tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC May 22, 2011 4:30pm-5:00pm PDT
>> this is the "the chris matthews show." [captioning made possible by nbc enterprises] >> who are you going to call? both parties say they're the ones to call with debts and deficits. but if republicans rejeck taxes, where's the deal? and what's the deal with newt? bad marriage. how does a republican run for president and still back what the party's doing in washington? is it simply impossible to be the candidate of the tea party protesters and the republicans who control the house? and finally, misery loves company. first there was sarah, then trump. now there's newt.
with trump and huckabee gone and gingrich flailing, who's going to yell out loud for the mad as hell crowd? can bachmann resist the call of the wild? with us today, hdnet's dan
rather, rachel madoow, kelly o'donnell and michael gers inn. president obama has put out a new plan for the middle east and now he's headed to europe. what's at the center here is the push to put the economy back on track. that's why there's a focus on the debt compromise and that's what the election will hang on. i want to do something different this week. usually we bottom-line things with our regulars, but let's start there this week. we asked the meter, which includes kelly, what is the better position for parties to prepare for 2012, hold firm for your party's priorities like medicare or tax rates, or compromise to get a deal? it's unanimous. all 12 say compromise is the
smarter presidential politics for both parties. kelly, explain that, because so far you've seen the republicans holding hard. no taxes. dismantle medicare. democrats holding back, not ready to make a deal, you're saying they're smart, both of them, to
get in there and deal. >> grow myself becomes attractive in the 11th hour and that's when people can begin to claim victory, they can define victory and appear as if they're working together. independents appreciate that. most people live with a lot of compromises in their lives and they find out that you can get along. it's just in the early stages that it's most difficult, but those lawmakers who have experience know that's where you have to get the newer ones. >> you think the politics are there for the democrats to actually cut into the bone of government spending? for the republicans to actually raise taxes? >> no. i think in the end everybody's kicking the can down the road led by the president himself, who's kicking the can down the road in issue after issue. and kelly's hit right on it.
what this is about is listening very carefully. what do the independents and swing voters, what do they want? they've spoken in the polls. what they'd like to have is some sort of compromise. a deal will get done, because everyone is looking for -- chris: so you say a deal, rachel? >> well, when kelly said we have to get past the primaries in order to start talking about this reality, the independent voters, that's key. and the primaries are going to take a long time on the republican side. the last gallop poll on the debt ceiling at the end of the first week of may, 8% of republicans -- 8% said they wanted their member of congress to vote to raise the debt ceiling. 8%. chris: just to raise the debt ceiling. >> just to raise the debt ceiling. chris: so they wouldn't even go for a package of cuts and tax increases to get to that. they don't even want to raise the debt. >> you don't want the next question to be, what would you like to set on fire? you're that extreme in your approach to it.
anybody who's trying to woo republican voters has no room. chris: is that true, michael, that they'd rather not even -- they'd rather risk the government losing its credit rating than risk the government going into some kind of default, rather than agreeing to the things you have to agree in in a compromise? >> republican leaders understand the importance, and they're likely to get some kind of discretionary spending deal. they're not going to deal with entitlements and tax increases and those other things. they're just going to try to get past this. the gland deal obama would benefit most -- grand deal obama would benefit most from is to take the deal off going into the campaign. it would gb for obama. it would require him to take on entitlements and throw most of his coalition under the bus. i don't understand the incentive for boehner. he would cause a tax revolvet in his own party and undermine his own candidate. chris: if there's any doubt
about how political this all is and how much it affects 2012, let's look at how newt gingrich was assaulted by ann'y ann after he went on "meet the press" and lam baited the plan to replace medicare. >> what you just did to paul ryan is unforgivable. >> i didn't to anything to paul ryan. >> yes, you did, you undercut him. you're an embarrassments to the party. why don't you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself. chris: rachel, the choreography of that guy -- he's a civilian, but he grabs his hand as if to say nice things to him. held on to that hand like a barracuda and then said -- >> like sorry, sorry, yeah, it's embarrassing. chris: what's the lesson for the republicans? >> the lessons for the republicans on this one is that the republican party is not going to let you do the kind of campaigning you're going to need to do to a general-election audience any time soon. right now the republican party has to be looking at the
forthcoming election and saying are we likely to topple barack obama? are we likely to beat him at the presidential level? i think we are probably not likely to do that. so it is a great risk to allow candidates, in trying to do that unlikely thing, to throw house republicans under the bus on the way there. they have the house right now. they have that power. they can't allow that to be scuttled. chris: so at the phalanx of the house floor, the republicans are going to hold the line, as you were suggesting, no new taxes, hole the line on medicare as we know it and stick together as a team and hold the house. you may lose the presidential election, but you'll hold the house. >> i think newt gingrich did cross a red line of sorts, but it was not the red line of criticizing the ryan medicare approach, which other republicans have done. some republican candidates have pulled back from it. it was the red line of calling the republican leaders radical social engineers, which, you know, if during the debate on health care, if a democrat, who opposed the health care plan had
called the president social lift, the entire democratic party would have come. chris: so that social engineering is the worst thing you can say. >> who is criticizing the medicare plan? >> you have somebody like mitch mcconnell, who i think does not support the ryan approach. but there are other republican candidates, when the budget came out, they were generally supportive. but they want to leave themselves -- >> that's why they're not all getting in. none of them can bear the direct question -- would you vote for paul ryan's plan on medicare? they can't bear it, because if the answer is no, they're all but out of the party. >> and that's what they're doing. >> that's why they're avoiding the hard questions. >> would anybody beside me be surprised that newt gingrich, of all people, would not realize what he was doing? >> stunning, yes. >> virtually emulating his own presidential campaign within hours after it started. i'm really started. >> on "meet the press," they know how tough it is and they go on with a message.
that was the message he wanted to deliver, that the whole republican plan on medicare was no good. it was social engineering. he went on to do that. >> afterwards he said it was a gotcha question and he wasn't prepared. chris: that's when -- >> he was his 30-something appearance. chris: let's start with this one. i don't want to be the fiscally responsible person alone, because we worry with the country's credit rating and these boring facts about the international monetary system. here's my question -- will the debt ceiling get raised if they don't cut a deal? can they finesse this thing to get us through so we still have a national credit rating? >> i think the answer is yes. they can -- chris: with a big deal or no deal? >> with virtually no deal. some camouflage. some light cover for a deal. >> can they do a short-term version of this like they did with the patriot act extension? like they'd have this come up every three months? it could be a point of leverage. >> a $5 trillion debt limit all
at once. >> i think incremental makes sense. chris: they're getting that 218 and you need a solid party majority, overwhelming party vote and i don't think they can get the tea party vote. and the democrats are not playing ball on this. this could be an armageddon moment for this country this summer. before we break, speaking of newt, he's made the big mistake of big-shot politics and saying it's dumb to parade their wealth. the gingriches had a revolving account at tiffany's, the jewelry store, which ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars. the two bush brothers in 1998 weren't thinking either back, and bush 43 was 12 years ahead of running himself. they didn't mind clowning around about being he leastists. >> i'd like to make an award to a guy a came in fourth.
the annual george herbert walker bush elitist bowl. >> in horseshoe land i accept this. >> father, congratulations, george, get this out of your face and tell them what you think of the winner. >> i love popcorn. chris: wow, in 2008 john mccain was already a presidential nominee, but he wasn't ready to answer this question -- >> how many houses do you and mrs. mccain have? >> i think -- i'll have my staff get to you. chris: well, the answer was seven. democrats have rich guys, too. john kerry's winds-surfing habit was a picture most democrats wanted not out there. here was jay leno. >> did you see the picture of john kerry windsurfing? he's at his home in nantucket, doing his favorite thing, winds surfing. even his hobby depends on which way the wind blows. chris: john edwards wasn't a silver spoon guy, but he forgot where he came from -- over and over. there was that infamous $400
haircut. this takeoff went viral. ♪ i feel pretty ♪ oh so pretty, i feel pretty, withey and bright and ♪ chris: by the way, on the subject, he exited the stage with this misleading statement -- >> i've decided that we are going to continue onward with "celebrity apprentice." we're going to continue making loggets and lots of money for charity. chris: charity? well, the contestants on the show compete for their charities, but trump himself reportedly gets tens of millions of dollars from nbc for that show. when we come back, trump and mike huckabee are out. together they appealed to 1/3 of republicans, the most conservative. who's going to ck up the hard-core right now?
>> you watch the establishment, all the knights and barons will be riding into the castle bringing up the drawbridge. all the peasants are coming with pitchforks. chris: welcome back. that was our pal, buchanan, revving up the mad as hell troops in new hampshire when he ran for president, rather well, by the way in, 1996, who's revving up the same troops this year? it was donald trump and huckabee, until they both tropical depression out. over 1/3 of the people chose either one of those. so who will they pick? dan, 60% of iowa caucusgoers call themselves evangelical christians. my question -- does michele bachmann have to jump in? >> i think she will and it would be a mistake to underestimate
her. this woman is for real, whether you agree with her or not. this is not sarah palin coming out of nowhere, she can run very well in iowa. i can imagine a scenario where she actually gets the republican nomination. but that's a long way down the line. will she get in? i think the answer is yes. will she do wel in the early going? again, i think the answer is yes. she has what the football coaches call breakaway potential -- that is, if she gets in the open field, look out, because this woman is very articulate, she's experienced, smart. i'm not her campaign manager, but going after that republican -- chris: that would be a break-away if you took that job. >> that would be a break-away. but with the roughly 1/3 of people who supported either trump or huckabee -- i'm surprised huckabee didn't get in. but with those people, michele bachmann can be dynamite. >> i think it's a mistake to view huckabee as the hardest of the hard right. he combined being a social conservative with being an economic populist more than any
other candidate. chris: i think i read that column. >> exactly. i asked huckabee people, where are you going to go? the harder edge ones talked about michele bachmann, who is a tea party a evangelical approach, but the softer-edged ones talked about tim pawlenty, they want someone more electable. that's going to be divided. i don't think it will rally around one candidate. chris: you'll with dan. i find her -- 25 kids, foster children, in her family. she is a real christian in terms of her view and she doesn't have to wave the race card like trump did. she doesn't have to play tricks. >> but the evolution of michele bachmann's career is -- and she really was kind of a joke in politics. she was not taken seriously either in terms of her national potential or her effect on the party at large until the tea party protest movement. that's what propelled her forward. what gave her a real platform and a constituency.
but that same energy was what pat was calling for with pitchforks, insufficient ideological fervor. that means there's something wrong with republicans, not democrats. there has to be an establishment candidate for her to be propelled again. sara: how about romney or pawlenty? >> is that the race, do you think, looking down the line? >> it makes a lot of sense. the people around michele bachmann that i've talked to says her approach is, how do we get to yes? is there an organization? is there enough fund-raising? is there a lane for her? over and over as the field has narrowed and other events number p in, she's seeing more of a yes. and she's going to be in iowa and she's going to be in new hampshire for memorial day. she's sending all the signals. chris: iowa. does she do well there? >> she has the capacity to do very well. i don't see the evidence that the tea party is coalescing around one candidate. they like the enthusiasm.
movement is beginning to raise questions about systematic pesticides, pesticides that are put in the system of plants. the canary in the cool mine here. bees are dying off and there's continued and growing concern that because the bees pollen ate the plants, the systemic pesticide stays in three to five years. there will be new questions raised about that. chris: does it hurt us? >> the e.p.a. says no. >> mine is a prediction. i predict that there will be a candidate from the right side of the republican party, it maybe sarah palin or somebody else, but they will establish a new litmus test, which is that they do not domain streem media interviews, doing a mainstream media interview is a capitulation that only -- >> if i'm on a g.o.p. bus, that is a depressing prediction.
>> the truth is i'm always wrong. >> we haven't talked about jon huntsman. he is making his first trip to new hampshire and came back from china and his aides are saying that he's going to try to take the handshake approach of meeting as many new hampshire residents in the most traditional places as possible to show that even though he is an obama appointee back on the homeland, that he has a common man's touch. that's an approach they're going to at least try. chris: i'm not sure. >> speaking of iowa, they are one election away of losing their first in the nation status. in the last 30 years in contested primaries they've picked one candidate who eventually wins the nomination. republican leaders there understand that if they're not going to pick a serious candidate, they're not going to be -- chris: if you win in iowa, you can't win in the country? >> that's part of their thing. chris: why make that the litmus test if it proves you can't win?
chris: welcome back. this week's big question -- what do the schwarzenegger and kahn stories tell us about powerful men, women and perhaps class? >> nothing we don't already know. powerful men can and do take advantage of women. women -- i don't agree this is a matter of class. i know you think that there is a class quotient here. chris: they're working people. >> some will take advantage of women and this has been going on since pre-biblical times and probably extends beyond the life of this program. but i do understand that even talking about this subject can get one in trouble and i'm
tempted to say, waiter, check, please. chris: that's all right. go ahead. >> the thing that has been surprising to me about this -- dan, you're right, this is an old story. but the thing that ought to be so old that it's over is the stakeout of the victim's home, the effort to try to find out everything that we can, in the case of dominique kahn, trying to finds out about the woman who was a victim of a serious alleged crime. leave that woman alone. an frankly, leave schwarzenegger's housekeeper alone, too. they are not the public figures here. the focus on them, i think, is gross. chris: kelly? >> it is such an old story and such an old lesson about how if there is entitlement that comes along with wealth, power and privilege and being surrounded by people who will say yes more than say no, who serve them, that there is such a treacherous fall. and over and over we see people who take that fall and it doesn't seem to prove to be much of a deterrent to others to try it, and that's the same. >> i that it the politics of these kind of issues. it draws out the hypocrisy. chris: the story of the week.
>> republicans tend to excuse democrats, democrats excuse republicans. we need a standard here. not just a sexual standards. it's whether you exploit other people or hold power over them and abuse that power. john ensign did that in a really revolting way. that should be the standard. chris: another case are staffers. anyway, it is interesting. we are learning the bad stuff here. anyway, thank you. great round table. dan rather, rachel madoff. kelly o'donnell and michael gersin. i'm so proud of our daughter, caroline. she graduated this week from the university of pennsylvania magna she graduated this week from the university of pennsylvania magna cum laude. fixing the name. it's fiber none. looks like one. well, i know. i put an "n" there. ah! fiber one honey clusters cereal! that's really good! it tastes good, so there can't be fiber in it! it's actually got about half a day's worth of fiber. [ asst mgr ] it says so right on the box. [ fiber seeker ] really? try it.