tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC April 4, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PDT
[captioning made possible by nbc universal] >> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> the time for change has come. chris: does hope spring eternal? history shows upbeat beats down bate. will the optimism work again? will the winning message of 2012 be hooray for hope or enough of this audacity? how much has the president changed in his two last years? have the attacks gotten to him?
and finally, no comment. skipping the networks and big newspapers, the republicans won -- can they do it again big time in the coming presidential race? welcome to the show. with us today, bob woodard, helene cooper, john heilemann. first up, the audacity of hope. barack obama ran on it. what it is replaced with now? wisdom? >> you ran as somebody who was going to change it and as with your predecessors it ended up changing you. >> it hasn't changed my ideals. when you are campaigning you are liberated to say things
without thinking about how am i really going to practly implement this in >> do you think you were vieve? >> -- naive? >> no, i just think these things are hard to do. chris: bob, what's the before and after on this guy? >> we're going to spend the next two years decoding obama and there are going to be all kinds of views on this. mine is from looking at it up close you've got to consider the time he's president. it's this time where we live in a very dangerous world, the economy and the politics of the country are fragile and so what are people looking for? it's the stewardship role of the president. somebody who is going to be calm and do the sensible thing,n't radical departure, not invied countries or start wars or do something that's off the charts and so in a sense,
the times fit the man. at least it looks that way now. chris: is he more careful now than he was coming in? more prudent? >> yeah. i know bush at the end of his presidency was, when he left, people were saying what's he doing? oh, he's writing his memoirs and recovering from the presidency. because it just takes its toll and obama realizes he's got 84 things to juggle every day and so he is mr. caution the chris: you wrote a mechanic -- heck of a book, game changer. you bored into this guy, every day, and you figured him out. what's changed? >> first the temperament is the same, never too high, never too low. the second is the gray hair. there is a lot more gray hair and the office is clear litigate weighing on him. chris: what is it? going to wars? >> going to funerals at dover. i know that's had a huge
emotional he nect did -- effect on him. but i think the thing that's changed him the most is after the mid terms where he realized he had had to change the way he operated. he had had this very small circle of advisors. he needed new blood and he knew that and that was a huge recognition. chris: and that hoped -- opened him up too, less about him, more about the country. have you picked up on particular changes in him since he was the candidate? >> i don't know if i would say changes since he was a candidate but there are definitely two barack obamas. the barack obama who is a transformative historic figure who sees himself as somebody who wants the entire world to look at him and say see, change is possible. and then there is the president, the barack obama who is looking after the national security, the interests -- you
have the barack obama with the soaring rhetoric standing in front of a stadium of people or in front of protesters in the middle east saying "you can get this one -- done. " then you have the barack obama who is dealing to soaring oil prices and all this. you have to balance both the >> he has made a couple changes. he did go along with tax cuts for the rich which bush wanted. he did say to the governors early this spring r winter, ok, you don't like the individual mandate in the health care bill, come up with something better. so he is opening the door to change to his change. >> absolutely. and he said to john stewart, hey, when we promised change you can believe in, we didn't mean change in 18 months. we meant change you can work for. he's a pragmatist. chris: can he cruise down the
channel with his base? >> probably just enough. i go back to eileen, she's right, the management role of the presidency has overwhelmed the rhetorical and the vix airy because the plgment problems each eye -- day are just intelligence reports coming in, you know, some cabinet officer is unhappy. some personnel. change needs to be made and so forth. it can be debilitating if you don't find a way to delegate and get on cruising speed through it. you can't sit there and say oh, my god, you know, i have to get a new secretary of defense and, you know, wreck yourself in the -- and the whole administration figuring out who to do -- you just need to decide and move on the chris: john, he's been a solo act the first two years. is he going to be more of a team effort? >> i reported a few weeks that a very high-ranking democrat
said he had talked to all the members of the cabinet and many of them had never in the course of two years had a phone call with the president. you could joke around the white house whether he knew the names of the people in the cabinet and people who knowingly laugh. of course he knew them did you -- but it was the obama centrism where it was all about him. they had made a very conscious recognition that they needed to use the cabinet better, employ those people. chris: day to day covering? >> it's so different. the first year in 2009 i remember having a conversation with somebody about why was it we were only seeing obama with rahm and so on. i named a few other cabinet secretaries, why aren't they out there? and this guy looked at me and
said they're not ready for prime time yet. that was such a telling thing. you don't see that any more the chris: 2012. when he comes out and runs again how does he sell the fact that i need four more years and you need four more years of me? is he going to say there are things i haven't done and i'm going to do? or will that scare the center and wright? >> he's shall -- and right? >> he's absolutely got to do that. >> i think he's going to point to landmark legislation, health care, and hope and change is going to morph a lot. he's going to point to things like immigration reform and clean air. chris: you were chuckling at that. you don't think he should do more progressive promises? >> well, loork the american economy is a ticking time bomb. let's face it. you have this deficit commission of senator simpson and erskine bowles and you look
at the detail and this is not partisan. this is raw economics and numbers. we're entering the danger zone and he's going to have to manage that and if that goes off the rails where, you know, the republicans -- chris: but -- >> no, it's management, it's survival politics as it always is. >> chris, i'll tell you what else he's going to do, both because it's good politics and because he actually believes it's true. he's going to campaign as the last bull wark against the extreme republican party. the only way to protect my accomplishments of the first four years is to keep the white house out of the hands of these people and he's going to have things to point at where he's -- chris: you say here, bob, if the republicans go red-dog like in football, right after him and him being the bad guy, got to get rid of him, can he then come out and sort of say i can
inspire this country even under track -- attack? >> well, look, he's got a natural avenue there you a -- but he can't run saying i'll not going to be a crazy republican. you have to have a positive message. people who run for the presidency need to kind of say look, i'm going to use the extraordinary power of this office to do a, b, and c >> if they attack him, does that make it easer? >> -- easier? >> i any obama say positive, optimistic guy. he fundamentally wants the american people to believe and feel like they are part of this lurching, beautiful democracy that we are all moving forward and that's very much how he's going to move forward the next few years. chris: do they think they can win this thing? >> they absolutely do. they're feeling very possive. chris: department the -- despite the numbers he's
getting? >> yes. he made speeches to democratic partisan fundraisers this year. he did not go on the attack. he did not do the usual campaign style. chris: are they happy with the outlook for the candidates? can they beat the field they're looking at this year? >> one thing, well, they're extraordinarily concerned about the economy and the things going on in the middle east that could cause a spike in oil prices that could make it impossible for him to win. but the other is they say you have got to be kidding, our guy has so much more talent in his little finger than any of these and he will run them over. chris: there's a disconnect between the opportunity and what's in the field. before we break, the 2008 campaign captured the imagination of many in the press corps. here is how "saturday night live" handled it.
>> like nearly every of -- every one of us in the news media, the three of us are totally in the tank for more? observe. -- for senator obama. >> i travel around the the country and hear this from every journalist i meet. for too long, people in the country have been hearing just give us the news, not your personal opinion and they're tired of hearing you journalists have to be neutral, you can't openly take sides in a political campaign and they're saying yes, we can. [laughter] yes, we can take sides. yes, we can. [laughter] >> barak? barack? >> bull's-eye. nothing but net. chris: when we come back, we're going to talk about the real-life flip side to what you
chris: welcome back. polls show that only one third of republicans trust what some right of center politicians call the mainstream media. mccain did few print interviews and palin avoided interviews especially after that katie couric thing. well, the republican kd -- candidates are now being urged to avoid interviews close to the election. where did we get this plain -- mainstream media idea?
who cooked it up? >> well, one thing, is -- it came if the right and the left. it starts with the blowingosphere, the rise of that -- blogosphere, the rise of that movement. what they have in their quiver is that at the same time blogging rose, you had a huge problem with the establishment press on things like the iraq war and -- so "the new york times," the washington post -- they were seen as lapcogs do -- lapdogs to the establishment. that became a proof point. chris: helene, with the "new york times" with "the washington post" and "the wall street journal," it's been the place a candidate had to go to make it, to get an interview, to say this person has something to say that's
serious. how do you avoid them, say we're not going to go to those gatekeepers any more, we're just going to sell it on television. >> i think a lot of candidates will absolutely avoid the mainstream media. durability last election john mccain didn't talk to the "new york times" at all. chris: he had reason though, didn't he? [laughter] >> at the same time, the mainstream media will still be doing the stories that drive the agenda. >> look, we're all being tested now. the survival of this so-called mainstream media has to do with quality. if you assemble a bunch of questions and go to a candidate and say look, i'm see, i really want to ask about this and you take them as seriously as they take themselves, and believe me that he -- they all take themselves seriously, and you have done your homework and you are fair-minded and neutral, they are going to engage. when i've done these books on
bush and obama, i send this, i hate to disclose trade craft here but i send in 20-page memos saying this is what i want to ask about. people say well, you're tipping them off. i say yes, i want them to do some homework themselves and be fully engaged. i think you can do that with lots of work and -- but if it's just "we'd like to come in and chat about the news of the day," we'll -- chris: yeah, too wild, too crazy. what about you? >> i think there say big difference between candidates granting interviews to mainstream media and granth them to any media. a coverup of candidates came up in 2011 -- 2010 that relied largely on social networks to spread their message. sharron angle set land speed records -- chris: went viral with the worst stuff. >> yeah. and sarah palin, it didn't
serve her well either. if you're not talking to the media, someone else is determining your voice for you. chris: you might say something do the mainstream media and something else with your di encean hey marcel, watch this! hey marcel, watch this! [ buzzer sounds ] [ cheers and applause ] ♪ hey marcel, watch this!
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chris: welcome back. we're doing something a little different today. asking you to make your predictions for the media 10 years from now. right now we rely on the "new york times," "washington post" and wall street journal as our main news source. 10 years from now will that be true? >> i think we still have to prove ourselves again and -- chris: quality newspapers? >> and let's face it, the distrust of mainstream news media is off the charts. most particularly not on the seaboards of our country but you go in the heartland, the disru69 -- disto do trust, you can -- distrust, you can box it up and panel it. so people in the business are going to say we can prove ourselves again. i think they can. chris: pat? >> the sunday morning crossword, there is only one time you can find that, "the new york times." but in reality, those papers,
they matter. some outlets will be march trusted in 10 years but fundamentally people need a filter. they need to know it's trusted. chris: wow. one for the filter. >> bigtime. chris: you didn't bring me in here to dig my own demise! approximate chris: will they have their day? >> i think absolutely but there will be other sources of physician as -- of information as well. online publications and -- chris: john? >> one of those newspapers won't exist 10 years from now, at least one, possibly more. chris: that's what they've been saying about the television networks for the last years. >> yes, and look at what's happened to them. if you think about how the media landscape has transformed in 10 years, that pace is accelerating. some of them are will exist.
on the positive size -- side, a lot of them are building up their reporting corps and will be shouldering the work. chris: i think the big anchors and papers are less point of view than they have been in a long time. when we come back, the question of the week. mr. cool, calm, and reserved. plus or minus in the next mr. cool, calm, and reserved. plus or minus in the next election?
chris: welcome back. president obama is very cool and calm with that personal reserve. will that help him in the next election, bob woodward? >> i think he's going to need it. it's part of his trademark now and then if there is a political crisis or conflict ex -- he can turn on the heat in an emotional way and get people's attention. but if you're always hot and the stove is already on max, there is nowhere to go. chris: i'm working on that,
bob. [laughter] alex? >> it's not a sprint, it's a marathonon and he said himself, i percent veer, when i want -- persevere, when i want something i wait for it. >> i think it works for him. he's always got that inside game he can turn up when he wants. >> this show specializes in the false choice. i think it can be a positive and a negative for him. if the economy gets worse and he is cool, calm, and collected it's a really big problem the chris: thank you, arlen specter. just kidding. that's the though -- show.