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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  September 22, 2009 5:00pm-6:00pm EDT

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sing ♪ >> we'll have nothing to say about that. yeah, i'll have something to say later. how'd he do on the scoreboard, that's in the "hardball" sideshow. let's start with how president obama is doing. chuck todd is nbc's political director and chief white house correspondent. roger simon writes for politico. gentleman, let's take a look at the first thing. here's president obama with david letterman last night. let's see what we can learn. it's sort of his scorecard he's doing right now. let's listen. >> in terms of the health care, what is it i don't understand about this? >> well, why don't you help me through, dave, where -- what's been puzzling you, lately. >> if i'm not feeling well -- >> right. >> i go to the cbs nurse.
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>> yeah. everybody should have a cbs nurse. and i'm sure the nurse is a wonderful person. >> well, there you go. let's take a look right now with chuck and with roger. here's the latest nbc poll on this question. has the president been doing the right amount of media exposure? i'm not sure people are that sophisticated, but they have an answer. 54%. a majority says, yes, he's got it right. too much, only 34%. only a third. and 9% say too little. well, that's not too many. chuck, can we go by the public's estimate of the president's "q" rating and how well he's doing in terms of media saturation. because it sounds like they like what they're seeing, even though he does all the sunday shows. >> i think this reinforces the point the white house is making, in that this idea of overexposure is a creation of the amtrak corridor. and what i describe as the amtrak corridor, the new york to
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washington crowd. not just the beltway, but the new york crowd and the d.c. crowd who believe that they invented the media. and in many cases, look, the media, 90% of media's created out of those two cities, but the fact is, it is -- i think they look at this and the public obviously gets this stuff from 20 different places. and that's why the white house says it does these things so incrementally. and they feel like they can't just tdo one or two shows and think they're reaching everybody they want to reach. that said, it's my understanding the president himself is a little exhausted from interviews. and i have a feeling he may put the kibosh on more of this, at least in the next couple of weeks. >> roger, what do you think? it seems to me the president has a plot, a strategy. he's carrying it out. no matter what we say here, no matter what these numbers show, though they seem to be to his benefit now, somebody is ramrodding this. somebody in the white house, a group of people are saying to the president, more, more, more. and he's doing it. >> more, absolutely.
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the white house have vacuums. if you don't fill the vacuum with your words and pictures, somebody else will fill pinpoint the bad guys will fill it. stand in the spotlight, suck up the oxygen. you get your side out. the other side will still get their message out, you can't control talk radio and talk tv, but you will at least get more message out, and if david axelrod believes in anything, it's repetition. you repeat and repeat and repeat until people get -- >> so the more -- just to get back to you, chuck, the more that the guys on the other team, it's fair to call them that. people like glenn beck and rush limbaugh and their imitators out there, the more that they beat the war drums, the more this president has to get out there and meet them in the field. is that the feeling? is that what you're saying? >> yes. just look at the facts. when the president wasn't out in front on health care, and this is not about glenn beck or rush
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limbaugh, this is a fact that when he allowed the democrats in congress to lead the charge on health care, the public was confused. congress wasn't taking a leadership role, congressional democrats weren't, let alone your opposition was able to fill the vacuum. so it's not just about dealing with your opposition and filling the -- you want to take away the oxygen from supporters, because, frankly, nancy pelosi, you look at our poll, harry reid, these are not the people that the white house wants to have out in front for the democratic party either. >> i really think this is getting back to high school or grade school in a sense. roger, is this like if the kids are -- the mischievous bad kids are out there spreading the word around you on twitter or online somehow, you've got to get out there and match the story. you've got to get out there and be in their face. >> absolutely. my politician that is attacked and doesn't respond and respond quickly, mike dukakis, john kerry -- >> i just wonder if this is responding, if he's giving us
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good answers to letterman's questions. here's an entertainment show asking entertaining questions, but letterman's in tune. let's see how well he's doing with getting some answers. >> there's an awful lot of misinformation out there that we have to fight through. that's why i have to end up being on the dave letterman show to -- you know. >> but the -- i'll tell you, the one idea i would like to see, these death panels. if we could get them in place immediately. >> well, there's the question. i guess we could do the satire and make fun of the opponent, but a lot of people have in their head right now the notion they're going to have their health care rationed, there will be protocols that keep them from getting organ transplants, there will be encouragement for older people to think about end-of-life decision that won't want to make them. there's a sense that it will
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raise tax money, cost us stuff we don't want to want. here's a new poll, 45% said they approve of the president's job on health care. but 46% said don't. so on the substance -- here's the good news, i suppose, on the republican side. three to one people disapprove what they're pushing. but fortunately for the president, they're not pushing anything. and look at this one, by the way. 37% said it will be the republicans fault if nothing gets done. but i'm not sure that adds up to a victory. if nothing gets done, does that help the president when he gets a big "l" next to his name for his first year in office? >> no. that's why you see this white house saying, we've got to do whatever it takes to get something passed. health care's getting in the way. they can't get energy legislation passed. they're not going to get energy legislation passed this year. because health care's getting in the way. they're struggling on afghanistan. why? health care's getting in the way. they're struggle getting the message across to the country
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that they are focused on trying to create jobs. at least that's what they're saying, but right now that focus is missing. why? because they're focused on health care. so they've got to figure out how to clear the decks. you're right. i think they believe this. when they sign a piece of legislation that is called health care reform and we can debate the -- let's not worry about the details of it, but when it says the words health care reform and the president does that signing ceremony, he will get a small boost in the ratings, but more important, it clears the deck so he can start basically dealing with these other issues, afghanistan, which is getting pushed on him, and that's going to be -- you think the politics of health care are difficult, you haven't seen anything yet when it comes to afghanistan. and then there's -- >> i'm trying to figure out why you're saying this a certain way. but it's disturbing if people get the idea, if i get the idea, it duisturbs me that the president is putting off a life and death situation in afghanistan because he's focused on his pet project, health care. war is always more important
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than anything else, if we have a war going on, he has to make a decision about life and death decisions. are you saying the white house is putting off a decision on our strategic posture in afghanistan? the number of troops he has there until he gets his victory on health care? >> that i'm not saying. i'm saying it is sucking up the oxygen, a political debate in washington, one. it's sucking up the oxygen of the white house's ability to communicate on these other issues. go to afghanistan. the reason of the postponement, about troop levels, at this point, if you're going to debate that point, is because i think, they're in the middle of trying to figure out what is the long-term strategy. everything i understand about what's going in afghanistan, not to get off on a tangent here is this. they're trying to come up with a new set of metrics, trying to redefine the mission, so that when they make the decision to send troops, they can tell some of the folks on the left in congress, look, we have an exit strategy, here it is. the problem is they know they can't go asking for more troops without having some sort of end
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game in place, ready to go. >> we've been there for eight years. a good question. let's go back to this question. i think a lot of people are disturbed when you talk to people. you go out and speak to groups. you hear somebody stand up in a group. maybe these are republicans, but i think they've got a good point. they say, look, the country is worried about the state of economy. and increasingly worried about this war in afghanistan. and you're focusing on this trophy you're trying to win here for health care. why don't you focus on what we care about? isn't this a problem for the president? >> the president can't really take things off the table. events, facts, force issues that he has to deal with. >> the bush administration tried to remove the israeli/palestinian conflict from the front burner. let's ignore it for eight years. it will be fine. >> they did a great job. >> yeah. it gets worse. the president doesn't have a choice. he's got to do health care, because as he says, the status quo is unacceptable. he's got to do the war, get out of iraq. he's got to do something about afghanistan. he's got to do the environment. he's still got to do immigration, which he wants to do. and then i hear the next thing he wants to get to next year is
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tax reform. he's got to do it all. that's why we elect -- or we elected, i think, an activist president. we envisioned him as someone who would be an activist on these things, who would do it all, would take on issues simultaneously. and most -- >> so get used to it. >> absolutely. most people say, don't concentrate on this, concentrate on that. he's going to concentrate on everything. >> roger, chris, i want to make one point. when you look at our poll numbers from 30,000 feet, the public is punishing everybody in washington right now. whether it's the president with lower approval ratings or congress with disastrous approval ratings, and this is both republicans and democrats, i wonder if they are punishing washington for not having the conversation that they're having around the kitchen table, which is jobs, jobs, jobs. >> that's my concern. >> and i do think there's a disconnect between the public and washington. and that's why you're seeing a very anti-washington attitude. >> we're on the same page. the republicans, i noticed a little pullback. are they feeling they're jumping
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the shark, to use a television term, with these crazy town hall meetings. i saw the eric cantor meeting in virginia the other day. ea he's a smart guy. he's smart enough, is he, that it's time to cool it? that this crazy anti-government talk isn't improving anybody's life. the clown show is over. it's better now to look like you're at least hopeful of getting a better health care plan for the country, even if you voted against it. is that the republican assessment right now? based on our polling. >> all of congressional republican talking points shifted about a week ago to, we're for reform too. absolutely. they know that there is sort of that -- you're making progress, you're making progress. and our poll, independents disapprove more of the presidents than approve of him for the very first time. we see shifts of independents in the generic ballot of congress. so they made their case against the democrats right now, so now
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they're going to have to shift into making a case for themselves. i do think the leaders get it, the question is, don't forget, you have your congressional leaders and then you have the activist leaders on talk radio and in the media. >> people on the activist radio are not afraid, because they're not afraid of anything. but at some point, if we have violence in this country against our president, of any form or taelt, people are going to pay for it. the people who have encouraged the craziness. and i get the feeling at some point the responsible grown-ups, people in elected office for 20 or 30 years must be saying to themselves, i don't want to be one of the people that's responsible if one of these loony tunes gets a gun and does something. >> i agree 100%. but the base of the party, the core of the party likes the clown show. this is the energy they haven't seen since november of last year. we were all sitting around talking about how the republican party was through. well, during the summer, we were talking about, gee, look at all these people. >> they're playing with fire. >> they're playing with fire. not with words, so much, as the casual attitude that all of us are taking to people showing up
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at presidential events with firearms. >> i'll say it again -- >> and we're not doing anything about it. >> the best thing the national rifle association could do, and hasn't done it yet, simply make a statement, you have a right to bear arms, don't bring arms to political meetings. they have the leadership to do it, they should do it. >> one final point in our poll. nearly 80% on our poll say they personally like this president. so i think, sometimes, we sort of -- we miss the forest through the trees sometimes. and i know there absolutely is an element that's angry with him out there and maybe has a personal hatred for the guy. but, look, a majority of the country has a personally seems to like this guy. a large majority. >> and that's what he showed on letterman, warm, funny, and human. >> got to go. coming up, the top u.s. general in afghanistan wants more troops. he wants a lot more, apparently. but what's the mission there? and what it going to look like
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if he gets more than 40,000 troops, what do we get done? the tough dilemma right now for president obama and it's coming up here on "hardball," next. you're watching it. national car rental knows i'm picky. so, at national, i go right past the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious! okay. seriously, you choose. go national. go like a pro. chef's meal with pommes frites perhaps a night at the theater with extra special seats additional hotel night, our treat your world in perfect harmony: priceless look for world on your mastercard to get rewards and offers that matter to you. when it comes world on your mastercard to italian sauce, some people prefer this jar. but more people prefer this sauce.
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winner of the blind taste test. the sweet and savory taste of prego. it's in there. coming up, the behind the scenes roll of michelle obama as her husband's chief adviser. this is a hell of a story this author's got.
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♪ love stinks! welcome back to "hardball." president obama's top commander in afghanistan wants a troop buildup of maybe 40,000 troops to protect the local population and beat back the taliban, which is on the march. but some of the president's advisers are balking at a big troop increase and instead are considering a more narrow strategy of just targeting al qaeda in afghanistan and pakistan. so what are the consequences of each plan? frank gaffney, a buddy of ours,
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former assistant secretary of defense during the reagan administration, and also president of the center for security policy. and ron reagan, a radio policy talk show host that does not lead any institute, that i know of. frank, i want you guys to give me your philosophies. we're not getting into the technicalities here tonight. there's two philosophies. i wanted to hear both of them tonight. yours first. your role, your belief of what our role should be in afghanistan, vis-a-vis this apparent call for a big troop buildup. >> i believe, chris, that we are facing a global problem of which the front in afghanistan is just one piece. i think you need to deal with the afghan front as part of that larger story, because you can't afford to lose there. as a result, my assessment is, we're confronting people, not just the al qaeda types, not just the taliban, but lots of folks who embrace something called sharia, what
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authoritative islam believe is imposed on muslim and non-muslim alike. these guys will not stop in afghanistan. they would like to defeat us there. i think we have an obligation to ensure that doesn't happen in afghanistan. but i think we've got to be clear, win, lose, or draw in afghanistan, this war is not going to be over. it is going to be fought on battle fields for afield from afghanistan. it will just be harder if we have cut and run, if we have collapsed, if we have otherwise been ridden out of town on a rail from afghanistan. >> well said. we know that world view, sharia, we're facing the front of sharia rule, a zealous brand of islam and about women and their lack of rights, et cetera, et cetera. now, ron reagan, your view of afghanistan and what our views should be. >> my view is you don't commit american lives to a mission that you can't define. we can't define what victory in afghanistan really is. defeating the taliban, that's
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not why we went there in the first place. let me ask you this question. if on september 12th, let's say, afghan -- the situation in afghanistan was as it is now, in other words, osama bin laden in pakistan, a corrupt but nominally pro-western government in power in kabul and the taliban threatening, would that have been a pretext for us to send troops into afghanistan then? i think not. so we have to ask ourselves the question, why are we still there now? now, frank is absolutely right that this is a global problem. but it doesn't follow that there is a central front, therefore, in afghanistan. the central front is everywhere, if you will. and if we want to deprive al qaeda of a base of operations in afghanistan, well, we might just as well deprive them of base in somalia, yemen, or any other of a number of countries where they are where they are. >> let me go back to frank. the consequences of us pulling out of afghanistan, because general mcchrystal seems to be
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saying, if we don't go in bigger, we might as well leave, because we can't win. so if we pull out, what are the consequences? >> he said, you wanted a counterinsurgency strategy, mr. president, here's what it's going to take. it's more people. we don't follow that advice, and i think we're going to find it very difficult to prevent the sharia adherent types from establishing control over the country. the problem is, there will be both in afghanistan then and in a lot of other places people who are redoubled in their conviction that their triumph is inevitable, that the united states is another super power that they're going to defeat and that ultimately they will succeed in doing what allah has told them, which is imposing this global theocracy over the
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whole world. so i'm concerned that we lose in afghanistan, it doesn't necessarily translate into the call fade, but it is one more step. >> doing something wise in afghanistan is not losing in afghanistan. we've got to be smart about this. we can't be worrying about what people living in caves in pakistan might think of us if we do the intelligent thing here. now, there are things that we can do in afghanistan that don't involve, necessarily, putting a lot more troops in there. for instance, what worked in iraq? well, it was when we started paying and arming tribal war lords there. we can do the same in afghanistan. let's exploit the system that has been in place there for, you know, god knows how many centuries with tribal war lords holding most of the power. if we can convince them that it's in their best interest to get rid of the taliban in their region, the taliban won't be there. as long as they've got the firepower to pull that off, they'll kick the taliban off. >> chris, the actual lesson of iraq was, you buy off guys that
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you can, but you've got to be backstopping that with the presence of your forces there. i think what we're starting to see is those american forces come out, even though we're continuing to try to pay people off, is that things are not going well and they're likely to go at worse. >> the british ruled in afghanistan, were basically massacred. the soviets ruled in afghanistan, and thanks to our support, they were thrown out, thanks to the stingers, et cetera, et cetera. if you would have advised those two powers, would you have advised them to stay, frank? would you have advised them to stay? >> well, i'm not zbets suggesugt we occupy afghanistan, which is what those two countries tried to do. i'm saying we partner up with afghans, but we have to address, no matter how you dress it up, what ron is suggesting is abandoning the place. that will result in the takeover
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of the taliban. >> do you believe karzai was honestly re-elected? >> no. >> but we support a guy over there who stole an election. that's okay with you? >> look, we're not supporting him so clearly anymore. >> you said partner up with him. you just said partner up with him. >> i'm talking about the afghan people, the afghan military -- >> well, the government over there. you just said partner up with karzai, who stole an election. >> no, chris, don't misquote me. >> karzai is the president of the country. >> partner up with the afghan, is my exact statement. >> how do you that without partnering up with their government? >> karzai may or may not be the president of the country much longer. that's not clear right now. >> you're not being clear. >> i'm not talking about backstopping on karzai. i'm talking about the afghan people take responsibility for their security as fast as they can. >> that will take decades. what frank is talking about is nation building and that will take decades. are we going to be there for decades? i don't think so. >> it is security building. and, hey, look, it was your guys
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who were telling us, this was a war of necessity. >> when osama bin laden was there, it was. but he's not anymore. >> he was saying it when he was elected president and bin laden may or may not be. >> first of all, don't call him my guy, because i'm independent. >> i hate to see karzai -- don't. >> come on, chris. >> okay, frank gaffney, who wants to partner up with karzai, although it's not really karzai anymore, he says. we have a problem here, it's called afghanistan. thanks, frank gaffney. thanks, ron reagan. up next, here's a taste of tom delay last night. well, there he is. we'll tell you how the hammer did in the scoring when we come back in the side show. to silence headaches... doctors recommend tylenol...
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back to "hardball."
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time for the "sideshow." first up, bonnie frank breaks me. up he can sing one-liners like a guy with an oozy. he showed up on jay leno's show. >> if you had to have dinner with one of the following conservative commentators, which one would you choose? rush limbaugh, glenn beck, anne coulter. >> i couldn't do yom kippur on this one, huh? >> no. >> i guess of the three, i would take rush limbaugh, because it would be very painful, and he would come with the painkillers, which he always has. >> last thing you said to a president, any president, you wish you could take back. >> this is true. don't worry, mr. clinton, they don't have the guts to impeach you. >> and if you could kick one politician out of office, who would it be? >> the guy who's now the governor of alaska, because i miss sarah palin.
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>> he's so smart. by the way, i'm told that sarah palin's the chief reason that barack obama took south florida. anyway, time for tonight's big number. former house majority leader mr. delay made his debut on "dancing with the stars" last night with a routine set to the music of "wild thing," as in, well, wild thing as you make everything groovy. ♪ ♪ wild thing, you make my heart sing ♪ ♪ you make everything groovy ♪ wild thing ♪ wild thing, i think i love you ♪ ♪ but i want to know for sure >> i have no idea what to say
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anymore. well, this is a dancing competition, so what score did delay earn from the show's judges? 16 out of 30. tom delay nets a 16-point gain out of 30, a solid rookie performance by the hammer man. tonight's big number. now, we're going live to president obama right now. let's go. >> i want to take this opportunity to thank president clinton for his service. in his eight years in office, he helped swing open the doors of opportunity and prosperity to millions of americans. and as the first u.s. president to face the full force of globalization, he worked to share that prosperity with people around the world. from promoting trade to expanding education to forging historic global compact on debt relief. after a lifetime of service, he
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would have been forgiven if he settled for a life of quiet, a life of ease, a life of improved golf scores. my understanding is they have not improved that much since he was in office. but he chose a different path. he asked, what can i do to keep making a difference? and what an extraordinary difference he, working with all of you, have made. for the victims of disaster, from the asian tsunami to hurricane katrina, he's made a difference. for those in need, from parents and children battling hiv/aids to your efforts today on behalf of the people of haiti, he's made a difference. it's no exaggeration. around the world, bill clinton has helped improve and save the lives of millions. that is no exaggeration. >> the coalition between the clintons and barack obama continues. up next, the inside look at
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the marriage, the political partnership of barack and michelle obama and how the first lady has assumed the behind-the-scenes role as the president's most intimate political adviser. we'll talk to the author of the new book, "barack and michelle." announcer: trying to be good to your heart? so is campbell's healthy request soup. low in fat and cholesterol, heart healthy levels of sodium, and taste you'll love.
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stay on the line! whatever your destination, fidelity has the people, guidance, and investments to help you find your way. i'm mike huckman with your cnbc market wrap. traders cashed in on monday's dollar rally, sending the dollar lower, but stocks higher. the dow jones industrials up 51 points, now within shouting distance of a new record, that would be for points gained in any one quarter. the s&p 500 gaining seven points and the nasdaq adding eight points. traders resumed selling on the dollar, sending it to a new one-year low against the euro. they were reacting to word that
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the government will encourage an orderly decline of the dollar at the g-20 meeting this week on the way to a more stable global economy. that news sent investors back into commodities today. gold prices shot up more than $11 today, still over the $1,000 an ounce mark. and oil prices climbed 2.5% to finish around $71.50 a barrel. energy and material stocks also benefited from that. peabody and massy energy both up more than 5% and u.s. steel gaining more than 4.5%. that's it from cnbc, first in business worldwide. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." in a new book, best-selling author christopher anderson goes inside the marriage of the first couple. it's called "barack and michele:
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portrait of an american marriage." welcome. what did you learn, it's different between the clinton marriage and the obama marriage? >> where do i start. a lot of these marriages, i did a book on the kennedys, one on the bushes, one on the bushes. a lot of tension simmering under the surface in the case of the clintons. not so with the obamas. in this case, they're full partners. one doesn't feel smothered or eclipsed by the other. it's a very different situation we have in the white house now. one of their friends told me they love each other, of course, but the most important thing is they respect each other and are proud of the work they're doing. >> sl a division of the spoils like there was with the clintons, where hillary clinton, rightly or wrongly, insisted on a piece of the action, a piece of the clipboards, the staff, et cetera, wanted to run health care as part of a kind of division of power? does michelle insist on any share of power? >> no. it's funny, too, because michelle is as instrumental in his success as a political figure as hillary was in the
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success of bill, maybe more so. but he's very careful to play -- to not look like she's power grabbing at all. she's steering this midway course between laura bush, who had the more tradition role of first lady, and hillary. when she talks about health care now, she's talking about how these problems affected her family. she had one child, sasha, who at the age of 3 months was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with meningitis and for 72 hours, she was in that hospital room with sasha and barack. and it really changed their lives. and of course, her father had ms and she grew up with this problem. and he died, unfortunately, at the age of 55. so she knows all about the health problems that people face in this country. >> can barack still impress his wife? >> oh, yeah. as a matter of fact, you know, valerie jarrett, they're great friends, says there's an element of fear on barack's part, which is good. you know, he doesn't want to do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing.
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he says, she's my co-conspirator, the one person who keeps thing real, and michelle, yeah, i'm the bad ass wife who keeps thing real. in any long-term marriage, in any marriage that's going to last -- >> you're missing my point, chris, i'm trying to be positive, you're talking about bad-ass. i want to know -- this is something every guy out there wants to know the answer to. he wants to know if it's true for himself. can he still impress his wife, do surprising things? can he still win her heart anew? >> well, you know, i think everything he has accomplished -- >> you don't know, do you? >> i would say, my take on it is that she's constantly surprised by what this man has been able to achieve. because she wasn't so sure that it was smart to run for senate in the beginning or smart to run for president. >> what do you think it's like up there in the white house? i was up there once with president bush sr., had us up there for a movie one night, my wife and i.
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what do you think it's like up there on a night? the reagans used to watch tv together. they had a very empty nest sort of marriage, very comfortable. the clintons were always busy doing something. what do you think it's like upstairs in the white house at night? >> i think the obamas, they're close to their children. for the first time in their lives they've been able to spend some time with them. there is that quality, family time. but, sure, they make time for each other. as a matter of fact, he's talked about the fact that every day he makes michelle time, to be with the first lady. they've got marianne robinson upstairs, the grandmother, helping them out with the kids. things are easier and nicer for them. they're really flourishing, their personal relationship as well as his presidency. >> where did the idea that michelle would be a jackie like -- you have to be careful about these things, we're both men, so let's not get into a gender thing, but there's something spectacular about the way that she's presented herself as first lady. certainly, hillary wasn't a close horse, laura bush wasn't.
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beth truman wasn't. jackie was. >> i know what you're saying. i spent some time with jackie, and she was a very impressive woman. but she was, you know, i think michelle is just as stylish, but not, frankly, as cold and aloof and removed. jackie always looked like a deer caught in the headlight ifs you met her at a cocktail party. not so here. this is a woman that people can identify with. she talks about the car pools that she did during the campaign and parent/teacher conferences that they still go to, by the way, to try to portray them as the kind of, in some ways, the most quintessentially, i think, american first family that we've had. which is really saying something. >> how did she transit to being a woman that has a certain mill tans about her, and i don't think it's a bad thing to be a little militant if you're african-american after the history they've been through, their people have been through, but a little bit of a tude, and now it seems to be a much more grand attitude than i've got a point of view that's a little bit upset with this country. when she said things like, the
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first time i'm proud to be an american. when did that -- when her husband began to win primaries and caucuses? >> when this woman went to princeton, her white roommate's mother pulled her daughter out of that room when she learned that michelle was black. constantly, people would say, you sound so articulate, just like a white girl. she had to put up with racism on a personal level and i think she was speaking honestly then. but you're right, i think she's changed her tune now, now that she's seen the country is a position to change. >> see you later. thank you very much. you're a amazing, successful guy. you have a winning streak here. christopher anderson, the book is called "barack and michelle." up next, the role race may be playing in the backlash to obama's health care bill. hey thanks for the window seat. oh please. you got the presentation?
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nissan maxima, the four-door sports car. now get a new nissan maxima for 0% apr financing for 60 months. if barack obama were a white president, i believe virtually 100% of the people who oppose him on health care today would oppose him on health care anyway. so i don't want to say that president carter is wrong about their being some still racial prejudice involved in the opponents of president obama,
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but this fight fight is a fight would exist no matter what the color of his skin is because of the -- look ha happened in '93 and 94 to me? >> welcome back to "hardball." that's the man once called america's first black president, reacting to former president carter saying the overwhelming portion of the animosity directed against barack obama is based on the fact he's an african-american. in an interview with david letterman president obama answered the same question. we'll get to that in "the politics fix." joining me now, "chicago tribune "." bill clinton says health care is health care. the same enemies no matter who's pushing it. >> he's right. just a difference in the way the outrage is expressed. you know, those fines we saw on the mall during the t.e.a. party demonstrations, for example. some of them had racial innuendo to them, you know?
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>> i would call that innuendo. >> what's the real purpose? the purpose is to stick it to the guy in power. you know, if it were george bush, it would be seeing texas jokes of some kind. that's basically what it is i think. >> i don't know what's in and what's out anymore, susan. i read "the new york post ""and they have cartoons about david paterson being blind and it's a joke. i used to think there was a decency line about ethnicity and handicaps. anything can go. if it brings down the other side and you can use race against him, jam him. your thoughts. is bill clinton right? is jimmy carter right? who's right here. >> i guess i think they're both right if that's possible. because it would be naive to think race does not play a part in, of course, some of the opponents of president obama. there are certainly nonracists who oppose president obama and have concerns about the health care plan and as president clinton said, you know, this was
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a pretty fierce battle in 1993 and 1994. there was no question it was going to be a fierce battle this time. >> suppose, my executive producer brought this up and i want to one it by you. suppose barack obama a couple months ago had gone through some kind of epiphany and said, you know what, i think we need to do more to help business. i think this tax break thing is a bad thing. i think we have to kick back a bit. would the people who despice him like him? >> what has he done to -- >> i'm talking about the -- if they agree with him on policy, would they forgive him for being black? >> he's thrown so much meat to the lions. the more he throws the more -- >> if they liked his fore ground, where he was headed? hard question. >> i don't -- i think for those who are motivated by race it wouldn't make a difference, but
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there are people in the middle who think, gee, i think we should do something about health care but i'm worried about the size of cost of this package. i think it's really unfair to paint them all with the same brush. i don't think it does president obama any good to talk about race. that's -- >> you know how you know that? that's what he thinks. here he is on letterman making your point. here he is on letterman last night. let's listen. >> within the last week, couple days ago, jimmy carter started talking about this behavior and was speculating that, perhaps, this unease or poor decorum was because people was rooted in racism. is he on to something there or is that just something to talk about? >> well, first of all, i think it's important to realize that i was actually black before the election.
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so the -- so tsh -- really, this is proof. this is proof. how -- >> how long have you been a black man? we'll be right back with the pages. we have to talk when we get back about this amazing development. massachusetts has got its act together. they're going to give us a new senator. we'll be right back. we'll have 60 democrats when we come back. announcer: "it looks like nothing else on the road right now," proclaims "gq" magazine. did you see that? the interior "positively oozes class," raves "car magazine." "slick and sensuous," boasts "the washington times." "the most striking vw in recent memory," declares-- okay, i get it already. i think we were in a car commercial. ♪ yeah ♪ yeah.
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we're back with "the chicago tribune's" clarence page and "usa today's" susan page. the massachusetts court and the senate up there have made it possible for the governor, the next couple days, to pick a senator to replace the late ted kennedy. now the democrats have 60 votes. >> right. >> it would be mike dukakis, the former governor, presidential nominee. does that mean they're going to start thinking about 60 votes again if they lose a conservative like ben nelson in nebraska and put in olympia snowe and stop talking about this we're going to jam it down the republicans' throats? >> i don't think they stopped thinking of 60 votes. that was a contingency sort of thing. i don't know about robert byrd now, with his health and all accounts. in any case, yeah -- >> is the governor of west virginia a democrat, probably? >> probably, yeah. what fascinates me, though, all
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the anguish in massachusetts over can we change the law back only five years after? would that be a cynical move? who cares. >> since they didn't exactly give away the fact they're politicians, they didn't want mitt romney to pick a senator, now they're happy with duvall patrick, picking a democrat. they got themselves what they want. it took them a while to admit what they do for a living, didn't it? >> you know what, chris, in answer to your question, i think the day of trying to get 60 votes is over. i think they decided they have a 51-vote strategy, a 50-vote strategy and the only question is what took them so long to get there? because it was pretty clear they were not going to be able to put together the kind of stable coalition they could count on for 60 votes. >> you're at 50 -- you're there with ed schultz then. okay. thank you very much. i know what side you're on. susan page, i thank you, your analysis. clarence page, susan page. join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more "hardball." we're joined by former u.s.
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congressman jim traffic cant. time for "the ed show" with the great ed schultz. good evening, americans, welcome to "the ed show" here on msnbc. tonight, darn it, there was a the spoing in washington, d.c., today, somebody saw harry reid talking health care. i love it. reconciliation is on the table. a health care bill written specifically for reconciliation actually exists. now we're getting somewhere. some movement today. the democratic majority leader after being missing in action on the health care debate, i think, went to the senate floor with a warns for the stupids. >> if we can't work this out to do something within the committee structure, then we'll be forced to do the reconciliation. reconciliation bill is there for us. it was put in by the budget committee. if we can't come up with a
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bipartisan bill with the help of a few republicans then we will have to do the -- go the route of reconciliation. >> right. i was a player not a cheerleader but go harry, go. if we use reconciliation we don't need 60 votes. you know that. we don't need a watered-down bill to get the bill nelsons of the world or max baucuss of the world or olympia snowe on board. we only need 51, right? we could have a strong bill with a robust public option which actually is nothing more than guaranteed competition for the private sector. the righties have already been running a pr campaign against reconciliation telling americans that it is an extraordinarily parliamentary procedure in a gross abuse of power. yeah right. they ought to know they used it a number of times, you know, for like tax cuts for the rich back in 2001 and 2003. also to push this oil drilling in alaska that they're never going to get, and, of course, to cut

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