tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC November 15, 2009 11:00am-11:30am EST
boss: ah! thank gecko: what's going on, sir? boss: we're slammed. tons of people interested in all the money they could be saving by switching to geico... gecko: yeah, 'course. boss: boy, did we miss you last week. that temp wasn't working out at all. exec: took me all morning but i got those quarterly figures for ... you. (hissing noise, gulping) gecko: aw, he ate all my mints. anncr: geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. [captioning made possible by nbc universal] >> soldiers are dying in afghanistan.
health care is in the waiting room and jobs are disappearing. but the president is still thinking. senators are still talking, and that stimulus isn't exactly stimulating. when are things going to get going in this country? december deadline. has the time gone for all good democrats to come to the aid of their party? what about the president on war, health, and jobs? is it time for him to buy some tickets and take some chances? finally, going rogue, sarah palin couldn't tell katie couric what she reads and now she has a book to sell. the big palin palooza is coming account republicans ride this tiger and avoid getting bit. hi, i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. katty kay, eugene robinson, peggy noonan and michael duffy, first up, the president left the country for a weekend that precious time comes with four 1/2 weeks before the holidays.
that includes thanksgiving and all of the prechristmas parties here in washington. the president hopes to snuff out criticism that he is stuck on the tasks he gave himself. first afghanistan. it has dominated since the end of september. through this past wednesday, president obama has held nine major meetings on the matter. while he has tossed and turned over the war, at least that decision is up to him alone. not so health care. democrats are caught in the great civil war on how to end that battle. nancy pelosi found a three-vote margin to pass the bill out of the house. there is no clear way to the 60 votes they need in the senate. all these months and no clear path to obama's prime goal for the year. mike, that's the question. how is he doing it? >> you get out the old recipe for passing unprecedented legislation, prayer, good luck charms, a visitation by bill clinton this week to rally the troops and old fashioned political muscle applied inside
the democratic party to get this thing passed. it's a hard lift. lots of tests to come. the plan now is to get it through the senate by christmas so they can conference it possibly by state of the union. chris: did the president make a mistake by letting the congress over all these months, you do it, i'll cheerlead. was that a mistake? >> you look back at the summer and he lost six weeks over the course of the summer. we all had that debate about should president been out in front and did what bill clinton did and got out there and laid out something for congress and pushed them. he didn't do that. he let the congress take the lead. it's beginning to look like they are running out of time. we said the deadline was the end of this year. it's amazing how those deadlines are starting to slip. chris: were people smart to think the democratic liberals who are pro choice and for bigger government, were they going to get use himty in the
senate? >> they should have realized in the beginning they were going to meet somewhere in the middle. the democratic party is a big tent party right now. if you have attracted those votes from independents, if you won in all of those contested states and those swing districts, then you're going to have members who are pro life. you're going to have members who are fiscal conservatives. that's the democratic party today. they have to get used to running it that way. >> chris: every four years the democrats meet and write a platform, it's pro choice on abortion rights. the democratic people in this country who vote democratic or pro life. did they have a plan to bring them together? >> i don't know if they had a plan. i'll tell you in a purely political sense for the democratic party to shake off for the first time in 35 years the general understanding that they are the pro choice and you cannot be pro life and be in this party, it hurt the
democratic party. everybody always said it hurt the republicans to be pro life, it hurt the democrats to be rigidly pro choice, to not let pro life people speak at their conventions etc. this is a benefit to the democratic party that pro life people have a serious place at the table at this moment. it's good for them. chris: so many passions on the hill. we hear from the pro choice women especially. they run their whole careers on the issue of being pro choice. now they're being asked to swallow this amendment coming out of the house which says no money goes to subsidize any health care policy which covers abortion. how are they going to resolve this? >> the senate will not pass. it will feel. chris: the abortion ban. >> it won't pass. two things. there aren't as many solidly pro life people in the senate as they are in the house high 30's. secondly, the money in politics
is different in the house than the senate. in the house, it's local and moderate. in the senate, it's national and more liberal and the moderate senators know this. they have a little more margin to defeat it in the senate. peggy is right. when it gets to the conference, if it ever gets to conference, the democrats will have a choice. they will accept the ban in the end. health care is a huge deal to millions and people. abortion, the number of people who have abortions in this country compared to the entire nation in a given year is small. they'll just make a judgment that one is more -- the larger is more. chris: you don't know which way, though? >> i'm guessing they'll take it in the end. >> can you see dianne feinstein or barbara boxer going along with a bill that has an effective ban on abortion? >> the catholic church is going along and continuing to be supportive of the health care plan. >> it's very hard to see some of those liberal women democratic senators saying to their
constituents, i have spent my whole life in this position on this issue and now i'm prepared to vote for a bill which will limit your right to have an abortion. >> the president will be getting into the guts. >> i can't they've a democratic woman in the senate who is not in that position. >> the question will be getting into the guts and trying to find some way that allows a pro choice democrat to say we have maintained the status quo. everybody wants to maintain the status quo. the question is what is that? i think they find a way to -- chris: sometimes they have to solve these problems. they need someone with a propeller on his head to explain this, some accounting principal that protects the federal money on going to abortion and at the same time doesn't seem to ban abortion coverage any more than it's been banned. on the tough question of afghanistan, the one advantage that the president has is he decides. where is he going? >> that's a good question. if you ask me this week, i think
it looks as if he is going toward a more limited augmentation of our troop presence there, not the full 40,000 that general mcchrystal asked for, especially in the wake of the memos from ambassador agen berry who -- eikenberry who says don't give us any more until the karzai government demonstrates that it can perform. what could come out is some sort of phased deployment in which there are benchmarks that perhaps the afghan government has to pass. chris: i have never seen a president of going through an open process of trying to find the right policy that involves the life and death of our soldiers over there. he says now as of this past friday, he said it in japan, i want a plan which will protect american people in this country from terrorism coming from that part of the world and a plan that gets us the hell out of
afghanistan fairly soon. how do do you both? >> maybe he is thinking in part of iraq where we did reach an agreement with the mall i can government to -- maliki government to leave by the year 2011. i think this is an interesting time in this president's history, though. it is going to brand him, it seems to me, this few months in which he has been thinking about afghanistan after talking about the issue with confidence on the campaign trail, he is not -- he doesn't bring that same rock solid confidence to the decision. it seems to me that so much depends on outcome here if his ultimate decision works history will say he was deliberative, calm, he didn't let history force his hand. this is obama. if it doesn't work, if the outcome is unhappy, history will say ditherer. a man who was ambivalent, couldn't make up his mind. it's a really key time.
chris: nobody falls an uncertain trumpet. >> it's a little weird. there is reexamining the assumptions and make the options. to have 95% of the private debate in the white house in the newspapers the next morning or sooner is just strange. it adds uncertainty and i think is worse than the final outcome. people say there are no great options. the real question is whether the president watching this process thinks this system he has got is working for him. a good national security council would have identified this problem in the first month of the administration, maybe before, would have said let's do it once. let's have the conversation privately and let's come out. instead they did it twice and they're having this problem on other fronts in foreign policy. you see this kind of confusion on the middle east and russia. >> the advantage of it being on the front page, there is a more general understanding of the american public of just how complicated this is. there was even six or eight months ago a perception that afghanistan was somehow like
iraq and followed iraq and was simpler than it is. >> i agree. america the past two months debated afghanistan. >> took on the complications of it. >> yes, absorbed, which is to his benefit, which is to obama's benefit. >> it's not a popular war. chris: you made that clear in your column this week. back to health care, we asked two questions, first we asked whether health care indeed will be signed this year. we have asked the same question four times since the spring of this year. it's always been unanimous that it would happen this year. this is staggering. now seven say no, it will not happen this year, five say will. we also asked the meter will delays over afghanistan and health care hurt president obama's image long material and effect how people say long term. seven say it won't. it's close, five say, yes, it's going to hurt him. you're with the five. this decision-making in public, this leaking of points of view
is hurting him? >> yeah. chris: in the long term? >> it makes him look like he doesn't have resolve. he wasn't clear on it. he sounded clear on it during the campaign trail. now it looks like he hasn't come up with a conclusion. i don't see a good way out on afghanistan. i now -- i have changed my position. i thought sending a lot more troops, perhaps you can stabilize the country. i can't see a way they can make that country work. chris: let me ask and finish on the question of the health care bill. it's november. if this thing gets put off until january next year, will there be an election year 2010 that will pass a health care bill with something as strong as a public option in it? >> if it doesn't get done this year, they'll do it in january. chris: will they get a public option? >> it's some device where everybody is covered. chris: you say with a trigger? >> the real health care headline is this -- the president gave
his first year to health care. all the oxygen in the room went to that. that was his agenda, the agenda of the american people was unploilt, the economy, debt and deficit. they were thinking about different things. that's going to hurt the president down the road. chris: will they get a public option if they do it next january? >> i believe he will get it next year and i think it will be a public option, probably trigger. chris: same point? >> i think there is going to be a trigger. the biggest issue for me is they're addressing the cost. if there were two sides of the health care bill, i'm not convinced there is much on the cost side. chris: there is a lot of talk about the new sarah palin book. it's called "going rogue." where did that phrase start with? funny, but it was actually a slur from her critics in the mccain campaign. in the last two weeks of the campaign when palin was independent minded and running
her own show, they said she was going rogue. that was the inspiration for this "saturday night live" bit. tina fey with john mccain as himself. >> listen up, everybody. i'm going rogue right now. so keep your voices down. available now we have a bunch of this t-shirts. [applause] >> just try and wait until after tuesday to wear them, ok? i am not going anywhere. i'm certainly not going back to alaska. if i'm not going to the white house, i'm either running in four years or i'm going to be a white oprah, so i'm good either way. >> what's going on over there, sarah? >> oh, just talking about taxes. chris: wow. when we come back, some say the next month maybe palin's make or break time. she celtics herself as the
chris: welcome back. as you may have seen if you have been watching tv the last couple days, sarah palin's book is out tuesday. her bus tour is going to go to 21 cities in battleground states, states vital to any republican that wants to beat barack obama in 2012. many of her stops on this schedule are in congressional districts she and john mccain careyed last year. she -- carried last year. she kicks off things with oprah winfrey with a pretaped interview. here is a clip. >> the campaign said right on, good, you're showing your independence. this is what america needs to see. it was a good interview. i'm thinking if you thought that was a good interview, i don't know what a bad interview was because i knew it wasn't a good
interview. chris: she was saying it wasn't a defining moment. she is showing some moxie here. what is the image? >> this is sarah palin versus the john mccain campaign. taking the battle straight to them. comes on top of the mccain campaign suggesting that it would be catastrophic if she was the candidate in 2012. i have no idea where sarah palin is headed. i don't know if she has presidential ambitions. she is not acting as if she wants to run for president. this isn't language and positive touring that gets you the presidency. go back to alaska, study hard, make a few heavyweight speeches, that's not the position she is taking. chris: she wouldn't listen to our advice. she doesn't follow the advice. she doesn't go by the usual reduce. is she going to set the pace for the republican nomination coming out of the shoot right now? >> i think she is keeping all of her options open. i think she is on a campaign right now and she loves campaigning. her campaign is for best seller.
her campaign right now is i am the focus of all. and she will keep options open for the future. i think she is a -- as you look at 2012, she is a person in the drama. i don't think she is calling any shots in the drama. right now people are looking at her again and she is talking to them again and trying to make it new. >> i think her campaign is about more than being a best seller. i think it's almost an evita kind of moment in that she is the head of a movement, a palinnist movement, whatever you want to call it. she is the embodiment of not just anger and frustration, but also hope and aspiration of the right, the conservative right that responds to her in a positive way. >> conservatives are all over the place. she has a piece of conservativism, however to have a piece of that is to have a big
piece -- >> it's all about the money. i don't think she is going to run. i think it's all about the brand of palin that is -- chris: you had to put a "time magazine" cover of the candidates, you great mentioner, who are they? >> romney has worked very hard down the scenes down the quiet streets to get things run. huckabee is trying to decide whether he want to continue to be on television or run. >> that cover, you sell twice as many magazines with palin on it. >> i would surely lose that argument. chris: i'm still a political pundit and i think she is going to be the frontrunner. she is going to be number one in the best sellers for weeks. right wingers are doing incredibly well these days. she is the one to beat for the nomination. she is going to win in iowa. after all of the talk about sophistication, what matters is who has the most sparkle, the most excitement and she has it right now. and mitt romney doesn't.
>> look at her unfavorability ratings and look at the poll numbers. she is not up there. chris: evangelicals show up in the iowa caucuses, they're going to decide this election in the republican party, just my view. when we come back, tell me something i don't know. be right back. t of a sunroom as a luxury item, you're not alone. a lot of sunroom owners start out feeling that way. but once they begin using them, betterliving owners see their sunrooms in a whole different light. >> we saw it as a luxury item until you start using it and then it's like you know what, we do need that space. >> i thought more it would be like more special occasions, not that you would be using it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. >> i thought it would just be maybe a dining room table and chairs, or we'd be out here when we had company. we live out here. >> imagine life without a cell phone,
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chris: welcome back. tell me something i don't know. >> chris, there are some bright economic spots around the world, but they are not here in america. g.m. has doubled its sales in china compared to last year. american companies that aren't taking notice of this big consumer market in asia are going to lose out. >> the next big fight over gay marriage is right here in the district of columbia. the city council is going to pass a bill. the catholic church is in opposition and conservative preachers and eventually congress could get involved. >> i think that's going to be a big story in washington. a prediction i think sarah palin's memoir will sell better than tim polenty's auto biography. it has a tick talk on the last gubernatorial run. >> the white house officials are worried about not how many troops are going to afghanistan or how many people will be insured about what the unemployment number is going to be. it's over 10% now.
they do not think it will budge very much for months and might not come down into single digits or middle single digits for several years. that's a real game changing fact. chris: when we come back, the big question, will the new york trial of muhammad prove an explosive issue for the obama administration. be right back.
chris: welcome back. the obama administration announced that khalid sheikh mohammed, the reputed king pin of 9/11 and four other accused terrorists will be tried in federal court in new york. our big question -- will that be an explosive political issue to the obama administration? >> i think it's going to be tricky because it's in new york. they have already floated it with one trial already. that hasn't caused too many ripples. this is a different case. >> it's going to be a big emotional event. it's going to be a political fight as well. >> it's going to be a big mess and people are going to start to say it's 2009. we haven't already taken care of this? they're going to be surprised. >> there are hundreds of others still to be tried, part of the inheritance from the last administration's handling of how to do legal cases. it won't just be k.s.m., go on