November 19, 2013
Guest: Clarence Page, Elizabeth Birch, Chris Murphy, Carl Leubsdorf,
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Assault on a president.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. The demolition campaign on anything
Obama continues its relentless run even today, with protesters out in the
streets of Washington denying this presidency`s legitimacy, joined now by
new assaults on his executive role itself.
The goal -- now in plain sight for everyone to see, is to erase this
president`s election and reelection, replacing it with a Republican-
enforced shutdown not just on getting health care to the tens of millions
lying in desperately emergency rooms today, but on everything on every
It`s not an overstatement to say right now that every notion -- even the
very notion of elected self-government is now openly and shamelessly under
assault. What the president`s enemies now intend is nothing less than
expunging his presidency and its legacy from the history books before that
legacy is even written.
Clarence Page is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Chicago
Tribune" and Ron Reagan is a former radio talk show host and MSNBC
Anyway, the Tea Party is waging a war in an effort to nullify the
president`s very existence as an American. These are some of the
highlights from a Tea Party rally today in Washington, D.C., which included
activist Larry Klayman, who has accused the president of being a Muslim,
among other strange ideas.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KLAYMAN, JUDICIAL WATCH: We don`t want to return to the days of
1776, when we had to rise up, when we had King George III, who was far less
worse than Barack Hussein Obama.
JOSEPH FARAH, WORLDNETDAILY: We`ve heard the litany of high crimes and
misdemeanors perpetrated by the occupant in the White House.
RICHARD MACK, FMR. ARIZONA SHERIFF: The birth certificate released by Mr.
Obama and the White House is a fake, a fraud and a lie!
KLAYMAN: -- our socialist president or a president who favors Muslim
interests over American interest in the Middle East--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me go right now to Clarence. It`s not just the wackos in
the streets, like those guys. It`s not just them with this constant
attack, this fusillade of attack that the president`s not the president,
he`s not an American, et cetera, et cetera, which you could laugh at, but
there`s an organized establishment wing to this effort, which is to now
make sure he doesn`t have any of the powers of the presidency.
For example, we all have learned the power of the courts in this country.
They`re the ones who can pass laws like Citizens United, which means the
more money you got, the more votes you got. They`re trying to take over
the courts. They won`t even let him appoint judges.
CLARENCE PAGE, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": That`s right. In fact, he`s had about
20 judicial executive appointments that have been blocked. Some have just
dropped out for trying to get confirmation or just get a vote. And just in
the last couple of weeks, there have been three more judicial nominees
who`ve been blocked.
And it`s a -- Senator Cornyn, the Republican whip, was asked about this,
Are you trying to redo the election? He said, Oh, no, no. We just want to
-- we just think there`s too many judges on the court. Well, that`s the
president`s constitutional job and duty.
MATTHEWS: Too many Democratic appointments. Yes. Well, anyway, the GOP
led by the Cruz wing of the party, has launched an unprecedented war of
obstructionism against the president. Their goal, to nullify the will of
the people who elected and reelected President Obama in 2012.
They`ve tried to nullify the office of the presidency in three new ways, by
incapacitating basic government functions, by sabotaging anything and
everything on the president`s agenda, and by trying to destroy the
president`s executive authority, like appointing judges.
Let`s take a look at the first. Yesterday, Senate Republicans, as Clarence
said, blocked another presidential appointment to the D.C. court of appeals
on the ludicrous charge of court packing.
It`s the latest in a series of presidential appointments that Republicans
have blocked as they attempt to incapacitate the president`s ability to
even run a functioning U.S. government.
Here was Senator Elizabeth Warren`s fantastic reaction when Republicans
blocked one such nominee last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: So far, they have shut down the
government. They have filibustered people he has nominated to fill out his
administration. And they are now filibustering judges to block him from
filling any of the vacancies with highly qualified people.
We need to call out these filibusters for what they are, naked attempts to
nullify the results of the last presidential election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ron, this is -- Ron Reagan, this is what`s going on now. If you
look at it, there`s a very clear -- it`s not just a pattern, it`s a reality
that you can`t ignore. They`re basically saying, You can`t be president,
Mr. Obama. You can`t even pick judges. We`re not going to let you do that
because, of course, we have a reason for that, too, not just to make you
irrelevant, we want to be able to make sure money runs politics through
united federal -- united citizens type of decisions.
RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they`re going for a kind of
twofer here. You`re absolutely right, you and Clarence, that they`re
trying to nullify the presidency of Obama. And this began on the eve of
his inauguration, after his first inauguration, where they all met together
in a hotel in Washington, D.C., and decided that whatever he`s trying to
do, we`re going to be against it.
But the twofer is that you not only nullify his presidency, but you also --
you delegitimize the whole idea of the federal government itself. If you
can wreck everything that the federal government is trying to do, then
people eventually get the idea that the government can`t do anything. And
then you`re, of course, playing right into the Republicans` hands.
MATTHEWS: And they`re doing that on Affordable Care, as well, making sure
MATTHEWS: -- negative propaganda to demoralize any young person from
Anyway, Republicans have also tried to sabotage every major part of the
president`s agenda. Politico recently reported that a principal reason the
Affordable Care Act is struggling is due to, quote, "a calculated sabotage
by Republicans at every step."
Doesn`t stop there, of course. House Speaker John Boehner has tried to
derail any piece of legislation that the president supports. Take a listen
to this list of issues here that he`s trying to destroy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It`s just one more reason
why this health care law needs to be scrapped now.
There is no way to fix this.
And frankly, I`ll make clear we have no intention of ever going to
conference on the Senate bill.
This legislation is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous
We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be
judged on how many laws that we repeal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it, Clarence. By the way, does he live
under a sun lamp or what? Anyway -- every -- I don`t know what`s going on
with this guy. I don`t know what -- it`s his taste. Fair enough.
PAGE: We have lots of sun in southern Ohio.
MATTHEWS: I guess, this time of year. Anyway, he wants to go (ph) to (ph)
the ACA, the American Care -- Affordable Care Act. He wants to do nothing
on immigration. He wants to do -- not to do anything on discrimination on
sexual orientation and identity in the workplace.
What`s the purpose for them meeting?
PAGE: Good question. I mean--
MATTHEWS: Why do they even (INAUDIBLE)
PAGE: Some of these -- you know, there`s different reasons. A lot of it
has to do with internal disputes in the Republican caucus. The
establishment Republicans want immigration reform, for example. They see
their future at stake.
MATTHEWS: They have a big picture.
PAGE: But the Tea Party doesn`t want it. And all they want is more border
security, maybe two or three--
MATTHEWS: Let me be blunt about this. It could be that there`s a lot of
Hispanics in this country, a lot of them voting, a lot of then citizens,
fellow citizens. But there aren`t a lot in Republican districts.
PAGE: Well, that`s right.
MATTHEWS: So the big picture is--
PAGE: That`s the Tea Party districts.
MATTHEWS: -- if you want the presidency, you better get some Hispanic
votes. You can`t afford it to be 3 to 1.
PAGE: That`s right. And that`s -- that`s a dispute they`ve got to work
out internally, and it`s a very serious one. But it`s also -- but part of
the problem with this whole list is anything that`s got Obama`s name on it
or is perceived as something Obama approves of is, like, a non-starter with
so much of the Republican delegation.
MATTHEWS: The hatred level is so personal now. Ron, your thinking about
the person -- your dad was president. There were some Reagan haters.
There were certainly a lot of Clinton haters. There were certainly
Roosevelt haters. They used to say "that man" in the White House.
But this seems to have a new low level, the way in which people say things
like, I couldn`t stand being near him, I was 10 feet from him, it made me
sick. You hugged him, you`re finished. It`s really deeply personal, I
think, more -- and I think a lot of it`s playing to the bad people out
there. Not that everybody says it`s racist, but they`re playing to the
racists. That`s pretty clear.
REAGAN: Well, they do. They pander to racism. And you wonder what the
motivation for all of this is. And you wonder is it just a policy dispute?
Is it an ideological thing? Is it that, you know, President Obama wants
to, you know, desegregate schools and the Republicans don`t, or something
No. No. If it were that, if it were that, say, on the health care bill,
you would see President Obama putting forward the Affordable Care Act, and
the Republicans putting forward an alternative plan. But they don`t have
an alternative plan. It`s not that we want to do something and you want to
do something else. You want to do something and we don`t want to let you,
period, and that`s the end of it.
MATTHEWS: So it`s a lot more like the Civil War. It`s a lot like--
MATTHEWS: -- -the Civil War, the antebellum days right before we went to
the worst thing that happened in our country`s history, the Civil War, with
600,000 people killed on both sides altogether.
Look at -- here`s Tea Party Republicans like Ron Paul -- that`s the father
of Rand Paul -- out attacking the president`s authority as commander-in-
chief. This is Paul at a recent rally for Ken Cuccinelli across the river
here in Virginia where They talk about nullification. This is the stuff
that Martin Luther King talked about, about, "the lips dripping with
Anyway, here it is, talking about the president`s entire government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON PAUL (R-TX), FMR. CONGRESSMAN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
Nullification is going to come. It`s going to be a de facto nullification,
if it`s not legalized, because pretty soon, things are going to get so bad
that we`re just going to ignore the feds and run our own lives and our own
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you can laugh at that and call it Festus Haggis (ph), you
know, country talk, but this is all over now. It`s in Virginia here. Then
there`s this "I" word, of course, out there, impeachment.
Red hots in the Ted Cruz wing have made it their mantra. Here`s Texas
Republican David Dewhurst, the state`s lieutenant governor, firing up the
base at a Tea Party event last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. DAVID DEWHURST (R), TEXAS: Barack Obama ought to be impeached.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
DEWHURST: Not only -- not only trampling on our liberties, but what he did
in Benghazi is just -- it`s a crime, just a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, so we got Hillary`s going to be tagged with Benghazi. The
president`s being -- so these are words, by the way, that are just sort of
ticklers out there for people. They just sort of get them. They gig them
without even knowing what they`re talking about.
PAGE: Well, it`s important--
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) talking about nullification for? What are they
talking about impeachment for? What articles of impeachment? What`s the
first or tenth article? Are there any?
PAGE: Well, they`ll try to make something rational out of this. I mean,
you were right the first time. This (INAUDIBLE) great red meat for the
crowds, red meat for the base. But it does have responsible moderate
Republicans wondering what the heck is going on. And it`s sort of a--
PAGE: -- an atmosphere right now--
PAGE: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: You know -- you know, Ron, I`m reading -- I`m reading a book
that`s coming out soon by Todd Purdum, and I`m just reading about how
Republicans, good -- really good Republicans back in the `60s backed Civil
Rights, even when they knew the people back home didn`t want it. They --
you know, Edmund Burke (ph). They were better than the people they
represented. I`m sorry if that bothers people, but they were trying to be
more moral than the last guy out there yelling right now.
This -- this new kind of Republican -- in fact, I don`t want to say
Republican -- new kind of politician says, If I can talk as badly and as
evilly as the worst person in the room, I`ll be safe. In other words,
that`s where I want to put my money. I mean, go to the furthest right,
angriest, most hateful person who hates Obama for all the worst reasons --
if I can talk like that character, I`m safe in my seat.
REAGAN: They pander to the lowest common denominator in this country,
people who are driven by fear and ignorance. They`ve been doing it for
decades now, and now they`re reaping the rewards of this with the Tea Party
splitting the Republican like that.
REAGAN: And it serves them right. But yes, you`re absolutely right. It`s
an ugly, ugly kind of direction to go.
MATTHEWS: Yes, especially -- it`s not nice to hang out with people who
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Clarence. Thank you. Thank you, Ron Reagan.
I`m being metaphorical.
Coming up: That Cheney family feud over same-sex marriage isn`t going away.
Former Wyoming senator -- I love this guy -- Alan Simpson turned up the
heat and said Liz Cheney will do anything to win her race.
Also, guess what happens in states where governors support the Affordable
Care Act? Guess what? It works. And where they accept Medicaid
expansion, where they don`t fight the health care navigators who help
people sign up, it works. Guess what? Well, tonight, how health care
reform succeeds when Republican governors aren`t around to make sure it
fails, and actually, Democratic governors want it to work.
And JFK`s legacy tonight. Just months before his assassination, Jack
Kennedy made Civil Rights a top domestic priority. It was the right thing
to do. Politically dangerous, of course, but he did it. That`s called a
profile in courage because he risked losing the "solid South" to the
Finally, "The Daily Show" says what we`ve all been thinking about those
ridiculous comparisons between health care and its rollout and Hurricane
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Hurricane Katrina. Yes, I believe we`ve
all seen the damning photos of the presidential flyover surveying the human
suffering of the Healthcare.gov Web site!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Time now for a quick peek at 2016 politics. Rand Paul on Fox
News last night made it pretty clear who he thinks Republicans should
consider as their nominee. Roll the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think they want someone outside of, you
know, what`s been going on. So for example, someone like myself, who`s
been promoting term limits, someone who says we shouldn`t have, you know,
decade after decade longevity up here. And I think I`m enough new here to
still be perceived as an outsider, should that be the choice at some time
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Hot news! Rand Paul supports Rand Paul. Anyway, Paul was also
asked whether he would consider New Jersey governor Chris Christie a true
conservative or not. He said, Probably, if you have to have a very loose
definition of conservative.
Anyway, we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the hard right tilt of Liz
Cheney`s campaign out in Wyoming to unseat a conservative, Senator Mike
Enzi, has led to friction within the Cheney family itself. After Liz
repeated over the weekend that she`s opposed to same-sex marriage, her
openly gay sister, Mary, took the spat public. Mary Cheney and her wife,
Heather Poe, accused Liz of being somewhat disingenuous, pointing out that
she had celebrated their marriage last year and never expressed disapproval
And Liz faced more criticism today from a prominent Wyoming Republican we
all like here at HARDBALL, former senator Alan Simpson, a true libertarian,
who has backed Enzi and has publicly feuded with the Cheneys over even
running this campaign.
He told NBC, quote, "You`re not even destroying friendships, you`re
destroying family relationships just because of this race? It`s hard for
all of us who know the Cheneys to see the things she`s done -- doing right
now to win the race. It`s almost like, I will do anything to win this
race, because I cannot ever believe there would be a breach between she and
Elizabeth, you know this whole world of people who have to come out in a
family and how they deal with each other. Generally, that`s been to me the
chief reason for the big change of heart in this country--
ELIZABETH BIRCH, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: Exactly. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: -- is the family relationships of loving sisters and parents.
BIRCH: Yes. And although it`s sort of interesting to watch the Cheneys
sort of do the Kardashians, which is they`re sort of spilling out now into
MATTHEWS: You are cruel! I hear a laugh here. I hear Joan laughing.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s the lowest thing you`ve ever said here!
BIRCH: I don`t know. But I`ll tell you something. I am really proud of
Mary Cheney. because there was a long time that the gay community felt as
betrayed by Mary Cheney as she`s now feeling betrayed by her sister.
BIRCH: -- because she`s a mom and because people were angry when she
stayed on -- she was a paid staffer on the presidential campaign of George
Bush and her dad. And George Bush had come out in favor of a
constitutional amendment. So it was a very awkward, strained time between-
MATTHEWS: Do you feel--
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what the rules are. I`m not in the gay community,
but I support it. Is there a sense that if you are gay, closeted or out,
that you owe a responsibility to at least gay rights, and if you`re in
public life, you better not be gay, closeted or out, and oppose gay rights,
or else you`re sort of fair game?
MATTHEWS: In terms of (INAUDIBLE)
BIRCH: And honestly, Mary -- you can see what children have done. She`s
got a son and a daughter, and her partner, or her wife, Heather. And you
know, the thing I worry about, Chris, about this entire feud is what kind
of message are Mary and Heather`s children getting? Are they getting a
message from their grandfather that their family is less than Liz`s family?
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go back to the sheer politics.
MATTHEWS: There seems to be -- Joan, you and I can do this without being
in the community. It`s a simple political call.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: Why on earth would Liz Cheney come out so directly against
equality and marriage when she has a sibling? She could easily say, Of
course, with my sister, I may not be the usual conservative, but I`m
conservative, but in this case, I care about my sister and I cannot betray
her marital decision or her orientation or identity. And I cannot believe
she`ll lose many votes, but apparently, she`s not willing to lose two votes
or one vote.
WALSH: Well, right. No, I mean, that would be the humane and decent thing
to do. And you would think probably a lot of people in Wyoming would
respect her for that. But instead, she`s decided that she`s going to cut
this really hard-right Tea Party path to Mike Enzi`s right, and it`s really
hard to get to Mike Enzi`s right, but she`s trying to find the space. And
this is a space she feels like she needs to occupy.
But you know, it is tragic. It`s sad to talk about a family this way.
It`s sad, you know, going back to the first breach was deciding to primary
Mike Enzi, who`d been a friend of the family, apparently.
The second breach was Lynne Cheney calling Alan Simpson a liar and ending
that friendship. And now this breach is with her sister. And then another
breach, I think you`re referring to before, is that the Cheneys -- Dick and
Lynne come out and kind of basically back Liz and--
WALSH: -- say, no, she`s never supported gay marriage. And that -- what
must that feel like? They really did in this particular spat take Liz`s
side, not Mary`s. So there`s something very disturbing.
MATTHEWS: You know, I -- I`m sorry, Joan.
You probably saw "A Man for All Seasons" a few times. I have seen it about
MATTHEWS: Anyway, there`s a great scene when the guy who betrays him, the
young -- his young protege, Richard -- Rich. And he sells him out and says
he lied something about -- he never said anything against the king.
And he said, you`re sewing up -- you`re giving your mortal soul away for
Wales? I mean, she`s giving it up for Wyoming.
WALSH: And she`s not going to win anyway.
MATTHEWS: How can she go to her sister two weeks later and say, you know,
I had to do it?
BIRCH: Look, Republicans admire when people stick up for their family.
MATTHEWS: I would like to think they do.
She doesn`t think so.
BIRCH: You know, I know. But you know what? There -- we -- any voter can
get over a disagreement. What they can`t get over is a character flaw.
And to not stand up for her sister, for Mary Cheney not to understand her
sister`s position until the last day or two is ridiculous.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, responding to her sister`s criticism, Liz Cheney told --
told "The New York Times" -- quote -- "I love my sister and her family and
have always tried to be compassionate toward them. I believe that that is
the Christian way to behave."
There`s the old cover. Some took issue with Cheney`s language. Here was
"New York Times" columnist Frank Bruni, who I believe is gay. And he was
pretty clear on this. He said -- quote -- "What a curious vocabulary. It
was as if they were talking about some charity case."
I think compassionate conservatism is people who have a real problem in who
they are and what they`re suffering.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think gay people as a group say, we`re suffering as a
MATTHEWS: We are what God made us.
MATTHEWS: This is how we were made.
BIRCH: It`s what you say about like an ailing child or a sick pet, not
about another adult, your sibling, who is a whole, complete, you know,
person and mother and adult.
She doesn`t need compassion. We don`t need Liz Cheney`s compassion.
MATTHEWS: It does seem odd. And that again -- is she relating to -- is
she playing to the old thinking that--
MATTHEWS: "Feel for me. I have a gay sister. Feel for me too. I need
You know, it`s almost like, hey, I got a rough road to hoe here, row to
WALSH: Well, and--
MATTHEWS: It`s really clever, but it`s appealing to somebody 75 years old
in Wyoming, some -- probably a nice old cowpoke who`s still living in the
`50s, as we all were, most of us were.
You weren`t, but most of -- other people were, living in the `50s.
MATTHEWS: And thinking they need that vote more than any person in the
WALSH: And citing Christianity -- and citing Christianity, I mean, to cite
WALSH: -- as though that gives her permission to discriminate.
It`s just awful. But even that cowpoke in Wyoming, first of all, they
don`t like her because they think she`s a carpetbagger, frankly.
MATTHEWS: That`s a good cause.
WALSH: They think she should run -- she should run in Virginia, where
she`s lived most of the time. So that`s the first strike.
They like Mike Enzi. She`s down something like I think 50-something points
in the last poll.
WALSH: So she`s way behind as it is. And I don`t see how this helps her.
You`re right. It is a character issue. It`s not a political issue at this
Next time, we will talk about carpetbagging, because we`re more comfortable
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you, Joan and Elizabeth, she keeps saying, my roots
are in Wyoming. Yes, but her feet have been in Virginia.
WALSH: Exactly right.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, and that`s what votes. She`s been voting with her feet
for 40 years.
Anyway, thank you for this.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s a little bit of fun because it`s ridiculous. It`s
ridiculous politics at its worst.
Thank you, Elizabeth Birch. It`s great to have you back.
Joan, as always.
BIRCH: Thanks, Chris.
Up next: Toronto mayor -- now from the divine to the ridiculous -- Mayor
Rob Ford takes his don`t "blame me, I was drunk out of my mind" excuse.
Boy, that`s what you do these days, whatever -- it used to be, when you
were gay, you would say, I was drunk that night.
MATTHEWS: Now you can use it for everything.
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
I thought we just had one.
Anyway, Republicans hoping to dramatize the rocky health care rollout have
taken to comparing the ACA to Hurricane Katrina. But as Jon Stewart
pointed out last night, it`s not just inaccurate. It`s also ironic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Hurricane Katrina.
STEWART: Yes, I believe we have all seen the damning photos of the
presidential flyover surveying the human suffering of the healthcare.gov
STEWART: Comparing the government abdication of responsibility during
Hurricane Katrina, the death of hundreds of people, the displacement of
hundreds of thousands people to a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Web site is
offensive, apparently to the people who were in charge during Hurricane
ANDREW CARD, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The White
House couldn`t do anything with the mayor objecting. We had a governor of
Louisiana that was a challenge to work with.
STEWART: That`s President Bush`s chief of staff, Andy Card, saying, it`s
not fair to President Bush to compare the healthcare.gov rollout to
Katrina, because, during Katrina, Bush didn`t get the cooperation of the
Louisiana governor, you know, the way that Obama gets it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is so brilliant.
Anyway, it`s apparent that Michele Bachmann is feeling vindicated these
days. She`s joined the chorus on the right saying I told you so about the
Affordable Care Act. But as Steve Colbert demonstrated last night, it may
have gone to her head.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: We hate to say we told you so, but,
quite honestly, we all look like geniuses now.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": She`s right.
COLBERT: The Obamacare rollout is so bad that, by comparison, Michele
Bachmann is a genius.
COLBERT: And if a self-certified genius like Bachmann was right about
Obamacare, she must have been right about everything.
BACHMANN: The very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly
until slavery was no more in the United States.
COLBERT: What else you got, Einstein?
BACHMANN: There isn`t even one study that can be produced that shows that
carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There`s no match between them. These guys, Jon Stewart and
Steve Colbert, against those right-wingers, unbelievable. No match.
Next up: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford`s antics have made him a sensation over
the last couple weeks. But it`s also made it hard to take him seriously.
His TV show, "Ford Nation," was canceled already, already today, just 24
hours after its premiere last week.
And then there was this defensive interview on "The Today Show" this
morning. Take a look at how he tried to turn the tables on NBC`s Matt
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TODAY SHOW")
ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO, CANADA: Say you had gone out drinking or you
were drunk and say something happened to your family. Hold on.
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": The lives of a million people
aren`t resting on my decisions.
FORD: Hold on. Hold on. Say your son or daughter just got killed in a
car accident, and you`re plastered out of your mind at 3:00 in the morning.
Are you going to be able to handle that?
LAUER: No, I would take personal responsibility for my family.
LAUER: You have got taxpayers and residents of this city depending on you.
FORD: And I take personal responsibility for them too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Don`t mess with Matt. He`s cool as a cucumber when these things
Anyway, but when it comes to comic relief, Rob Ford is the gift that keeps
on giving. The latest viral video to capitalize on his newfound fame or
infamy is a parody of the Volvo popular TV commercial with Jean-Claude Van
Damme performing a split between two moving trucks. Those familiar with
that ad -- there it is -- probably know it`s painful to watch.
In this case, however, it`s a hilarious sight to behold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I stand here before you. What you see, it is a
body crafted to perfection, a pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of
physics, and a mind-set to master the most epic of splits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So what happens?
Anyway, up next: Don`t look now, but the new health care law is working
wherever people aren`t trying to sabotage. A lot of Republicans are doing
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
George Zimmerman has been released from jail on $9,000 bail. He was
charged with domestic battery and aggravated assault after allegedly
pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend. Zimmerman denies the allegations.
Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds is listed in fair condition after he
was stabbed multiple times at his home. Deeds` son was found dead at the
scene from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
And Florida Congressman Trey Radel says he`s seeking treatment after he was
charged with cocaine possession -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
From all the negative coverage of the health care rollout, you would think
it had been a disaster from coast to coast. But there are more than a few
health care success stories out there emerging, by the way, in states
around the country where Republicans -- or at least vicious Republicans --
aren`t actually working to sabotage the law.
"The Los Angeles Times" in an article headlined "Health Care Plan
Enrollment Surges in Some States After Rocky Rollout." Well, here`s what
we learned. California`s Covered California program is having -- quote --
"incredible momentum in enrollment." Believe that.
Washington State is -- quote -- "on track to easily exceed October
enrollment." In Minnesota -- quote -- "Enrollment for the second half of
October triple rate of first half." In Kentucky, whose Democratic governor
we have had on the program, is outperforming enrollment estimates. And in
Connecticut, a survey of those who used the state exchange showed a
satisfaction level of 96.5 percent.
What do these states have in common? Well, for starters, they all set up
their own state health care exchanges, which is how the Affordable Care Act
was supposed to work in the first place, rather than rely on a big federal
exchange. They also expanded Medicaid coverage, as they were supposed to.
And perhaps the most important point, they all have Democratic governors
trying to make it work, who have not been working at every turn to block a
program that is actually of course the law of the land.
Well, joining me now is Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who represents
residents of a state where health care enrollment is working.
Senator, thanks for coming on.
You haven`t been on much, but I would love you to just give us a sense, a
feel for the state of Connecticut and why it would be the kind of place and
is the kind of place where a new program that might be sophisticated would
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes.
So, we made a decision early on to actually implement this law and try to
make sure that residents could use it. So we hired a topnotch
administrator to run the program. We got the Web site up and running
early. We set up storefronts that are open so that people can come in off
the street and see people who can assist them in enrollment.
And we actually went about the business of connecting people with a
valuable resource. And guess what? People are lining up in the streets to
sign up for this new law. I went to one of these enrollment centers on
Monday morning. And at 10:00, when it opened, there was a line out the
It`s why Connecticut is way ahead of our initial enrollment estimates.
MURPHY: We have signed up about 15 percent of the people that we want to
sign up over the entire scope of the program.
And it`s not a coincidence that, when you don`t undermine the law, when you
actually try to make it work, the product sells.
MATTHEWS: I was thinking that you could almost have kept a diary of your
efforts to make it work and put in reverse each one of the steps you took
to make sure it worked--
MATTHEWS: -- and say, this is how you could undermine the thing, if you
MURPHY: Yes. Yes.
And the question is on the states that use the federal exchange, once the
technology is up to snuff, are people going to buy the product? And I
think the answer to that is unequivocally yes, because when you can access
it in places like California and Kentucky and Connecticut, people are
buying it. And even in Connecticut, some of the people who have had their
policies canceled and were legitimately angry about that are coming in and
finding out that they have a lot more affordable options.
I`m not as apoplectic about the technology mishaps, because I know that
once it`s up and running, people in those states are going to have the same
experience that people in Connecticut have had, notwithstanding a lot of
the efforts to try to undermine it in those red states.
MATTHEWS: I`m going to ask you to make a call now. It`s a tricky one. Do
you believe the standards set for a decent health care policy that have
been implemented now as part of the rollout were fair or they were overly
Were they fair? In other words, did they decide this was a no-good policy,
as opposed to a good policy, rather than setting super good standards that
most people would think extreme? Was it fair, what was done in setting the
standards for a decent policy?
MURPHY: I absolutely think it was fair. And I think it was fiscally
responsible, because the problem is, is that when people walked into the
hospital and found that they didn`t have coverage for maternity, not only
was that a raw deal for them from a moral perspective, but we all picked up
the cost, because that person just didn`t have money squirreled away for
pay for -- to pay for those costs. And so it got put onto other people`s
premiums or on to the taxpayers. The
So, the reason why we set a minimum floor, despite how controversial it is
in the initial rollout, is because it`s going to save the system money in
the long run. So, I get that there`s disruption when you reorder one-sixth
of the American economy, which is our health care system. But it`s
disruption we needed and a disruption that will result in less money being
spent in the long run.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. It`s a refreshing time to have you on,
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where things are working well.
MURPHY: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Whenever I talk about the Affordable Care Act, I make a point of
calling it just that, and not Obamacare.
It seems like it might be catching on. "Politico" magazine today reports
that -- quote -- "The president didn`t say Obamacare once during his entire
hour-long news conference last week, while he referred to the Affordable
Care Act a dozen times."
And White House talking points distributed to Democrats and obtained by
Politico repeatedly referred to the Affordable Care Act in suggested sound
bites, not Obamacare.
Well, this is a shift, of course, from the campaign trail when President
Obama in 2012 embraced the term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of the Affordable Care
Act, health care reform, also known as Obamacare. By the way, you know
what? Let me tell you, I have no problem with folks saying Obama cares. I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, earlier this month in New Orleans, the president joked
that the term Obamacare is often used derisively by his opponents and that
soon his critics may want to call it something else. Here he is reversing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I know health care is controversial, so, you know, there`s only
going to be so much support we get on that on a bipartisan basis. Until
it`s working really well. Then, they`re going to stop calling it
Obamacare. They`re going to call it something else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a voice of optimism.
Sam Stein, of course, is political editor for "The Huffington Post", and
Put it all together right now what we`re seeing here tonight. And there
are some states like California, of course, we mentioned them. We showed
them on the map before you came on, Sam, where it`s working. Because you
got a cooperative, supportive governor, you`ve got people who know what
they re doing, who put in place to make it work.
Maybe the president should be taking advice from these guys. It sounds
like Connecticut is the role model, that Massachusetts. How does it stand
right now on November 19th, you know, about 11 days before we`re supposed
to get the first report card on this thing?
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: It`s tight. There`s 11 days left until this
self-imposed deadline where they say the vast majority of the users of the
federal Web site would have a workable experience. And what we know from
the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is that they have made it
about 2/3 of the way through their high priority fixes, the bugs that they
need to get rid of.
So, they have 11 days to get through about 1/3 of this. There are tech
glitches still popping up. More people are having better experiences day
in and day out. But it is going to be tight and we`re running up against
that December 15th deadline after which if you don`t purchase coverage by
then, you`re not going to be insured on January 1st. And that`s an
MATTHEWS: If you were in a boxing match, would you punch the name Obama or
Affordable Care? It seems that`s where he`s weak. That`s the black eye.
It seems like the president`s got in a position where his name has become
MATTHEWS: Because of this constant assault on him. You know, he`s a
Muslim, which is, he`s from some other country. He`s illegal immigration.
He`s a liar, blah, blah, blah.
The calumny or whatever the right word is, the villainy attached to that is
so much to say my name`s not a great brand, I better talk about the program
now, at least in the short term.
STEIN: Chris, I talked to the polling guy at "Huffington Post", Mark
Blumenthal, about this, and he said people just reflexively are against
anything with the name Obama in it, just what you said. So, from a PR
standpoint, it makes sense.
There`s polls out there where in the same poll do you support Obamacare, or
do you support the Affordable Care Act. And, by and large, the Affordable
Care Act polls significantly better than Obamacare, even though it`s the
same thing. So, you know, this strategic shift makes sense, I guess from a
PR standpoint for them.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about what the president said and follow his
thinks. It was amazing for him to come out last week. We`ve never seen.
He`s accused of being aloof. And I think sometimes he is.
I thought he was very apologetic last week when he came out right before
the House vote and basically said it`s my fault, blame me. Not Sebelius or
anybody else. It`s CMA or whatever, CMS, blame me.
And then I thought it`s interesting he`s talking about now with his "Wall
Street Journal" meeting, saying they need to remarket and rebrand. Well,
how do you rebrand something with your name on it? What do you do? It`s
fascinating he`s thinking about a marketing campaign, a rebranding campaign
at this point.
STEIN: Well, no, it`s critical right now. You hit the nail on the head.
How do you rebrand something that`s this tarnished? And what`s remarkable
is they had anticipated this would be functioning October 1st. And then,
HHS, the Department of Health and Human Services would pour in a lot of ad
But more importantly, private insurers who are dependent on people signing
up anyway, would pour in what is estimated to be something like a billion
dollars in ad money. What`s happened now all of that ad money has been
pushed back. So, none of the private insurers are really advertisings for
this thing right now.
HHS has run a bunch of ads, but they`re not in as much bulk as anticipated.
So, they have to wait until the exchange works before they actually
advertise the exchange.
MATTHEWS: I think this may sound too idealistic for the times. It would
have worked for my generation. I think, Sam, the president ought to say --
and his people all across the country ought to say this, including senators
like Schumer who are very smart people. It`s an admirable thing to do to
sign up for your own insurance, taking responsibility for yourself, even if
you`re young and healthy.
STEIN: It`s a conservative thing to do, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You`ll be a good American. You`ll be a good American. Not
these flimsy kind of things that will improve your life in some ridiculous
way. But the idea it`s good for the country to do this. You`re a good
person if you do this. I think you should do that.
Thank you, Sam Stein.
STEIN: No problem. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, how Jack Kennedy risked Southern votes and his
political career for civil rights. You`ve got to believe it.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: A big loss late today for abortion rights advocates. The U.S.
Supreme Court has left in place a court order that advocates say will
effectively shut down about a third of the abortion clinics in Texas
Tuesday. Part of the new state abortion law requires doctors who performed
the procedures to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles
of the clinics.
Women`s groups and doctors challenged the law that was blocked briefly by
one court before being reinstated by the Court of Appeals. Today, the U.S.
Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals, and the anti-abortion law
remains in place. Talk about undue burden.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
When President Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he was careful not to
talk too much about civil rights and offend white Southerners who were
Democrats, whose support Democrats traditionally counted on. The bet paid
off in Kennedy`s narrow victory managed to beat Vice President Richard
Nixon all but three Southern states.
But as freedom marchers were assaulted by white mobs and Bull Connor out
there sent dogs on black demonstrators, white Americans were awakened to
the horrific racial injustice in the South. Kennedy, the president, faced
with a tough political and moral decision made a choice. He presented the
most sweeping civil rights legislation since reconstruction to the Congress
in September 1963. Two months later, President Kennedy flew to Texas to
heal liberal and conservative rift down there, it was a rift that could
cost him his presidency, lose Texas and the election, and it could be lost,
Anyway, the trip would cost Kennedy his life.
Joining me to discuss Jack Kennedy`s legacy on civil rights on this
important week is Carl Leubsdorf, the former Washington bureau chief of
"The Dallas Morning News", and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the former
lieutenant governor of Maryland and the eldest child of Robert and Ethel
Kathleen, my friend, do you -- have you ever gotten a sense, I know you`re
very young at the time, when your father`s passion and it became very real
for civil rights grew up? When did he become a mature fighter, crusader
for civil rights?
KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND, FORMER MARYLAND LT. GOV.: I would say when he
was in the Justice Department and he would make sure that for instance,
when we went to New York, and we would go to Harlem. He would make sure
that we would go into the city, you know, Washington, D.C.
I remember him driving me down in Washington one day, we were going to open
a pool and he would say, you know, Kathleen, see the kids living in those
houses, those, you know, tiny, tiny houses, they`re your age, they have the
same dreams as you, they have the same hopes as you, they would like to
swing on a swing, they would like to ride on a pony, they would like to
have everything you have, Kathleen, they just don`t have it. You`re very
lucky and you have to remember everything you share with those kids.
So, he was very visceral about his understanding of civil rights.
Obviously, that`s just what he did with me, his daughter, but at the dinner
table, he would talk about how difficult it was to deal with the
I think, you know, when my uncle, John Kennedy, and my father were growing
up, they had -- you know, they had -- they thought that Thaddeus Stevens
was too far to the left. And they came to understand just how difficult it
was to deal with those Southerners. And I mean, I remember often they
would just talk about how are we going to get that civil rights legislation
through the Southern power?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: And how difficult and tough it really was.
MATTHEWS: Carl, I remember reading that Kennedy was seen as a moderate, I
remember knowing this back before he ran for president, he was not a very
far out guy like Hubert Humphrey, for example.
CARL LEUBSDORF, FORMER WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS:
No, not at all. In fact, he sort of underlined in his early years as
president, with some of the judicial appointments he made, he appointed as
a district judge in Mississippi, Harold Cox, who was the college roommate
of Senator Enslew, the segregationist chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
When the Ole Miss desegregation case came up, Cox ruled against James
Meredith and it was the appeals court with liberal Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Given that, how do you explain one of the most fantastic,
miraculous given speeches we`ve ever heard in our lives, Jack Kennedy in
June of `63, with that wonderful speech on national television, in the
middle of all the Birmingham hell, he said that civil rights as is old as
the Scriptures as American is the Constitution, and everyone African-
American in this country saw it and was thrilled by it. Where did that
LEUBSDORF: I think it came -- you know, it came from him and from a
judgment of the situation, because the situation in 1963 was a lot
different from what it was in 1960, we had freedom writers, we had, I
mentioned, Bull Connor and that sort or thing. It`s a question of which
side you`re going to go.
You know, in a way, there`s a parallel to Vietnam. The people who think he
would have gotten out of Vietnam after the elections say that he could
assess things and be, you know, and come to a decision that was not
necessarily where he had been. I think the same thing with civil rights,
you realize this is the way he had to go.
MATTHEWS: Is that Bobby Kennedy -- the Bobby Kennedy changing is the most
amazing part of his life to me. And you were there, of course. But the
maturation, the growing up, the understanding, seems to me is the best
thing about your dad, that he kept learning.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Well, I think that`s very true. But as you know, Chris,
when he was at the University of Virginia, he had Ralph Bunche who was
their first black head of the U.N., to his House, and my mother describes
how at that time there was no place for Ralph Bunche to stay in
Charlottesville, Virginia. He stayed with my mother and my father, and all
night long my mother describes hearing people screaming at them and
So, it`s not as though they hadn`t heard it before, they haven`t been as --
much involved. And I think when my father kept having to deal with the --
first of all, the freedom riders themselves and listening to their stories
when he saw that the police wouldn`t even protect his own friend, John
Seigenthaler, let him be beaten up, and when he saw how terrible the pain
and the violence was against African-Americans, he became disgusted with
the whole situation and said we`ve got to change.
And as you know, on the night that President Kennedy gave that
extraordinary speech, Medgar Evers was killed. And this was a real fight
for American soul, and were we going to be able to, you know, make sure
that it was going to be justice for all.
The other thing I would say, Chris, and Charlene Hunter --
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much. We`ve got to go. I`m sorry.
Kathleen, please come back, as always. We loved having you here.
And, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, of course, Carl Leubsdorf, who reported on
the `60 campaign, believe it or not, this amazing person reported 53 years
ago when he won.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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