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updated 12/21/2009 11:25:32 AM ET 2009-12-21T16:25:32

Guests: Brian Shactman, Pat Buchanan, Charlie Cook, Lynn Sweet, Josh Gerstein, Ron Brownstein, Bob Shrum, Bob Menendez, John Barrasso

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Ted Kennedy‘s gone.  Have you noticed?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

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

Missing Teddy.  One thing‘s become sadly obvious in the U.S. Senate these days.  It‘s the absence of a passionate, clear voice that speaks loudly and clearly on the need for a national health care plan.  Is the Senate missing its late, great lion?  What would Senator Ted Kennedy have done to get the Democrats to fall in line and bring a Republican or two aboard?

Instead, the big noises you hear are the voices of trouble—Joe Lieberman—Joe the bummer, if you want health care—John McCain, Joe the bummer‘s best buddy these days, another outlying enemy of health care.

Plus, let‘s talk politics.  Forty Democratic House seats look competitive next year.  That means they could go the other way.  So what does President Obama need to do in 2010 to make sure the jobs crisis and the toxic political climate out there doesn‘t cost his party in a big way, just like it did back in ‘94?

And could President Obama have scored a win in Copenhagen?  It looks like he did late today.  He signed onto a climate control agreement, along with China, who up until now had been the great wall against such an agreement.  What‘s this mean for President Obama?

Also, John McCain just couldn‘t let go of Al Franken shutting up Joe Lieberman yesterday.  What‘s got his goat?  That‘s in the “Politics Fix” tonight.

And finally, the left has found a way to sock it to Joe Lieberman, literally, with sock puppets.  That‘s in the HARDBALL “Sideshow” tonight.

Let‘s start with the health care debate.  Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Senator John Barrasso‘s a Wyoming Republican.

Gentlemen, I want to listen to something from the old days.  This isn‘t a million years ago, this is two years ago, Ted Kennedy debating the children‘s health care bill.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Your taxpayers‘ money is paying for 72 percent of our health care coverage costs!  Do we understand that?  Now, for those that are saying, Well, I‘m not going to support this because it costs too much, I‘m not going to support this because it may be 300 percent of poverty—we get paid $160,000.  We are well above the 200, the 300, the 400 percent of poverty level.  And yet we‘re going to have members on the floor of the Senate this afternoon who are going to turn thumbs down to American families that are watching the debate and discussion, and knowing that our premiums, our health insurance, is being paid for by the American taxpayers.

I wonder how people do that, myself.  I wonder how they do it.  You‘d think if they‘re so offended about federal government spending, or a federal government program, that they wouldn‘t use it themselves.  But no, they do.  They‘ll take it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Senator Menendez, you know, when you watch this debate on television, as we do every night, it‘s very hard to keep track of the main passions here, the main reasons why Democrats disagree with Republicans.  Democrats want a national health program with government involvement.  Republicans are averse to any major government involvement.  You don‘t hear Ted Kennedy‘s voice, you hear a lot of Mickey Mouse between Lieberman and McCain and the outliers who are just causing trouble here.  Where are the passions going to be heard from so we know why we want this bill again, Senator Menendez?

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY:  Well, first of all, Ted Kennedy was not only passionate but a lion in the Senate and a conscience of the Senate.  And so we certainly miss his voice in this debate.  But there‘s a lot of—there‘s a lot of passion going on in our caucus in support of the reform because we know what it is to bring millions of people who have health insurance and make that health insurance stop double-digit premium increases.  We know what it is to bring millions of people who go to sleep every night worried that they have no health insurance and now will have health insurance.  We understand what it means to change from a system that‘s based on disease to a system that‘s preventive, that we can get to people earlier and improve the quality of their lives and ultimately save money, as well.

So that‘s why we‘re in this struggle, and we‘d only wish our Republican colleagues would join us in that passion, as well.

MATTHEWS:  Dr. Barrasso, Senator Barrasso, what do you make of this debate?  Has this been a philosophical debate or has this been Mickey Mouse, with people like Lieberman causing all the trouble and just basically screwing up the works?  That‘s what it sounds like to the person watching this, Lieberman waiting until the last second to say, Oh, no, I‘m going to do that.  I may have said that two, three months ago about a Medicare buy-in, but I‘ve changed my mind.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO ®, WYOMING:  To the people who are watching this and who‘ve taken part in the NBC poll, they are furious.  Only 32 percent, less than one in three Americans, support what the Democrats are trying to cram through before Christmas.  The American people said, Wait a second, you‘re going to cut $500 billion from Medicare, raise taxes by $50 billion and cause my health insurance premiums to go up?  And for what purpose?  To put more people on Medicaid and unfunded mandates to the states, where it‘s like giving people a bus ticket when a bus never comes?  It‘s very hard for people on Medicaid to get to see doctors in this country.

So you look at this whole plan, this is Rahm Emanuel, do it in secrecy and do it with speed, and it‘s not what the American people want.  And certainly, on a bill that none of us have seen—you‘ve worked on the Hill, Chris.  You know what it is.  People here, at least the Republicans, are interested in reading the bill before we vote on it.  Maybe the Democrats don‘t care about knowing what‘s in the bill that has changed up and down, in and out.  I want to know what‘s in the bill, and so do the American people, because even Dick Durbin said he doesn‘t know what‘s in the final version of the bill.

MATTHEWS:  You know...

MENENDEZ:  This bill‘s been...

MATTHEWS:  ... I‘ve watched...

MENENDEZ:  You know, this bill‘s been out there for weeks.  We have been debating it on the floor of the House—of the United States Senate for weeks.  We have been debating it in committee, both in the Health Committee and the Finance Committee, for weeks before that.  Overwhelmingly, people know what‘s in this bill.  And you know, with all due respect to my colleague, I think he must be looking at a different piece of legislation than I do.

BARRASSO:  I‘m just looking at Dick Durbin...

(CROSSTALK)

MENENDEZ:  I‘m looking at the reality that you all know what‘s in it because you keep talking about your version of it.  The reality is, is that what we have here is a bill that lowers costs, covers millions of people, and at the same time, does it in a way that reduces the debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and is fully paid for, not by the taxes that John keeps talking about and that other of our colleagues keep talking about, but primarily through industry-driven resources, as well as through savings that John McCain and others have talked about and heralded in their last presidential campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

BARRASSO:  ... the budget office says the price of the cost of care is going to go up, the quality is not going to improve.  People across America say, Hey, the quality I get right now is better if we don‘t change anything.  And they all believe, and I think rightfully so, that what they‘re personally going to have to pay in taxes and in insurance premiums is going to be higher now than—if this bill passes than it would be if we did nothing, Chris.

MENENDEZ:  The rates will continue to rise, double-digit premium growth.  If we do nothing, it will double in eight years.  That‘s unsustainable for businesses, unsustainable for families who have to pay for it, unsustainable for the federal government in terms of its debt.  And certainly, for millions of Americans...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

MENENDEZ:  ... who go to sleep every night and don‘t have anything, this has got to be a hell of a lot better than what they have right now.

BARRASSO:  And this is a job killer...

MATTHEWS:  Senator Barrasso...

BARRASSO:  ... that‘s going to kill 1.6 million jobs in America over the next four years if this goes through, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Senator Barrasso, the Republicans are very good at playing defense, and they wait for the Democrats to come out with a health care bill every once in a while.  But it seems like they‘re the party that really tries to insure the country, the whole country, really trying to go for universal coverage.  Since Roosevelt, the Democrats have wanted something where all Americans would have a chance to be covered for health insurance and not have to end up in the emergency room.

Your party‘s very good at finding mistakes on the Democratic side, but every time the Democrats don‘t come up with a plan, you don‘t either.

BARRASSO:  I told you what we need to do...

MATTHEWS:  The Republicans never have a plan for universal college, have you?  Have you ever come out...

BARRASSO:  The last time...

(CROSSTALK)

BARRASSO:  ... we need health care reform.  I told you last time I was on...

MATTHEWS:  When are you going to come out with a proposal?

BARRASSO:  ... we need 12 million people who can get insurance if they can just buy across state lines.

MATTHEWS:  All right.  OK.

BARRASSO:  Why are they preventing that?  They would buy insurance today, 12 million more Americans would be covered, if we just allowed them to buy insurance across state lines.  Can‘t do it.

MATTHEWS:  You know, you don‘t have a plan for universal coverage, do you?

BARRASSO:  Not for universal coverage.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARRASSO:  But we have plans to help keep the cost of control under—for health care—and that was how this all started.  That‘s what the president said.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARRASSO:  We need to get the costs...

MATTHEWS:  OK, well the American people...

BARRASSO:  ... under control.  This bill explodes...

MATTHEWS:  ... want universal coverage.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Gentlemen, I‘m sorry to keep this going too fast here, but you‘re both pretty clear in what you‘re saying.  But let‘s look at the exchange on the Senate floor yesterday between Senator Lieberman of Connecticut and Senator Franken, who was in the chair.  He‘s from Minnesota.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT:  ... will provide an opportunity for broad savings in health care and health insurance for pretty much everybody in our country...

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA:  Senator?  The senator has spoken for

I‘m sorry.  The senator has spoken for 10 minutes.

LIEBERMAN:  I wonder if I could ask unanimous consent for just an additional moment.

FRANKEN:  In my capacity as senator from Minnesota, I object.

LIEBERMAN:  Really?  Oh, OK.  I don‘t take it personally.

FRANKEN:  Good.

LIEBERMAN:  I will ask—I will ask unanimous consent that the remainder of my remarks be included in the record as if read.

FRANKEN:  Without objection.

LIEBERMAN:  I thank the chair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, one senator did take that personally.  Here‘s John McCain, the senator from Arizona, reacting to what we just saw today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I‘ve been around here for more than 20 years.  Yesterday, on the floor of the Senate, the senator from Connecticut was finishing up his remarks, and as we always do, ever since I‘ve been here, as we always do, he said, I‘d like an extra minute to finish my remarks.  And it was objected to by the newest member of the United States Senate in the most brusque way.  That‘s how the comedy in this body has deteriorated.  We‘ve got to stop—we‘ve got to stop this kind of behavior.  I‘ve never seen anything like that.  And I hope that I don‘t see it again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Senator Barrasso, what do you make of what we saw there?

BARRASSO:  Well, I‘ve only been here for two years, but last night, when we came back in at midnight, Senator Franken was in the chair and he introduced me as the guest chaplain to give the prayer.  So hopefully, we can have some bipartisanship here.

MATTHEWS:  Well, really?

BARRASSO:  I want to work with others.  I want to work to find solutions for health care.  But this bill that we‘re—are still waiting to see doesn‘t do it.  I worked in the Wyoming state Senate, where we worked together and came to solutions.  If you‘re going to change one sixth of the economy of this country, Chris, and you‘re going to affect every American personally, which is what health care does, you need a program that is bipartisan and supported by many, many members.  That‘s the way you get a program to succeed in a way to also help keep costs under control.  And this is not the way to do it.  It‘s a lot easier to get 60 percent of 100 votes...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

BARRASSO:  ... than have to be forced into...

MATTHEWS:  Let me...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Senator Menendez, what‘s going on here with McCain, with John McCain?

MENENDEZ:  Oh, well, first of all, as it relates to that—well, with John McCain, I don‘t know because I was on the floor the other day and he made comments impugning the purpose of why I was going to debate a certain amendment.  So I‘m not quite sure, when he talks about comedy, what we‘re talking about.

But the bottom line is, what‘s going on here—we are on the 98th filibuster of this year, a historical record.  That record was broken months ago.  And all that is, is to—the Republicans have made a decision that their road to electoral victory next year in 2010, and positioning themselves for 2012, is for this president and this Congress to fail.

Now, as a political tactic, one might look at it and say, Well, I understand it.  But the problem is, it‘s not about the president or Democrats in Congress failing, it‘s about the country failing.  And you can‘t talk about bipartisanship when even for the defense appropriation bill, which is to take care of the men and women in the field today in terms of their pay and their health care and the equipment that they need, we have to go through filibusters, including a 1:00 AM vote earlier this morning, a 7:00 AM vote tomorrow, simply because they want to slow the whole process as it relates to health care.

You don‘t hold our men and women hostage to health care debate when they, in fact, are in the field defending us.  And it‘s really not acceptable, but this is their political tactic.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARRASSO:  And I met with the men and women in the field in Kuwait on Thanksgiving Day, held a town hall meeting, and they said, I want to make sure there‘s a job available for me from our National Guard...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

BARRASSO:  ... when I get home.  Why aren‘t you focused on the economy and the debt and the spending?  Why aren‘t you focused on jobs instead of spending your time on a health care bill that we can wait on.  Focus today on the economy.  That‘s what the American people are concerned about.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Senator Barrasso...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... and Senator Menendez being honest in saying that you guys are using dilatory practices to slow down consideration of a final vote on health care?  Is your party leadership or is it not using dilatory practices to slow down this so that the Democrats can‘t reach the pre-Christmas deadline they‘ve set for themselves?

(CROSSTALK)

BARRASSO:  Why would you set an arbitrary deadline for something that‘s going to affect every person in the United States personally and one sixth of the economy?  Arbitrary deadlines are foolish.  What we need to do is get this right.  I want to see the bill.  The Republicans want to see the bill.  I‘m surprised the Democrats aren‘t asking to see the bill.  Evan Bayh said, Hey, they‘re asking me to vote something...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

BARRASSO:  ... I haven‘t seen it yet.  When are we—when are the people of America going to get to see what we‘re being asked to vote upon and then have a chance to visit with their elected representatives and give some input?

MENENDEZ:  This bill has been...

BARRASSO:  When is that going to—when‘s that going to happen?

MENENDEZ:  ... out on the Internet since the day it was presented...

(CROSSTALK)

MENENDEZ:  ... when, in fact, the amendment is offered to add onto the bill, that will be posted on the Internet.  Everybody will be able to read it.  The Senate will debate it and we will move forward.  But this is not about health insurance, for the Republicans.  This is not about covering millions who don‘t have health insurance.  This is not about bending the cost curve.  This is about protecting the special interests and it is also about having this president and this Congress...

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you...

MENENDEZ:  ... fail at any cost.

BARRASSO:  The 2,074-page bill bends the cost curve up.

MATTHEWS:  OK...

BARRASSO:  Costs are going to be up.

MATTHEWS:  OK...

BARRASSO:  It‘s going to be much more expensive, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  The Republicans—thank you, Senator Menendez, and thank you, Senator Barrasso.  I have to say the Republican senators are very good as critics, but you know, most Americans have been waiting since the days of Teddy Roosevelt for the Republican Party to come through with their own program for national health insurance, a comprehensive program to insure this country.  And we‘re still waiting.  The Democrats aren‘t perfect.  The Republicans aren‘t doing it.

Coming up: We‘ll be talking all week about the plunging poll numbers and overall bad climate out there politically facing the Democrats (INAUDIBLE) as you saw some of it right there, which is certainly going to have an impact in next year‘s mid-term elections.

When we return, two of the real pros, Charlie Cook, who knows all about elections, and Ron Brownstein, who knows all about politics, takes a look at what it will take for President Obama and the Democrats to keep control of the U.S. Congress.  They‘re having a hard time doing it right now.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We like to be the smartest show on politics out there, so let‘s prove it right now.  We‘re back.  We‘re talking about the 2010 election coming up next year, about nothing else.  Well, President Obama won‘t be on the ballot, but everybody else will be.  His party needs his help to keep their big majorities in the House of Representatives, where they‘re big-time, 41-seat majority, and in the Senate, where they have 60 seats—well, if you include Lieberman, which is a risky business right there.  How tough is it going to be for the Democrats to hold onto Congress?  What‘s the hope (ph) look like?

NBC News analyst Charlie Cook is editor and publisher of the great “Cook Political Report.”  And Ron Brownstein‘s political director for Atlantic Media.

Gentlemen, I want to take a look at this because this is Charlie‘s analysis.  You check him, Ron.  Here it is.  Look at the make-up now of the United States House of Representatives, 258 Democrats—a hearty, hearty majority there—only 177 Republicans.  And of those Democratic seats, Charlie, you say 40 are gettable, is one way to put it—they‘re competitive—gettable by Republicans.  They could—you could see them winning in almost every one of those seats.

CHARLIE COOK, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, “THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT”: 

Currently competitive.  And that doesn‘t count sort of the potentially competitive that is out there. 

Yes, right now, Democrats have 218, the barest possible majority, that‘s solidly or likely in their category.  But that likely column has been getting smaller, because we have seen this attrition through retirements or through guys—members that haven‘t had races in a long time suddenly developing tough challenges. 

So, we just upped our numbers to—we had been saying last month 15 to 25 seats for—for Republicans.  Now we‘re saying 20- to 30-seat likely gain for Republicans, based on what we know now.  That will change a million times.

BLITZER:  What would be the result if you follow the worst-case scenario, meaning next year the unemployment rate is still up around 10, health care has not been sold, it may have been passed, but it‘s not been sold, people aren‘t thrilled with it, Barack Obama‘s about where he is right now?  Could they lose as many as Bill Clinton lost in ‘94?  He could lose the House.

COOK:  I don‘t know if they could lose 52.  Could they lose 41?  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Lose the House? 

COOK:  Yes, because, I mean, 10 percent unemployment for one straight year going into an election, that‘s a political no man‘s land that we haven‘t seen since the Great Depression. 

MATTHEWS:  It really only has to hang up through the spring to have its impact, right?

COOK:  Right.  But the thing is, it‘s not likely.  It maybe gets to 9.9 percent. 

But here is the statistic.  The ISI Group, a very highly respected Wall Street economic consulting firm, they estimate that in the household employment survey, you would need 150,000 new jobs every month for 48 months to get unemployment down to 9 percent.  And 9 percent is horrible—

150,000 net jobs a month for 48 months.  So, we‘re talking through the midterm election.  We‘re talking into the presidential election.

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s a key factor? 

COOK:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you buy this?  The key factor is unemployment.  It‘s hard to get down from 10 percent. 

RON BROWNSTEIN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, ATLANTIC MEDIA:  Well, the question we don‘t know is, traditionally, unemployment has been the number that people look at. 

After we have lived through this enormous job loss, January, 700,000 jobs lost in a single month, Austan Goolsbee called it a recession in a month, perhaps people, they will get some credit from just sheer job growth rather than reduction in the unemployment.  If the job growth numbers turn positive, that may engender some optimism. 

Look, in terms of thinking about the House, one of the key numbers in all this to remember is that in the 12 years of Republican control, their high point was 235 seats.  For Democrats to be at 258 is really to be in an overexposed position, generated by the fact that Bush was so weak in the second half of his second term.  Democrats have won a lot of seats that are going to be very hard to hold on to, including 49 that McCain carried. 

Many of them are these predominantly white seats in which there is very little diversity. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

BROWNSTEIN:  But the question for Democrats really is, can they keep this from bad—can they keep this at bad from going to catastrophic?

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about ethnicity...

BROWNSTEIN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... because it has a big role in politics these days.  Look at this from your report in the new “National Journal” that‘s out.

In 1992, which is how many years ago?  Eight and eight.

BROWNSTEIN:  Sixteen.

MATTHEWS:  Sixteen years ago, just before Republicans took over the

House in ‘94, there were 245 House districts where minorities were less

than 20 percent of the population, and 109 districts where minorities were

more than 30 percent of the population

Well, in other words, there was a certain number of districts which were pretty much lily-white. 

BROWNSTEIN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... and a certain number which were heavily minority, without being majority minority. 

Well, today, it‘s flipped.  There‘s only about 145 out there with less than 20 percent minority.  There‘s only about 145 what you call white districts. 

BROWNSTEIN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And, on the other hand, there is up to 205 districts now which have a heavy 30 percent minority population, which is largely in these cases Hispanic, not black. 

(CROSSTALK)          

BROWNSTEIN:  Right.  And the majority are black and Asian, right. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you have a huge number of districts in the country, a huge number, that have a huge or very large minority of Hispanics.  And that‘s what‘s new. 

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN:  This is the slow-motion demographic change that is remaking America.  Think about it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, what does it do to the parties? 

BROWNSTEIN:  Well, it changes the dynamic significantly. 

First of all, almost half of all House seats today have at least 30 percent of the population is nonwhite.  This is not just a phenomenon of Phoenix, Dallas, and Miami anymore.  If you look at the maps in the story, it‘s spreading across the Sun Belt and up the East and West Coast. 

It is a kind of levy for Democrats in this sense.  Democrats now hold about 70 percent of the seats that are substantially diverse, at least 30 percent minority. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BROWNSTEIN:  Even in 1994, they only lost—at that point in 1994, they had 92 seats that were heavily diverse.  They only lost five of them.  Their losses were concentrated in the predominantly white seats.  They lost a third of the predominantly white seats that they held then.

MATTHEWS:  So, even though the country is still majority white, and it will be for a while...

BROWNSTEIN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... it‘s very hard to find a district that‘s lily-white politically, where there is not a significant number of minority voters you have to think about. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And there‘s a lot more districts where your minority is Hispanic and you have got to look at it.

This explains, just be political here for a second, why Sonia Sotomayor made perfect sense, a woman, a Latina, as Supreme Court justice, right? 

COOK:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And it really helps.  And it also really helps the Democrats that they‘re relatively seen as pro-legal immigration or even kinder to illegal immigration, right?

(CROSSTALK)

COOK:  And why Karl Rove, George W. Bush, John McCain were so right when they were telling the Republican Party, don‘t do this immigrant bashing stuff.  This is suicide for us.  If we‘re going to get killed with African-Americans, we can‘t get killed with Hispanic voters as well. 

MATTHEWS:  So, if your vote among African-Americans, and you‘re Republican, is 90/10 against you, you can‘t afford to have 90/10 against you among Hispanics, right?

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN:  Well, it‘s 2-1.  It‘s 2-1 among Hispanics.

Overall, Obama and the House Democrats in 2008, according to the exit polls, each of them won 80 percent of nonwhite votes.  Look, there are still a lot of Democrats—there are still 69 Democrats in these predominantly white districts.  In the last two cycles, they picked up 27 seats there again because of Bush‘s weakness.  A lot of those people are going to be looking for a new line of work after 2010.  The challenge for Democrats again is to hold it to those kind of places. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The flip side is that white older people vote heavily. 

They do it as duty.  They do it as habit.  They have grown up that way. 

They‘re good voters, if you will.

In the near term, next year, not three years from now, Charlie, next year, it still looks very good for Republicans for that reason, right?  Older white people vote. 

(CROSSTALK)

COOK:  And they used to vote Democratic, and they‘re not voting Democratic anymore. 

MATTHEWS:  The white people of a certain age have become Republicans. 

COOK:  Well, this change thing of Democrats ‘06, ‘08, that was threatening change. 

MATTHEWS:  They don‘t like it.

BROWNSTEIN:  Yes.  Look, one last number.  On average, in presidential elections since 1992, seniors have been 15 percent of the vote.  In the off-year, that goes all the way up to 19 percent.  That is a big change.

MATTHEWS:  You know what scares me? 

BROWNSTEIN:  It is a short-term fact.

MATTHEWS:  You almost don‘t have to vote when you show up at the voting booth now.  Just show up and they can tell you how you‘re going to vote.

BROWNSTEIN:  Yes.  They can tell you how you‘re going to vote.

MATTHEWS:  By age and ethnicity.

Anyway, thank you, Charlie Cook.

Thank you, Ron Brownstein. 

BROWNSTEIN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m not sure who this is good news for.

But, up next, Lieberman gets the wrath of the left in a sock puppet show.  Wait until you catch this.  It‘s pretty funny, actually.  It‘s next in the “Sideshow.”

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up:  New court documents charge that John Edwards is the father of his mistress‘ baby and that Rielle Hunter is seeking child support of $17,000 a month.  The story continues to beat the band as the worst news about a politician this year.  It will be very difficult for the former North Carolina senator to come back from the public knowledge that he had this affair and fathered this baby while his wife was so badly ill and that they both kept it from the public, all the while trying to win the Democratic nomination for president.  What a story that has been this year.

Next:  Best dressed?  “Gentleman‘s Quarterly” picks Washington‘s best and worst dressed.  On the good list, the best dressed list?  President Obama.  No surprise there.  “GQ” calls him the best dressed president since JFK.  Also up there, Roland Burris, which the magazine credits with a—I love this—a sharp eye for detail and a suave color sense.  Boy, they can write. 

On the flop side—flip side—I call it the flop side—Barney Frank, who‘s cited as a schlub, I guess because of his wrinkled shirts.  Anyway, also on the worst dressed, Michael Steele, who gets some grief for his stiff, high-cut suits.  I guess that means too many buttons up near the top.  I‘m not sure.  Anyway, there you have it.

Finally, sock it to me.  The progressives over at MoveOn.org have set their sights on the man of the hour, Mr. Joe Lieberman, senator from Connecticut.  Here‘s their send-up of the negotiations between the Democratic Caucus and the independent senator from Connecticut.  I‘m being polite. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Public option? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Public option? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Public option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I will filibuster. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Trigger? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How about a trigger? 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me think about that for a second.  Hmm. 

Filibuster. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Aww.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Aww.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  No public option, no trigger.  But how about that Medicare expansion you supported three months ago? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I—boy, I would rather see all health care reform die than cave to the demands of my constituents. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I think they got him, which brings us to tonight‘s “Big Number.”

MoveOn‘s latest money campaign specifically targets Lieberman‘s push to drop that Medicare buy-in, which he did support three months ago.  So, how much did MoveOn raise on that in just two days?  A million dollars.  The anti-Lieberman sentiment brings in a million dollars in just two days from MoveOn.org—tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Up next:  President Obama got a deal—or he gets a deal in Copenhagen just hours ago, a first step to combat climate change worldwide.  Can he get the world to come together on this one?  And what about the harder part, the Congress here at home, the U.S. Senate, on cap and trade?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIAN SHACTMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Brian Shactman with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks ending higher today boosted by the technology sector, the Dow Jones industrial average up 20 points on the day, but down about 20 for the week, the S&P 500 adding six points today, and the Nasdaq climbing 31 points, a gain of almost 1.5 percent.  Of course, the Nasdaq has a lot of technology stocks.  The Dow‘s modest gains powered by strong showings by Intel and Microsoft, two tech names.  Intel calling a federal antitrust lawsuit filed against the company—quote—“misguided.”

Software maker Oracle and Droid smartphone maker Motorola were hot stocks as well, Oracle posting better-than-expected earnings and is considered a good sign for the corporate spending going forward in the U.S.  economy.

On the Nasdaq, it was almost all about the BlackBerry.  Research In Motion stocks soaring more than 10 percent for the day, after beating on earnings. 

And Apple climbing 2 percent as well on an uptick in overseas sales of the iPhone.  But, unfortunately, Palm did not partake in the rally, one of the few tech seeing losses today, after posting weaker-than-expected earnings in an increasingly crowded and competitive smartphone market. 

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

When President Obama arrived in Copenhagen earlier today, climate talks were unraveling.  Now Obama and world leaders have a plan at least to move forward.  And China, which had been stalling on the issue of verification by outside inspectors, has apparently given in. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Today, we have made meaningful and unprecedented—made a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough here in Copenhagen. 

For the first time in history, all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, the Copenhagen accord brokered today between the United States and among China and India and South Africa and Brazil requires each of those countries to list the specific actions they will take to cut emissions by CO2 and by specific amounts.  It also calls for $30 billion through 2012 -- that‘s not too far off—for poor countries to help them prepare for global warming. 

Despite all this, today‘s agreements are not legally binding.  So, will they really make a difference?

Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst and Bob Shrum is a Democratic strategist. 

I‘m going to start with Bob for the offense here. 

Bob, is it really important, and why, that this president really make an effort at dealing with climate change, the manmade consequences that lead to the greenhouse gases, the danger to the planet, the warming of the planet, the danger of what may confront our children and grandchildren down the road? 

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, the danger is very real, and you even have conservatives like Angela Merkel in Germany who recognize that danger and don‘t deny the science. 

The president had to get out there and show the U.S. was committed.  But you know the biggest lesson of today in some ways is, on the big ones, don‘t bet against Barack Obama.  He was in trouble in the presidential campaign.  He came back.  Everybody said he was not going to get a stimulus package.  He came back and got that package. 

Earlier today, on this network, people were saying this whole thing has unraveled.  Nothing‘s going to happen. 

He got it.  And he‘s going to get his way on health care, too.  So, I think we have to understand that this is someone who has not only persuasion skills, but leadership skills, who‘s very calm, who proceeds ahead, and who got something very important done today. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this a smart direction for the United States, Pat Buchanan, to be a leader on dealing with manmade climate change, yes or no?  Or should we be out on this fight, like the president is right now? 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, I don‘t believe that—first, there has been a bit of climate change.  The hottest year we have had recently, I think, was ‘99, or ‘98, ‘97, somewhere around there.

It‘s held flat for about 10 years. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  The hottest decade in history, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  Would you hold up?  Would you hold up a minute here?

SHRUM:  But it‘s the hottest decade.  You keep citing facts that aren‘t facts. 

BUCHANAN:  Well...

SHRUM:  It‘s the hottest, warmest decade in history that we have just gone through. 

BUCHANAN:  And it‘s been like hell, hasn‘t it?

Look, this is just—you know what this whole thing is about? 

SHRUM:  Pat...

BUCHANAN:  This is a fraud and a scam and a hoax.  And the bottom line is that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Fraud?  What is a fraud? 

BUCHANAN:  A fraud is this whole idea that, OK, it is doing warming, that man does it, first and foremost. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you don‘t buy the science? 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t buy that man does it. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t buy CO2 emissions are mounting up there in the atmosphere? 

BUCHANAN:  They are mounting up, but I deny that these are responsible for global warming.  Quite frankly, an awful lot of scientists agree with me.  I deny that—

SHRUM:  There are no serious scientists that agree with you, Pat, none. 

BUCHANAN:  Let me give you one fact.  The Arctic, there‘s no doubt about it, the Polar Ice Cap is diminishing.  Antarctica is nine times as large.  Eastern Antarctica is four times as big as Western Antarctica.  It is growing by 100,000 square kilometers every decade, 3,000 square kilometers since 1979.  It‘s not even mentioned, because it would undercut the argument that—

MATTHEWS:  Is the ocean rising is not? 

BUCHANAN:  The ocean is not rising to any extent that bothers anybody but Bob and all those folks—

SHRUM:  But pat—

MATTHEWS:  Do you buy fire insurance? 

BUCHANAN:  Do I buy fire insurance?  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  Because there‘s a possibility that there will be a fire, right? 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you do that?  Do you think there‘s a possibility there‘s climate change out there going on? 

BUCHANAN:  There‘s climate change—

MATTHEWS:  Is there a possibility that man‘s contributing to it? 

BUCHANAN:  There‘s a possibility that man‘s contributing to it. 

MATTHEWS:  Wouldn‘t you like to take that insurance against that—this is the planet we‘re talking about.  There‘s only one. 

BUCHANAN:  Take out flood insurance.  What is this money going to third-world countries for, 30 billion dollars, from American taxpayers? 

SHRUM:  Anytime Pat can bash—anytime Pat can bash poor people in Africa, in the third world, he takes the opportunity to do it. 

BUCHANAN:  Poor people aren‘t getting the money. 

SHRUM:  The reason this money is going to go to those countries is to preserve the forests that are the lungs of the Earth.  Now, look, there are no serious scientists at serious scientific institutions who don‘t believe that we have a problem of man-made climate change.  Pat, most conservative political leaders in the world agree with this. 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t understand why -

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  What would Teddy Roosevelt be doing right now?  He would be fighting for this thing. 

BUCHANAN:  He would recognize what a scam and a fraud and hoax this is.  Look, Chris, what did you just hear?  We‘re paying them 30 billion so they won‘t burn down their forests. 

MATTHEWS:  You think free markets are going to solve this problem? 

BUCHANAN:  It‘s not a problem is what I‘m saying, Chris.  You guys are scaring yourselves to death with your own propaganda. 

(CROSS TALK)

SHRUM:  It‘s not propaganda. 

(CROSS TALK) 

SHRUM:  There are no serious scientists who agree with you.  No serious scientific consensus that agrees with you. 

BUCHANAN:  Have you heard of the Heidelberg (ph) Appeal; 4,000 scientists, 72 Nobel Prize winners, stop the hysteria. 

SHRUM:  Four thousand fringe people disagreeing with the overwhelming consensus of scientists. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get back to basics.  I think we can—do you think it‘s good to have rain forests in Latin America, like the Amazon, all those areas that provide such good, as he points out, health for the climate, the lungs of this planet?  Do you challenge that it‘s better not to have them raped and torn down?  Do you want everything developed? 

BUCHANAN:  No, I don‘t.  I would tell Brazil stop burning down the rain forests.  I wouldn‘t have to bribe them. 

MATTHEWS:  Suppose they won‘t do it? 

BUCHANAN:  Then they don‘t do it.  They‘re responsible for it. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s our planet, though.  We don‘t have a rain forest. 

BUCHANAN:  They‘re taking my tax dollars—

MATTHEWS:  Are we on this planet together or is it every man for himself? 

BUCHANAN:  It‘s ever country for itself. 

MATTHEWS:  It is? 

BUCHANAN:  It sure is.

SHRUM:  That won‘t work when the sea levels rise, Pat.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, I‘ve got to ask you a simple question. 

BUCHANAN:  You guys—

MATTHEWS:  If you allowed the developers in New York, if you gave them the right to start buying up Central Park Right now, how long would it take for them to destroy Central Park? 

BUCHANAN:  No time at all. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t really believe in the free market, do you? 

BUCHANAN:  I believe in the zoning.  That‘s not the free market.

MATTHEWS:  In other words, sometimes the governments have to stand up and say, we‘re not letting everybody rape the planet. 

BUCHANAN:  Right.  But what you don‘t believe in is fraud, Chris. 

There‘s been hoaxes all our lives. 

MATTHEWS:  And you said the only reason you, at your age, which is about mine, would accept is that the planet‘s about to ignite.  And then you would say—you said you want to see, what, hurricanes?  You want to see the end of time. 

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you something.  In 2005, they had—

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t—you buy fire insurance against the one in a million chance your house is going to burn down. 

BUCHANAN:  You had Rita and Katrina in 2005; they said the hurricanes are going to get worse.  We had the best hurricane season we had in a dozen years, and not one of them made landfall. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s about trend, Pat.  It‘s not every year is worse than the year before.  It‘s the—

BUCHANAN:  Hurricanes are down. 

MATTHEWS:  Shrum, you just said it‘s the hottest decade in history. 

That‘s good enough for me.  The hottest decade in history? 

BUCHANAN:  Why don‘t you guys all make the contribution of your money—

MATTHEWS:  Every man for himself, I understand that.

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, it‘s a collective planet. 

SHRUM:  Put, just move your house to a mountain top. 

BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you something.  Can you get 30 billion dollars, our our share of that, through the Congress of the United States, as foreign aid for third-world countries to deal with, quote, global warming?  I don‘t think so.  And I don‘t think you‘re going to get cap and trade. 

SHRUM:  Wait a minute.  You asked a question, let me answer it.  You haven‘t even read the headline details of the proposal.  It is not all public money.  Much of it comes in the form of cap and trade.  So the companies here, so that they can continue to produce, provide compensation for people in Brazil, or other countries, not to burn down the rain forests. 

By the way, it‘s not primarily Brazil.  It‘s primarily the tropics in Africa.  So read the agreement before you criticize it. 

Number two, we are going to get action on climate change, Pat.  And it is going to discomfort you.  And I‘ll tell you why, the Environmental Protection Agency will legislate—will regulate if the Senate doesn‘t legislate. 

MATTHEWS:  Pat, where are you on evolution, by the way? 

BUCHANAN:  On macro-evolution, I think god created heaven and Earth. 

What do you think? 

MATTHEWS:  I agree.  Do you believe in evolution?

BUCHANAN:  Micro-evolution, there are aspects of it that are true. 

Do I think we‘re descended from monkies?  No.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that man is part of the evolution on this planet? 

BUCHANAN:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  He doesn‘t believe in evolution.  Pat, you‘re consistent. 

SHRUM:  He also thinks the Earth is flat, by the way.  If you sail too far, you fall off.

MATTHEWS:  Up next—you would have been good in the Middle Ages.  I‘m glad I wasn‘t there.  Up next—by the way, when Franco comes out for you, you‘ll be with him. 

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to get a real fight going, McCain and Lieberman, for the defense against all good things, against Al Franken.  What a great fight.  Tag team coming back.  We‘ll be back for the Fix. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back now.  Time for the politics fix, with Lynn Sweet of the “Chicago Sun Times,” and the PoliticsDaily.com, and the “Politico‘s” Josh Gerstein.  Let me ask you right now to look at this little piece of tape from today.  This is Senator John McCain of Arizona blasting away at Al Franken, basically, for cutting off McCain‘s friend Lieberman yesterday.  Let‘s listen.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I‘ve been around for more than 20 years.  Yesterday, on the floor of the Senate, the senator from Connecticut was finishing up his remarks.  And as we always do—ever since I‘ve been here, what we always do, he said, I‘d like an extra minute to finish my remarks, and it was objected to by the newest member of the United States Senate, in the most brusk way.  That‘s how the comity in this body has deteriorated.  We‘ve got to stop.  We‘ve got to stop this kind of behavior.  I‘ve never seen anything like that.  I hope that I don‘t see it again. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Lynn, it turns out—we‘ll have the tape in a minute—back in 2002, John McCain did—sitting in the chair when Republicans controlled the Senate, denied a member of the Senate a chance to continue speaking, Mark Dayton.   

LYNN SWEET, “CHICAGO SUN TIMES”:  I guess you got him on that one then.  Bingo. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s going on here?  This performance art that‘s going on where Lieberman, who is an out-rider, gets cut off in his time, can‘t get a chance to talk more.  At the same time, the guy who cuts him off is a liberal Democrat, Al Franken.  Then McCain jumps in on the side of his old buddy—or his new buddy, Lieberman.  This is getting to be strange. 

SWEET:  The back story here is that—Reid told the Democrats in the chair—and it was Franken‘s turn to be in there, so this is just his luck—not to grant extra time to Republicans because they are trying to delay the health care bill. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s take a look.  Let‘s go to one thing: is John McCain being consistent when he says, I‘ve never seen anything like this, a senator being stopped.  Here he is criticizing Franken for yesterday.  Check out what McCain himself said to then Senator Mark Dayton back in 2002.  He was from Minnesota, by the way, ironically, when he asked for extra time to speak in favor of an amendment which would have restricted Bush‘s Constitutional powers to go to war in Iraq.  Let‘s listen.  Minnesota again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARK DAYTON (D), MINNESOTA:  I ask unanimous consent that my time on this amendment not count against my hour under cloture. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is there an objection? 

MCCAIN:  I object.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The objection is heard.  

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA:  This shows the patience of the Senate.  This clearly demonstrates that the train is coming down on us like a Mac truck.  And we‘re not even going to consider a few extra moneys for this senator. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Lynn, that was—let me go right now to Josh.  That was John McCain, from Arizona, objecting there to giving more time to the senator from Minnesota, which is exactly the opposite of what happened yesterday, when the senator from Minnesota, then sitting in the chair, wouldn‘t give more time to the senator from Connecticut.  And now John McCain says, this has never happened before; he‘s never seen anything like it; when in fact he did it. 

JOSH GERSTEIN, “POLITICO”:  Is John McCain objecting to the lack of comity on the floor or maybe comedy with a D-Y, since it was Al Franken in the chair?  I don‘t know.  It just seems to me that these allegations are thrown around willy-nilly whenever it‘s convenient for these folks.

MATTHEWS:  What are the politics of John McCain here?  Is it to prove that he‘s on the far right, because he doesn‘t want to be beaten by J.D. Hayworth in a primary out there next year?  What are the politics of Lieberman?  Lieberman took it like a man, if you will, took it like a gentleman, I should say, and didn‘t object.  But then his friend jumped in like a tag team, and went after Franken. 

GERSTEIN:  McCain has been straying further and further out in the right direction.  I think he‘s totally bailed out on cap and trade, which many people completely associated with him at one point.  But Lieberman—there‘s this whole dynamic when you have Franken and Lieberman.  The net roots currently just infuriated by Lieberman.  Of all the people they have to be dependent to get this health care bill done, they‘re worried that they‘ve got to lean on Joe Lieberman, probably the person they hate more than anyone else in the Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  And you‘ve got to get 60. 

SWEET:  Maybe they just were worried that “Saturday Night Live”

didn‘t have enough fodder and it already was Friday.  This has the makings

of

MATTHEWS:  This will be Saturday night.  It‘s getting to be like Abbot and Costello.  We‘ll be right back with Lynn Sweet and Josh Gerstein with the politics fix.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s look at this big question.  The new book out, “the Death of American Virtue,” and it raises the question about President Bill Clinton.  He was about to be indicted, it seems, because he admitted to having given false statements, and admitted to --  accepted disbarment for five years, he didn‘t get indicted.  What would have happened if he got indicted for perjury, for obstruction of justice right after leaving the presidency? 

SWEET:  We would have had a show trial that, now we know from history, would have been going on probably around the time of the 9/11 attacks.  So a country in turmoil would have had a big side show and probably a massive destruction.  Who knows if he would have been convicted.  Remember, that would have been after the whole fight of the 2000 Florida recount.  Maybe the country would have been really tired of it and he would have been let off the hook.

MATTHEWS:  Josh, it‘s incredible.  If he had been indicted—

Senator Clinton, the first lady, had already been elected senator from New York.  She would have been coming in as senator from New York and he would be facing felony charges.

GERSTEIN:  Yes, I think this would have really put a halt on the progression of her political career.  That whole battle would have continued for another year or two.  And whether there would have been any mental space for people to see her in her own right after a couple years of fighting over this, I doubt it.  But I do think that had the president been indicted just as he left office, there would have been a lot of pressure on George W. Bush to give him a pardon and put an end to all of this sadness. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.

SWEET:  Look at all the delicious scenarios. 

MATTHEWS:  I love all these possibilities.  Anyway, thank you, Lynn Sweet.  Thank you, Josh Gerstein.  Good thing it didn‘t happen for all of us, probably.  Join us again Monday 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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