April 8, 2014
Guests: Dana Milbank, Lilly Ledbetter, Frank Rich, Amanda Terkel
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The hawks go to war.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.
And "Let Me Start" tonight with this roaring battle between Dick Cheney and
Rand Paul. The stakes couldn`t be fatter. Was it right to fight the Iraq
war? Was it good for the United States and mankind to ignite a war in the
Mideast that cost the lives of 186,000 people, that ridded Iran of its
number one Arab rival, that basically turned Iraq into an Iranian client?
Was this really good for us or our friend, Israel?
Well, Dick and Liz Cheney believe the whole war, including the torture, was
exactly the right way to go. Rand Paul, the front-runner for 2016, thinks
and says just the opposite. And it`s getting personal. Liz Cheney has
just accused Senator Paul of getting his point of view, in fact, his
talking points, she said, from our own MSNBC`s Rachel Maddow.
So let`s get this straight. If you think the Iraq war was fought under
false pretenses, if you think the whole for war was undermined by not just
bad intel but by a misconceived policy agenda, then you, sir, must be a
progressive. That`s hardly true, of course.
Ask the country, ask Republicans if they think sending our people into Iraq
accomplished anything good for this country. Just ask them. There`s only
one part of this country where the answer is yes. It`s in that pocket of
right-wing hawkish ideology that will not let the facts of history get in
the way of its obsession with oil, blood and taking down anyone at home or
abroad who dares to thumb its nose at the four-times draft-deferred Dick
Cheney, the armchair hawk who prefers fighting his wars from the avuncular
ease of a Sunday morning talk show.
The big news which drives Cheney nuts is the arrival of a top Republican,
Senator Rand Paul, willing to say that the country`s number one hawk has no
Dana Milbank is political columnist for "The Washington Post." Joan Walsh
is an MSNBC political analyst and editor-at-large for Salon.
By the way, Rand Paul`s strategic bombing of Dick Cheney in 2009, just
before Paul announced his plans for the United States Senate, is worth
another look today, as we assess the shortage of voices today defending
Cheney or denouncing Rand Paul. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: There`s a great YouTube of Dick Cheney in
1995 defending Bush number 1. And he goes on for about five minutes. He`s
being interviewed, I think, by the American Enterprise Institute. And he
says it would be a disaster. It would be vastly expensive. It would be a
civil war. We`d have no exit strategy. He goes on and on for five
minutes, Dick Cheney, saying it would be a bad idea, and that`s why the
first Bush didn`t go into Baghdad.
Dick Cheney then goes to work for Halliburton, makes hundreds of millions
of dollars, their CEO. Next thing you know, he`s back in government and
it`s a good idea to go into Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So Cheney was looking out for Halliburton. Anyway, Jennifer
Rubin, a hawkish opinion writer for "The Washington Post," today published
reaction from Liz Cheney -- that`s the daughter of Dick Cheney -- who said
it`s not surprising since Senator Paul often seems to get his foreign
policy talking pointing from Rachel Maddow. And John Bolton, Fox News
Channel contributor and former U.N. ambassador, e-mailed Rubin, quote,
"Senator Paul should repudiate his remarks and apologize to Vice President
Joan Walsh, I have to tell you, I love this. I love the fact that the
Republican Party is finally coming to some kind of reckoning over the
disastrous course that took us into Iraq. In its own midst, it`s fighting
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and they are going
to bludgeon Rand Paul. I mean, I don`t know who wins. I`m slightly
surprised that he hasn`t tried to walk back these comments at all. It`s
very hard to know who to root for here because there`s no -- I mean, you
were very clear about this last night. He did not provide evidence of this
Halliburton connection, but he`s absolutely right that Dick Cheney is the
man in charge who is fighting for his wealthy friends and who fought this
war under vastly false pretexts.
So he`s going at him, and it seems like everybody is standing around,
waiting to see who does what next. I mean, linking him to Rachel Maddow,
that would be high praise if somebody said it about me, but it`s really
kind of dirty on the part of Liz Cheney. She`s a progressive. She`s also
a woman. It`s just -- It`s one of those a classic Cheney digs that Rand
Paul better get used to. It`ll be interesting to see how he fights back.
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re accusing Rand Paul of speaking with excellent
English, at least.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know if the implications --
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Dana. Dana, what I think that what I`m looking
for, perhaps more than Joan is -- I`m looking for a deep intramural
struggle on the American right, not in the center or on the left or the
progressive left -- I`m looking for a real fight here because I think Rand
Paul is onto something. I think he thinks it`s pay dirt here to say that
that war was a disaster and that he`s willing to take that to the
Republican heartland in Iowa and the caucuses and even up to New Hampshire.
I don`t think you`d want to be on the side of, My God, that was a good
national campaign --
DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": Right.
MATTHEWS: -- that killed 186,000 people, including thousands of our
MATTHEWS: How do you win that argument from the hawkish side?
MILBANK: Yes, look, I mean, Rand Paul`s timing couldn`t be better, perhaps
by accident, but it really couldn`t be better. The isolationist-
interventionist strains have been duelling within the Republican Party
going back to Robert Taft and before that.
But this may with the isolationists` moment. In a way, of course, Rand
Paul is in politics because his father is Ron Paul. But really, Rand Paul
was created by Dick Cheney. It was the Cheney-driven -- the Bush-Cheney
administration`s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that created this new
isolationist tendency in America.
There`s now a majority of both -- according to a December Pew Research
poll, a majority of both Republicans and Americans overall now think
America should mind its own business. That`s a direct reaction --
MILBANK: -- to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars --
MATTHEWS: And Dana, you think that reflects Republican -- generally
mainstream Republican opinion, as well?
MILBANK: Well, it reflects mainstream Republican opinion. The neo-cons
are in retreat. But if you look in the Senate, for example, Rand Paul is
in a small minority. If you look at the Republican candidates for 2016,
Rand Paul is the only guy out there.
MILBANK: That`s why he has -- he has the whole field to himself here --
MATTHEWS: I agree with you.
MILBANK: -- while the others carve themselves up.
MATTHEWS: You know, when I read your piece about that, your thoughts about
that today, I was thinking back, and it`s a very different situation.
Remember Jimmy Carter ran in `76, in `75, `76, as the sort of only moderate
Democrat against four or five liberals. The shape of the field, as they
say in Massachusetts, defines the victor. If you`re the only one in your
corner and everybody else is carving up the cake in another direction, you
can skip by everybody.
Joan, I want to talk to you about this -- the Cheneys right now. I think
the Cheney family -- and that`s how you pronounce their name, if you listen
to them. The Cheney family is out to save its reputation. They got maybe
one or two more Republican conventions they can attend and be the stars at.
I think the man we`re looking at there wants to be the eminence grise of
the Republican Party. He wants to walk into that convention -- it`s
probably going to be in Vegas. But he wants to walk into that convention
and get a big ovation, standing O, as the great godfather of the Republican
And the fact that Rand Paul has dared to call him out and say, Oh, no,
you`re the guy we ought to be hiding in the closet somewhere, is really
bugging him and his family. Your thought.
WALSH: Oh, yes. They`re not going to let this rest. They`re going to
keep going at him. And we`ll see what he comes back with.
You know, I agree with you that fundamentally, within the Republican Party,
within the base, within rank-and-file real Republican, like a lot of my
relatives, that war is hugely unpopular. Dick Cheney is hugely unpopular.
But I think it`s worth noting that you`re right, Rand Paul only has -- he`s
got this field to himself. I mean, you`ve got -- you had some governors
who traipsed off and kissed the ring --
MATTHEWS: Oh, what jokes they were!
WALSH: -- traipsed off and kissed ring of Sheldon Adelman. I mean --
MATTHEWS: That kissing booth should be in everybody Democratic ad!
WALSH: -- and he exists and his people -- the Republican Jewish
Coalition exists to wipe out Rand Paul. So the fact that you had Scott
Walker, with no foreign policy history, John Kasich, Jeb Bush is less
surprising, and Chris Christie traipse over there shows Rand Paul really
might have this entire terrain to himself, which will be a very interesting
thing to watch.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it always seems to me that people that don`t have much
going on in their heads about foreign policy have to go in the very far
WALSH: They`ve got to go full neo-con.
MATTHEWS: -- to prove that they`re somehow --
MATTHEWS: -- intellectual. And the Republican -- and the Democrats, the
Hollywood people, sometimes do this, too.
Anyway, Dick Cheney spoke at AU -- that`s American University in Washington
-- in late March -- that`s recently -- and was interviewed for the school`s
TVs station, where he was again unequivocal that the CIA`s torture program,
or as he called it, the enhanced interrogation program, was a huge success.
Here`s Dick Cheney defending torture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I was a
strong advocate and helped put together the enhanced interrogation program.
Some people call it torture. It wasn`t torture. We were very careful in
all respects to abide by the law. We got legal opinions out of the Justice
Department with respect to what we could do and what we couldn`t do.
This notion that somehow there was torture involved, that`s not true. It`s
a name that -- a term that the critics have used in order to try to
discredit the program. But fact is, those two programs as much as anything
else, kept us safe for seven-and-a-half years. And the fact that we
defeated all follow-on attempts at a major attack on the United States
speaks for itself. It worked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Did you listen to the logic there? It forced people to tell the
truth they wouldn`t otherwise tell because we did some things to them that
made them tell the truth. First of all, none of it`s true. None of it`s
true. It didn`t work. It didn`t achieve any truths.
But Cheney has a certain look in his face, a certain grin he gets, a
certain grinding of the teeth -- you see it in his face -- about, It was
all legal, we were able to do that.
Anyway, contrast Cheney`s certitude with a "Washington Report" on what the
Senate Intelligence Committee -- by the way, bipartisan committee report --
reports about the current (ph) and (ph) U.S. officials with knowledge of
the report had to say about it.
Quote, "The CIA misled the government and the public about the torture
program. Two, it concealed details about the severity of the methods used.
Three, it overstated the significance of plots and the prisoners involved.
And fourth" -- and this is important -- "took credit for critical pieces of
intelligence the detainees had given up before they were tortured."
WALSH: It was --
MATTHEWS: -- I guess the ends would justify the means if you were a
certain kind of person, but there were no ends here.
WALSH: There were no ends here.
MATTHEWS: There was no gratification except for that face of Cheney who
seems to enjoy this whole conversation. Your thoughts.
WALSH: It was torture, it was illegal, and it didn`t work. That`s three
for three. You know, he`s wrong about everything. This report will
eventually come out, and he will -- well, he would be shamed if he were a
normal person and capable of feeling shame. But this is going to be yet
another black eye for his legacy. But he and his daughter are going to
keep on swinging at their opponents.
And you know, they`re not winning, Chris. I think public opinion is
turning against them.
WALSH: But he`s going to -- he`s going to leave this earth insisting that
MATTHEWS: OK --
WALSH: -- he did the right thing.
MATTHEWS: Dana, it seems the most important message he wants to get across
is to dare to speak against torture, to dare to speak against the Iraq war,
is heretical by Republicans. And the way you destroy them is to accuse
them of being somebody on the other side, in this case, Rachel Maddow.
MATTHEWS: But it also demonstrates the hatred factor of Cheney and their
family. They can`t stand people who disagree with them. Last thought from
MILBANK: Yes. It is very personal. I love the way that he justifies the
torture program saying the Justice Department approved of it. His Justice
Department, where he appointed his own lawyers to.
So look, this has always been the Cheney MO to say, I am right, never admit
you`re wrong, never admit failure, it`s a sign of weakness. What`s
happening, though, is people are turning against him. Yes, he`s still got
his daughter, he`s still got John Bolton and he`s still got Michael Hayden.
It`s like, you know, family, friends and relatives at this point.
But you even see the Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee
turning against the Bush/Cheney way of thinking and saying, Let`s
declassify that report, let`s get it out. And that`s more of this movement
of the neo-cons sort of going to ground and the Rand Paul movement
MATTHEWS: Well, it reminds of that early Superman`s movie where Eva Marie
Satin, who was Superman`s mom, and of course, Marlon Brando, setting -- as
Kryptonite -- as Krypton`s about to blow up, they send the little kid off
in a spacecraft to save him. Riding in that spacecraft is Liz Cheney.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Dana Milbank and Joan Walsh.
Coming up: No group may be more important to the Democrats`s chances this
fall than, of course, women, who are otherwise known as the majority
voters, which goes a long way towards explaining why President Obama was
out front this day, today talking about equal pay for equal work.
Plus, how will the Republicans go after Hillary Clinton -- competence,
Benghazi? No. Frank Rich says 2016 will be all about -- three-letter word
here -- sex, impugning Hillary`s integrity by linking to Bill`s behavior
regarding Monica Lewinsky. Figure that one out.
Also, the Christie investigation picks up steam as the state committee in
Trenton looking into "bridge-gate" considers new subpoenas.
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with my discussion last night at my old
college, Holy Cross up in Worcester, Mass.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Today, before the House Judiciary Committee, there was a testy
exchange between Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, an early birther, and
Attorney General Eric Holder. The subject, the Fast and Furious scandal
that led Republicans two years ago to holding Holder in contempt of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: Sir, I`ve read you what your department
promised, and it is inadequate. And I realize that contempt is not a big
deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: You don`t want to go
there, buddy. You don`t want to go there, OK?
GOHMERT: I don`t want to go there?
GOHMERT: About the contempt?
HOLDER: You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think
that it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that
that was not a big deal to me. Don`t ever think that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Moments later, Gohmert hit back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOHMERT: We`ve been trying to get to the bottom of Fast and Furious, where
people died, where at least a couple hundred Mexicans died, and we can`t
get the information to get to the bottom of that. So I don`t need lectures
from you about contempt.
HOLDER: And I don`t need lectures from you, either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, remember, Louie Gohmert is the guy who said that the
Obama administration has been infiltrated by members of the Muslim
Brotherhood. Smart guy.
We`ll be right back after this.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we`ve got to fight for
an opportunity agenda, which means more good jobs that pay good wager and
training Americans to make sure that they can fill those jobs and
guaranteeing every child a world class education and making sure the
economy rewards hard work for every single American. And part of that is
fighting for fair pay for women because when women succeed, America
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Led by President Obama there,
Democrats continued the offensive today against Republicans. It was a loud
and clear rallying cry to the heart of the Democratic base, women. The
president spoke as part of the White House "Equal Payday," which focused on
the very real gender gap, the pay gap in America today. According to the
U.S. Census, women make 77 cents for every dollar men make, a fact which
President Obama put in context today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Equal Payday means that a woman has to work about this far into
2014 to earn what a man earned in 2013. Think about that. A woman`s got
to work about three more months in order to get what a man got because
she`s paid less. That`s not fair. That`s like adding an extra six miles
to a marathon.
OBAMA: It`s not right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama also signed two executive orders. One
prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who
discuss their compensation with one another. And the other requires
federal contractors to disclose more information about how much men and
women are actually paid. He did it, by the way, with Lilly Ledbetter by
his side. Lilly Ledbetter is, of course, the face of the fair pay issue
itself. Without her, there wouldn`t be a Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
And that bill became law in 20 -- or actually, 2009 following her historic
court battle with Goodyear Tire, her employer, who paid her significantly
less than her male colleagues over the course of nearly 20 years.
Lilly Ledbetter joins us right now, along with MSNBC political analyst
Michael Steele, who chaired the RNC.
Ms. Ledbetter, than you so much for joining us. And I guess I want to -- I
don`t know how partisan you are, if you are even partisan. But this has
become an issue that the Democrats are rallying about, they`re getting
together on, and maybe that`s because women -- certainly, this part of our
American history, are voting Democrat predominantly.
How do you see this in party terms, come into this election?
LILLY LEDBETTER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Well, coming into this election, the
people have -- it`s us against them, like Republicans against Democrats and
And one thing looking back, too, Chris, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
was sponsored and co-sponsored by both parties, because when you speak
about women and their pay, you`re talking about the American families.
This should be everybody`s concern.
MATTHEWS: But is it?
LEDBETTER: It should be everybody.
MATTHEWS: But is it?
LEDBETTER: No. No.
No, it is not. That`s why we women are still so far behind.
MATTHEWS: Michael, let`s try to figure this thing out in a sober way.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Why -- when you see these numbers like 77 cents on the dollar
the president really embroidered upon today, with the women around him, of
course, and he`s using this obviously to try to get women into the voting
booths this fall. That`s fair game.
MATTHEWS: My question to you is, why do the Republicans make this fight?
Do they see some challenge here that they can`t meet and say, yes, we will
try to do that too? Why don`t they try to me too the Democrats on fair
STEELE: Well, I think, in some measure, they do.
As Ms. Ledbetter mentioned, the original bill was --
MATTHEWS: No, she said the opposite. She says your party is allowing this
to become a partisan issue.
STEELE: No, no, no, she said the bill was original co-sponsored --
STEELE: -- a bipartisan bill.
STEELE: It was a bipartisan bill, and was passed accordingly.
I understand that, but you`re absolutely right. I think there`s an
opportunity here for Republicans to have a little bit of me-tooism, first
off by stating we obviously are for equal pay for equal work for everyone,
including women, especially women, since they make up such a significant
portion of the work force.
But there is a certain level of political opportunism on both sides that
comes into play. And the fact of the matter is --
MATTHEWS: What`s the opportunity for Republicans here to fight this? Why
are you guys fighting this?
STEELE: Well, no, I think there`s an opportunity to put in context exactly
what goes on in the workplace.
There`s a lot behind that 70 percent number that the president and others
on the left like to tout. I mean, women have a lot of different choices
they have to make, some unfortunate, some fortunate choices that they make
with respect to their engagement in, in the workplace. That part of the
discussion is never really, you know, ferreted out.
Respond to that, Ms. Ledbetter. Respond to what you just heard there.
LEDBETTER: Oh, thank you.
No, those are very rare. Most of us -- like, for example, in my case, I
worked for 20 years doing the exact same job those men did. I had less
absenteeism. I had as much production. I was as good or better than most.
And I still made 40 percent less.
And that was just base pay. And this is an epidemic in this country. And
it`s -- those conditions that Michael was speaking about, those are rare
exceptions. That`s when younger women have their families or they take
leave for certain reason.
But so do men. And so often times now, the workers, the women are told,
we`re paying the men more because they have a family. And that female has
a family as well. And so many women across this nation are single mothers,
head of households, supporting a family, trying to work two jobs often,
trying to pay their bills, and they still cannot do it because they`re
And we have got to get these corporations and employers to treat people
fairly and equitably. So, equal pay, John F. Kennedy signed that 51 years
STEELE: Right. But that`s the law. So the Ledbetter Act really is about
a level of enforcement, allowing a window of opportunity for those women
who have -- in the workplace who feel that they are discriminated against
or are not being paid equality to bring their claim -- their claim against
So the basic law is still in place that, under the Equal Pay Act of 1963,
no employer is allowed to discriminate based on sex or -- and so forth. So
let`s look at how we --
LEDBETTER: But they do.
STEELE: They do. And I agree with you, Ms. Ledbetter, but let`s look at -
- and I think this is an opportunity for Republicans, as well as Democrat.
Let`s look at how we now make sure those women are empowered, as you find
yourself to be, to enforce -- to find a mechanism to enforce it.
MATTHEWS: Let`s cut to the chase here.
It`s November coming up. What is the current issue in terms of equality at
the workplace, Ms. Ledbetter? What`s the issue now facing the two parties,
Michael`s party and your party? What`s the issue?
LEDBETTER: Equal pay and equal treatment.
And that`s exactly -- all the women expect to be treated equitably and
fairly, and they need to get that pay. See, even though we have had that
law, I didn`t get the equal pay. And I didn`t know. I didn`t know. I
didn`t have a way to know.
Well, that executive order that the president signed today, that would have
allowed me to find out exactly how I was paid. And I wouldn`t have stood
to being paid 40 percent less than my male counterparts, because I was
working for my family. It meant a great deal. We did without a lot,
simply because I didn`t get what I had legally earned under the law.
And that was one of my statements at the White House today, when I said
that they got by paying me less than I deserved long enough to make it
legal. It took me nine years fighting to get as far as I did to get that
no from the Supreme Court. And then I never got a dime. And I never will
get a dime.
But what this also does, not only to the American families, working day in
and day out, it also affects my retirement and my Social Security as well.
It goes on for the rest of a woman`s life.
MATTHEWS: Boy, you made your point. Lilly Ledbetter, thank you so much
for coming on the show.
The idea of starting behind the eight ball and never getting out front,
thank you so much for making it clear.
Michael, you had a hard fight to make tonight.
STEELE: No, it`s not a fight, as I think it`s an ongoing discussion,
And I appreciate everything Ms. Ledbetter said. But there are lot of
pieces to this equation, including the choices the women make --
MATTHEWS: Do you think we have fair pay right now, Michael?
STEELE: No, we -- no, we don`t, Chris. And I don`t think anyone would
disagree with that.
But the question is, how do you bring employers into the 21st century so
they can appreciate the struggle of a Ms. Ledbetter --
STEELE: -- recognizing that young women who enter the marketplace, older
women who have been in that marketplace are continuing to mare choices with
respect to their own professional development and their families. And all
of that is a factor for employers and individuals.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
Up next -- both of you. Thanks so much, Michael.
LEDBETTER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, of course, Lilly Ledbetter.
STEELE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Joe Biden with a line he probably wish he said
differently? That`s new. It`s vintage Joe ahead in the -- ahead in the
"Sideshow," of course.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
The Senate Intelligence Committee`s report on torture continues to
reverberate in Washington this week after the committee voted last Thursday
to ask the White House to declassify it. Earlier reporting on its findings
have revived -- actually revived up the Bush era debate over what the CIA
and Bush administration ominously referred to as enhanced interrogation.
Here was Jon Stewart`s take on that last night and what it says about our
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": The Senate
Intelligence Committee voted to declassify a comprehensive report on our
country`s use of, I guess what the CIA would call super aggressive
terrorist suspect spa treatments during the Bush administration.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: The
report exposes brutalities that stands in stark contrast to our values as a
nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never be allowed to
happen again. This is not what Americans do.
STEWART: America has a history of doing a tremendous amount of stuff that
we don`t do.
STEWART: We are a moral people -- in hindsight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Next up: Vice President Biden joined his wife, Dr. Jill Biden,
at a convention for the American Association of Community Colleges in
And you could say the vice president opened up about why he appreciates the
work of community college professors, specifically his wife, who is an
English professor in Northern Virginia. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I`m proud to stand alongside
someone who knows the value of a community college education, and not just
because he`s married to a community college teacher.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jill is probably right.
I think I had the same attitude if I did not sleep with a community college
professor every night.
BIDEN: The same one, the same -- same one.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, Joe.
Finally, there`s something you don`t see every day, two former presidents
chatting away during the NCAA men`s basketball championship last night
between Kentucky and UConn. And, as you can see, President Bill Clinton
sat beside his successor, I think, George W. Bush, in the VIP box which
happened to have been owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. It`s
unclear which team the former presidents were rooting for. You could say,
of course, they made a bipartisan appearance together in the stadium`s
JumboTron. There they are.
Up next: the Republican attack machine. Frank Rich says they`re going to
try to use sex to go after Hillary in 2016. Frank Rich is going to join us
next here on HARDBALL.
You`re watching it, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Crews searching the Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
have so far been unable to pick up any new pings from the plane`s black
boxes. Two ships are listening for those sounds in two separate areas.
They were last heard over the weekend.
President Obama will travel to Texas tomorrow to attend a memorial service
for victims of last week`s shooting at Fort Hood. The rampage left four
people dead, including the gunman. And 16 people were wounded.
And John Kerry testified earlier before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee about the crisis in Ukraine. He said Russia would face even
tougher sanctions if it continues to try and destabilize that country --
back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In recent weeks, we have gotten a strong hint of what is to come if Hillary
Clinton jumps into the 2016 race for president. There was a mini-outbreak
of what you might call scandal fever on the right, touched off by Senator
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: He took advantage of a girl that was 20
years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that. And
that is predatory behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PAUL: A predator, a sexual predator basically, repetitive -- you know,
there`s dozens, or at least a half-a-dozen public women who have come
forward. Some of them did sue in the job place.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I really think that anybody who wants to take money from Bill
Clinton or have a fund-raiser has a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I
think they should give the money back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, conservatives quickly jumped on board, showing what`s in
store. RNC Chair Reince Priebus gleefully tweeted -- quote -- "Remember
all the Clinton scandals? That`s not what America needs again."
And here he was with my colleague Andrea Mitchell in February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Is that a
legitimate issue, rehashing the `90s, if Hillary Clinton becomes a
candidate for president?
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think everything
is on the table. I don`t see how someone just gets a pass on -- on -- on
anything, I mean, especially in today`s politics.
So, I mean, I think we`re going to have a truckload of opposition research
on Hillary Clinton, and -- and -- and some things may be old and some
things might be new. Hillary Clinton provides a lot of opportunity for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, the conservative magazine "National Review" wrote in
an editorial -- quote -- "The Clintons are our national grotesques."
Anyway, "New York Magazine"`s Frank Rich says it`s a terrible thing on the
Republicans` part -- quote -- "It apparently hasn`t occurred to these
outraged moral arbiters that the projection of sex scandals onto a couple
campaigning as beloved national grandparents -- Bill Clinton turns 70 in
2016, Hillary 69 -- will strike many Americans as ludicrous."
Anyway, Rich argues the attack is going to backfire -- quote -- "The
received wisdom that sex scandals threaten a Hillary run is preposterous.
It`s the reverse that`s true. The right`s inability to stanch its verbal
diarrhea on the subject of female sexuality -- whether provoked by rape,
contraception, abortion, traditional marriage, gay marriage, gay parenting,
or pop culture -- did as much as anything to defeat Mitt Romney, his
binders full of women notwithstanding, in 2012."
Well, Frank, we can`t wait to have you on. You have got it all to
Now, I know you`re not an adviser to the Republican National Committee.
FRANK RICH, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": Not --
MATTHEWS: But when you say -- no, I know.
But when you say they`re going the wrong direction by going after Bill and
somehow hoping to -- to get Hillary, the candidate, somehow in the attack,
what are they trying to say, ultimately, that she enabled his behavior?
What do they -- what is their gold star they`re trying to get for this?
How do they actually win going -- from their thinking, going after Bill to
get his wife, who has been loyal to him?
What`s their point?
RICH: Well, I think -- I think their point is all just utter desperation.
You know, they talk a good game about how Benghazi is -- is the scandal
they will nail Hillary Clinton on, or foreign policy in generalThe American
public really doesn`t care about foreign policy, particularly since the
Afghanistan and Iraq wars and it didn`t work to hurt Obama. So, it`s not
going to work to go after Hillary.
So, I think they`re so bad at speaking about sex, about sexuality that they
just, you know, sex scandal, they just rev up and they`ll start talking
about -- yes, they`ll tar Hillary Clinton somehow for whatever Bill did or
didn`t do. But they`ll also -- you know it, contraception, rape, all the
stuff will just become part of the mix because there`s just so bad at
talking about women.
MATTHEWS: What is that? What is that middle age guy`s inability to talk
about women in a modern way? I mean, maybe this would have worked 30 years
ago. The rape -- which rape candidate are you talking about, it gets so
absurd. They took about binders full of women. Not binders of resumes of
women, but binders of women. It seems to be inarticulate at best.
RICH: I think you`re right. And culture, it`s a cultural -- it`s an
ingrained cultural thing. And it`s certainly mainly true of older men in
the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: Are they nervous?
RICH: Not so much a new generation --
MATTHEWS: Do you think they`re nervous, Frank? They talk about sexuality
as something weird they don`t know about or they -- what gets their tongue?
RICH: They`re nervous, they`re threatened. You see it across the board.
You see it in the Michael Hayden conversation, talk about Dianne Feinstein.
You see it with Chris Christie`s so-called exoneration report, talking
about the emotional state of a female aide as somehow causing Bridgegate.
It`s preposterous. They just -- they don`t understand the language.
You know, after they lost women in the last election by 11 points, even
John Boehner said we`ve got to get our act together. There were, you know,
sort of consciousness raising groups and so on, but they keep doing it. A
couple of congressmen even gone back to talking about rape and defending
Todd Akin`s views. It`s --
MATTHEWS: I think it`s like you hear on the web, you hear these stupid
jokes people passed around on the right. I get them inferentially. I get
them from different people. I don`t know why they send. They never reacts
they send them.
Anyway, let`s talk about Bill Clinton. Here`s my theory about Bill
MATTHEWS: He doesn`t -- I don`t care if you`re a puritan minister looking
back, he did have the Monica Lewinsky relationship. It`s on the record, we
all know about it. It`s probably worked its way down to about seventh or
eighth paragraph on his obit now. It`s just not that high up anymore.
He hasn`t had done anything to do in this category of wrongdoing, if you
will. You want to be moral about it -- moralistic. He hasn`t done
anything wrong in 16 years. This guy`s post-presidency has not been an
embarrassment in any way. Who knows what people`s private lives are about?
But it hasn`t been in any way public or embarrassing.
Why do they think they can go back and beat Bill who everybody likes
because you can`t beat up Hillary through Bill unless you beat up Bill?
And I don`t think they`re going to beat up Bill very successfully because
people like the guy.
RICH: That`s right. It`s the old joke. It`s in their nature. They
literally can`t stop themselves.
You know, for instance, Michael Barone who was a conservative pundit ran a
column a couple of weeks ago talking about how Bill Clinton like a decade
ago had been on a plane where someone else who used the plane at another
time had been involved in some sex scandal.
They just can`t stop it. It`s like a puritan streak. It goes back to the
puritans, I think.
MATTHEWS: You know, here`s what I think. I think people look at people
over a long period of time and they know everything the Republicans are
going to throw at them. And they`ve already discounted it. They put it
into their -- and they look at the kind of presidents we`ve had, W and
Obama. They put them altogether and weighed them all.
And Bill Clinton has looked very good in that weighing. And so has Hillary
Clinton as part of that White House. I think that`s the strength they
have, that people are seasoned now. They don`t look for perfection.
Certainly not -- by the way, I should point out, how many marriages last as
long as this one has? You know, in every family there`s divorce, it seems.
RICH: It`s true. And, in fact, many of the public adversaries of Clinton
during his term, starting with Newt Gingrich had horrible marital
situations and hypocrisy was all over the place.
I think you`re right. I think people associate Bill Clinton with
prosperity. They associate Hillary Clinton with a professional run as
secretary of state, even if some, including me, may disagree with her about
some issues. And the Republicans don`t really have, at least now, a strong
candidate to put up against her, should she run. And so it`s desperation
to find some kind of --
MATTHEWS: I think you and I in that little nuance of foreign policy are
probably completely in sync, by the way. Thank you so much, Frank Rich,
for a broad defense of the Clinton, which I don`t think is going to be
necessary in a couple of years.
Anyway, up next, Bridgegate, more subpoenas could be on the way.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Our friend Chris Cillizza of "The Washington Post" has a poll
number he said should strike fear in the hearts of Democrats this November.
It`s the number 14. That`s the gap between some people who want
Republicans in Congress and some people who want Democrats in charge.
Well, according to a new A.P. poll, it`s is among people who are strongly
interested in politics. In other words, the people who are most likely to
vote in a midterm election.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
It`s possible more subpoenas could be under way in the Bridgegate scandal.
At issue is that report Governor Chris Christie`s administration lawyers
did that exonerated him from having any advanced knowledge of the lane
closures. A state legislative committee met today to discuss whether to
subpoena transcripts of interviews conducted by Christie`s lawyer.
Well, it doesn`t sound like the committee is ready to drop this
investigation of the governor. But one of their colleagues said that two
of this scandal`s key players, Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, are not
compelled by a state court to turn over documents. Then, it might be time
to, quote, "walk away."
Well, this guy I want to keep an eye.
Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an
MSNBC contributor, and Amanda Terkel is with "The Huffington Post".
First of all, let`s not talk about this guy ready to walk here because I
smell sweetheart. Let`s take about this issue.
When we looked at the reports, Jonathan, you and I, last couple of weeks,
we looked at these reports, and Amanda, and we saw information in there.
Let`s start with this Bridget Kelly private life.
I think -- I`m getting a sense of people like Loretta Weinberg leading this
effort and Wisniewski -- Wisniewski up there in Trenton, are trying to
figure out why a report that was supposedly trying to get into who`s guilty
and who wasn`t in this whole affair of Bridgegate, somehow came up with
stinky-poo information they shouldn`t even looking for about somebody`s
private life and use it to somehow discredit here. And, of course, we`re
talking about Bridget Kelly.
Apparently, they want to see the transcripts, the legal transcripts of what
people -- who was at the ventured information about Bridget Kelly`s private
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, Chris, the other thing that
they could be looking for, yes, where did this information come from, the
stink bombs in it, about Bridget Kelly. But it`s also the things that
probably didn`t -- most likely didn`t make it into the report. You know,
those transcripts have all sorts of might have all sorts of information
that would be useful to the state, the state committee investigating that
Randy Mastro, and Gibson Dunn decided not to put that into the report.
What`s important the important information depends on who`s reading it and
from the state`s perspective, anything that`s in those transcripts could be
useful to them.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Amanda because my key question would be -- what did
the governor say? Now, he wasn`t not under oath with this commission, this
law -- Gibson Dunn attorneys, but he was in a sense vulnerable there to a
charge of not telling the truth.
Do we know how closely they questioned him about what he was thinking when
he heard about these traffic problems, what he surmised was going on, what
winking back and forth may have gone? Anything that might be coming out
because of the testimony coming from Wildstein or coming from Bridget Kelly
or Stepien or anybody else? How tough a questioning do they engaged in of
this guy we`re looking at, the guy at the heart of this thing?
AMANDA TERKEL, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, we don`t know. And I know that
Loretta Weinberg has said that she wants Chris Christie to come before the
committee and to testify and that if he does and does so honestly, they`ll
leave him alone. But I wanted to also add that the committee did meet
today and they decided that they`re not going to issue subpoenas yet.
They`re going to give Gibson Dunn until the end of the week to give them
all the transcripts.
MATTHEWS: Who owns them, by the way? Who`s property are those
transcripts? Paid for, it apparently cost them $600,000 by the state.
Does the state own those transcripts, the basic, raw data of the
TERKEL: That`s the great question. They said if they don`t get it by the
end of the week, they`re going to subpoena either the law firm or the
governor`s office. So, I think they`re still looking at what`s going to
happen. We don`t know if the law firm is going to comply yet.
MATTHEWS: Well, I know. I was in a deposition a while ago. Jonathan, it
seems to me, you have to hire a lawyer, you have to pay for these
transcripts. So, once you pay for transcripts, the deposition is yours. I
mean, the state of New Jersey paid for all these transcripts, it seems to
me. Maybe they didn`t pay for them. They just took the report from Randy
Mastro. They asked for the original data.
CAPEHART: Well, I mean, if Randy Mastro and Gibson Dunn are being paid,
were hired by the Christie administration, therefore, they`re being paid
out of taxpayer money from the state of New Jersey, then I think the public
would rightfully ask the question, hey, don`t those papers belong to us and
therefore, shouldn`t the state legislature, which is part of the state
government shouldn`t they be entitled to getting those transcripts, those
documents, which technically they own?
MATTHEWS: And if they ask for them, they should get them. Let me go back
to the state Senate President Steve Sweeney, a man that -- you understand
this guy`s politics. Is he in bed with the governor? He seems to want to
have this thing over with. I`m just wondering what he`s up to here.
TERKEL: Well, he did backtrack on that, I have to say. He said that, no,
he thinks the committee should go on until it gets all the facts and the
legislature should be able to look into all f this, and then submit
recommendations on what reforms there need to be made. So, he may have
gotten some sort of criticism for that.
So, he`s backtracking now and saying that. So, I think that --
MATTHEWS: So, you think he`s playing it straight.
TERKEL: Yes, I mean, I think that no one in the legislature now, the
Democrats at least, want to give up this committee. I mean, they`re the
ones who got the ball rolling on this to begin with. They`re the ones who
start looking at the press reports --
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s hope the --
TERKEL: -- and saying, you know, there`s something fishy here.
MATTHEWS: Let`s hope Mr. Sweeney keeps on the aggressive front. The
people want to know this thing. They don`t want it to just go away.
Thank you, Jonathan Capehart, as always. Amanda Terkel from "Huffington
Post" thanks for joining us.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.
TERKEL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
I went up last night Holy Cross, my alma mater, to talk about what`s
happening in this country today, where it looks like we`re headed. It`s a
great night up there on Mount St. James where the big chunk of the student
body and a big room on Hogan Hall to greet me.
My message was tough, but I have to say realistic. It`s that we`re in for
a very divisive period ahead in politics. The Republicans could make big
gains in the House this November, that actually take control of the Senate.
We all know that.
At the same time, we also know that Hillary Clinton looks stronger than
ever for 2016. The Republicans don`t know which direction to go against
here. Do they make clear that they made a huge mistake taking the country
into Iraq at the cost of 186,000 lives with no clear benefit to anyone? Or
do they double down, salute the non-combatant Dick Cheney and the rest of
his armchair hawks and say, I am what I am, I did what I did, and I do it
Well, that`s a brutal choice for the R`s to make, especially in a year
where the Democrats will be unusually united behind a seasoned candidate
for president. Who, you have to ask, could unite the Republicans in the
wake of Iraq? Is there such a thing as unity when there`s so much real
division over a matter of such recent history?
So, it was good to be up on Holy Cross last night. The students and the
administration could not have been more welcoming, the student argument who
hosted me were great hosts to this grateful alumnus. And Father Boroughs,
the great new president of the college, could not have been a better
leader. Holy Cross College is where I learned philosophy and learned to
think hard and yes, to argue for what I believe, to demand answers, even in
the middle of the night, arguments.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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