1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 10/12/2009 10:26:46 AM ET 2009-10-12T14:26:46

Guests: David Gregory, Bertha Coombs, Pat Buchanan, Ron Brownstein, John Feehery, Joe Solmonese, Cleve Jones, David Corn, Julian Epstein

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The Nobel Peace Prize.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight:

The world loves Obama.  When the word went out that Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, the most common reaction seems to have been, Didn‘t he just get the job?  But couldn‘t it be that the prize—could it be that the prize was exactly for that, for the eyes of the world, winning the American presidency, for overturning eight years, as the world sees it, of chauvinism, smugness and stupidity?  Conservatives are predictably dyspeptic, roly-polying (ph) in their upset condemning the Nobel committee and the president.  We‘ll get reaction at the top of the show from all sides.

Plus: How long can Democrats take the heat over Charlie Rangel?  When Nancy Pelosi declared she wanted to make hers the most honest and open Congress in history, did she imagine that she‘d be defending a tax-writing chairman, popular and respected as he is, who stands accused of not paying his taxes?

Plus: Has President Obama done all that he‘s promised to the gay and lesbian community?  He‘s set to speak at the annual fund-raising dinner for the Human Rights Campaign tomorrow night, on the eve of Sunday‘s march on Washington by thousands of gay rights supporters.  Two leaders of the gay rights movement will sound off on what they want to hear the president say.

Also, if Sarah Palin is such a superstar, how come Republicans running for governor this year are saying, “Thanks, but no thanks” to her appearing at their campaign events?

And Hillary Clinton jumps in to umpire this weird battle going on between the city of Newark, New Jersey, and the long-New-York-based Conan O‘Brien.  That‘s in the HARDBALL “Sideshow,” where it belongs.

Let‘s start with President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize.  David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine, and Patrick J. Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst.

Here‘s what President Obama had to say in reacting to the news.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel committee.  Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.  To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who‘ve been honored by this prize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Patrick, I guess humility was called for.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s just become president.  Your thoughts.

BUCHANAN:  Well, it was an excellent statement.  I think it‘s very valid.  I mean, Barack Obama is not in the league with T.R., who ended the Russian-Japanese war and got the Nobel Prize.  Wilson ended World War I...

MATTHEWS:  But he‘s catching up to Yasser Arafat, isn‘t he?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m being sarcastic!  Some other people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Henry Kissinger‘s got this baby!

BUCHANAN:  He‘s getting close to Le Duc Tho, you‘re exactly right.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do we make of this?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... award or what?

BUCHANAN:  Oh, sure.

MATTHEWS:  I just—I think it was a great award.  But go ahead.

BUCHANAN:  I think there‘s an element of ridiculousness to the award, quite frankly, but I know why the Nobel gave it to him.  They want to stick it to George Bush.  They want to tell Barack Obama, We like where you‘re going with engagement.  We like your kind of American.  We want to approve that.  And I think they also get enormous publicity if Barack Obama comes to Oslo, he speaks, the whole world will listen to him...

MATTHEWS:  Right.  A PR stunt.

BUCHANAN:  And they‘ve given it to a lot of—excuse me—some nonentities...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

BUCHANAN:  ... at times, and nobody pays attention to them.

MATTHEWS:  David Corn, your thoughts.

DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”:  They made it very clear in the statement.  They said he‘s created a new international climate.  He has.  Now, Dick Cheney may not like that climate, but most people in the world do.  And I think—you know, on becoming more multi-lateral, talking about nuclear disarmament, talking about engagement with Iran, doing something about climate change, even though I think it‘s not enough and he should go further.  But by and large, he has—just by, as you say, the virtue of getting elected, he has changed the international climate, and he is holding these aspirations of people who never before looked to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... an alternative...

CORN:  ... who never before looked to the United States.

MATTHEWS:  When Gorbachev became chairman of the party and ran—took over Russia, a lot of us in this country said this guy, by his very fact of coming to office, has so changed Soviet history and communist history.  I love the guy because he came in there and knocked out that whole history of Andropov and Stalin and all those bums.  He comes in there as an open door.

Isn‘t the statements he‘s made about torture, his opposition to the Iraq war, his statements of approval of the rest of the world after Bush‘s chauvinism and cheap shots about French fries—after eight years of that nonsense, doesn‘t the world have a right to say, Thank God America is back to being America again?

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, first, this is not the world.  Secondly, it‘s the Nobel committee.  Third, you‘re exactly right.  They love the fact that he‘s completely antithetical to George W. Bush.  But there‘s other things...

BUCHANAN:  Well, but look, there‘s other things he‘s doing now.  He‘s deciding whether we ought to send 10,000 more troops into Afghanistan, or 40,000 or 60,000, as McChrystal does.  But clearly, what this is, is the Nobel Prize committee wants Obama to continue down the road that he laid out in his campaign on Iraq, on basically, disarmament and all these other things.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  So you think it was an attempt to control American foreign policy.

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think it‘s an attempt to put a little bit of pressure on Obama, to say...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s hear...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  You‘re a good student.  Keep it up.

MATTHEWS:  I respect your opinion.

Here‘s Limbaugh, whose opinion is getting further and further crazy.  Here he is.  I don‘t know who he‘s playing to, angry, angry people, but here he is taking his shot today.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Do you see a pattern here, folks?  Liberal sellouts—liberal sellouts get this prize.  George Bush liberates 50 million Muslims.  Ronald Reagan liberates hundreds of millions of Europeans, saves parts of Latin America.  Any awards?  No.  Just derision.  Obama gives speeches trashing his own country, and he gets a prize for it.

This actually make total sense when you look at who the Nobel people are, these elite Norwegians, Europeans.  They love what Obama is doing.  And this fully exposes, folks, the illusion that is Obama.  This is a greater embarrassment than losing the Olympics bid was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What is he talking about, George Bush liberating hundreds of millions of Europeans?  What history is he recording there?

CORN:  No, he‘s saying...

MATTHEWS:  Really.  What is he talking about?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s deranged!

CORN:  He‘s talking to a slice of the public...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, who believes that George Bush, senior or junior...

CORN:  These are people...

MATTHEWS:  ... liberated Europe?

CORN:  (INAUDIBLE) people—he said Iraq, but I think...

MATTHEWS:  No, Europe.  The first time, he said Europe.  He‘s giving him the whole planet!

CORN:  But he means Iraq.  But nevertheless...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

CORN:  Listen, the award—you can make the argument the award was premature.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry, Reagan.

CORN:  And it was a prize of encouragement, rather than accomplishment.  But for Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele to line up with the Taliban and Hamas today in deriding this award shows that they are so blinded by their anti-Obama hatred that they‘ll...

BUCHANAN:  Oh!  I don‘t...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Come on.  Be serious.  Ronald Reagan...

CORN:  I am being serious!  These guys can‘t see straight!

BUCHANAN:  Gorbachev deserved the Nobel Prize for holding back the tanks and armies and letting the Wall...

MATTHEWS:  That was Yeltsin.

BUCHANAN:  ... and he got it.  But that‘s when he got it, 1990.  But Ronald Reagan‘s policies of toughness led to the—helped lead with Gorbachev‘s policies to the liberation...

MATTHEWS:  And he should have gotten the prize.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You make a point that he should—Reagan should have gotten the prize.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Hold it.  Take a look at Nixon, China...

CORN:  ... while funding dirty wars around the world?

BUCHANAN:  Look, for God‘s sakes, this guy‘s fighting in Afghanistan. 

It‘s the central piece in the war on terror...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s go to the Republican Party...

MATTHEWS:  ... here.  You were once a leader of that party.  Let‘s take a look at Michael Steele today.  Quote, “The real question Americans are asking is, What has President Obama actually accomplished?  It is unfortunate the president‘s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights.  One thing is certain, President Obama won‘t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation and fiscal”—well, that‘s just political stuff and very smart politics, by his...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  ... is smart politics.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think it is?

CORN:  No, I—listen, I think jumping on the president in times like this, jumping on him for the Olympics is not part—smart.  It plays to the tea baggers...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

CORN:  ... and a very small...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s make a point...

CORN:  ... crowd.

MATTHEWS:  ... for both sides here.  Here is a graphic I want to show you about both—how Europeans look at the United States.  This is presidential approval under two different presidents.  Let‘s take a look at this one.  It‘s fascinating.  I think people will remember this long after they hear our words, Pat and David.  Eleven percent of France respected George W. Bush.  I think we‘re making both points here.  Eighty-eight percent, almost a complete opposite, approve of the president we have now.  Germany, the same sort of differential, 12 to 92.  Italy‘s a little more fudged, 27 to 91.  Spain, 11 to 85.  And U.K., that‘s Britain, 17 to 82.

So clearly, this Nobel Peace Prize was an award for beating eight years of Bush.

BUCHANAN:  Well, it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  We can say that‘s objective.

BUCHANAN:  Well, there‘s no...

MATTHEWS:  And also condemning torture, condemning the Iraq war, and changing the attitude of America towards the rest of the world.  Those are fair, objective statements.

BUCHANAN:  I think it‘s—clearly, the Obama campaign, they love—they love Obama.  That‘s right.  I agree.  Michael Steele had a Kanye West moment coming out there and...

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  ... you know, Beyonce should have gotten the award (INAUDIBLE)

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  He have done that and...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you, you‘re going to—there‘s a certain element of ridiculousness to this that‘s going to come back to bite Obama because...

MATTHEWS:  You think...

CORN:  No!

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  A lot of people are going to say, Chris, I got up this morning, I saw Drudge, I said, What is this, a joke?

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you a question on the left, making Pat‘s point.  Then we‘re going to see some of the president.  How does the man who gets the laureate or laurels for being a peacemaker send 40,000 more frickin‘ troops to Afghanistan?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  How does he do that?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How does he do that?

CORN:  I don‘t know.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN:  They‘re talking about that today and...

MATTHEWS:  Well, Pat‘s point is this will direct him.  Giving him the award for peace will make him—sort of body English him into being a peace movement right?  Is that your argument?

BUCHANAN:  Push him in that direction, yes.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s take a look at the president and see if he‘s being moved toward peace by this award this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women and all Americans want to build, a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents.  And that I know throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement, it‘s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.  And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21 century.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  It is interesting how they make this award.  Now, let‘s have a little fun now.  We‘re going to step back now from the argument whether this president is worthy enough to be a recipient.  Al Gore has it for his work on educating the world to the problem of climate change.  That‘s clearly a point of view that he shares with the Europeans.

BUCHANAN:  It‘s political.

MATTHEWS:  Clearly.  That‘s fair enough.  Gorbachev, F. W. de Klerk got it.  Mandela certainly deserves it.  We can agree on that.

CORN:  Desmond Tutu.

MATTHEWS:  But it does seem like Al Gore has it, Jimmy Carter has it -

·         Bill Clinton must be wondering...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m serious—Why don‘t I have it?  He‘s done all this good work for the Global Initiative since he‘s left office.  Pat, why is...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  In ‘94, they gave to it Rabin and Perez and Yasser Arafat...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  ... something that he helped work on, as well, but he was left out of that.

BUCHANAN:  He did that at the end of his administration.  He was fighting like the devil to get a peace agreement.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  I think, quite frankly, if they had given to it Bill Clinton, I would have said, OK, Bill Clinton got the award...

MATTHEWS:  For achieving...

BUCHANAN:  ... but I would not have laughed.  I mean, I would not have gotten up and laughed and said, What is going on here?

And I‘m afraid that‘s the problem Obama‘s going to have is thee‘s an element of ridicule that‘s going to be coming in here out in middle America.  They may love this in Europe, but out in middle America, people are going to say, What is the guy getting this for?  What‘s he—you know, what‘s he going to get next, Auto Executive of the Year, you know, at General Motors?

(LAUGHTER)

CORN:  We hope he gets that and he makes some decisions.  This will not affect  him politically.  By the time anyone gets around to pulling a lever in the voting booth, there‘ll be issues about jobs and the Afghanistan decision...

MATTHEWS:  OK, will this trip...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... to Oslo make up for the trip to Copenhagen?  Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN:  Oh, I think he‘ll give a terrific speech in Oslo.  He‘s got a worldwide theater there, a worldwide opportunity.  My guess is...

MATTHEWS:  Who gave the greatest—now that we‘re getting into great speeches at Oslo, because it could be that‘s what it‘s going to be...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... who gave the greatest speech at Oslo?

BUCHANAN:  It was the guy that...

MATTHEWS:  William Faulkner.

BUCHANAN:  ... Nobel Prize for literature...

MATTHEWS:  No, William Faulkner.

BUCHANAN:  ... William Faulkner.

CORN:  William Faulkner.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... because he said America will not only survive but it will prevail...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... because he had a confidence in America as a great American Southern novelist.  Do you believe that Pat, that we will prevail?

BUCHANAN:  Ultimately, the United States of America...

MATTHEWS:  We will prevail?

BUCHANAN:  I‘m a long-term...

MATTHEWS:  Are you with Faulkner?

BUCHANAN:  I‘m a long-term pessimist and a short-term optimist, as—what is it Claire Booth Luce said?  There are two people in this world.  There‘s optimists and pessimists and...

MATTHEWS:  How did you get so dark?

BUCHANAN:  ... and the pessimists...

MATTHEWS:  Is this consistent with your conservativism?

BUCHANAN:  ... and the pessimists are...

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m an optimist.  I‘m American!

CORN:  If we make the right decisions, I think we can...

MATTHEWS:  You are the true...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You guys on the right say America is great, but deep down, you think it‘s not.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  ... optimism is cowardice.  How do you like that?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s afraid.  I am a big believer in this country, and I‘m proud of our president for receiving this award, and I think he deserves it for ending eight years, as the Europeans see it, of chauvinism—that means, My country is the only one that‘s any good...

BUCHANAN:  (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  ... and smugness, which our last president was certainly guilty of, and in going into Iraq, stupidity.

Thank you, Pat Buchanan.  And by the way, all three of us agree on that one.  Pat Buchanan, David Corn.

Coming up: How should House Democrats handle the problems of Congressman Charlie Rangel?  The Ethics Committee‘s investigating his failure to disclose his assets on that May 15th report, and more importantly, questions about whether he paid his (INAUDIBLE) taxes or not.  He remains the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and Speaker Pelosi is behind him 100 percent.  How long will this last?  Can the Democrats keep up the strong defense of this very popular fellow?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  The Ethics Committee investigation of Charlie Rangel, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has widened based on amendments to his House financial statements that showed hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets he‘d failed to include in his original report.

Here‘s just part of what Congressman Rangel is being investigated for, fairly or not—failure to disclose his income from a Dominican Republic vacation home or pay taxes on it, occupying four rent-subsidized or rent-controlled apartments in Harlem at thousands of dollars a month below market, and whether that violates a rule forbidding members to accept gifts of more than $100, failure to disclose sale of a Washington, D.C., home back in 2003.

Joining me right now is an expert on the Hill.  Julian Epstein is a former democratic counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, and John Feehery, who had a job like I used to have with the Speaker of the House whose name I forgot.  I‘m sorry, Denny Hastert.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about this.  I love Charlie Rangel, I‘ll admit.  I am not—I am in a conflicted situation here because I think he‘s a great guy.  But I don‘t know the details here.  You tell me, Julian.  Is this a firing offense, this stuff that‘s come out so far, if it‘s proven?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, there‘s an investigation.  We should see what...

MATTHEWS:  Well, are the elements in it strong enough, if proven, to cost him his job?

EPSTEIN:  Probably not.  I think what the investigation will show at the end of the day is there‘s an enormous amount of sloppiness, which is inexcusable, but no criminality.  There‘s three issues, essentially, whether or not he failed to disclose his assets properly, and in some instances...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the May 15th report that members of Congress have to file...

EPSTEIN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... and it cost Ted Stevens his career.

EPSTEIN:  No, it was more than that.  There was much more to Ted Stevens than that, which involved the U.S. attorney on criminality and covering up.  There was much, much more with Ted Stevens.  Don‘t confuse these two things.  So one is the failure to disclose.  He discovered many of the assets that he didn‘t disclose, and he amended his own returns and disclosed it.  Secondly...

MATTHEWS:  The chairman did.

EPSTEIN:  The chairman did, on his own initiative.  Secondly, whether he properly paid taxes.  He was late in paying about $10,000 worth of taxes on the Dominican Republic properties, but...

MATTHEWS:  What made him do it late?  What spurred him to pay them late?

EPSTEIN:  Well, he did his own investigation after some news reporters started going after him, but he did his own investigation and he paid that.  I don‘t think there‘s...

MATTHEWS:  So that was property rental on a vacation...

EPSTEIN:  Property rental...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Like if you don‘t—when you‘re not staying there, you rent it out.

EPSTEIN:  In the Dominican Republic.  It‘s $10,000.  Remember, the IRS standard here is willful evasion of...

MATTHEWS:  But aren‘t you allowed to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I have a vacation property.  I‘m lucky to have one.  I‘m told that you‘re allowed to have a couple of weeks of income without paying taxes on it.

EPSTEIN:  Right.  He was...

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a certain provision (INAUDIBLE)

EPSTEIN:  He was beyond the threshold, though, which...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... because there is a rule that does allow to you keep some of that money.

EPSTEIN:  There‘s no question as to whether or not he had to pay taxes.  He paid them late.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

EPSTEIN:  A lot of what he did, again, was on his own initiative...

MATTHEWS:  Could he have gotten the idea that he was allowed to keep the income from vacation property?

EPSTEIN:  He may have been.  And again, I think what you‘ll see at the end of the day is no willful intention on the part of Charlie Rangel, who we probably all know...

EPSTEIN:  The third point...

MATTHEWS:  So, it‘s vacation property, not paying taxes, not reporting assets on his May 15 report.  What‘s the third thing? 

EPSTEIN:  The third point was this issue about the Harlem apartment...

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  ... where he was arguably getting below-market rent for his campaign office and for his residence. 

Now, I think that‘s an issue that, at the end of the day, is going to be a subjective issue.  He may get a slap on the wrist.  He may get a reprimand from the Ethics Committee, but none of these... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, when you come down to all of it, the only real criminal act here...

EPSTEIN:  No criminal. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, if he doesn‘t pay taxes... 

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  That‘s not—that‘s—you have to be willful.  You have to show a pattern of willful conduct.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, that could be...

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  And I don‘t think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Nobody can prove evasion. 

EPSTEIN:  And he‘s—and he‘s paid those taxes now.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s the question.  Should—what should happen, John? 

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, from a Republican standpoint, he should stay in, because he is a great talking point for Republicans. 

(LAUGHTER)

FEEHERY:  Now, from Nancy Pelosi‘s...

MATTHEWS:  You are such a cynic. 

Go ahead.

FEEHERY:  Well, from Nancy Pelosi‘s perspective, she can‘t take him out, because no one can replace him.  She doesn‘t want to put Pete Stark there.  And she can‘t—she can‘t take—can‘t leave him in, because it is such a great talking point for Republicans.

The fact is of the matter is, he has been convicted and tried in the court of public opinion. 

MATTHEWS:  But, if all he‘s done, in terms of disclosure, that everything we know now is all that is going to be known, “The New York Times” gets off the—well, they do what they have done, and that‘s it, is that the end of it?

FEEHERY:  Chris...

FEEHERY:  Chris, how many times have we seen this story where—

Julian might be right on some of these technical points.

MATTHEWS:  No.  Usually, it means one more thing. 

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  Well, I mean, usually—it always—it always means one more thing. 

And once investigators get started, once there is an ethics investigation, it widens and widens.  And we have already seen it.  We saw it with Duke Cunningham.  We saw it with Bob Ney.  We saw it with Dan Rostenkowski.

This thing will never die.  And, at the end of the day, as Dick Armey used to say, the pain is necessary.  The suffering is optional.

EPSTEIN:  But...

FEEHERY:  For Democrats, the pain is going to happen.  The question is, are they going to suffer through this?

EPSTEIN:  Here‘s the political...

FEEHERY:  And, politically, they can‘t survive it. 

EPSTEIN:  Here‘s the political point.  John didn‘t address any of the specifics that I went through.

I went through each of the basic charges and said, all of these involve sloppiness.  None of this...

MATTHEWS:  So, if you went before the Ethics Committee as an expert on the Hill, as a counsel to the Judiciary Committee, you could defend him effectively?

EPSTEIN:  I think so.  None of this involves any willfulness.  None of this involves any criminality.

FEEHERY:  Well, we don‘t know that. 

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  Nobody has alleged...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  You said at the beginning—Julian, you said at the beginning, you said at the beginning, we don‘t know if it—you said at the beginning...

EPSTEIN:  We will have an investigation.

FEEHERY:  We will have an investigation.

EPSTEIN:  Right. 

FEEHERY:  We don‘t know what else is out there. 

EPSTEIN:  But nobody—but nobody is alleging any real criminality here.  And...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  Well, a lot of people are...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: “The New York Times” is.

EPSTEIN:  The difference between the Republicans and Democrats, that when you had...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  Let me ask you... 

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  ... Mark Foley, who was exonerated.

EPSTEIN:  When you had...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  And he was run out...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  You know, the fact of the matter is, is that—that...

MATTHEWS:  What was the charge against Mark Foley? 

FEEHERY:  There was no charge against Mark Foley.  The charge was, he...

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  But here‘s the essential point.

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  But my—my point is this, is that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He was accused over going over to the house—he was accused over going over to the dormitory for pages and trying to pick up some young pages. 

FEEHERY:  And the court of public opinion is what matters in politics.

MATTHEWS:  That was a different charge.  OK.

FEEHERY:  And that‘s what matters in politics. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I really want to get to this heart.  Here‘s a guy who has served in Congress without any noise about corruption or ethical violations for something like 30 years. 

Along comes “The New York Times,” which has beaten the drum on this against him.  I don‘t know whether it‘s good reporting or they got a case against him or whatever.  They have been pushing this story and pushing this story from this little stuff into this bigger stuff. 

The question is, the House Democratic Caucus voted overwhelmingly, except for a couple of guys from Mississippi, to support him.  Why do you think they all voted to defend him, all of them, the Democratic Party?

FEEHERY:  Personally, he‘s—he‘s personally very popular.  And I think he‘s a war hero. 

MATTHEWS:  And respected. 

FEEHERY:  And respected, personally very popular.

MATTHEWS:  He fought in the Korean War. 

FEEHERY:  And it‘s—and I have been through this.  It is very, very hard to take someone out who is personally very popular and has strong connections with everybody else. 

And the other...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  And there‘s another point.  And the point is, who is going to follow him?  The only person who is really competent to run that committee after him is Rich E. Neal.  And you have to go all the way down to—it causes a big bloodbath. 

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  There‘s another reason, too.

Everybody that has worked with Charlie Rangel on the Republican and Democrat side knows one thing about him.  He is not a corrupt man.  Secondly, the Democrats have come out, different from what happened with Tom DeLay and with Duke Cunningham and a whole—Bob Ney—a whole list of Republicans when Republicans were in charge—Democrats have come out and said... 

MATTHEWS:  Well, list a Democrat you‘re willing to say was corrupt. 

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  Just to prove your bona fides, name a Democrat who has been corrupt.

EPSTEIN:  Jim Traficant.

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  It was a softball, Chris. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

EPSTEIN:  The difference, though, the difference...

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  If I can finish the point. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t you a hard-nosed...

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  Can I finish the point here?

(LAUGHTER)

EPSTEIN:  The difference with the Democrats, as opposed to Tom DeLay and the others...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

EPSTEIN:  ... is that the Democrats have called for an investigation into this.  The Democrats are not resisting an ethics investigation. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is the Ethics Committee got...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... any good these days?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are they serious?

FEEHERY:  The Ethics Committee has done nothing. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t believe in them? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe in them?

FEEHERY:  They just hired an investigator...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  ... last week. 

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  We believe in them.  They‘re a bipartisan committee.  They have had reforms.  The politics of this...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  No, come on. 

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN:  The birther movement...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  Julian, that‘s beside the point.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m hoping Charlie can get through this, but I‘m open to all these charges.

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  Melanie Sloan and crew want him to resign.  You know, Melanie Sloan is not exactly a Republican.

Washington:

EPSTEIN:  Ethics in Washington.

FEEHERY:  And she‘s a big liberal.  And she wants Charlie...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY:  You should get her on TV.  She‘s very good on TV.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The worst thing you can say in Washington is, who is that?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, now that you tell me.

Julian Epstein, thank you for the defense.

For the somewhat soft prosecution, John Feehery. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mediates a TV feud between the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and our own NBC‘s Conan O‘Brien.  That‘s next in the “Sideshow.”

You‘re watching it, HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Time for the “Sideshow.” 

First up: figuring Hillary Clinton. 

You remember that odd dispute between Conan O‘Brien and the state of New Jersey?  It started with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”)   

CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”:  The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, want to set up a citywide program to improve Newark residents‘ health.  It‘s good.  Yes, the health care program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Wow. 

Well, the mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, the much respected Cory Booker, then posted this response to Conan on YouTube. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORY BOOKER (D), MAYOR OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY:  Not only am I mayor of New Jersey‘s largest city, but I‘m also mayor of a city with one of the largest airports in the United States. 

So, now, according to the powers invested in me by the people of city of Newark, I am officially putting you on the Newark-New Jersey Airport no-fly list.  Try JFK, buddy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That was to our colleague Conan O‘Brien.

Well, last night, out of nowhere, the U.S. secretary of state herself made herself part of this Hudson River rhubarb.  Here she is, the secretary of state. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”) 

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  The time has come to make peace.  Let‘s just chalk it up to Conan‘s head injury and be done with this... 

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON:  Then you can end this silly feud, and you can go back to what you both do best.  For Mayor Booker, that means leading Newark toward a new era and growth and prosperity. 

For Conan, that means dancing around the stage and making lame jokes about my pantsuits. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Hillary Clinton did that really well, I think.  She really came off great.  But, as a student of politics, I‘m wondering, why did she do it?  Who was her staffer or friend, whoever, who got her to do this thing? 

She hardly does anything like this on television.  What is she negotiating this thing for?  Why?  We‘re going to find out in the weeks ahead. 

Next up: a clownish move down the Florida.  Robert Lowry, who says he is running against U.S. Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz next year, attended a party this week held at a local firing range.  That‘s interesting in itself. 

He then took up a gun and fired it at a full-body silhouette with the initials DWS, as in Debbie Wasserman Schultz, written next to its head.  Lowry told the “Sun Sentinel” newspaper that did he in fact see those initials before he started firing. 

Well, his first story was that his shooting at that target with her initials on it was—quote—“a joke.”  Later, with some thought, finally, he said that he had made a mistake in doing so. 

Well, anyway, Congresswoman Schultz—Wasserman Schultz, a cancer survivor and all-around good person, I think, put out a sometimes about the incident today—quote—“Trivializing—trivializing violent behavior is the kind of extreme view that has no place in American politics.”

That‘s her thought.  Couldn‘t agree more. 

Now for the “Big Number” tonight.  It gets back to that headline of the day.  It‘s been a long time since a sitting U.S. president won the Nobel Peace Prize.  How long?  Ninety years.  You have to go all the way back to Woodrow Wilson back in 1919, during the fight over the League of Nations, 90 years ago since a U.S. president won the Nobel Prize for Peace while in office—tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Up next:  President Obama will speak tomorrow night at a high-profile gay rights event, a big parade here in Washington, seeking to reassure activists who say he has broken his campaign promises to gay Americans.  What do the gay rights activists need to hear from our president?  Stay tuned.  You will hear it right here.  There‘s coming to this desk.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERTHA COOMBS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Bertha Coombs with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks closing out the week with a modest rally—the Dow Jones up 78 points, about 4 percent higher for the week, the S&P 500 adding six.  The Nasdaq gained 15. 

Chevron led the Dow higher today on a revised outlook for its third-quarter profits.  It said higher oil prices are going to lead to much higher profits than last quarter.  Chevron posted earnings—will post earnings on October 30. 

IBM was another of the days‘ big movers—shares gaining 3 percent on analyst upgrades for the company and the tech sector overall.  IBM reports earnings next week. 

Chipmakers Intel and SanDisk are also benefiting from that rosier outlook today—Intel shares up about 1.5 percent.  It will report next week as well—SanDisk gaining three-quarters-of-a-point.

Looking ahead to next week, the big financials will be in the earnings spotlight.  Reports are due out from Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P.  Morgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL. 

President Obama will make his first appearance at a major gay event.  It will be at the Human Rights Campaign tomorrow night at their big dinner here in Washington.  And, on Sunday, thousands of activists, gay rights activists, will march on Washington to register their discontent with the new administration, to a large extent.  We will wait to hear what the voices are at their rally.  But we will hear some of it tonight, the push for equality and for marriage rights. 

So, what do gay rights supporters want to hear from the president this weekend?  And has he lived up to the promise he made and the promises in detail  he made to the gay community when he ran successfully for president? 

Joe Solmonese is the president of a great organization, the Human Rights Campaign.  I have been with these fellows many times.  And Cleve Jones is a gay activist from—well, we met apparently in Tiburon.  I didn‘t remember him, unfortunately, an organizer of Sunday‘s big National Equality March.  He is also a protege of gay rights pioneer and hero Harvey Milk, a former supervisor who was assassinated years ago with Moscone out in California.

Let‘s—let‘s go to this. 

The issue the president of the United States is most identified with in wartime is commander in chief.  He sets the word.  He decides what wars we‘re fighting, to a large extent.  He makes the call.  He leads the men, the troops, the women and men in combat. 

Where is he on this thing that was started under Bill Clinton, don‘t ask, don‘t tell?

JOE SOLMONESE, PRESIDENT, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN:  Well, you bring up a good point. 

MATTHEWS:  Joe.

SOLMONESE:  And I think that you have got to acknowledge that this president has done more in the first 10 months of his administration than anybody before him. 

You know, most of the issues that we‘re dealing with, if you read “The New York Times” today, the hate crimes bill, it‘s a pretty straightforward path, through the House, through the Senate, to his desk.  He was a great ally with us in getting that done. 

Don‘t ask, don‘t tell...

MATTHEWS:  So, orientation is on the list?

SOLMONESE:  Orientation, gender identity now, yes, on the list. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  OK.

SOLMONESE:  Done with hate crimes, done next week, signed into law.  Heavy lift.  Don‘t ask, don‘t tell, more complex.  And that is the one thing I‘m looking for.

MATTHEWS:  Who gets to decide what our rule is on the code of conduct, except—for don‘t ask, don‘t tell, who decides that?  Congress? 

SOLMONESE:  Congress, yes, yes. 

SOLMONESE:  Clinton had the opportunity to overturn the ban, but, of course, in the midst of that debate in the first three months of his term, Congress came in and enacted don‘t ask, don‘t tell.  So, the fate of this is now in Congress. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, where does that stand in Congress?  Any chance it will be revoked? 

SOLMONESE:  Oh, absolutely.  I have no question about it.  It has been obviously moving through the House.  We have a...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You‘re being kind. 

Has the president been forceful enough on this issue, as far as you‘re concerned? 

SOLMONESE:  Well, I think he has been outspoken in his commitment to overturn it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  When is the last time he said—Well, we went back and did some biblical exegesis here. 

SOLMONESE:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And all we could find was a statement from him in April of 2008...

SOLMONESE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... where he said he could see don‘t ask, don‘t tell eliminated. 

SOLMONESE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s an interesting verb form. 

SOLMONESE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  He could see it.  Well, that‘s not exactly a battle cry. 

SOLMONESE:  Yes. 

He has got a lot more work to do on don‘t ask, don‘t tell.  And that‘s what I‘m looking for him to talk about tomorrow night. 

SOLMONESE:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  OK.    

CLEVE JONES, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST:  Oh, of course.  I campaigned for him in Nevada. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Where do you stand on the don‘t ask, don‘t tell and his position so far? 

JONES:  Well, I respectfully disagree with Joe.  I would like to see much more. 

I think he needs to speak out.  I think he needs to use some of his political capital.  We clearly need to show him that we have got his back.  I support the president, but I am disappointed.  Regardless of don‘t ask don‘t tell, we have got gay men and lesbian women serving in these wars. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, everybody—always have.  Everybody who has ever been in the service knows that‘s a reality. 

JONES:  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  It is a diverse situation in the military.  It always has been. 

(CROSSTALK)

Let‘s take a look at, by the way, the national security adviser, Jim Jones.  He said earlier this week—when asked if this is the right time for the president to try to change the don‘t ask, don‘t tell policy, here‘s what the head of his national security operation said. 

“I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time.  And he has already signaled that to the Defense Department.  The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I‘m sure the president will take it on.”

Is that dillydallying?  Or is that a clear statement to you, “I will get to it”? 

JONES:  I don‘t think it is a clear statement. 

And what also puzzles me is that the polls show so—so strongly that the public is way ahead of the politicians on this one.  I think, if there was any issue...

MATTHEWS:  They want open service?

JONES:  ... that we could single out that the public...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They say they want open service?

JONES:  Yes. 

SOLMONESE:  But, see, I guess what I‘m saying now, Cleve, to me, it requires more than just speaking out. And if you thought—Harry Reid sent a letter to the president last week, not so much looking for leadership, but looking for direction.  I think on this one—

SOLMONESE:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Is your bet, if you brought this to the floor of the United States of the Senate, next Tuesday or Monday or whatever, it would pass? 

SOLMONESE:  Not yet. 

JONES:  I think it wouldn‘t pass next week, but it could pass next month if we did our work and had some leadership from the president. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it better for you folks who support this move to have a vote if it means voting it down?  Would you rather put it off if you want to avoid a defeat?  Your thought, is it smart for the president to take his time on this, in other words? 

JONES:  I am loathe to accept any more delays. 

MATTHEWS:  You would take a defeat rather than nothing. 

JONES:  I would like people to get on the record. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re willing to take a defeat if it has to be that. 

JONES:  If that‘s what it takes. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve watched a lot of discussions about what‘s going on

with this fight on litigation for same sex across the country.  There is a

real fear that this David Boies effort that is being fought by him, and Ted

·         Ted Olson is going to be causing trouble, because if they lose, it hurts your case.  Your thoughts on that one?  Let‘s shift to same second for a second. 

SOLMONESE:  Can I use hate crimes for a model for this?  I think it‘s an important point.  People are frustrated.  It has taken ten months into the administration instead of six.  I thought it would take six.  Ten months into the administration to get hate crimes done.  I said it‘s take ten years.

Now Harry Reid looks to us and says, do you want to get this done fast or right?  I‘ll wait four months to get it done right. 

MATTHEWS:  But you won‘t. 

JONES:  If it is four months, yes.  But we‘ve been waiting a lot longer than ten years, Joe. 

SOLMONESE:  On Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell, you‘re absolutely right. 

MATTHEWS:   You both want the president to move faster, even if it means a defeat. 

JONES:  I believe that the president could get this for us. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s move to this question, a very tricky question, of the states decide marriage law.  We know that.  That‘s the way—I used to say, you had a quickie divorce here.  You go down to Nevada.  You go to Maryland.  You don‘t have a blood test.  We grew up with this differential. 

JONES:  I think in this case, I have high hopes for the Supreme Court case.  I have very high hopes for Ted Olson. 

MATTHEWS:  That they‘re going to take it on, going to use the Liberty Clause.  They‘re going to use substantive due process. 

JONES:  Equal protection.  It is also important to remember that while the states determine the specifics of their marriage laws, we have a wonderfully named president in Loving v. Virginia, where it was the U.S.  Supreme Court that finally did toss out the mysegination laws. 

MATTHEWS:  I know there‘s a history.  In fact, I look at the the Lawrence, Texas case.  You have a good precedent for the Liberty Clause. 

JONES:  I think it‘s also—

MATTHEWS:  You‘re willing to take that risk.  Are you willing to take that risk?

JONES:  Without federal action, they‘re still second class citizens. 

The folks in Massachusetts still don‘t have—

MATTHEWS:  They‘re litigating this.  They are going to go for the Ninth Circuit eventually.  They‘re at the district court.  They‘re going to go to circuit.  They are going to judge it before Vaughn Walker, right?  Are you going to win that? 

SOLMONESE:  Who knows?  But the most significant thing the president

can do is overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.  That is immediately within

his power.  The bill was just introduced two week ago.  But that would

overturn the two things that were implemented in DOMA, the ability to get -

·         the ban on federal benefits and the inability to move a marriage from state to state. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he will? 

SOLMONESE:  He‘s committed to it.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Will he?

JONES:  We‘ll see.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, guys.  Joe Solmonese and thank you, Cleve Jones.  Good luck on your big event on Sunday. 

Up next, President Obama‘s Nobel Peace Prize—well, his Republican critics, not surprisingly, making lots of fun of him for this, saying it is over-played.  Maybe they have over-played their hand.  The fix is coming up next.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  Time for the politics fix with David Gregory, the moderator of NBC‘s “Meet the Press” and Ron Brownstein, the political director for Atlantic Media. 

I love having you guys at the end of the week for the big picture.  Who would have believed when I got up this morning that, guess what—apparently, what was it, Rahm Emanuel called the president?  Who called him? 

DAVID GREGORY, “MEET THE PRESS” MODERATOR”:  It was Robert Gibbs.  He called from the situation room.  They got a wire report from the situation room.  By the way, he‘s won this. 

GREGORY:  He certainly hadn‘t been talked about, as far as I know.  Complete shock in the White House.  The other thing that was shocking is the nominations were actually sent in February.  So basically they—

MATTHEWS:  When did they actually vote, to be fair?  Didn‘t they vote fairly recently? 

GREGORY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s the question I‘m going to ask you—neither one of you guys can actually give me a real hunch opinion because you‘re such journalists.  Let me try this analytically, is he better off for winning this or better off not to have won it?  Is this an albatross or is this a win? 

GREGORY:  I think he‘s better off having won it. I don‘t think you deny something like.  I think if he‘s smart, he can use it to create some leverage with the allies, and say you love me, now show me the love.  And help step up and make good on your responsibility around the world. 

MATTHEWS:  So this makes him a peace leader.  He won this award. 

GREGORY:  It gives him a little more wind at his back.

RON BROWNSTEIN, ATLANTIC MEDIA:  It is a tangible reflection of what we see in polling and in other sorts of public reaction around the world, that he is seen as someone who is reengaging America with the world.  His approval ratings around the world are remarkable.  They‘re higher than they are at home, which, as you note, is --  

MATTHEWS:  They‘re almost 90 percent. 

BROWNSTEIN:  And there are many—there are several countries around the world, polling by the Pew and also by the Project on International Policy Attitudes, have found that a higher percentage of people in those countries trust him to make the right decision in international affairs than their own national leaders. 

But again, as David said, the question—this was debated partially in 2008 -- if you‘re popular around the world, what does that translate into in terms of defending and advancing American interests?  He kind of talked about that in his remarks today.  He went out of his way to say, look, I am going to deal with the world as it is.  And that also involves the use of military force.

there are Republicans who want to argue, as they did both in 2004 and 2008, that a Democrat will try to curry favor with the world by taking actions that are not in American interests. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this the only country in the world where being popular worldwide is a deficit?  I was thinking that other countries like Israeli leaders, British leaders, they all come here to show—to shine internationally, so they can come home and shine all the brighter home.  In this country, if you go to Oslo, you come back a lesser man.  It‘s a strange, chauvinistic tendency of our country, right or wrong.  They‘re right, we‘re wrong, that attitude. 

GREGORY:  I think a lot of this is a reflection of where the country has been for the past eight years, which is an implicit—it‘s an undercurrent that‘s not so under, actually. 

GREGORY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, eight years of Bush making fun of Europe, going it alone, having troubles with the French, obviously, the Germans, all those countries.  Is this their way of saying, we don‘t like the torture, we don‘t like the Iraq war, we don‘t like Bush‘s sort of anti-intellectualism? 

GREGORY:  Oh yes, I think there is all of that in there.  Let‘s also remember that there was multilateralism about Afghanistan under Bush, about North Korea and about Iran.  What this was really about was Iraq, and that they didn‘t like Bush, period.  And there was a difference in terms of how the Bush administration sort of viewed the role of the United States in the rest of the world, which was the unique projection of American power as being the real global leader. 

Here, Obama believes a transformational change as being more of an interconnected world. 

MATTHEWS:  By Sunday, when you go on “Meet the Press” and have your round table, will this be seen generally as spinning right or spinning down on him? 

GREGORY:  I think will is a key point here, which is the difficulty is he hasn‘t yet garnered all of the achievement yet to match this kind of—whether it‘s domestic or foreign.  By the way, Nobel Peace Prize on a day when he‘s getting closer to making a decision about whether he can win in Afghanistan.  He‘s a wartime president.  Managing these wars—

BROWNSTEIN:  Which he noted today.

MATTHEWS:  Because Pat Buchanan, sitting in this chair a little while ago, said they‘re trying to direct his foreign policy by—he can be a hawk. 

GREGORY:  He better be able to do that, unless the Nobel committee control American foreign policy. 

BROWNSTEIN:  He went out of his way to do that today. 

MATTHEWS:  He went out of his way to say he still had the leverage today. 

MATTHEWS:  He has to deal with the world as it is.  Look, foreign policy divides the American public in much the same way that social issues do, which is that you have a blue collar, non-college constituency, that is very responsive to the Republican peace through strength, go it alone argument.  But also, go it alone, if necessary.  You have the arguments from Cheney in 2004 at the convention, saying explicitly that the fact that Bush was unpopular in the rest of the world was proof that he was setting up for America. 

On the other hand, there is an upper middle class, predominantly college educated that believes the best way to defend America‘s interests in the world is primarily through diplomacy and alliance.  Those voters are increasingly important in the Democratic coalition.  I believe that to those voters, this is an asset.  It is a tangible reflection of Obama‘s standing in the world. 

In 2008, when you talked to people who were supporting Obama around the country, surprisingly, one of the principle reasons they often gave, especially the more affluent ones, was the belief that he would change the way the world looks at America.  For those voters, this is tangible proof that this is happening, even if it—

MATTHEWS:  You just defined me.

BROWNSTEIN:  There you go.

MATTHEWS:  You just defined me. We‘ll be right back with David Gregory and Ron Brownstein for more of the politics fix.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with David Gregory and Ron Brownstein for more of the politics fix.  Who you got on Sunday?  Who‘s your gut?  

GREGORY:  I got this guy for political round table, and also a debate about the way forward in Afghanistan.  We‘ve got Senators Levin, Graham, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Dick Myers And General Barry McCaffrey on. 

MATTHEWS:  Graham has been great.  Lindsey Graham has been standing out against the crazy right wing nuts. 

GREGORY:  He wants the president to double down here in Afghanistan. 

MATTHEWS:  That will be interesting.  Let me ask you about this governors race.  We‘re always looking for leading indicators of which way the wind‘s blowing.  Virginia, right now, we‘ve got a Republican, Bob McDonnell, who is building up his lead.  Nine point lead in the “Washington Post” this morning.  Creigh Deeds, who is the Democratic, he is trailing by four last month.  Now he is down by much further. 

Is this going to look like next year‘s election?  Is this a leading indicator?

BROWNSTEIN:  Virginia and New Jersey have been perfect indicators in the off year elections of 2001, 2005, et cetera—

MATTHEWS:  Imperfect. 

BROWNSTEIN:  Imperfect indicators; ‘01, Democrats, of course, did very well, and then did poorly in ‘02.  But in here, in this poll, and in Virginia and in New Jersey, are two broader problems for Democrats.  One is the question of demobilization of Democratic voters.  Obama‘s coalition is heavily dependent on non-white voters and young voters, who tend to drop off quite a bit in midterm elections. 

We see in the Post poll—inside this Post poll today, they‘re anticipating that of the likely voters, only 12 percent will be African-American.  It was 20 percent in 2008.  They‘re assuming only eight percent of the voters will be young. 

MATTHEWS:  David, that tells me that we see pictures in the morning on “The Today Show” of older, white people voting, that means trouble for the Democrats. 

GREGORY:  Absolutely right.  To the point about African-Americans, you also have Creigh Deeds, who is under-performing in the northern part of the state among African-Americans, which is difficult in the debate. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s not exciting anybody. 

GREGORY:  He‘s not exciting a lot of people.  Look, there‘s also an issue too about independent vote who are normally more Republican, who went for Obama.  This a question about the role of government, about how much money is being spent by government—

MATTHEWS:  Do you sense, watching the way the country is going, that although people are not willing to become Republican again, some of them, they‘re willing to take a whack at the Democrats and teach them a lesson?  The Democrats have gone too far left and they want to go back in the middle?  You say yes? 

BROWNSTEIN:  We have our quarterly All State/”National Journal” Heartland Monitor Poll out today.  It‘s a clear that there‘s a big chunk of particularly the white electorate that is moving in Perot-esque direction, that is increasingly skeptical about the scale and reach of the government activities of Obama, but also is becoming distrustful of all—losing confidence in all major institutions.  Not only government, but business, the financial—that is kind of a—

MATTHEWS:  Is it fair—in politics, everything is fair.  How do they get tagged with all these bail outs?  These bail outs were moving along long before he got in there. 

GREGORY:  He owns it. 

MATTHEWS:  How did he get to own all the bail outs? 

GREGORY:  Ultimately, the breakage is still his. 

MATTHEWS:  Except for GM.  Firing that CEO, right? 

BROWNSTEIN:  They say they‘ll end up spending less Tarp money than was

originally allocated.  But I think there‘s no question that for big

portions of the electorate—in our poll, today, it really comes through -

·         that these bail outs are defining the federal role in the—

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s hurting him. 

BROWNSTEIN:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it makes it look like the government is taking over, and people don‘t like the feel of socialism. 

BROWNSTEIN:  They don‘t like the cost or the scale. 

MATTHEWS:  Ironically, it wasn‘t his program.  Thank you, David Gregory.  Thank you, Ron Brownstein.  “Meet the Press” this Sunday. 

Join us again Monday night at 5:00 and 7:00 for more “HARDBALL.”  Up next, “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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.>

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

More on TODAY.com

  1. Courtesy Of Danny's Warriors

    6-year-old battling brain tumor gets thousands of birthday cards from strangers

    7/25/2014 9:25:50 PM +00:00 2014-07-25T21:25:50
  1. Courtesy of GreaterGood.org

    Double take! Doggie makeovers reveal shelter pets' true, happy selves

    7/25/2014 9:00:03 PM +00:00 2014-07-25T21:00:03
  1. Israel offers 12-hour pause in Gaza offensive

    According to a U.S. official, Israel has offered to stop fighting for 12 hours in Gaza beginning Saturday morning. It was not immediately clear whether Hamas would also halt hostilities. 

    7/25/2014 7:23:00 PM +00:00 2014-07-25T19:23:00
  1. Wichita foster dad of baby who died in hot car 'wants to die'

    Police were questioning the two foster parents, and two other children were taken into protective custody.

    7/25/2014 9:07:25 PM +00:00 2014-07-25T21:07:25