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updated 6/19/2014 11:21:43 AM ET 2014-06-19T15:21:43

HARDBALL
June 18, 2014

Guest: Jackie Kucinich, Michael Tomasky, John Feehery, Clarence Page,
Elise Jordan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The return of Dick Cheney.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with Dick Cheney. He`s out there attacking
President Obama over Iraq, pretending that he, Dick Cheney, wasn`t the
perpetrator of the disaster. It was Cheney who sold the limited George W.
Bush on going into Iraq in the first place, that war of choice we have all
come to regret. It was Dick Cheney who championed the neocons in the
destruction of the Iraqi army, the destruction of the Iraqi government and
the banishment of the country`s Sunni population from the government in
Baghdad.

It was Cheney and his limited partner Bush again who decided when the
United States should leave Iraq, and it was Cheney again with his limited
partner President Bush who signed an agreement with the Iraqi government
that led to the release of the man now leading the ISIS forces streaming
toward Baghdad and threatening war with the United States.

Now comes Cheney again, pretending to have clean hands, once again using a
favorable media platform, the op-ed page of "The Wall Street Journal," and
creating an oddly staged video with his daughter and his cowboy hat, his
back to the Wyoming mountains, his face plastered to a teleprompter. It
reminds me of those ads for reverse mortgages that Fred Thompson and Robert
Wagner do.

Or better yet, it`s like the new commercial they`re running on Fox right
now for a company called DiedinHouse that promises to tell you whether or
not someone died in the house you`re thinking of buying. It`s a service we
need for greeting Dick Cheney`s latest war talk. Before buying into
Cheney`s war talk, we all of us ought to check out the past Cheney sales
pitches, the ones that killed so many Americans. Let`s put it nicely.

Joining me right now, the HuffingtonPost`s Howard Fineman and "Mother
Jones" magazine`s David Corn. Both are, of course, prized MSNBC political
analysts.

Deck Cheney, of course, was consistently wrong on all aspects of the Iraq
war. Let`s watch him during his sales pitch before the war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regime change in Iraq
would bring about a number of benefits to the region. When the gravest of
threats are eliminated, the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have
a chance to remote the values that can bring lasting peace.

TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Do you think the American people
are prepare for a long, costly and bloody battle with significant American
casualties?

CHENEY: Well, I don`t think it`s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I
really do believe we will be greeted as liberators.

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": If we do have to take action, do
you think it will be a long war or short war?

CHENEY: My own judgment, and based on my time as secretary of defense and
having operated in this area of the past, I`m confident that our troops
will be successful, and I think it`ll go relatively quickly, but...

SCHIEFFER: Weeks, months?

CHENEY: ... you can`t -- you can`t count on that. Weeks, rather than
months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The war would last weeks in Iraq. And Cheney was still getting
it wrong in May of 2005, when he told Larry King, "I think they`re in the
last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Howard, it just seems to me that the man is shameless. I mean, they used
to say that about Liberace, he laughed all the way to the bank. But here`s
a guy that just comes out again and again and again, wrong, wrong, wrong,
and seems to enjoy the fact that he has this immediate media. He gets
automatic attention of "The Wall Street Journal." They just run him like
he`s -- like he`s Henry Kissinger. I don`t get it.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, Chris, I think you`re looking at it through the wrong lens. He`s not
a politician anymore. He`s not a diplomat. He`s not a former secretary of
state. He`s a zealot. He`s almost a religious convert to this point of
view. That`s the lens to look at it through.

In the first Gulf war, Dick Cheney was not in favor of going to Baghdad.

MATTHEWS: Right.

FINEMAN: Perhaps that and other changes that happened to him in the
intervening years turned him by the time George Bush needed sane, sound
advice in the first days after 9/11 into a remorseless, relentless zealot.
That zealotry that you`re watching there, reinforced by the love of his
daughter and whatever their ambitions are out there, it`s zealotry, and
that`s what we`re listening to. This is not reason, it`s zealousness at
this point.

MATTHEWS: And it`s -- and it`s not even -- I studied it almost like the
bible trying to figure out exactly what he`s proposing. He isn`t proposing
-- all he`s doing is dumping on Obama!

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Dumping on him, saying, somehow, if we left a residual force
there of a few thousand soldiers, that would change history. No one
believes that!

CORN: You know, well, he`s just taking -- he`s doing what everyone else is
doing on the Republican side, whether it`s John Boehner, John McCain or
others. They`ve been dumping on Obama without saying anything about they
would do now.

There was one line on the op-ed that I read and I had to laugh. It showed
an utter lack of self-awareness on the part of Dick Cheney, when he says,
"Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of
so many."

Now, he thinks he`s talking about Barack Obama, but that line can be
applied to George W. Bush. There are -- you know, there are 4,500
Americans who are dead, maybe 200,000 or more Iraqis who are dead, millions
who are displaced. And all the stuff that`s happening now is like the
genie let out of the battle, that they did, their miscalculations.

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: They didn`t plan for this. Does he really think he can get off
scot-free? I think the answer is yes. I don`t think it`s zealotry, I
think he`s desperate. This man -- part of him must know this has been a
disaster, and the only way he can get out of it is by making the president
-- the current president look worse.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, in addition to that "Wall Street Journal" piece they ran
today, Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, released a video today attacking
President Obama.

Let`s watch this rather peculiar setting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ CHENEY, DAUGHTER OF DICK CHENEY: I`m Liz Cheney.

DICK CHENEY: I`m Dick Cheney. We stand at a critical moment in the life
of our motion. The policies of the last six years have left America
diminished and weakened. Our enemies no longer far us. Our allies no
longer trust us.

LIZ CHENEY: We are forming the Alliance for a Strong America because we
know America`s security depends upon our ability to reverse President
Obama`s policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know what to make of this. Is this a salaried position,
this new company they`re forming or what? And the cowboy hat, what`s it
got to do with Iraq?

FINEMAN: It has everything to do with Iraq and Wyoming, in their view,
because Barack Obama is not the kind of man who could wear a cowboy hat,
and I, Dick Cheney, am. Quite frankly, that strikes me as a
political/business opportunity...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... family opportunity to rebuild the family franchise, tattered
as it is, on behalf of Liz Cheney, who was humiliated when she tried to run
out there.

MATTHEWS: Well...

FINEMAN: This is -- this is -- this is the family business. Call it
zealotry, call it attack on Obama, call it what you will, this is what
these people know how to do. This is all that they know how to do.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: But this is, like, the third or fourth time that Liz Cheney has
founded an organization to defend America and to attack Barack Obama. It`s
getting to be kind of silly.

MATTHEWS: Well, no, it`s not silly because -- let me just try (INAUDIBLE)
We`re in a bad situation now, whether neither party, neither ideology in
this country or anybody in the middle has any idea how to deal with this
hellhole over there that`s been created in Iraq.

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: We`ve got people fighting a religious war that`s been going on
for a thousand years. But suddenly, it`s getting really bloody. And these
people on one side are beheading people. They`re going around just looking
for people, having instant religious tests, like we can`t imagine having in
this country, where you`re asked your religion, if you get the words wrong,
they kill you. And on the other side, they`re just knocking off people to
get even.

This looks like it`s going to escalate. The American people normally try
to find out who to blame. Now, it seems to me what we`re in here is a
competition of blame. Were we wrong to go into Iraq? I think so. I think
you guys do. I think the American people overwhelmingly think so -- we
didn`t know what we were doing over there. We still don`t. We walked into
this kind of a situation.

But what`s Cheney`s political number here? He`s always been talking to
business guys in the boardroom. You know who likes him. The rich business
guys (INAUDIBLE) big corporate people, they (INAUDIBLE) well, they have,
you know, cognac with him. They sit around talking about the liberals and
the lefties...

FINEMAN: Right, Chris, and...

MATTHEWS: They`re listening to him!

FINEMAN: It`s serious because the guy -- let`s not forget...

MATTHEWS: The Republicans are listening to him!

FINEMAN: Yes.

CORN: Some.

FINEMAN: The guy was vice president of the United States. He was -- he
was secretary of defense.

MATTHEWS: Right.

FINEMAN: He was the closest adviser to, as you say, the limited...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... George W. Bush. He`s a better painter than president!

FINEMAN: And so on one level, David`s right. It`s pathetic. It`s almost
laughable. But on another level, it`s an indication of just how vicious
and useless our politics have become at a time when people like that, who
should be statesmen, are making basically cheap infomercial PAC ads and
putting them on television. That`s all that is.

CORN: He is not...

MATTHEWS: That`s a thought.

CORN: He is smart, but...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why aren`t they in a room somewhere quietly trying to figure
this thing out...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: They`re not interested in getting to answers, they`re interested in
vindication. And vindication for him is the current president, who outed
him, or his policy, that is, getting -- you know, getting blamed for this.

Now, the other constituency he`s talking to -- remember, we`ve talked about
this in the past. There is a debate, a real debate within
Republican/conservative circles about what to do...

MATTHEWS: I know.

CORN: ... with intervention. And so he`s been in this, basically, hand-
to-hand struggle with Rand Paul and others, and here he`s trying to take
advantage of the current moment for the hawks to ride in...

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s -- let`s...

CORN: ... and also -- the other thing he said in the op-ed piece, he says
-- he said, Barack Obama wants to take America down a notch.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Once (ph) we`re back to -- this guy is not a real American, he
doesn`t understand American foreign policy, and it is his desire to weaken
the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... line from his speech, from his piece, because that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... he said something like treason.

CORN: He says, "President Obama seems determined to leave the office
ensuring he has taken America down a notch." That is -- not that the
president is wrong.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: You know, you can have policy disagreements and have people have the
wrong view. But the president purposely wants to weaken the United States.
It goes back to the core of the birther argument, the Tea Party argument,
and that`s what he`s playing with here now, which is definitely not being a
statesman.

MATTHEWS: Well, you were saying he has to win this because he`s
relentless. But think about the decisions he made -- go into Iraq, get rid
of the Iraqi government, get rid of the Iraqi army, throw the Sunnis out in
the streets, and they`re the ones fighting the government now, also
creating an al Qaeda in the country. There was no al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
or in Iraq when we went in there. That`s something that was an offshoot of
the frustration of the Sunnis.

And now also, going along with the Iraqi government in releasing this guy,
the guy who`s now leading their forces.

FINEMAN: The fact is that the situation now is much, much worse...

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.

FINEMAN: ... than it would otherwise have been. And I think that Dick
Cheney in part is playing to history, if he can imagine it. But there`s an
air of desperation to what he`s doing now and it`s...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... and we should call him to account for not being somebody who
is part of what he projected as a mature leadership structure in the United
States -- secretary of defense, vice president of the United States,
supposedly a sober-minded, mature adviser that would protect American
greatness.

Instead, the dispassionate view of history so far, and I think on into the
indefinite future, is not only was the war a mistake, not only was his
advocacy a tragedy in the inner circles of the White House, but he deserves
to be called for account for it, and he refuses to do so.

MATTHEWS: You know, it seems a lot of times people are taken by
temperament, and he comes off with the sort of avuncular...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: He sold George W. Bush on that.

MATTHEWS: You know, "As we now know, Tim," or as, We now know, George --
that same avuncular manner he takes on, the bonding technique he uses.

CORN: But -- but...

MATTHEWS: And in the end, he has none of the good instincts that came out
of the Vietnam war because he didn`t fight in it, none of those instincts.
We better be careful not to get caught in these sand traps...

CORN: But -- but...

MATTHEWS: ... these sinkholes that our country gets into once in a while.
He has none of those really good, healthy post-Vietnam instincts. But he
has this avuncular style that some people -- you know, I think that former
president Bush fell for.

CORN: Yes, I think so. And I think, though, he`s turned into a complete
partisan hack. You know, you mentioned Kissinger -- Kissinger, who I
totally disagree with, I think he ruined Chile, Argentina, terrible in
Vietnam -- at least when he talks now, he tries to come up with solutions -
- This is what we should do about China. This is what we should do about
the Middle East.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: And so at least I respect him for being in the policy debate. Dick
Cheney comes out with no solutions whatsoever. It`s all about partisan
revenge. And as someone who once served in the second highest position in
his land to not respect the policy debate enough to contribute positively
shows just how far he is off the reservation and should be drummed out of
polite society!

MATTHEWS: Again, you should look up DiedinHouse.com and look up Cheney and
the Iraq war.

Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, David Corn.

Coming up, Fox News began its interview with Hillary Clinton yesterday with
eight -- count `em, eight -- questions right in a row about Benghazi, and
many more about Benghazi afterwards. So how did Hillary Clinton handle
that fusillade of questions? Did she get -- did they get anything on her,
or did she show that she was on the job the night that hell broke loose?

Plus, you`d be hard pressed to find two U.S. senators more in lockstep than
John McCain and old Lindsey Graham. Well, they call themselves the "two
amigos." But now they`re on opposite sides of the big debate among
Republicans, whether to work with Iran to help solve the mess in Iraq or
not to.

And a lesson from Hillary Clinton on how to sell a book.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: It`s a very hard choice.

We push very hard. But as I say in my book...

-- in my book...

-- as I write in my book, these are difficult, hard choices.

We make hard choices...

-- to have the concentration to be able to make those hard choices.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: As Woody Allen would say, the key two words here are hard
choices.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this battle on the right over Iraq.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Will you look at these numbers on the 2014 midterm elections
from our own NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll? Republicans are a lot
worse off than Democrats, and President Obama, as well -- 29 percent say
they have a favorable view of the GOP versus 45 percent who have an
unfavorable view of the Republicans. Voters are split more evenly on the
Democrats, however, at 38 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable.

And that may help explain why Democrats hold the edge in the upcoming
congressional elections. Forty-five percent say they want Democrats in
charge of Congress, and 43 percent want Republicans. But given
gerrymandering and the concentrations of the Democratic vote in big cities,
that may not be decisive.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, conservatives have been going
after Hillary Clinton since September of 2012 after the attack on the
compound in Benghazi. They desperately want to weaken her ahead of an
expected run for president in 2016, obviously.

They`ve been salivating over the opportunity to question the former
secretary of state, and last night, they had their chance, let`s face it.
Hillary Clinton sat down for a 30-minute interview on Fox News, where host
Bret Baier peppered here with questions over Benghazi, eight in a row, and
where she was that night and what she did that night and who she talked to
that night.

But if conservative watching were waiting for a gotcha moment, a Perry
Mason moment, if you will, it didn`t come. Far from it. And that was
evident when angry viewers took to Twitter to scold Baier and his co-
anchor, Greta Van Susteren, for their supposed softball questions. That`s
what the right-wing people said.

Michael Tomasky is a contributor to the DailyBeast and Jackie Kucinich is a
political reporter for "The Washington Post." Jackie, thanks for joining
us, and Michael, as always.

Let`s take a look at Hillary Clinton. Here`s what she wrote about where
she was on the day of the attack in Benghazi in her new book, "Hard
Choices."

She writes, "With our diplomatic security agents at the heavily fortified
CIA post and our reinforcements from Tripoli on the ground at the airport,
I decided to move from the office to my home in northwest Washington, only
minutes away from Foggy Bottom. I knew the days ahead were going to be
taxing on all of us, with the entire department looking to me to lead them
through this shocking tragedy while keeping everyone focused on what lay
ahead. When I became secretary, the department outfitted my house with all
the secure communications and other equipment necessary to work as easily
from there" -- that`s her home -- "as I could from the office. I got on
the phone with President Obama and gave him the latest updates."

Last night, Baier asked Hillary about where she was and the president was
that day, that evening, and here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, HOST, "SPECIAL REPORT": As the attack is happening, you were
on the 7th floor of the State Department, and then you go to your
Washington home, still in direct communication. The timeline suggests
President Obama -- you had a conversation on the phone roughly around 10:00
PM.

CLINTON: Yes.

BAIER: Do you know where the president was through the attack?

CLINTON: The president was in the White House. The president was in the
Oval Office when I got word of the attack.

And I know from my conversations with Panetta, Dempsey, and Donilon and the
president, that at that moment the president said to our defense officials,
do everything can you to help our people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Jackie, what do you think Bret was after there in getting into
the timeline, what we call the ticktock in the news business? What was he
after?

JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think a lot of FOX viewers
in particular still have questions about what happened that night.

And you heard a lot of the, where you were, where was that? We heard that
right there. And I think particularly...

MATTHEWS: What was the wrong place for her to be? What are they implying
was the wrong place for her to be if they are looking, if they are out here
fishing?

KUCINICH: Right.

Well, even Hillary Clinton said there are some unanswered questions about
Benghazi. And I think with their viewership they had to ask these
questions, because their viewers are asking them, so it makes perfect
sense. And I don`t think he asked it disrespectfully by any stretch of the
imagination.

And for those people who haven`t read the book, it is a question that is
worth answering.

MATTHEWS: Well, why -- well, again, let me go to Michael Tomasky.

What is the best place for her to be that night, at a fund-raiser
somewhere, out at some restaurant dishing with her friends?

MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is that what they were trying to get at?

TOMASKY: Something like that. I think maybe that`s what they were trying
to get it. I also took it as -- aimed it at Obama too. He was trying to
get at, where was Obama?

Of course, he was in the White House. He lives in the White House. Where
else is he going to go? But I think they were trying to establish that
Obama was, I don`t know, watching TV or watching "Game of Thrones" or
something.

MATTHEWS: Bret Baier also pressed Hillary on the different explanations
for why the attack occurred in the first place. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: This was the fog of war.

My own assessment careened from, you know, the video had something to do
with it, the video had nothing to do with it. It may have affected some
people. It didn`t affect other people.

And what the intelligence community said was spontaneous protests, and that
is what, at the time, they thought. There is no doubt terrorists were
involved. There is no doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: There we go. Michael, what are they at? What are they up to,
here?

TOMASKY: I guess they got a little something with that video comment,
which was kind of interesting, but I don`t think really anything new.

But they`re trying -- these hearings are coming up. Right? The House
hearings are coming up. They`re trying to set up something that the House
committee can then ask her. But I don`t think they got anything out of
her.

MATTHEWS: Jackie?

KUCINICH: And I don`t know that she`s -- I don`t know that she is going to
appear at those hearings. She hinted in the book that she really doesn`t
have any interest in going to this House hearing. I can`t remember what
the exact verbiage is, but...

MATTHEWS: Well, she can be subpoenaed.

KUCINICH: She could be subpoenaed. But she could also just -- she also
doesn`t have to show up.

She doesn`t to comply. If she doesn`t show up, then the viewers have their
answer.

MATTHEWS: Well, then have you a contempt of Congress charge against her.

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: Yes, but then that goes to the Justice Department, which is
controlled by Obama. So, we have seen that happen before.

MATTHEWS: Are you serious? Do you seriously think that the Justice
Department would not act there appropriately?

KUCINICH: Didn`t they do the same thing with Eric Holder?

MATTHEWS: Well, maybe, but I don`t know...

(CROSSTALK)

TOMASKY: No, I think if she is subpoenaed, she has to show up.

MATTHEWS: I think, if she is subpoenaed, she would go there.

(CROSSTALK)

TOMASKY: She has to show up.

But I think we saw last night is that there`s just not many avenues of
gotcha to get -- to go after her on.

MATTHEWS: She`s not an officeholder. She is a private citizen. I don`t
think she has any protections at all about, what do you call it, the
separate branches of government that Holder may be pointing to.

The question here -- I want to go back to this question, because what I`m
trying to figure out is, what is the magic goal here? What does is FOX
after? What does is the right after? It seems there are a couple things.

One, they want to show that she didn`t answer the 3:00 in the morning call,
that she was somehow fiddling. And I think she handled that pretty well.

What do you think, Jackie? Do you think she handled that well last night
in showing that she was professional the night of this event or not?

KUCINICH: Yes. I think she did. I think she showed up very prepared for
this interview.

We saw some of the interviews the week before that maybe she was a little
rusty, had not done a lot, a whole lot of national media. And I think for
this particular interview, whoever prepared her did a really good job.

MATTHEWS: Yes, as I mentioned, some conservatives were angry over the
questions from FOX News last night. And they took Twitter to disparage
Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren.

According to the conservative site Newsmax, one FOX viewer tweeted after
the interviews ended that you might want to ask Megyn Kelly about the
softball questions handed to Hillary. Of course, Megyn Kelly is another
FOX anchor. Another tweeted -- quote -- "Very disappointed, Bret Baier.
#HillaryFOXNewsunchallenged. You let her get away with murder
#figuratively #literally."

And Rusty said -- whoever Rusty is -- "I think you guys went very easy on
her. I wonder what her feelings are about #FOXNews."

I guess that`s to be predicted. But I tell you one thing. I was amazed,
and I`m not a media critic -- again, I`m not a media critic. I hold back.
But the strategy last night seemed to be keep hitting at the one point over
and over again, like a Midwestern-Big 10 football game, three yards and a
cloud of dust. Keep hitting at the line, hoping it will break.

TOMASKY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And yet that was the one area you were sure, as, Jackie, you
said, she was surely prepared to talk about Benghazi up the kazoo. And yet
they kept talking about it up the kazoo, almost, saying, OK, we will play
your game tonight. You can win.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It is kind of odd.

TOMASKY: But they didn`t have any good follow-ups. And that`s a sign of
somebody who comes to that interview set prepared with her answers and
interviewers who frankly maybe weren`t as prepared.

They didn`t have any good follow-ups. She boxed them in. She didn`t give
them a chance to do good follow-ups and she didn`t make any mistakes.

The one thing that I thought, Chris, that she did duck a little bit on was
the question of why any State Department employees haven`t lost their jobs.
That`s one question that she didn`t answer. But, other than that, I
thought she held her own, more than held her own.

MATTHEWS: I missed it. I didn`t it all, because I was on the air last
night at 7:00. I didn`t get the last part of the Greta Van Susteren and
Bret Baier interview.

Jackie, did they ever get to the question of why Susan Rice was selected to
respond to the situation and the tragedy and the loss of Chris Stevens`
life and the other three personnel at Benghazi, rather than the secretary
of state, who had -- who was really the officer of the day?

KUCINICH: I don`t believe...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Did they ever get to that? That is a tough question.

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: I don`t believe -- I don`t believe that they did. But Bret
Baier did follow up on Diane sawyer`s question about, what do you take
responsible -- what is your responsibility in all this?

And I thought she even had a good answer to that. She took responsibility
as head of the agency and said, while she didn`t plan -- she didn`t have
all of the direction when it came to Benghazi, she did take responsibility
as the head of the agency -- or the department rather -- and she also was
very forward-looking, saying, a leader does, a leader figures out how to
not have this happen again.

She was even ready for that question that maybe she was not as prepared
for, for the Diane Sawyer interview a week ago.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

I agree with you completely. And, by the way, I thought last night she was
back in a business as a political figure able to take on the kinds of
questions she might have been prepared for last week, but wasn`t, but
clearly, I`ll tell you, hit a home run last night. She is back in action.

Thank you so much, Michael Tomasky.

And thank you, Jackie Kucinich.

TOMASKY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, I said it yesterday, Hillary Clinton hit a home run in
those interviews on CNN and FOX. She is already going out there to sell
her book. And that`s ahead in the "Sideshow."

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": In a new
interview, Hillary Clinton said that the Bible is the most influential book
she`s ever read.

Now, some people think she might be pandering to Southern Christian voters.
Then Hillary said, oh, come on, you all, little old me?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Time now for the "Sideshow." And it`s begun.

As we have said, Hillary Clinton made several appearances last night,
including a town hall-style interview with CNN`s Christiane Amanpour. And
while she did take the opportunity to answer some hard questions, this was
all part of an effort, obviously, to promote her new book called "Hard
Choices," and boy did she promote it. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That`s a hard
choice.

CLINTON: It`s a very hard choice. I write a whole chapter about Syria in
my book "Hard Choices." We push very hard,but as I say in my book, in my
book.

AMANPOUR: But you write in your book.

CLINTON: As I write in my book, these are difficult, hard choices.

AMANPOUR: Hard choice.

CLINTON: We make hard choices.

AMANPOUR: Hard choice?

CLINTON: It is hard choice.

AMANPOUR: The ultimate hard choice?

CLINTON: To have the concentration to be able to make those hard choices.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: She is working for Simon & Schuster right there. And as you can
see, Amanpour mentioned the book as many times as Hillary did.

Next, there was a giraffe at the White House today. Well, sort of. A
life-size robotic giraffe was set up on the lawn for the first ever White
House Maker Fair. The president declared today a national day of making
and met with inventors who are using new technology to make advances in
science and also to create jobs, obviously.

The White House invited more than 100 inventors from 25 states, including a
13-year-old boy who made an affordable braille printer, and a team who made
a teddy bear to help diabetic children monitor glucose and insulin. And
what will they come up with next?

Up next, the hawks say they want President Obama to do something in Iraq,
but can`t agree whether we work with Iran or not.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FRANCES RIVERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Frances Rivera. Here`s
what`s happening.

Jay Carney gave his final briefing today as White House press secretary
after three-and-a-half years in the position. Carney will be replaced by
Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Lawyers for bombing -- Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are asking
to have his trial moved outside of Massachusetts. They are hoping to move
it to Washington.

And Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos was on hand today to unveil the company`s
Fire phone. It will become available in about a month -- now we take you
back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, hawks are divided now, not about whether we should get back into the
middle of a religious war in Iraq. Oh, no. They agree on that one. We
should get back in -- but on the question on whether the United States
should engage Iran in an effort to calm the situation in Iraq.

Well, the fault lines are a bit less clear here. On Monday, a senior
American diplomat met in Vienna with a top Iranian diplomat to discuss the
situation in Iraq and see if there is any common ground to pursue. And
many Republicans slammed that move as naive.

Here was Speaker John Boehner today answering a question about whether the
United States should cooperate with Iran to try to bring peace to Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No, absolutely not.

I can just imagine what our friends in the region and our allies would be
thinking by reaching out to Iran at a time when they continue to pay for
terrorism, foster terrorism, not only in Syria and Lebanon, but in Israel
as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the issue has split the two leading hawks in the U.S.
Senate, Senator John McCain and of course Senator Lindsey Graham. They`re
often called the two amigos. But on Sunday, Senator Graham said he was in
favor of dialogue with Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Why did we deal with Stalin?
Because he was not as bad as Hitler. The Iranians can provide some assets
to make sure Baghdad doesn`t fall. We need to coordinate with the
Iranians. And the Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs
back into the game, form a new government without Maliki.

But, yes, I don`t want Iran to dominate Iraq. And that`s where they`re
headed. Don`t let the Iranians save Baghdad. Let us save Baghdad, so
there will be a chance at a second government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Figure that one out. Work with Iran, but don`t let them win.

On Monday, Senator McCain put out a statement saying -- quote -- ":The
height of folly to believe that the Iranian regime can be our partner in
managing the deteriorating situation or security situation in Iraq. The
reality is, U.S. and Iranian interests and goals do not align in Iraq and
greater Iranian intervention would only make the situation dramatically
worse."

Clarence Page is a columnist with "The Chicago Tribune" and John Feehery is
a Republican strategist.

Gentlemen.

I want to start with Clarence.

Everybody you talk to says that Iran is all over Iraq. Everybody deals
with them. Everybody talks to them. But now they are acting like, Boehner
-- let`s talk Turkey here politically. Nobody in politics wants to be
caught in bed with Iran, which is known by everybody who cares about Israel
as their number one geopolitical threat.

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Right.

MATTHEWS: You don`t want to be dirtied with that, because down the road 20
years from now, 10 years from now, we are going to have a gigantic threat
of Iran in that region. And Israel is going to have to face them.

And we will have to face them. Nobody wants to be in bed with them, but
guys like, for some reason, Lindsey Graham, is taking that chance. What is
going on in this fight on the right?

PAGE: Well, I have got a theory. I have got a theory.

You have got John McCain, the fighter pilot. You have got Lindsey Graham,
the military lawyer. John -- I think Lindsey Graham is looking for avenues
here where we can work something out that will not require the United
States to come in militaristically. And also he`s looking at the reality
of the fact that who was the big winner in the Iraq war?

Iran.

MATTHEWS: Of course.

PAGE: Right. You have got a Shia government in charge. You have got
Maliki, who won`t cooperate all the way with us and has alienated the
Sunnis and helped to feed the ISIS indirectly, and also Iran is worried
about being surrounded by Sunnis from Saudi Arabia and from Iraq.

MATTHEWS: I know.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: So, you know, I could see why Lindsey Graham would be looking for
some avenues here. We`re already talking to Iran about the nuclear
negotiations.

And he`s -- and there are some side talks about what might be done about
the ISIS. So he would like to get more out of that avenue.

MATTHEWS: So we go into Iraq back in 2003, John, and that`s always going
to be controversial. And I think it should. And we basically put, because
we have democracy there, we let the largest group take over, by democracy,
and it`s going to be the Shia.

Now the Shia, of course, are aligned religiously with the Iranians. They
have differences of course historically, but they are aligned in religious
terms. And when the Sunnis come through killing Shia, as they are right
now and this ISIS crowd, obviously, the Shia in Iran are sympathetic to the
Shia in Baghdad.

So, what`s the United States do? Some people say let Iran help us in this
fight to save the Baghdad regime. Your thoughts?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I`m with McCain and Boehner.

I think that -- I think Lindsey Graham eventually got that. I thought his
comments on CNN were a little bit convoluted. You don`t necessarily want
to make it easier for the Iranians to thoroughly dominate Baghdad. And I
think that, giving too much cooperation with the Iranians, will do that. I
mean, I -- Chris, your point is taken.

Iran already has a lot of influence in Iraq. And when we pulled out of
there and it made it easier for the Iranians to have even more influence
and what John Boehner was saying, our allies, not only the Israelis, but
also the Saudis.

If we good too overboard and cooperate with the Iranians, it drives Saudis
bonkers. So, I think it is a very delicate game here. I think that John
McCain and John Boehner have the politics right and I think they also have
the policy right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, in their column today in "The Wall Street Journal", Dick
and Liz Cheney had this to say about the president`s effort to engage Iran.
Quote, "In a move that defies credulity, he toys," that`s the president,
"with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq, only a fool would believe
American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world`s largest state
sponsor of terrorism."

You know, I have to ask the profound question. I respect both of you guys.
So, let`s step back from this crap we`re looking at right now. The British
and French back after World War II thought they could decide all those
countries. They drew the map, Churchill, my hero, drew the map. They
said, (INAUDIBLE), guys, this will be Iraq, this will be trans-Jordan, this
is whatever.

PAGE: Right.

MATTHEWS: And they sort of figured, we Europeans, the white guys, can
decide these things. For a while it worked and they end up accepting that.
Well, no longer do they accepting these lines any more. And yet, we are
still being accused of not controlling events in that part of the region
our way.

I`m just wondering, do we have any influence really. In the end, once we
got rid of that Iraq government, because we knocked it off. I didn`t agree
with it, we knocked it off.

Once Libya became a mess, once Syria became this crazy chaos, did we really
have any influence on what that looks like? Why don`t we stop kidding
ourselves that we can control events --

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: --in that part of the world? I don`t think we can.

PAGE: The difference between influence and control. No, we can`t control
events in that part of the world. We can influence them, especially with
something that affects our interest. And that could be kind of hazy
outside of oil, to what our interests are there.

MATTHEWS: How do you influence the Shia to stop killing the Sunni because
the Sunni are killing the Shia? How do we stop that?

PAGE: Well, on the ground, as far as the balance between them, we have
very little control over that. But when it comes to the leadership, we do
have some influence. They have all got interests. I mean, you know,
people start to recognize the wisdom of Joe Biden`s original idea of
dividing Iraq --

MATTHEWS: So, they are doing a very good job of that.

PAGE: Exactly. That`s what is happening. The cost of -- just what you
said, the artificial lines drawn long ago. And now, people are reverting
back to their basic tribal politics. But there are ways for us to
influence and it`s just the way -- you know, there are no good alternatives
--

MATTHEWS: OK, here is my question, how do you stop the Shia government of
Iran in Tehran from helping its fellow Shia government in Baghdad? What do
we have it say about that? If they want to help them, they`re going to
help them.

FEEHERY: Well, you`re right about that, Chris. I think, Clarence makes an
excellent point. You know, we are in the middle of this huge war between
Sunni and Shia. It has been happening for generations. But it`s getting
to a fever point now.

And you don`t want to put America in the middle where they both start
pounding on us. So, I think that`s part of this.

But what Clarence is right about is you want to see if you can somehow
influence leaders to bring them together. And, you know, I think that we
got into Iraq and we can disagree whether it was the right thing to do, by
knocking off Hussein. It was kind of a force of stability.

Now, we`ve got the situation, which is almost unmanageable and, you know,
there`s not real good easy ways to get out of it, but it does require
diplomacy. And I think it`s a mistake just to wash our hands of it.

America shouldn`t just kind of turn away, because it affects our own
interest. And as Clarence said, it will have an impact on oil prices.

MATTHEWS: Well, nothing appalled me more than when they took the three
guys out of the truck and asked them to say the prayers so they can find if
they were Sunni or Shia and then executed them on the spot. It reminded me
of the horrific version of what happened in Northern Ireland back a couple
of years ago, when they would grab these people out of the bar and say, can
you say the rosary, and if they were Protestant kids, and they couldn`t, so
they beat them up. That is a hell after lot worse.

PAGE: Tribal politics at its worse.

MATTHEWS: A hell of a lot worse. Thank you. In the name of God, by the
way.

PAGE: You got it.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Clarence Page, gentlemen. Thank you, John Feehery.
Thank you both gentlemen.

FEEHERY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the story behind the man who knew more than anyone else
about Bowe Bergdahl.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: New polling in the Iowa Senate race. One of the seats Democrats
need to hold if they keep control of the Senate. Let`s check the HARDBALL
score board.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Democratic U.S. Congressman Bruce
Braley has four point lead over Republican hog castrators, Joni Ernst.
It`s Braley, 44, Ernst, 40. Braley leads largely because the women
actually, a poll found an interesting gender gap. Women overwhelmingly
back the Democratic male in the race over the Republican female.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

By age 33, Michael Hastings has made his mark. He was a risings star who
had earned his reputation as an intrepid reporter and the star was sure to
rise even further until his life was cut short in a fatal car accident a
year ago. From his earliest days at "Newsweek" magazine to work for his
work in "Rolling Stone" and "BuzzFeed", Hasting had a talent for finding
the human stories behind the big news stories and those stories were never
sugar coated. He`s perhaps best known for his 2010 profile in "Rolling
Stone" of General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander then in
Afghanistan.

The article entitled, "The Runaway General", not only captured the
challenges of staying the course in Afghanistan, it also included some
disparaging remarks that the general have made about top White House
officials.

Though, Hastings didn`t anticipate the impact the story would have,
President Obama fired McChrystal just days later, citing Hastings article
in his decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As difficult as it is to
lose General McChrystal, I believe it`s the right decision for our national
security. The conduct represented in the recently published article does
not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It
undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our
democratic system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: More pressing perhaps was Hastings story on an American prisoner
of war in Afghanistan, who nobody had heard of at the time. His name, Bowe
Bergdahl.

Way back in 2012, Bergdahl`s story was a footnote of the Afghan war
overlooked amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region. Now,
Hastings book, it`s called "The Last Magazine", has been released
posthumously. It`s a novel about the rush to the war in Iraq in 2003, and
the journalists who are quick to rubber stamp the president`s decision for
the sake of good story.

Joining me right now is Michael Hastings widow, Elise Jordan. She`s a
Republican strategist, actually a columnist at "The National Review", and a
former speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice.

Thank you.

Anyway, Michael Hastings joined me on HARDBALL back in January of 2012.
Here`s what he said, had to say about the futility of keeping U.S. forces
in Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL HASTINGS, JOURNALIST: Ninety-nine percent of the people we fought
and killed in Afghanistan, pose no threat to the U.S. homeland, maybe even
more than 99 percent. That is the big lie of this war. That is why we
shouldn`t be there, it`s not making us safer, and it goes to what you say.

The Taliban are our enemies because we`re in the villages where the Taliban
are. The Taliban think they`re fighting the soviets some of them. They
never heard of September 11th. They don`t know why we`re there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Thank very much, Elise.

How much do you subscribe to your husband`s thinking about why we went into
these wars, why we shouldn`t have gone in these wars, why we stayed too
long, the things we argue here about every night?

ELISE JORDAN, MICHAEL HASTING`S WIDOW: I wouldn`t say I subscribe to my
husband`s thinking. I`m always my own person.

But I do think that what he did with the profile of General McChrystal was
to expose how counter insurgency wasn`t working in Afghanistan. And that
was -- what he felt the most important part of the story was, people really
got into the political drama, but he really wanted to hammer down on what
our troops were experiencing on the ground in Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS: Well, when we go into a country, whether we being the British or
we being the Soviets or we being the Americans, we are the outsiders, and
we go into countries, the British used to say to us, we help fight the
Nazis, they`re overpaid, oversexed and over here. People don`t like people
being in their country with uniforms on, with money to spend and weekends
to enjoy.

Generally, they don`t like people in the long run even less so. So, was
that your husband`s view that occupation in the way we were in there
fighting the Taliban, it looked to be a local war if we weren`t there, were
just making enemies for ourselves by being there?

JORDAN: Well, he thought it had become a disaster, emblematic of the
military industrial complex, and that so many other interests were at the
core of why we were at war, not necessarily our national security. So,
that was what he cared.

The profile that was closest to his heart was his story about Sergeant Bowe
Bergdahl actually. And the stories really stood the test of time. It`s
just amazing how two years earlier, Michael predicted how this was going to
play out and how Bowe`s story would become politicized as soon as it was
expedient for the pundit class.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let`s talk about the pundit class, in the book
you`re talking about now, "The Last Magazine", that he wrote, publishing
posthumously now, "The Last Magazine." This is something that always
bugged me. What`s the theme of the book? I haven`t read it yet. The
theme in the book about how journalists went along with the war, the
drumbeat of war taking us into Iraq in 2003?

JORDAN: Well, it`s really about the dirty underbelly of journalism and how
sometimes the stories that are told aren`t necessarily to educate the
public, by journalists who are beholden to their readers like Michael
always believed that in doing so. It was about a lot of careers, a lot of
careers were built over the Iraq war, a lot of quick support that, you
know, went away, evaporated completely as the war started to go south.

So, it was pretty obvious how a lot of pundits supported the war for the
wrong reason, and Michael felt the American public, you know, paid the
price for that.

MATTHEWS: Why did people like that do it? Why did they support the war in
the drum beat, not thinking it through and question it? What`s the motive
there, did he think?

JORDAN: Well, he thought it was getting in with the establishment, that it
was the establishment consensus view at the time. He didn`t care about
being a part of the club, and he didn`t think that journalists were
supposed to be friendly with their sources. He thought that there was --
you know, he wanted his sources to respect him. But he thought you could
be fair and accurate and hard hitting without becoming best friends with
someone and becoming beholden to the source.

MATTHEWS: Boy, that`s s the story and that is the best value in the world.
Keep your independence. Thank you. The book is called "The Last
Magazine". It`s by the late Michael Hastings. And thank you, Elise
Jordan, for telling us about your husband`s book.

And we`ll be right back after this.

JORDAN: Thanks for having me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish with the battle on the right over Iraq.

The fact that John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the two amigos are not amigos
on this, isn`t surprising. There is no cookie cutter answer for how to
make this horror in Iraq any better or to any degree less horrible. We`ve
got two sides over there about one composed of Sunnis, angry at the
government in Baghdad, out to kill the Shiite who run that government.

On the other side, we have the Sunnis who want to keep the Shiite out of
government. McCain wants us to help the Shia but not work with the
Iranians who also want to help their fellow Shia. Graham want to help the
Shia who run Baghdad by working with the Shia who run Iran who also want to
help Baghdad.

The fact that we`re talking here about two sides of a religious war is one
explanation of why our own political people here in the United States have
no natural loyalties with either the Sunnis or the Shiite. It`s come down
to the embarrassing reality, nobody right or left here in America, has the
situation in Iraq figured out.

These people are fighting. They will fight until both sides decide they`ve
had enough. I don`t think that day will come in the life of this
presidency or in the lives of those of us now trying to take sides. Could
it be there is no American side in this thing?

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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