by Chris Matthews
As people who watch Hardball - and you are the good people - know, I have extended a serious tribute over time to men and women who have had the moxie to stand up for their rights. How can I give that coveted Hardball Award to anyone on this planet this week but the people in the streets of Tehran, the hundreds of thousands who have stood out there and demanded that their votes are counted and counted fully. Whether their cause is women's rights, greater freedoms or a freer dialogue with the outside world, this crowd has refused to sit by and accept the results of a presidential election they say was rigged.You can see the crowd there, almost all young adults, flooding the streets and Internet airwarves with signs in English and French. Their audience is the world stage and they've got a rallying cry that's forced 'EVERYONE' to take notice:"I do believe that something has happened in Iran where there is a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures towards the international community that have taken place in the past, and that there are people who want to see greater openness and greater debate and want to see greater democracy." - Barack ObamaOf course, theirs isn't a cause without dangers. At least 10 protestors have already died. Today, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected calls for a new election and warned of a harsh crackdown if the rallies go on. He said,"Street challenge is not acceptable.Well, after that tough speech, Iranians took to their rooftops today crying "God is Great," in apparent defiance of the Ayatollah and his attempts to quell the voices of the demostrations. So here's what I say. I say President Obama may well be right in not taking sides in Iran. But we can and, I believe, I should. Tonight I extend the Hardball Award to those men and women on the steeets and now on the rooftoops, those who continue fight for their vote. They've proven that Democracy's got some 'REAL' appeal to people who have long been denied a say in their government.