1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 11/10/2009 11:02:38 AM ET 2009-11-10T16:02:38

HARDBALL

November 6, 2009

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Guests: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Brian Bilbray, Nihad Awad;,P.J. O'Rourke, Eugene Robinson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The reckoning.

Let's play HARDBALL.

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

Time to vote. It's crunch time for health care. The House vote will be tomorrow, as early as tomorrow night. But Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, may not have the votes right now. And how is she going to find them with red state Democrats rattled by those Republican wins in Virginia and New Jersey this Tuesday and every single Republican apparently just saying no? I'll talk to two members of Congress tonight on opposite sides of the health care debate.

Plus, religion and the terrible massacre at Ft. Hood. We don't know whether religion played any role in the shootings. All we know is that Nidal Malik Hasan is a Muslim who reportedly was unhappy about his forthcoming deployment to Afghanistan. President Obama said today we don't want to jump to any conclusions. Do Arab-Americans or American Muslims have reason to fear a backlash right now?

Also, Matthew Hoh went from being a U.S. foreign service officer working in Taliban stronghold of Afghanistan to being the first U.S. official to resign in protest over the war. He says our military presence over there in Afghanistan is actually fueling the insurgency. He's going to be right here tonight in that chair.

Plus: The unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent. Is the pressure on President Obama to get it heading downward by this time next year when we have those congressional elections? You bet it is. We're going to look at that in the "Politics Fix."

And in the "Sideshow" tonight-a great one tonight-Florida governor Charlie Crist forgets, apparently, what he said here on HARDBALL. We're going to remind him.

We start with health care tonight and the House vote scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, apparently. U.S. congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a Florida Democrat and U.S. congressman Brian Bilbray's a California Republican.

Congressman Schultz, you first. Are you going to win tomorrow? Are you going to get health care for the American people?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: I think we will. We're going to cast a historic vote tomorrow, the most historic vote that any of us have ever had an opportunity to cast, and cover 46 million Americans, provide security and stability to those who have health insurance and start to bring down the overall cost of health care, and really start to turn the deficit around because our bill actually reduces the deficit by $104 billion. And we've got to start moving in that direction and turn the economy around and finally change our health care system from a sick care system to a system that focuses on keeping people well.

MATTHEWS: Is that true, Congressman? Is there going to be a bill passed by the U.S. Congress tomorrow for health care or not?

REP. BRIAN BILBRAY ®, CALIFORNIA: They got real problems. Chris, there's real problems. I mean, first of all another trillion-dollar proposal? I mean, how many of these come along again and again? We had the bail-out with the AIG (INAUDIBLE) you know, the stimulus with AIG pay raises in (ph). A billion here, a billion there, and now we're talking about another billion on top of this.

And you know, a lot of people-a lot of people-Democrats are very uncomfortable with this. You know, you've got issues like why abandon the verification system to make sure that illegals don't benefit through this program, a system we've had for over 15 years? Why retreat from that? There's a lot of big questions. And the biggest issue is, How you are you going to pay for it? How are you going to justify it when you get back and talk about what the long-term impact is on this country because, remember, if this is so critical to do it so quickly, why are they putting off implementation until 2013? They start the taxes...

SCHULTZ: So quickly?

BILBRAY: ... right away.

MATTHEWS: OK, well...

BILBRAY: The benefits don't show up.

MATTHEWS: When did the Republicans have a health care bill that they were trying to get through ahead of this one? You guys...

SCHULTZ: Never.

MATTHEWS: ... were in power for years and you didn't do it. Why do you keep saying the Democrats are moving too fast? Democrats started working on this with Harry Truman back in the late '40s. They're finally getting it done, and you're saying they're moving too fast, a half century?

BILBRAY: Chris, when I was in in the '90s, I raised the issue of somebody who had to supervise the health care system for three million people in San Diego County, I knew that the tort issue and liability was a huge issue that we have to address. And now they're talking about that it's sitting around, $45 billion to $55 billion price tag that we could be using for providing health care...

MATTHEWS: OK, you want...

BILBRAY: ... for those who need it.

MATTHEWS: You're just using-yes, I know you have arguments, and I agree with you, by the way, but the Democrats are in bed with the trial lawyers and it's never going to happen. So let's stop the stupid argument. It's not going to happen tomorrow. What's going to happen tomorrow is the health care bill or not.

Congressman Bilbray, is it going to pass tomorrow or not? Whether you like it or not, is it going to pass tomorrow?

BILBRAY: I think-after talking to the moderate, mainstream Democrats, I think it's-it probably won't.

MATTHEWS: It probably won't. Let me ask you, Congresswoman-you're on the show a lot. I trust you. Let me ask you about a couple of stumbling blocks.;

SCHULTZ: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Abortion-will it be covered in the bill in any way?

Number two, will any illegal-undocumented worker benefit from the bill?

Yes or no to two questions.

SCHULTZ: OK. To question one on abortion coverage, it maintains the status quo, so it does not provide any federal funding for abortion, just like the Hyde amendment is in federal law now, preserves the status quo and treats abortion exactly like it always has been since 1976.

On immigration, no. The answer is no to that question, as well. It does not cover illegal immigrants at all, does not allow them to participate in the health care system, in the new health care reform system in any way.

You know, but what I don't understand, Chris, is why in-you know, Congressman Bilbray represents the 50th district in California. I really don't understand why he wants to continue to walk down the streets of his community in San Diego and look at one in every 10 people in his district, in the 50th district in California, and look them in the eye and-who don't have health insurance. One in every 10 people in his district don't have health insurance. That's 61,000 people. But that's OK with him. It's OK with him to continue to be a member of a party that has health...

MATTHEWS: OK...

SCHULTZ: ... where health care reform is not a priority at all.

MATTHEWS: But you're not talking about-you're not talking about illegal immigrants, are you.

SCHULTZ: No, I'm-no, no, no.

MATTHEWS: You're talking about...

SCHULTZ: I'm talking about 61,000...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... in the country legally...

SCHULTZ: That's right.

MATTHEWS: ... that aren't getting health care.

BILBRAY: Sixty-one thousand...

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask Congressman Bilbray...

SCHULTZ: ... people who are eligible for health care.

MATTHEWS: Before you answer Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz's question, which you may want to do at some other, time I want you to you answer my question right now. Is there a health care measure-is there a measure in this bill that pays for in any way someone having an abortion procedure, first of all? Is it paid for in this bill?

BILBRAY: The abortion issue is being involved by the fact that you are not-they-you're not allowing people-you're not having a system that makes sure that abortion stays out of any publicly administered program.

SCHULTZ: That's simply not true.

BILBRAY: I'm not-look...

SCHULTZ: That's absolutely not true.

BILBRAY: Well, the fact is...

SCHULTZ: You're entitled to your opinion but not entitled to your own facts.

BILBRAY: I'm not raising that issue. A Democrat from Michigan is raising that issue. The issue I've been raising is that if you do not require that you check that somebody is legally in the country, the gentlelady from Florida knows, with a wink and a nod, you're allowing illegals in. And frankly, the issue about her district and my district-it's about America. It's about our...

SCHULTZ: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, let me-let me narrow it down for both of you...

SCHULTZ: There's 135,000 people in my district.

MATTHEWS: Let's help the viewer a little bit here. Congressman, first, you're a Republican. You're not going to vote for this bill, hell or high water. I know that. But let me ask you about the one fact. I understand that there's no subsidies in this bill for someone in the country illegally. Is that what you understand? No subsidy for anyone in this bill...

SCHULTZ: That's right.

MATTHEWS: ... who's not in this country legally. Isn't that right?

BILBRAY: Well, first of all, the subsidy...

MATTHEWS: No, isn't that right.

BILBRAY: No, the subsidy is...

MATTHEWS: No subsidy.

BILBRAY: ... an administration of a program. And Chris, one of the biggest problems we have...

MATTHEWS: No, no, no, no. Why you are you changing my language?

There's no...

BILBRAY: No, I'm not.

MATTHEWS: ... subside...

BILBRAY: The subsidy-the subsidy is the administration of a program that specifically tells illegals, We have a program you can participate in and the American government...

SCHULTZ: That's baloney.

BILBRAY: ... will help subsidize it.

SCHULTZ: Oh, come on! Give me a break. There is absolutely no way for an undocumented immigrant to participate in this health care reform plan. There's no subsidies...

BILBRAY: Look, you can't even say the word "illegal." They're illegal and...

MATTHEWS: Well, that's just terminology...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: I said illegal three minutes ago.

MATTHEWS: She doesn't have to bash people here illegally to make your point, sir.

BILBRAY: No, no. I...

MATTHEWS: Isn't it true that what you're talking about here is that the exchange program, where you're allowed to buy in to an insurance program (INAUDIBLE) exchange that's a government program that helps you understand how to get the best deal-they can participate in that, but they don't get any subsidy.

BILBRAY: No, no.

MATTHEWS: Isn't that right, Congressman?

BILBRAY: What you're doing, Chris, is you're telling them, the American people will allow to you participate in a program, and that is the kind of mixed signals that tells everybody...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BILBRAY: ... Come here illegally.

SCHULTZ: This is so...

BILBRAY: That is where we get frustrated...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But no subsidy. We agree there's no subsidy. Let me ask you about the abortion problem, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. It seems to me there's a real problem here because people-the pro-life people, a lot of them really do believe that if you give a person a subsidy for a health care plan, even if they had the plan before this bill came along, that's subsidizing abortion. Do you look at it that way?

SCHULTZ: No, I don't look at it that way. The point here is, is that

in order to make sure that we can have comprehensive health reform, Chris -

I'll tell you, the language that's in this bill on abortion-I-it's not-I'm pro-choice. I've-I've-and many of my pro-choice colleagues have made a compromise just by being willing to look at the broader issue and support health care reform...

MATTHEWS: Right.

SCHULTZ: ... and have language in there on abortion that doesn't make us comfortable. We've got to come together, meet each other in the middle and both pro-life and pro-choice members, at least on the Democratic side, understand that. And that why I've been working so hard to get us together so that we can pass health care reform tomorrow, which I feel confident that we will.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Bilbray, will the Republican Party, when it gets its chance to offer its motion-it's called the vote to "recommit"-will you carve a bill that does the following, in amendment form? Will you say no money goes to illegals, even in the form of the exchange program, no participation? Will you push and say no money can go for subsidizing a health care plan which includes the procedure of an abortion? Will you do these things so that you can get 218 votes tomorrow? Is that your plan, sir?

(CROSSTALK)

BILBRAY: ... that we use the verification system for this program that we have used for every program the last 15 years, that we draw a bright line that government's going to stay out of abortion...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BILBRAY: ... and it should stay totally out of it and not be involved in any way financially or administratively...

SCHULTZ: Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, that will be in the motion to recommit. Will there be something in there about illegal immigrants in the motion to recommit?

BILBRAY: Absolutely. We'll go back to the system...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: ... anything they can to derail reform. The Republicans are opposed to health care reform. That's evident in the bill, the so-called bill that they put forward that only covers three million people, that doesn't even prohibit insurance companies from dropping people or denying them coverage based on a preexisting condition. They should be ashamed of the themselves. This is one of the most important priorities for America to take care of.

MATTHEWS: OK.

SCHULTZ: Health care should be a right, not a privilege.

BILBRAY: Chris...

SCHULTZ: And we need some...

MATTHEWS: OK, here's...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Congressman, I think-I want you to finish up this (INAUDIBLE) I want people to understand what's going to happen tomorrow, and I think this is going to happen. I think the Republicans have given up on passing their version of health care reform because they just don't have the votes, and I don't think they have their heart in it anyway. So what they're going to do tomorrow is try to amend the Democratic bill in a way that makes it unpassable.

SCHULTZ: That's right.

MATTHEWS: You're going to push through a really tough anti-abortion measure, a really tough anti-immigration measure, and you're going to make it maybe so attractive to some Democrats that you get 218 votes, thereby creating a mutation of the Democratic health care bill that not 218 Democrats will support since all you guys will then vote against it. Isn't that your master plan tomorrow, sir, Mr. Bilbray?

BILBRAY: Chris, no, because...

MATTHEWS: Isn't that your plan?

BILBRAY: Wait, wait, wait. Wait, Chris. We will not be allowed to do any of those amendments. We will not be allowed...

SCHULTZ: Please. That's what your motion to recommit will be, Brian. You know what he's talking about. In your motion to recommit, you are going to try to derail health care reform by including those issues that he just...

BILBRAY: No, the motion to recommit...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: ... asking you.

BILBRAY: ... separate bill that addressed (ph) tort reform from $50 billion we could use...

MATTHEWS: OK...

BILBRAY: ... for health care. That's what it'll include...

SCHULTZ: Right.

BILBRAY: ... something that the Democrats don't want to touch.

SCHULTZ: OK.

MATTHEWS: That's true, by the way, the Democrats won't for that one.

BILBRAY: Well, if you care that much, take on the lawyers.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I don't think I'd worry about that tort reform job of yours because the Democrats aren't going to vote for the. The-I'm not going to tell you how to do it smart because I don't want to see you destroy the bill. Anyway, thank you, Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz...

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much for coming on. And thank you, Congressman Brian Bilbray.

Coming up: What might have prompted that deadly shooting rampage down in Ft. Hood we covered last night? And is the suspected shooter's religion part of this story or not? Nidal Malik Hasan is a Muslim who reportedly didn't want to go to the Middle East as part of his duty assignment. The latest from the shooting and fears of a backlash, perhaps, against American Muslims, who are patriotic next.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The investigation into that massacre at Ft. Hood yesterday is still ongoing, and it's unclear if religion was a factor in this shooting. But we do know that the shooting suspect, Nidal Malik Hasan, is a Muslim who was reportedly very upset about his pending deployment to Afghanistan. He did not want to go, never did want to go to that Middle East war front. Do American Muslims have reason to fear a wave of hostility as a result of his shooting?

Nihad Awad is the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which was quick to condemn the massacre.

Sir, it's a difficult time and-it's a difficult time. Yet this fellow, who's the suspect in this case-he's alive, by the way. Last night at this time, we thought he was dead because of the way the army was keeping the information. We're trying to get information, and what we're getting, piecemeal information of people saying he had said things-a fellow medical student in Bethesda out here nearby here said when he was training in 2007 and 2008, he made himself out to be a vociferous opponent of the war over there, our war over there.

He described-well, here he is. Here's an audio interview, NBC interview which we did with the former classmate of Hasan's at the Uniformed Services University, that's a medical university, with Dr. Val Finnell. Let's listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DR. VAL FINNELL, UNIFORMED SERVICES UNIVERSITY CLASSMATE: He was very against the global war on terror and he equated with it a global war on Islam and was very vocal about that in the classroom environment and made it very well known, got into contentious arguments with people about it and became visibly upset when he was challenged on those very radical and controversial views, declaring (ph) himself to be a Muslim first and an American second.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: A Muslim first and an American second. What do you make of

well, we don't know-we have to assume the testimony is probably accurate. The person is probably not lying. It's a question of putting it in context and understanding what motivated this killing yesterday. And we may not know that ever.

NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Yes. And as we all know, we're just getting bits and pieces and we cannot just piece it together until the investigation is over. And I hope that the investigators, who are trained to do this, will given (ph) the time. And as President Obama said last night, we're going to get answers to every question.

But I'm really not happy to see that his religion is becoming the subject, when we have crimes committed against our soldiers and against our civilians inside the United States and outside the United States, and hardly (ph) the religion, if it plays (ph) by the motives of those who are committing these acts, it does not become the story in the United States press, except when he or she is a Muslim. And this is unfortunate. Even if this guy uttered the words "Allahu Akhbar" or "God is great"...

MATTHEWS: Right before the shooting.

AWAD: Yes. So what? I mean, he...

MATTHEWS: Well, what does that tell you?

AWAD: It tells me that this is an isolated incident by a disturbed individual. All the information we're getting indicates that he is a disturbed individual. And this also reminds me of the fact that, you know, Eric Rudolph was (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Pardon me?

AWAD: Eric Rudolph, the abortion bomber...

MATTHEWS: Right.

AWAD: ... he did that in the name of Christianity, and never (ph) Christianity or Christians became the subject of the press. So even if these people claim religious affiliation or a religious claim, I don't think we should play into their hands. All these pieces of information are still coming out and I think it's too...

MATTHEWS: Well, is it a very-is it a worthy effort to find out if religion was his motive? Is that OK with you? Is it OK to find it out?

AWAD: We have to find out how he thinks and what he did, but I will never come to the conclusion that religion is the motive, religion is the reason for that. I am a Muslim and...

MATTHEWS: No, no. No one's saying that-well, an idiot would say that a Muslim is a terrorist, but...

AWAD: Well, there are-there are people who (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Well, that would be an idiotic position, because there's a billion Islamic people in the world, OK? And that's an idiotic statement.

AWAD: Well, you know-well, I'm glad-I'm glad-of course, you know, you're one of the few.

MATTHEWS: Well, don't-don't be patronizing with me. I-we're aware we know what we're talking about.

But, with these other statements, the Colonel-the retired Army Colonel Terry Lee, he said he worked with Hasan. And he said that he had frequent arguments with others in the armed services who support the wars, and he had tried to prevent his planning-his pending deployment in Afghanistan.

He also, according to this, said Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor. And he was hoping very much that President Obama would have a different policy over there.

By the way, a lot of people...

AWAD: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... were hoping that Barack Obama would have a different policy about these wars.

AWAD: Definitely. And, also, that very statement that was relayed, that this Muslim doctor said, the one who relayed this information was not 100 percent sure that this is really the motivation when he said Muslims should-should stand up and fight the oppressors. I'm paraphrasing. He said, I'm not sure if he meant what he said.

I think that's also subject for investigation.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But you know most people operate by Occam's razor.

AWAD: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: The most obvious motive is the one you start with.

And this is a man who has made many-forget his religion.

AWAD: Right.

MATTHEWS: He has made many statements to many colleagues about his attitude toward this war, many statements about his feeling that Muslim-

Islam is being attacked by the United States. These are public statements he's made to other people.

He wasn't hiding this. He gave away apparently some of his furniture the other day as sort of a preparation for this horror. Yelling out "God is great" right before he opened up with semiautomatic pistols, when you have a couple of them and you start shooting at people, and the first thing you say before you start doing it, "God is great," a reasonable person would say, there is a connection between what you have said in terms of your religious belief and this incredible horror you're undertaking.

Isn't that a reasonable connection to draw?

(CROSSTALK)

AWAD: Even if he was Christian and he said, "Jesus is lord..."

MATTHEWS: And he began firing?

AWAD: ... would-would the-a main Christian leader be brought to this program, or others, and be asked...

MATTHEWS: Oh, no, no, no. We want-look, you were invited because of the concern...

AWAD: I know.

MATTHEWS: ... our producers have that people will draw will...

AWAD: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: No-assumptions like the idiot one I just described you to you a moment ago...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Which is, all Islamic people are terrorists.

AWAD: And I agree.

You know, we-we also receive complaints from soldiers in the U.S. military who are complaining about some-some-being taunted or discriminated.

MATTHEWS: I think-we will talk about that.

AWAD: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What is going on in that regard?

AWAD: There-there are a few. It is not like the biggest portion of the complaints that we receive, but there is a procedure of addressing these grievances within the military, and even in our society.

If it was the worst it can be, it should never justify a mass killing and heinous crime, like this guy did.

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you feel? What is your feeling when you hear all this evidence? What is your feeling-not in terms of your role, leading an organization which is against discrimination of any kind.

AWAD: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: But what is your feeling as an American sitting here listening to this and saying, my God, what happened to this man? How did he find his way into a role where he is treating people with post-traumatic stress syndrome, all day long, these horror stories coming into his heart and soul? And he is a man of Islamic background.

And it's a war being fought against Islamic people. And he is treating many people who are in their own ways victims of that war, soldiers who had to fight and be involved in horrific situations. What does it say to you in your heart?

AWAD: It is a national tragedy. And when I saw this, I was feeling sick in my stomach when I saw this. And, immediately, we condemned it, because common complaint, that American Muslims do not speak up and out against these crimes. We do. And I'm happy that we're given the opportunity...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But you didn't do it for P.R. reasons, did you?

AWAD: No, no. I mean, sincerely, I offer condolences for the families who lost their loved ones.

MATTHEWS: Right.

AWAD: And I pray sincerely for God to give speedy recovery for those who were injured in this attack.

But, also, I remembered the thousands of Muslims who are continuing to serve in the U.S. military...

MATTHEWS: Right.

AWAD: ... and also the many headstones in Arlington National Cemetery that have crescents on them. Those people who have died and they have given their life to America, they should be honored also by disassociating...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know what is frightening? The way in which religion has been brought into this.

When I hear stories about the people, as the planes were going into the World Trade Center, as they were hitting the buildings, and I hear stories that you could hear over the radio people screaming with delight, the terrorists themselves-they were thrilled that they could do this, they thought, for God.

That's scary. And that's reality.

AWAD: Scary to me because they hijacked my faith. And they-they -

they have dealt a major blow to me, as an American Muslim, who loved America and who loved Islam.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

AWAD: This is a major blow to me.

MATTHEWS: Well, let's all try to understand.

AWAD: But, also, we are a mature society. This is not the first incident that happened. And we have shown that, in times of crisis, we Americans, we show the best and finest of our qualities. We are unified, even in times of crisis.

MATTHEWS: I think-well said. I think we ought to have a system where a guy like this guy can raise his hand and say, I don't want to go to Iraq or Afghanistan for a lot of good reasons. Please don't send me.

AWAD: There are many people who have...

MATTHEWS: And maybe somebody you was being a little too discipline there.

But, anywhere, thank you, sir.

AWAD: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming in.

Stay-please keep in touch.

AWAD: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you for coming in.

Anyway, up next: Governor Charlie Crist. I'm going to be a little tougher on this fellow coming up. He's facing a tough primary fight in Florida. He seems to have forgotten the tone and the substance of what he said here on HARDBALL, back when stimulus programs were a good idea in the beginning of the year. Well, they're not such a good idea when you're running against a red hot down in Florida. So, he's decided that he didn't say what he said here.

But we have the videotape. Mr. Charles Crist, be prepared. You're about to meet your maker. I'm sorry. You're about to meet your videotape.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the "Sideshow."

First: Did you forget about me, Governor? In the race next year for senator from Florida, Governor Charlie Crist is facing a primary challenge from the right. So, this week, on CNN, Governor Crist tried changing course. He denied having endorsed President Obama's big economic stimulus effort.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER")

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Governor, for a second, do you have any regrets about endorsing the economic stimulus package?

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST ®, FLORIDA: Well, I didn't endorse it. I-you know, I didn't even have a vote on the darn thing. But I understood that it was going to pass, and I wanted to be able to utilize it for the benefit of my fellow Floridians.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "The darn thing."

Well, this is a real change from when the governor came on HARDBALL back in February. It wasn't a darn thing back then, back when he was saying very such nice things about the president's $787 billion stimulus package.

Check out what the governor said when I asked him point-blank about that bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Why are you aboard the Obama bailout bandwagon?

CRIST: Well, I call it a stimulus for the economy to try to help the people of my state.

It is going to help their children. It is going to help their traffic situation. It is going to help produce more jobs here in the Sunshine State. That is the perspective that I have to have...

MATTHEWS: OK.

CRIST: ... is that, in essence, the CEO of Florida, and that's why I support it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "And that's why I support it."

Isn't videotape a wonderful thing, Governor? Try not to forget us next time.

Finally, Gotham celebrates. Hundreds of thousands lined the streets today for the New York Yankees' big ticker tape parade. At a city hall ceremony, Mayor Mike Bloomberg saluted the world champions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Time to hand out one of New York's most prestigious honors, the keys to the city.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: It is our way of saying to some very special people, no matter where you go in life, this city will always welcome you back with open arms. And we're going to present one key to each of our 2009 World Series champions.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, they really did come back strong after getting bombed in that first game by my Phillies, who gave us such an exciting year this year,after winning the World Series themselves last year.

Now for the "Big Number."

We all heard the hard economic news this morning, 10.2 percent unemployment. But that number doesn't tell the whole story. It doesn't factor in people who have stopped looking for work or who are forced to settle part-time jobs.

Factoring in those Americans, the part-time and the ones that have given up, the U.S. Labor Department has the full unemployment picture. What is it? -- 17.5 percent, 17.5 percent, the complete unemployment picture in this country, 17.5 percent, people not really working. That's tonight's big, bad number.

Up next, we are going to talk to the first U.S. official to resign over the war in Afghanistan. Matthew Hoh, a top Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain, he says no longer understands what we're doing in Afghanistan. He's coming here, right to this chair, to explain why.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I'm Julia Boorstin with your CNBC "Market Wrap."

Stocks eking out a gain today, as investors juggled a disappointing jobs report and a handful of analyst upgrades. The Dow added 17 points to finished about 3 percent higher on the week. The S&P 500 ticked up over two points. The Nasdaq gained seven points.

Unemployment jumped to its highest level in more than 26 years in October. The nation's jobless rate stands at 10.2 percent. But the pace of job losses is slowing.

Analyst upgrades helped lift a number of stocks today. General Electric led the Dow, gaining more than 6 percent. GE is the parent company of CNBC and MSNBC.

And Amazon was the top gainer on the Nasdaq after an upgrade by Bernstein. Macy's shares also jump 6.5 percent on an upgrade by J.P. Morgan.

In earnings news, Starbucks and Nvidia both beat expectations, but AIG shares plummeted after badly missing analyst estimates.

That's it from CNBC, first in business worldwide-now back to

HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Matthew Hoh made waves two months ago when he became the first U.S. official to resign, the first American to resign in protest over the war in Afghanistan. He was working as a Foreign Service officer in one of Afghanistan's Taliban hotbeds, when he grew to question the goal of our mission in that country.

Matthew Hoh, welcome.

What do you really know? I want you to give me-I talked to you back before the show started, because we talk a lot about the Afghanistan war. And I have all kinds of notions and opinions. But I wasn't over there, stationed in combat. You were a Marine. You were a Marine in Iraq, correct?

MATTHEW HOH, QUIT DIPLOMATIC JOB IN AFGHANISTAN: Correct.

MATTHEWS: And then you were stationed as a Foreign Service officer in Afghanistan.

What is it? Do we-is it that Afghanistan has never been a good place for foreigners, that they don't like the Brits, they didn't like the Soviets, they don't like us? How you would you describe it?

HOH: It is a very complex, difficult situation.

What I have found is that it is a 35-year-old civil war. It actually goes back longer than that, but, if you go from the time when the king was deposed in '73, up until now, it's basically been a 35-year-old civil war.

One of the things we keep doing is, we keep putting ourselves as a first person in the story. And we're not. We're filling the same...

MATTHEWS: Who is fighting who in this civil war?

HOH: This is basically a fight between the urban, educated, secular, progressive class vs. the rural poor, traditional...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And the Taliban champion the rural people.

HOH: Correct. Correct.

MATTHEWS: And we're in the middle of it. And how come everybody over there is getting killed there who is an American? They're all getting killed by IEDs, these explosive devices. They don't like us. We're the ones getting killed. You call it a civil war, but we're the targets. Explain.

HOH: Well, the-no, the Afghan national army and Afghan national police are losing guys at a greater-greater number than we are.

But they represent the central government, which is one side of the civil war. Most of the people are fighting, most of the people who are fighting us are fighting us because we're in their valleys and in their villages. And that's the only reason they're fighting us.

Their allegiance to the Taliban, the Taliban with a capital T, Mullah Omar and guys who have sanctuary in Pakistan and Quetta, their only allegiance to them, for the most part, is money. But, for the most part, this is a civil war where people just don't want us in their valleys and in their villages.

MATTHEWS: The word that we get for why we're there is, if we pull out of Afghanistan, the Taliban takes over. Then the Taliban in Pakistan begins to have more strength taking on its government. Eventually, the Taliban gets control of nuclear weapons, and, with them, al Qaeda gets those nuclear weapons. That's the fear.

What's your response?

HOH: It's a fear. And that's what is pushing us to go...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think? Is it reasonable to fear that happening, the Taliban helping al Qaeda get control of nuclear weapons, and then disaster in the world?

HOH: No, I don't. No, I don't.

First of all, the Taliban has been discredited. They are a formidable military force right now out of Quetta. However, they will not receive-

I don't believe they will receive the Pakistani backing they had in 1995, '96 that allowed them to take power in Afghanistan.

I believe the Pakistanis would do that again. And without that backing, they can't take power. As far as al Qaeda goes, I don't believe there was ever really was that hard, hard link between al Qaeda and the Taliban. They were basically guests in the Taliban's hotel in Afghanistan...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, will they come back, though? That's the question every American wants to know.

HOH: Sure.

MATTHEWS: And every person who watches this says, although they may be against this war, they do worry, even people who want to pull out, they worry that the Taliban will allow al Qaeda to come back. They let them in once. What is to stop them from coming in again?

HOH: First off, al Qaeda should be our priority. Our priority should be to destroy al Qaeda.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But how do we do that if we pull out?

HOH: Al Qaeda does not exist in Afghanistan, and they won't exist in Afghanistan again. I believe that, after 2001, al Qaeda evolved. They will not tie-tie themselves to a political or a geographical boundary ever again.

MATTHEWS: So, you disagree with Senator Clinton, who is now secretary of state? She says, if-if the Taliban come back, al Qaeda come back.

HOH: Yes, I disagree with her. I don't think so. I think al Qaeda recruits worldwide. They exist, I keep saying, as this ideological cloud that is on the Internet. The recruits are young men from North Africa, from Europe, in the Gulf states. And you keep seeing all these different attacks.

MATTHEWS: What you do you make of McChrystal, the general in the field over there? He wants 40,000 some more troops. He may want 80,000 more eventually. What do you make of his motive? Is he just carrying out the mission, statement of the presidents from last March? What is he doing? Why is he urging the opposite of what you're urging?

HOH: Sure. I agree exactly. I think General McChrystal's assessment was based upon the strategy at the time, stabilize the Afghan government and defeat the Taliban. I don't believe that does anything to defeat al Qaeda. I don't believe it does anything to stabilize Pakistan, which should be our second priority, stabilize Pakistan.

However, what I disagree with General McChrystal on-I agree with several parts of his assessment. What I disagree with General McChrystal on is that those 40,000 troops are only going to enter more valleys and villages where we are not at now, and we are only going to fight more people who are going to fight us because we're in their valleys and villages.

MATTHEWS: If you had in an election in Afghanistan, how would the people vote, to keep us or to dump us, tell us to leave?

HOH: It depends on what part of the country you're in. One of the problems with Afghanistan, it is a very disparate, very segmented country. You see these national polls all the time that say hey, they want Americans in there by a certain margin.

You can't take that country as a whole. I don't want to over-simplify it, but it is kind of like a red state-blue state phenomenon. So what is popular in one part of the country, in terms of-

MATTHEWS: OK, the blue states want us in, but the red states are killing us.

HOH: Exactly. Exactly. Because it is a civil war. It is a civil war.

MATTHEWS: If we pull out, what happens? Last question.

HOH: If we pull out, what happens is this: it is going to be terrible. It's going to be tragic. There will be a blood bath. But eventually what we'll have to do is find some way to politically reconcile. That's the only way civil wars end, politically reconcile.

However, what we have to do is find a way to destroy al Qaeda. And 60,000, 80,000, 100,000 troops in Afghanistan is not going to destroy al Qaeda.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much Matthew Hoh. We're going to continue this debate.

Up next, unemployment hits 10.2 percent, the highest since 1983, back when Reagan was president. Will it stay double digits long enough long enough to take away the Democrat majority? My hunch, if it's still 10 percent next November, this time, you can say good bye to a Democratic Congress. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: You came! And you came to your House. You came for an emergency House call.

JOHN RATZENBERGER, ACTOR: We have to remember that. We have to remember where their philosophy comes. It doesn't come from America. It comes from overseas. It comes from socialism.

JON VOIGHT, ACTOR: We as freedom loving Americans must not be scared into Obama's radical Chicago tactics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow! We're back. Time for the politics fix with P.J. O'Rourke, whose newest book is called "Driving Like Crazy," and the "Washington Post's" Eugene Robinson, who is an MSNBC political analyst.

P.J., welcome to the show. I don't know. What do you make of Michele Bachmann? She was on this show a few months ago calling for an investigation by the media on the anti-Americanism on the Democratic side of the aisle. There she is kind of in a high pitched call out to her troops, saluting them for showing up, as if brazenly demanding whatever from the republic. I don't to what to make of this.

P.J. O'ROURKE, AUTHOR, "DRIVING LIKE CRAZY": Stop it before it spreads is what I say. Nobody is more Republican than I am. But when it comes to protests, I like the kind of protests we had in Virginia and New Jersey, not the kind of protest in the street.

Everybody knows the Republicans-you know, the Democrats are the silly party. The Republicans are the stupid party. But you don't want to be stupid and crazy. Stupid has got its place. But not stupid and crazy.

MATTHEWS: I don't know what to make of the hero selection of the Republican party. They have an interesting way of picking heroes. Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann. They're not picking leaders. They're not picking people who are interested in governing. They seem to-

We had a guy on here the other day, Mark Williams, a radio talk show host. I don't know what he really believes. He could be a complete whatever, charlatan, for all I know. But he didn't know the names of the Republican leaders of Congress when I kept asking. Name the leaders.

O'ROURKE: There is a good reason not to know their names.

MATTHEWS: But, I mean, If you're in this business, you don't need to know the names of your leaders, because you're never mentioning them.

O'ROURKE: We have many secret-really excellent secret leaders, with tremendous heroic potential, and we're keeping them hidden until the last minute, Chris.

EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Oh, those stealth leaders.

But the Republicans are selecting for star power, for pizzazz. Sarah Palin has it. Michele Bachmann, in her slightly different and weirder way, has star power, and is able to excite the kind tin foil segment of the Republican base.

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS: It is rural. It's out west. It's something-there is a pattern here emerging.

O'ROURKE: Think about those two words. Think about those two words, Republican and pizzazz. Do those go together?

MATTHEWS: Well, they do now. You know, you're not selling the steak.

You're selling the sizzle at this point.

O'ROURKE: My job as a Republican is to make everybody eat skinless chicken breasts. No steak, no sizzle. My job is to be dull, you know?

MATTHEWS: Do you think, P.J., as a sort of the Will Rogers of our time-I think you'll accept that. Mark Twain, somewhere up in that pantheon. Do you think what's going on is that people have these boring jobs like legislators, which is really kind of boring-it's almost altruistic, these boring committees they got to go to. Instead of doing those jobs, which are really boring, they decided, why don't we operate like Mark Levin or someone? Why we don't act like Glenn Beck. Why don't we act like the talk show jocks, because they're the ones who are the big heroes right now? Is that what's going on?

O'ROURKE: They're having more fun. Of course, if you come down to it, what is the next most boring job after legislator, is actually being a radio guy. Sitting there in the studio, you know, getting wider and wider as the day goes by, running out of things to talk about.

MATTHEWS: You're not talking about the large man himself?

O'ROURKE: I'm not talking about anybody. Just saying.

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS: It seems like the radio talk show values have dominated. Like Grisham's law, they've driven real Republican lawmakers out of business. Nobody even knows who Mitch McConnell is. Everybody knows who Rushbo, the man you just talked about-calling somebody fat is what cost the Democrats the election for governor of New Jersey.

O'ROURKE: That's right. You don't want to say that.

MATTHEWS: Everybody over a 38 belt size-everybody over a 38 belt size, which is mine when I'm on a good day, voted for the fat guy, if you will. I mean, let's be honest. There's a certain allegiance there.

O'ROURKE: I'm not calling anybody fat. You know? My thing with these-with all the talk show hosts and stuff is-I've said all the things they said-that they say. Except I said it at 3:00 in the morning when I was drunk, you know, to a couple other bums in the bar. They're saying it at 3:00 in the afternoon, stone cold sober, to millions of attentive listeners.

MATTHEWS: When you wrote "Parliament of Whores" a few years ago, I think you sort of set the tenor for future viewings of Congress.

O'ROURKE: If I made America look down on politicians, I will gladly accept the blame for that.

MATTHEWS: Me and the late Tony Snow, the wonderful guy who represented so much good conservatism, laughed our kiesters off for three hours one night when you described how federal spending occurs in this country. I wish the conservatives would get back to where the money's going.

We'll be right back. That is a pretty good thing for conservatives to do, conserve. We'll be right back with P.J. O'Rourke and Eugene Robinson for more of the politics fix. Don't hold rallies. Watch the money. Follow it. You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Although we lost fewer jobs than we did last month, our unemployment rate climbed to over 10 percent, a sobering number that underscores the economic challenges that lie ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Back with P.J. O'Rourke. His book is called "Driving Like Crazy." He's a great writer and he's sometimes funny. And Eugene Robinson, who is always charming and thoughtful.

Let me ask you this-I want to try something by you. I obviously am a Phillies fan. I obviously wish they won. But I do salute the Yankees, except that there is a charge lying out there that they bought this series, that they went out there and bought a bunch of players off season, huge amounts of money, something like 400 million dollars, we calculate, in signing agreements with just three of the players they went after.

How come that worked for them, but it didn't work for Jon Corzine as governor? He spent zillions of dollars making himself a public figure and finally getting dumped, and it just barely worked for Mike Bloomberg, who is immensely competent, yet barely squeaked back in office, spending, what, 80 some million dollars this time, on top of all the money he spent before.

P.J., how come you can buy a world series, but you can't buy love in politics?

O'ROURKE: Fortunately, we don't get to vote on how well somebody pitches and how well they bat, a lot of which is perception, right? I thought it was amazing. I kept waiting for the Tony Soprano vote to come in, the votes that come right at the end of New Jersey election, that are in alphabetical order and all the voters are dead. It didn't happen.

Bloomberg, that really amazed me. It goes to show you, you know, that if you're there and you're in charge, people are tired of you, no matter who you are, even if you're poor Barack Obama. They're tired of you. People are sick of everybody who's in charge. That doesn't necessarily mean that, all of a sudden, the country is going to go Republican. But they are sick of everybody in charge.

MATTHEWS: Gene Robinson, there's a column here somewhere. I just wonder, you can buy players. You can buy success in America. But somewhere there's a gagging. People gagged on Corzine. He couldn't get above 45 percent. They gagged, to a large extent, on Mike Bloomberg. He only got barely over 50 percent, after spending zillions of dollars in New York.

ROBINSON: Yes. If it's true that money can't buy you love in politics anymore, then that's a huge change. I don't think it's true. I think money can buy you love.

MATTHEWS: Can it buy you a personality? Can it give you a personality if you give them enough money?

(CROSS TALK)

ROBINSON: Well, it may not be able to buy you a personality. You don't need a personality if you have money. You know, I think it was anti-incumbent. We're sick of the guy. You know, he's been around for 18 terms or whatever. Letterman jokes that Bloomberg just won his 18th term. People-

MATTHEWS: What is it about New Jersey? There is something going on

there. We all watched it like it was New Jersey this time, P.J. It seems

like with regularity in New Jersey, there are a series of indictments

involving public officials. It just comes around like the morning Saturday

I used to get the "Philadelphia Enquirer" just to get the mob news on Saturday morning. There was always somebody who was a reputed mob king, prostitution, gambling, whatever. It was always found in the gutter. They used to kill somebody in time for the first edition. They would always find the body somewhere in the river.

And now politicians are like that in Jersey. Remember the mayors and rabbis that got picked up recently?

O'ROURKE: Chris, jersey? Think about the government getting into the health insurance business, you know? When-they're just another competitor like any other competitor, except they have a legal monopoly on deadly force. They've got guns. What's the other organization that gets into business just like any other competitor, just another competitor, except they've got guns? You know?

MATTHEWS: You mean they're going to control the health industry the way the mob controlled the ice business?

O'ROURKE: You know, Blue Cross, they're like the last legit trash callers in Jersey, if the public option goes through.

MATTHEWS: You mean, instead of moving the jukebox into your bar and saying, you better put the money in here and you better give it to me at the end of the month, they're going to move it the public option in to your business establishment, saying you better buy this thing here, it's good for your health? Is that what you're saying, P.J.?

O'ROURKE: That's what it looks like to me.

MATTHEWS: The government should be so competent. I'm just wondering. P.J., what do you think of Palin? Why are Republicans sort of picking these people from out west, these women like Michele Bachmann? What do they have in common? What's going on in the Republican party, your party? Why these two women from out west? What's going on? Last thought.

O'ROURKE: They absolutely don't have a clue. Republicans lost the plot and they lost it a long time ago. Arguably, they lost it during the first Bush administration.

MATTHEWS: Thanks, as always. P.J. O'Rourke, as always. Pulitzer Prize winning Gene Robinson. 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.

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.>

Watch Hardball each weeknight at 5 & 7 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,