tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC November 18, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EST
>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> i can hear you. >> the time for change has come. chris: a problem with intelligence. the c.i.a. director should know the risks. didn't he know walls have ears and secrets have a sell-by date. why did take tray -- petraeus betray us. has healed himself. and now politics mired in scandal. it's not just the family hurt but the rest of us. live longer, work longer. some propose to avoid the fiscal cliff would raise the age for social security and/or medicare and may work for some but how about the men and women whose backs, legs and heart
can't wait two more years to retire? you want a 70-year-old flying the airplane? hi, i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us today access tv dan rather, the bbc katty kay, "the new york times" jodi kantor and abc's sam donaldson. first up the petraeus story and it has us disturbed. washington is just as dumbfounded, torn between wonder at the dysfunction of our national security leaders and of course reluctant curiosity. dan, why does this same thing keep happening? it just happens, these powerful men, even as disciplined as petraeus. you know petraeus. >> i do know him and like him and think he's been a great patriot and public servant. but in answer to your question, i simply don't know. what we do know is it occurs, has occurred not just in our time and our country but all through difficult times. part of it is i think people who reach the pinnacle begin to think they can do things that
other people can't do. they think i'm so high, nobody will ever find out about this. best i can do, unless you want to accept what my great grandmother used to say, there's simply no damn good. chris: we'll stop short with that but maybe you want to talk. >> i agree with dan but people in high positions, they're surrounded by yes men and are rarely contradicted and begin to think normal roles of behavior don't apply to them and they're above the law. opportunities arise because you're in that kind of position because people are attracted to people in positions of power. you don't go into the senior echelons of either politics or the military if you want a very quiet life. there's an addiction to adrenaline i think in those kinds of jobs, and having an affair, an illicit affair provides an adrenaline kick and it's a genuine hormonal response and if you're in those
kinds of jobs, you're probably somebody who likes the flow. chris: let me ask you about this. here's a guy who is going to be a big part of the news for weeks ahead. general petraeus was not -- i don't want to say god-like but for years we heard republicans end and open every sentence whatever general petraeus says. i'm with him whatever he says. their judgment. >> it's the self-sabotage that's amazing. petraeus so brilliantly constructed his career. he was a great manager. and there's an image and here's a man who for decades did everything right, met the right people, made the right impressions, so to undo that with an extramarital affair with extra explicit emails sent which is something a junior c.i.a. officer would notexactlyagiven to do because it's easily compromiseed and
that's the mystery. and the story i'm waiting to read, is we know the man on the surface but what about him could have caused himself to be the offer of his own undoing. >> -- chris: you can say it, don't write it, if you can grunt it, don't say it. there's ways to leave a trail. he was leaving a trail of crumbs behind him. >> burn all the blue dresses, that's for certain. look, you missed the point, i think, with all due respect. i love you all. we're the way we are because god made us this way and gave us the impulse, to procreate. there are other ways, too. we all have the impulse. how do we suppress it. henry kissinger says power is an aphrodisiac and president clinton left the presidency and explained monica to say, because i could. that's too easy. what will we do with franklin roosevelt. he was a good president and had an affair with lucy mercer and others. john kennedy, i happen to think
he was a good president and history may agree, who knows. we can't count them. wayne hayes, ruger mills, gary hart and bill clinton. do we say well, if they do that, we have to dispense with them. they can't be in the public eye. chris: you be the judge. you're the president of the united states for 10 minutes and i bring to you the petraeus case. it hasn't gotten out yet but will get out and you know it will because there are people out there, an f.b.i. agent, c.i.a. agent and they can drop anything anywhere. will you keep him on? >> he's the c.i.a. director and blackmail and all the possibilities are there. could they blackmail bill clinton? chris: put out the word he had an affair but i'm keeping him. >> everybody makes their own judgment as to whether this is more important than that. chris: right. >> if you're asking me about the people i named in history, i think what they did for the country was more important than the other but you can disagree. chris: but were all kept secret at the time. >> except for bill clinton. in retrospect he say he was a good president and mr. was
peace and prosperity under bill clinton. petraeus had to go for the reasons jodi pointed out. you're the head of the nation's spy agency leaving inappropriate emails, sexual emails on a g-mail account and for that reason alone he had to go. reckless. chris: is there a different attitude, we always hear these stories, and you hear of the great leaders, and you hear the stories of cars parked in front of the house. and miterand, following at the funeral was the mistress andily let daughter and they didn't care and felt he had been a leader of the country and what he did by his private life it was ok by his family it was ok by them. the europeans savaged d.m.k., the former head of the i.m.f. and he was nonconsensual and
they didn't like that and most europeans would agree he had to go over this because of the position he held in society. i think they're right. i would agree with sam you make a distinction based on somebody's job and how compromised they would be by what they've done. chris: or let's go another place. this is a freefall of conversation. the europeans would have said bill clinton, the problem with the grand jury testimony, it gets so immeshed. >> our leaders have to succeed on the territory they live on, right? bill clinton didn't get a chance to be judged by the french rules of the game. chris: he was judged by tom delay. >> and what's so amazing is almost no one understood the rules better than petraeus and understood exactly the environment in which he was operating and yet he still turned out to be a very different person than who most of us thought he was. >> my friend dan jenkins once wrote a is a tire cal --
satiracal, the 10 stages of drunkenness, skip dinner and number seven, i'm invincible. but particularly men in power, by the way, we rarely if ever hear of any woman involved in this thing that's made public. but anyway, particularly with petraeus, lived in danger for a long time, lived with risk, and risk can be addictive. and the adventure, the risk and then because you're in a position feeling, i'm invincible, i'm invisible. it's a mirage but very easy to believe the higher you go. chris: i think it's called in the old days beer glasses. you can see through those lenses and don't see rationally. >> that raises another point why aren't there women in positions of power you hear this about. i think there's still, women are more attracted to men in positions of power and men aren't exactly attracted to women in positions of power.
>> there are more women in power compared to men. >> i think women in positions of power tend to be seen as successful but not likable. and there is something there about our attraction levels to men and women in different positions of power that are different. >> and part of the questions about petraeus i think is whether this was an isolated incident, kind of cordoned off from the rest of who he is or whether there is something greater about him. the fact he treated his wife the way he did, does that reflect a flaw in character in judgment that was also carried out? chris: let's go to another terrain. everyone has a movie about this petraeus saga. the great maureen dowd wrote in "the times" this week it's a cross from "here to eternity." and i think of the picture of burt lancaster and deborah carr and then you have keeping up with the kardashians. my producers keep working on
the idea it has something to do with "homeland." the great series on that swept the emmys. it's based on a cast of characters that are vulnerable to temptation and we know the real c.i.a. agent. carrie matheson gets romantically involved with a guy who is a stalker and an ex-marine who is a terrorist. here's ascene where the ex-c.i.a. director shows up at the door to fire her for having sex with the guy she's surveilling. >> david? >> sergeant buoy called me. >> what? >> he told me everything. >> i don't know what you mean. >> i think you do. come on. let's go inside. >> what? >> come on. >> ma'am? >> sir. >> excuse me. you admitted to being complicit in some kind of fling with you.
but illegal surveillance, gary, the continuing harassment? >> that is a mischaracterization. >> your office at langley has been cleared as we speak and these gentlemen here are here to do the same. all those classified documents? >> don't, don't, don't. >> what are you doing? you don't know what you're doing. chris: it's so real you think you're living it. the agent was piecing together a terror plot and she was right, it had to come to a halt because of this whole relationship she had with the person she was surveilling. in real life we don't know what important work has come to a halt because david petraeus got involved with a reporter covering him. when we come back, what do you think of postponing your
chris: welcome back. the fiscal cliff talks are focused on tax cuts, of course. but cuts to medicare are likely to be on the table as well and any grand bargain to cut the deficit. republicans may push social security on to the agenda as well. back when the new deal created entitlements and social security in 1935, life expectancy for american men was 60 and it's now 76. for women it was 64 back in roosevelt's time and 81,000. when the simpson proposal that many thought would be a framework now, with social security already headed towards 67 had it eventually up to 69 but gradually over the next 50 years, that would save the
budget for social security 7% for each full year we put that retirement eligibility in effect. other proposals on the table look at raising the medicare eligibility from 65 to 67. while the congressional budget office says that change would save 5% a year on medicare spending. sam, what do you make of this? >> here's my proposal. turn 65. if you have a life-threatening disease or one that could down the road clearly do that, you're eligible. the rest of us are maybe fairly healthy, you wait until 67. now, how do you determine who is life-threatening? easy to have a aortic valve replaced when you die. but, you know, the death panel. chris: how about you if have a tough physical job and you're driving a big semitruck across the country and working on a jackhammer all day. it's not like being a successful lawyer somewhere showing up at the office of counsel or something. >> first of all, i think
raising the eligible age for social security is a maybe. i would be surprised if -- maybe. medicare for all intents and purpose is off the table partly for the reasons you just mentioned. however, we have to keep in mind that when the early stages of negotiation, and what you hear out of the mouths of the leaders of the party right now may be a far cry from what they wind up with. chris: what do you think we ought to do? where are we going to cut back? we have a deficit problem. >> we have a deficit problem but it's my understanding if you do both these things, if you raise the age for social security and medicare it won't make that much of a difference and there at least will be a democratic leadership opening proposition. social security is not in trouble. medicare wouldn't make all that much difference. that's going to be their argument. chris: once the republicans do agree to a tax revenue increase for the rich, then the democrats have to respond with something. >> that's the republican's argument. we keep agreeing to tax hikes and we get promised spending
cuts that never happen. this time around we want to know spending cuts will follow if we agree to tax hikes on the table. everything's going to have to be up to discussion. america doesn't so much have a deficit problem as they do a health care problem and you've got to do something about the health care problem. cole: the people want the jobs at 65. >> it will just be a question of policy catching up with life, right? because people are already working older and older and this would be sort of adjusting. chris: do you expect to live 20 or 30 years after retirement? you want to save up after the kids are through college. >> absolutely right. >> and the only way the fiscal cliff ends correctly is it everybody is a little unhappy at the end. chris: thank for you saying that. >> the president wanted to rule out a grand bargain the other day at his news conference and say let's fix the taxes for the middle class and down the line talk about the list. i don't think republicans want to buy that or should they buy that. probably at this point, the
grand congress, do a grand bargain and come to grips. chris: let's give the democratic response which was the last 1 years under bush and obama because we continue the bush tax rates. the rich have been fat and happy and have done pretty well. is it time for them to pay something? >> i didn't say that. but for the president to say down the line we'll do the rest, wrong. do it now. one of the things that might be discussed is raising the limit right now, you pay social security at $113,000 a year, and if you raise that to $200,000 a year or $300,000 a year that you keep paying social security. chris: and medicare. >> and medicare. that that might be the kind of -- chris: i heard that argument. it's a liberal argument but a good one because it does address income -- >> exactly. chris: it makes the rich pay a little more. when we come back, scoops and predictions from the notebooks when we come back, scoops and predictions from the notebooks of these top
l50858544p. but i'm not just a number. i have a purpose -- a higher purpose. [ muffled ] have some respect! not good. oh, man. hello? mm, no! finally -- the buck stops here. [ male announcer ] mcdonald's new hot'n spicy mcchicken. tender, juicy chicken with a crispy, spicy coating. at only a dollar, it's spicy, not pricey. but only for a limited time.
chris: welcome back. tell me something i don't know, dan? >> i had a call this week from a republican congressman seeking to call attention to his efforts to move up the time line for the removal of our troops from afghanistan. now, this may indicate that it's more bipartisan support for that line of thinking than most people may realize. we've had bipartisanship on issue by issue, even in recent times but not on the broad general thing but what this tells me and what people will think about is that with this in mind there may be things about which congress can reach some bipartisanship issue by issue as we go along. chris: we can only do so much -- a true conservative understands limits. how long can we stay in that country? >> exactly. >> and there's an amazement at the white house that senator mccain and senator graham went so hard after susan rice, having just come out of an election in which republicans lost votes among single women
in particular and did badly with minorities, so to go off the susan rice, an african-american female, the white house saying what are they doing? chris: does it look that way as an observer, sexist? >> i wonder if something else is going on, whether lindsey graham wants to do something on immigration reform or is trying to cover his back on benghazi or there are politicks to play but the white house can't understand the opportunity. chris: a lot of motives going on there. >> chris, i live in brooklyn and bringing you two updates for the sandy recovery on the effort back home. chris: good for you. >> good news and bad news. good news, the motorized wheelchairs are beginning to work again and old people's wheelchairs are powered by electricity and when the power goes out they literally can't move around. the power is beginning to come on in some of the high-rise buildings so people are able to recharge their wheelchair for really the first time in weeks and able to move around more
easily again. that's the good news. the bad news is that things are still really tough. my synagogue was preparing lunch meals for kids at schools this week, and they found out that they not only had to do lunch, they had to do dinners for the kids to take home as well because there's no food at home. chris: "the new york times" is doing a good job with that. >> thank you. chris: a lot of pages focused on what's going on in the burroughs. you usually don't focus on them but a lot of us are. >> i would follow up on the mccain-graham business, you saw what the president said at his news conference really steamed. we're told he has the votes in the senate. chris:. the secretary of state. >> they were leaning that way anyway but will say in effect i won the election and will put my secretary of state in. unless you can find something that really is objectionable, you'll approve her and i think they will. chris: we'll come back. the big question of the week, are john mccain and mitt romney
parking spaces, and 1 million opportunities to share your passions with students. you'll want to be a teacher the more you know. chris: welcome back. this week the two presidential rivals barack obama defeat have had been highly critical of him. mitt romney told his supporters he lost because obama gave, quote, gifts, close quote to his base and john mccain continued to speak bitterly about the president and attacks at benghazi. the big question is this politics on the part of mccain or personal, dan rather? >> personal. >> politics. >> romney personal, mccain political. >> i think it's personal. a lot of people don't like this president, and i think that's the case here. chris: ok. thanks for a great roundtable. i agree. dan rather, katty kay, jodi kantor for "the new york times"