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updated 6/9/2014 1:31:53 PM ET 2014-06-09T17:31:53

HARDBALL
June 6, 2014

Guest: Michelle Bernard, Anne Gearan, Simon Marks

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hillary`s beachhead.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with Hillary Clinton`s dramatic change of
position on the Iraq war, her declaration in her new book that she wished
she had voted against allowing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq
instead of for it. Quote, "I got it wrong," she writes in her about-to-be-
released memoir, quote, "plain and simple," close quote.

Well, this stark condemnation of the Iraq war and of the Senate votes
to authorize it spells a determination on Hillary Clinton`s part to remove
herself from that very small faction of Democrats who still back the Iraq
war and join the huge number of her party who view it as the worst foreign
policy decision since Lyndon Johnson`s escalation of the Vietnam war.

While breaking with her past Iraq war position, Secretary Clinton
retains a foreign policy posture still a notch to the right of President
Obama. She tells in her new book, "Hard Choices," that she had wanted to
provide U.S. arms and training to rebels battling the government of Syria`s
President Assad, a plan the president rejected at that time.

How will this all affect Democratic primary voters who have supported
the president`s policy of restraint in foreign policy, especially with
regard to military engagements?

David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and
Michelle Bernard is president and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women,
Politics and Public Policy.

As I said, Hillary Clinton`s decision to call her Senate vote to
authorize the Iraq war a mistake, plain and simple, is a dramatic change
compared to what we heard from her the last time she ran for president back
in 2008, when her position on the war proved to be a huge negative in the
Democratic primaries. Here are just a few instances of Hillary defending
her vote back then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That was a sincere
vote based on my assessment that sending inspectors back into Iraq to
determine once and for all whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass
destruction and using coercive diplomacy was not an unreasonable act.

I believe that it is abundantly clear that the case that was outlined
on behalf of going to the resolution -- not going to war, but going to the
resolution -- was a credible case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You voted to authorize war. The resolution you
voted for Robert Byrd was a blank check for George Bush. Ted Kennedy says
it was a vote for war. James Carville and Paul Begala said anyone who says
that vote wasn`t a vote for war is bunk.

CLINTON: Well, Tim, if I had a lot of paper in front of me, I could
quote people who say something very differently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, according to excerpts from her new book, her
position couldn`t be clearer. She writes, quote -- and this is clear --
"Many senators came to wish they had voted against the resolution. I was
one of them. As the war dragged on, with every letter I sent to a family
in New York who had lost a son and daughter, a father or mother, my mistake
became more painful. I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best
decision I could with the information I had, and I wasn`t alone in getting
it wrong. But I still got it wrong, plain and simple."

David Corn, I think when I see something as clearly stated as that, I
have to say how impressed I am. This isn`t a statement of, Well, I went
with what I had at the time, something about WMD and all the usual stuff we
hear from politicians. It`s a statement -- wrong. I was wrong, plain and
simple. That to me is impressive politics.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the
question to me is why she didn`t say that in 2008. What`s happened between
now and then, other than that she lost because she didn`t say it in 2008?
I spoke to a Hillary adviser a couple days ago, and this story came up.
And she said there was a lot of litigation, her word, in Hillary`s circle
about how to take care of the Iraq portion of the book. So there was a lot
of...

MATTHEWS: Who won?

CORN: Well, I don`t know who was on what side, but there was a lot of
deliberation...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Define the victory then.

CORN: What?

MATTHEWS: Define the victory because I think there was a victory by
one side in that.

CORN: Well, I think there`s a victory for the people who wanted her
to make the break with the past, and it was clearly something she was not
able to do four years ago. But she`s learned a lesson and she wants to
take this -- or at least try to take this off the table this time around.
I`m not sure this will, but it takes her a long way towards doing that.

MATTHEWS: Michelle?

MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: I mean, I love it. I
think it`s incredibly impressive that she came out and she said that she
made the wrong decision. The title of the book that`s coming out is "Hard
Choices," but she points herself out as the choice maker.

This is an excellent opportunity for her to explain every decision
that she`s made since she ran for president in 2008 and as secretary of
state under Barack Obama. And she`s somebody who can go back and say, I
acted in good faith. I thought I was doing the right thing. I did the
wrong thing. However, for those of you who are worried that I`m now going
to become too dovish, here`s my stance on Syria. I would have
intervened...

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what I was going to say. I thought she -- I
thought she put -- I`ve always thought -- well, not always. The last
several months, I`ve been thinking about this, like all of us. I`ve been
thinking she`s probably a notch -- notwithstanding the fact she`s basically
recanted that position on Iraq -- about a notch or a bit more to the right
on war than the president...

BERNARD: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... which is not necessarily wrong. That might be -- in
fact, I think it might be where the country is right now, a bit to the
right of the president. I mean a notch...

CORN: Well, I`m not sure about that.

MATTHEWS: A notch. A notch.

CORN: She...

MATTHEWS: I`m not overstating it, buddy. I`m no hawk.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the country, if you ask them, Would you like to have a
stronger -- but then if you ask them, Do you want more troop commitments,
they say no.

CORN: No, they don`t want to be involved in Syria. They...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What did you make of her statement in the book about how
she wanted to go with more arms and training to the rebels in Syria at the
time the president held back?

CORN: Well, I think you`re right. I think she`s trying to have it
both ways. She wants to appease the dovish wing of the party, who still
has a bitter taste about her Iraq vote, but yet say to the general
electorate and to the foreign policy elite...

MATTHEWS: Well, isn`t that all fair?

CORN: Well, it`s all -- she can take whatever position she wants.
It`s fine, but she was ready to do this. But the other thing is, to raise,
you know, a hot button issue here, I wonder if the thinking is that it`s
harder for a woman who wants to be commander-in-chief to be seen as dovish.
And so for, you know, that...

BERNARD: Well, it`s a fair question...

MATTHEWS: By the way, it`s a good subjective question because you
really ask not whether it`s right or wrong that that`s the case. Does the
woman herself in this case think that`s...

CORN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... the necessary posture?

BERNARD: Well, I think what we see here...

MATTHEWS: Does a woman have to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... show of her toughness? I don`t know.

BERNARD: I think -- it`s a very difficult call. I think the most
important thing in dealing with acts of war and Hillary Clinton is that we
have seen someone who is consistent. She thinks these things through, and
she`s able to explain why her vote on the Iraq war was wrong and why she
would differentiate her position on Syria with that of Barack Obama.

She`s going to -- in that way, she`s reaching out to the anti-war to
the anti-war sentiment of the Democratic Party, but also to people who
think that we`re making a huge mistake by not intervening in Syria.

CORN: But remember, too, a couple of weeks ago, when they had the
episode in Crimea, she jumped out very quickly and compared Putin to
Hitler.

MATTHEWS: That`s something Obama would never do.

CORN: ... and took a very tough stance. It wasn`t very helpful.

MATTHEWS: I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think she`s to the right of the president.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: I think she`s to the right of him on foreign policy...

MATTHEWS: That`s what I mean.

BERNARD: ... and to the right of him on health care also.

MATTHEWS: How so?

BERNARD: Well, she differentiated herself a few weeks ago. She gave
a speech sometime in the last three or four months where she said, for
example, Let`s not throw the baby out with the bath water, but let`s take a
look at how "Obama care" is impacting small and medium-sized businesses and
go in...

MATTHEWS: OK, but just remember...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who was the tough guy? The individual mandate was Hillary
Clinton. He was opposed to that in the campaign. Anyway, I think it`s
fascinating and I think it`s great. And what I like is the new position
she`s taken on the Iraq war cannot be changed.

BERNARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: That is absolute...

MATTHEWS: You`re thinking it`s a joke!

CORN: I`m a lot more cynical than you, but yes, I...

MATTHEWS: I think "pure and simple" is a pretty strong statement.

Anyway, when you run -- this is another thing that came up with
Secretary Clinton. When you for president, you need to show a little human
of your side -- human side -- if you`re fortunate if you have a human side!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: In this book, by the way, we get some very humanizing
anecdotes that have leaked out already this week. For instance, Hillary
Clinton writes, quote, "When I had to stay awake during meetings or
conference calls, I drank copious cups of coffee and tea and sometimes dug
the fingernails of one hand into the palm of the other. It was the only
way I knew to cope with the crazy schedule and the fierce jet lag."

And here`s what she writes about the her daughter`s -- Chelsea`s --
wedding. "Bill was as emotional as I was, maybe even moreso, and I was
just glad he had -- he made it down the aisle in one piece. Afterwards,
Bill danced with Chelsea to `The Way You Look Tonight.` It was one of the
happiest and proudest moments of my life."

I want to let Michelle answer this because I`m worried about you on
this...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: First of all, my father-in-law used to sing -- my late
father-in-law, who was a World War II guy -- he`s in Arlington now, in the
cemetery -- he used to sing that to my mother-in-law, that Jerome Kern
song, "The Way You Look Tonight." So that got me as really true.

BERNARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And yet the fingernail thing -- it`s something she didn`t
have to put in the book, obviously.

BERNARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: But we all have tricks to keep ourselves awake, like when
we`re driving at night, you know?

BERNARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I always drank Pepsi because it ruins my stomach and it
keeps me away all night!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But this fingernail -- this is amazing. Putting the
fingers into the palm -- the fingernails...

BERNARD: To wake yourself up.

MATTHEWS: ... to get some pain -- it`s really an amazing admission!

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: ... but it`s also just about the stance of Hillary Clinton
humanizing herself. It`s important to see these things. I think about a
commentator on another network who, you know, four years ago was talking
about Hillary Clinton, and he said, It cries, it does this, it does that,
like she`s not even human. So she`s...

MATTHEWS: Who said that?

BERNARD: So you know, we are...

MATTHEWS: Who said that?

BERNARD: I`m having a brain moment here.

MATTHEWS: OK, if you don`t remember, fine.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I think you`re covering for somebody.

BERNARD: No, no, no.

CORN: Well, you know...

MATTHEWS: If it comes to you, just blurt it out.

BERNARD: I will.

CORN: She had -- you know, Hillary Clinton is one of the people in
our political culture who for 20, 30, maybe 40 years now has been
characterized in so many different ways, as a raging socialist, lesbian, as
a corporatist Wall Street lover. And I think, you know, it`s partly (ph)
hard as this point, but I imagine there`s a desire on her part to sort of
define herself. And she didn`t do it too well in 2008. She didn`t connect
with voters. And the question is, after all this time, all these laps
around the track, can she do it anew?

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s something new. This may come as a shock, but
in her book, according to what`s leaked out from CBS, Secretary Clinton
defends Sarah Palin. After Palin was named was John McCain`s running mate,
she writes, quote, "The Obama camp immediately issued a dismissive
statement and reached out to me in hopes I would follow suit. But I
wouldn`t. I was not going to attack Palin just for being a woman appealing
for support from other women. I didn`t think it made political sense and I
didn`t feel right. So I said no."

Well, it`s pretty clear if Hillary Clinton is going to win a strong
mandate -- this is me talking -- in 2016, she`s going to have to roll up
that score among women. I`m talking about a big result. This country is
very 50-50 right now. If she gets something like -- look at the numbers
now. A recent "Washington Post/ABC poll has her at 61 percent among women.
Now, just think about that. What the other guy who runs against --
probably a guy, he`d have to get, like, 68 percent to make up that because
women are 53 percent of the vote!

BERNARD: Let me tell you, and this statement to me that she made
about Sarah Palin is just as impressive as...

MATTHEWS: Why`d she do it?

BERNARD: ... the statement she made on the Iraq war. Because, number
one, it would have looked like a cat fight. You`ll remember, years ago,
Carly Fiorina was caught on tape making comments about another candidate.

CORN: Barbara Boxer.

BERNARD: Yes, I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: ... people talking about the cat fight. But also, there are
-- not all women that consider themselves feminists are a blue state
Hillary Clinton feminist. There are red state feminists...

MATTHEWS: So she`s...

BERNARD: ... -that stay home...

MATTHEWS: She`s reaching across the aisle...

BERNARD: She`s reaching across the aisle to the mom who`s the stay-
at-home mom...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... frontier, tough woman who may not be political.

BERNARD: ... who`s home schooling her child...

CORN: But look at...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: But look at what we`re doing here! Look at what we`re doing.
We are analyzing this statement for its political effect.

MATTHEWS: I know. What else can you do?

CORN: So the question is...

MATTHEWS: You know what we call this? "The place for politics."

CORN: I know it is!

MATTHEWS: By the way...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... if she gets 61 percent among the women, the other guy,
assuming he`s got -- has to get more than two thirds!

BERNARD: Yes.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: She`ll kill him! This is great politics! It is politics.

BERNARD: And it`s smart.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What are we talking about here? What are we talking about
her?

(CROSSTALK)

And by the way, her book will be out by early next week. We`ll have a
real look at it.

Anyway, thank you, David Corn. You`re so skeptical!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And Michelle Bernard, you`re so wonderful.

Coming up: How big a threat are the five Taliban prisoners that we
sent back in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl? The answer to that will go a long
way towards knowing whether we paid too high a price for Bergdahl`s
release.

Plus, the story behind one of the greatest military deceptions in
history. Today, we go back to the beaches of Normandy.

Also, not only does the CIA join the Twitterverse, it shows the world
that the folks over at Langley have a sense of humor. Really. That`s
coming up in the "Sideshow."

Finally tonight, "Let Me Finish" with the real hero of D-Day, Dwight
D. Eisenhower.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Texas Republicans have solved the issue of climate
change. They`ve declared it doesn`t exist. The state`s GOP party platform
puts it this way. Quote, "While we all strive to be good stewards of the
earth, climate change is a political agenda which attempts to control every
aspect of our lives. We urge government at all levels to ignore any plea
for money to fund global climate change or `climate justice` initiatives."

Well, the fact is, there`s almost total consensus among climate
scientists that global warming is real and that human behavior is a major
contributor.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Questions about Bowe Bergdahl`s
conduct and loyalty will continue to grow, of course, and an Army inquiry
into his disappearance -- did he desert? Did he deliberately approach the
Taliban? And does that matter to the deal to get him back?

Well, the bigger question to come out of last weekend`s deal is
whether the price we paid, freeing five high-ranking Taliban leaders, was
just too high. Columnist Charles Krauthammer agreed it had to be done,
however, regardless of Bergdahl`s conduct. Quote -- here`s Charles
Krauthammer`s column -- "Bergdahl remains a member of the United States
military, and therefore is, A, subject to military justice, and B, subject
to a soldier`s creed that we don`t leave anyone behind. What to do? Free
him, then try him. Make the swap, and then, if the evidence is as strong
as it now seems, court-martial him for desertion."

One thing Krauthammer knocked was the White House taking what seemed
like a victory lap earlier next week. Quote, "This is no victory. This is
a defeat, a concession to a miserable reality, a dirty deal, perhaps
necessary as a matter of principle, but to be carried out with regret,
resignation, even revulsion."

Eugene Robinson is a columnist for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC
political analyst and Anne Gearan is diplomatic correspondent for "The
Washington Post." Thank you both for joining me.

This is Friday, and I`m trying to bring -- trying to find what I think
is the American consensus. And although they`ve polled on this, whether
people said whether he`s a bad guy or good guy should affect the deal,
every elected official who has spoken out that I think -- I`ve read almost
every one -- have all basically said it doesn`t matter what his status was,
what his motives were until later. The important thing for the United
States government, the principle, get him back.

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
Right.

MATTHEWS: And that seems to be a strong -- all the other stuff we`ll
get to in a minute. That seems to be a consensus.

ROBINSON: Yes, I there is a consensus, get him back. He`s an
American who went over there to fight for his country. You know,
obviously, there were some questionable things that he did over there, or
more than questionable. We`ll get the answers to that through some sort of
judicial process. But get him back. That`s what we do. We don`t leave...

MATTHEWS: Is that a fair reading of the clips? That`s what I`ve been
doing, is going through the clips. And nobody says, Let him sit over there
and rot. Now, they all like to do nuance and say, Well, I would have
gotten a better deal, but anybody can say that.

ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Sure. I mean, and different members
of Congress are mad about different things. I mean, some are mad that the
requirement to notify Congress 30 days before the deal is done was flouted.
Some are mad that we talked to the Taliban at all. Some -- many more in
the last few days have increasingly taken issue with the deal itself. Was
it worthwhile to trade one guy, as valuable as he may have been, for five
of theirs. And that`s, I think, where the heart of the criticism is right
now.

MATTHEWS: Well, for some reason, the White House still wants to
litigate this. The White House seems to think that they can mitigate the
threat from these five people on this point. Look, Anne, you wrote today,
quote, "People familiar with the negotiations said the five had become less
worrisome as the years wore on and were now considered graybeards or
elders, unlikely to assume top battlefield roles. That said, U.S.
officials acknowledge that some of the five could take on other leadership
roles within the Taliban."

Senator Saxby Chambliss was very tough. He`s from Georgia, of course.
He said on "MORNING JOE" yesterday, this. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: These guys, two of them were
extremely close to bin Laden, very high in the al Qaeda echelon. Three of
them are very close to Mullah Omar, the guy that founded the Taliban. So -
- and Mullah Omar is celebrating today because he`s got his new board of
directors with these five guys, and they say the Qataris are going to
monitor them? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. And...

CHAMBLISS: (INAUDIBLE) believe that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there you have a strong statement, "board of
directors."

ROBINSON: Yes, but bin Laden is dead. OK? So being close to bin
Laden...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But what about the connection?

We went into Taliban country because the Taliban harbored -- they gave
a haven for al Qaeda.

ROBINSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: It looks like these guys were tied up with that whole deal.

ROBINSON: Right, 12 years ago. They have all been in Guantanamo.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you think they`re less ticked off now than they were 12
years ago?

ROBINSON: No, but I think they`re less effective now.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why do they want them back so much?

ROBINSON: The people they used to lead...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Gene, we generally agree, but why do they want them back so
much if they`re useless?

ROBINSON: Well, because -- for the -- because it is a victory, a
symbolic victory for the Taliban.

I`m sure -- well, I`m not sure -- in my opinion, the victory, or the
benefit to the Taliban is in morale. They can portray this as a great
victory. We have -- look how we have defeated America by getting five of
our guys -- these five hallowed fighters back.

But in terms of their effectiveness, in terms of whether or not they
increase the ability of the Taliban to do anything bad to us, I think it`s
limited or negligible.

MATTHEWS: So you don`t think they`re part of the goal of once we
leave a year from now to take over the country?

ROBINSON: No, I think they will be involved. I think Taliban has
moved on.

MATTHEWS: What do they think in the White House? What do they think
about these guys? They`re worthless, useless or just going to be a pain or
a real strategic danger down the road?

GEARAN: They do not believe that these guys pose a real strategic
danger.

There was a classified briefing on the Hill this week, in which a CIA
guy said maybe four of them would return to some role, not a battlefield
role, probably none of them. Or, like -- well, only one of them was really
a battlefield commander and that was 13 years ago.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, neither was bin Laden a battlefield commander.

GEARAN: Right. Right. Some -- some role.

But to Gene`s point, the Taliban considers itself the legitimate
deposed government of a country. And these guys were cabinet officials of
that government.

If -- you know, if they regard themselves that way, they think a
foreign government has taken prisoner five people who were like the
secretary of defense. They want them back. It -- I don`t -- it doesn`t
really go a lot farther than that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.

Anyway, Sergeant Bergdahl, what about him? There`s a key question out
there.

The military is going to have to focus on this question, but according
to "The New York Times" -- quote -- "A classified military board detailing
the Army`s investigation into the disappearance, initial disappearance of
Sergeant Bergdahl in June of 2009 says that he had wandered away from
assigned areas before, both in a training range in California and at his
remote outpost in Afghanistan, and then returned, according to the people
briefed on it. The report concludes that he most likely walked away of his
own free will from his outpost in the dark of night and it criticized lax
security practices and poor discipline in his unit. But it stopped short
of concluding that there`s solid evidence that Sergeant Bergdahl, then a
private, intended to permanently desert."

Look, this -- part of it doesn`t past the smell test. The idea that
he sends all this equipment home, his computer home, all this stuff is
home, and basically heads east into Pakistan, and ends up linking up
somehow with the Taliban, the idea that wasn`t desertion, OK, I think he
has got the onus on him to prove what he was up to.

GEARAN: Right. And there will be an Army investigation of that now
that he`s free.

There was an Army investigation in 2010 as that story in "The Military
Times" reported earlier this week, that -- that know, that came to some
pretty hard conclusions.

MATTHEWS: Why is the White House and everybody -- why are people
defending him? If it`s irrelevant to the deal, which I think it is...

GEARAN: Because...

MATTHEWS: ... why is everybody out there keeping the -- stirring this
up? Just say we don`t know about the guy. Let it go.

(CROSSTALK)

GEARAN: Right. I mean, the White House could simply say, look, it
doesn`t get harder than that he was an American soldier and he was captured
by the enemy, period, stop, you know, end of -- end of discussion.

But there has been a need over this week to defend the reason that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. I will tell you one reason why.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: On Sunday, National Security Adviser Susan Rice came under
fire when she said Sergeant Bergdahl -- quote -- "served with honor and
distinction."

Well, today, she said she meant Bergdahl volunteered to serve in a
time of war. She -- that`s what she metropolitan by honorable. Let`s
watch her explain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I realize there`s been a
lot of discussion and controversy around this.

But what I was referring to is the fact that this was a young man who
volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That is
itself a very honorable thing. And...

JIM ACOSTA, CNNrMDNM_: But honor and distinction?

RICE: Jim, really, this is a young man who -- whose circumstances we
are going to still learn about.

He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty. He`s now being
tried in the court of public opinion, after having gone through an
enormously traumatic five years of captivity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK.

ROBINSON: OK. Her -- so, I -- I, frankly, think that her mouth got
away from her last weekend.

MATTHEWS: I think it was the cliche and she threw it out there.

ROBINSON: Exactly. And she kind of tossed it out there.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: But...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`re all at battle stations. I`m trying to stay out of
battle stations.

ROBINSON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: But overstating the case for the guy, overstating the
attack on the guy, overstating the danger of these guys, and everybody is
doing it on a partisan basis, and it drives me fricking crazy.

ROBINSON: Well, if you`re...

MATTHEWS: Nobody is just looking at this thing.

My God, these things happen, like the VA. Some things actually
happen, you have got to figure them out.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: Well, you have got to figure them out.

But, also, keep in -- so be thankful for facts that we get right.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: It is -- it`s useful to know that he had this habit of just
kind of wandering away from base, not because that`s necessarily what he
was doing in Afghanistan, but because, to me, it raises mental health
questions. It raises question about whether...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a question. It`s not the way they raised it.
They`re raising it like this is just one of the many times he went
wandering off, like a collie.

ROBINSON: OK. Well...

MATTHEWS: Like, they just wander off, they got to bring him home.

This guy left his post, an outpost surrounded by the enemy. He didn`t
go -- that`s different than California. You go wandering off of your post
here, you got to want to -- you must be hoping to meet somebody that`s not
going to kill him.

ROBINSON: If you`re thinking rationally.

MATTHEWS: OK. That`s a -- that`s your point. I like the way you do
it. Thank you, as often is the case.

Eugene Robinson, who sees the deeper and possible even exculpatory
reasons for somewhat absurd comments.

Anyway, Anne Gearan.

GEARAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: the best line by a spy since Austin Powers coming
up in the "Sideshow."

And this is the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": Did you see
this. It`s a video that was just leaked that shows President Obama lifting
weights.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: Doing lunges.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: And using an elliptical machine.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: At his hotel gym this week, yes.

When he saw it, Chris Christie was like, this would never happen if I
were president.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."

That was of course Jimmy Fallon`s commentary on the recently leaked
video of President Obama working out at his hotel gym over in Poland this
week.

But, according to Fallon, there`s more to this story. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")

FALLON: Here`s the video. This is it.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: Of course, later that same day, the White House leased their
own version of the video. Take a look.

(MUSIC)

(APPLAUSE)

FALLON: That makes more sense.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Finally: The CIA officially joined Twitter today. And the
spy agency best known for staying out of the public eye issued a
surprisingly funny first tweet.

It reads -- quote -- "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our
first tweet" -- close quote.

Well, now we know even CIA spooks can have a sense of rumor. Very dry
sense of humor, I must say.

Anyway, up next, President Obama`s meeting today with Vladimir Putin.
Did he -- we see evidence of thawing in our chilly relationship? Very
interesting meeting.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.

A federal judge has ruled Wisconsin`s ban on same-sex marriage is
unconstitutional. The ruling makes Wisconsin the 27th state where gay
couples can legally marry or where a judge has ruled they should be allowed
to.

The suspect in a deadly shooting at a Seattle university appeared in
court today. Aaron Ybarra is accused of killing one student and injuring
two other people yesterday. He`s being held without bail.

Authorities in Georgia say a gunman who opened fire outside a
courthouse planned to take hostages. Dennis Marx was shot and killed
during that assault. Police say homemade explosives were found on his body
and in his car.

Thunderstorms in Colorado spawned a tornado that ripped up trees and
power lines. Tornado warnings were issued across parts of that state. No
injuries were reported -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Seventy years after the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France,
President Obama honored World War II veterans today, who he said gave as
much for the survival -- gave so much for the survival of the liberty at
its moment of maximum peril.

He also honored the current generation of service men and women,
calling them the 9/11 generation who are bringing the wars of today to an
end. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As today`s wars come to
an end, this generation of service men and women will step out of uniform
and they, too, will build families and lives of their own. They too will
become leaders in their communities in commerce, and industry, and perhaps
politics, the leaders we need for the beachheads of our time.

And God willing, they, too, will be grow old in the land they helped
to keep free. And some day, future generations, whether 70 or 700 years
hence, will gather at places like this to honor them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it was that image of peace today, a lot of peace
today, that struck me as I watched our president with fellow world leaders
and, of course, the veterans who were there under much different
circumstances seven decades ago.

Anyway, no signs of cold war today, past, present or future, much less
no sign of a hot war. The unrest in Eastern Europe, global tensions and
threats of action came to a peaceful break today in that beautiful sunlight
of Normandy.

Chuck Todd is NBC News chief White House correspondent and NBC News
political director, who was there today and traveling with the president.
We have joining us Simon Marks, who is chief correspondent with Feature
Story News.

Chuck, you and I were talking earlier today on the phone. And I --
and a couple pictures today -- pictures are powerful. It seemed very
debonair today. Everybody seemed to be basking in the beautiful weather.
You would think that Putin, who`s been such the outside man all these
months, looked like a member of the club.

And yet those interesting shots of the president looking very awkward,
three or four places away at the table there at lunchtime, looking like he
didn`t want to be in the same room with Putin, and then on top of all that,
that interesting back and forth when they`re actually talking to each
other. And Obama, the president, is smiling. Putin ain`t smiling him. He
gave him like one quick look and looked away.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Put it all together. Give us words to those pictures, if
you can.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it`s -- what you have
to understand is, these Western European leaders, starting with President
Hollande, wanted -- want Putin there. They want a relationship with Putin.
They, of course, want a relationship with the United States, but they want
one with Putin.

So it is awkward in this sense. Here is President Obama, who does not
have a -- he and Putin do not have a good working relationship at this
point. They do see past each other. Obviously, Putin wants to be a
superpower, sees the United States as a rival, and you could argue in many
ways is trying to play Western European leaders off of him a little bit.

And they`re playing along. This whole trip, Chris, has been
interesting. Think of it this way. For years, America`s ties were always
to Western Europe, and obviously the Iron Curtain blocked access to Eastern
Europe.

Now look at it today. It`s the Eastern Europeans that are begging for
American security leadership, leadership, particularly for security
reasons, right? You look at Poland. They needed that speech. They needed
that that President Obama gave where he started name-checking countries.
Poland, you`re not alone. Lithuania, you`re not alone. Estonia, you`re
not alone.

Meanwhile, you have the Western European leaders are going out of
their way to court Putin, to make sure that he`s not being -- doesn`t feel
fully alienated by them, almost as if they`re saying, look, we have to go
along with the United States on this, because, hey, we count on them for
security, but don`t worry, we still want to be friends with you. Don`t --
you know, don`t think we`re the ones that are leading this charge. It`s
that guy.

That`s -- I can`t help -- this entire trip feels that way. And it`s
sort of -- everything is backwards, right it? It`s the Eastern Europeans
wanting the close relationship to the United States and the Western
Europeans wanting to get closer to Russia.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well...

TODD: It actually is odd, when you start thinking about it.

MATTHEWS: Well, odd is better than hot when it comes to war.

Let me go to Simon on this.

TODD: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: What strikes me is that this looks nothing like a prelude
to a real war, nothing like a prelude to a cold war, much less a hot war.
It doesn`t feel at all like the anger -- first of all, is Ukraine a
regional situation that we don`t like, or is it a world-threatening
situation that`s been hopped up by some of the neocons into some big deal
again?

You know what I`m trying to get at here, Simon.

SIMON MARKS, FEATURE STORY NEWS: I do, Chris.

I mean, I think the -- I think the answer is that we don`t know, and
so much of that is going to be dependent upon the behavior of Russian
President Vladimir Putin.

I think Chuck is absolutely right, in this sense. This was a
remarkable day in Northern France, honoring events seven decades ago where
the world was truly united in the face of Nazi aggression. And yet the
subtext to it today was one of contemporary division, President Obama
unable to persuade the French, for example, to bat down on defense deals
towards Russia. President Obama finding himself using Queen Elizabeth II
as a sort of buffer between him and Vladimir Putin.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I thought it was amazing watching the president strolling
with her, because he didn`t want to be strolling with anybody -- it`s like
me going to my wife at a party. I just want to be with somebody so I don`t
have to be with anybody else.

Let me ask you about -- I`ll start with Chuck on this one here.
Chuck, you know what I`m talking on that one, too.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Yes, I do. Now, we know about your habits at
parties. Yes.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, anyway, I was thinking. There`s an interesting
meeting with the president talking to Putin, with the translator there, the
interpreter. And Putin isn`t really giving an eye contact, but the
president seems to be trying to get the upper hand. He`s taller than the
other fella. So, that may be an effort here.

TODD: Right.

MATTHEWS: But he`s trying to laugh through a difficult moment there.
You can see the side of his cheek. At the same time, you can see Putin
trying not to look at him. What happened in that conversation?

TODD: Well, but wait a minute, I`ve been witness to a lot of
Putin/Obama meetings. And that is always Putin`s demeanor. He does not
like looking -- when the cameras are on, it`s like he does not look him in
the eye very much. He always has the scowl.

I remember the last time they had a former joint bilateral meeting,
the cameras come in and the president was trying to be a little jocular
with him. And Putin makes the comment he`s trying to make me laugh. He`s
trying -- you know, almost like he`s trying to make it look like we get
along. He didn`t say that second part, but that was -- it is -- this is
actually the normal body language that you see when Putin is with Obama.

MATTHEWS: So, I mean, your thoughts. There`s the president sort of
trying to smile his way into good mood there, and here`s Putin doing the
"I`m embarrassed to be here" kind of look. I mean, he`s a tough, but he
didn`t look too self-confident there.

What do you say about this conversation?

MARKS: Look, I don`t think Vladimir Putin does small talk. And I
don`t think Vladimir Putin gives good photo opportunities. He looked
stony-faced alongside Chancellor Merkel as well earlier in the day.

But he has been sending very interesting signals this week. He gave
an interview to French TV and radio, just a couple of days ago, in which he
was asked about that comment that he made back in the day when he described
the fall of the Soviet Union as a disaster. And he redefined it. He said
that what he had meant was that it wasn`t a geopolitical disaster, but a
humanitarian disaster for the people who live there.

That`s an interesting revisionist view that he chose to put out there
right before this meeting began.

MATTHEWS: That`s the best news I`ve heard in a long time. I love
that news, because it means he`s not trying to rebuild the Soviet Union.

Thank you so much, Chuck Todd, for this interpretation of the
interesting events. And what a beautiful day it was for all of us today.
And a great memory of American victory, and courage and really wonder.

Anyway, Simon Marks, thanks for joining us today.

Up next, one of the greatest military deceptions in history and how it
saved the world and made D-Day succeed.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: There was a lot of sturm und drang over President Obama`s
push to limit carbon emissions especially among Democrats who fear a
backlash in coal-producing states. But a new pole suggests maybe those
fears are overblown.

Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard. A Hart Research poll finds that
in Virginia, whose voting closely aligns with the rest of the country,
people favor EPA regulations by a margin of 67 to 29. It holds even in
pro-coal regions of the state.

Also by three to one margin, 60 to 20, regions have more trust in the
EPA to set restrictions on carbon pollution than in Congress.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

You know, today, we remember, of course, the servicemen who risked and
lost their lives storming the beaches of France and Normandy, 70 years ago
today. D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion in world history. Over
150,000 troops were carried by 5,000 ships across the English Channel where
they invaded a 50-mile stretch of the German-held coastline. There, they
had to cross the open beaches, completely exposed to enemy fire before
assaulting the Nazi bulkheads.

The operation secured those beaches so Allied forces could establish a
vital foothold in Western Europe. And the sacrifice, bravery and courage
our troops showed that day were essential to the Allied victory in World
War II.

But while D-Day was an incredible triumph, it was also an incredible
risk. We owed our success to meticulous planning colossal mobilization,
and most important, secrecy -- Hitler`s land army was known to be the best
in the world, not only in terms of manpower but also agility. The Nazis
had gained control, in fact, of all the mainland of Europe, through his
series of rapidly mobilized invasions, famously known as blitzkriegs.

Therefore, if D-Day was to succeed, it was essential for the Allies to
devise a way to divert Hitler`s army away from the landing positions
planned at Normandy so allied forces would not be overwhelmed by Nazi
resistance. A new documentary called the "World Wars" on the History
Channel described the plan the Allies develop for a decoy army under
General Patton, to convince the Nazis that the invasion would come from a
different location, in fact, 150 miles away from Normandy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: But Patton is not going to lead an invasion and his army
isn`t what it seems. Instead of heavy machinery and modern weapons, Patton
is armed with balloons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roosevelt and Churchill used Patton as a
deception. They actually have Hollywood people helped him create what is
essentially a phony army. There`s phony tanks that are actually nothing
but balloons. There`s barracks. It appears that there are hundreds of
thousands of ally troops assembled across the channel from France.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Anticipating an attack from Dover that never came,
Hitler waited seven days before moving his army to confront the real
invasion.

Joining us right now is NBC News presidential historian Michael
Beschloss.

Michael, this is just amazing stuff. There`s a comic aspect to it,
that first of all, that George Patton would get the assignment to lead a
phony Army, but Hitler, who is obviously beginning to lose it, didn`t
really commit the panzers. He never gave the authority to General
(INAUDIBLE) throw everything he had at the Normandy invasion, so we got on
the beach and we broke out because Hitler didn`t have the troops there to
stop us.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: We did, and you
know, it`s a case of where you sometimes can be too suspicious and too
paranoid, and especially in Hitler`s case because what Hitler figured what
that the allies, if they had any sense, they would want to land not at
Normandy but at Pas-de-Calais because that was closer to England and it was
shorter crossing. Plus, it was an easier thrust into Germany.

And so, what we were doing was we were getting all sorts of signals
through this enormous deception operation which you`re right, was almost
comical, to give them the idea that`s where we were going to land so that
when 70 years ago today we landed at Normandy, he thought this was
actually, this was the deception. He was trying -- that we were trying to
come into thinking that we were landing at Normandy, instead of Calais and
so, the result was that there were those seven days we got on the beach and
got a large amount.

MATTHEWS: Did Hitler lose his -- I don`t know if "guts" is the right
word -- did he lose his ability to make a strong decision? Was he a little
nervous at this point? He had the eastern front coming at him. This was a
second front opening up. Did he lose that decisiveness he had when he
grabbed France the first time?

BESCHLOSS: As time went on, if you look at the decisions at the end
of the war, I mean, military historians who are a lot more on this account
than I am, would say that he was not the leader he was four years earlier.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about George Patton and the role he played
here. I remember from the movie, one of my favorite movies, "Patton" --

BESCHLOSS: You and Richard Nixon.

MATTHEWS: OK, and I was in the Peace Corps and everybody liked it
there.

BESCHLOSS: Broad audience.

MATTHEWS: It had a broad audience, what do you think it was about him
that he was able to take this phony job and turn it into such a success?
Did that help him get back into the action afterwards?

BESCHLOSS: Oh, absolutely because this was an enormous success. And
it was not only what we saw in the film but also phony radio broadcasts and
dummies of soldiers and all sorts of things that ultimately helped to
bolster the idea that we, the Allies, were going to invade in a place we
were not and at a time we were not.

MATTHEWS: Where did we find these guys, these generals, MacArthur,
Eisenhower, Patton, Omar Bradley, Mark Clark, we had the -- the Navy guy,
Halsey, these incredible people? Was it something in the water then that
we had or the national urgency? But who -- the genius of picking
Eisenhower. He could have picked Marshall, MacArthur, but Eisenhower, but
he was the perfect guy to bring all the Allies together and make this work
on D-Day.

BESCHLOSS: Well, that was Franklin Roosevelt who was very good at
choosing people in politics and had the same kind of acumen in the
military.

MATTHEWS: Which is what?

BESCHLOSS: Which is the ability to see that although as Roosevelt
said, George Marshall who was the army of chief staff, was owed being
supreme commander of the invasion of Europe that everyone would remember.
Eisenhower would do a better job of keeping this alliance together and of
welding this army.

And as a result, Roosevelt was absolutely right. Everyone remembers
Eisenhower. George Marshall is known to very few Americans today.

MATTHEWS: OK, I`m going to give you the toughest job in the world.
Describe the moral behavior of the French starting at 1940 through 1945 as
a country. Their moral behavior? Did they collaborate too easily with the
Nazis? Did they join them, not just go along with them, but they actually
join them.

I`m talking about the transportation, the deportation of Jewish people
out of France. Was that done because they were forced to do it, or because
they wanted to do it?

BESCHLOSS: Both, and then some. You know, you could make both
arguments and both arguments would be true. And Roosevelt said, as you
well know, that the greatest cross he had to bear was the Cross of Lorraine
--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But he was the good guy.

BESCHLOSS: Yes, he was the best of the group, but not easy either.
And de Gaulle was so obsessed with, as he said, you know, picking up France
and elevating it from this degraded position it was in under the Nazis that
1966, when he kicked the Americans out, Lyndon Johnson said Dean Rusk, the
secretary of state, asked him if he also wants to kick out the Americans in
those cemeteries who essentially saved him --

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let`s just thank the world that Charles de
Gaulle jumped aboard the British plane flying to London after the
capitulation, because it saved the honor of France, that he could.

BESCHLOSS: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michael Beschloss.

BESCHLOSS: A pleasure, Chris.

MATTHEWSD: And we`ll be right back. I want to talk about the great
man of the war, Dwight Eisenhower.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this letter written by General
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, for possible use
following the Normandy invasion 70 years ago today.

"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Haver area have failed to gain a
satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to
attack at this time and place was based upon the best information
available. The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and
devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt,
it is mine alone."

The mark of a leader is the readiness to take responsibility when
things go wrong. To do so ahead of time is a sign of a great leader who
knows the perils of war and the need for strong chain of command led from
the top.

One of the great scenes of D-Day was of General Eisenhower meeting
with the troops the night before. "Good luck, soldier," he said to them.

He was Henry V the night before Agincourt, giving the men who would
face the uncertainty a touch of harry in the night, a chance to see the
true leader right there with them on the eve of battle.

I remember Ike sitting in those of bluffs of Normandy, telling Walter
Cronkite how it was the mid-level officers who did the job of getting their
men up going to those cliffs. That all the generals could was get them to
the beaches. He told them it was those in the mid-ranks who designed those
hedge cutters to allow the invading troops to break out into the continent
of Europe. What a leader we had. What a victory, what an army.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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