tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC May 26, 2013 4:00am-4:31am PDT
true commander. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews up in new york. let me start tonight with this. president obama showed the guts yesterday to put the terrorism threat in perspective. it is a threat, he said. it is not a threat to american existence nor to a strategic threat in the way, of course, the soviet union once was. put more sharply, we americans don't have to take an ends justifies the means approach to national security. we can do what works and fits with our values and with international law. we can protect ourselves without
the very freedoms we cherish. under bush/cheney the country was forced into a war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed neither a strategic nor existential threat to us or that cheney justified as if it did. we were on war footing because that was the national mindset that the knneocons and fellow hawks knew they could use to justify everything from torture to war to propaganda manufactured, again, in the vice president's office. the aluminum tubes, remember that? that notes saddam hussein had a mysterious airplane that would deliver nuclear bombs on america? dick cheney sold the notion of an or wellian war as if it were a country somewhere are when much of what he accomplished from putting troops in saudi arabia to an unjustified war in iraq to waterboarding actually created more enemies with pictures for their war posters. obama is working to fix that. in the terrorism threat where it belongs is a serious threat that
should keep us on the alert but not squash individual freedom or international debate. david kon for mother jones magazine, a democratic congressman for pennsylvania, and the first iraq war veteran to serve in the united states congress. both are msnbc contributors. well, let's take a look, gentlemen, at what president obama said yesterday. let's take a look at this part where he rejects the war on terrori terrorism. >> neither i nor any president can promise the total defeat of terror. we will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings nor stamp out every danger to our open society, but what we can do, what we must do, is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold. all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend. and to define that strategy, we have to make decisions based not
on fear but on hard earned wisdom. >> david, i think there was a lot of truth in that report yesterday. i didn't realize until i heard it again. a couple of elements, actually three of them here come to mind. this idea that terrorism in l some country called the united states and terrorism, we go to war with it, stamp it out like nazi germany. everyone surrenders and it's over. no. it's in people's hearts and minds. the desire to blow up an airplane, to kill yourself to kill other people. it's in your hearts and minds. the notion you can actually stamp it out as if you can get some sort of insect repellent and take care of it or the notion that we're never going to get completely gone with it and if we don't we can't stop the war and the war footing. i thought he put it in perfect 13ek9ive and i think just about every way he put it in the proper perspective. your thoughts is this. >> it might be six to ten years too late but i do agree with you he was trying to address a new realism when it comes to terrorism. in the short term the message
was don't freak out about this. it isn't a challenge but the real targets are the international networks which may be different than having some lone wolves or guys that do terrible things in boston or london, and that i thought what was really interesting was watching him grapple with the dilemmas that even dealing with terrorism on a less cheney-like footing still entails, whether it's, you know, dealing with detainees or dealing with drones. and, you know, i think there still are details to be flushed out. he wants more oversight in the expansive drone program. what are the details there? the fact he's putting this out for public discussion and showing some uncertainty is not the word but the fact that these are issues to be grappled with is something we never would have seen under the bush/cheney administration. i think it's kind after mature approach and a good starting point to fill in some of the details. >> for nearly a decade dick
cheney has been capable of recalibrating his position on how america deals with the threat of terrorism. on "meet the press" in september of 2003, a time the wounds of 9/11 were relatively fresh and the iraq war, cheney gave a ridiculous time line for war on terror. let's listen. >> from our perspective trying to deal with this continuing campaign of terror, if you will, the war on terror that we're engaged in, this is a continuing enterprise. >> well, in may of 2009 speaking of the american enterprise, cheney remained stuck in his black and white view of the terrorism threat and how he faced it. incidentally cheney began his speech moments after president obama began his own speech defending his anti-terrorism policies. let's listen to cheney. >> here's the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. you can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked and, therefore, it needs to be
continued as vigilantly as ever. or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. but in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground. and half measures keep you half exposed. >> the day after president obama told the country osama bin laden had been captured and killed, or actually killed, abc's jonathan karl interviewed cheney. let's listen. >> reporter: are we safe for now? >> i think so. but it's a kind of situation where we need to preserve ourselves of vigilance, if you will. we need to stay just as vigilant as we have been. >> back to david. i mean, this is an important transition from cheneyism to obamaism. obama is fighting the war because we have to fight it because the americans at the
same time. cheney wasn't actually upset being in. he seemed to be at home with it. not saying that he liked war but he rel ishld the experience of fighting it and he seemed to like this notion that it would never end and that it was an existential threat k. he talked about the terrorism threat from al qaeda as if it threatened america's very existence. everybody began to talk like that. the idea there would be bombs dropped, nuclear weapons. the idea we would be facing 9/11s every other weekend. this thing seemed to be totally out of proportion to what we faced. >> and, of course -- of course it led to such excesses as waterboarding and torture. i think the comment you just played from the aei speech which was eight years or so after 9/11 which he says there are no half measures, it's all or nothing, shows the mindset. the world doesn't tend to work in all or nothing terms. >> yesterday president obama in his speech took a clear-eyed view of the terrorist threat ahead of and the danger, by the way, of the united states of
distorting that threat. let's listen. >> the years to come not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al qaeda will pose a credible threat to the united states. unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight. >> well, there you have it, pat. the question what we can do here. i've always thought, and i'm not an expert but i've studieded story like everybody has, that the claim and the purpose of al qaeda was to draw the world into an east/west all-out war. to have the west take the east, the east take the west, and everybody involved in this and it would never end until there would be something established and that was their goal. to the extent we showed discipline and refused to engage in a war against islam, which i think the president and george w. bush was quite clear about, we got a chance to narrow it down to a number of people to fight. we have to stop war posters. i'm not saying particular wars
lead to other people doing it but they can be used to recruit people. they can be used to fire up people in this country and we've seen this. we just saw it in boston, people getting fired up by what we did in afghanistan and iraq and using that as a basis for their own radicalization. >> that's right, chris. and that's why you and david are exactly right say iing put in t proper perspective, let's be very clear, barack obama has been an ass kicker when it comes to al qaeda. he took out bin laden. he decimated -- took a buzz saw to al qaeda and they are now decimated. and, secondly, he has properly put forth the obama doctrine which is the counter insurgency doctrine to the counterterrorism doctrine being very specific, not nation building. we are now focusing our efforts on nation building here at home. >> patrick, i couldn't agree with you more. david corn, thank you, sir. coming up, where is the irs scandal going from here? big question, open question. the official overseeing it has
been removed from duty. no evidence of any obama involvement whatsoever. are the krit ex-left with anything more than conspiracy theories? when groucho marx couldn't sell his ice cream, meet senator ted cruz, who he fuses to join his fellow republican. also, why one congressman thinks president obama has ronald reagan to thank for becoming president. he blames him for that. a wish for an all-out political war. this is "hardball" the place for politics. when our little girl was born, we got a subaru. it's where she said her first word. (little girl) no! saw her first day of school. (little girl) bye bye! made a best friend forever.
disclosed the irs improperly scrutinized conservative groups. that's also how long it's taken the white house to regain some footing on the issue, and that's an honest assessment. instead of getting out in front of the criticism and playing offense, the white house crowd made the key mistake, it's not immoral, but it was a mistake of thinking what the president didn't know wouldn't hurt him. the there's no doubt that's cost him. let's take a look at the bigger picture here. they botched the chance when senior staffers got wind of the issue. okay. that's true. the administration responded on multiple levels ever since. look at the time line here. may 10, that's when the president first learned about the irs targeting of the tea party from news reports. may 15, the irs commissioner resigns under pressure and an unnamed irs employee in cincinnati is disciplined and re-assigned. a day later the president names a new commissioner and instructs him to conduct a top down agency review. the next day the white house holds a pair of pr strategy meters with former advisers, all smart people. monday white house press secretary jay carney comes clean with a more detailed time line on what official officials knew
and when they knew it. wednesday an apologetic tone with the press admitting the white house had mishandled the mess. things came full circle when lois lerner was placed on administrative leave after refusing an order to resign. she's off the job for are a while. part of the may 17th white house strategy session when the smart guys came in and smart women and, also smart, still an independent lady on the outside of this business. and thank you all. robert, you have been in there. i don't know how much you are privileged to say about the strategy session but it does seem to me based on news reports you folks suggested getting had this story as fast as you could, whatever was left to put out and clean house and then start focusing on positive efforts like creating jobs and not just sit this in the water taking heat and hits. is that what you were advising? >> i wouldn't dispute that. i think the white house clearly
has, as you said, regained their footing even from just the beginning of this week. i think they've come, as you said, full circle in now dispatching lois lernor. they're in a much better place than two weeks ago but probably, chris, even better than two or three days ago. >> let me ask you, joy, from the outside, maybe he's being too kind. i think he's a bit too kind. i think lois lerner -- somebody should have outlawyered her. and the idea she is getting paid full time without having to do any work is going to bug some people, but at least she is off the job and is not there involved in any way with the mishandling of those files, income tax files. >> the irony she is the one who discovered it in the beginning, told the employ yes, sir to change the criteria. not to do it anymore. they stopped for a while and went back and did it and she awkwardly tried to get it out during this bar association speech. she is the picture of the bungling bureaucrat but probably
has some civil service protections that is in issue here. these are career employ yaes except for the two appointed at the top, the general counsel and the general -- sort of the leader of the irs. these are career civil servants. it's not that easy to cashier whenever you want. and we want there to be distance between the white house and the irs n. a way they're not like dire directly right on top of telling them what to do. >> do you really think the american people are going to let the president off the hook because he can't can fire people who did something wrong? they're going to say liberals gave them the work rules. liberals looked out for those people. by the way, as long as they're there, it's a problem for the president and all democrats. >> the thing is that i think most americans are still not at the point where they're paying, number one, attention to this. >> three-quarters of the people think it's inappropriate. >> only about a third of people are paying really close attention and mostly republ republicans. it's a partisan issue. >> robert, how can they improve their situation henceforth?
if they came out of the ditch they were in, is there any way to get all the way out of the ditch unless there's a good, significant number of remofls from people -- remofls of people in the irs? i think charlie said it's a cancer that has to be removed. unless that's removed, the whole federal government is perceived as guilty. >> and i think that's correct. this first administrative leave is just and should just be the beginning. i think the acting commissioner should drill down and figure out why this happened, who was involved, and get them out of the irs. let's be clear, chris. if you are a progressive, we are not going to hold the white house forever. eventually there will be a republican president and we don't want the politics to 0 enter into the irs tax code regardless of what party you're in. >> i think especially for democrats who really if you're going to be the government party, the ones who really believe in the positive nature, you want to be the governing party as well, be good at what you believe in. the democrats have a much bigger
stake making it clean and effective for people because they want it to be used. republicans don't mind disasters. they tell people, you're right. they're a bunch of clowns in washington or worse than that. >> not to mention this is -- you're going to see this -- you've already seen it enter into the health care debate. you're going to see this in virtually every debate. the republican talking point will be if the administration can't control the cincinnati office of the irs, how are they going to do blank? how are they going to secure the border for immigration reform? implement health care reform? this is a dangerous issue that has to be dealt with. the good news for the president is voters don't hold him responsible for having caused this problem, but like in a natural disaster, they expect him to fix it. >> by the way, this gives credence to the looney tune arguments out there. i'm not going to say people are looney tunes themselves f. you're like michele bachmann, for example, saying they have all these secret health records.
they're going to spread them around and make you a fool in front of all your neighbors, that's more credible to the right and center right now because of the botching of this mess. i'm sorry to say these things. i'm not happy saying these things but they're true. >> weren't they going to say that anyway? >> it's called evidence. after watergate it meant something. thank you, robert gibbs. i'm older than you. i know you went to harvard. up next, do we have ronald reagan to thank for barack obama's presidency? check out the storied logic of steve king coming in the sideshow. this is "hardball," the place for politics. and some superheroes need complete and balanced meals with 23 vitamins and minerals. purina dog chow. help keep him strong. dog chow strong.
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taking off on marine one. hint, here is what we usually see before the president boards the helicopter. and here is what happened today. i like to see that humility. the president back tracked to shake hands with the marine he ignored. remember when all the candidates couldn't stop praising all the things reagan had done. well, republican congressman to the right of reagan is still fishing around for reasons president obama got elected. now he thinks it might circle back to ronald reagan himself. it's all to do with that 1986 -- well, it was the immigration act. he calls it the amnesty act which greated amnesty to immigrants. >> there is something like 15 million people in this country, not discounting deaths and those
that might have gone back, that were the beneficiaries of the 1986 amnesty act. so i just pose this question. does anybody think that barack obama would be president today if the 1986 amnesty act had not become law? i don't think president barack obama would be president today if ronald reagan hadn't made the most colossal mistake of his career in signing the 1986 amnesty act. he let me down that day. >> a guy who thinks barack obama is an illegal immigrant himself, came here after being born in ken kenya. that's what he thinks. when outreach goes awry at an event put on by a spanish news organization last week, pennsylvania republican governor tom corbin was asked if he had any latino staffers himself. >> do you have staff members that are latino? >> no, we do not. if you can find us one, please let me know. >> i'm sure that there are latinos -- >> you want to come to harrisburg? see? >> well, here is a great quote,
if you can find us one, let me mo. pennsylvania's latino population is on the rise and increased by 83% between 2000 and 2010. his spokesman says corbett does have one latino staffer, this comes a few weeks after he suggested one reason for pennsylvania's high unemployment rate is that employers can't find job candidates who are able to pass a drug test. this is the governor of the state. finally, yesterday anthony weiner's first day on the campaign trail as a mayoral candidate. it was a crazy one. even those who couldn't have cared less found themselves in the brouhaha. he was blocking a subway entran entrance. the situation got so bad that at one point two police officers were forced to intervene he is coursing him and reporters away from the entrance. the tweeting scandal that forced his exit from congress in the first place was not absent from the situation. after meeting weiner one bystander said, quote, instead of a hug i really wanted a text.
interesting bystander. he followed him on the subway where one crowd advised stay off facebook and all that. leave that alone. this candidacy has been a dis t disaster for new york, for the democratic party, and for society. that's "hardball" for now. have a safe and happy memorial day weekend. coming up next "your business" with j.j. ramberg. [ musick ] i knew there were a lot of tech jobs available out there. i knew devry university would give me the skills that i needed to make one of those tech jobs mine. we teach cutting-edge engineering technology, computer information systems, networking and communications management -- the things that our students need to know in the world today. our country needs more college grads to help fill all the open technology jobs. to help meet that need, here at devry university, we're offering $4 million dollars in tech scholarships for qualified new students. learn more at devry.edu.