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updated 11/13/2009 3:43:21 PM ET 2009-11-13T20:43:21

Guests: Richard Engel, Oriel Morrison, Norah O‘Donnell, Scott Conroy, Bobby Ghosh, Joan Walsh, Deroy Murdock, Jim Moran, Daniel Zwerdling

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Rogue elephant.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

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

Big brawl on the Republican side.  Sarah Palin‘s coming to town and she knows who‘s been bad and who‘s been good, so you better watch out, John McCain.  That‘s the advance word on the big Palin-palooza, the 13-city TV interview extravaganza that starts next week.  Sarah Palin‘s kicking off the tour for her big book, “Going Rogue,” with an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” where she got right at a sore spot in the losing 2008 campaign.  Here‘s a bit of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST:  Let‘s talk about the interview with Katie Couric.

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  Must we?

WINFREY:  Yes.

PALIN:  OK.  Oh!

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that wasn‘t much, was it?  We‘ll give you the rest of that in a minute.  Hot on her target list, of course, in this book are the people she blames, quote, “bottling her up”—that‘s her words—last year in that campaign, specifically the John McCain handlers who she says manhandled her out of giving that “I‘ll be the top guy next time” speech that was already in the teleprompter the night of the concession.

Also tonight, President Obama rejected all the Afghanistan war options he‘s been considering and asked his defense team to come up with reasons, revisions, et cetera.  This after the U.S. ambassador in Kabul warned that a big troop increase would only prop up a corrupt government over there.  So what are we afraid of in Afghanistan?  And what can we really do to prevent it?  Those are the hot questions we‘ll get to tonight.  We‘ll also get the latest from NBC‘s chief foreign correspondent over there, Richard Engel.

Also, the drip, drip, drip from the Ft. Hood investigation.  The more we learn about Nidal Hasan, the more we understand that the system put together after September 11 collected the dots but never connected those dots.  How do we know when to say, OK, free speech in this country, free religion, of course, but this guy‘s dangerous and he needs to be stopped?  When do we know to do that?  We‘ve got to learn now.  It may be too late in this case, but it is going to be too late.  We got to keep up looking for these problems.

Anyway, look now—look who else is talking.  Former president George W. Bush is back.  He gave his first speech open to the media today.  It‘s to launch a public policy institute in his name at SMU, Southern Methodist University.  The institute is meant to, quote, “extend principles and work that were accomplished” during the administration.  Well, the big question, of course, here on HARDBALL, what accomplishments?  More on that later.

Plus, Sean Hannity‘s giving an honest, cut your losses response to Jon Stewart after Stewart caught him, the FOX host, using the wrong videotape to make the case for the right-wing arguments.  That‘s in the “Sideshow” tonight.

Let‘s start with Norah O‘Donnell and Scott Conroy, author of “Sarah From Alaska.”  Scott, you hold on for a second, but be ready.  Norah—you know, Norah, you‘re onto this case.  This is a fascinating story of someone who could be a morning glory, could be all pizzazz, all sizzle, no steak.  But right now, the sizzle‘s everywhere.

Let‘s take a look.  I want you to comment on this.  Here‘s a clip from Sarah Palin‘s interview—I hope it‘s a longer clip—from the interview with Oprah Winfrey.  It‘s hot stuff.  She goes right at the way she was interviewed by Katie Couric, who she holds as some kind of devil.  Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WINFREY:  Let‘s talk about the interview with Katie Couric.

PALIN:  Must we?

WINFREY:  Yes.

PALIN:  OK.  Oh!

(LAUGHTER)

WINFREY:  You talk about in the book, so I assume everything in the book is fair game...

PALIN:  Yes, it is.  It is.

WINFREY:  You do say that it wasn‘t your best interview.

PALIN:  Here again...

WINFREY:  Did you think that was a seminal, defining moment for you, that interview?

PALIN:  I did not, and neither did the campaign.  In fact, that is why segment two and three and four and maybe five were scheduled.  The campaign said, Right on.  Good.  You‘re showing your independence.  This is what America needs to see, and it was a good interview.  And of course, I‘m thinking, If you thought that was a good interview, I don‘t know what a bad interview was because I knew it wasn‘t a good interview.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What do you make?  Her voice goes rising up there as if she was surprised by this stuff.  Oprah‘s asking the most obvious question in the world with, That interview killed you.

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Katie Couric asked her—which I call—this was hardly a curveball, Norah—What do you read?

O‘DONNELL:  And she didn‘t want to answer.

MATTHEWS:  She didn‘t answer it.  So what do you think of this interview?  Her whole approach to this book sale is to do 13 cities, lots of pizzazz, big interviews, right-wing interviews, local right-wing interviewers.  Oprah‘s, of course, not a right-winger.  She‘s going to do a few other mainstream interviews.  What‘s her strategy?

O‘DONNELL:  Look, “Sarah barracuda” is back, and she‘s going to take a bite out of her enemies and the media!  That‘s what this (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  OK, start with the list.  Who‘s she hate most, according to the leaks so far?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, in the media, she certainly has it out for Katie Couric, who she spends a lot of time in this book dissing as being badgering, as being biased.  Clearly, she doesn‘t want to say that it was a defining moment in her campaign because she doesn‘t want to give Katie Couric that much credit.

MATTHEWS:  How about Charlie Gibson, she went after?

O‘DONNELL:  She goes after Charlie Gibson, who had the first interview with her, saying that he peered down his nose at her.  He did, in fact, have his...

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  ... his glasses on his nose.

MATTHEWS:  He was a bit grandfatherly, but I don‘t know if it was arrogant or not, but whatever.

O‘DONNELL:  Right.  She says he wasn‘t interested in the issues in Alaska, so she says that was unfair.  And she also goes after the former McCain/Palin staffers on that campaign...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s go through that...

O‘DONNELL:  ... she shoots down in this book.

MATTHEWS:  We have a friend that she‘s after there, Nicolle Wallace, right, one of the McCain staffers she blames personally for what, setting up the interview with Katie?

O‘DONNELL:  Nicolle Wallace, who‘s a former communications director for President George W. Bush, and then got on the Palin campaign, was very close to John McCain, largely shepherded and helped Sarah Palin.  She blames Nicolle Wallace for the Katie Couric interviews, essentially claimed that she was a double agent, that she was working for Katie Couric and...

MATTHEWS:  OK, how about Steve Schmidt, who‘s a very smart guy who ran the McCain campaign.  It was a tough campaign.  They lost.  Schmidt and her are opposite numbers here, right?

O‘DONNELL:  Schmidt and her are opposite numbers.  Steve Schmidt just said in the last couple weeks that it would be catastrophic...

(LAUGHTER)

O‘DONNELL:  ... catastrophic if Palin became the 2012 Republican nominee.

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) take that back, isn‘t it.

O‘DONNELL:  He is not going to hold her (SIC) fire...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... year from now, I was wrong about the catastrophe to come.

O‘DONNELL:  But I think—but I think...

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s the question...

O‘DONNELL:  ... what‘s fascinating, too, about this, is that they blamed her for going rogue in this campaign.  She says that she was buttoned up.  Well, she tried to bust out toward the end of the campaign.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  When they said, We‘re done with Michigan, she said, I‘m going to take a plane to Michigan myself, I‘m going to take the bus to Michigan myself, and privately...

O‘DONNELL:  ... they said, She‘s going rogue.  Well, she‘s now appropriated that.  That‘s the title of this book.  It‘s kind of the big middle finger, if you will.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Let‘s go to Scott on that point.  Let me go to Scott Conroy.  What do you make of her strategy?  It seems to me that the Republican Party‘s riding a tiger now.  They‘re going to enjoy (ph) this person.  She‘s pizzazz.  She‘s the sizzle on the steak.  They‘re going to ride her right through next election, maybe pick up X many seats, maybe 40 seats, who knows, for the House, and she‘s going to help them raise the temperature.

The question is, could she get out of hand and really go rogue and they get stuck with her as their nominee next time for president?

SCOTT CONROY, AUTHOR, “SARAH FROM ALASKA”:  Well, as you were saying earlier, it‘s really interesting that she‘s taken ownership of this phrase “going rogue” because the McCain campaign advisers really just were so irritated when she went rogue.  And so now that she‘s taken ownership of it, it‘s really interesting to see the dynamic.

I don‘t know if you saw, but the Associated Press actually just purchased a copy of the book, and so they‘ve released some excerpts within the last few minutes.  And according to the AP, Sarah Palin really made a stunning charge.  She said that the campaign billed her for the legal bills for her vetting.  So when the McCain campaign went up to Alaska and vetted her and interviewed her according to Sarah Palin, the AP says, they sent her the bill for that.

Now, my co-author, Shushannah Walshe (ph), who wrote a book, “Sarah From Alaska,” just spoke to a senior McCain official who said that accusation is completely untrue and it‘s outrageous and they did not bill her for her vetting.  So...

MATTHEWS:  So we‘re going to have a lot of infield chatter, as they say in baseball, for the next couple of weeks about the facts in the book.  So instead of arguing about her main thrust, which is, I‘m back, I‘m a big deal, look out, I‘m running for president, it‘s going to be this sort of intramural fight over the facts—Norah.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.  She‘s using this to settle some scores...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That could work against her.

O‘DONNELL:  Absolutely, that could work against her.  Look, she‘s got Harper Collins, one of the greatest, most powerful publishers in the world, behind her.  She is going to—in her first week of this tour, she‘s going to hit nearly a dozen battleground states!

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  So do you think they...

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s like a presidential campaign!

MATTHEWS:  ... targeted those?

O‘DONNELL:  She‘s got a bus that‘s got her picture and the cover of this book emblazoned on this bus!  It looks like a campaign!  They‘re paying for it as part of this book tour.  Rise above it if she has 2012 ambitions.  Talk about her policy goals.  And instead, you can already see it now, they are getting into the tit for tat about what happened in the last campaign.

MATTHEWS:  Well, these are—this is—is this going to be the straight—what do you call it, “the straight talk express,” or is it going to be selling her?  Let me go to...

O‘DONNELL:  The crooked tongue.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re not supposed to be—that‘s an old “Lone Ranger” term.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of this, Scott?  The fact that—I‘m trying to figure out the strategy here.  The Republican Party wants to use her.  She‘s great at fund-raising.  And by the way, the press—you know the old line from Lenin, that he would say that the capitalists would sell the rope for their own hanging.  The Washington press corps, by the way, has invited her to lead off as the Republican person at the big Gridiron dinner coming up.  So everybody‘s willing to play the part.  So everybody‘s going to enjoy this big extravaganza, this Palin-palooza, it‘s called.  Who‘s going to get hurt?

But first of all, before you think about that question, I want you to watch again.  Here‘s more Sarah Palin.  Oprah, by the way, knows something about promotion.  Here she is leaking a bit of the interview.  And this is about that guy who was the almost former son-in-law or former almost son-in-law, Levi Johnston, who is not very high above the bottom of the ocean, as far as I‘m concerned.  But here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WINFREY:  So one final question about Levi.  Will he be invited to Thanksgiving dinner?

(LAUGHTER)

PALIN:  You know, that‘s a great question.  And it‘s lovely to think

that he would ever even consider such a thing because, of course, you want

·         he is a part of the family, and you want to bring him in the fold and kind of under your wing.  And he needs that, too, Oprah.  I think he needs to know that he is loved.  And he has the most beautiful child.  And this can all work out for good.  It really can.  We don‘t have to keep going down this road of controversy and drama all the time.  We‘re not really into the drama.  We don‘t really like that.  We‘re more productive.  We have other things to concentrate on and do, including...

WINFREY:  Does that mean yes, he is coming, or no, he‘s not?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s not true.

MATTHEWS:  What?

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s not true.  They are into the drama.  I mean, they are—when he has said outlandish things—and he is 19 years old, I believe—they have fired off some pretty acidic statements to blast him, to smash him, to claim that he‘s just a total loser, essentially.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  I mean, this is the father of her only grandchild.  She‘s not taking him under her wing and tried to protect him in some way.

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s not obvious to me.  Instead, they ostracized him.

MATTHEWS:  You know—you know, you‘re an expert on this, to somewhat (INAUDIBLE) Scott.  You wrote a book about it.  I guess that makes anybody an expert, right, and because you actually wrote the book, right, as opposed—her book author is a guy named—or a woman named Lynn Vincent (ph) who‘s writing the Sarah Palin book.  I‘m not shocked by ghost writers, I have to tell you, anymore.  They do exist.  I‘m not going to knock her for it.  But the woman who wrote—her last great work was “Donkey Cons, Sex, Crime and Corruption in the Democratic Party.”  So I guess we can figure out her point of view.  Anyway, she‘s the ghost writer for this.

It seemed interesting, to make your point, in this AP story—they‘ve gotten a copy of the book already—that Sarah Palin felt the need to release the books that she‘s read in life.  Now, usually, you don‘t have to release the number of books you‘ve actually read as evidence that you‘ve read books.  She‘s listed the books.  She—it reads like a high school book requirement list.  It looks like “The Pearl,” “Animal Farm.”

O‘DONNELL:  “Animal Farm.”

MATTHEWS:  “Animal Farm.”  These are the books you get assigned in, like, sophomore year of high school, and she‘s taking credit for having read books that were assigned in school, apparently!  This is dreadful, isn‘t it, for somebody running for whatever she‘s running for.  Your thoughts?

CONROY:  We read about—in our book, actually, she really goes on the defensive a lot of times when it comes to things like this.  She said over and over again that she was a—or she said at least once, anyway, that she was a voracious reader.  And we thought that was really interesting because, you know, Sarah Palin is no dummy, but you know, she feels the need to go out there and say that she‘s a voracious reader, which a politician of her stature probably shouldn‘t have to say.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about the business of politics, and then I‘m going to get to Norah.  It‘s a little bit of an interpretative question, but I think it gets to the heart of this question.  If you‘re a member of Congress or somebody running for governor somewhere, or senator, and you want to raise a quarter million dollars at lunch somewhere, would you invite her to lunch or Mitt Romney?

You first, Scott.  Would you invite her or some mainstream moderate—mainstream conservative or her, who‘s at the fringe end, to some extent, but dynamite as a spokesman?  Would you have her...

CONROY:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  ... or Mitt Romney from the business community?  Who would you bring in to raise a ton of money for you, sir?

CONROY:  I think it depends on which district you‘re in.  I mean, you saw that the...

MATTHEWS:  Where would you send her in?

CONROY:  Oh, I mean, there‘s plenty of places, Chris, where she‘s beloved.  There really are.  I mean, we saw on the campaign trail tens of thousands of people coming out to see her speak.  I mean, she‘s been underestimated throughout her career, and she has a huge hurdle to climb to get back, you know, to where she was at one point...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re missing my point.  I think there‘s a lot of places.  I‘d bring her into the Outer (ph) Club in Salt Lake City, the Petroleum Club down in Oklahoma.  I‘d bring her in wherever—I‘d even bring the Union League in Philadelphia.  I think she would get a crowd at lunchtime.

CONROY:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Norah?

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  I think she‘s political dynamite right now.  The question is, she‘s going to explode some time between now and 2012...

O‘DONNELL:  I specifically...

MATTHEWS:  ... and it may be after she‘s the nominee!

O‘DONNELL:  Look where she‘s traveling.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  She‘s not traveling to big cities, she‘s traveling to small and...

MATTHEWS:  Triple-A towns...

O‘DONNELL:  ... medium-sized cities...

MATTHEWS:  ... we call them in baseball.

O‘DONNELL:  ... in battleground states.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s exactly right.  I asked Harper Collins who chose these cities, they said they did it because they thought that‘s where he she could sell books.  But you bet—you betcha Sarah Palin did!

MATTHEWS:  You betcha (INAUDIBLE)

O‘DONNELL:  She‘s going into Florida, into a place called The Villages.  It was a community that was built by a big Republican donor.  I‘ve been there before with George W. Bush in 2004.  This is red meat territory.  It‘s the kind of place where 60,000 people will turn out for a rally, and those are the places that she‘s going.

MATTHEWS:  Since Ronald Reagan, I‘ve never met a politician more aware

of the camera than her.  She knows exactly how to address the camera.  She

·         all the gestures are dynamite.  They—attention-grabbing.  She‘s obviously attractive to look at.  Her manner of presenting herself is always exciting and never boring, but she never—if you watched even in the interview with Oprah, who could be distracting because she‘s such a major presence, she‘s always looking over to the camera.  She knows exactly who the boss is, that‘s the voter.  Look out, Mitt Romney!  Look out, Huckabee!  She‘s coming.

Norah O‘Donnell, thank you very much for this report.  Thank you, Scott Conroy.

CONROY:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up: President Obama isn‘t happy with any of the options he‘s considering for Afghanistan, and his top diplomat in Kabul, the former commander militarily over there, says a big troop increase would only prop up a corrupt government.  Boy, do we have a fight on our hands between the top experts over there.

The big question, what are we afraid of over in Afghanistan?  And what can we really do to prevent that fear from becoming real?  That‘s the question, not about troop levels.  It‘s about fear and what we can do to meet it and what can we do to stop the enemy from coming at us.  The latest from Afghanistan and NBC‘s Richard Engel, who‘s there and coming here.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  President Obama‘s still weighing what to do in Afghanistan.  The big questions, what are we afraid of over there, and what can we really do to prevent it?  NBC‘s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, joins us from Kabul.

Is there a fight going on between the U.S. ambassador over there and the secretary of state over whether we should increase the number of troops, Richard?

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  The embassy here isn‘t commenting on that.  We asked an embassy spokesman and he said that he would never comment on any kind of internal memos that are being passed between the ambassador and Washington.  All of these leaks are coming from Washington. 

So the reporting that we‘re hearing is that the ambassador here does not

favor sending a large ground contingency without any kind of guarantees

that the government of Hamid Karzai will tackle corruption.  But we‘re not

·         we‘re not hearing that from the ambassador himself.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get to that point.  It seems to me there‘s two questions, what we‘re afraid of, we‘re all afraid of, the Taliban bringing back al Qaeda.  But let‘s get to the practicality question.  The current commander-in-chief over there, McChrystal, thinks it is useful to put 40,000 more troops in there because he thinks somehow, we can work together with that government.  The past commander over there, the current ambassador, the same person, he says that—he says it doesn‘t make sense because the government‘s corrupt.  Explain the difference between the two views.

ENGEL:  There‘s really two very different views.  One is the idea of using the government as a partner and employing a strategy that was used in Iraq in that you try and have a ground-up approach, hearts and minds, work with Afghan villagers, community development, and encourage the government to try and work with U.S. forces and fight against the Taliban, the surge strategy that everyone saw in Iraq.  That‘s more what General McChrystal is favoring.

If you don‘t believe, and as the ambassador doesn‘t apparently believe, that the—the Afghan government is a credible partner, then sending more troops to try and build these partnerships is effectively pointless—pointless.  So, you can‘t have nation-building unless you have a credible partner. 

So, a lot of this weighs, a lot of this depends on how credible you—you believe the Afghan government is. 

MATTHEWS:  To the American people and to mothers and fathers and loved ones of soldiers going over there, there‘s a hell of a difference between these two assessments. 

The one says the risk of life, the loss of life, the service of country to the ultimate over there makes sense, because we‘re working with a credible government that could build towards defending itself.  The other argument is, we‘re throwing good lives away. 

We‘re basically saying, we‘re sending soldiers to their death, risking their death in some cases, or perhaps losing their lives, simply to prop up a rotten government that‘s never going to be able to serve those people over there and defend itself. 

That‘s a fundamental difference, isn‘t it? 

ENGEL:  It certainly is. 

I spoke with one analyst here in—an Afghan, who told it even more pointedly.  He said, why should American soldiers die, he told me, so that the president of Afghanistan‘s brother can continue to be staying—stay involved in the drug business? 

So, there are very strong opinions on this, but there is also a very harsh reality on the ground.  I just returned from Southern Afghanistan, and I was given a brief by a British military commander.  He rolled out a map in front of—in front of the two of us, and, on this map, it showed all of the different NATO, British, American outposts in the area.  There were about 20 little...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ENGEL:  ... little compounds where U.S. forces are present. 

And he said, in these areas, NATO forces have some sort of control.  Everywhere else—and that was the vast majority of territory—is controlled by the Taliban. 

So, even if you don‘t have confidence in this government, when you talk to commanders on the ground, they are very concerned that, the Taliban has gained so much territory, that it is a dominant force. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Richard.  Take care of yourself, sir.  Thank you, Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News over there in Kabul. 

U.S. Congressman Jim Moran is a Virginia Democrat. 

Congressman Moran, this is the great problem.  Both could be true, that al Qaeda is a threat to the United States, that return of the Taliban could bring back al Qaeda, and we have a corrupt partner over there in that government.  Both could be true. 

REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA:  Sure.

But we have to make a decision.  And the right decision is to start withdrawing our troops, for several reasons.  One, the al Qaeda present in Afghanistan is less than several dozen.  The Pashtun insurgency is not an anti-American insurgency, unless we make it one.  By staying there, we are hardening their opposition to the U.S.  But it‘s basically a Pashtun insurgency. 

I don‘t need to get into that right now, but that‘s the first reasons.  Our staying there is actually strengthening our opposition, because we‘re occupying a—a foreign country.  And, in fact, if we followed his advice, McChrystal‘s advice, we would be up to 100,000 troops.  That‘s how many Russia had.  Russia killed a million Afghans and they still lost the war and lost their empire.  That‘s one of the contributing factors. 

But, secondly, we can‘t win a war that is based upon generating support for a government that is not deserving of the loyalty of its people. 

And, thirdly, we don‘t have the political will or the financial resources, Chris.  If we go for a counterinsurgency strategy, that‘s nation-building.  It‘s going to take 20 years, and it‘s going to take a trillion dollars.  We don‘t have the people.  We don‘t have the—the financial capacity to wage that, and we don‘t have the international support. 

NATO is going to start withdrawing.  We‘re there by ourselves. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go back to my...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, that all makes sense. 

MORAN:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  We have a corrupt government. 

MORAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Most people see it that way.  The brother of the president is a drug dealer, right?

MORAN:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  He may be on our payroll as well.  We don‘t know all this stuff.

MORAN:  He is on our payroll.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And we have a real problem over there in terms of what we Americans are willing to contribute for 20 years. 

MORAN:  Yes.          

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to my first question.

MORAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t we still smart to be afraid of al Qaeda and—and Taliban bringing back al Qaeda? 

MORAN:  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that—well, what do we do about that? 

MORAN:  Sure.  But al Qaeda isn‘t there.  Al Qaeda is in Pakistan.

MATTHEWS:  What happens if they come back?  What happens if they come back? 

MORAN:  And, in fact, there are more al Qaeda in France and Germany.

MORAN:  Al Qaeda‘s in 30 countries. 

MATTHEWS:  So, are you afraid of al Qaeda coming back to Afghanistan? 

MORAN:  They may very well. 

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t you afraid of that?

MORAN:  But there are other countries—there are other countries that have a more vested interest, Pakistan, for one. 

Iran...

MORAN:  Iran has to deal with...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  A year from now, we pull out of that country, American troops leave, the Kabul government falls, Taliban takes over again, al Qaeda is back in control of the situation, is that dangerous to you? 

MORAN:  Of course it is.  It‘s a real threat.  But it‘s a greater threat to neighbors than it is to us.  It‘s a great threat to Pakistan, and Pakistan is the one that can deal with it. 

We could have gotten rid of Osama bin Laden, but we—during the Bush administration, notified the head of the ISI, the intelligence agency in Pakistan.

MORAN:  He notified bin Laden.

(CROSSTALK)

MORAN: “Get out of there.”

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s your problem, Congressman.

MORAN:  We need Pakistan‘s support if we‘re going to get rid of al Qaeda. 

MATTHEWS:  You—you supported President Obama for president. 

MORAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  He disagrees with you, apparently.

MORAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Doesn‘t he?  Doesn‘t he look like he‘s headed towards 40,000 more troops? 

MORAN:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know what he does or not.

But the best thing we can do is to give him our best advice.  He needs to get out of this war before we owns this war.  We could have won in 2002, but the Bush administration was distracted by Iraq.  And now the Taliban are much stronger.  It‘s not the country it was in 2002.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, you‘re saying here for the first time get out; don‘t give them the 40,000, or take everybody out? 

MORAN:  I think we have got to—we withdraw our troops to the safe cities.  We develop the leadership that‘s in those cities.

MATTHEWS:  But no more troops? 

MORAN:  No more troops, and, in fact, we start gradually withdrawing troops. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re making news here.

Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia, thank you for coming on. 

And here‘s something from the White House‘s own Web site.  This is much more upbeat, I must tell you.  President Obama invited wounded warriors from the White House to the outdoor basketball court on Monday.  That‘s right outside the White House in the back.  These troops have given a hell of a lot for our country. 

But look at them go.  Look at these guys without legs, but they‘re playing basketball with the president, who is a hell of a B-ball player himself. 

We honored our veterans, of course, of past wars this past week.  And here we are in two wars fighting.  And look at these guys still out there, still as gung-ho as when they signed up for their country. 

Great stuff.  Anyway, we do have to show the upbeat, even as we fight over policy here.

Thank you very much, Jim Moran, congressman from Virginia. 

We are going to be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(LAUGHTER)

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

Last night, we showed you Jon Stewart taking Sean Hannity to task.  Hannity‘s show used video from Glenn Beck‘s rally back in September to talk about Michele Bachmann‘s Super Bowl of Freedom just last week.  So, he showed big crowds to make it look like big crowds last week. 

Well, I told you to stay tuned.  Here‘s Sean Hannity‘s explanation last night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HANNITY”)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”:  Although it pains me to stay this, Jon Stewart, Comedy Central, he was right.  Now, on his program last night, he mentioned that we had played some incorrect video on this program last week while talking about the Republican health care rally on Capitol Hill. 

He was correct.  We screwed up.  We aired some video of a rally in September, along with a video from the actual event.  It was an inadvertent mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. 

So, Mr. Stewart, you were right.  We apologize. 

But, by the way, I want to thank you and all of your writers for watching. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Couldn‘t resist that last part, but good work, Sean. 

Next up:  America‘s most favorite secessionist governor is at it again.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who‘s facing a primary challenge from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and who stood with President Obama just last week at the Fort Hood memorial service—just 48 hours ago, actually—he had some choice words for the president today when he spoke to local Republican women in Midland County. 

Here he is. 

Actually, it was yesterday. 

Here he is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS:  This is an administration that I see punishing this state.  I say it‘s time for us to stand up.  I say it‘s time to make tea parties twice as big as what they were. 

This is an administration hell-bent on taking America towards a socialist country.  I am not bashful to get up and say, I believe in the 10th Amendment. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of clothing style of that guy, the French cuffs, the cuff flashing?  A little too fancy for me.  I thought it would be too fancy for Texas.  Anyway, I think the question of who‘s punishing Texas will get decided in next year‘s Republican primary. 

Finally tonight, it‘s time for the HARDBALL “Big Number.” 

President Obama leaves tonight for a nine-day trip to Asia.  He‘s already made seven foreign trips in his first year of this presidency.  And with the next four countries he will visit on this trip, China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, he will run up the score on what is already his first-year record for the most foreign countries visited by any president in history. 

How many?  Twenty countries.  And that‘s tonight‘s HARDBALL “Big Number”: 20 countries visited by President Obama in just his first year.  It‘s a presidential record.  And that‘s tonight‘s HARDBALL “Big Number.” 

Anyway, coming back, up next:  More evidence is coming out that

officials across the country were tracking Nidal Hasan, the suspected Fort

·         in fact, the indicted Fort Hood shooter.  But why didn‘t anybody do anything to connect those dots?  What‘s the good of digging up info on somebody, and not doing anything with it?  That‘s our question when we come back.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ORIEL MORRISON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Oriel Morrison with rMD-BO_your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks tumbling today, as the stronger dollar offset another drop in jobless claims, the Dow Jones industrials falling almost 94 points, the S&P 500 sliding 11, and the Nasdaq lost almost 18. 

The dollar battling back today, after hitting a five-month low on Wednesday—commodities like gold and oil falling as a result. 

The number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment falling last week to its lowest level since January, but analysts still not expecting unemployment to peak until the middle of next year.

Shares in chipmaker AMD skyrocketing 22 percent today, after Intel agreed to pay $1.25 billion to settle a long-running patent brawl. 

Wal-Mart shares finishing slighter higher, after posting a better-than-expected quarterly profit, but giving a guarded forecast for the rest of year. 

And Disney shares moving higher in after-hours trading after beating Wall Street estimates on earnings and revenue. 

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

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL. 

Suspected Fort Hood shooter—in fact, indicted Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan—he was indicted today on 13 charges of premeditated murder—he could face the death penalty in a military tribunal.  President Obama ordered a review of all intelligence gathered on Hasan and whether it was properly shared and acted on, which seems to me a very open question right now. 

So, why was this failure there to connect the dots?  We have got the dots.  Nobody connected them. 

National Public Radio‘s Daniel Zwerdling reported that top officials and psychiatrists at Walter Reed held a series of meetings over the past year-and-a-half about this man Hasan‘s personal behavior, and wondered whether he could pose a danger if deployed into Iraq or Afghanistan.  And Bobby Ghosh is senior editor of intelligence and terrorism reporting for “TIME” magazine. 

Bobby, thank you.  I want to get to you in one minute. 

Congratulations, Danny, because you gave us new information here. 

DANIEL ZWERDLING, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me what you were able to report about the way in which people could observe this—this figure in the United States military before what happened. 

ZWERDLING:  Picture this.

A year-and-a-half ago, a bunch of the supervisors of Nidal Hasan‘s in the military at Walter Reed and at the military university where he was on a fellowship actually started having meetings in meeting rooms, in the hallway, and they started wondering, could Nidal Hasan actually be psychotic? 

One of his supervisors...

MATTHEWS:  What does psychotic mean? 

ZWERDLING:  Good question. 

Psychotic is sort of a broad term that people throw around, but it basically means detached from reality.  And...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It means no sympathy for anybody you might kill, among other things? 

ZWERDLING:  Well, I think that‘s a little too harsh, but it means...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, how—where are you on this? 

(CROSSTALK)

ZWERDLING:  ... people who are—people who are loners, who are—sort of have disoriented thinking, people who...

MATTHEWS:  Like “Taxi Driver”?

ZWERDLING:  Yes. 

(LAUGHTER)

ZWERDLING:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Right.  

ZWERDLING:  But I‘m not a psychiatrist.  But...

MATTHEWS:  But you saw the movie, “Taxi Driver,” Paul Schrader‘s movie, Bobby De Niro, right? 

ZWERDLING:  Yes. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the kind of guy, loner, dangerous. 

ZWERDLING:  A guy who‘s been—a guy who‘s mentally unbalanced and who gives us pause. 

One of his supervisors actually started musing to colleagues, I wonder if Hasan is the kind of guy who might leak secrets to Islamic radicals?

And another supervisor, according to my sources, started musing aloud to colleagues, I wonder if he‘s the kind of guy who might commit fratricide? 

In other words, remember the American sergeant who was in Kuwait who set off grenades in tents...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ZWERDLING:  ... killed two people and injured 14?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s the bottom line.  You got all these dots.  Nobody drew the lines connecting the dots and said, don‘t send this guy to Afghanistan; he may go haywire. 

At least that.  At least don‘t send him overseas.

ZWERDLING:  What they did do instead was they said—in the Spring of this year—we‘re just talking about a few months ago.  They said where can we send Nidal Hasan where he will do the least potential damage?  And the answer was Ft. Hood, Texas. 

Why?  Because Ft. Hood, Texas has more mental health specialists, more psychiatrists than probably most other Army bases.  So the thinking was, if we send him there, there‘s going to be enough psychiatrists that they will carry the weight, if he doesn‘t do his work.  Because his work record, which we can get into, is really poor. 

Number two, they thought these psychiatrists could support him, perhaps help them get better.  And monitor—

MATTHEWS:  OK, here‘s the question—last I want to get to Bobby.  Why didn‘t they say his fitness is not there; He‘s not fit to serve as a United States officer; we‘re not sending him anywhere?  Why didn‘t all this add up to this guy‘s dangerous?  He may be psychotic.  We‘re not going to deploy him anywhere.  We‘re going to take him under surveillance, or put him in to some sort of hospital and see what happens? 

ZWERDLING:  There were actually a whole bunch of factors that are sort of unrelated.  A few psychiatrists said to me, we were actually worried.  What is it going to look like if we weed out one of the few Muslim psychiatrists we have?  What happens when the Equal Employment Opportunity Office breathes down our necks.  And God forbid, the ACLU. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, but—

ZWERDLING:  Let me just—some people had very well-meaning intentions, which was they were teachers and they wanted to help Nidal Hasan try to focus his energies and try to improve.  They took their job as teachers -- 

MATTHEWS:  You know what this sounds like?  Every defense of those priests in the Catholic church over the years that had problems.  It sounds like that.  Transfer them around, try to educate them when you have a real problem.  Let‘s go to Bobby Ghosh right now.  Bobby, this thing has gotten really serious.  Your thoughts on what have you to report here? 

BOBBY GHOSH, “TIME MAGAZINE”:  I‘m interested to know why the doctors at Walter Reed, at the university, didn‘t put this thing—their concerns on Hasan‘s personnel records?  Because when the FBI tracked Hasan writing those e-mails to the radical cleric in Yemen, somebody at the Joint Terrorism Task Force looked at his personnel records.  If these concerns were in those records, somebody would have set off some red flags and something would have happened. 

But it sounds to me like they didn‘t make it to the records.  These were concerns that the doctors had, but they kept them to themselves.  And that‘s one of the many places along this sort of long chain, long unfortunate chain, where connections were not made. 

MATTHEWS:  It seems like these psychiatrists, in answering your questions, Dan, were using as their foil, we didn‘t want to be discriminatory.  When in fact the evidence that they had pulled together on this guy had nothing to do with profiling him or his background.  It was his personality that they were observing.  It wasn‘t where he comes from or what his religion is or who his parents were. 

So it seems to me, Bobby, that all of the evidence they had on him was personal.  It wasn‘t ethnic.  It wasn‘t in any way prejudicial.  And yet they were afraid to operate on it.  That‘s scary that they are so hamstrung that way. 

GHOSH:  That‘s true.  But it would—if this happened, I would expect it to turn up in people‘s personnel records.  Here‘s another consideration, though: if they were trying to help him, why didn‘t they take him by his hand?  Why didn‘t they pull him in and say, listen, you‘re—you‘re not all right.  We think you need some help.  We think you need medication.  You need counseling.  There doesn‘t seem to be any record that they did that. 

Instead, they were sending him to Ft. Hood thinking somebody else would take care of the problem?  It sounds to me like they were passing the buck a little bit. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go back to Dan. 

ZWERDLING:  Well, Bobby makes some really good points.  Some people did try to help him.  The teachers at the medical university -- 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s here‘s in Bethesda? 

ZWERDLING:  Yes, right next to the Bethesda Naval Medical Center.  They really tried to work carefully with him.  They counseled him.  I don‘t mean therapy counseling.  But they tried to help him understand, here‘s how you should think logically. 

MATTHEWS:  Please come back with more reporting whenever you get it, Daniel.  Thank you, Daniel Zwerdling.  Congratulations, you have added to understanding here.  Bobby Ghosh, as always, thank you, sir. 

Right now, it‘s time.  Let‘s listen to President Obama.  He‘s up in Alaska speaking right now to the troops at Elmendorf Air Force Base. 

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  -- sons and daughters, brother and sisters.  We grieve with families who have endured unimaginable loss.  We found inspiration in the wounded, their spirits unbowed, and in those who braved the bullets so that others might live. 

Yesterday, we gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to salute proud veterans who served on foreign fields long ago, and wounded warriors from today.  And as citizens of a grateful nation, we are humbled by such service. 

Today, we gather here at Elmendorf, and we see the same spirit.  It‘s the same spirit that I saw in the outstanding airmen and soldiers I met with a few moments ago.  It‘s the spirit I see in all of you.  It‘s your sense of service, answering your country‘s call, volunteering in a time of war, knowing that you could be sent into harm‘s way. 

That‘s a sense of responsibility on your part, the belief that the blessings we cherish as Americans are not gifts that we take for granted; they are freedoms that are earned.  And it‘s your sense of unity, coming from every corner of the country, from every color, and every creed, and every faith, and every station, to take care of each other, and to serve together, and to succeed together as Americans. 

So I‘m here to say—

MATTHEWS:  That‘s President Obama up in Alaska, speaking live to the troops up there today on his way to Asia. 

Up next, he‘s back.  Former president George W. Bush—that‘s W himself—made his first speech open to the media today.  He‘s launching a new policy institute at SMU in his name, aimed at extending principles and work that were accomplished during the Bush administration.  What might those be?  We don‘t want to be too sarcastic.  He looked good today, looked healthy. 

We‘re coming back with the president, the former president.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Jen is a teacher.  As you may have heard, she‘s also a correspondent for “The Today Show.”  Thus continuing the Bush family tradition of warm relations with the press.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  That was former President George W. Bush speaking today at SMU, Southern Methodist, a great school, by the way, where his presidential library, the Bush Institute, will be housed.  It was his first open event, open to the press, since leaving the presidency. 

Now it‘s time for the politics fix.  Joining me now is “Salon‘s” Joan Walsh and the “National Review‘s” Deroy Murdock. 

Deroy, just to rip the scab off the usual fights around here; I‘ve always said that George Bush speaks English as if it was his second language, and that Al Gore speaks it as if it were our second language.  I think people like Bush more on that first outing for that reason.

Your thoughts?  There he is again, not clearly at ease with the language, but looking healthy.  And why is he being so charming and nice compared to his VP, who does come off as Darth Vader these days, more so than usual?

DEROY MURDOCK, “THE NATIONAL REVIEW”:  Maybe it‘s a good cop/bad cop routine, something like this.  The former president looks tanned and rested.  Good for him, as far as that goes.  I do think, though, that his presidential library is going to be a museum of cautionary tales, and perhaps something very instructive for future Republican nominees and Republican presidents as to how not to govern as president. 

I give him a lot of credit for the fact that we‘ve not been attacked since 9/11 and tax cuts, and liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan, at least the efforts in that direction.  But as far as the spending, new programs, expansion of government, a spending curb that out-paced that of Lyndon B.  Johnson, I think this museum will really be an example of what not to do if you‘re a Republican president. 

MATTHEWS:  So you think there will be a rising debt room somewhere in that library, where it just shows the debt doubling during his presidency? 

(CROSS TALK)  

MATTHEWS:  Deroy, with all respect, if you think he deserves credit for us not getting hit since 9/11, logically, you have to give him credit for us getting hit on 9/11.  That was also on his watch.  He got a full warning.  He got a warning—he got a full warning, al Qaeda to attack within the United States, a month before it happened. 

MURDOCK:  We didn‘t know exactly what, when, unfortunately.

MATTHEWS:  Well, al Qaeda attacked within the United States. 

Joan Walsh, what do you make of the return of kid?  He looks healthy.  He‘s back.  He looks—like all ex-presidents, they regain four to eight years immediately on leaving the office, it seems.  I remember Eisenhower as a kid looking like he was going to live 20 more years after her got out of the White House. 

JOAN WALSH, “SALON”:  He looks better.  He sounds the same.  I have to disagree with Deroy.  It would have been nice to hear more Republican voices about the huge deficit when he was president.  And also—but the sea of red ink was created by the tax cuts that Republicans championed and two wars that we really couldn‘t afford. 

That‘s a whole other story.  Let‘s be nice.  Let‘s be nice today.  He did one thing—

(CROSS TALK)

WALSH:  Let‘s be nice.  Let‘s talk about one thing he‘s doing well.  That is handling his post-presidency better than Dick Cheney‘s handling his post-vice presidency.  This is a president who is doing what presidents do.  It‘s very traditional to stay quiet and be respectful.  And that‘s what he is doing. 

MATTHEWS:  For the defense, Deroy—you‘re on the conservative side of things, I believe it‘s fair to say.  Do you think the next Republican nominee for president will be more like Cheney or more like Bush? 

MURDOCK:  Well, I think there‘s one thing I respected and admired about Vice President Cheney since he‘s been ex-vice president.  And that‘s that he‘s been defending the former administration on the war on terror, on Guantanamo, and things like this.  I wish he, and more so his boss, had been more forthcoming and more outspoken about defending themselves, explaining what they are doing.  A big part of the frustration of those of us on the right in the Republican party is that, for some many—for so much of the eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration, they didn‘t really explain what was going on.  They didn‘t communicate.  It wasn‘t clear what they were doing in so many areas. 

WALSH:  Because they were dissembling.  They were trying to cover it up. 

(CROSS TALK)

MURDOCK:  And that was a very frustrating thing. 

MATTHEWS:  Guess what, Deroy?  We got the point.  We know what they were doing. 

We‘ll be right back with Joan Walsh and Deroy Murdock for the politics fix, to talk about a much troubling issue, Afghanistan, what do we do know, with the two top experts over there 180 from each other about whether to increase the number of troops.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with “Salon‘s” Joan—we‘re back with “Salon‘s” Joan Walsh and the “National Review‘s” Deroy Murdock.  A huge question developed today.  First of all, Joan, what do we make of the big dispute right now between the current US ambassador to Afghanistan, who says no more troops; we‘re just supporting a rotten government over there, and the commanding general over there, McChrystal, who says we need 40,000 more.  This is a big fight. 

WALSH:  It is.  It‘s a huge development, Chris.  It really explains why Obama is taking a while to make this decision.  We talked about former Vice President Cheney accusing him of dithering.  He‘s not dithering by going to Dover and looking at the coffins.  He‘s not dithering by going to Arlington and talking to the families of the dead on Veterans‘ Day.  And he‘s not dithering by listening to his ambassador. 

He‘s getting a lot of conflicting opinions.  Facts on the ground have changed enormously since he took office.  We have evidence that Karzai is too corrupt to really lead a coalition unity government.  I don‘t know what he should do.  But I agree with Jim Moran.  It‘s time to start bringing folks home, not sending more. 

MATTHEWS:  Deroy, what do we make of Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador over there, and the former military commander, saying no more troops; we got a rotten government?

MURDOCK:  I think whatever President Obama does, I would feel a lot more comfortable if these decisions were being made a little bit more quietly and less in public.

MATTHEWS:  Who is leaking? 

MURDOCK:  Pardon me?

MATTHEWS:  Who is leaking?  Somebody is leaking like the Titanic. 

MURDOCK:  There‘s a lot of leaking going on.  I think it‘s fine for

him to contemplate this and think carefully about what we do next.  But

there just seems to be a lot of public hand wringing.  This sort of looks

like indecision and a lack of clarity.  That‘s unfortunate.  I don‘t

begrudge him taking some time to decide what the right thing to do is, but

it should be done more behind closed doors, and less a big public kind of -

·         almost a public psycho-analysis exercise.   

MATTHEWS:  The danger, Joan, is he begins to look like Adlai Stevenson, a guy who really can‘t make up his mind.  But you point out there are new factors developing every day.  Maybe you‘re right.

Thank you, Joan Walsh.  Thank you, Deroy Murdock.  Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Right now it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz. 

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

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