military guard of four members of the armed services and then four civilians who will stand vigil as the public comes through tonight, and many of those civilians will be former staffers who have come to pay their respects. Joining them, of course, are the many people of Massachusetts who want to say thank you to Senator Kennedy and thank you to his family. And they have lined up here at the JFK Library,, and it really is an astonishing sight.
There are probably within my eyesight 200 people waiting to go in, and then there is a line that goes all the way down the parking lot and then turns, and that‘s what it was doing an hour ago. And so I haven‘t been able to go down and check it out since, but these are people who have been standing here for now two hours in a very hot sun.
There are plenty of ambulances here. There are plenty of people with water bottles to make sure everybody stays hydrated as they wait for the library to open. There is going to be viewing until, we believe, 11:00 o‘clock tonight, although it‘s interesting, in the vigil schedule they put out, they listed people who would be there for the vigil from 11:00 to 12:00, so anyone who is in line, they can go through and pay their respects tonight. I don‘t think they will leave anyone out in the cold.
And they will be greeted, we are told, by members of the Kennedy family inside. And this was something we saw at Eunice Shriver‘s wake just two weeks ago in Cape Cod. The Shriver children all came and greeted members of the public as they came through and learned why their mother influenced them and was important in their lives. And they felt that really helped them in their mourning, and I think they‘re hoping that that will do the same for the senator‘s family.
His son, Patrick, accompanied the body from Cape Cod here, and then his children, Teddy, Jr., and Kara, and then the senator‘s four grandchildren, along with Victoria, his wife, and his surviving sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, all led the family. You saw Ethel Kennedy holding Joe Kennedy‘s hand. She led the Robert F. Kennedy contingent of the family in, and then they were followed by Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver.
So it is going to be a long night here. It has already been a long day, but it is something that the people who have stayed here and come here, they feel very committed. It is something they have to do, and that is say thank you to this man who served Massachusetts for almost a half century.
MATTHEWS: OK, Anne Thompson, thank you so much for that report from the Kennedy Library at Columbia Point. I can‘t think of a more nautical place to honor the former president and to have this moment. You‘re really out at sea there. I‘ve known the feeling. You really get—especially on gray days out there. Thank you so much.
THOMPSON: It is—you‘re welcome.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Anne Thompson.
When we return, we‘re going to have much more on Ted Kennedy and his brothers. Next, presidential historian Michael Beschloss is going to join us. And by the way, at 7:00 o‘clock tonight, we‘ve got the big, much talked about documentary on the Kennedy brothers, all of them. You have to watch that tonight at 7:00.
You‘re watching HARDBALL right now, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back, and we‘re joined right now by NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who‘s with us from the Kennedy Library up in Boston. Michael, thank you for joining us from that incredible place up there, out there on Columbia Point. Let‘s put it in perspective for the younger...
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: (INAUDIBLE) Chris. I know you spent a lot of time here.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s stick it—let‘s go to the younger viewers now that don‘t know what you and I have been through. Give me a sense—us all a sense, a refresher course, if you will, of the role of the Kennedy family, starting with the old man, Joseph Kennedy, who you wrote about with “Kennedy and Roosevelt,” his appeasement policies, his defeatist policies, his policies which were really seen as wrong by most Americans going into the 1940s and looking backward, and the role the Kennedy brothers played in perhaps atoning for that. Well, that would be my premise. Your thoughts.
BESCHLOSS: Yes, I think there‘s a lot to that. In the late 1930s, Joe Kennedy was Franklin Roosevelt‘s ambassador to London. And he believed that we should stay out of war, even if the cost was that Hitler would take over Europe and maybe even Great Britain. And needless to say, in 1941, most Americans turned wildly against that point of view.
And as a result, the Kennedy brothers—we‘ve talked about this before, you and I—after World War II, on foreign policy, one of the things they had to do to, you know, essentially get credibility in politics was to make it clear that they were internationalists, and they disowned the views of their father.
Domestically, Joe Kennedy was a very big conservative. When John Kennedy came into Congress, as you have written about, Chris, in 1946, he was a pretty conservative Democrat, too. So if you go from John Kennedy to Ted Kennedy, who over the last 47 years has been almost the embodiment of liberalism in America—very big journey.
MATTHEWS: You know, we‘ve been arguing around the staff meeting with the younger producers—and I understand the difference in time dimension. The Catholic thing, if you will, the Irish Catholic thing—that was big when Jack Kennedy went up against Henry Cabot Lodge in ‘52. It was sort of the new crowd...
MATTHEWS: ... taking over from the old crowd. Is that still part of the hold that the Kennedy family has, or is that out of date in terms of their Massachusetts power?
BESCHLOSS: Well, I think, you know, their Catholicism, you know, they embrace. Their Irish identity, they really embrace. And as you and I have also talked about, that wasn‘t true with Jack Kennedy. He felt that, to some extent, to make it on the national scene, he should not look like Honey Fitz, his grandfather...
BESCHLOSS: ... who was sort of the image of the turn-of-the-century Irish-American politician. He wasn‘t very much, you know, out front in terms of his interest in Ireland until that trip he took to Ireland as president in 1963. Look at the difference between that and Ted Kennedy, who would sing “Sweet Rosie O‘Grady” in public, and in a way, at the end of his life, almost looked like the image of Honey Fitz.
What—what is the reason why that the Kennedy family has been able to win every election starting up there in 1946? They haven‘t lost a Massachusetts election since ‘46. Explain the hold.
BESCHLOSS: It‘s their network that they have built assiduously since 1946.
Joe Kennedy, if he were being direct about it, he would have said, in 1946, when Jack got elected, it was largely his money. But, after that, you know, each of these Senators Kennedy here, they have made a huge effort to advance on the national scene, but, at the same time, always kept their connection to Massachusetts.
They didn‘t want to be one of those politicians like, you know, Bill Fulbright in Arkansas, or Ernest McFarland in Arizona, you know, who was once Democratic leader of the Senate. There are people in Arizona and Arkansas who said, well, we‘re proud of McFarland and Fulbright, but they have gone Washington. They have gone international. They don‘t remember us.
Ted Kennedy‘s office had some of the best casework in the Senate.
MATTHEWS: How do you explain a guy of Teddy‘s potential, in terms of being able to walk anywhere in the world, dine with royalty, an international celebrity from the time he was in his teens, practically, his ability to keep focus?
I mean, we had Chris Dodd on, his colleague, a few moments ago.
MATTHEWS: This fellow who just passed away really liked constituent service. He liked it when the mayor called him, Menino, or whatever, and...
BESCHLOSS: He did.
MATTHEWS: ... said, I have got a problem with this bridge. I need some money. I got a problem with my Social Security disability. I want help with the government.
Teddy seemed to like to do those jobs.
BESCHLOSS: He did.
And how different it was from Jack, who would have been bored by it, or Bobby, who...
BESCHLOSS: .. thought for a time of running for governor of Massachusetts, and said, I don‘t want to sit in the statehouse deciding on sewer contracts.
He was a regular guy. He was an intro—extrovert. He loved to connect with people. And maybe, Chris, it had to do with the fact that, you know, as a small child, he knew Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. You know, you can‘t go very far up from there. So, he wasn‘t really impressed by anyone. And I think, to some extent, you know, he really kept it real.
MATTHEWS: Explain the commitment to health. Now, here is my theory.
I will run it by you.
I think the Kennedy family had seen what was done to the older sister
Rosemary, incredibly, tragically treated by the father, given a lobotomy,
because she was difficult to keep under control, mildly retarded, to use a
term of that era, and, yet, given a harsh, brutal kind of verdict in terms
of the medical treatment she got, his own problem with his back, his
brother‘s problems with Addison‘s disease and malaria and everything else,
and the bad back that seemed to be part of the family, Kara‘s disease with
with cancer, Teddy losing a leg.
Well, maybe that‘s the answer, his focus on health. What is it? Why it? Why so much?
BESCHLOSS: Yes. Eunice—Eunice had something akin to Addison‘s disease. His father, Joe, was in a wheelchair, paralyzed for the last eight years of his life.
You know, health was a very big part of their life. But the Kennedys, unlike a lot of rich, entitled people, could make the connection. You know, maybe there‘s something wrong, if we can afford the best health care in the world and other people can‘t.
Jack Kennedy gave a speech—I think it was in 1962 -- on health care, in which he said, I was just down in Palm Beach to visit my father. He can pay his bills, but many of us can‘t.
MATTHEWS: What about atonement? Are you willing to go in that far?
I mean, I think I would like to, after Chappaquiddick and being responsible for the death of that young woman in that car accident, which was his fault, basically—without too much argument about it, it was his fault—and then spending all these years since really committing himself not to being a playboy, but to being this dutiful servant of the little guy and the little person.
I always like to think it had something to do with atonement. Are you willing to render a judgment in that direction?
BESCHLOSS: I—I sure would speculate that.
And one of the things I‘m going to be fascinated about is that, when his book comes out in two weeks from now, you know, one of the first things I am going to look for is whether he actually says that himself.
MATTHEWS: You know, Michael, it‘s great to have you.
Let me ask you about the role of the Kennedys in history.
BESCHLOSS: Same, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Take the long view. Be Robert Caro here, without devoting your entire life to it..
MATTHEWS: ... like Caro did to Johnson.
The Kennedy family, its contribution, your view, bottom line.
BESCHLOSS: Bottom line, contributions gave us a president who did all sorts of things for this country, too much to mention, a senator who ran for president, who would have, had he been elected, and another senator, Ted Kennedy, who served for 47 years, and was more effective than probably any senator certainly in the last century.
But, beyond that, you know, this is probably the dominant American political dynasty in history. And it‘s one thing that‘s different from all the other political dynasties, and that is that this all really came from the brain of one man, Joe Kennedy, who set out to create a dynasty. John Adams, for instance, didn‘t do that.
MATTHEWS: What an irony, that he created a dynasty that ended up being liberal, eh?
BESCHLOSS: Ends up being liberal, but, you know, he said to William O. Douglas, justice of the Supreme Court, you know, you‘re a huge liberal, and Jack is a lot more liberal than I am, but you two are the two guys I love most in public life, he said, in the 1950s. So, go figure.
MATTHEWS: Michael Beschloss, you‘re the greatest. Thank you so much for being up there and being with NBC at this important...
BESCHLOSS: Same to you.
MATTHEWS: ... time in our history. It‘s great to have a great historian aboard.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
Up next: a preview of our documentary “The Kennedy Brothers,” which you can watch tonight at 7:00 Eastern. It‘s an hour. It puts together the three brothers, Robert, and of course Jack before him, and Teddy after him, and the way they worked together, and the way they honored each other, in a way, almost making each other bigger than we—they were separately.
What a story of brotherhood, of sibling possibilities.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Tonight, at 7:00 Eastern, as I said, watch our HARDBALL documentary. It‘s a big program tonight, one hour, “The Kennedy Brothers,” a chronicle of the Kennedy boys, Teddy, Jack, Bobby, and the older brother, Joe Jr., who was killed in World War II.
And it features something you haven‘t seen elsewhere, President Kennedy in his own words, as he begins to dictate his memoirs just before he died in the presidency.
In this clip, Ted Kennedy eulogizes his brother Bobby at Saint Patrick‘s Cathedral, just about a block from here right now.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, “THE KENNEDY BROTHERS: A HARDBALL DOCUMENTARY WITH
MATTHEWS (voice-over): Present at the hospital, the youngest Kennedy brother, Ted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw him briefly, his face just contorted with grief. I have never seen a man so torn as he was that night, for all kinds of reasons.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: 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, saw war and tried to stop it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was that eulogy that turned Bobby Kennedy into the saintly liberal figure that we associate with Bobby Kennedy.
So, all along, it was Ted who was investing the Kennedy name with sort of concrete values, you know, civil rights, anti-war, health care, education. And—and that is a key to their endurance, that people consider the Kennedys to be a fixed brand name.
MATTHEWS: Of the four Kennedy brothers, Ted, the youngest, was the most connected to the others. In 1946, the family gathered in Hyannis Port to celebrate Jack‘s 29th birthday. When Teddy rose to speak, the 14-year-old raised his glass and said, “I would like to drink a toast to the brother who isn‘t here.” He stunned the room into silence.
ROBERT SHRUM, FORMER ADVISER TO SENATOR TED KENNEDY: I think the three of them were not only a kind of band of brothers all their own in mythology, but in reality.
MATTHEWS: You know, tonight, as you gather around as a family, you might want to gather around and watch this program together. It‘s a great way to teach your own kids about what they may have missed and what you would like to remember, “The Kennedy Brothers,” coming up at 7:00 Eastern.
Coming up now: much more on the life of Senator Ted Kennedy himself and the question of his successor up in Massachusetts. That‘s up in the air right now. Who will take Teddy‘s seat in the U.S. Senate? And will Massachusetts Democrats change the law to let the governor name a successor right away? We‘re going to look into that, because it‘s coming up in Massachusetts politics right now.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks seeing modest gains today, with the Dow ending its eighth straight session in positive territory. The Dow Jones industrials added 37 points. The S&P 500 is up almost three points, and the Nasdaq gained a little bit more than three points.
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And oil rebounded after falling earlier in the day, to finish at $72.62 a barrel.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
And our great friend Mike Barnicle is now with us right now. He joins us. He‘s of course an MSNBC contributor. And also a great member of Congress, Bill Delahunt, my friend, is on now. He‘s at the Kennedy Library itself right now.
You two gentlemen know what you‘re talking—I want to start with Bill Delahunt, the congressman, if I could.
And you‘re not a member of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, sir, but what will that assembly so wonderfully, welcome, applauded by Mike Barnicle this morning, I must say, be able to do...
MATTHEWS: ... when the job seems so obvious, fill the seat of Ted Kennedy quickly? Can they do it?
REP. BILL DELAHUNT (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, they can do it, Chris.
Will they do it I think is—there‘s some uncertainty.
Clearly, there‘s going to be a—a public hearing. I think they will wait to see how the—the public reacts. But the question is, will Massachusetts—will they make a decision to let Massachusetts be represented in the United States Senate for five months, or will that seat just go empty, and have Massachusetts unrepresented...
DELAHUNT: ... for five months in the United States Senate? I think it‘s that simple.
MATTHEWS: Do they know, in Massachusetts, that they are the mascot of the far right, that there‘s nothing the right likes more to do than make fun of Massachusetts, the liberal—you and I know how complicated Massachusetts is, in terms of liberal, conservative, and all that.
But do they know that, if they can‘t do this, no one is going to believe they can fix the American health care system?
DELAHUNT: Well, you know, I—I‘m of the opinion—the governor made a statement last night. In my conversations with legislative leaders, I would say, at first, they were very tentative.
But I—I see it going in that direction, where it‘s—it would simply be unacceptable to have, at this moment in time...
DELAHUNT: ... the Kennedy seat to go unfilled for five months.
We‘re—we‘re going to have an election. That‘s the law. And whoever takes the—if there is an interim appointment, you know, that individual will be there for five months. That‘s it. And then whoever prevails in the election will fill the unexpired term of—of the senator.
MATTHEWS: Mike Barnicle, why is it that Massachusetts, which has the most skilled congressional delegation in the country, and has had it for years, not just Tip O‘Neill, and Jack Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy, but really smart people, like Delahunt, and Barney, and Ed Markey, and the rest of them, really, really good legislators—the Boston-Austin connection ran Congress for years. They knew had to do it, and has had the Great and General Court, that group of people in the Massachusetts legislature.
Why the differential? You are chuckling. You were the toughest you could be on them this morning.
MATTHEWS: Why the differential?
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think, as time has passed, I think, you know, the media business has changed. I think it‘s diminished. I think the business of politics certainly has changed. I think it‘s diminished.
I think what you have now in the Massachusetts legislature is probably not that different from a lot of other state legislatures, in that you have a group of people, perhaps as many as 75 percent of them—not all of them, but 75 percent of them, Chris—they are currently holding the best job they will ever have.
BARNICLE: Bill Delahunt just—Bill Delahunt just told you that they are waiting to hear from the public. That‘s what they‘re doing. They‘re sitting there in those offices...
MATTHEWS: Well, let me tell them—let me yell it—yell it loud and clear. The people want a senator to sit—to fill that seat. I mean, it doesn‘t take...
BARNICLE: But, Chris...
MATTHEWS: ... you know, dog years to pick that one up.
BARNICLE: Chris, you and I and Bill Delahunt, we‘re used to having politics participated in by professionals, people who know what the business is all about.
These people, the state reps, are sitting there. They‘re afraid of the telephone. It might ring.
BARNICLE: It might be a constituent. Don‘t answer it!
MATTHEWS: Look, it‘s a terrible day to be laughing. But Mr. Delahunt, Congressman, it seems to me they were playing politics a while back, five years ago. They didn‘t want Mitt Romney, the Republican, to pick the next senator, because they figured he might, on a million to one chance, pick someone who could win a general election.
By the way, I think that was a ridiculous worry. The state is going to elect Democratic senators. Why don‘t they just go along and say, OK, we were caught playing politics; now we‘re going to do it right?
DELAHUNT: You know, I expect that after a public hearing—because I think what they‘re going to hear is the public saying, listen, we don‘t want to be naked in the U.S. Senate. We just can‘t have John Kerry. We need that other vote.
And it‘s not just about health care, Chris. There are significant issues that will, you know, be decided over the course of the next five months. And, you know, we‘re competing. And Mike knows that. We‘re competing with other states in terms of, you know, federal dollars, and it‘s very real. And I‘m optimistic.
MATTHEWS: Mike Barnicle—
DELAHUNT: I don‘t underestimate.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s move on. Let‘s not beat this dog any more than we‘ve been beating it. You‘ve been beating it, Michael. Let‘s assume they‘re all a bunch of nincompoops (ph). Fine, I don‘t do that. I wouldn‘t want to do that. I want to spend my summers up there. Let me ask you, Michael, this question: looking down the road, is there a likely successor to Ted Kennedy out there in the field?
They say in Massachusetts, as you know and write about it, the shape of the field determines the winner. If you look at the shape of the field now, will the attorney general, Coakley, be the next senator from Massachusetts?
BARNICLE: You know, I think she‘s the odds on favorite, Chris, because I think—and I don‘t know what Bill Delahunt thinks, and he knows more about it than I do. But I think you are going to end up with six guys and the winner, Martha Coakley, the woman.
MATTHEWS: And that is the shape of the field determining the winner, right?
MATTHEWS: What about the theory that if five pro-choice people run and somebody runs who is not pro-choice, would that person be likely to win because of the shape of the field, or would people spot that and stop that?
BARNICLE: No, I don‘t think so. I think it‘s going to be very difficult—I think they are all going to be pro-choice. Most of the candidates who are known and have money—it‘s a short campaign—will be pro-choice. You will have I think probably four members of Congress, maybe three, and Martha Coakley, maybe five men all together, and Martha Coakley.
She‘s got money. She‘s got organization. She‘s the only candidate thus far mentioned who‘s gone statewide successfully. I would think that she‘d be the favorite.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Delahunt, do you want to talk about this or do you want to pass?
DELAHUNT: Yes. No, I don‘t think the field is going to be that large. I think, in the end, there might be three candidates. And I wouldn‘t break it out in terms of organization. I think what you‘re going to—Mike alluded to the fact that the attorney general has raised money. Well, here in Massachusetts, if you have money that you raised for your state office candidacy, you can‘t use that in a federal contest.
So I think it‘s still very much in flux. It‘s all speculation. I think there will be a lot more clarity in about a week.
MATTHEWS: Are you in or out?
DELAHUNT: Oh, I‘m out. I have no—I don‘t want to make a six-year commitment to anything at this point.
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re a great Congressman, sir. And it‘s great to have you on. I wouldn‘t dare paint you with the brush that was used by Mike Barnicle to describe those unfortunate members of the state legislature, what we call in Massachusetts the great and general court. Sir, you are far beyond that.
DELAHUNT: I will see Barnicle on the Cape and we will have a discussion about the great and general court.
MATTHEWS: I wouldn‘t want to be him trying to get some help from the legislature on a local matter. Thank you, Mike Barnicle. I‘ll be watching you and learning from you in the days ahead. Congressman Bill Delahunt, you are my summer Congressman. Thank you, sir, so much for coming on HARDBALL.
By the way, we shouldn‘t be kidding about politics, and we shouldn‘t be kidding about a successor. But it is Massachusetts. And Ted Kennedy fully, completely understands.
Up next, what did Ted Kennedy mean to the younger generation of Americans? Let‘s bring in some young reporters, younger than me at least, which is not young. HARDBALL coming back. We‘re on the night of Ted Kennedy‘s—well, he‘s beginning to lie in state basically up at the Kennedy Library, a beautiful spot. His brother‘s memorial, the Kennedy Library at Columbia Point. He‘s there tonight. Tomorrow night, the big wake, with great speeches. And then, of course, the burial at Arlington, where he belongs next to Bobby and Jack.
I love to look up at that Eternal Flame, as I drive by every night, to see them. That‘s where they belong. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back right now with the politics fix, with some young folks. Ryan Lizza of the “New Yorker” and Melinda Henneberger of PoliticsDaily.com.
Melinda, you young person, you. I really have been through the
Kennedy period. I grew up with it. You folks didn‘t. Let me ask you this
I always get in trouble for saying I am inspired by Barack Obama, which I have been in the past, especially during his campaign. What about Ted Kennedy and you, my dear?
MELINDA HENNEBERGER, POLITICSDAILY.COM: Well, something that just—well, Ted Kennedy has been a huge inspiration to me. And just listening to the coverage over the last couple of days, one of the things that struck me the most was listening again to his fabulous 1980 convention speech. And 1980 is the year I graduated from college, so I‘m not that young.
And the night of that speech, a bunch of us who had just graduated from Notre Dame, and were all going out to do a year of service work, were meeting in a Holy Cross retreat house in Colorado Springs, before we all went our separate ways to work in inner cities all over the country.
So listening to that speech that night was a hugely important, serious moment I think in all our lives, just thinking about the importance of giving back, of, you know, idealism, of that not being something to be ashamed, but that being our duty as Catholics, frankly. It was a moment that I will never forget and was really moved to see again this week.
MATTHEWS: So for all those whose cares are our concern, that got to you. And what causes were those?
HENNEBERGER: Caring for people who needed our help, thinking about other people, hanging in there when things were rough, not having it depend on whether you lost or won in the short-term.
MATTHEWS: Linda, thank you for that.
MATTHEWS: Ryan, your thoughts about that, the Ted Kennedy speech. I was there at the convention hall in New York. That was one heck of a speech. In fact, we have all been quoting the end, where he says, for me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end, but for all those whose cares are our concern, the work goes on; the cause endures; the hope still lives; and the dream shall never die.”
We always recall that part of it. But there were some other wonderful parts. It was very partisan. It was wonderfully funny. He talked about the elephant that tries to do hand stands ends up on its back. I never forget that word picture, as Nixon would call it, a word picture.
You have to chuckle at it because he says, when Republicans try to be tricky, they end up looking stupid. Clever, clever brilliant rhetoric. Your thoughts about Ted Kennedy, what you haven‘t been able to say in the last several days?
RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW YORKER”: The moment in his life that‘s been sort of—that I have seen in the last few days that really resonated with me, and I wasn‘t quite as family with before his death, is after RFK‘s resignation. You know, he goes into seclusion for several months. A lot of his advisers tell him, maybe you shouldn‘t return to politics. Maybe you should quit the Senate. Literally, being a Kennedy could be a threat to your life. You know, his three brothers are now dead.
And after several months of just thinking sort of being hidden away and thinking things through, he comes out and gives this speech in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he says, no, I‘m not going to listen to those voices that tell me to just go away. I‘m going to stick with this profession. I‘m going to stick with public service.
It‘s a sort of an heroic moment in his life. A lot had been handed to him on a silver platter up to that point. But there he is saying, despite the death of now three of my brothers, I‘m going to continue on, and I‘m going to stick with the family business, even though it literally could be life threatening. And I found that a very poignant speech.
MATTHEWS: Well said. It was life threatening. I was at Holy Cross, now that we‘re comparing our Catholic upbringing with Notre Dame. I could have gone to Notre Dame. I went to Holy Cross.
Anyway, we‘ll be right back with Ryan Lizza and Melinda Henneberger. As we go to break, new video out right now, about just an hour ago, as the casket of Senator Kennedy is carried inside—there it is—coming into the presidential library at Columbia Point, where—what a beautiful memorial that is to his older brother, President Kennedy. It‘s so nautical, so much about the Navy where he served, and overlooks the sea. If you go in there, there‘s a view of the sea you can‘t believe, especially on gray days. You feel like you‘re at sea.
And there‘s Teddy coming home really to his brother‘s museum, where he‘s going to lie in state now. We‘re going to come right back and talk for just a bit more tonight, as this day continues.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Ryan Lizza and Melinda Henneberger, both experts now on the Kennedys. We have got the Kennedy doc coming up, about the brothers, all of them, those incredible group of men, basically, who made so much history between 1946 and 2009 now.
Melinda, your thoughts, as a young person, about the Kennedy family brand, if you will, what that name Kennedy means to your age regiment, as we would say in anthropology?
HENNEBERGER: Of course it would depend on who you‘re talking to. I have Republican relatives and the name Kennedy makes their blood boil. And to me that words says social justice work.
And I guess one thing that I‘m going to take away from this moment is just getting to see the old lion roar again in some of those old speeches, and really hoping that somebody we may not know about who‘s in public life right now will sort of pick up that mantle. And we don‘t think it‘s probably going to be somebody within the Kennedy family. But there certainly is a lot going on today that requires a passionate response. So I hope we find as a result of this that there‘s some lion cubs in waiting ready to come out.
The other thing that has struck me over the last couple of days that is not so welcome to see is just the response of the Kennedy haters coming out in a way that you would hope would not have happened at a time like this. In response to a lot of our stories on Politics Daily, I have really been disappointed in the strength of that at a moment like that.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Melinda. Ryan, will Teddy will on the cover of the “New Yorker” this weekend?
LIZZA: Way above my pay grade. We‘ll have some good coverage though.
MATTHEWS: A big night tonight. The documentary on the Kennedy brothers at 7:00. In one hour, that documentary. Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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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