tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC July 15, 2009 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
that's what's going to happen to pay for this. will it generate enough money? >> first of all, there's a trigger involved in the reform package. we're going to work as hard as we can to find cost savings through the system itself through reform weers proposing, many of which we're very confident are going to work. but let's be clear. this health care system will be completely paid for. it will not add one nickel to our federal deficit, unlike the practice of the previous administration. and we think it's fair to go to the upper income level to ask them ocontribute a little bit more. since their payroll taxes for social security end at $100,000 and they receive some of the most generous health care plans in the entire country and they get a tax exclusion for that benefit right now. so it's not unreasonable to ask them to contribute a little bit to the system, given the huge tax break that they already receive for the health care they get. but also to reduce the cost shifting that's occurring on so
many americans due to the uninsured in this country today. >> so the key is, the formula you have put together in the house, you go after the folks, 250,000 plus, $350 thousands-plus, $1 million. it will be paid for and it doesn't add to the debt. >> it's a pretty high level. there you have it, folks. not everybody is going to get taxed on this deal. is it fair to tax the richest 1.2% of you to help pay for health care. 94% of you said yes and 6% of you said no. that's "the ed show." i'm ed shultz. for more information go to ed.msnbc.com. check out our radio website. going to be in madison,
wisconsin, this sunday night at 7:00. town hall meeting on health care. "hardball" starts right now. >> barack obama is back to the fight. let's play "hardball." fight. let's play "hardball fight. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, the president grabs the reins after a week overseas, president obama has gotten back his command voice. yesterday, he hit back at his critics on the economy reminding them and us that they're the people, as he put it, who helped get us into this mess. today he gave a full throated defense of his health care reform plan that will mean higher taxes on the better off. this is obama's moment. does he have the political power to get his plan passed nervous democrats and just say no
republicans? nbc's chuck todd is going to join us in a moment on the president's big push. >> plus, who gave dick cheney the right to keep congress in the dark in the law is pretty clear. congress is to be informed about what the cia is doing even if it's what the cia is planning to do. if it's to plan to kill al qaeda leaders. democrats show the white house and later on calls for an investigation and where that could lead. also, it was 30 years ago tonight that president jimmy carter gave what has come to be known as the malaise speech. as an aide to former president carter at that time, i remember watching the speech at home and wondering why he was saying what he was saying before i became a carter speechwriter myself. there's still a lot about that speech that's relevant to the challenges president obama faces today. the question of energy independence. we have -- or dependence we have from foreign countries. the threat of nuclear weapons getting into the hands of dangerous countries and, of course, human rights violations around the world. i'm going to talk to one of the men who wrote that speech later on in the show.
is we'll debate sarah palin and sotomayor. by now you've probably seen the president giving his first major league toss at last night's all-star game last night in st. louis. how does that compare to the strike from the man he was sent in there to relieve, george w. bush? we'll compare the two arms in the "hardball" side show. we begin with the president and how he's doing. chuck todd's nbc's chief white house correspondent and political director and susan page is the washington bureau chief for "usa today" who's all over the front page that have newspaper every day i stay in a hotel room. thank you both. let me go to chuck on this question. the president right now, i'm looking the polls right now. it's fascinating. 55 approval, 39 disapproval. that's basically the average of all the polls put together. but if you look at it going all the way back beyond january which that graph shows only to, but if you go back to last november, guess what, he's exactly where he was on that set of polls on election day.
in other words, reality is back. it bites. he's back back to where he was when he got elected not where he's been in all this honeymoon. what's that mean politically? >> look i think what it means is what you saw yesterday with the president which was he decided to get some campaign rhetoric back to try to push -- push back a little bit on this criticism. i actually think they look at these poll numbers and frankly they dispute some of them and think their numbers, the polling they're seeing they've got the president a little bit higher. but they're seeing the same trends, which is his personal approval ratings are higher than his policy approval ratings. they have this issue with independents that they need to convince particularly when it comes to the economy as well as potentially health care. the great challenge he has on the economy is he's already gotten what he wants to get done passed. he continues to have to sell the public that it's going to work. and the policy's already there. i have a feeling that we're going to see a similar strategy have to be put in effect on health care.
he's going to get something passed. the question is what does it look live, how is it funded. all those things. then he's going to have to spend six more months after he signs it into law convincing folks this was the right prescription. >> that's interesting. take a look what he had to say yesterday in warren, michigan. let's listen. >> i love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, well, this is obama's economy. that's fine. give it to me. my job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and carp and gripe. so -- so i welcome the job. i want the responsibility. >> once again, he's been smart i guess, susan page, at portraying the people on the sidelines as basically no work people, the people that sit around and complain, don't do anything. republicans will argue, we've
got an alternative to health care. why don't you let us in the room. >> on this whole issue of the economy, which dominates everything overwhelms even health care as an issue, this is why vice president's biden's comments two sundays ago were so damaging when he said they misread the economy it, raised questions about whether their program's going to work and why their predictions were more optimistic than turned out to be the case. and that rebounds when people look at the health care plan and think can i trust them on this issue. >> we know that these projections are always overly optimistic. every time the budget office, the omb, the cbo, everybody makes a projection outyears are a joke. it's also worse. the economy never produces more revenue than expected. it always spends more than expected generally. >> that wasn't true during some of the clinton years when the economy came roaring back in a way no one predicted in terms of the deficit.
>> yeah, the dot-com bubble. >> that didn't end so well. >> you're right. it was a lucky and good time for the country. by the way, one of the ironies i'm sitting in a studio with the white house behind me. that's not a still photo. i can see the helicopter flying by. that's actually a picture of the white house. chuck, you're in the white house by the way, and you're standing over what was once jack kennedy's swimming pool, and where nixon in one of the most metaphorical moments in history covered over jack kennedy's swimming pool. >> this is introspection upon introspection at this point. here's the president talking again about his naysayers out there. it seems to me the chicago strategy, there ain't no alternative to me. here he is. >> deferring reform is nothing more than defending the status quo. and those who would oppose our efforts should take a hard look at just what it is that they're defending, and the naysayers and
the cynics still doubt that we can do this, but it wasn't too long ago those same naysayers didn't think we would be able to make real progress on health care reform. we're now closer to the goal of health reform than we have ever been. >> rahm emanuel, the chief of staff to the president, said awhile ago in that new york times interview for the magazine that basically the only thing unacceptable was defeat with regard to health care. you say it's come down to whether he gets 90% with the party holding together or 70-some% if he has to compromise. isn't there a possibility that some people like feinstein in california will be off and he won't get the 60 he needs, even if he hold the democrats. he won't hold the democrats together so he needs the republicans. >> failure is not an option in their minds meaning they will pass something that they will call major health care reform and then they're going to have
to sell this to the american public to let -- to prove to them that this is major reform. that's going to be, i think, the harder thing than what they're doing now. getting this legislation passed isn't easy. trying to do what they're doing and having negotiations back and forth won't be easy. convincing the public that this reform is coming which may take four or five years down the road, they think they're having a hard time convincing the public to hang tight on the package that's a two-year package, wait till they have a four-year, five-year health care reform plan to have to sell to say be patient. that said, we're talking about how are they going to do this with just democratic votes with, some republican votes. right now the president just met with at least four republican senators, moderates and saxby chambliss from georgia, bob corker from tennessee. you know, you can call whether they're moderates. i would call them pragmatic conservatives. susan collins and lisa murkowski both from the more moderate wing of the party. they were here at a meeting at the suggestion of grassley, the ranking republican on finance and you know why i think, chris? because if the president's talking to those republicans then he's going to have an
easier time selling ben nelson and dianne feinstein to stick with them on these things and mary landrieu the conservative democrat who might be teetering that look, i'm still reaching out to republicans. he may not get their votes but it's a way of reaching out to conservative democrats. >> susan. >> i think it's hard to believe democrats are going to defeat the president on a health care bill. he may end up with a stepping stone to bigger reform. >> you expect 60 votes. >> i expect democrats not to be the reason this plane goes down. >> one of the nice things, i'll give you a complete rosy scenario. i think i'm more optimistic than chuck who's at the white house and probably knows more what's going on. my view is this, the president's out there saying the house acted yesterday, they put out the chairman's mark on the three committees. the senator voted the other day and the health committee voted. he's out there saying you've got three weeks, basically a posting period where everybody knows what's in the air. democrats see the high price of this thing in terms of high taxation on the wealthy or a sliding scale thing in terms of
health care. maybe they'll go back to that. but he's also saying this whole thin's in play. is it possible, susan, then chuck, that the country will come together and this is fluid and all sides will come together and come the ends of august, we'll have a bill that passes muster with 70 senators? >> i think it's possible. i think if that happens, it will be up to barack obama to make that case to people. >> can he bring in republicans? can he really do it like kennedy failed to bring carter in. kennedy never worked with -- ted kennedy never worked with nixon back in the old days. the clintons never worked with jim cooper and people like that. there was never a deal where everybody said we'll share the benefits of this politically. when is that going to happen? >> 70 votes is a lot of votes. >> how about we're willing to share the credit for this for the other point of view? >> that hasn't been the tact so far with republicans. >> why don't they want to share? >> this is a more polarized time. >> i don't understand. chuck, is there a mood -- why don't they go to judd gregg and
call him on what he said today, that iowa is almost part of the administration and say, look, do you have pieces you want. let's try to put together a gerried bill, a compromise bill here? >> i think they are trying to do that somewhat. at the end of the day they have the votes to do it themselves. it's a mess ajs thage they've b sending. i kind of think they want to see does that strengthened hand of al franken, of that 60th vote and granted, i know that means bob bird and ted kennedy who health wise aren't always here to do that, does that make it easier to get some of these folks to the table? we'll see. again, i don't know how much time he's going to sit there and worry about reaching out so much that he loses, that he loses some support on the left. that's something -- >> they'll helicopter to the
capitol building. >> remember pete wilson? came in on a hospital gurney to cast a vote into this is a big vote. this is a big vote. i'm just hopeful what we get out of this is a national plan and not just a democratic plan. i'd like to see a plan that doesn't take all that post marketing after you get it. that's my -- i think we've got three weeks to get it done. >> that's not going to happen. it's a democratic bill. >> you break my heart. you're breaking my heart. chuck todd, thank you. susan page, thank you for coming. front page of the "usa today." stay in a hotel, you get it. did dick cheney break the law by keeping a cia plan secret from congress? the name is pronounced cheeney. just ask him. we'll talk about whether should be an investigation into his actions. i'd like to see the use of the subpoena power by the congress. let's see if they'll use it. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
years ago tonight? "hardball" returns after this. since we first showed up with our pirate hats on! if you're not into fake sword fights pointy slippers and green wool tights take a tip from a knight who knows free credit report dot com, let's go! vo: offer applies with enrollment in triple advantage. a tornado hits, air life denver takes off... their night-vision goggles keeping the rescue mission safe... and powering those goggles-- the only battery air life trusts: duracell. trusted everywhere.
welcome back to "hardball." did former vice president dick cheney have the legal authority to keep congress in the dark about a cia plot to use commando squads to take out senior al qaeda operatives the way israel did with their mossad organization. sheldon whitehouse is a member of the intelligence committee. sir, thank you for joining us. it seems like the law is clear here. the president shall direct the cia to inform congress of any activities, operations even those anticipated. did they break the law in this regard according to the reports in the "new york times" and the "wall street journal"? >> it appears that they have. i think the national security act is pretty straightforward and pretty clear.
it does not give rise to any criminal violation. it is just a fact that they've broken the law, but i think it's important for us to inquire into it because we want to make sure that the cia doesn't have a sort of hip pocket theory of the law gives it an exemption from compliance. we want too make sure that the cia recognizes if there was a failure, that it was indeed a failure and there's no justification for it. and we can rely on the cia following the law in the future. >> well, the act as amended says the president shall ensure that the congressional intelligence committees on which you serve are kept fully and currently informed. fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the united states, including any significant anticipated intelligence activities. that would seem fairly clear english for someone of dick cheney's abilities to comprehend and therefore i assume he comprehended that law and chose not to obey it.
>> i agree. >> what are the consequences? what are the consequences? >> there are no real consequences because there's no enforcement mechanism for it. and i think he would probably argue that the law is improper insofar as it takes away what they consider to be very, very broad executive powers under the commander in chief authority to ignore the laws of the united states and to ignore congressional statutes. i think that that is a wrong legal position. but i think pursuing this and getting an answer to that question for once and for all is important. >> the reason i raise this is because i've been covering the hearings for a couple of days watching a woman up for the supreme court having to explain a comment she made awhile back where she simply took pride in her ethnic background and her gender, to be blunt about it, having to go through this sort of limbo where she's had to bow her head before your members hour after hour after hour about a remark she made. why we can't bring the former vice president in to explain
under oath why he violated a law that was written in simple english. >> just as one member of the intelligence committee, i think it is very important that either the intelligence committee or also the judiciary committee which i also sit on seek some executive subpoenas and play that process out. we have a scarcity of judicial opinions on what we're allowed to subpoena and where the boundaries of executive privilege lie. and very, very aggressive positions were taken by the bush administration exceeding really i think any reasonable view of executive privilege. and i think it would be a very good thing for to us force that issue, get it resolved in court and get some solid good night posts that we can rely on in the future. >> yeah, i just wonder why every time we talk about subpoenaing the former vice president he gets to come in and sit with george w. bush as if they're the
menendez procedures or something, they have to be able to be in constant communication when they're speaking under oath. let me ask you about sotomayor, the nominee for the supreme court. looking at it now after the first round of questioning by your committee a half hour each and a lot of penetrating questions but mainly on the four points on her comment about being a latina woman, her comment about the policy role which she says is meaning precedent setting role of the court, comments about the second amendment really focused here. what do you think has been accomplished in these hours? >> from the republican point of view, i think a lot of nothing. from the american public's point of view, i think they have had a chance to see a very calm, very intelligent, very capable practitioner who is really at the top of her game and who has handled all of these questions in a very disciplined and thoughtful way in the way that a cautious judge would grounding
all of her answers in statute and in the constitution and in the precedent of the supreme court, and speaking from a very, very fixed and i would say conservative really legal point of view. and she has avoided opinions. she has avoided expressions of theory. and so, the notion that the republicans are trying to foment that this is a woman whose opinions and theories are going to dictate her judgments i think has been belied by her conduct over these many hours. >> i loved the way you opened your statement the other day. one of the few times i've seen a strong offensive point of view on the democratic side of these issues. thank you very much, sheldon whitehouse. let's go to kip bond of missouri who's vice chair of the intelligence committee. you're smiling. let me ask you about this i don't know what you make of this but the law is pretty clear about the president's responsibility to inform congress of any cia activities or anticipated activities.
what are the roles of the vice president who claims to not have any role in the executive branch? i mean, there's a man giving orders to apparently the cia who claims at the same time he's not even in the executive branch. what's his status here? before you go into that, let's go back to some basics about what actually happened. number one, i wasn't on the committee back in 2001 and 2002. popanetta was not the director. i've looked at some of the records from that 2001 and 2002 period and i don't believe there's any way that the house democrats or others can say that this was not discussed with the committee. furthermore, i have asked others if they've gone back and looked atture records. we don't need to look at somebody else's record. have they looked at our records. i don't see any making those charges saying they've gone back and searched the records to see if there was a discussion.
>> let me read -- you read the leading piece in the new york times on sunday. the central intelligence agency withheld information from congress about a secret counter-terrorism program for eight years on direct orders from former vice president dick cheney. are you challenging that? >> there is no evidence of that. there is no evidence having looked at the records. >> so the new york times is wrong and the "wall street journal" follow-up piece is wrong, as well. >> the journal did something great. they had a headline that said cia had a secret plan to capture or kill al qaeda leaders. i think most americans would say thank heavens they did because al qaeda declared war on us. >> sure. >> i think everybody has understood that the president has said that we must go out, locate, identify and either capture or kill leaders of al qaeda. but the fact remains in the things that was leaked by the house democrats, having read the some of the records in the early years, i have seen discussions of that. i believe that the -- that it is to say that president -- vice
president cheney ordered them not to do it is absolutely without foundation. >> okay. >> it was within the findings, it was within the law. director panetta said it was not illegal, it was not inappropriate. >> you're up against some tough reporting here, senator, mike isikoff one of the toughest reporters around and news week reports the yesterday came here to do this, other officials confirmed that cheney was involved in discussions about the program and had pressed the cia not to inform congress about it. what do you make of that? >> i don't believe that he's looked at confidential records. i haven't read all the records but have i seen nothing other than to suggest that when cheney was briefed on it early on, he said this is within existing authorities. and therefore, until something happens or something major changes, there's no reason to brief the committees. if something had happened, if
some action had been taken. >> okay. >> we definitely should have been briefed but nothing happens, they don't come and brief us. but when something does happen or they institute a major action with significant consequences, they traditionally do brief us. >> but what about the principle? do you believe the vice president would have done something wrong had he in fact according to this report did he, had he told the cia not to tell you folks on the hill and the intelligence committees about an operation was being anticipated? was that wrong if he did that? if he told them not to tell you? >> well, i don't think he has the power to tell them not to do that. >> that's for sure. >> they have an obligation. they have the obligation to brief us and they had briefed cheney and others in the white house about what they were exploring. they -- they have talked with the committees about what they were exploring. i believe, and i would suggest that the house democrats who are
trying to get speaker pelosi's ox out of the ditch go back and look at their own committee records to see what they can find there. >> kit bond, senator from missouri, thank you for come on tonight. up next, we also have president obama throw out the first pitch at last night's all-star game. a lot of people did. how did that pitch stack up to other presidential pitches like the guy he relieved a couple months ago. stick around for the sideshow. we'll compare pitching arms here on the side show. access to favorite courses
that's 6-0, 60 feet by the way from the pitching mound of a major league diamond to the plate. 60 feet that you'd better not deviate from too much if you want to keep your presidential pride. here's the hollywood version from one of my favorite movies "dave" starring kevin kline as the president. talk about right down the middle. love that scene. to you for perhaps the greatest real life presidential pitch. george w. game three of the 2001 world series. that's a strike. remember bush has a background in baseball. he made his fortune buying and selling the texas rangers now to the commander in chief. barack obama. here's his first pitch as president throwing at last night's all-star game in st. louis. the "new york post" called it a change-up, if you can believe it. not george w. bush territory,
but with the help of albert pujols behind the plate, acheeing the most important goal -- not throwing a duster. i know, i threw one once in a aa game up in connecticut and have made a point of not repeating the humiliation. the president did baseball chatter in the announcer's booth last night giving a shoutout to his home team, the chicago white sox. >> tell us about wearing the jacket. mark buehrle said that you said you were going to wear the white sox jacket and he thought you were kidding. >> listen, everybody knows i'm a white sox fan and my wife thinks i look cute in this jacket and my wife thinks i look cute in this jacket, so between those two things, why not? >> well, the president signed one. that's the american league, home of the white sox which beat the national league 4-3 during last night's game. now for tonight's big number, definitely the biggest number in "hardball" history. the story starts out simple. a guy in history, josh muszynski, used his debit card to buy a pack of cigarettes. a few hours later he checked his account online. how much did his bank charge
him? those digits all showed up. over 23 quadrillion dollars. that's 1,000 trillion. 23,000 trillion dollars. looks live a madeup number, doesn't it? this guy's bank also charged him a $15 overdraft fee. after a couple hours on the phone, muszynski's bank fixed the error. they fixed it finally the next day. the $23 quadrillion dollar pack of cigarettes. if that doesn't get you to quit smoking nothing will. up next, 30 years ago, president jimmy carter gave his malaise speech which actually opened the door for his successor ronald reagan. we'll look at that episode with carter speechwriter rick hertzberg and talk about how the things presidents say can dictate who succeeds them in office and what that means for president obama today. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
capitol police say they shot and killed a man who had a weapon near the capitol building. police say they tried to pull the driver over in a routine traffic stop but he refused, hitting an officer with his car as he tried to flee. police confronted him a few blocks from the capitol. he was shot after he showed a weapon. that weapon has been recovered. the sixth time was a charm with space shuttle endeavor. endeavor is on a delivery mission to the international space station. on wall street, a day-long rally on better than expected economic reports. stocks wracking up strong gains. the dow jones industrials added 256 points. the s&p 500 up 26 and the nasdaq ended up 63 points higher. now back to "hardball."
welcome back to "hardball." actually, 30 years ago tonight, president carter made a speech that to his dismay became known an the malaise speech. this despite the fact that he never actually said the word malaise. but here's part of that major national speech. >> i want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to american democracy. i do not mean our political and civil liberties. they will endure. and i do not refer to the outward strength of america, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world. with unmatched economic power
and military might. the threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. it is a crisis of confidence. it is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. we can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. the erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of america. >> well, when ronald reagan was campaigning to beat carter his message and bearing was the anti-thesis of carters. reagan said the following, this is the night before he won, "i find no national malaise. i find nothing wrong with the american people.
oh, they are frustrated, even angry at what has been done to this blessed land, but more than anything, they are sturdy and robust as they have always been." three times by the way when presidents wind up picking their own successor. we'll talk about those. joining me are two men who worked with me actually as my superiors in the carter administration and know all about the malaise speech because they were behind it. rick herzberg and gerald rafshoon, director of communications for the president at that time. rick, that speech, did you think it was a good thing to do politically or just for the national sort of morale. >> i thought it was a good thing to do both. we had reached the point where people had stopped listening to carter's prescriptions about energy and energy was the centerpiece of what was a period of tremendous chaos and suffering at the time. another speech about energy people weren't going to listen. so carter wanted to broaden this out. say some things that had been on his mind for a long time, speak some home truths, unpleasant truths but i think most
americans recognized that what he was saying was true. >> yeah. the problem, jerry, wasn't the problem that he was right, that there was a sense of national malaise. it was a brilliant diagnosis of the country's mood. but he didn't really offer a solution and reagan comes along with this rousing we can do it morning in america theme that seemed to be the elixir. >> despite that, chris -- >> was that true? >> no, it wasn't true because he did have a concrete energy program that he put into effect. we had four energy bills passed which dealt with the conservation, which dealt with finishing off our dependence on foreign oil. it dealt with synthetic fuels and with solar. some of it was symbolic and when reagan came in, he dismantled that program. had those programs stayed in
effect, in the year 2002 when carter got the nobel prize, we looked at what would have happened if the energy programs that we had enacted had stayed in effect, and the amount of oil that would have -- that we would not have bought from the middle east equalled what exactly was said. >> let's take a couple minutes before we get to the theme which is presidents tend to set up successors. it seems to me carter was dead on on the need for energy sufficiency and dealing with energy conservation, putting on a sweater, loring the thermostat. all of those things made sense. he was right about the problem of nuclear proliferation, of arms getting to countries like iran and also his concern for human rights. so he was right but -- >> well, he was in this particular speech especially, which was really unlike anything that he had ever said, it was unlike anything any president ever said, in this particular speech, he was sort of a prophet. he spoke as a prophet. and i mean by that not as someone who's predicting the
future but as someone who's diagnosing the national soul. this was something that an awful lot of people in the white house, vice president mondale foremost among them did not want him to do. i was one of those who thought it stood a chance of really breaking through to the american people. and i still think it might have. but as it turned out, if you -- if you diagnosis a problem and you're president of the united states, you also have to solve that problem. otherwise, don't bring it up. >> that's right. let's take a look -- yeah, the problem. >> unable to solve it, although what jerry says is absolutely right in terms of the concrete realities of energy, but that spiritual crisis, that carter diagnosed, he was right about that, and the result was not that we faced up to it, but that we retreated into years and years of fantasy and of phony
optimism and notion that we could just consume and consume and consume. >> yeah, i think the big car and the big gas guzzlers was not the solution to the energy crisis. let's take a look at a transition that makes a lot more sense to a lot of us here, that's president bush 43. you might say he begat obama. it took bush to make us see the importance of an obama. let's watch. >> every nation in every region now has a decision to make. either you're with us or you are with the terrorists. >> to all the other peoples and government who are watching today from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that america is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity and we are ready to lead once more. >> wow, you know, i've often thought it took a hoover to give
us a roosevelt. did it take a bush to give as you obama? jerry. >> well, every new president is the antithesis of the failed president that he either defeated or that his party defeated. and it took a jimmy carter to come in after nixon and watergate and the scandals of the cia and the vietnam war and people looked outside of washington for somebody who would tell the truth. >> right. >> the truth became a very important thing to tell. and one of the things that we had with carter, whether you like it or not, he always wanted to tell the truth. >> i know he did. >> when you start talking about the problems that a president faces, he owns those problems. >> right. rick what, do you think about obama coming in, sophisticated obama coming in after an incurious president like bush. >> there's no question that it really requires a comprehensive
disaster on every level really of the bush administration to make americans ready to take this extraordinary and wonderful leap of faith that they took in electing this remarkable president that we have now. i mean, i don't make a lot of comparisons between obama and carter. i think they're so different temper mentally, politically and a lot of ways, but one thing they do have in common i think is they both believe in speaking to the american people as if they were adults. and that's something that the eight years of bush made us hungry for. and we're -- that's the kind of president we've got now. >> if you like reading rick hertzberg, read the new yorker. rick hertzberg, my former boss at the white house, former chief speechwriter and gerry rafshoon who almost personally brought jimmy carter to the white house. up next, what can you expect to see when sonia sotomayor is on the supreme court?
that we're not seeing during these confirmation hearings? is this kind of a masquerade going on right now. she's acting like she's so meek and nonpolitical and nonideological. is that the truth? we'll get back to that when "hardball" comes back. introducing the all new chevy equinox. with an epa estimated 32 miles per gallon. and up to 600 miles between fill ups.
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pat buchanan and eugene robinson. gentlemen, we' been covering these hearings on sotomayor. and it seems to me hearings on sonia sotomayor and it seems almost a masquerade party. she's wearing a mask. i mean, telling us nothing about her sentiments, feelings, attitudes toward the country, what kind of country she wants to live in, what kind of american she feels she is. >> this whole thing has become a set piece. the republican senators questioning her are asking questions that have more to do with their not wanting primary opposition in their next election. you know, be sure to add pressure on the wise latina comments. be sure to press her on the case, on gun rights, on abortion. >> those are the big four. you've hit them. >> and she's giving answers that are as opaque and noncontroversial as possible. >> pat, you were communications director --
>> everyone took a downer. >> i know. it was quinton qualude out there. i shouldn't say that. it was like i have nothing interesting to say. >> they told her, do not say anything controversial. the last thing you want to do is come off -- >> did you ever prep somebody as communications director? >> i've never prepped a supreme court justice. i had left before bork arrived. this is what they're doing. look, you cannot come off the way you've been painted in "the new york times" and elsewhere as a militant latina who believes in ethnic advancement and our group and who's very liberal and believes the courts are where the power is. you have to come off as a very boring mr. alito. >> what did the republicans accomplish? did they simply remind their voters who are losing memory about this what the party believes in? >> this is about obama. the objective is to paint her as she really is, truthfully, just
what i said. a militant liberal latina. >> militant? >> well sure. >> militant? >> what does that mean? i didn't say that. i didn't see that. >> you didn't see that in what she said. >> give me the militant. >> okay. new york state has to give the voting rights to convicted felons imprisoned because otherwise there's a desperate impact because so many hispanics and african-americans are in prisons. that is wild stuff, chris. no republican, no conservative could have done something on the other side and gotten away with that. they told her, look. when you go up there don't -- >> aren't the states getting rid of that felons can't vote? >> judges can't do that. >> okay. >> militant is a ridiculous word to use for sonia sotomayor. there is nothing in her life that's ever remotely militant. remember the '60s? militant? this is a woman who has operated within the system for her entire life, studying by candlelight so
she can pass the -- i mean, you know, going to princeton. perfecting her english. >> reading rumple stiltskin. >> this is the most conventional american story you've ever heard. >> here she is coming out of school. she gets a big scholarship to princeton, gets rolled in there. >> what do you mean, rolled in there? pat, you are very articulate. what does rolled in there mean? >> she is affirmative action. she's brought ahead of a lot of kids. i don't care what it is. >> you don't care what it is. >> she said i'm an affirmative action baby all the way. >> we'll be right back. access www.sprintrelay.com.