tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC September 25, 2010 5:00am-5:30am EDT
politics gone mad. let's play "hardball." >> good evening, i'm chuck in for chris matthews. leading off, politics gone mad. today we may be remembered as the day american politics jumped the shark. when comedy central stephen colbert came to testify before congress about the plight of migrant farm workers, he did so in character as a right wing, blow hard cable tv and corp anchor. it's not clear whose reputation
took a bigger hit today, congress' or colbert's. >> as we've heard this morning, america's farms are far too dependent on immigrant labor to pick our fruits and vegetables. the obvious answer is to stop eating fruits and vegetables, and if you look at the recent obesity statistics you'll see that many americans have already started. >> it didn't stop at capitol hill. harry reid and star ron angle supporters broke out into a full-out brawl at a local christian school. politics gone mad at the top of the show. plus, the republican pledge to america. what does it really mean? some on left say it's nothing more than a smokes screen to disguise radical ideas. and the comeback kid with another comeback. how many does he get? bill clinton may be the go-to guy president obama needs to save him and his party.
at least that's what the russ belt states. but ask yourself this, how appropriate is it clinton to backseat driving obama when he used to bristle the same thing happening to him in 1994. also, finish the following sentence. the tea party is "a," tearing apart the republican party or "b", energizing the gop and opening up an enthusiasm gap. with democrat, the answer may tell us a lot about november. and you think democrats say a lot of bad things about each other? wait until you hear what eliot spitzer has to say about the fellow democrat who wants his old job, andrew cuomo. but that's in "the sideshow." host "face to face" on our nbc stations in nevada. and the politics editor for msnbc.com. look, we got to start with what happened on capitol hill. here's an exchange between michigan congressman john conyers and stephen colbert today. let's listen. >> i'm asking you to leave the committee room completely and
submit your statement instead. >> i'm here at the invitation of the chairwoman and if she'd like me to remove myself from the hearing room, i'm happy to do so. i'm only here on interpretation. >> that is correct. >> that is fair enough. >> von, let me start with you. you have been watching the 24/7 news cycle infect congress, and now it's sort of where it has gone to a level where an actor or comedian decides to go in character on capitol hill. what did we witness today? >> well, i really think that was the sticking point right there. kevin costner was there recently. talking about coast guard issues. they're in and out of that place all the time. but for colbert to be there in character was really taking this to an entirely new level and a really bizarre level at that. i think what they were trying to do and you have to give them credit, they were trying to get attention, the chairwoman was
trying to get attention for this issue. she certainly succeeded, but i think that she and other democrats on the hill are going to be a little surprised at the negative attention they get over this rather than to the issue it. >> john, i want to go to you in a minute. here's a bit of colbert testifying today. take a listen. >> we know there was a long tradition of great nations importing foreign workers to do their farm work. after all, it was the ancient israelites who built the first food pyramids, but this is america. i don't want a tomato picked by a mexican. i want it picked by an american, then sliced by a guatemalan and served by a event someday lan venezuelan in a spa by a chilean.
>> we're going to go to the craziness you're in the middle of, but i'm in new york, vaughn in washington and we're seeing this and a lot of us are offended, an institution that while can get mocked all the time went down a road we thought were not even capable of. what did you see out in nevada? how did you see this from your perch? >> wait a second, that's a steven colbert character? that's not the real stephen colbert? i'm shocked to hear that. we didn't know that here in nevada. >> right. >> but seriously, the real problem is what you know. people hold congress in such disrepute already and think it's a joke and then they see steven colbert go before congress in character and make comments like you just said, i can't see how that helps the democrats. they can say they're bringing a higher profile to a big issue, but people see it as a comedy show. >> it is. here's even more of stephen colbert, vaughn. take a listen. >> i've got to ask, why isn't the government doing anything? maybe this ad jobs bill would help. i don't know. like most members of congress, i haven't read it. >> i guess vaughn, what i don't understand is, look, stephen colbert is who he is.
he knew what he was doing and he certainly didn't make any pretense he was going to be anything other than what he was. why were all those members of congress sitting there? why didn't they leave? we heard conyers saying that. what about the republicans? >> conyers was sort of giving the early warning signal. i'm not sure a lot of members of congress really got what was going on there today. i mean when stephen colbert sits there and talking about entering his footage of his colonoscopy into the congressional record you would think that that would sound some alarm bells in their heads. they seem to be playing along, playing along with this and you think that john is exactly right. this just reinforcing the negative opinions that most people have of congress, and i think that they're going to be really surprised that this gives -- is going to have a lot of backlash against them. >> now, speaker pelosi was asked about colbert's testimony today. let's listen to how she responded. >> do you think it was appropriate that he testified today? >> of course i think it's appropriate. he's an american.
before the committee, has his point of view. he can bring attention to an important issue like immigration. i think it is great. >> you know, one thing that i'm wondering, but i've seen some reaction of twitter. john, you're a big user of it. i'm a big user of it. today felt like a day of em bars ament for the constitution. it feel like a blue state/red state divide here. that's what satire does. sometimes satire's the best way to bring out an issue and bring attention to an issue in a very smart way. you know, is this one of those things where maybe there is a blue state/red state divide and the heartland will look at this and say, this is exactly why we want to throw the bums out? >> well, i think in the 24/7 world we live in now, chuck, and you mentioned twitter and things are getting posted and posts as we're speaking, i don't think that this is going to last that long.
but i really think that the problem here is what we talked about earlier. is that immigration is a serious issue and then you have steven colbert, who is a very, very funny guy. as a matter of fact, koups dentally, he had the las vegas mayor oscar goodman on his program last night in a farce, but he's a farcical guy. >> right. >> and to take an issue like that and having him talking about mexicans picking tomatoes and guatemalans i think that that's going to rub blue state and red state folks the wrong way. >> let's remember this stuff in the congressional record. you can't see tone. you can't read tone. just like you can't read in e-mail or read tone in the congressional record. it's going to live forever. i want to jump to nevada. first, john, we have to show the video of what happened last night. here's this fight at a christian school. i guess nobody was channelling their inner christian here between angle supporters, harry reid supporters. we know that this is a race to the bottom. in fact, you wrote today, you wrote a column today that
basically said, you almost see why voters in nevada are going to put up their hands and not want either one of these guys but of course, you have none of the above on the ballot. so tell me this, john, you were there. what happened? >> it was a very strange crowd, chuck. just to set the stage so that people know, this was an hour-long forum. harry reid wasn't even there. he had previously answered set questions, they had been given to him before, he answered by videotape. they played that videotape. sharron angle was there. clearly reed sent some 800 people in there. but both sides were equally unruly. certainly, angle who was live, was getting heckled and then at the end as she was leaving, there was this scuffle that broke out and there was some astonishing pictures on the "las vegas sun's" website of this man throwing a fist right at a woman who was apparently really bothering him and trying to get by him. who started it, who knows, who
cares. but this is emblematic of this race, chuck, the kind of passions that are going on both sides. and it's not, go star sharron or go harry. it's kill sharron and kill harry. the animosity out there on this state toward these candidates is just astonishing. >> vaughn, every cycle, we say, it's never going to get stranger than this, than that. this cycle of course, every election cycle takes on its own personality. this is one where it feels like all of the venom you read about on the left and the right is now starting to be channelled at rallies. >> i think you've seen that throughout the campaign, frankly. you've seen commercials that talk about get your arms together and let's go against this federal government. you've heard -- >> some absurd rhetoric like what newt gingrich has used. some crazy rhetoric. >> that's right. and you know, as a result of the campaigns using that rhetoric,
what do we expect to start happening other than opening brawls at campaign events? >> you know, at one point, you do wonder if this is going to actually start to turn people off. you know, the irony of what colbert's doing, he and jon stewart are trying to have this rally on the mall for sanity and of course colbert today in many ways contributed to the insanity. vaughn, before i let you go, we have a new feature that we're all teaming up with on msnbc.com. the voter confidence index. tell us more about it. >> what we're trying to do with this, chuck, is measure the kind of impact of the anger that we've seen out there. we've taken the average of big poll questions these national major polls ask commonly and we've averaged them together and we've come up with a number, that sort of illustrates where the feeling the mood of the country is. negative is bad. positive is good. president obama started out with very high ratings. he's now down to negative 38. we've also taken that back and looked at how those numbers stack up historically to other midterm elections. he's right now, the president
and his party, are about the same level that bill clinton was in 1994. a little bit better shape, in fact. they're worse off than where president bush was in 2006. we're not trying to be predictive of this. >> right. >> we're just trying to give people a way to look at what's going on, what that could mean for the midterm elections, what it's meant in the past. >> it's sort of like our dow jones ticker right there on the politic's page on msnbc.com. vaughan burgers, editor of the political editor at msnbc.com. and john raulston who's got a front row seat and can actually use boxing cliche to cover a senate race and mean it. anyway, thank you both. coming up, the latest poll numbers. plus, that gop pledge to america. conservatives say it's too modest. liberals say it's a smokescreen for radical change. we'll try to figure out both sides out on this one. you're watching "hardball." when i was seventeen, i was not good to my skin.
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all right. welcome back to "hardball." we are going to start in california. a new field poll shows barbara boxer leading carly fiorina 47% to 40%. rick sink is up 47% to 40%. in new york a marriage poll finds cuomo leading paladino 52% to 43%. finally, that big senate race in nevada. senate majority leader harry reed and smarron angle are tied
at 43%. we shall see. none of the above numbers matter in nevada. we'll continue to check the "hardball" scoreboard each night leading up to the election. we are only picking the polls with a long track record of being accurate in the states. time now for more on the house republicans pledge to american. here's congressman kevin mccarthy today on a show i'm a little familiar with, "the daily rundown." listen. >> the one thing you have to realize, it is not a platform for the party. we have a platform. these are bills that can be taken up today. if you look at the 42 pages of where you can through specifically lays out each and every bill of where it goes. this is something that could be taken up now where we can't, where we won't leave. >> all right, will this help the republicans in november? does it help democrats bygying them something to bash? let's bring in msnbc political analyst richard wolf and "the washington post's" perry bacon.
richard, i'm starting with you. it does seem as if there's a lot of criticism being leveled at this, pledge to america, not from democrats but from republicans, from conservatives who are wondering, one, why did you put anything out and make yourself a target. and two, what you put out was too nil toast. >> right. i think it points to two things, first of all, this is a talking point for republicans that says they have an agenda, people need to kind of take off the table a criticism that there's no plan out there. as you heard, they recognize a plan to move toward forward with. it begs comparison with 1994 that encourages all of us to say that's the benchmark. can they make 54-seat gains in the house. and if not, they would be four short. the '94 comparison may not be helpful. the other point this goes to is how unruly the house republican
caucus is going to be after november because these ideological splits are ready to burst into the open if they have not already. >> perry, what did we learn potentially from this episode of watching this, watching it back and forth, the fact is this could be gone in a couple days. we nay not be talking about it as much, but what did we learn about how the house republicans can govern, the leadership versus the rank in file? >> two things. one we learn from watching boehner's answer to the question about moral advisers is they are nervous about how to talk about abortion and gay marriage. he clearly didn't know what to say about them beyond we are for what we have always been for, which is not a great answer. the second thing is they know what they are against. they are against obama's health care plan. they are against a lot of the things the president has done. but the republicans are not sure what they are for beyond making the government smaller in fairly undefined ways. the question next year will be
if they are in charge what they do in march. once they repeal the health care bill and obama says we are not going to do that, what do they do when they solve problems. they have not necessarily said what they are going to do yet. that's the most important thing this document said. >> richard, does joan boehner own this thing? they said, hey, this is boehner's. does this mean he already starts out as a speaker that's going to be, if he becomes speaker, that is going to be so answerable to the grassroots that he won't be able to even cut a deal with the senate majority leader, whether it is reid or mcconnell or with the president without somehow potentially making sure he doesn't lose his own caucus? >> i think it will be a really tough job. normally the discipline questions come in for the senate side. in the house here he's going to have trouble with this big class of freshman coming in if all the
predictions are correct. and at the same time he has to worry about the young guns pointing at him. the people who have been criticizing him on the message, if he falls short of 54, the young guns are going to train right on him. >> there are a lot of speakers in waiting besides john boehner when they look in the mirror. thank you both. coming up, new jersey governor chris christie is a true gentleman not afraid of a fight, especially to defend a lady. that's in the "side show." you are watching requested heart "hardball" only on msnbc.
>> hey, listen. hey, listen. hey, listen. you know what, if you want to yell, yell at me. but don't give her a hard time. we're here talking about the future of the state of california and the future of our country. and you know what? and you know what? and you know what? let me tell you this. you know what? it's people who raise their voices and yell and scream like you that are dividing this country. we're here to bring this country together, not to divide it. >> christie services are in demand we have where. california's just the first stop on his 11-state political tour. he says he's not thinking about running for president in 2012. let's see how 2010 goes. moving to new york. pot meet kettle. in new york, eliot spitzer publicly laughed at andrew cuomo, the republican running for his job. spitzer said yesterday --
this is coming from the guy whom himself had to resign over his own personal scandal. ouch. finally, the white house sends its regrets. check out today's lead item in page 6. obama trio planning to skip ex-budget director peter orszag's wedding. the paper reports that valerie jarrett and david axelrod made last-minute cancellations apparently because of a "new york times" column that orszag wrote this month. the president's official position. orszag's wedding is set tomorrow in manhattan. i think that this stuff has a lot more to do with something that isn't about that column and may have to do with how they work together in the white house. now for tonight's big number. it started with lisa murkowski up in alaska. and now delaware's mike castle's is reportedly conducting polls to see how he would do as a write-in candidate. well, they face long odds. been just one senator that's been elected as a write-in. how long ago was it, 1954. the candidate, longtime south
carolina senator, strom thermond. 56 years since the last and only successful write-in senate campaign. 1954. that's "hardball" for now. up next, "your business." r. r. who's your somebody? eating campbell's healthy request can help. 25 delicious soups with low cholesterol, zero grams trans fat, and a healthy level of sodium. because heart healthy is good for your life... and the people in it. healthy request from campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do.
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