tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC January 17, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PST
>> this is "the chris matthews show." [captioning made possible by nbc universal] chris: back to the future. we met them like this. the towering speech in boston seven years ago. it was about america, how exceptional we are, exceptional to make a story like barack obama's true. this week the president took us there again to the heights of hope that uni. he reminded us what american leaders can do. can the spirit of tucson take us forward? ride the high country. can thio cswboy country haev its arguments without villains? can we leave gun play talk at the city limits? and finally, men in the middle?
minnesota's tim pawlenty is running to beat palin and obama. can he be the uniter republicans need to win? let's figure his chances in our 12 for 12 series. hi, i'm chris matthews. nabs's norah o'donnell, cnn's gloria borger and "the national review"'s reihan salam. it's been two years since barack obama was inaugurated. the new president vowed to bring us together. >> on this day we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises that for far too long have strangled our politics. >> in an echo of that same determination from two years ago, the president soared this week in tucson. >> if this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost.
[applause] >> let's make sure it's not on the usual plain of politics and point-scoring and pettyness that drifts away in the next news cycle. chris: it was a big week for the president, andrew. do you think he's changed the climate of political discussion s thi country? >> it's too soon to say, i'm afraid. i hope he has. but i will say this -- that i think he's been remarkably consistent for 2 1/2 years in saying that what he really wants to do is say goodbye to all of that red-blue, poisonous toxic hostility. he want to get to a rather boring, if elevated, dialogue about how we solve our problems. phisoint is that this cultural warfare is preventing us from tackling really important problems. he's done that consistently. he said that consistently. but one small -- i would say 20% of the country just wasn't having it. he was inherently objectionable and illegitimate as a president.
the last two years, i think, has been a battle not between right and left, about you between reason and unreasonableness. chris: a lot of people would point out that he started out like that, as you say, with 20% saying no way. a pretty good number in, the high 60's, said, yeah, this guy is doing ok to start with, and then we had real issues, health care, the stimulus package, financial regulation, a lot of debate out there, and a bad economy. heisback there to where he has a high ceiling of potential support again, back where he was on inauguration day? >> i don't think there's been a turning point that all of a sudden the president's gained more popularity. but what happened this past week is that, if anything, he found his voice again, he found his footing again. and with that speech he was able to reconnect with people about what he promised and what he campaigned on, but also might reminds them of how he didn't succeed in the way that he wanted to succeed. when i listened to him he thought, you know, it sounded like the obama we first were introduced to. but it also reminded me of how
it just didn't succeed the way he wanted it. >> it's not really about him, it's about us. he can only do so much. he can only say these things so often. what happened this week was that he managed to say it in the voice of christina green, of a little child, and put it in the terms of her aspirations for the whole country. and that, i think, was incredibly disarming, if i can use a salient phrase. >> i find the idea that the last couple of years have been a war between the force of reason and unreason, a little unreasonable. it's the kind of idea that president obama was warning us against, and tghly so. i saw on the right from the grass-roots to kind of elite, conservative commentators, a huge outpouring of support for the president's speech, because there are a lot of people that embrace the idea chris: let me ask you about the republicans. this wednesday they're going to bring up health care a week later than they planned. but not long ago they were talking about their number-one
goal wasn't just getting rid of het care, it was erasing the man who put it there, barack obama. they would say in their public discourse, we've got to get rid of this president in the next election. is that tone going to change as they bring up health care? >> yes, i do think the tone will change. members that i've talked to say they're going to move forward with the debate this week, and wednesday there will be a vote on that and there's been a recognition to debate the policy and try and change the tone. so there is recognition that they need to be more civil in congress. however, there has been some objection that the bill is called the job killing health care reform bill. so some have objected to the word "killing," but so far it's going to stay in there. chris: senator mark udall of colorado has suggested that at least for the state of the union, which is coming up on the 25th, i believe that, the members instead of sitting on one side of the aisle or the other, the public should be able to see them all intermingled in
a random seating fashion. >> first of all, there's no rule that says that republicans have to sit on one side and democrat have to sit on the other side. you know, this isn't an orthodox temple with men and women on one side. chris: try breaking that rule. >> this one is a little easier, and this one is just go and sit where you want to sit, and i think people will do that. and -- >> exactly. >> but the question is going to be interesting to see the applause, because it always becomes kind of a sporting event to a certain degree. so it's going to be interesting to see. >> it's a lot more awkward when the person next to you is cheering lustly and you're kinds of grimacing and scowling. chris: let me suggest something. when you get on an elevator, if you stands facing away from the door, people think you're crazy. we have these unwritten rules, you better face that doorway if you're standing on an elevator. let's take a look at what sarah palin said.
several have noted a contrast in tone between the president's speech live in tucson and the video released from sarah palin. >> acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. they begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all he citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio. chris: right on. what did you make of the actual words she spoke and the tone? >> i think she made pretty decent points. there were people who talked about the hateful climate in arizona, the sheriff out there kind of made a lot of statements that were inherently political statements about an unfolding crime that we didn't fully understand. after her tone, there are some who say sarah palin wasn't being very presidential. the whole gestalt of sarah npali is to not be presidential. she's playing a different political game, a longer game, and it's something that's very unsettling to a locality of political professionals, because it seems to work. chris: what did you think of her
performance of that videotape, released from her home? >> i don't think this was the week to play a game, reihan, and i think she's a game player. >> i think that's absolutely right. i think she's a very skilled game player and i think that she did not hit the exact right tone. >> but what she was saying is that they are sick of games as politics, and they do want -- actually, for goodness sake, we have such ertaordinary problems fiscally, primarily n two wars, that playing games a la karl rove and doing performance arlt, which is what this was about her and actually applying the term "blood" to herself as opposed to the people on the street -- >> and the people elevating sarah palin as much as folks in the media have -- >> what about the right? >> the right has a response to what many people see as the undue focus on her, and then people say, well, let's stick up for her. that's exactly what's been going on. >> i spoke to conservative
republicans who admire sarah palin, more establishment republicans who may not admire her as much, an everybody i spoke to said, you know what, this was not a good week for her. chris: let's get to this simple question -- will there be any gun controls passed as a result of the tragedy in tucson? >> no. chris: norah? >> no. >> no. >> no. chris: that is a statement. 50 years ago this coming thursday, j.f.k. was inaugurated our president. you can see the generational changing of the guard that day, the weary war general, who had received a nazr sur ender passing the torch to the navy commander. the weather set the backdrop, cold and crisp, clear and bracing, alpine. >> eight inches of snow descended upon this capital city last night, but a heroic crew has cleaned off pennsylvania avenue and most of the important seats, and they're working on the area around here.
chris: the show is viga, kennedy went without a coat, a sharp contrast to the man he was replacing, bundled in a scarf. and what glamour. americans in the 1950's had grown used to seeing their politicians stiff and in three-piece suits, billowing cigar smoke. in a moment in history, the age of black and white tv had gone tech any color. kennedy's words would match the weather, crisp and clear, olympian, as if on a mountaintop. >> let us go forth to lead the lands we love asking his blessing and his help, but knowing that here on earth god's work must frulely be our own. chris: and the faces celebrating. a day to start things, a day to get this country moving again, just as he had promised 50 years ago. when we come back, it was a week
message as she sees fit. as we sit here, there's no evidence it hurt anybody. chris: we put that to the matthews meter, 12 of our regulars, including norah, and andrew. can they harness the tea party to his established credibility? eight say no, he cannot, four say he can. andrew voted no with the majority, but gloria and nora said he can. you want to start? >> you know, let's let them get started. this is somebody who is a christian conservative, fiscal conservative, managerial experience, pretty even-keeed fellow. so let's see how he plays out in the presidential campaign. chris: do you hink it will excite the back rows? >> not yet.
chris: what about a deliverance? >> look, he can excite the tea party. he'll have to in order to win. but i think a lot of it depends on those who are the bigger celebrities in the field, sarah palin, that they will have to sort of burn out or decide not to run in order for tim pawlenty to get an advantage. but they are concerned about fiscal issues. tim pawlenty has a record on fiscal issues. in the eight years that he was governor of a blue state, growth was only grown by less than 2%. he's got a record. and then he has this appeal of the every man. his father was a truck driver. he has a nice biography. it's something that republicans who don't like palin or gingrich, they're looking for something more like pawlenty. >> this week he goes on a religious right radio station and commits in public to reinstate don't ask/don't tell if he becomes president. that's how desperate he is. the tea party, of course, is not about fiscal issues. they have no plans to balance the budget now or any time in
the future. they are radical christians, right wing group and he is trying to pander to that group. chris: why did he take on palin in that interview? >> he's going for her base with the religious right. >> first of all, i think that's an impressive mischaracterization of the tea party. when you look at the members of the tea party -- >> how can you balance the budget in the tea party? >> i can name you dozens of people, andrew, and i identify with the tea party movement. >> really? you're a tea party member? >> absolutely. >> let's get back to the subject, and i'm happy to do that. when you think about tim pawlenty, as norah pointed out, there is this psychographic divide within the republican coalition right now between working-class folks and the college-educated population. the thing that tim pawlenty said n whehe first announced his bid in 2002, andhe said something to the effect of, i've had a lot of doors slammed in my face and now it's time for me to kick
some of them down. >> that's tea party talk. >> there's something powerful about that, about the idea of someone who's been doubted or questioned. chris: gloria, it's tampa bay, the republican convention, steaming september next year and all the tea party people in the audience are looking for excitement and tim pawlenty walks up to the podium, or mitt romney. do they want a barnburner as a candidate? >> i think they want to win. >> chris: do the tea party think they have won if they put pawlenty or mitt romney in the white house? >> it's hard to say. the tea partyer care about balancing the budget. chris: andrew, will the tea party people get excited about a stayed republican governor? >> if he is extre enough on the social right, yes. that's what he's going to try and do. chris: question for you to start with around the table here. will the attacks or criticism of
sarah palin this week about her blick language encourage or discourage her to runtor president, the criticism as of today? >> she has always been running for president. there is nothing that will deter her. it's her destiny. once you understand that, it's just simply what's going to occur? isn't that how she sees herself? >> i can't divine what sarah i don't have a sarah palin eight ball. but i certainly don't think that she sees herself as a woman of destiny, like a christ-like figure, that's my guess. >> her followers feel that way, by the way. chris: will he -- she be more encouraged to run? >> the truth is there are limitations to sarah palin's strategy for becoming president, if she does have a strategy. i think she has a strategy for gaining a lot of attention and that strategy is going to continue for years. >> i think she has no strategy. i think this week it's not going to be dispositive one way or another in --
>> i think her advisors admit openly that they do short-term strategy. they're not interested in the long term. chris: i wonder what must be her self-recognized lack of information about terms like "blood liable -- libel," not knowing things she ought to know. >> knowing things is qualifying in her view for being president. [laughter] chris: california should be proud. we were the first to ban smoking on airplanes. the first to have smoke-free bars and restaurants. all while saving over $86 billion in health care costs... and over a million lives. we've done a good job. but even if you were born today, you'd still grow up in a world where tobacco kills more people... than aids, drugs, alcohol, murder and car crashes... combined. we have a lot more work to do.
>> tell me something i don't know is brought to you by charles schwab. chris: welcome back. andrew, tell me something i don't know. >> the biggest musical of this spring in new york city on broadway will not be spider-man, the suicidal spiderman, but it will be south park's the book of mormon, a gay mormon going to africa, a parody, it's hilarious. chris: norah. that was a sociometric overlay. your thoughts. >> sarah palin has a very tight-knit loyal group of advisors, but for the first time there was actually serious disagreement about releasing this video and the way she did it. the more conservative group -- parts in her circle of advisors who channel sort of the real sarah palin, about fighting back and fighting back critics sort of won that argument. there were the more political types that thought that her
original statement should stand. >> i've been talking to lots of republicans this week about the sarah palin speech and i think we're going to look back at this week as a turning point when establishment republicans decided that maybe they can start criticizing sarah palin publicly. and there were some folks i talked to who said the person who would be best to do this among rs who are running for president is none other than mike huckabee, and perhaps huckabee ought to think about getting in the race and announcing sooner, rather than later. chris: you were right, by the way. the ones closer in the competition are the ones more likely to hit her. the establishment types don't gain anything, because they want those votes from the general. >> there were 15,000 deaths in mexico relating to the war on the drug cartels, and i believe that in 2012 the key foreign policy issue isn't goi g tobe iraq or afghanistan or iran, it's going to be mexico and the way that violence there is spilling here. chris: in the presidential campaign. >> yes.
say, trining lated from the left, which brings us to our big question this week -- how is the left wing of the democratic party going to react to the president distancing himself from them? andrew? >> with any luck they'll understand that he has pursued a consistent strategy to try and be president of both americas. and this is no different. what this week did was,i think, prove the wisdom of that strategy. if he had been a partisan lefty for the last two years, bashing them, as paul krugman wanted him to do, he wouldn't have had the standing to do what he did that week. >> the argument willing be made that there was -- will be made that there was a lot done for the left and time to gear up for the election and time for the left to fall in line. chris: and they'll buy it? >> probably. >> if you look at the polls, 70% of self-identified liberals say they approve of barack obama. so actually, he's got a problem with the vocal left and the left of the left. but i think a lot of liberals think he's ok. >> if you look at any of the
issues where we would have expected the left to raise a stink, if you look at afghanistan, civil liberties, if you look at an incredibly weak financial reform bill, we heard absolutely nothing. th e left is going to just do pretty much whatever the president wants. chris: wow. [laughter] chris: suc definitive statements. thanks for a great roundtable, andrew sullivan, norah o'donnell, gloria borger and reihan salam. that's the show. thanks for watching. monday we observe, of course, martin luther king's 82nd birthday. if you were alive and remember his historic role in building if you were alive and remember his historic role in building our country to a better place. shift your weight forward onto the left foot. take the right leg up, holding the inner arch of the foot... introducing instant action alerts, only from chase. left arm up... manage your account and help avoid overdrafts
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