tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC June 5, 2013 2:00am-3:00am EDT
>> bridget mccoy, thank you for your service to this country. i'm sorry about what happened to you in our military. thank you for joining us tonight. >> thank you. thank you very much. mud ball. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. i can't remember a time in american politics with anything that happens becomes a chance to throw mud at the president of the united states. whether it's an attack on a facility in benghazi, or a screwup at the irs centralized operation in cincinnati. it's not only the president's wrongdoing his critics say, it's his moral wrongdoing. more evidence he's a bad man and shouldn't be in the white house. this mud ball is personal. it's un-american.
it's about one thing, the total hatred of a group of americans who cannot stand the fact that barack obama was elected leader of this country by solid majorities of his fellow citizens. it's mccarthyism with an ethnic twist. he's assembled an enemies list for the irs to use. he's responsible for the death of foreign service officers in libya. he's evil personified. his spokesman is a paid liar. you name it, he's evil through and through. reince priebus and the party he runs has one creed. one secular religion. barack obama should not be president. he must be denied that distinction in history. he must have an asterisk put next to him in the history books saying this guy wasn't really president of the united states. this is what this bunch wants. and everything they say shows it. instead of debating policies and engaging in clean politics, they throw mud because, and i get it, mud is all they got. and the only thing that unites them right now, the republican party, the only thing that holds them together is that this guy, barack obama, is president, and it kills them to go to bed at
night knowing there's nothing they can do about it but pout. and throw mud. and today he's decided to face them down. he sees, well, let's see how he does it. eugene robinson is a pulitzer prize winning columnist for the "washington post" and joan walsh is the editor at large for "salon." both are msnbc political analysts. i've watched this thing, gene. it's gone on and on. they use the irs out there some place in cincinnati. they use benghazi. they use all this stuff basically to say this president did it somehow. today a guy said he has an enemy list and they're using it out in the irs. i read the article. i didn't wait for the jump. i went to the second paragraph. there is no enemies list. there is no evidence he wrote one. there is no evidence anything was used from the white house in the irs. he simply states it now. this is how these republicans are talking. >> yeah. i know. they go immediately to it's obama's fault, he was personally involved, when, in fact, there is no evidence that any political appointee was -- >> how do you fight that if you're him? >> -- that anybody outside of
cincinnati was involved. >> how do you do this, gene, if you know you're just being mud balled? >> well, you know, it's going to happen, right? you know, this is a free country. we have free speech. so they can say what they want. i think one way you fight back is you fight back. right? you come out swinging. what else can you do? >> well, here it is. the president went bold today nominating three people to fill the three openings on the very important u.s. court of appeals for the d.c. circuit. the court that is considered a step right below the supreme court. as "the new york times" puts it, the president's effectively daring republicans to find specific ground to filibuster all the nominees, all three of them. let's watch the president today do it. he's basically playing matt dylan. meet me out in the center street here, and right out there at high noon. i'm going to be there, are you going to be there? i think that's what he's doing. it might just work. here he is. >> time and again, congressional republicans cynically used senate rules and procedures to delay and even block qualified nominees from coming to a full vote. this is not about principled opposition. this is about political
obstruction. i recognize that neither party has a perfect track record here. democrats weren't completely blameless when i was in the senate. what's happening now is unprecedented. for the good of the american people, it has to stop. too much of the people's business is at stake. >> well there's a good president. watch this. to get a sense of the kind of opposition obama has been facing about his appointments to the circuit court, take a look at this report last month from the congressional research service. they calculated the average wait for circuit court nominees from the first committee report to the confirmation, watch this. for reagan it was just under ten days. the first bush, president bush the first had an even smaller average. it jumped a bit for clinton and then again for george w. bush. but obama is in a league all his own. look at this. average of 138 days from the time the committee reports to the time the committee, the nominees were confirmed. joan, this is an example, now they're accusing him of packing the court. >> right. >> the big mistake roosevelt did, the overreach he did back
in the late '30s in his second term. they're accusing him of doing. there are 11 judges. he's filling the three vacancies. but they use that dirt ball thing because they know it works in the history books for people who have any sense of history -- actually, some sense of history. >> they know it's not true. >> they know roosevelt did pack the court. they're saying in this case he's doing what roosevelt did, which is not what he's doing. he's simply filling the vacant seats. they're putting this stuff out over and over again to make him look like the bad guy. >> this goes back to the language that newt gingrich introduced where you find the lowest and vilest terms, chris. >> corrupt. everybody's corrupt. >> corrupt. right. you accuse the other, the democrats, always, of being low-based people. so the president is now court packing, he's defying the constitution, when he is simply doing his job. he is doing the job he was elected to do. and he's doing the job that they have obstructed him from doing for five years. he's had nominees languish literally in this circuit court for years without being confirmed. so, yeah, he picked three. two are women.
one's an african-american. they're supremely qualified. they're moderate people. he's daring them to filibuster them. i say, it's about time. i'm really happy to see him handle it just this way. >> me, too. let's take a look at what the republicans have been saying. this is the kind of mud ball they're practices. they seem to be going off the same talking points. somebody's issuing these little words of wisdom like grassley who's become pretty trollish out there. let's watch. >> packing the court because it has issued rulings against the administration is a cynical approach to the judicial branch. i'm concerned about the case load of this circuit and the efforts to pack it. >> i certainly hope that neither the white house nor my democratic colleagues will, instead, decide to play politics and seek without any legitimate justification to pack the d.c. circuit with unneeded judges simply in order to advance a partisan agenda. >> what did our democratic colleagues do in response? consulted with the white house
and pledged to pack the d.c. court with appointees, quote, one way or another. they want to use the nuclear option to pack the d.c. circuit so it can rubber stamp the president's big government agenda. >> if this was a woody allen movie right now, somebody would say the keyword here is packing the court. >> packing the court. >> again, it's a ridiculous comparison. i want to point out, packing the court refers to what was attempted by fdr back in the late '30s. he put six justices or tried to on top of the nine. he wanted 15 so he could get some liberal opinions out of the court. obama is filling 3 of the 11 seats of the judicial branch at the appellate level. which is what he was supposed to do as president. if he wasn't filling them, they would say how come you haven't fimed up the court. let's watch him go at them here. >> some republicans recently have suggested that by nominating these three individuals, i'm somehow engaging in, and i'm quoting here, court packing. i didn't just wake up one day and say, let's add three seats to the district court of appeals. these are open seats.
and the constitution demands that i nominate qualified individuals to fill those seats. what i'm doing today is my job. >> you know, i just wonder if you can even penetrate it, gene and joan. because i know he said it clearly. there are 11 seats in the court, 3 are vacant, i'm filling them. i'm not creating new seats, the purpose of tilting the court to the left. yet i know out there in the right wing echo chamber they're never going to hear him say that. they're just going to hear their own people screeching about this. >> yeah. some junior frank luntz must have told them -- >> that's what i thought. >> -- that court packing is something that's going to resonate and nobody's going to actually investigate it, which doesn't take a lot of investigation, by the way. the court was fully staffed and had its full complement of judges under george w. bush. >> right. >> so, you know, he's just actually returning the court to the number of judges that it should have.
>> you never know what's in people's hearts. i grant that. but, joan, there's a pattern here. it's like bill maher says, new rules. >> oh, you know. >> there are new rules for this guy. i'm sorry, if another president said, i'm going to fill some vacancies, they would say, it's about time. when he does it, barack obama does it, oh, he's packing the court. just like he's got an enemies list. none of this is true. they just say it. >> right. and chuck grassley and mitch mcconnell participated. they kept -- confirmed the 10th and 11th judge on that circuit under republican presidents. it was all fine to have 11 judges under republican presidents because he's going to get to appoint three people, four people, he deserves to, that is somehow extraconstitutional. we do see this time and again. there are new rules for this president. but, you know, there is that right wing that's going to resonate to this language, but there's the rest of the american people. what i'm really happy about is that he's talking over their heads.
call it court packing, you lunatics, i don't care. i'm doing my job, and, you know, the three of us have talked for a while. >> let's go to the problem here. the republican party, the tail is wagging the dog. >> absolutely. >> what used to be the responsible conservative party of this country is now being wagged by the mike lees and the, first of all, the strange lurch to the right over the years by grassley. who used to be a regular conservative. >> i don't want to minimize that. i don't want to minimize that at all, chris. but i think the only answer for it is for him to talk over their heads and to talk directly to the american people. >> how do you get this done, though? how do you get the job of being president done when they hold you up and don't give you 60 votes because you've only got 55? >> you don't. >> then if you kick in five seats -- >> harry reid has to do something. the democrats have to do something. the democrats are going to have to do something about their insane super, super majority rules. he cannot govern requiring 60 votes for everything he does including judicial appointments. including agency employments. >> you know why? this is a totally nonpartisan assessment of our politics.
i think as long as the three of us are in this business of trying to analyze american politics, this country is going to be roughly 50/50. it's just the way it is. you're never going to have 60 votes or rarely have 60 votes on one side. >> right. >> certainly not with the president's party. you're not going to be able to get anything done. that's what they want. >> yeah, of course. but, you know, the numbers on filibusters over the years are exactly like those numbers on nominees and how long they've had to wait. in other words, it's down here and then you get to obama and it goes up here. right? >> it explodes. >> i think the republican party -- >> it is time for democrats in the senate and for harry reid to change the rules. >> you know what trolls do? a couple of these guys like mcconnell and grassley have become trolls. >> they have. >> they've not always been trolls. now they're the mean little guy that lives under the bridge and waits for obama to cross the bridge so they can bite his ankle. that's all they live for. anyway, they are cartoonish. anyway, thank you, gene robinson. thank you, joan walsh. coming up, we've seen this before. military brass being called to testify about sexual abuse, but,
well, never have to see this. them facing questions from seven, look at this, seven women on the senate armed services committee. one of them, claire mccaskill, joins us next. this is a new breed of action here. plus, it's not enough for republicans to blame president obama for failing to prevent rye seize. crises. they're now accusing him of causing them all, as in the president targeting conservatives using the irs with his enemies list. he's playing this nasty game right now more enthusiastically. who's doing it? it's the echoing, tail gunning, joe mccarthy, darrell issa. he should watch the old mccarthy movies. anyway. then there are those tax hearings, by the way, on capitol hill. ask yourself this. are republicans looking to find out what happened in cincinnati or just looking to throw mud at big government in general? and the president, in particular, of course. finally, joe biden may be vice president of the united states, but tell that to his 12-year-old granddaughter who thinks he should have been able to get her to meet the great bradley cooper. apparently he wasn't. and this is "hardball."
well, new jersey governor chris christie announced today the state will hold a special election this year to replace the late senator frank lautenberg who died yesterday. the special election will be held on wednesday, october 16th, with primaries for the race in august. august 13th. christie could have held the special election on the same day as the november general election in which he's up for re-election. christie says he wants new jersey to have a senator as soon as possible. but by holing the special election three weeks earlier than the general election, he won't have to share the ballot with a high profile democratic candidate for senate. someone like newark mayor corey booker who could potentially bring votes to christie's opponent in the governor race. we'll be right back.
u.s. senate, and particularly on this traditionally male-run committee, was in stark display. in the first wave of testimony, all men who hold top jobs in various branches of the military. all urging the role of military commanders in sexual assault cases not be diminished. >> our goal should be to hold commanders more accountable, not render them less able to help us correct the crisis. >> making commanders less responsible and less accountable will not work. it will undermine the readiness of the force. >> a unit will rise or fall as a direct result of the leadership of its commanding officer. commanding officers never delegate responsibility. they should never be forced to delegate their authority. >> i have a daughter who is looking at coming into the united states air force. i will not be tolerant of this crime. >> then among the senators who questioned the military's wisdom were seven women serving on the committee including senators kirsten gillibrand and claire mccaskill, both of whom proposed legislation to reform how the military handles sexual assault
cases. let's watch. >> there are two problems. one is you have sexual predators who are committing crimes. two, you have work to do on the issue of a respectful and healthy work environment. distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all of these crimes together. >> thereby two progress z pler there are two problems. one, you have sexual predators committing crimes. two, you have work to do on the issue of a respectful and healthy work environment. these are not the same issues. and with all due respect, general odierno, we can prosecute our way out of the first issue. we can prosecute ourselves out of the -- who are not committing crimes of lust.
my years of experience in this area tell me they are committing crimes of domination and violence. this isn't about sex. this is about assaultive domination and violence. >> well, this is food for thought. joining me right now is missouri senator claire mccaskill. i love the way you dichotomize this. i hate it in my religion when they talk about priests molesting some young alter boy. tell me what you said, what you meant by molest. i want to know what we're talking about here. i love the way you break this down between actual crimes, crimes outside of the military, and discipline problems in terms of how you treat other workers. this issue of rape. have you uncovered cases where women have been raped? we all know what that means. and gotten away with it in the military? >> oh, of course. in fact, not just in the military, but also in the civilian criminal justice system. the issue here is, is the
military doing everything it can to prioritize the prosecution of these predators and support the victims? or have they mushed it all together into some kind of we've got to make sure there's not dirty jokes being told and we've got to make sure there's not sexual harassment? two separate problems. they don't even have the statistics, chris. >> why do they do it? >> to really -- well, i think -- >> everybody knows the difference between physical behavior and maybe bad speech that's not appropriate to any workplace. but rape, it used to be a capital crime in a lot of states especially in the south. i mean, it isn't some bad behavior. it's a serious, almost murder, in the history of common law, as you know. you're the prosecutor. >> well, i think the reason this happened was, in fact, general dempsey said today 15 years ago they thought if they captured the information under the large title of unwanted sexual contact, they could get at the problem. but that was part of their wrongheaded thinking on this.
you don't get at this problem by doing training. you get at this problem by training investigators, getting victim advocates, creating an environment where victims feel safe about coming forward, going after people who retaliate against victims, and putting these people in prison. >> why would a commanding officer, say middle level officer, major, why would a major or colonel put up with what he knew to be sexual abuse? criminal actions. wouldn't that destroy the morale of the women serving as commission, noncommission, and as enlisted people? wouldn't that ruin the whole spree of the operation to have it known that women are not protected by their superior officers from this horrible stuff? >> well, don't get me wrong. i think most commanders, they want to get these cowards and they want to get them out. the question is, do they view this as a problem to get rid of or do they view this as a mission to prosecute the predators who have joined the military. i think too often it's probably the first rather than the
latter. and i think we're changing that culture now. i think all of these scandals, and the pressure, especially the women on the armed services committee are bringing to bear on this, has made them realize that generals cannot be overturning jury convictions. you've got to prioritize protecting these victims and making them feel comfortable about coming forward. and if you don't get after this, you're going to really end up with a military where women just aren't willing to serve because they don't feel safe. >> how do you give women, when they're surrounded by men who have more rank on them, the confidence to stand up for their rights as serving military people? >> well, i think one of the things you have to do is you have to have a command structure that takes retaliation against someone who reports a sexual assault as serious as they do the sexual assault. >> yeah. >> in other words, you've got to really put your thumb on people who are making these women's lives miserable.
and by the way, men, too. i mean, there are men being sexually assaulted in the military. >> by other men. other men. >> by other men. and you really need to get after this from the -- looking through the prism of are we protecting the victim? and if you do that, you're going to have a lot more prosecutions and ultimately you're going to turn the corner on this problem. >> i think the more you talk about the men being sexually assaulted by other men, the more yoel you'll get some general interest from the male side, unfortunately. let's take a look at senator mccain, who amazes me sometimes with the truth and the goodness of what he says. this is an example. he expressed the other day his disgust with the apparent epidemic of sexual misconduct in the military. he is ultimately a military guy, himself. let's listen. >> just last night a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military, and could i give my unqualified support for her doing so? i could not. i cannot overstate my disgust
and disappointment over the continued reports of sexual misconduct. >> you know, sometimes, senator, i'd like to be a movie editor and i could edit john mccain out. the one i really like. and take out the other stuff. your thoughts about what he had to say as a military man? >> first of all, no one questions his patriotism or his commitment to america's military. so when john mccain says, we've got a problem, that is very meaningful. and i'm working closely with senator mccain and senator graham and with senator gillibrand and with my colleagues in the house of representatives. one thing that's nice about this issue, chris, if there's one redeeming quality about this issue is it seems to be one that we're not playing politics with. that everyone is coming together on a bicameral, bipartisan basis to try to fix this problem because we all know that it really casts a dark shadow on the finest military in the world. >> i'm with you. completely. great work there, senator. thank you. the other women on that committee.
i always say the great thing about diversity is that stuff doesn't get by it, would get by in just an all male, white male crowd. and you caught it. thank you. up next, hillary clinton's new idea for a reality tv show, and this is funny. and this is "hardball." the place for politics. back to "hardball."
back to "hardball." now to the sideshow. first, hillary clinton shifts from politics to pitching reality tv shows. kind of. at last night's awards ceremony for the council of fashion designers of america, clinton floated an idea for bravo's andy cohen. >> now that i have some more time on my hands, i am going to be pitching andy and others on a new show for bravo.
to sort of fill that gap that is so apparent to some of us, and all you really need is a small but passionate audience to be successful. we could call it "project pantsuit." we have all kinds of ideas. so just call me after tonight. >> well, we all know the flak she's taken for pantsuits over the years. by the way, hillary clinton made it known she's not immune to the appeal of reality tv. she said that one of her favorite tv shows and ways to unwind is watching the hgtv show "love it or list it." next, joe biden got into hot water with his 12-year-old granddaughter. this has to do with a missed opportunity to meet the great bradley cooper, the movie star. some family members accompanied biden on a diplomatic trip to brazil last week. it turned out that the star of "silver linings playbook" was staying in the same hotel. >> my youngest grandfather said, pop, she said, bradley cooper's in this hotel.
i said, you're kidding me. i said, that's nice. she said, pop, you're his friend, right? i said, well, yeah, we're kind of friends. she said, well, pop, you ought to call him. and i said, what do you want me to do? she said, pop, we have this very big suite. you should have him down like you do other people like you have presidents and things come and see you. and i said, swear to god, true story, i said, well, honey, i've got to go meet the president of brazil and you're going to favala shortly. she said, pop. that's all. just looked. pop. i said, honey, i've got to go to the meeting. okay, pop. i'll see you. >> well, she gave him the look, as he said. anyway, bradley cooper was in washington yesterday to participate in a white house conference on mental health. there he is. also, mississippi republican governor phil bryant realizes after one sentence that he better start back pedalling. the "washington post" put on a
panel yesterday, discussion featuring several state governors out there. at one point the moderator asked why the u.s. education system tends to have mediocre outcomes. good question. here's what governor bryant said in answer. >> oh -- >> these statistics across the board, every single one of your states, you know -- >> you want me to tell the truth when i tell the truth? i think parents became -- both parents started working, and a mom is in the workplace. it's not a bad thing. i'm going to get in trouble. i can just see -- i can see the e-mails tomorrow. but now both parents are working. they're pursuing their careers. it's a great american story now that women are certainly in the workplace. >> so it's the mother's place to teach them to read? >> no, no, no. but i think there was that loving, nurturing opportunity that both parents have a little bit of time. >> does he know he's talking to mary jordan of the "washington post" who's a woman in the workplace? blaming women in the workforce
for problems in the education system is probably not the best route to go. shouldn't he have just said something related to schools? finally we turn to a middle school student's on the spot reaction to a mid-performance snafu. the school band's rendition of "the star spangled banner" was going off without a hitch until something went awry. here's jimmy fallon, of course, summing it all up. >> you see this school band in illinois. it was performing "the star-spangled banner" when one of the kids accidentally broke his cymbals. did you see this? he reacted pretty quickly and pretty well. look at this. ♪ >> that kid should do that every time he's in trouble. how do you explain this "f" on this report card?
>> that kid is great. and fallon's great. when in doubt, just salute. well done. up next, echos of joe mccarthy. i mean it. how today's republicans are shooting first and asking questions later in their aggressive effort to take down president obama over benghazi, irs, you name it. you're watching "hardball." the place for politics.
welcome back to "hardball." cherry picking your evidence, presuming guilt, smearing reputations, excessive examinations, spreading fear. those words just some of the techniques of the infamous joe mccarthy, a man whose name is synonymous with terms like witch hunt and zealotry. a man that american history would like to forget but can't and shouldn't. it wasn't exactly a witch hunt with him. there were communists. the question about this crowd is is there anything there? and here's why. you'd like to think this kind of demagoguery is a thing of the past, a relic of the '50s like some old outdated ham radio. but that's not the case. far from it. in their crusade to take down the white house, some republicans led by oversight chairman darrell issa have resorted to the kind of name calling and fearmongering that
"the national journal" puts it stirs echoes of mccarthy. ron fornier joins us and michael steele. gentlemen, i hear phrases like we're working to get the evidence when they don't have the evidence, or calling the president's press spokesman a paid liar. the adhomonym attack on the the president to me is extraordinary. a lot of people didn't like clinton. a lot of people like me didn't like w. but this relentless, personal attack on the very morality of the guy, like he's a bad person responsible for everything that goes wrong. >> it's not only deplorable on an ethical level, but politically, it's stupid. why not let the damning facts speak for themselves? >> do they have them? >> what we definitely do know is the irs was targeting conserve -- conservatives. we know president obama's irs denied it for months and months and months when they were doing it. we also know we haven't had an investigation yet. we don't know how high it went up.
why not do the investigation? subpoena the e-mails. put people under oath. find out whether or not this was limited to the irs and just terrible incompetence. >> by the way, if you were the real investigator, could you find out, anybody, could you catch the connection if there ever was one between the white house and the irs in cincinnati? could you find that out by inquiring? >> sure. >> by investigating? >> not by being the ig who just asked people, hey, did you commit a crime? they report back no. that's not an investigation. an investigator with subpoena power, whether congress -- >> why isn't issa doing this the regular way, sitting down in a room and trying to get evidence and coming forth with it if he has any? >> i don't know. that's really kind of the rub for me, chris, to be honest with you. i think the facts kind of lead to additional questions, obviously. that, you know, has been reported and told so far. but there is more there. and i would think that you would just hunker down in a room. you would call people in. you'd put them under oath. you have them stand with their
hand on a bible and swear before the committee to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. and then you come out and you lay out the case against the administration. i think a lot of the ham handed loud noises right now distract from that and give the white house the out that they need to say, see, this is nothing more than a political circus. >> let's take a look at a few of those echoes that were talked ability, you wrote about, rod. this is congressman issa on sunday, the same day he went public with limited excerpts of transcripts. why just release tiny snippets of those interviews? issa was asked that question. here's his response. >> the whole transcript will be put out. understand, these are in realtime. the administration is still, their paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind, he's still making up things about what happens and calling this local rogue. there's no indication. the reason that lois lerner tried to take the fifth is not because there's a rogue in cincinnati. it's because this is a problem that was coordinated in all
likelihood right out of washington headquarters and we're getting to proving it. we have 18 more transcribed interviews to do. >> we're getting to proving it. in all likelihood. it's just another issa -- here's another one. it's not just him. other republicans like hal rogers of kentucky, he's also on the committee, he chairs the house appropriations committee. they're making outrageous and unsupported claims when it comes to the white house's involvement, if any, in the irs controversy. here's representative rogers yesterday on fox. he was asked, what do you want to know from irs commissioner werfel, the new guy, due to testify later that day. let's take a listen. >> i want to know his explanations. of course, the enemies list out of the white house, that irs was engaged in shutting down or trying to shut down the conservative political viewpoint across the country. an enemies list that rivals that of another president some time ago. >> we should note rogers made a similar accusation on his opening statement but never brought it up with the commissioner when he was talking
to him. ron, you use phrases like enemies list. people think it actually exists. then you find out he just made it up. then you say the president dictated that enemies list to the irs to be used by the irs. no evidence of that. they just make these statements up. >> it's really a disservice to the country. we do need to find out how far this went up and why the irs -- >> you took another step there. remember richard nixon? he went after the bureau of labor statistics. he had the assumption that all the guys and women working there were lib rams because there's always been an assumption in this town the people who work in our giant bureaucraies tend to be public servants by definition. they tend to be liberals. they believe in what they're doing. it could well be the people at the irs are a bunch of liberal guys who had a point of view and did like the tea party. who knows? why are we making the assumption they were directed by the white house? we don't know. >> that's why he's hurting his case. what's going to happen if he's not careful, keep demagoguing, the public is going to tune it out, assume it's pure politics. if they come up with something more, the public is not going to believe it.
what the president has already conceded, this is a deplorable action by a bunch of bureaucrats, why cover that up with demagoguing? >> i know why. because every time you trash government, you help the republicans. >> not in this case. >> well, i mean, i think chris is right there. i think there is a benefit to the loud cymbals clashing by issa and others right now. but then you have others like lindsey graham who are saying can we cut this out and do it the right way? can we be smart about how we go about making this investigation real? and i think more in the party need to listen to those voices in order to set this thing right. i think ron's absolutely correct. if we're not careful, the validity of the argument, the value of the evidence will mean nothing. >> what's the republican jobs bill? what's the republican health bill? they don't have a program. this is their program. trash obama. >> chris, this is a fair point.
because that's when you come back and say, well, we're investigating this. and we're going to lay out the agenda. >> it's exactly what your party did back in the late '40s. they come in in '46, open with a prayer and end with a probe. every day. that's all they did. they were cast out by harry truman. >> that's politics, chris. it's nothing new. >> not winning politics. good luck in that governor's race, by the way, if you go for it. i voted for you once. i could do it again. anyway, thank you, ron fournier and michael steele. up next, do the republicans want answers or using the irs as a proxy for the president and what they see as the evils of big government? that's ahead. this is "hardball." the place for politics.
we're back. the irs was under attack again today on capitol hill. conservative and tea party groups targeted by the irs testified before the house ways and means committee this time. there was no lack of emotion or fireworks from the witnesses or the members of congress. let's watch. >> i'm a born free american woman, wife, mother and citizen, and i'm telling my government that you've forgotten your place. >> this isn't somebody dropped a piece of our tax return out on the sidewalk inadvertently. they deliberately provided our donor list to the very political opponents of ours who have been seeking that information for a long time. >> what happened to you was unfair. it was unfair and incredibly inconvenient, but it was a mistake. anything else, like the circus that's happening in the oversight committee or here, is simply political theater. >> i'm going to deviate from my original question in response to what i just heard. [ applause ]
>> mr. chairman -- >> welcome to washington. >> well, there's paul ryan jumping to the opportunity there. as conservatives and republicans rail against the irs, you've got to wonder do republicans really want to get to the bottom of this or are they using the irs as a proxy for president obama and the evil all encompassing big government they run against. a political reporter for the new york times and ed rendell is former governor of pennsylvania as well as an msnbc political analyst.
to get to the bottom of this or are they using the irs for a proxy of president obama and the evil all encompassing government "new york times" and ed rendell, the msnbc political analyst. nick, it seems to me that they got good political theater there today. and these people believe they were targeted, they believe they've been harassed by the government. and this seems like something that's not going to stop. >> you know, they probably should, chris. there are so many questions we don't have. and what's odd about this, there's been all this focus on how soon did the president know? and it's a fair question. but the question we still haven't answered from any direction is who got this ball rolling? who in cincinnati or in washington started those flags of tea party groups? it's kind of amazing to me as a reporter. you know, i haven't gotten subpoena power, but a few of these people do. and it's one question we haven't answered. and it would put to rest or inflate some of the speculation about how it got started if we knew the answer. >> i was thinking of a perverse version of what churchill said. when the history of mankind have many owed so much to so few? how many people in the cincinnati office actually did something wrong in terms of targeting or profiling the right? how many were there? dozens? half a dozen? three? >> a couple dozen analysts whose names appear to be on some of the correspondence with the groups. and one thing we saw in our reporting is that responsibility for these cases kept shifting over the course of these three years. and, look, this is a pretty good example of a bureaucracy amuck and screwing up. it's a real problem. >> when lois lerner said stop doing this and caught them again, how many people was she yelling at saying don't do this again? do we know that?
>> we don't know. it's one of the things we don't know. who is in that meeting with lois lerner? who is she yelling at? we haven't heard that from the committee or the irs. >> the president gets blamed for this because they throw everything back at him. he's blamed for benghazi and western libya, everything that goes wrong in the world is now obama's personal responsibility and he's evil. and this question, i guess, is do they have to prove it or beat him by making the charges? do they have to find a smoking gun? >> i think it's a fine line. i think they're certainly getting value out of this. they're decreasing the president's leverage to do things on the important issues facing the country and beating the president up. but every republican knows in his heart that barack obama is a man of high personal integrity who would never be involved in something like this. they know that the irs commissioner when this was ordered was a bush appointee, so there's no chance of conspiracy between them and the white house. they know all that and they don't want to get to the truth
because the truth will set it free. it'll be a bunch of bureaucrats who ran wild and did a wrong thing. but it'll set the president free and the white house free. they want to keep bleeding this out little by little, creating the anti-government impression. chris, i think if they were wise, they would say what is the case that here was a president out of touch with his government. he didn't know, his staff didn't inform him about this scandal. he didn't know about the attorney general subpoenaing e-mails from fox and from the "a.p." gosh, why didn't the president know about these things? isn't the president in charge? isn't he in command? to me, that's a more real and some ways, more serious charge. and i think just because there's so obsessed with barack obama being evil, which we know he isn't, they're missing out on a better trail. >> nick, is it possible. i'm a political nut, i know this stuff. presidents like lyndon johnson, john kennedy, they were on the phone all the time.
they liked to be chief executives. kennedy, if you look during the cuba missile crisis, what are you going to do today? how is this working? who didn't get the contract? he knew everything like that stuff. and he was ready to go out there and play it. i get the feeling the president of the united states goes home at night, reads at night and probably serious stuff, maybe worries about his place in history, writes his speech now and then. he's not this kind of superexecutive, and i think that's the failing, but it isn't corruption. >> well, you know, the irs. since those analysts you've talked about. things have changed. the irs is now set up in a way that's supposed to influence it -- sorry, insulate it. the president only nominates the top two officials there. it would be hard to have that direct line. but also, let's pull back a second. if the president was trying really trying to use the irs to punish his political opponents, why, though, after these groups, these were mostly small groups with small budgets. but the big group, spending hundreds of millions of dollars
been refilled. today that clown car is packed to the roof with a roving crew all shouting the same words. court packing, benghazi, irs, nixon. the party that put richard nixon o the national ticket five times, in every election but one for 20 years, from 1952 through 1972 is now making him a name for the smearing of a good president. the goal on which all the others have set their hearts. their rules are those of a tougher coarser republican, of course, joseph mccarthy. they don't need evidence to make their charges. no. one congressman says that the irs insisted he was working off an enemies list coming off the white house. i read that accusation looking for the evidence only realized i'd been snookerred, there is no evidence. the congress declared there's an enemies list, declared it was the list used in the irs offices in cincinnati. darrel issa made a charge against obama the other day and