Guests: Anthony Romero, John Timoney, Michelle Goldberg, Charles Moran, Amy
Klobuchar, Ernest Istook.
HOST: Obama makes his pick.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles. Leading off
tonight: Game on. It‘s Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, so let the fight
begin. Will Republicans go after her for barring military recruiters from
Harvard law school? Will Democrats worry that she‘ll let the Court
continue its slide to the right? We‘ll show you the battle lines at the
top of the show.
Plus: Charlie Crist in Florida, on his own. Bob Bennett in Utah, out.
Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, a political refugee. A terrible year for
incumbents is getting worse. Who‘s next?
And the Obama administration wants to interrogate terrorism suspects
without informing them of their rights. Are they caving to Republicans and
compromising on American values or just doing what is necessary?
Also, the right wing and gays. First it was Ted Haggard (ph). Now
the Family Research Council‘s founder on a European vacation with his “rent
boy.” Why are some anti-gay conservatives having so much trouble
practicing what they preach?
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with voters putting an end to that one
entitlement politicians thought was theirs forever, incumbency.
Let‘s start with the president‘s Supreme Court pick. Democratic
senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota‘s a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Senator Klobuchar, let me ask you about this military recruiters issue. I
wonder whether Republicans, your colleagues, will turn it on the—convert
it to that standard narrative, Barack Obama doesn‘t care about defending
the country. Here he is picking a Court nominee who said you couldn‘t
recruit for the ROTC or recruit for the military at Harvard.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I really hope
not, Chris. First, you should know that three law students when Elena
Kagan was dean at Harvard who were Iraq veterans actually wrote in her
defense and said, You know what? She‘s someone that made a very welcome
atmosphere for veterans here at the law school. You have the fact that she
addressed cadets at West Point, talked about her life, her security was
there because of them and the work they did on the front line.
This was just simply about her enforcing a policy, a non-
discrimination policy that wasn‘t just about sexual preferences, it‘s also
about gender and race and religion in her own law school.
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think the recruiters should be allowed to go
to the University of Minnesota and recruit for the military?
KLOBUCHAR: I think now that the law has been clear with the Solomon
amendment that that‘s happening. But what I‘d like to see is a change to
that policy. I think you see Admiral Mullen on the front lines saying he
wants to see it changed, Defense Secretary Gates. If you have the top
leaders of our military saying that they want to see a change in the
policy, the fact that Elena Kagan has in the past said that that was her
personal opinion to see a change, I would hope that that wouldn‘t be used
against her as the only reason someone would vote against her. That makes
They may not agree with her opinion, but they have to look at whether
she‘s qualified to be a justice on the Supreme Court. She clearly is.
She‘s earned the respect of everyone she‘s worked with. When she was up
for solicitor general, five former Republican solicitor generals supported
MATTHEWS: So recruitment of military on campus is all right with you?
KLOBUCHAR: Again, I want to see a change in the policy, Chris, as do
so many of my colleagues...
KLOBUCHAR: ... as do the leadership in the military, and then we
won‘t have that issue anymore. I support changing the “Don‘t ask, don‘t
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you, does it disturb you that Elena Kagan
has already said under testimony that she doesn‘t believe there‘s a
constitutional protection for people who seek to marry somebody of their
own gender? Does that bother you, that she seems to have foreclosed that
issue, which is—may be well be on its way to the Court because of Ted
Olson and David Boies and the challenge to the California law?
KLOBUCHAR: Again, I want to look at that. I hadn‘t seen that part of
her testimony. I was there at the Judiciary hearing for other things that
she commented on and was really impressed by the way she handled questions
from Democrats and Republicans. But I think that she‘s someone, when she
comes before us, I think she‘ll tell us what I believe a good judge should
do, that she‘ll look at each case on its merits, that she is not going to
be someone that‘s going to come to the case with a set decision because you
look at her record, you look at how she was at Harvard, open-minded to
other points of view, that‘s what she is. She‘s someone that calls it when
she sees it and she makes a decision. And that‘s why people admire her
from both sides of the aisle.
Remember, Thurgood Marshall was her mentor. He adored her. Abner
Mikva was someone else that she clerked for. You look down the line at who
she worked for, President Clinton, President Obama, they both have great
faith in her ability to do the job.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think Mikva‘s great, too, and certainly, Thurgood
Marshall. I do worry, though, about a candidate for the Supreme Court
who‘s already made up their mind on this key issue that‘s coming to the
Court. They may well give cert on this.
Here‘s minority leader Mitch McConnell obviously going after Kagan for
the usual partisan reasons. This guy is like the “no man.” Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Of course, one does not
need to have prior experience as a judge before being appointed to the
country‘s highest court, but it strikes me that if a nominee does not have
judicial experience, they should have substantial litigation experience.
Ms. Kagan has neither, unlike Justice Rehnquist, for instance, who was in
private practice for 16 years prior to his appointment as assistant
attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, a job he had at the time
of his appointment to the Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I have a feeling, Senator, that “Senator Excitement” we
just heard from him there may well have said the opposite had this been
somebody with judicial experience. He would have said—I‘m just guessing
Why don‘t we pick somebody without judicial experience?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, Chris, Justice Rehnquist, who I don‘t
think they would hardly criticize, came in there with no judicial
experience. You look at Frankfurter, Brandeis—these are great Justices
who came onto the Court without that experience of being a judge. I
welcome this idea that we could have one Justice on that court that had
some real world experience in terms of the government, in terms of being
out in the private sector. She‘s had that experience, and I think that
that‘s a positive.
MATTHEWS: OK, I‘m looking for a rub here. You say it doesn‘t concern
you, her position on recruitment on campus at Harvard. It doesn‘t concern
you about her statement earlier about same-sex marriage. Does it concern
you that she has supported Bush administration policy on the retention of
people we‘re not holding for trial down at Gitmo?
KLOBUCHAR: Again, when she made that statement—I was there at that
hearing when Lindsey Graham was questioning her, Chris. She was being an
advocate for the administration‘s position for attorney general position—
Attorney General Holder at that time. As Justice Roberts said succinctly
at his own hearing, you can be an advocate, but then you also have to be a
So again, I think these are worthy questions. I wouldn‘t say it
doesn‘t concern me. These are questions we‘re all going ask her and we‘d
like to hear answers to them. What I‘m saying is you have to look he at
the big picture of her background here. What she is, Chris, is someone of
extreme intelligence that‘s going to be a counterweight to Roberts on that
court. She is someone who can build coalitions.
And what I care most about, Chris, is that we get opinions where
Kennedy‘s on the side of the right—that‘s on the side of doing the right
thing here, as opposed to the right wing. We want to get some things done
on this Court, and she has proven herself to be someone who can build those
coalitions and is an incredibly smart person who can match Roberts decision
by decision, point by point.
MATTHEWS: That would be great, if she could lead five, not just four.
Thank you so much, Senator Amy Klobuchar...
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... who‘s...
KLOBUCHAR: Appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right now from Senator Klobuchar from Minnesota to
former Republican congressman Ernest Istook. He‘s a fellow from the
Heritage Foundation. Congressman, thank you for joining us tonight.
ERNEST ISTOOK, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Sure, Chris.
MATTHEWS: On what you‘ve seen so far, would you oppose the nomination
or the confirmation of Elena Kagan for Supreme Court?
ISTOOK: The challenge is, you know, if you‘re hiring someone to do a
job under supervision, someone with this little legal experience, you might
hire. But someone to have a lifetime appointment to be on the U.S. Supreme
Court for the next 25 to 30 years, you need to know more about what they
really think about constitutional principles, how they are at following the
For example, the case that you were describing about military
recruiters at Harvard, she took the position that the Supreme Court
basically threw out of court. It was 8-to-0 or 8-to-1. They said that the
position she took was unreasonable.
So the problem here is we basically have someone who was an ivory
tower academic. That‘s basically what her legal career has been. It‘s not
just the lack of experience as a judge, it‘s the lack of experience as an
attorney around the courtroom at all and lack of understanding what does
she really stand for. People will be comparing her to former Justice
Souter, who became known as the stealth candidate for the Supreme Court.
MATTHEWS: I just wonder whether a lot—I‘m not—I respect your
opinion, coming from the Heritage Foundation and having been an elected
member of the Congress. I accept your position. But I think so much of
this seems so partisan. I look at Mitch McConnell coming out and saying
her problem is she hasn‘t been a judge, and I can easily imagine Senator
McConnell saying her problem is that she‘s been a judge. We have too many
judges. We need regular people on the Court. We‘ve been hearing—you
know, we—you are laughing...
MATTHEWS: ... because we‘ve been hearing that rant for a couple
months now. What do you make of...
ISTOOK: You‘re right. People can...
MATTHEWS: And the reason—exhibit A, Arlen Specter voted against
her for solicitor general, and we all know, given his desperate fight now
for the nomination for the senator from Pennsylvania, he‘ll probably come
out by this weekend and saying she‘s just the greatest thing since sliced
bread. I mean, it just seems to partisan, the way politicians look at
ISTOOK: Well, first of all, Chris, I think your point of saying if
someone doesn‘t have a record, people criticize them for that. If they
have too much of a record, then they get into the minutiae and criticize
them for that. So you‘re right, that that‘s a cannot win situation.
But Mitch McConnell‘s criticism was not just the lack of experience as
a judge, it was the lack of experience as a practicing attorney. If you
look at one of the few things that Ms. Kagan has written, she said that the
role of the Supreme Court is to benefit the despised and the disadvantaged.
Actually, the reason the statues of justice wear the blindfold is because
they‘re not supposed to take sides on whether you‘re liked, disliked,
whether you‘re advantaged or disadvantaged. That‘s all supposed to be
And statements like that certainly make her appear to be in the—
cast in the mold of a very activist judge.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I—maybe I agree with you, maybe not. It seems to
me one place I do—I think you want to correct yourself, Congressman.
The courts—the 1st Amendment is to protect unpopular opinion, right?
ISTOOK: It‘s to protect all opinion.
MATTHEWS: No, unpopular. Let‘s face it. You don‘t need...
ISTOOK: Unpopular included.
MATTHEWS: ... to protect popular. You don‘t need to say, I love
apple pie—you don‘t need to protect it, or, I love the flag. You have
to protect people who may burn the flag and do things you really, really
hate seeing them do, right? Isn‘t that what the 1st Amendment‘s about?
ISTOOK: Well, the 1st Amendment, though, Chris—I got to say apple
pie may be popular in some places and unpopular in others.
ISTOOK: So you don‘t know exactly from where the case will come.
Yes. I prefer cherry. I mean...
MATTHEWS: Well, I do, too, actually.
MATTHEWS: But this is ridiculous. You‘re saying...
ISTOOK: Got you out on that one.
MATTHEWS: You‘re denying—let me ask you this. You don‘t think
it‘s the job of the Supreme Court to protect the rights of minorities?
ISTOOK: I think it‘s the right to protect—I think their job it to
protect the rights of minorities, but that is not their sole job. The job
is also to protect the rights of everyone.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, you‘re from the ivory tower known as Heritage
Foundation. By the way, the Republican Party‘s just as good at picking Ivy
Leaguers as the Democratic Party. Check the list. They‘re all from
Harvard or Yale law school. So give me a break about your party being the
party of the ‘umble people...
ISTOOK: I didn‘t say that, Chris.
MATTHEWS: ... you know, the regular folk. You said “ivory tower.”
Give me a break. Your party picks as many elitists as the other party,
right? Accept that.
ISTOOK: I‘ve never seen a measurement on that, but I will grant you
that both parties do pick a lot of people that have certain Ivy League
ISTOOK: I totally agree with you on that. That‘s a challenge. But
again, in this case, a lot of people have the accompaniment of those
credentials with some more real world, in the trenches type of experience.
Maybe it‘s the type of experience you like. Maybe it‘s the kind you don‘t
ISTOOK: But in this case, that appears to be exclusively what she has
going for her.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Congressman.
ISTOOK: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: We agree on cherry pie, at least.
Coming up: The Republican purge is surging. Utah senator Robert
Bennett is the latest knockout. The guy‘s gone. Can the Republicans win
by going pure? I mean, if Robert Bennett‘s not conservative enough, who
is? But in one minute, Joe Sestak pulls ahead in Pennsylvania. Talk about
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Don‘t look now, but Joe Sestak is now leading Arlen Specter
in that hot Democratic primary up in Pennsylvania for the U.S. Senate. The
“Muhlenberg Morning Call” tracking poll now has Sestak up by 5, 47 to 42,
over Specter. By the way, he‘s getting close to 50, which is critical.
The primary is a week from tomorrow, and we‘ll be live in Center City,
Philadelphia, next Tuesday night with all the results, and you‘re all
welcome. It might even be outdoors. Who knows. Come and watch us. We‘ll
be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT BENNETT ®, UTAH: At the risk of getting a little
emotional, I want to thank my staff. I get dewy-eyed at the dedication of
a parking lot, so this is not unusual for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. That was Utah senator Bob Bennett on Saturday
night after failing to get enough support to even make it into the
How strong is this national purging mood? Is it strong enough to
knock out even John McCain and Arlen Specter next week? “The Washington
Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman are both MSNBC
Guys, Gene and Howard, I have to feel something for this fellow. I‘ve
been in those losing nights. And I‘ve seen it with Frank Moss (ph) out
there, my first boss, out in Utah. And I have to tell you, when you lose,
you do feel for the staff that worked their butt off. Gene, your thoughts
here? The guy‘s gone. He‘s out of politics, Robert—second generation
senator. He‘s 76 years old. Maybe that‘s part of the story. What do you
think is going on?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, I
think that that probably is part of the story. He is 76 years old. But
this doesn‘t usually happen. An incumbent senator who wants to at least
get into the primary to retain his seat usually gets in.
And I think maybe we have slightly different things happening in
slightly—you know, in different locations. I‘m not sure the three
examples you just cited are all exactly the same thing. But is there anti-
incumbent mood? And should every incumbent be kind of looking over his or
her shoulder? I certainly think most of them ought to be.
MATTHEWS: Well, I shouldn‘t argue with a Pulitzer Prize-winning
columnist, but when I try to put together these segments, I look for
thematic material, Gene! And it seems to me that there‘s a theme here,
which is people are getting tired of certain politicians who‘ve been there
a long time.
Take a look at these numbers, guys. Here‘s how the numbers came out
this Saturday out in Utah. A guy named Tim Bridgewater that nobody ever
heard of before, 37 percent. A guy named Mike Lee, another newcomer, 36
percent. Bob Bennett, three-term U.S. senator, son of Wallace Bennett,
long-time senator from Utah, an institution in the LDS church, the Mormon
church out there, Howard, a major institution, practically part of the
furniture of Utah politically, kicked out on his butt. Doesn‘t even get
into the primary. What‘s going on? And McCain must be scared, too. Go
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It‘s traumatic.
It‘s traumatic, Chris. And in addition to anti-incumbency, on the
Republican side, there‘s ideology, too. Having been at a lot of
conservative events recently, having been at tea party rallies, and you
know, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, the base of the
Republican Party and the grass roots are shifting to the right and shifting
fast. That means they‘re against anybody in Washington who so much as
shakes hand with a Democrat.
FINEMAN: This is partly the result of Barack Obama‘s presidency. We
don‘t regard Barack Obama as a radical in any sense. He‘s a deal maker
from Chicago. But to the growing conservative grass roots of the
Republican Party, he represents everything they can‘t stand, and anybody
who deals with him in any way, or the Democratic Party, is suspect.
Bob Bennett was suspect because he was doing a deal with Ron Wyden of
FINEMAN: ... because he voted for some stuff that some Democrats had
voted for. the Gallup poll—excuse me—the “New York Times” poll
recently found that 38 percent of Americans identified themselves as
conservatives, which is the highest percentage in the 19 years that “The
New York Times”...
FINEMAN: ... has been asking that question. Interestingly, only 25
percent of Americans in that poll identify themselves as Republicans. So
the Republicans are not that well regarded.—
MATTHEWS: That‘s great.
FINEMAN: -- i.e., the congressional Republicans, but the grassroots
considers itself very conservative right now...
MATTHEWS: That‘s a powerful—I‘m going to remember that number.
FINEMAN: ... and angry conservative.
MATTHEWS: Thirty-eight percent of the country is conservative.
FINEMAN: Thirty-eight percent.
MATTHEWS: Only 25 percent is proud to call themselves Republican,
which tells me they want a purge.
FINEMAN: Right. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at Senator Bennett on Saturday.
I‘m going to go back to Gene.
Senator Bennett, here he is. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT BENNETT ®, UTAH: The political atmosphere, obviously,
has been toxic. And it‘s very clear that some of the votes that I have
cast have added to the toxic environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Gene, we have seen a pattern—I do see a pattern among
these incumbents. I was talking to Terry Madonna up in Pennsylvania today.
He‘s does the polling for the—for Franklin & Marshall up there, that
great poll he does, the Keystone.
He says—he‘s got a poll coming out Wednesday. I can‘t give away
his numbers. But he said what he‘s hearing volunteered—you know, when
they get volunteered comments—people say, we need fresh blood. We need
new blood. Specter has been around for a half-a-century. He‘s in the same
situation or worse.
And, by the way, here—for your benefit, here‘s the latest
Pennsylvania tracking poll from Muhlenberg. It shows Sestak up by five.
And he‘s getting close to 50 percent, Sestak, out of nowhere, even after
that blistering attack by Arlen.
What do you think, Gene, about this situation. Too old? Too
Republican? Too long? Is that his problem?
ROBINSON: Chris, I think that‘s—you‘re surely right, that the fact
that Arlen has been around for so long and is so familiar has got to be
playing a role in this. And there‘s an anti-incumbent, bring in some new
blood kind of attitude out there.
I just wonder in terms of the Pennsylvania race if it also doesn‘t
have something to do with the fact that Arlen Specter has—is new to
being a Democrat...
ROBINSON: ... and how much loyalty are Democratic primary voters
supposed to have toward a guy who was a Republican all those years? And I
think that helps provide an opening for Sestak.
MATTHEWS: Howard, when you‘re in a warfare situation in the South
Pacific, fighting the other side, the Japanese, for example, and one of
their guys gets overboard, you go fish him out of the water. You will fish
him out of the water if he will accept being a prisoner, but you‘re not
going to let him become captain of the ship, right?
FINEMAN: Yes. That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Arlen says, let me aboard. And anybody who gets in my way
is no good.
Terry told me today the one thing people don‘t like is he has dared to
attack another Democrat, when he‘s just a brand-new Democrat. He comes
aboard and says, this guy Sestak is no good. The old negative ads of Arlen
Specter don‘t work in this context, apparently.
FINEMAN: OK. Well, also in this context, Chris, the negative ads
which reek of traditional—what has become traditional politics, politics
as usual, that doesn‘t help Arlen Specter.
I think the harsh attack that he leveled on Sestak has backfired. I
thought it was going to backfire. I told you last week I thought Sestak
had a really good shot here. When Arlen went after Sestak‘s military
record, yes, he‘s got to answer for his whole 30 years in the Navy, et
cetera, it just reeked of old-style politics. It reeked of nasty, gutter
fighting. It allowed Sestak to take the high road.
Sestak put on an ad with veterans out there defending Sestak. I
thought it was a disaster for Specter. And in many ways, if Specter goes
down, that will be the move that really put him out for good, because it
reeked of old-style politics in a year when people want new-style politics.
They want nothing that reeks of the way business is conducted as usual.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And a pollster told me today that what that ad did,
Arlen attacked him for military record, and what he did was tell people in
the state who had never heard of Sestak, hey, the guy spent 31 years in the
Navy, ended up an admiral.
They didn‘t know that before.
MATTHEWS: And here‘s Specter, by the way, two weeks ago on why he
voted against Elena Kagan for solicitor general. She‘s obviously now up
for the court. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I voted against her because
she wouldn‘t answer specific questions on what kind of cases she would urge
the Supreme Court to take. I will take a fresh look at her as a Supreme
Court nominee, but I think that the Judiciary Committee members, who have
been—myself included, haven‘t been, frankly, tough enough on insisting
on some answers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I voted against her before I voted for her.
I bet that‘s going to turn around, Chris. And I think he‘s going to
find a lot to like about Elena Kagan in the coming days and weeks. And
maybe he will find that those answers weren‘t so vague after all.
MATTHEWS: Why would you think that? Gene, Gene, why would you think
that? Why do you think he would come around and like President Obama‘s
court pick at this point in his career?
ROBINSON: Well, I do think he‘s running for the Democratic
nomination, and I do think he wants to continue being a senator as a
ROBINSON: And I think he feels that it would be detrimental to that
aim if he were to oppose her.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re right. I think we have figured this one
Well, here‘s Arizona, the last one in our pick here. Pollster.com has
McCain still leading by double digits, but he‘s trending downward.
Howard, here, it looks like this race by August, when they have that
primary—Pennsylvania is next Tuesday—by August, if you follow the
trend lines, who knows, except J.D. Hayworth is no Joe Sestak.
FINEMAN: Yes, and I know Joe Sestak. No.
FINEMAN: I don‘t—I don‘t know.
FINEMAN: I think J.D. is an engaging guy. He‘s a quirky guy. I
don‘t know what will happen by then.
That‘s—a month is a—a couple months is a lifetime out there.
But the trend you‘re looking at here, Chris, is, you have got a lot of
senior guys. You‘ve got—if you—to connect the dots here, you have
got Bennett, who just came off as a guy who had been around a long, long
time. You have Arlen Specter, who is coming off as a guy who has been
around a long, long time.
And if you connect that dot out to Arizona, that puts John McCain on
the spot. There‘s no question about it.
FINEMAN: In Kentucky, which we have got coming up next week, it‘s a
little different situation, but there I think the Tea Party candidate could
win the Republican Party as well.
So, if momentum builds behind people who are seen as Tea Party
favorites, that could create some national momentum that might in the way
of a national election help J.D. Hayworth in Arizona by the time we get to
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s no country for old men.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Gene Robinson and Howard Fineman.
MATTHEWS: Tommy Lee Jones should play these guys.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next: the latest chapter in the hard-right
transformation of John McCain. You have got to watch the latest McCain.
He sounds like Tancredo.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
First: more tough talk from John McCain, as promised. The Arizona
senator, once a moderate immigration reformer, is definitely feeling the
heat from his right. His opponent, J.D. Hayworth, has got the heat on him.
The senator‘s new ad shows him walking along Arizona‘s border with a local
sheriff. Its title? “Complete the Dang Fence.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JOHN MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)
PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA, SHERIFF: We‘re outmanned. Of all
the illegals in America, more than half come through Arizona.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: Have we got the right plan?
BABEU: The plan is perfect. You bring troops, state, county, and
local law enforcement together.
MCCAIN: And complete the dang fence.
BABEU: It will work this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Illegals? It used to be undocumented workers.
Anyway, it‘s not about the fence, Senator, and you know it. It‘s
about having a simple, reliable job card to tell you who you can hire. Are
we going to clean up this situation, Senator, or aren‘t we?
Now for the dang fence—or, from the dang fence to the dang
birthers. Today, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the
Judiciary Committee, was out of the gate defending Supreme Court nominee
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: You know, we
have some Republicans who would automatically oppose anybody. In fact, I
told the president, I said, you realize, if you nominated Moses, the
lawgiver, someone would raise, but he doesn‘t have a birth certificate.
Where‘s his birth certificate? You know what I mean? Come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is it that bad? Anyway, speaking of President Obama, he
delivered the commencement yesterday at Hampton University down in
Virginia. Watch as he takes a rather unexpected whack at technology during
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With iPods and iPads
and Xboxes and PlayStations, none of which I know how to work...
OBAMA: ... information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of
entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think he was talking to the parents, not the students,
there. Young people are not going back to where they never were before. I
would like to see a test, by the way, about whether we‘re learning more,
more solid information by the new media.
Anyway, for tonight‘s “Big Number,” a look at that Democratic primary
up in Pennsylvania. New polls show Joe Sestak, the challenger, beginning
to overtake Arlen Specter. In fact, Intrade.com is now—is not waiting
for the polls. It now gives the challenger a—catch this -- 70 percent,
seven-in-10 chance of pulling off that big upset next Tuesday, May 18.
Mark your calendars: Sestak‘s chance for change 70 percent now.
That‘s tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: a hot debate. From Times Square to the Christmas Day bomber,
is it time to stop reading terror suspects their Miranda rights? Big
question for us, us Americans.
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MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Attorney General Eric Holder opened the door this weekend to modifying
the Miranda rights given terror suspects. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: And if we are going to have a
system that is capable of dealing in a public safety context with this new
threat, I think we have to give serious consideration to at least modifying
that public safety exception.
And that‘s one of the things that I think we‘re going to be reaching
out to Congress to do, to come up with a proposal that is both
constitutional, but that is also relevant to our time and the threat that
we now face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: “Our time.”
Does this signal that the Obama administration is giving in to the
Joining me right now is John Timoney, who is police commissioner,
Miami police commission, in Philadelphia. His new book is “Beat Cop to Top
Cop.” And I‘m going to read every word of it. There it is.
MATTHEWS: Also joining us is Anthony Romero, a pal of mine. He‘s
executive director of the ACLU.
Gentlemen, I was stunned to hear the openness, Commissioner first,
JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE CHIEF: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... the attorney general admitted, basically, that we‘re
modifying what we all grew up with, whatever you say can be used against
you. The police officer, the arresting officer, has to say that. He‘s
always said it. He‘s forced to say it since Miranda.
Did you hear in that, Chief Timoney, that we‘re not really going to
have that in cases of terrorism?
TIMONEY: I did.
But, you know, back up for a second, Chris. There always has been a
public safety exception where—where lives are in danger, God forbid
there‘s a child that is buried alive, and you need to find that, and time
is of the essence.
In the new age of terrorism, the notion that we lock up a guy who may
have information of a backup cell coming in that could cause great harm and
great damage, I think the public exception policy or rule of Miranda
And I think what the attorney general is trying to do I think is
correct. They‘re trying to look at it with good constitutional scholars
and come up with a policy that doesn‘t throw out the Constitution.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I guess that‘s the question, Anthony.
I can imagine—we see this case of a guy who obviously is a fugitive
from—he‘s almost hot pursuit case. What happens if there‘s a bunch of
people who are Arabic-speaking or they have an accent or they have an
Middle Eastern aspect to them and a cop walks in the door and sees five
people arguing about Americans, somebody—did somebody say something
against America here? Do they become terror suspects? Do you drop Miranda
I mean, where do you draw the line of this safety exception I guess is
ANTHONY ROMERO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: I
think that‘s exactly right, Chris.
And I was astonished that the attorney general yesterday said that we
need to broaden the public safety exception. I mean, break it down first.
When we give up our freedoms for our safety, we lose. That‘s what the
terrorists are fighting for.
And, most fundamentally, when you think about Miranda, that‘s the one
right that most people know from TV, the right to remain silent...
ROMERO: ... the right that you know that anything will be used
against you in a court of law. God, that‘s the one right that people get.
And when you begin to chip away at that one, you‘re chipping away at
one of the bedrock rights.
ROMERO: Number two, right, no one can tell us why we need these
additional powers. You have the public safety exception. It‘s worked in
both the Christmas bomber and the Thanksgiving—the Times Square bomber.
We have got them talking. We‘re using their statements against them.
What powers does the government have now that it doesn‘t—doesn‘t—that
it doesn‘t yet need?
ROMERO: Third—third, it‘s going to be prosecution so much more
difficult. When you start to open up this Pandora‘s Box, oh, we‘re going
to have so much litigation on our hands. Fourth, Congress doesn‘t have the
power to chip away the Fifth Amendment. That‘s a basic right. That‘s in
the Bill of Rights.
Finally, I‘ll just note for Police Chief Timoney that, ironically,
when this issue last came up in the Supreme Court in 2000, it was law
enforcement officials who weighed in saying that they wanted Miranda,
because it made for law enforcement to be effective and professionalized.
TIMONEY: I wrote an op-ed piece on that issue, supporting that
Miranda shouldn‘t be watered down. However, in the area of terrorism—
this is a whole new era. I think that‘s what Eric Holder was trying to
deal with yesterday, that we have to look and make sure, for example, there
are some property, that there are protocols in place, that there are
written policies in place, when it does apply, when it doesn‘t apply, so it
isn‘t left up to the individual agent or police officer.
ROMERO: We have those policies in place.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to the chief on that. I want to ask him, in real
practice, when you are out in the field and you get a suspect, I have
noticed in the case of the Christmas Bomber—we are using these funny
terms, Christmas Bomber, a little whimsical, perhaps, but we use they.
They both, we were told, were Mirandized at a point.
Now you wonder what principle applies if the guy is about to
interrogate very aggressively, why do you Mirandize the guy, chief, after
you interrogated him? What‘s the point at that point? I don‘t get it.
Why warn him of his rights after you get all the info out of him?
TIMONEY: I think the issue of the Christmas day attempted bomber, he
was not a citizen. This was an enemy combatant that came in from across
the pond, if you will. I don‘t think he had any rights any way.
ROMERO: That‘s not true.
TIMONEY: Different story here is a naturalized citizen. It‘s a
naturalized citizen. And there clearly the rights of every American
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to that more difficult case. Let‘s go to the case
of an enemy, someone who clearly is an enemy, an enemy national who is out
for no good. How do we treat him? Anthony?
ROMERO: Look, the Bill of Rights is very clear. It‘s every person
entitled to core Fifth Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights. Just because
you‘re not here as a citizen, doesn‘t mean you don‘t have rights. This is
America. Second of all.
MATTHEWS: The guy is in an airplane over America, first of all. It‘s
a question of geography. Is he here if he‘s committing a crime in the
airplane above us?
ROMERO: No, it‘s different. But both the Times Square and the
Christmas day bombers were on American soil. I think it‘s a red herring
when we talk about the fact that we‘re going to try to carve out an
entirely new system when our system has worked. We have prosecuted 300
terrorism cases in the criminal courts. Our law enforcement officials know
what to do.
We should give the FBI a big pat on the back for how they handled
these last two cases. It‘s working. You have to tell me what is not
working that requires us to revisit something as fundamentally important as
Miranda? I don‘t get it.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to talk about Miranda a lot. I want to get to
the chief on this. I love the way you‘ve had real experience. You‘re a
real policeman from the bottom to the top. Let me ask you about this,
profiling. I‘ve always talked about driving while black. I have grown up
with—not grown up, but we have heard a lot from minority people about
this, that they feel that just being African-American, for example, on the
Jersey Turnpike, you are stopped. I‘ve had friends of mine tell me it
happens. It happens. It happens.
How do you get around that? How do we stop police officers from not
giving away their common sense or their nose for crime—we want them to
have that—but to respect people‘s privileges and rights as citizens if
they‘re not doing anything wrong?
TIMONEY: I mean, a few things. One, the policy from the top must be
quite clear, must be written and articulated that racial profiling of any
sort wouldn‘t be tolerated. That‘s one of the two, part of training. I
put a program in place in Philadelphia here in 2000 that was pretty
elaborate. I can‘t go into it now, but to try to identify police officers.
And even where you think you identify the police officer who may—or may
be engaged in it, the difficulty of proving it and then what to do is
MATTHEWS: Yes, we have talked about it. It‘s a challenge. I think
we have to meet it. We‘ve got to protect the rights of people and we got
to protect people as well. It‘s always going to be a challenge, right,
Anthony? It‘s always going to be a challenge. If it were easy, we
wouldn‘t have you. We wouldn‘t have the ACLU.
ROMERO: And especially if we pass laws like in Arizona that is
legislating racial profiling. It‘s always going to be a challenge.
MATTHEWS: I know where you stand, buddy. Glad you‘re there.
ROMERO: You‘ll see us in court this week.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Chief Timoney, congratulations on this book.
It reads like you, sir. You obviously had a big hand in writing every word
of this. Thank you very much, chief.
TIMONEY: Good seeing you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the right wing‘s hypocrisy problem on gays. This
is one of the novel discussions we‘re to going have around here. Why are
some prominent anti-gay conservatives been caught, well, being caught in
doing what they preach against? But in one minute, during the break, why
can‘t Mitch McConnell pick a winner? This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Republicans may have the wind at their backs heading into
midterms this November, but so far Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
is striking out with his endorsements. Utah Senator Bob Bennett, who
McConnell backed, was bounced this weekend. Charlie Crist, another
McConnell endorsee, split the party in haste. And in Kentucky, Trey
Grayson is on the verge of losing his Senate primary to the surging Rand
Paul. The Kentucky primary is next Tuesday. And if Paul wins, that would
mean McConnell is zero for three, including at home.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. You can file this under
Hypocrisy Watch. The Miami paper “New Times” broke a story about an anti-
gay leader of the Christian right, Dr. George Rekers, who recently took a
European vacation with a male prostitute who advertised himself on
Remember Evangelical leader Ted Haggard. He‘s seen here in the
documentary “Jesus Camp.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. TED HAGGARD, SOLICITED GAY PROSTITUTE: So we don‘t have to
debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It‘s written
in the Bible.
I think I know what you did last night. If you send me 1,000 dollars,
I won‘t tell your wife. If you use any of this, I‘ll sue you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He resigned after his association with a gay man came to
light in 2006, four years ago. Michelle Goldberg writes about this in “The
Daily Beast” piece, quote, “the Christian Right‘s Gay Problem,” you called
it. And Charles Moran is a spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, a
great group. That group is Republicans who support gay rights.
Thank you, Charles. Thank you, Michelle. Michelle, let me read
something from your piece that you summarize a 1996 University of Georgia
study. Here it is, “those most hostile to gay people are often driven by
terror and shame about their own desires.” That sounds like a
generalization. Is everybody who‘s against gay rights gay?
MICHELLE BOLDBERG, “THE DAILY BEAST”: No, not everybody. But what
this study shows and what psychoanalysts have argued for a long time—and
this study was one of the first pieces of really empirical evidence to back
it up—basically, the study took two groups of men. Both groups
identified as heterosexual, both groups study—filled out questionnaires
to measure how homophobic they were. And they found that there was
significant more arousal when they showed them gay porn among the men who
were homophobic than among the men who weren‘t.
I think you can see this in some of the rhetoric of the Christian
right. It suggests that homosexuality is something that is so incredibly
tempting that only the strictest of taboos will stop everybody from
indulging in it. This is the rhetoric of people who are deep in the
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Charles, that—well, it‘s a
study, maybe it‘s worth something. What do you make of it?
CHARLES MORAN, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Chris, it‘s not just limited to
people who are strongly homophobic. You see it in a lot of different
sectors of society. I‘m certainly not going to be making excuses for
people like Ted Haggard and people like Dr. Rekers. In a lot of areas in
society, we still have institutionalized homophobia.
And it‘s not just religion. It‘s the rap music world. We talked a
lot here in the Prop 8 aftermath in California about the influence of
homosexuality within the African-American community. We know in the reggae
music world, even in country music last, when that country music singer
came out as being a lesbian, there was a lot of apprehension. We‘ve got a
lot of work—
MATTHEWS: We‘ve made enormous progress. This country is so much more
open to gay rights and supportive in military service. I watch this stuff
all the time. Absolutely dramatic shift toward openness and acceptance and
more than tolerance, real acceptance.
Let me ask you this, Charles, I worked in Washington now for—God—
40 years. And it‘s pretty well known that there are a lot of gay men,
maybe gay women as well, who work in Republican right wing politics. They
work on Capital Hill as staffers. It‘s pretty well known, if you talk to
gay people. You know. Yet, how many are open about it and how many go
along with the right wing diatribes we just heard?
MORAN: This is the problem with Washington, D.C. Politics is still
an extremely conservative community. We have a lot of people who,
regardless if they‘re a Republican or a Democrat, on either side of the
aisle, who are still feeling like they can‘t be truly themselves. We have
plenty of examples on the left as well. That‘s one of the reasons why so
many different organizations advocate people coming out on their own terms,
being able to it—
MATTHEWS: Charles, you‘re missing my point. Why do they go get jobs
with right wingers if they‘re not right wing on these issues?
MORAN: Because a lot of us are not single-issue voters. I‘m clearly
openly gay. There‘s no gay line for environmental rules or energy rules.
Just because you‘re gay doesn‘t mean you support taxpayer funded bailouts.
It doesn‘t mean you socialized medicine. We‘re not single-issue voters.
Because we‘re gay doesn‘t mean we adopt liberal positions on a lot of other
issues that focus on society.
MATTHEWS: Michelle, let me go to this, you don‘t need a poll to know
that there‘s irony in this country—or study Irony is the life we live.
Hypocrisy may come with the territory of politics. What do you think is
the particular thing about men who are clearly, by any definition, gay, and
they must know it, singing these songs of anti-gay public policy? What
moves them to do it?
GOLBERG: I think that it‘s actually something more than simple—
than kind of complete hypocrisy or complete cynicism. I actually think
that for somebody like George Rekers or a Ted Haggard, they probably hate
themselves so much that they‘re attracted to the idea that homosexuality is
a choice, or homosexuality is curable, and they‘re kind of desperate to
prove—they‘re desperate to prove themselves and be accepted by the
MATTHEWS: I guess when you book a flight with RentBoy.com or
something, you think of it as a choice. I guess that part is, guys.
Anyway, thank you, Michelle. I don‘t think your orientation is a choice,
by the way. God has a lot to do with this. Anyway, Michelle Goldberg,
thank you. Charles Moran, sir, I love your organization.
When we return, let me finish with the end of one thing politicians
have cherished more than anything else, easy re-election. You‘re watching
HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a real shocker. Incumbent U.S.
senators look upon their jobs as long term. People who get elected to the
Senate look forward to careers there. The really impressive senators get
to stay there for life. If they‘re really enduring, you get to become a
building, like Richard Russell, or Everett Dirkson, or my hero, Phil Hart.
You know, one day you wake up to find yourself not a senator having to run
for re-election every six years. You‘re no longer an old man, but a strong
new building with grand hallways and elevators. You‘ve reached the
promised land. Now you‘re permanent.
I think this is what Robert Bennett of Utah looked forward to, a
slowly fading permanence, becoming if not a building perhaps one of those
statues that each state gets to leave there in the Capitol hallway. This
Saturday, Mr. Bennett instead got his walking papers. You‘re free to go,
the roused up Republicans of Utah said in a loud voice. We‘re looking for
someone new. You said you only wanted two terms back then. We gave you
I‘ve wondered for years when the voters who say they want change would
get over this lazy habit of just voting for the most familiar name.
Pennsylvania Democrats get the vote next week. They‘ll decide whether
Arlen Specter, a fellow who has been running as a Republican for the past
45 years, who now wants to stay there in the Senate as a democrat, should
get his wish.
We‘ll see what happens. One thing that‘s already happening in this
country is that word entitlement. You hear about it all the time. We use
it for our kids. We use it for social programs like Social Security. We
have to cut out that sense of entitlement. We have to cut the
entitlements. You hear it all the time.
Maybe now we think it‘s time to take away senators‘ entitlement to
staying there until he turns into a building, or at least a statue.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now, it‘s
time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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