Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 05/22/15

Guests: J.M. Berger, Jonathan Allen, Francesca Chambers

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hillary Clinton, winter soldier. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in truly beautiful San Francisco. And today, Hillary Clinton signed up for President Obama`s fight with the Islamic State. Asked about the recent setbacks fighting ISIS, she said she agrees with the president`s policies. Meanwhile, the Republicans signing up to oppose her in 2016 are all competing to show how much they`re like each other. Are they all suiting up for the clown car? Eugene Robinson`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post" and J.M. Berger is a Brookings Institute Fellow and co-author of "ISIS: The State of Terror." When President Obama was asked by "The Atlantic" if we`re losing the war against ISIS, he said, No, I don`t think we`re losing. And I just talked to our CENTCOM commanders and the folks on the ground. We`re eight months into what we`ve always anticipated to be a multi-year campaign." Well, today in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton threw her full weight behind the commander-in-chief. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I basically agree with the policy that we are currently following, and that is American air support is available. American intelligence and surveillance is available. American trainers are trying to undo the damage that was done to the Iraqi army by former prime minister Maliki. This has to be fought by and won by Iraqis. There is no role whatsoever for American soldiers on the ground to go back, other than in the capacity as trainers and advisers. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: There`s so much in that answer, Gene. Give me your sense, unpack it for us, what she was saying there. EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, she`s basically saying no boots on the ground or no combat boots on the ground, and she was more definitive on that than I might have expected her to be. She said she basically agrees with Obama`s policy. That gives her some wiggle room to disagree on some details, or if things really go south, to say, Well, I actually would have done it this slightly different way. But clearly, she has no sort of desire to wade into Iraq and says the Iraqis have to do it. MATTHEWS: J.M., what amazes me -- mostly, politicians -- to generalize -- tend to shift away from something that doesn`t look like it`s working. And right now, it doesn`t look like our policy, our program of going after ISIS is working with the fall of these cities like Palmyra and Mosul and the rest of them. What do you think of the -- what do you think of the president`s policy per se in strategic terms? Do we have a strategy? Do we have a plan, or are we just sort of holding it the best we can? J.M. BERGER, INTELWIRE.COM: I don`t think we have a clear strategy. I think we`re looking to make the optics of having an impact on this, but we`re not really taking an aggressive stand on it. And it`s a complicated equation. A lot of what we do, if we were to be more aggressive with our air strikes, providing air cover, would be assisting the Syrian regime or assisting the Iranian regime. So everything we do has kind of cascading consequences. I think that, you know, certainly, I would agree that we should not be looking to put ground troops into this situation and -- and possibly that we should not be trying to get deeper into it even from the air strikes perspective.   MATTHEWS: Well, what would work against ISIS, anything? BERGER: I think that this is a regional conflict. I think there`s going to be -- unfortunately, that we`re going to have to see a reset of the political systems in the Middle East before we see real change on this. If we`re committed to doing air strikes, however, I think there`s more that we can do. I think we can be more aggressive about, for instance, taking out the roads in between key centers in ISIS territory. We could take out their cell towers. We could take out the electricity -- a lot of stuff we could do without necessarily incurring a lot of civilian casualties. MATTHEWS: Well, while Hillary Clinton and the president are getting together on ISIS policy, such as it is, the Republican Party is offering what you might call a Whitman`s sampler on how to combat ISIS. Try these. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to arm the Kurds and we need to use the Peshmerga as boots on the ground. They`re effective. They`re ready. They`re our close allies. SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would go one step further. I would arm the Kurds, and I would also offer them a homeland. JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I like the that idea Senator Corker is talking about, about pushing -- creating a safe zone for the creation of a Free Syrian Army, which we should have done three years ago, but begin that process. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need so say that our objective is to eliminate Bashar Assad, as well as ISIS in Syria. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Put together a coalition of armed forces from regional governments to confront them on the ground with U.S. special operations support, and then provide them logistical support, intelligence support and the most devastating air support possible, and you will wipe ISIS out! (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: Gene, it strikes me that these guys aren`t that, you know, familiar with what they`re talking about. Fair enough, they`re generalists, these politicians, and when they get into office, assumingly, they`ll get some information. But all of them are saying these nice things about the Kurds. Of course, the Kurds are the least trouble of anybody in the region. They`re the most Western-like people. They`ve always been loyal to us and be reasonable to deal with, so you say how great they are, and then say, Let`s get rid of Bashar Assad. Is McCain still on the neocon wagon here? Does he have to go back and say the same old stuff that the hard right on the neocon front always wants to do, is knock off another Arab government? They always seem to have one in their Pez machine. The next step, their Pez -- let`s knock off one more. Let -- and we`ll get to Syria because we`ve been to Libya and we`ve been to Iraq. Let`s go to one more. And they always got one -- and of course, get -- to get to Iran eventually, to get to the Persians. That`s all they ever want to do! Why is McCain still on that wagon? We`ve learned it doesn`t work. ROBINSON: Well, look, you know, the Assad regime is an odious regime. It`s a brutal regime that uses chemical weapons on its own people -- a horrible man, a horrible government. However, what he`s talking about is what? The invasion of Syria, I imagine. I mean, we`re going to wade in and we`re going to solve the Syrian civil war. And by the way, we`re also going to bring peace to Iraq. I mean, this is -- this is -- this is some sort of weird and dystopian fantasy. And unless you`re talking about marshaling another couple hundred thousand troops and doing another invasion of Iraq in Syria, I mean, how are you possibly going to achieve what John McCain is talking about? MATTHEWS: J.M., it seems like the ideologues who got us into Iraq are continuing on this front. I mean, they`ve brought down regime change to all these countries. Now they`re going for the last. That`s Bashar Assad. How do we fight Bashar Assad and fight ISIS and basically begin to wage war through bombing raids on their nuclear facilities, Iran? I mean, how many fronts do these people want us fighting on, and is it feasible for our -- even our grand army to take on that campaign? BERGER: Well, I think it is a stretch to say that we can do all of these things, or any one of them. I mean, I think that fundamentally, we have an attribution problem in the Middle East. We`ve sort of allowed our allies in the Middle East to rely on us to do the heavy lifting and different kinds of military activities. MATTHEWS: Yes.   BERGER: Ultimately, I think that they`re going to have to take ownership of what`s going on in the region and deal with it themselves. And we can support them as allies, but I think that, you know, our fundamental problem in the Middle East is that we take the blame for everything, and you know, the solution for that is not to stage another invasion. MATTHEWS: Well, J.M., here`s the question. Marco Rubio -- he`s a fairly smart guy, and I keep thinking -- he`s certainly an exciting public speaker. And I go, Wait a minute. Who wouldn`t like to see a grand army of all the Arab nations, all the sort of the reasonable countries -- it`s mostly Sunni, reasonable countries -- all getting together and having a big army like in "Lawrence of Arabia" and raiding (ph) into ISIS and bringing it down. But even back in the Gulf war, when we had people helping us out -- the Arab League was behind us in that with George Bush the first -- they never had a big army of a coalition of Arab countries ever in the field in our behalf. What`s -- what`s the -- what is the precedent for a grand army of all these countries coming in on our side against ISIS? Has it ever been done? BERGER: I don`t think there`s a modern precedent. I`m sorry. ROBINSON: No, I was just going to say T.E. Lawrence. I mean, that`s basically the precedent that I can think of. MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, well, Anthony Quinn was leading one of those armies. Anyway, thank you, J.M. Berger, and thank you, Eugene Robinson. As bad as it looks for the ISIS effort -- anti-ISIS efforts by the president, it doesn`t look like it`s a lot more bigger idea on the other side of how to do it. Coming up -- there`s an old saying, "Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line," and it looks like the 2016 Republican presidential candidates are falling all over each other to fall in line with the party`s right wing, even if it means ditching earlier, more moderate positions. Plus, two big stories on the equality front. First, the polls are closed in Ireland today, and supporters are optimistic they`ve got the votes today to pass an historic referendum legalizing same-sex marriage in Ireland, of all places.   And meanwhile, here at home, the head of the Boy Scouts, former defense secretary Robert Gates, the man who oversaw end of the military`s "Don`t ask, don`t tell" policy, calls for an end to the ban on gay Scout masters. That`s fascinating. And look what happened when a president -- well, President Obama -- joined Twitter this week. His critics came out, too, spewing racist vitriol. That`s been underground, now it`s exposed. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, this is wild. For the first time in Gallup poll history, there are now as many social liberals in this country as there are social conservatives. According to Gallup, 31 percent of American adults say they`re liberal on social issues, 31 percent say they`re conservative. And that`s the highest percentage of social liberals and the lowest percentage of social conservatives since Gallup began asking the question 16 years ago. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you envision a world where with the right penalties and waiting periods and meet the requirements, where those people could get citizenship? GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Sure. Yes. I mean, I think it makes sense. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: Sure. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Wisconsin governor Scott Walker in 2013, when he backed a path to citizenship for people who come to this country illegally. Two years later, now the likely presidential candidate sounds very different. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALKER: I`m not talking about amnesty, and (INAUDIBLE) I said the reason for that is, over time, I think... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you`ve said you supported it. WALKER: And my view has changed. I`m flat-out saying it. Candidates can say that. Sometimes they don`t. I`m saying... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you`ve changed from 2013. WALKER: Absolutely. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Governor Walker denies he`s a flip-flopper. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALKER: A flip would be someone who voted on something and did something different. These are not votes that -- I don`t have any impact in immigration as a governor. I don`t have any impact as a former county official.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Governor Walker`s move to the right on this, on immigration, matches many of his fellow 2016 contenders shifting to the right on education, on immigration, on national security and even on hating Obama. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal once supported Common Core. Now he`s a strong critic. Back in 2013, Jeb Bush told conservatives not to be anti-science. Here he was. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti- worker, and the list goes on and on and on. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And this week, he called people who say climate change is man- made -- those who say it`s man-made are arrogant. (END VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: The climate is changing. I don`t think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. I just don`t -- it`s convoluted. And for the people to say the science has decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It`s this intellectual arrogance that now you can`t have a conversation about it, even. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: In 2016, conformity seems to be key for Republicans. It`s the old patterns, where Democrats fall in love and Republicans are now falling in line.   Well, "The Washington Post`s`" Sean Sullivan wrote about the Republican candidates` lurch to the right today, and David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst. Let me start with David because I know you`ve got cultural views on the Republican Party, as I do. And I just wondered, do you think there`s something in them that says, Well, we all have to like golf and we all have to watch the -- whatever, the Kentucky Derby, together and we all have to dress the same way and we all have say the same phrases we have to use. It`s a very conformist culture. Is that what`s going on here? Or is it, Run for your life, we got to get as far right as possible because the battle this year is over who hates Obama most? DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think you pointed out what we used to call country club Republicans, which Jeb Bush probably used to be the epitome of, and I don`t think that`s the problem here. I think the problem goes back to the Tea Party base. This Tea Party fever has not burned itself out yet in the Republican Party, and I think everyone is coming to the realization, those who are running for president in 2016, that the only way they can win is by, you know, catering or courting or pandering to that part of the party. It was Jeb Bush only a few months ago who said that he might have to lose the primary to win the general. In a lot of ways, that doesn`t make sense. That`s not how the game is played. But basically, he was talking about taking on some of the Tea Party assumptions and ideologies, and he clearly has come to the conclusion that that`s not the way to get the nomination. MATTHEWS: You know, Sean, it seems like everybody in the Republican Party is running for president now is a hawk. You know, they all sound to the right of Netanyahu, if that`s possible. They are all, it seems to me, anti-science because nobody wants to be caught really believing in man-made climate change. They don`t believe in Common Core, any kind of federal role in stating standards for U.S. education, especially in middle school and high school. They don`t seem to want to have any of that. Do they -- are they allowed to disagree anymore, or is that just un- Republican? SEAN SULLIVAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think, on two main issues, I mean, immigration and national security, which you mentioned, the party itself has certainly moved to the right since the last presidential election. I mean, you know, after that election, after Mitt Romney`s loss, there was a lot of talk in Republican circles about, Look, we`ve got to tackle immigration reform. We cannot be doing this poorly among Hispanic voters. But as we saw, that fell apart in Congress. And then you have President Obama taking executive actions on immigration. That enraged the conservative base, and I think you`ve seen Republicans move to the right on that. And we`re seeing something similar on national security, too. The kind of anti-war, war-weary sentiment that we saw a few years ago is simply not there anymore. It`s concerns about the Islamic State, it`s concerns about terrorism have been on the rise.   Each of these Republicans, it seems like, is trying to one up the other one and try to seem like the most hawkish, the most aggressive foreign policy figure in this field. And they`re all trying to stand out. And what -- you know, what we`re seeing is a -- you know, a race to see who can be the most aggressive. And we`re seeing that certainly play out in the rhetoric on the campaign trail. MATTHEWS: Yes. I think the upcoming debates in August and September are going to be examples of anger management -- how angry can you be? Anyway, every Republican contender with the exception of Rand Paul harbors strong hawkish views and all have bashed the president`s diplomatic efforts with Iran and talked tough on going after ISIS militarily. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Leading from behind is not a foreign policy. We need to re-engage with the rest of the world, that our friends know that we`re not just here this week or next, that we`re in it for the long haul, and our enemies need to twitch a little bit. They need to fear us a little bit. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It is heartbreaking to see Iraq fall apart, and the only way I know to defend this nation is for some of our soldiers to go back and partner with the Iraqis to stop ISIL before it`s too late. RUBIO: People ask what should our strategy be on global jihadists and terrorists, I refer them to the movie "Taken." "We will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you." (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) WALKER: We need a president who`s going to back away from that deal in Iran and set the record straight! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: And let there be no doubt Israel will know, as will the whole world, that we are their trusted friend, and the ayatollahs of Iran will know that hell will freeze over before they get a nuclear weapon!   (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anyway, a new poll -- a Pew poll should some light on the atmosphere in the party -- in the Republican Party heading into 2016. Three quarters of Republicans say they want their leaders in Congress to be more confrontational toward President Obama. Among Democrats, it`s a little different. Only 49 percent, slightly less than half, say they want more confrontation. So, it seems to me that the asymmetry in the parties is still there. David, I know the Democratic Party moves left, but the Republican Party seems like it`s become a right-wing party, and they are a right-wing party on the most visceral basis. You have to be seen seething at President Obama, seen that way. CORN: I think asymmetry is a great word to use there, Chris, because I think, for a while now, Democrats, even when they disagree with the president sometimes, you know, don`t mind compromise, don`t mind him trying to reach out to the other side. They didn`t like all the compromises, say, when he tried to pass the stimulus or some the compromises he made to get health care, but they kind of accepted that as the cost of doing business. That`s how we work in a two-party state and a divided government, while the Republican position has increasingly become over the last seven, eight years, not let`s work together, but let`s be more oppositional, more obstructionist than ever. MATTHEWS: Yes. CORN: And that makes it very hard for Jeb Bush or other people or Chris Christie to come out and say, listen, I can get things done. I worked with Democrats. Republican voters doesn`t want to hear this. They want to vent. They want their vote for a primary candidate to be an act of venting against Obama... MATTHEWS: I agree.   CORN: ... who they seem to hate even as much, if not more so, than they did when he came into office. It`s quite remarkable. MATTHEWS: More moderate candidates like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are going to have to share the debate stage with candidates willing to say nearly anything to appeal to the base. How do you do nuance when this is your competition? Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: I have been told that he said we`re living in a gestapo age. What do you mean by that? BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean very much like Nazi Germany. And I know you`re not supposed to say Nazi Germany, but I don`t care about political correctness. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I will tell you, the most important tax reform, we should abolish the IRS. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everything he does is against what Christians stand for, and he`s against the Jews in Israel. The one group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support would be the Muslim community. DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: I heard Jeb Bush the other day, and he was talking about people that come into this country illegally, they do it for love. And I said, say it again. I didn`t get -- that`s one I have never heard of before. (LAUGHTER)   TRUMP: I have a lot. I have heard money. I have heard this. I have heard sex. I have heard everything. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: The one thing I never heard of was love. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Thank you, Sean Sullivan. We will have you back. David Corn, it`s always great. CORN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Up next: Is Hillary Clinton surviving the storm over those Benghazi e-mails? It looks like it. She is. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The U.S. State Department released nearly 300 of Hillary Clinton`s e-mails today. Many were heavily redacted, as is customary with national security issues, when they are involved.   Anyway, Secretary Clinton spoke about the e-mails today while campaigning up in New Hampshire. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m glad that the e- mails are starting to come out. This is something that I have asked to be done, as you know, for a long time, and those releases are beginning. I want people to be able to see all of them, and it is the fact that we have released all of them that have any government relationship whatsoever. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Secretary Clinton said she wants the State Department to expedite the release of more of her e-mails. And joining me right now from New Hampshire, actually Hampton up in New Hampshire, is MSNBC`s Alex Seitz-Wald, who was out on the trail today with Secretary Clinton. Let me ask you generally, do you think she got some answers out, or is it - - what, was it more of this muffling through, where the right ring and other skeptics just keep asking questions, she keeps giving these answers, but it never gets concluded? ALEX SEITZ-WALD, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think with this, Chris, it is never going to have a final conclusion. This is going to fundamentally come down to whether you trust Hillary Clinton or not. If you trust her, you think that she turned over all of the e-mails that were work-related to the State Department like she said and that everything is more or less above board, with maybe a little bit of wiggle room in there. If you don`t trust her, then she never turned over the e-mails, there`s some cover-up going on, and that`s that. For her, this is fundamentally the issue here. She`s been in the public eye for 30 years. People have strongly developed opinions and it`s just difficult for that to change.   MATTHEWS: Well, Secretary Clinton was asked today about her credibility, her very credibility today. Let`s hear her response. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: But do you have a perception problem? Do most Americans -- many Americans don`t believe that you told the truth on Benghazi. CLINTON: Well, you know, I`m going to let the Americans decide that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, letting the Americans decide. Here`s the question, I guess, you know, Alex following this thing. I get e-mail on this from my friends of mine as well. And the question that keeps coming up, was there a consistent line of what happened at Benghazi that came out of the White House, came out of the secretary of state`s office in the days after the horror over there, when those four Americans were killed? Was it consistent? SEITZ-WALD: Well, it certainly was not. We know that the talking points that initially came out, that Susan Rice went on the Sunday shows and said that this was a spontaneous attack that grew out of a demonstration against that anti-Muslim film and then they later changed that and said, no, this was actually a terror attack. And in these e-mails, you can see Hillary Clinton with her aides making sure that she never got on the wrong side of that issue, after it was clarified, that she never said this was a spontaneous issue, she never said it was -- she never blamed it on the attack. MATTHEWS: Yes.   SEITZ-WALD: There`s one of her aides who went back and looked at all her statements to make sure that she was OK on that. On September 27, so two weeks after the attack, and it`s an e-mail that has draft talking points to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and almost the entire thing is redacted. So people are wondering, you know, what was in that e-mail? Why are we not being able to see it? MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, on September 24, three days before that, an e-mail written by her deputy chief of staff outlined her public statement showing concern about how she characterized the attack. It said -- quote -- "You never said spontaneous or characterized the motives. In fact, you were careful in your first statement to say we were assessing motive and method. The way you treated the video in the Libya text was to say that some sought to justify the attack on that basis." Well, that`s a guy going back, but it still leaves open the question, why was Susan Rice the one designated to go on the Sunday shows after that attack, and why wasn`t Hillary Clinton the one to do it, since she was the most -- one most well-positioned to give best estimate of what was going on? SEITZ-WALD: Well, I think this is a question that has been addressed. They say that Hillary Clinton was not available to do the Sunday shows that day. And it was essentially bad luck for Susan Rice to be the one to go out there with the best available talking points at the time. These were talking points that came from the CIA, that were what the administration says was their best understanding of the situation at the time, and that they didn`t realize that the talking points were wrong until later. And, you know, Hillary Clinton essentially dodged a bullet by not being the one to do that. And I have been told by people who have been involved in the process, who were there at the time, that this was pretty standard practice. Somebody would ask for Clinton. If she was unavailable, Susan Rice was the backup. MATTHEWS: Yes, well, it didn`t quite work out well that way. Anyway, Secretary Clinton has agreed to testify publicly before a special committee on Benghazi, and on that point, a group of political insiders from both Iowa and New Hampshire were polled, and 75 percent of Democrats and 58 percent, a majority, of Republicans think it will be beneficial for Secretary Clinton when she testifies on Benghazi. Many of those insiders from both sides say the GOP may be overplaying their political hand by hammering Clinton on Benghazi.   So, Alex, are they beating a dead horse? SEITZ-WALD: Well, I think, you know, definitely Democrats think that, by getting this out here, by getting her in front of the committee, testifying in public, they will set a lot of questions at rest. It`s the last bite of the apple, as one Clinton aide told me today, with these e-mail. There will always be a segment of the conservative base that this will be a live issue and there is nothing Hillary Clinton can do about that to put their fears to rest. But for that very narrow segment of undecided voters or for soft Democrats who they still have to get to the polls, I think they feel pretty confident that they can convince them that there was nothing untoward here. MATTHEWS: OK. Well said. Thank you, Alex Seitz-Wald, up there in New Hampshire. Up next: Big changes could be coming to the Boy Scouts of America, as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the head of the Scouts, wants to lift that ban on gay Scoutmasters. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. President Obama has signed a measure giving lawmakers the chance to review and potentially reject any nuclear deal with Iran. The U.S. and world powers have hammered out a deal framework aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.   The company whose oil pipeline ruptured spilling thousands of gallons of oil in California says it will do everything in its power to make that situation right. And 28 workers were evacuated after a fire broke out on an oil-drilling platform off New Orleans. No injuries have been reported -- back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The president of the Boy Scouts of America, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, yesterday urged the organization to end its ban on gay Scoutmasters. Gates, who oversaw the end of the military`s don`t ask, don`t tell policy back in 2010, addressed the issue in a speech yesterday. And while he was careful not to inflame tensions over the BACON: , he warned that change was inevitable. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT GATES, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it would be. The status quo in our members -- in our movement`s membership standards cannot be sustained. If we wait for the courts to act, we could end up with a broad ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard, including our foundational belief and our duty to God and our focus on serving the specific needs of boys. Waiting for the courts is a gamble with huge stakes. The one thing we cannot do is put our heads in the sand and pretend that this challenge will go away or abate. Quite the opposite is happening. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, this comes as something of a pivot for Gates, who last year said he would not reopen the issue during his tenure as leader of the Scouts, but he cited Indiana`s upcoming religious freedom law and the upcoming Supreme Court decision on gay marriage as factors in his reassessment.   Reaction among Scout leadership has -- was mixed, but, as one observer noted, Gates has a lot of credibility as a leader. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RONDO FEHLBERG, BOY SCOUT LEADER: There were a lot of people that were looking at each other and going, what -- this is not what we expected. But leaders lead. Bob Gates is used to leading. This is not a guy who is used to sitting on the back seat and rubbing his hands and wondering what to do next. He`s a leader, and he`s leading. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I like that guy. Anyway, current policy allows gay Scouts, but bans openly gay adult Scoutmasters. We`re joined right now by the HARDBALL roundtable, NBC News senior politics reporter Perry Bacon, Francesca Chambers, political reporter with "The Daily Mail," and Jonathan Allen of Vox, of Vox. Let me start with -- and everybody jump in on this. Perry, I was in the Scouts for years. I had the time of my life. I`m going to talk about it at the end of the show. I especially liked the chance, as a kid in your early teens, to spend time with adults almost on an equal basis. We had some musicians, some smart intellectual guys. And we would go away and work on Scout camp and things like that as service volunteers. I loved it. So, what do you think this ban possibly going?   PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think Bob Gates is making a logical decision. Like, in reality, like, the way America is headed, saying a person who is gay cannot do anything is just not being tolerated in the future. I think the Supreme Court ruling is moving -- going to move things in a big direction. We will have gay marriage everywhere is my guess in the few weeks. So, I think Bob Gates acknowledging what has happened, and you can`t have anything that looks or seems like discrimination in today`s America. FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, "THE DAILY MAIL": Well, obviously, I have never been in the Boy Scouts of America, but my husband actually did make it to the rank of Eagle Scout. And we have been having this discussion a lot. And one of the points that he made to me is that a lot of Scouts are very conservative, religious conservatives actually, that the Scout meetings are often held in churches. So these are the same people who oppose same-sex marriage in the first place, and it`s because it`s a deeply held religious conviction. So I`m not sure that just because someone like Bob Gates says that they think that they should be able to have gay Scoutmasters, that that is going to sway, again, some of these very religious conservatives who are often involved in the Scouts. MATTHEWS: According to Secretary Gates himself, 70 percent of American Boy Scout troops are sponsored by religious groups. And that`s a fact. Jonathan, this is -- I guess this would require some sort of a deal where local parishes or temples will get to decide. And I wonder how that would work, up to each -- putting it up to each one what the rules are. JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX: It`s a complete morass. And the thing is, it`s rooted in this stupid idea, in this concern that gay Scoutmasters are somehow more likely to pass on being gay to Scouts or to be child molesters, which is just an absurd calumny, an absurd lie that has been perpetrated over the years against gay people. And so it`s good to see the Boy Scouts moving forward. If the U.S. Army can have gay service members openly serving, I don`t understand why the Boy Scouts couldn`t. MATTHEWS: Yes.   Well, this does open up potentially because this -- not necessarily increases the potential, but there are problems with molestation. There was a case several years ago where someone brought the case against the scout leader, and it was the national organization of scouts, Perry, that had to pay. They were the ones with deep pockets. I wonder about that whole question because my church has been a problem. And you also have to ask yourself quite bluntly you don`t have male scout masters of girl scouts. So, there has been a separation of the genders for whatever traditional or real reason it`s been there. PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS: Yes. I think that`s what Gates was talking about. He wants to, you know, have the scouts on their own, wants to keep the traditional -- the way the process works, where the genders are separate. He wants to keep that in place, but he doesn`t want to be accused of discriminating against gays. So, he`s saying, if we lead on this issue first and we allow gay scoutmasters, it won`t change the rest of the boy scouts and keep it the way it is. And I think there`s some logic to that`s. If they make this change now, they won`t have to go to court over it and that will save them from a lot of lawsuits that might more broadly change the Boy Scouts. MATTHEWS: Francesca, your thoughts on that, you`ll seen that with the Roman Catholic Church, the amazing costs encumbered by priests who misused their authority over young boys. It`s a fact. FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, THE DAILY MAIL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think we`ll have to actually look to see what happens with the Supreme Court ruling that`s coming down in a couple of weeks. If the Supreme Court decides that gay marriage is constitutional, you know, it essentially becomes the law of the land, then I think the Boy Scouts are very much going to be under the gun to start changing their laws. If the Supreme Court doesn`t rule that way, then it definitely gives them several more years. JONATHAN ALLEN, VICE CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it`s clear, Chris, that the Boy Scouts should be discriminating against child molesters, not discriminating against people who are gay. MATTHEWS: I know. I agree. In fact, I think that so much of life comes down to not what your orientation is but how responsible you are as an adult. Anyway, the roundtable staying with us. And up next, President Obama got on Twitter this week and the haters were right there with him. This is disgusting, but it`s a portion of our population. What you can do in the dark people do, and apparently these people are going to get caught by the Secret Service.   This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: The polls are closed in Ireland where voters could make history by becoming the first country to approve same-sex marriage through public referendum. NBC`s chief global correspondent Bill Neely is in Dublin with the latest -- Bill. BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, hello. The polls have just closed here in Ireland, and all the indications are that there has been a very, very big turnout for what is already an historic referendum. Ireland is the first country in the world to put the issue of same-sex marriage to its entire population, and there is a feeling here, especially among young people, that Ireland is about to take another historic step and allow gay marriage to be written into the Irish constitution. Ireland has had referenda in the past on social issues, sometimes very bitter and divisive social issues such as divorce and abortion but never before has any country put it to the entire population on gay marriage. Ireland was an extremely conservative country 30 years ago, a country where divorce, where abortion, where homosexuality was illegal. Those things began to change in the 1990s, and the Catholic Church began to lose a lot of its power as well, due largely to child sex scandals which involve Catholic priests. A lot of people turn their backs on the church, turn their backs on the church teaching, and although the church today has been there for the last week has been arcing for a no vote, no to same-sex marriage, a lot of people simply aren`t listening to the church anymore. Pews are empty, and they are deciding that Ireland should be a more liberal country. If the opinion polls are to be believed, and we know on both sides of the Atlantic, opinion polls have to be taken with a huge pinch of salt, but they were predicting before this vote that there would be a solid vote to allow gay marriage. Back to you, Chris. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Bill Neely, over in Dublin. We`re going to get those results from Ireland tomorrow. And we`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable, Perry, Francesca and Jonathan. Well, President Barack Obama officially joined Twitter as we know on Monday and quickly set a world record by attaining 1 million followers within five hours. His Twitter debut also enlisted an onslaught of hateful reaction from his enemies. Among the most hostile were tweets containing racial epithets, as well as not-so-subtle threats to the president`s life. And here`s an example: "The New York Times" pointed out today, quote, "One person posted a doctored image of Mr. Obama`s famous campaign poster, instead showing the president with a head in his noose, his eyes close and his neck appearing broken as he had been lynched, as if he had been lynched instead of the word "hope" in capital letters as it appeared on campaign posters the doctored image had the word rope. It`s like the kind of gross racist graffiti you often find on a wall of men`s rooms. Anyway, while trolling is an invariably downside of the Internet, where users can hide behind the veil of anonymity, the vitriol here was inflammatory enough to warrant a question at yesterday`s White House briefing. Here`s what Press Secretary Josh Earnest had to say about this stuff. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Those kinds of images and that kind of language is, you know, all too common on the Internet. I`m sure that some of you guys see that on your Twitter feeds as well and my guess is we spend a lot of time trying to block those kinds of message, we probably spend a lot of time blocking people on the Internet. So, again, I -- I`ll let the secret service speak to what sort of threat they may -- how they assess these threats and how seriously they need to take them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, as "The Washington Post" reports, not only does the Secret Service already monitor Twitter for threats, but the White House is archiving each and everything that POTUS, actually the president, twitters say, actually people who respond to them. Anyway, I want to go back to Francesca Chambers on this. Francesca and everybody else here -- you know, I think when you watch C-SPAN, Steve Scully, anytime there`s an unfiltered way for people to talk, they say the most amazing things. They can be anti-Semitic, they can be anti-black. It`s amazing what the certain segment of this country is quite willing to have its voice say. CHAMBERS: Well, and it`s not just the president. It`s any elected leader. Heck, it`s even people in the media, people on television.   I honestly cannot say on air some of the things that have been said about me on Twitter after appearances like this one. I mean, I myself have had some really, really horrible things said by people who don`t -- you don`t even know me. So, I just think there is a huge segment of the population out there who is going to say these sorts of things about people regardless of whether it`s the president and it`s discouraging and, you know, it`s awful. ALLEN: For social media is such a hateful place sometimes, people are so angry and, you know, I don`t -- I don`t personally pretend to understand it. I think what Josh Earnest was saying today is a little bit reminiscent of the 2008 campaign. I think the Obama campaign was getting hit with a lot of -- with racism and some vandalism and campaign offices. They tried to play it down temporarily. I think that`s probably the right thing to do. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Jonathan, what are trolls? I want you to tell me what a troll is. Is that the kind of person that waits for, you know, Gene Robinson or somebody to write a column, or you to write a column and then they just immediately go in and attack whatever comes up, just to get on that list of comments? Just to use the person`s thoughtful column to get their face in there? ALLEN: That`s right. A troll is somebody who just runs around trying to disrupt other folks, trying to mess up what they`ve done, trying to -- well, to troll them because it`s now a verb. MATTHEWS: Perry, let me ask you about the first lady. When she`s appeared lately, and said things down at Tuskegee about her concern is probably a stronger word for it about this racism that`s so redolent in the country. I wonder if it`s because she knows about the Secret Service information about the president, if she knows what warnings they`ve gotten, what threats they`ve gotten, that have been seen now in these Twitter comments, these tweets? BACON: Yes, I think they do know. I remember doing the `08 campaign. Michelle Obama had to reassure people who were worried that the president would get shot if he ran for president the way MLK was. I know she told people security is good, he`s going to be safe. That is true and that is something black people were particularly worried about. I don`t want to overemphasize. I mean, President Obama has now won two elections. He`s one of the most admired people in the country. There`s a small fraction of people saying these really bad things, I would say, with a much larger -- we`ve seen a great racial change in the last six years that have been very positive, accepting having a black president. So, I don`t want to overemphasize a few tweets over this much bigger, broader positive change. CHAMBERS: Well, I think there`s also so much attention placed on the president, you know, and I think that`s part of the season that we`re seeing this. Again, it`s not that this has happened to other politicians or other people in the media, you know, public figures on a daily basis at the same, I would say, level of vitriol. I think people are just noticing this more because it is the president of the United States. MATTHEWS: Do people ever do it to you in person, Francesca, because of your appearances on TV, or is it always the secret messaging?   CHAMBERS: No, these people would not say these things. That`s the point. Because they`re able to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, they`re able to say all kinds of really hateful things. Now, sometimes actually I respond to some of these things, you know, try to make them feel bad about it. And it`s kind of interesting sometimes to see the responses back. Sometimes, people will even apologize and say, oh, gosh, I didn`t expect you to respond. That`s such kind of a rare. Sometimes they actually do. ALLEN: I don`t think anybody would have the courage to go say that to Francesca`s face. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I got to say, Jonathan, over the years, I`ve had -- I`ve had people say things to me that very much reflect their secret motives and hatreds. So, they are -- start a fight of some kind. But I don`t think anybody is afraid, but there`s an anger out here. I want to finish up here, Perry. There`s an anger. You put the anger over just the way people are today. They`re angry about something. Maybe it`s the middle class squeeze or something economic. But you put together angry like they`ve been cut off the highway in some way and they go after their ethnicity. It seems to be a compounding thing for these trolls. BACON: And they`re having a good life and the Internet empowers them in a way that -- you know, Twitter has only existed for seven or eight years. So, you really have this anonymity one and you have this anger, too, and you have people sit at their computers who would never come up to Obama`s face or anybody else`s face and say these things. Now, the courage behind their computer, they`re showing the courage of their mom`s basement is what we`re seeing. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Yes, I know, the old way of communicating -- (CROSSTALK)   CHAMBERS: I was going to say, could you imagine someone saying this to someone`s face, to the president`s face. Could you imagine if these people actually met the president? They would not say this to their face. MATTHEWS: They used to send them out in these thin envelopes with no return address on them, like the airmail address, really thin envelopes. They would scratch it out in handwriting and it wasn`t very good handwriting. They would say then what they thought. I used to get them in the old days, anyway, when I was writing a column. Anyway, thank you, Perry Bacon, Francesca Chambers and Jonathan Allen. Great to have you on. Have a nice weekend, everybody. Let me finish, by the way, tonight with the joy of scouting. Boy Scout really is a good thing. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with Bob Gates` push to end the ban on gay scout masters. I hope we can work this out in a way that keeps scouting a vital force in this country. Some of my best times growing up were in treasure island, the historic Boy Scout camp on the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Those weeks up there fill me with memories of parade ground, of fun and games in the dining hall, of canoe trips and campfires and father`s night when the dads came up to visit. I had a special advantage in those years as a member of the Order of the Arrow, the Scout honor society and service organization. I got to spend weekends working at camps during the off season. It was a chance for older scouts like us to spend time as equals with young men who had kept up their interest in scouting. There was nothing like good work to bring people together. I`m hoping the men of goodwill will find a way to keep scouting alive and bring good men in the door to keep going what was for me a great part of growing up, Scout`s honor. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.   THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. 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