June 19, 2014
Guest: Anne Gearan, Elizabeth Warren
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Back to Baghdad?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with us getting back into Iraq. Question. Do
you, as an American citizen of this country, think we should be doing this,
getting back into the Iraqi fighting, this time in the midst of its civil
war? Do you think the president has the constitutional and/or the moral
authority to be doing this?
I ask these large questions tonight because today, this afternoon,
President Obama, who won the presidency by opposing the decision to take
the United States into Iraq, said he was taking us, if only by a few
measured steps, back into that country`s civil war. Yes, he is.
The president did not direct air strikes against the insurgent group
known as ISIS, that is fighting its way to Baghdad, yet he did direct a
shipment of intelligence capabilities to Iraq to identify what he called
potential targets for such strikes. And he did direct hundreds of U.S.
advisers to aid the Iraqi government right now. The president set no
political preconditions for this American engagement. While he did, of
course, urge President Maliki to form a more inclusive government, he said
we will send him initial aid nonetheless, no matter what he does or doesn`t
So the big question tonight for all of us watching and here on this
program is under what constitutional or moral right are we inching our way
into an Iraqi civil war based on religion? Is this what the American
people really want?
And why, will someone tell me, do the television networks, all of
them, it seems, and newspapers, continue to accept the discredited voices
of the very people who sold us, using every trick of propaganda, into
invading and occupying Iraq in the first place?
All those people want is what they wanted from the start -- a massive
U.S. military bastion planted permanently in the Middle East, within arm`s
reach of every country in the region that fails to march to our orders here
in America. They wanted us to knock off Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi. They
want us to join the fighting in Iraq, send Americans to Syria, bomb Iran,
and they will not stop until we`re up to our necks in Mideast quicksand.
MSNBC political analyst David Corn is Washington bureau chief for
"Mother Jones" and Anne Gearan is with "The Washington Post," a great
Let`s begin with what President Obama said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve positioned
additional U.S. military assets in the region. Because of our increased
intelligence resources, we`re developing more information about potential
targets associated with ISIL. And going forward, we will be prepared to
the take targeted and precise military action, if and when we determine
that the situation on the ground requires it.
Now, it`s not the place for the United States to choose Iraq`s
leaders. It is clear, though, that only leaders that can govern with an
inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people
together and help them through this crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, after listening to the president today -- and I`m
generally supportive of the president. I`m generally with him in terms of
restraint in getting involved in these messes. I`m not sure he showed
restraint today. I`m not sure he didn`t begin the inching, inching process
of getting back in.
Why are we going over there and picking out bombing targets? Why are
we bringing more aid back to that Iraqi government with no preconditions
about changing the nature of this war?
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he
tried to straddle the line because he feels the pressure, mainly from the
right, about, Do something, do something, do something...
MATTHEWS: Screw them!
CORN: Well, you can -- I`m with you on that. But what I think he
didn`t do today was really accurately describe the crisis. This is not
Maliki versus ISIS or ISIL, you know, this band of people who are too
extreme even for al Qaeda. It`s really a growing Sunni coalition,
including people from the old government and the military that we disbanded
who are Ba`athist, who are Sunni, and who are secularists. They`re banding
together with ISIS and they`re taking over part of the towns that ISIS so -
- you know, conquers as it moves on.
And so it`s easy to say, if you`re John McCain or somebody else, Go
bomb the hell out to ISIS. That`s not the issue. This is a real sectarian
civil war. And if that`s the case, it really changes your options. And
the president, though, did not come out -- come out today -- I don`t think
he could politically -- and say, This is a vexing issue. We have two
sides. It`s not just good versus bad...
MATTHEWS: Yes, but what`s our agenda?
CORN: Well, I don`t -- well, we have a couple of strategic interests.
MATTHEWS: What`s he...
CORN: He didn`t define that, either.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to you, Anne. It seems to me that from the
beginning of this war, and my skepticism about it was, if you go into a
country, you have a lot of influence while you`re there. And then when you
come out, it begins to be the country it was before you went in. That`s
common sense. The country was ruled by the Sunnis for 300 years. We
knocked them out of power.
Didn`t we know that the minute we left, they`d try to get back into
power? I know they`re coming in in a different form, with ISIS and all
that leading the fight. But isn`t it obvious that those people thought
they should have been running the country when we got there, and still do?
ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, sure. And it`s also obvious
that if the country`s Shiite majority -- and now that there`s a Shiite
coalition there -- they want to stay in power, and they think they have
every right to do so.
Behind the scenes here, what you see here is a lot of jockeying around
Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki. Will he stay? Will he go? Will the
MATTHEWS: Are we trying to bump him off? I mean, knock him out of
GEARAN: They certainly -- certainly, the support appears to be
softening. I mean, it isn`t the U.S.` job to bump him off.
MATTHEWS: No, but it`s not like Vietnam and when we knocked off Diem,
or we (INAUDIBLE) big (ph) men (ph) and all that, Kennedy did, Lodge. But
isn`t there this rumor floating around, this buzz, that we want him out?
GEARAN: Yes. And that`s either true or it`s a shot across the bow so
that the rumor`s out there, so Maliki is a little worried. Either way, it
serves the purpose of allowing -- giving a little more time here for Iraqis
to make a decision. They`re actually -- they actually are discussing this
now. There are -- political horse-trading going on right now about whether
MATTHEWS: Let me just start with General Petraeus, who everyone,
right and right center, certainly, looks to, and a lot of other Americans
look to, as a guy knows what he`s talking about. He`s out there saying --
well, let`s take a look at this. Here he was -- I want to look at this
clip because videotape is better than me telling you.
The former top commander, of course, in Iraq warned of the danger of
taking sides in a sectarian conflict, saying -- at a conference in London
yesterday, he said that the U.S. support should be contingent on a more
inclusive Iraqi government. In other words, get the politics straight over
there before we start shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): This cannot be the United
States being the air force for Shia militias or a Shia-on-Sunni Arab fight.
It has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists. There has to be a
government that is trusted by all elements of the society. And indeed, if
America is to support, then it would be in support of a government against
extremists, rather than one side of what could be a sectarian civil war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How do we reshape it the way the general says we should?
Of course, the United States would much prefer to be supporting a
legitimate government of all the people against the bad guys, the criminal
class, basically. Instead, it looks like we`re facing a -- we`re getting
involved more and more again, talking about targeting air strikes, that
we`re taking this side of the Shia against the Sunni. Now, he says we
can`t be doing that. We can`t be the air force of the Shia.
But how do we -- how do we change that Shia government into a broad-
ranging government in Iraq that will actually last and not be a cause for
CORN: It might not be possible. In the last week, we`ve gone in the
wrong direction in a lot of ways. Reports from Iraq say that Maliki is not
showing an interest in becoming more inclusive. And you have Shia clerics
who`ve been putting out the calls to young men to join the militias, which
now is sort of more important than the military itself. And...
MATTHEWS: They have a reason to fight.
CORN: Well, they have a reason to fight.
MATTHEWS: They`re Shia, and they hate the Sunnis.
CORN: And Maliki doesn`t have control over these militias.
MATTHEWS: OK, if you`re Maliki right now -- this is a -- would Maliki
rather have the support of the United States eventually, which he thinks
he`ll get eventually because we`re not going to let them fall, plus the
Iranians, or basically say, Screw you, to the Iranians and the Shia, I`m
bringing in the Sunnis, the very people you hate. I mean, seems to me his
calculation has got to be, Wait a couple more weeks, maybe I can hang on
here, and if I can get the United States to come in and the Iranians, I got
this thing won. So why should Maliki change?
GEARAN: I believe Maliki`s doing exactly what you just said.
MATTHEWS: He won`t go.
GEARAN: He thinks he can have both U.S. support when he needs it,
even over a complaint, and the backing of the Iranians without having to
give up a whole lot to either one. It remains to be seen whether that
actually works, but that appears to be what he`s betting.
MATTHEWS: You know, people marry each other and they say, Well, he`ll
MATTHEWS: You know what Mike Myers, the comedian, says? That`s
called a "wish sandwich." And so -- and so -- why do we think that -- I
remember this case of a -- totally irrelevant, but these are important
points. This guy -- I said it this morning on "MORNING JOE" -- big,
heavyweight weatherman, told jokes all the time, gets hired because he`s a
big, happy, jolly guy. After it doesn`t work, They say, Lose weight and
stop telling jokes. You can`t change people like that!
MATTHEWS: You can`t say to Maliki, You got there as the leader of the
Shiites. Forget all that and become this sort of Pope Francis character
that includes everybody!
CORN: Well, the...
GEARAN: Well, no, that is actually what the U.S. is trying to get him
to do. And they know that it`s never going to be perfect, right? But the
U.S. argument to him for more than five years has been, Look, if you want
to be considered a statesman, if you want international legitimacy, if you
want ongoing U.S. support, you cannot govern as, you know, the Sunni king.
GEARAN: ... the Shiite king, and so...
MATTHEWS: And his reaction?
GEARAN: His reaction is, Oh, don`t worry, I`ve got it. I will -- I
GEARAN: He did for a while. He had, you know, a multi-ethnic...
GEARAN: Right, and then he got rid of one and then he got rid of
another and he`s...
CORN: All politics is local, though. That`s what it is. His
constituency is becoming more fired up and radical in response to this
evolving Sunni attack. And so to ask him in the middle of that to say, Now
you should be embracing the Sunnis, when your people are running the
battlefield to fight them -- you know, he`s been authoritarian...
CORN: ... and corrupt from the beginning.
MATTHEWS: David, you and are very symbiotic on this thing, Anne
joining in the effort here. A week from now or two weeks from now, will we
be more involved militarily? Will be looking like we`re siding with the
Maliki government with air strikes against the insurgency of ISIS?
CORN: I think a week from now, it`ll probably be even more of a civil
war or sectarian warfare...
MATTHEWS: Will we be in it?
CORN: I think -- I think the president doesn`t want to get into that.
MATTHEWS: So he`s faking it.
CORN: Well, I think he`s keeping options open, and if there`s a way
to target ISIS, fine, but I think ISIS is going to be harder to separate
from the rest of the fight.
MATTHEWS: Based upon his move so far, is the president going for air
GEARAN: I think he`s playing for time here. I mean, why wouldn`t he?
I mean, he doesn`t want to do anything that would make the situation worse.
He wants to be able to...
MATTHEWS: I think he`s doing what Frank Sinatra used to say, whatever
gets you through the night.
MATTHEWS: And I -- I think that`s what it is.
GEARAN: The politics...
MATTHEWS: He`s trying to get through the night.
GEARAN: The politics are impossible.
CORN: You can`t say anymore in politics, This is a vexing problem.
It will take us a few days to sort this out. We`re working on it, because
you get crucified. So he has to come up...
MATTHEWS: ... give them something. Anyway, thank you very much,
David. It`s very smart. And of course, you, Anne, because you know your
stuff -- generally.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) something else.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: The neocons are back. This is really hilarious,
if it weren`t so said. They got us into Iraq. Shamelessly now, they`re
all back as experts for getting in again. Big surprise.
Also, the great Senator Elizabeth Warren`s coming here. She`s, of
course, a huge hero to progressives in the Democratic Party and around the
country, and perhaps the most powerful elected voice among the progressives
right now. In polls of Democrats, she often comes in second only to
Hillary. Her voice will be heard, even if she doesn`t run for president.
And it wasn`t easy to do, but Congressman Steven King -- I guess it`s
Steven King, his name`s Steve -- may have topped himself with this tweet
after the U.S. Patent and Trademark office canceled the Washington Redskins
trademark protections. Quote, "Obama raids Redskins by weaponizing USPTO,
cancels Redskins logo. Free people will not tolerate a Kim Jung POTUS."
That`s a United States congressman talking.
"Let Me Finish" tonight with what I said about this war in Iraq well
before it started.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: House Republicans today voted to replace Majority Leader
Eric Cantor, and the result, a victory for the old crowd, actually, the
regulars, not the Tea Party. California`s Kevin McCarthy, who`s currently
majority whip, the number three spot in the leadership, beat Idaho Tea
Partier Raul Labrador to take Cantor`s place.
After Cantor`s stunning defeat last week, a lot of voices on the hard
right said his successor in leadership should be one of them, a Tea
Partier, but McCarthy`s the winner tonight. Louisiana`s Steve Scalise won
a three-man race to succeed McCarthy as majority whip.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. They`ve been coming out of the
woodwork. The same people who sold the Iraq war back in 2001, 2002 and
2003 are once more banging the drum for intervention, and with zero shame,
clueless that their opinion now is completely discredited.
Last night on Fox News, Megyn Kelly gave a wind-up to her first
question to Dick Cheney that should have flattened him right at the start.
Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, HOST, "THE KELLY FILE": In your op-ed, you write as
follows. "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the
expense of so many."
But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong, as
well, in Iraq, sir. You said there was no doubt Saddam Hussein had weapons
of mass destruction. You said we would be greeted as liberators. You said
the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes back in 2005. And you said that
after our intervention, extremists would have to, quote, "rethink their
strategy of jihad."
Now, with almost a trillion dollars spent there, with 4,500 Americans
lives lost there, what do you say to those who say you were so wrong about
so much at the expense of so many?
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. I just
fundamentally disagree, Reagan -- Megyn. They -- you`ve got to go back and
look at the track record. We inherited a situation where there was no
doubt in anybody`s mind about the extent of Saddam`s involvement in weapons
of mass destruction...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Actually, "Reagan" was the name of the young girl in "The
MATTHEWS: I think Dick Cheney thought he was facing something as
horrific there. Anyway, we`ve seen them out in force now, the Kagans, the
Kristols, the Cheneys right there. And here`s just a sampling, by the way,
of the recent op-eds and articles out there.
Dick and Liz Cheney`s, of course, "Wall Street Journal" piece the
other day, headlined, quote, "The collapsing Obama doctrine," with the
astoundingly wrong-headed subtitle, "Rarely has a U.S. president been so
wrong about so much at the expense of so many."
And the duo of Fred Kagan and William Kristol out there with an
article entitled, "What to do in Iraq." Word to the wide, do the opposite,
by the way. And the other Kagan, Robert Kagan, writing a call to arms in
"The New Republic" headlined, "Superpowers don`t get to retire: What our
tired country still owes the world."
Well, it`s been like old home week in the network green rooms this
week, with the Iraq war pushers like Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer, of
course, William Kristol, of course, David Frum.
Joining me right now is former RNC chair Michael Steele, who`s also an
MSNBC political analyst, and my colleague from the afternoon, Joy Reid,
host of "THE REID REPORT." Thank you both for joining us.
And I`ll tell you, having been through this fight many, many years ago
-- in fact, I`ve been review my old columns in 2001, 2002, 2003. The long
wind-up to war was paved by these voices. And everyone spoke with complete
authority about how the war would be achieved (ph), slam dunk, cakewalk,
and how it was going to give us great benefits, like free gas forever, a
great economic boom for this country. We`d be greeted as liberators. It
would take a couple weeks, at most, according to Cheney.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Let`s not get into whether they
knew they were wrong, they were wrong.
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: That`s the important thing. How do they get so much
credibility with the media today? I turned on "MEET THE PRESS" this
weekend, and I saw Paul Wolfowitz. I thought it was a rerun!
MATTHEWS: I thought I was watching cosy (ph) television!
STEELE: Well, I think part -- I think part of it...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
STEELE: ... is bringing those voices back into the updated
conversation in light of...
STEELE: Well, I think -- well...
MATTHEWS: Why are they back?
STEELE: Well, because they have something to say, obviously.
MATTHEWS: Which is?
STEELE: Which is, you know...
MATTHEWS: More war.
STEELE: ... obviously, from the headlines -- well, they`re not saying
more war. They`re basically...
MATTHEWS: They`re saying, Get in there and start shooting...
STEELE: Look, I`m not...
MATTHEWS: ... taking sides and shooting in that war!
STEELE: I`m not going to characterize what they`re saying. I mean, I
think their articles...
MATTHEWS: Well, just read it.
STEELE: I`m just saying their articles speak for themselves. But I
think -- to your question of why they`re back in the conversation, I think
a lot of the networks, ours included, are looking for these voices to
contrast against what the public is saying now and what the new realities
MATTHEWS: And play devil`s advocate?
STEELE: Well, how do you justify -- I mean, you saw the interview
where Dick Cheney said that the war was won. And everyone, you know,
looked incredulously at that television screen and said, Are you kidding
me? So I think that`s part of the ongoing narrative about where American
people are right now on this argument about the war.
MATTHEWS: This Bartels & James ad...
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this Bartels & James ad with him on the
television here with his daughter (INAUDIBLE) with the cowboy hat? I think
they`re selling some kind of new sody-pop or something! A wine cooler.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what the hell they`re selling, but it`s a
Anyway, nobody coaches them what to do. Michael makes the point.
Bring them back to show them how wrong they were. I`m not sure that`s
exactly how you meant, but that`s the base of the thing. Let them come
back as the Three Stooges and perform again, so remember how wrong they
Is that a value?
REID: But that`s not what people are doing, Chris. And did look like
an infomercial, by the way, by the Cheney father and son duo.
No, I mean, listen, it didn`t take a rocket scientist to figure out
that if you had a dictatorship of a Sunni -- a secular Sunni dictator who
had been repressing and suppressing a Shiite majority in a country and been
really giving them the business and treating them terribly over decade
after decade, that if you hand the country over then to that majority, that
they are not necessarily going to treat the minority with equanimity.
And then you have a country armed to the teeth and you disband their
army, send them home armed and angry, and then try to set up this sort of
special project, I guess, of the neocons where they were going to be open
and amenable to all forms of foreign investment, read oil, that this was
not going to go well.
REID: My very first column I wrote for "The Miami Herald" was
opposing the war. And if I could figure it out in Miami in front of my
computer, I`m not sure why any of these guys would be considered an expert
in anything, because none of them could figure that out. They thought this
would all go swimmingly with very few troops and that there would no
I don`t think their expertise is needed.
STEELE: But, Joy, that was the easy sell. And I would agree with you
on that. That was the problem I think a lot of conservatives and others in
the country had at the time.
I think Megyn Kelly really spoke for a lot of Republicans and
conservatives around the country, with their whole frustration going back
through the beginning of the process and why you -- why you misread, how
you misread the tea leaves, if you will, in terms of going into this with
no clear plan of what it would look like on the outside.
And that`s the problem Obama has. Obama has now tripped into the
reality that he now has to send 300 folks back on the ground to sort of fix
some of the exit here.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at what Megyn Kelly, now that we`re
saluting -- here is a second salute.
She directed a question to Liz Cheney, who took it and ran with it as
far as she could discredit President Obama. Now, watch how Liz Cheney, who
has got a wicked attitude about the president -- this is really quite
personal. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: Do you think that President Obama is
LIZ CHENEY, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes.
I will answer that one, Megyn. I think there is no question. I think
that he is unique in terms of a president who is sitting in the Oval Office
who made very clear that his desire is to weaken the nation.
There is no question but that he`s a dangerous president and that we
have got to fight back and that we have got to ensure that people
understand the importance of American power...
KELLY: I got it.
L. CHENEY: ... in securing our freedom and security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s close to calling the president a traitor. I`ll tell
you, Joy, when you -- you basically say he`s out to weaken the United
States, I mean, not weaken, not cut the cost of arms spending.
That`s not what she meant; she meant weaken this country. He`s an
enemy of the United States, dangerous to the United States, and, somehow, I
guess, through an election, found himself in the Oval Office.
REID: Yes. This is slightly higher order birtherism, essentially.
And, by the way, it is of a piece with what the whole -- this wing of
the neoconservative movement, of what they did. They didn`t misread tea
leaves. They twisted took and this country`s raw emotion and horror at
what happened to 9/11, and they took that emotion, they took that fireman`s
war that people wanted fought and they exported it to their preexisting
project to go look for oil and prospect for oil in Iraq.
They twisted this country in a way that`s vile. It is not just making
a mistake. I remember going and talking to Doug Feith and we did these
projects where columnists were allowed to go to the Pentagon.
REID: And this sort of convoluted case where he got from 9/11 to
Saddam Hussein, total falsehood.
MATTHEWS: I know.
REID: Remember the mushroom cloud, implying that this country that
had no long-range missiles could nuke us? This was not just mistakes.
This was vile.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. You got in your first column to what I
got to in my last column.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, actually, I was writing for it for months. But I`m
just going to read a bit tonight, later -- later tonight at the end of the
show about what I wrote in my first -- my last column for "The San
Francisco Chronicle" on the point you just made.
Thank you, Michael Steele.
STEELE: Hey, thank you, guys.
REID: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I know it was a bit one-sided tonight, but we really...
STEELE: It`s HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Joy Reid, thank you for agreeing with me and for letting me
agree with you.
Up next, add another to Steve King`s all-time greatest hits. The Iowa
Republican U.S. congressman, he really is one, Steve King just compared
President Obama to Kim Jong-un.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did it take so long to bring this guy in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What took so long?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For those keeping track, it`s been 642 days.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": President Bush didn`t
wait 642 days to catch bin Laden. If he couldn`t catch him right away, he
wasn`t going to catch him at all. That`s called having some pride.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. And time now for the "Sideshow."
That was of course the great Stephen Colbert.
Meanwhile, U.S. Congressman Steve King is at it again. After the U.S.
Patent Office canceled trademark protections for the Washington Redskins,
the Iowa Republican weighed in on the debate by comparing President Obama
to North Korea`s dictator.
Congressman King tweeted out -- quote -- "Obama raids Redskins by
weaponizing USPTO, cancels Redskins logo. Free people will not tolerate a
Kim Jong POTUS."
Anyway, the Patent Office made the move, calling the Redskins name
disparaging to Native Americans.
Finally, the women of Washington put partisanship aside to take the
field and raise money to fight breast cancer. The annual congressional
women`s softball game between the political leaders and the women of the
press corps was yesterday. Throwing out the first pitch was former
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
The Democrat from Arizona was feeling good about her skills on the
mound beforehand, tweeting out: "50 Cent, bet you my first pitch will be
better than yours was."
It couldn`t have been any worse. Anyway, Giffords was of course
referring to the rap singer`s embarrassing first pitch at the Mets game
Anyway, the congressional members won the game last night against the
Up next, a big story on the progressive front. Senator Elizabeth
Warren joins us right here when we return.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
FRANCES RIVERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Frances Rivera. Here`s
President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to a former Marine who was
gravely wounded shielding a fellow Marine from a grenade. The president
said Corporal William Kyle Carpenter displayed heroism that will inspire
In Iraq, the battle for the country`s largest refinery continues in
the city of Baiji.
And the CDC says 75 scientists may have been exposed to live anthrax
bacteria. The agency says the workers believed the samples weren`t active
-- now we take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
With the exception of the presidential race, of course, perhaps no
election was followed as closely in 2012 as the Massachusetts U.S. Senate
race that brought progressive hero Elizabeth Warren to Washington.
In her book, "A Fighting Chance," Warren tracks her incredible journey
to the Senate. She writes of her family`s financial struggles as a kid.
Her father went from being a salesman to a maintenance man. After he
suffered a heart attack, the family almost lost the family house.
Her mother got a job answering phones at Sears to make ends meet.
Warren argues the system is rigged against working families like the one
she grew up -- quote -- "Over the past generation, America`s determination
to give every kid access to affordable college or technical training has
faded. The basic infrastructure that helps us build thriving businesses
and jobs, the roads, the bridges, the power grids, has crumbled. The
optimism that defines us as a people has been beaten and bruised. It
doesn`t have to be this way" -- close quote.
She tells the story of one woman she met at a campaign event when she
was running who had walked two miles -- walked -- just to see her. The
woman was unemployed and wondered if she would ever work again. She told
Warren -- quote -- "I`m here because I`m running out of hope."
So, what hope is there for Elizabeth Warren and the Democratic Party?
What are they offering that woman and many others?
Senator Elizabeth Warren joins us right now.
Senator Warren, thank you. Senator Warren, thank you so much.
Congratulations on your book.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: "A Fighting Chance" is a wonderful title and a wonderful
And my questions to you come down to the most kitchen table economics
you could imagine, not the big questions of Wall Street or the
macroeconomics, but the simple question.
What can and could or will the Democratic Party do, since it is the
party that wants to do it, to create real jobs for people, so that the
families up in Scranton in Pennsylvania don`t see their kids all running
away hopelessly trying to find a job somewhere, that the black kid growing
up in North Philly in the old Irish neighborhood where I grew up has a job
prospect he can see coming when he`s in his early teens, he has an uncle
who is working, so he knows what kind of a job he would like to get?
To restore the hope of a meaningful family-building employment that
seems to be gone in so much of the country, how do you bring it back?
WARREN: Well, you know, this isn`t magic. We actually know how to do
We did this for nearly half-a-century, coming out of the Great
Depression, until about 1980. We made the investments together that helped
build opportunity for all of us.
You know, I will start with education. We made those investments in
education, one of the things I talk about in the book. I went to a
commuter college that cost $50 a semester. And, you know, it opened a
million doors for me. How could I go to a school that cost $50 a semester?
Because I grew up in an America that said we collectively, all of us, are
going to make those investments in education, so that any kid who works
hard, who`s playing by the rules, who tries to get out there and make
something of herself is going to have a fighting chance to make that
And we did something else. We made the investments together that
helped build a robust economy. You know, every time we talk about roads
and bridges, when we talk about power grids, it`s really about setting the
table, so that small businesses can start, so that business can grow, so
they can flourish, so they can create jobs here at home.
There is a reason we make those investments. It makes it easier. It
makes it -- it makes more profitable to invest in having those jobs here in
And one more part. We, for more than half-a-century, had an idea --
this is what separated us as a people -- that we would invest in research,
in medical research, in scientific research. Why did we invest in those
things? We invested in them because we believed that, if we built a big
pipeline of ideas, that our children would be able to create things and
build things that we could only dream of.
And, together, that built a robust economy for America, an economy
that expanded, that created more jobs, that meant that, as a country, we
got richer, and, family by family, we got richer. Those things work
We know how to do this. It changed in the 1980s, when the Republicans
came up with a different vision. They said, eh, that`s not how you build
an economy. The way you build an economy is you let those at the very top,
the richest and the most powerful, keep more of their money and more of
their power, and, somehow, it`s going to trickle down for everybody else.
Well, we tried that for more than 30 years, and it really hasn`t
worked. It has cut the legs out from underneath America`s middle class.
MATTHEWS: So, what are the Democrats going to do then? What are --
look, look, let me just tell you the picture I`m drawing right now....
MATTHEWS: ... in graphic terms.
David Garth, the great political guy in New York, once said, remove
the smell of -- get rid of the smell of decay and bring in the smell of
construction. And we know what construction smells like. It`s dirt being
moved. It`s the smell of cement.
MATTHEWS: And yet, when I go to Penn Station in New York, it`s a rat
hole. I look at JFK, the airport, it`s an embarrassment.
We have got so much in this country falling apart under our cities.
It`s going to be underwater some day, thanks to climate change. We have
got nobody working. I don`t understand the union movement in this country.
Why aren`t they bitching and moaning and complaining every day, we want big
And the president of the United States isn`t doing it. I don`t hear
him talking about it. He talks about one thing one day, something else the
next day. But I`m telling you, I don`t hear you getting it done. The
Democrats control the U.S. Senate. The Democrats control the White House.
When are you going to do what you just said you would like to do? Just
when? Give me a date. Is it 2017?
WARREN: No. It`s now.
MATTHEWS: 2023? When is it?
WARREN: It`s now.
MATTHEWS: It isn`t now.
MATTHEWS: When is it happening?
WARREN: We just voted -- we just voted on this last week.
You stop and think about it, because all of the things you have talked
about, every time we get up and talk about helping education, whether it`s
preschool or whether it`s college, we talk about roads and bridges and
power grids. We talk about NIH research.
Every time, the Republicans say exactly the same thing. They say, oh,
there`s just not enough money. There`s just not enough money. There`s
just not enough money. And then they say, we are -- they are going to
fight to protect every tax loophole that currently exists that permits
billionaires to pay at a lower tax rate than their secretaries.
They fight to protect every subsidy to big oil, to big agriculture.
They say they are going to continue to fight for all of those things. And
that`s what the fight is about in Washington. We just saw it last week.
MATTHEWS: You`re blaming it on the Republicans, but you control the
Senate and you control the White House.
WARREN: Remember what the vote was last week in the United States
Senate. We put forward a bill to say, look, we want our young people to
get an education that we shouldn`t be crushing them with student loan debt.
Right now in America, there is $1.2 trillion outstanding in student loan
debt, 40 million people who are dealing with student loans.
And here`s the trick -- the United States government is charging
interest rates that are producing tens of billions of dollars in profits
for the government. So, what we proposed is to bring those interest rates
down, to wring some of the profits out of the system. The problem, of
course, is those profits are baked into the budget.
So, we said, we`re going to pay for it by sewing up some of the tax
loopholes available only for millionaires and billionaires. I want to be
clear on this -- the Republicans filibustered it. We got within two votes.
We got every single Democrat. We got both independents and we picked up
We are at 58 votes in the choice between billionaires on the one hand
and students on the other. That`s about as direct as you can make the
choices. And that`s what we are going to do. We`re going to keep making
it clear what the choices are. We are going to be out there talking to the
grassroots, to people, to push back -- to push back on the Republicans who
say it is more important to protect billionaires, people who have already
made it, than it is people who are just trying to get a start.
That`s what this is all about. Are we going to be there for people
who just want a fighting chance to build something for themselves?
MATTHEWS: Well, everything you`re doing is good. I just don`t see
the main hope coming back to the American people when it comes to real
And I still talk about the examples I grew up with, whether it`s the
middle class families getting old and seeing kids move away because there
are no jobs, the factories are closed, Boeing closed, Berthal (ph) closed,
Buds closed. All the places where we used to be able to take a subway ride
to a job are closed, they`re either replaced by nothing or tennis courts
and nice restaurants. But there aren`t job creating businesses left.
And I still don`t hear from you and the Democrats, real construction
jobs. I was just in China with my wife who works for a big hotel company.
And I have to tell you, they are building on Friday night over there. The
bulldozers are moving.
We don`t do it because we are afraid to borrow the money or tax the
money. But we`re not doing it.
MATTHEWS: And I`m afraid, five years from now, we were having the
same conversation with you. And you are a fine senator, but it isn`t
happening. It just isn`t.
WARREN: But, look, you`ve got to talk about why it`s not happening.
This is exactly what I talk about, the fact that China is investing 9
percent of its GDP in infrastructure. Over here in the United States, we
are down at 2.4 percent and the Republicans want to cut it even further.
The fundamental question, we have a huge fight going on here in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you call the president right now and say, why
don`t you do something really big on infrastructure? It will grab the
public imagination. He`s not doing it.
WARREN: You`ve got to have the money to do it. The Republicans are
filibustering in the Senate.
WARREN: They won`t bring bills to the floor in the House.
But, look, that doesn`t mean you give up. You don`t just wash your
hands and say nobody is doing this. At least you`ve got one side that`s
trying to fight for it.
We`ve got to get out there and fight, and our only chance is if we can
engage enough people at the grassroots level, enough people who say, what
do you mean you`re choosing billionaires over students? What do you mean?
You`re saying you`re going to continue to do subsidies for big oil but
there`s no money for roads and bridges?
Those are the choices right now that the Republicans and the Democrats
are fighting in Congress. Which way are we going to go?
Look, we are fighting back. We are fighting for what we believe in.
We are fighting to build a future for America.
We can`t do it by ourselves. We need people across the country to
help push on the Republicans. Like I said, on student loans in the Senate,
we need two more votes.
MATTHEWS: Well, good luck.
WARREN: It`s time to push.
MATTHEWS: The name of the book is "The Fighting Chance." I see you
in action. I`m glad I got you aroused a bit.
WARREN: You bet.
MATTHEWS: But good cause, good work, I still got my focus, a little
bit different than yours, more blue collar. But keep at it.
Thank you, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Up next, another confab with the red hots of the right. But new
polling shows the Tea Party is far out of step with the rest of the
country. Wait until you see these polling stats. They`re not like
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: The Tea Party. They`re just not like the rest of us. The
new polling proves it.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
The Republicans might be in good shape come November`s midterm
election. But there is more evidence that the GOP could be in big trouble
come 2016 when we pick a new president. Our latest NBC/"Wall Street
Journal" found that 54 percent, slightly more than half of core Republicans
identify with the Tea Party. That`s a majority. These are the same most
committed and active voters, of course, in Republican primaries.
So, why could that spell trouble for the GOP in the 2016 presidential
contest? Because, according to the new poll, the Tea Party is out of step
with the country at large on the most important issues of the day or at
least many of them.
Take a look at these numbers. Just 19 percent of Tea Party
Republicans say immigration helps the country. Among all Americans,
support for immigration is 47 percent. On the Common Core education
policy, 38 percent of Tea Party Republicans support the standards in
school. Among all Americans support for Common Core is at 59 percent,
When it comes to climate change, just 22 percent, one in five of Tea
Party Republicans say action should be taken. In contrast to 61 percent of
the country at large who support action on climate change.
And again, just 23 percent of Tea Partiers approve of a proposal to
reduce greenhouse gases versus 57 percent of the entire that supports such
Joan Walsh is an MSNBC political analyst, and Perry Bacon is senior
political reporter with NBC News.
I want to start with Perry on this.
It seems to me we have an election coming up, in which we know it`s
going to be a self-selected group of voters. People very passionate,
probably very angry. You know the story. We all know the same story,
which means that the Tea Party as we saw in this polling has -- enjoys a
strong, strong majority control, if you will, of the thinking, of the
people who tend to show up in these very passionate off-year elections.
Your thoughts -- will they have a lot of influence this year, the Tea
Party? Based upon this polling?
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: They absolutely
You can see they already are. One thing you saw this week, Bobby
Jindal, governor of Louisiana, potential 2016 candidate, used to be for
Common Core. He has read these numbers, himself, it seems because now this
week, he announced he is now against Common Core for reasons that seem
I think that`s one thing you`re seeing is that the Tea Party is both
pushing candidates to the right in the primaries, and also pushing -- for
2014 -- and also pushing potential Republican nominees to the primary in
2016 as well.
If you watch Hillary Clinton`s book tour, Hillary Clinton can say lots
of things she`s for. She`s for gay marriage, for immigration reform. If
you`re Republican, you really can`t say a lot that you`re for. Tea Party
economists are against a lot of things. It`s not really clear what they`re
MATTHEWS: Joan, your thoughts? We`re running through these. I think
some of these polling questions could be worded differently. I think
illegal immigration would have a different result.
But it seems like the Tea Party don`t like the idea of immigration
when you don`t say illegal immigration. Just the word immigration seems to
turn them off, look at that number -- 68 percent, seven in 10 don`t like --
they`re all immigrants, these people. Don`t they know it? They`re against
So, I mean -- anyway, your thoughts?
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, we both know there can be
debates about immigration reform. There are things about it that are
controversial. The whole idea, there once was some bipartisan movement on
this. I mean, really as recently as a year ago, there was some progress in
But they have put this entirely off limits for their party. This used
to be something that Democrats and Republicans worked together on, or it
didn`t split necessarily along party lines.
The same is true for climate change. Cap and trade is a Republican
idea, Chris, that we both know of lots of Northeastern and Western
Republicans who once were for environmental measures.
Richard Nixon signed, you know, the Clean Air and Clean Water Act.
WALSH: This did not used to be, again --
MATTHEWS: He created the EPA.
WALSH: Right. Right. This did not use to be an area where the two
parties split. And so, these are moderate things. We`re not talking about
the radical fringe, and we`re also talking about two sets of issues that
are really crucial to the future of the country, and this minority, they`re
a majority of the Republican Party, is blocking any kind of movement, and
it`s really tragic and dangerous for the country.
MATTHEWS: Perry, you`re into this, and I want to get your thinking
about this, the Common Core. I would think that would -- I can imagine in
a different era that being a strong Republican thing. Let`s make sure the
kids have the reading, writing, arithmetic down, the basics. Let me be
smart in terms of basic English, basic arithmetic, being able to handle a
job at the age of 18 coming out of school, because you can take care of
yourself in this country if you have the basics.
Why is that an anti-Republican idea or anti-conservative idea, to have
the basics of your education lock solid as you go into adult life?
BACON: You`re right, Chris. The three big leaders of Common Core in
America -- Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Jeb Bush.
BACON: None of those three people are big liberals from what I can
BACON: But it goes to the fact that Common Core, if you ask
conservatives, they view that as the Obamacare of education. It`s a
MATTHEWS: What`s the lefty piece of it? What are they teaching that
they`re afraid they`re getting taught? I mean, what`s the core of the
BACON: The core of the problem is there are more tests, and also the
tests -- it`s a national test. It`s not an Obama administration-created
standards. The standards are national in structure. Their view is
anything that`s national means it`s not state or local control. And that`s
the core debate.
WALSH: Again, it`s just demonizing the federal government. I mean,
this, you know, originally, it came out of the Bush administration. It
goes back to the first Bush administration really. This push for national
standards and this push to raise standards.
Some of it is actually controversial on the left, but what they`ve
done is demonize the notion of a federal role in education. And so, they
see -- this is part of the black helicopter movement. They see --
MATTHEWS: No, I think they`re rooting for the other side in the
"Planet of the Apes." I`ve seen the movie "Planet of the Apes", the ones
who don`t believe anybody learning -- people learning anything. They`re
not supposed to learn anything, don`t learn anything.
I`m just kidding, but it seems like they were against learning at this
Perry, thanks for teaching me that stuff. Perry Bacon, thank you for
BACON: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And, Joan Walsh, of course.
And we`ll be right back after this.
WALSH: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the last words of the last
article I wrote as national columnist for the "San Francisco Chronicle."
Sunday, September 1st, 2002. "So, I`ll say it, I hate this war that`s
coming in Iraq. I don`t think we`ll be proud of it. Oppose this war
because it will create a millennium of hatred and suicidal terrorism that
comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father, what about
the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a war we start
next spring in Baghdad?"
Well, here we are 12 years later facing the backwash of the war,
President Bush, Dick Cheney and their ideological cohorts began in March of
All those Sunnis that were thrown into the streets when we came in.
Overthrew Saddam, disbanded the Iraqi army and government. Those are all
now rooting for is as it fights its way to Baghdad, all those angry hearts
who have a motive for killing and letting others kill are now hoping for an
overthrow of the Maliki government. What made us think that the killing we
started in March of 2003 would end when we decided to leave? What
instilled in U.S. the confidence that the families of all those dead Arabs
would not remember who caused it and pine for someone who would repay it?
You go into a country, you kill anyone who stands in your way, you set
up a system that puts one side in power over the other, you kick out the
people who have been running the country for 300 years, rip the uniforms
from the army and send them running, throw people from their government
jobs and positions, and don`t expect them to remember who did this to them?
Watch that ragtag army working its way toward Baghdad right now. Look
and see who joins it. And then remember what role, we the United States
played in Iraq`s history in planting the hatred that now marches toward the
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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