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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 09/09/15

Guests: Dana Milbank, Kathleen Parker, Mark Shriver, April Ryan, AnneGearan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Cruz, Trump and Palin -- a big day for the war hawks. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. There they were today, out in the hot sun before the U.S. Capitol, a pageant of the Trump-led Tea Party. It was one last stab at the Iranian nuclear agreement, one last bellow from the war hawks, all this at (ph) doomsday after yesterday`s reunion here in Washington of the gung-ho folks who brought us the 2003 Iraq war that left more than 200,000 dead, a Mideast in chaos and countless refugees heading to Europe and beyond. Do I have to tell you who was at that get-together of hawks? Do I? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major Strasser has been shot. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Round up the usual suspects. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: "Round up the usual suspects." And there they were yesterday, the big names -- the names who brought us the worst foreign policy action since Lyndon Johnson`s Vietnam war build-up. Let`s call the roll -- Dick Cheney, his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz -- all back together for another big war fest, cheering American boys to the front from the safety of the op-ed pages, making the same warning claims that took us into Baghdad, blew apart that country, and with it the region. You ask, Have they no shame? I don`t think so. The big show today was in Washington for a Tea Party rally opposing the nuclear deal with Iran. Ted Cruz told the crowd the crowd the deal is catastrophic and the single greatest national security threat facing America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If this deal goes through, we know to an absolute certainty people will die! Americans will die! Israelis will die! Europeans will die! We`re now talking about giving the Ayatollah Khamenei, a theocratic homicidal maniac who hates America every bit as much as bin Laden did -- giving him $100 billion to carry out his murderous plans! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the last time Senator Cruz was certain of anything was when he supported the Iraq war that cost the lives of 200,000, including 4,000 Americans and many, many more wounded. Anyway, Donald Trump -- well, here was Donald Trump today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They rip us off! They take our money! They make us look like fools! They don`t want Israel to survive! They will not let Israel survive with incompetent leadership like we have right now! Israel will not survive!   We are led by very, very stupid people! We lose everywhere! We lose militarily! We can`t beat ISIS. Give me a break! It will change! We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Getting a little tired, isn`t it? And then there was Sarah Palin, who ignoring the fine points, called the deal with Iran a betrayal of America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: Of course Obama`s deal is insane to anyone but Iranian regime sympathizers! Our sons and daughters sacrificed in Iraq, still in Iraq, and they`re there to disempower the extremists in their neighboring crazyland, Iran! Yet the white flag was waved at the table in these negotiations because Obama had a squishy objective to start with! Only in an Orwellian Obama world full of sprinkly fairy dust blown from atop his unicorn, as he`s peeking through a really pretty pink kaleidoscope, would he ever see victory or safety for America or Israel in this treaty! This treaty will not bring peace. You don`t reward terrorism! You kill it! (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: Nominated by John McCain and the Republican Party for vice president of the United States so recently. I`m joined right now today by "The Washington Post`s" Dana Milbank, "Mother Jones`s" great David Corn, and MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid, who`s up in New York, the author of a great new book I was glad to blurb. It was my honor to blurb a great book about -- well, we`re going to have a whole big discussion about this book in a couple days because it`s a very important book. You amazed me with your discussion of race in America and how it seems to always be right there at the center... JOY REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. MATTHEWS: ... "Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons and the Racial Divide," a real piece of history writing, and we`ll get to it later. REID: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Tonight, however we have to talk about what happened today in Washington. It was all over the place today. Dana, you did an amazing description last night of the usual suspects. I mean, there was Claude Rains in "Casablanca." Talk about "the usual suspects." These people have no shame! Cheney wants us to go to war again! He just does! DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, the terrific thing, Chris, about this is the timing. So at just the moment where it`s very obvious that they have enough votes to -- to... MATTHEWS: It`s over. MILBANK: ... protect the -- it`s over. So what do you want to do at that point if you`re opposed to the deal? Well, you really want to bring in Dick Cheney to start raising questions about the intelligence... (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: And Scooter Libby! And Scooter Libby for veracitude (ph)! MILBANK: Right. He`s literally questioning President Obama`s veracity and his use of the intelligence. Now, maybe you can... MATTHEWS: Bring in a guy who was prosecuted and convicted of perjury to make your case! Why not? MILBANK: And being applauded by the architect of the war, Paul Wolfowitz, from the front row. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: These guys -- where`s the shame? DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that`s just it. I mean, you would feel that even if they thought they were right, they would at least do what George W. Bush does, go and paint some paintings... (LAUGHTER) CORN: ... and tend to your gardens. I mean, if you were a surgeon and you lost, you know, a couple hundred thousand patients... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: After you said they were going to be fine.   CORN: ... at some point, you say, Well, we`re not going to let you even near the operating table again! I mean, there`s no reason anyone should listen to these guys. And you know, there is always a policy debate to be had about anything, but if you look how the Republicans and the right, either by bringing up Dick Cheney or focusing on Sarah Palin -- they`re just totally not in the real world when it comes to discussing serious matters. It drives people like Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft absolutely bananas. MATTHEWS: Well, those people have brains and consciences and these guys don`t. The usual suspects were on hand yesterday, Joy, at the oddly named American Enterprise Institute -- has nothing to do with American enterprise or anything -- including Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, the list (ph) of their leader -- the leader of the government-in-exile, I suppose, Dick Cheney -- and that`s how you pronounce it, ask him -- trashed the nuclear deal. Let`s watch him in action. These are the boys that brought us Iraq. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With the removal of restrictions on Iran`s ballistic missile program, this agreement will give Iran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland. It guarantees that in less time than has passed since 9/11, a regime with "Death to America" as a pillar of its national policy will have the ability and the material to produce an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Charles Krauthammer has written that it took Nazi Germany seven years to kill six million Jews. It would take a nuclear-armed Iran one day. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: The same language he used back when he sold us on the Iraq war exactly, the same confidence, the same terminology, terms like "homeland" - - there`s a word the neocons just love -- and WMD and regime, as in regime change. Anyway, Cheney`s fear marching (sic) and warnings of nuclear threats were reminders, of course, of his performance before the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003.   Here he was, as he is now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHENEY: ... he has, indeed, stepped up his capacity to produce and deliver biological weapons, that he has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon. We know he`s been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. We`ve spent time looking at that relationship between Iraq on the one hand and the al Qaeda organization on the other. and there has been reporting that suggests that there have been a number of contacts over the years. TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties? CHENEY: Well, I don`t think it`s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Oh! (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Joy, he has a wonderful way there -- I remember Gavin Debecker (ph) talked about how people who mug you have that sort of manner. I shouldn`t compare the two, but I can`t help it, that bonding -- Well, as you know, Tim, or, As we know -- that wonderful way of embracing you and including you in what he`s lying to you about. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: I mean, it is -- I shouldn`t say lying, but (INAUDIBLE) and making you part of this little team. REID: Yes. MATTHEWS: You know? So we`re all wrong together, but no, we weren`t all wrong. REID: That`s right. MATTHEWS: We were right who opposed the war. REID: Yes. MATTHEWS: It wasn`t an argument of fact. They were simply saying stuff they had no basis for saying about them having a nuclear weapon. And there you heard Cheney say it, not a program, they have the weapons. REID: That`s right. MATTHEWS: And he had no reason -- there was nothing in the national intelligence estimates to say that. He cooked that completely out of his right-wing head. Go ahead. REID: And remember that they said we didn`t even have to wait for a smoking gun because, in their view, the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud. They threatened the United States with... (CROSSTALK)   REID: ... with an impossibility, right. And the irony is, is that those of us -- and I`m with you on this, Chris. The word is "shame." They don`t have it. Because one of the key arguments against invading Iraq is that it would empower no one in the region more than Iran. How do you empower Iran? By lopping off the Ba`athist Sunni secular regime... MATTHEWS: Thank you! REID: ... and handing the country over the Shi`ites, whose neighbor and bestest friend is Iran! So both ISIS... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... we`re sitting in Tel Aviv right now. We`ve got a really great country fighting our war for us between us and Iran. REID: Yes. MATTHEWS: It`s called Iraq. REID: It`s called Iraq. MATTHEWS: It`s Sunni-led. It`s Ba`athist. It`s not religious. It`s not crazy Islamists. It`s just a good secular, you know, dictatorship... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: ... and is willing to fight Iran for you.   REID: Right. And not only that... MATTHEWS: So let`s get rid of that, so there`s an open run so they can come racing toward us... REID: And there was. CORN: And of course, there was no connection between Iran (sic) and al Qaeda. You know, so... MATTHEWS: Oh, you mean the Prague meeting didn`t happen? (CROSSTALK) CORN: I mean Iraq and al Qaeda. It didn`t happen, but yet these guys for some reason -- and Paul Wolfowitz, who we saw in the clip, foremost among them -- kept saying before 9/11, Al Qaeda`s not the problem. It`s really Iraq. It`s Saddam Hussein. And he`s the one -- if there is an al Qaeda problem... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And do you know when he first said that? Sitting in the meeting room in Camp David right after the attack. CORN: Well, even... MATTHEWS: He started pushing...   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... Iraq right away. CORN: In the first weeks of the Bush administration... MATTHEWS: OK... CORN: ... Richard Clark and others were saying... MATTHEWS: OK... (CROSSTALK) CORN: He said, No, we do Iraq. MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to today`s fear-making (ph). You pointed out to me just a minute ago that Paul Wolfowitz is working for the mild-mannered Jeb Bush. That`s scary enough. There was some fear -- more fear-mongering today from Ted Cruz at the rally today, saying the deal could lead to tens of millions of Americans dead. When did he just arrive? He was back in the last war that killed so many people. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, the single greatest risk is they would take that nuclear weapon, they would put it on a ship anywhere in the Atlantic and they would fire it up straight into the air, into the atmosphere! They would set off what`s called an EMP, an electromagnetic pulse! It would down the electrical grid on the entire Eastern seaboard and kill tens of millions of Americans! We can stop that! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Who`s writing this stuff? He didn`t think of that. REID: Alex Jones. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Who writes this stuff? CORN: There`s a guy named Frank Gaffney, who was a Reagan... MATTHEWS: Oh, the Irish neocon. (CROSSTALK) CORN: ... who spoke immediately before... (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: ... spoke right before him... CORN: For the last five, ten years... MATTHEWS: He thinks we`re under Sharia law already! CORN: Yes, he`s been -- yes, and he thinks the Muslim Brotherhood has invaded the government. In fact, he thinks Grover Norquist... MATTHEWS: Our government? CORN: Our government. He thinks Grover Norquist is a Muslim Brotherhood agent. I mean, it`s just crazy! (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Shouldn`t there be a saliva test before you go on television? (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MILBANK: ... give Cruz some credit for using some new tactic, as opposed to the old tactic of saying, You know, it`s going to be a mushroom cloud, or, Oh, no, Iran is now in cahoots with al Qaeda, just as Iraq was in cahoots with al Qaeda before.   CORN: He is upping the ante here. I mean, he`s trying to be even more dramatic... MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you a question about it because we`re all into politics here. Joy, you first because -- Dana, you got me started on this by a brilliant column today in "The Post" about this, about (ph) yesterday (INAUDIBLE) It`s the -- it`s the -- it`s a -- what is it called, ``The Gang`s All Here.`` It`s like the old Lindsey (ph) and Kraus (ph) play about the corrupt administration. They`re all back here! They`re all back! Why did they choose to have this meeting yesterday and today after the game is over? Because the Democrats have the 42 senators. They can actually stop -- they can filibuster this thing. MILBANK: I mean, look, Dick Cheney and his crowd are frequently wrong, but never in doubt. So they`re happy to have this... MATTHEWS: Why so late? MILBANK: I think both of these things were scheduled by accident. The AEI thing was supposed to be promoting Dick Cheney`s book with his daughter. It was not specifically about Iran. Today`s event was scheduled back in July, when they thought there was going to be a big hullabaloo when Congress came back because they didn`t realize the whole thing would be over already. So it`s it`s all over but the shouting. But one thing these do really well is the shouting part. CORN: But that`s -- but it`s also... MATTHEWS: But they`re late! CORN: It`s also... (CROSSTALK)   CORN: It`s all over but the complaining. This is going to be the foreign policy equivalent of "Obama care." It`s over, it`s done, they`ve lost. But they`re going to come back again and again to get the base riled up... MATTHEWS: OK... CORN: ... by saying... MATTHEWS: I want to know who... (CROSSTALK) CORN: ... we got to do something about that. MATTHEWS: Who was dumb enough to spend all that money on those full-page in "The New York Times" yesterday, two -- they must cost $100,000 apiece, those pages. CORN: Sheldon Adelson... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: But it`s so late! ( CROSSTALK)   REID: It`s late, but there`s still a neocon contingent within the Republican Party, and you still have establishment characters like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio who are willing to run on a neocon line. MATTHEWS: I know they are. REID: And the fact that they were absolutely wrong means nothing. And I think that we have to watch out because there is all this Beltway adoration of Marco Rubio, but he`s just a younger version of these same neocons, saying exactly the same thing. This crowd is not going away. And even though ISIS can be laid directly at their doorstep -- something called al Qaeda in Iraq did not exist until we invaded Iraq. Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the grand ayatollah of Iraq, is Iranian. They created all of the messes they`re now moaning and complaining about and warning will be the new mushroom cloud. And they have no shame. But it`s to the American people`s fault if we let them back in and let them have control of our foreign policy again. MATTHEWS: I think Marco Rubio, though I don`t know him personally, reminds me of a D.H. Lawrence character sitting at the foot of the bed of Sheldon Adelson, entertaining him. It`s really outrageous, what he says. He says every single thing... CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: ... so Sheldon will like it. Anyway, thank you very much, Dana Milbank and David Corn and Joy Reid. REID: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Really a heavyweight group.   Coming up -- I mean it -- now that Hillary Clinton issued a formal apology for using a private e-mail server, I want to know -- me, Chris Matthews -- what`s this all about? Is there anything to it? Is there even a prospective smoking gun, even a possibility of a -- or is it just a cloud of smoke put out by her enemies? Plus, with less than 500 days left in his presidency, President Obama is having one of the strongest second terms in history. And as you look at the crowd vying to succeed him, it`s clear it`ll be a tough act to follow. He will. And Stephen Colbert`s "Late Show" last night -- I stayed up for his debut last night with a delightful takedown of the man leading the 2016 Republican field, Donald Trump. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the ringing endorsement Democrats continue to give to President Obama seven years in. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: You`ve heard the talk from the Clinton campaign about their Southern firewall. They want to win those Southern primaries to offset the sting of potentially losing -- potentially -- in Iowa and New Hampshire. Well, that strategy starts with South Carolina, where so far, Hillary Clinton looks strong. According to a new PPP poll, Clinton leads her nearest rival, Vice President Joe Biden, by 30 points, and Bernie Sanders actually lags behind Biden with just 7 or 9 percent. On the Republican side, South Carolina looks a lot like the rest of the country. Donald Trump has a big lead there with 37 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 21 percent, and the rest of the field is down in, where it is elsewhere, single digits. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In retrospect, certainly as I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts, one for personal, one for work-related e- mails. That was a mistake. I`m sorry about that. I take responsibility. And I`m trying to be as transparent as I possibly can. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, Hillary Clinton apologizing last night formally to ABC News for using a private e-mail account when she was at the helm of the State Department. The e-mail controversy has dogged Senator Clinton since "The New York Times" broke the story back in March of this year, almost three months before she launched her bid for the White House. Well, six months later, the e-mail story isn`t going away, for whatever reason. Clinton, however, says she can survive it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps the more important question they`re asking is, can Hillary Clinton survive this? Can you? CLINTON: Yes, of course I can. I, as you might guess, have been around a while, and there have been lots of, you know, attacks, and counterattacks and questions raised. And I can survive it because I think -- I`m running to be president to do what the country needs done, and I believe the American people will respond to that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Howard Fineman`s global editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and an MSNBC political analyst, and Kathleen Parker`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for "The Washington Post." Kathleen, thanks for joining us. This is sort of my dart to the center of an issue, which I rarely do, because I usually go into details. But I just want to ask you, why are we talking about e-mail? Why is "The New York Times" obsessed with it? Why are the Republicans obsessed with it? What`s the there there? In terms of, if you had to write an encyclopedia account of this election campaign, and you had to say the significance of this topic, what would it be? And could it possibly bring down Hillary Clinton, or ever become something even to debate in a presidential debate, when she`s in one?   KATHLEEN PARKER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You know, we don`t yet know conclusively what the thing is. MATTHEWS: Well, why are we writing about it on the front pages? PARKER: Because you peel the onion to see what there is. And when the FBI becomes involved, and it`s investigating to see whether there were some e- mails that might have done some damage, what do we -- I don`t think we know this yet. But I think that`s the thing. But separate from that is the question of how the Clintons, and they are dual actors, how they always, their default position is, don`t say anything, don`t tell anything, and then, when they`re forced to, they will tell, OK, well, there was this, and then, yes, well, there was -- well, maybe there was this. And then finally comes the apology. MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. That`s not always the case. What was Whitewater? PARKER: Well, no, no, no. MATTHEWS: What was it? PARKER: But they don`t say what is true. MATTHEWS: What was Whitewater? What was Travelgate? What was Troopergate? What are all these gates? PARKER: I`m sure they`re hoping that will be prove to be yet another e- mail gate, but I do think there`s a difference when the FBI actually steps in to do some of the work. And, by the way, I don`t dislike Hillary Clinton and this may prove to be not that big a deal when it`s over, but what is a big deal is the question of her character. It really comes down to character.   MATTHEWS: OK. I want to know -- I will get back to you, but I want to know what this character issue is. Is this a sign of something really significant about her ability to be fit for the presidency, or is it a fishing expedition, as you sort of alluded to? They got Clinton by going after Whitewater, Bill Clinton. Then that led to Paula Jones, and he won the civil suit or he got a settlement. And then it led Monica and that led to impeachment, not to conviction. It was a fishing expedition. They didn`t go looking for Monica. They went looking for Whitewater and they got Monica. And they got Paula along the way. So is this a trolling expedition, just trolling for trouble, is that -- without even having a target? HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Couple things. First of all, Bill Clinton managed to get the Democratic nomination to be elected president twice, all of that notwithstanding. That`s number one. Number two, without excusing anything that Hillary may or may not have done about the e-mails themselves, this whole story plays into what everybody finds somewhat objectionable about politics itself, the state of politics today, and what they know about Hillary Clinton. As Hillary Clinton said herself this that interview with David Muir, she said, I have been around a long time. I have faced a lot of these controversies before. There`s probably nobody under the age of 25 who doesn`t have a firm opinion about Hillary Clinton one way or another. And one of the things about Hillary is the notion that, like the Clintons, they play it by their own rules a little bit, that they cut some corners here and there, that there`s a sort of inside game. And what could be more symbolically inside than secret e-mails? MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: The symbolism of it is that she`s been around a long time. She`s part of a dynasty that`s sort of past. The system, meaning the media, including the big media -- this is "The New York Times" here that is going after her. It`s not "The Washington Times." MATTHEWS: What`s the bottom line assumption of the critics about Hillary? Give me the mortal sin, to use a Catholic term. What is it that`s wrong with her that we should know about, and that all this inquiry, leading to inquiry, leading to inquiry and inquiry? You say, you go look for something that might be wrong. Sure, but you don`t put people on trial until there`s an indictment. What`s the indictment of Hillary here? What has she done wrong that we can then investigate?   PARKER: Well, the question was, was there classified information on the server. MATTHEWS: That wasn`t the initial reason we talked about this. PARKER: Well, the original point was, why did you have a personal server? (CROSSTALK) PARKER: And then one thing does lead to another. It`s not always wrong. Sometimes, you -- and there is something there. But the question, I think you have to get right down to the fundamental thing, is, if you`re not hiding anything, why are you hiding stuff? If you`re not -- if you don`t have anything to keep that you`re not willing to tell to the public, then tell it. But there`s always this question, is there something? And if not -- maybe it is just their default position. You can sort of understand how the Clintons, having been under siege so much of their professional life... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: This is why I think it`s become like an inkblot. And you look at it. People that don`t like Hillary see a bad inkblot. People that like her say, that`s OK. (CROSSTALK) PARKER: I want to know what happened.   FINEMAN: OK. Here`s the thing. She said she only used a private server. Previous secretaries of state had had a government e-mail server and their own private one. MATTHEWS: Like Gmail. FINEMAN: She only had her own. She did all of her business from the server out of the Chappaqua house that Bill Clinton had originally set up. Now, if you think Hillary has been persecuted all this time, if you think she`s been held to an unfair standard, in part because she`s a woman and so forth, then you`re going to say... PARKER: No, that`s not it. FINEMAN: Well, I`m just saying, you`re going to say Hillary`s entitled to play it that close to the vest. But if you`re inclined not to like Hillary Clinton, if you`re inclined to say that the Clintons are always cutting corners in some way ethically in some sense, then you look at the fact that she only had a private personal server to conduct all of her public business as somehow suspicious. She doesn`t benefit from the -- she doesn`t benefit -- get the benefit of the doubt. She`s been around too long and been through too many controversies to get the benefit. PARKER: It`s because it fits the template. It`s because it`s preemptive fudging. Just play by the rules. It`s that simple. Don`t play by your own rules. MATTHEWS: OK. I`m going to let it go, except my theory, which is that like in tennis or a lot of sports, you walk the chalk line. You go right up to the edge. And that means people can look at it from different sides. It`s in or it`s out. Some can say it`s out. Some say it`s in. And what we`re doing here is in and out.   Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, Kathleen Parker. Different perspectives. Up next, Pope Francis calls on Europe`s Catholics to take in refugees fleeing war-torn Middle East countries. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. For months, Pope Francis has said he`s followed with deep concern and pain in his heart the stories of refugees flowing towards Europe from the Middle East. And now he wants action. On Sunday, Pope Francis told the crowds in Saint Peter`s Square -- quote -- "May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe take in one family." The world has watched as that immigrant crisis became a refugee crisis, which ultimately became a child crisis. It took a photo of Aylan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian toddler washing up on the shore of Turkey, to move the hearts of other world leaders. Joining me now is Mark Shriver, the president of Save the Children Action Network, who is working for children around the globe and here in the United States as well. Shriver`s pushing for all presidential candidates, by the way, to back pre-K education for every child. Here`s the argument being made in the early voting state of Iowa. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m a Republican.   UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Democrat. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I`m an independent. We don`t agree on much. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we do agree on this. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every child deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And high-quality early childhood education is an investment that benefits all of us. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Actually, Mark`s also writing a book about Pope Francis, which is coming out next spring. But we have got you early. MARK SHRIVER, PRESIDENT, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Yes. MATTHEWS: The pope is about to arrive. You are very concerned about kids of the age we saw that kid lying on the beach. And I just wonder, what is the situation, when you look at that situation, because you focus on the kids that age?   SHRIVER: Yes. Well, look, it`s a tragedy. There`s no question about it. And Save the Children is working on the ground and has been for years with the Syria situation. But when you see a natural disaster or a manmade disaster like the one in Syria, what you`re seeing so often are kids and mothers in particular not getting the services and support they need. And that`s what we`re doing for this disaster. We`re providing safe places for kids and for families to be safe. And you see it here in the U.S. too, Chris. It`s amazing. I was down in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. And the lack of response and focus on kids` issues is relevant in this country as it is all around the world. It`s outrageous, really. MATTHEWS: What about every day and how kids grow up? I read about this today. One of the producers told me that kids at that age, 3-to5-year-old, like that kid, I think, who died there as a refugee, they don`t -- their brains develop at a certain age like that. SHRIVER: Yes, 90 percent of the brain growth happens in the first five years of life, 90 percent. And what we invest as a country is almost flat until a kid gets into kindergarten. When you talk to businessmen, businesswomen, and you say you have a chance to impact 90 percent of your brain growth in the first five years of life, but you don`t invest until they`re 5 years of age, it`s a huge loss of opportunity. MATTHEWS: The kids who grow up in a literate family, where everybody is talking about books or newspapers or the news or whatever. SHRIVER: Your kid or grandkid at the age of 4, OK, is 18 months ahead of a kid living in poverty, by the age of 4. So we spend billions of dollars trying to remediate that. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What happens to the first grade teacher that gets stuck with that kid having... (CROSSTALK)   SHRIVER: You talk to any first grade teacher. And I was in the legislature in Maryland. And they will tell you, in kindergarten, they can tell you what kids are going to fail out in high school. MATTHEWS: Wow. SHRIVER: And they`re basing the growth of prison cells in this country based on third grade reading. MATTHEWS: OK. You talked to all the candidates for president so far, pretty much. SHRIVER: Yes. We have, yes. MATTHEWS: Where are they at? SHRIVER: There`s a wide variety. Governor Bush has done a great job increasing the accessibility of early childhood education in Florida. The quality needs to be improved. But if you look across the country, there`s strong Republican and Democratic support. MATTHEWS: How about those Republican conservatives who believe in less government and they don`t like the federal government involved with education? They can`t be for you, are they? SHRIVER: Well, I think what you have got to do is, you got to look at -- outside of Washington, there`s a lot of support for this issue, Chris, Governor Bentley in Alabama, Governor Snyder in Michigan. MATTHEWS: How about these guys like Cruz and Trump, are they for early childhood education?   SHRIVER: Well, some of them aren`t. Some of them aren`t. Some of them don`t -- haven`t focused on it. I`m not going to get into the thing with Donald Trump. But I don`t he`s focused on it. MATTHEWS: You had a meeting with him? SHRIVER: He came to a show that we sponsored in New Hampshire. And they all did, all 20-some-odd... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And he got involved with your thinking on this? SHRIVER: What we saw -- really, what you see is support outside of Washington. Washington is behind the people on this. MATTHEWS: How about in the head of people like Donald Trump? SHRIVER: I don`t know about Donald Trump. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Good luck with that one. Mark Shriver, good luck with that and good luck with your book on the pope. I will be definitely reading it. SHRIVER: Thank you.   MATTHEWS: And you come back and talk about it. SHRIVER: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Up next, President Obama`s having one of the strongest second terms, believe it or not. Second terms, they`re usually the second term curse, but he`s making tough -- he`s becoming a tough act to follow for whatever comes next in 2016. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. The pilot at the controls of the British Airways plane that caught fire yesterday in Las Vegas is being hailed as a hero, but says getting everyone else off the plane safely was a team effort. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) CHRIS HENKEY, PILOT: Papers are saying, no, he`s a hero. But we have to remember there are two other pilots and then cabin crew. All behaved very, very well. And it`s a team work. It`s not just one person. I think that should be emphasized. (END AUDIO CLIP) REHBERGER: The 63-year-old also says he`s finished flying. He was on his second-to-last-flight before retiring -- back to HARDBALL.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My presidency is entering the fourth quarter. Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter. And I`m looking forward to it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama in his year-end press conference last December. And now, with less than 500 days left of his presidency, Barack Obama`s proving that he`s anything but a lame-duck in what he called the fourth quarter of his presidency. Well, just in the last year, President Obama has reached a climate deal with China, he`s normalized relations with Cuba, he won fast-track authority to advance his trade agenda and he received big victories from the Supreme Court on Affordable Care, Obamacare, and also same-sex marriage, which he vigorously supported. Now with the backing -- backing he appears to have to sustain -- he looks like he is going to sustain the nuclear agreement with Iran. The president`s second term is looking much more productive than any in recent memory. That`s for sure. And that is a rare accomplishment. A good second term, unheard of before. As Ronald Reagan`s former arms negotiator Ken Adelman told Politico this summer: "Obama may be singular as a president, not only because of his striking background. It may turn out that, unlikely virtually every other president -- unlike virtually every other president, his second term is actually better than his first term." Whatever your politics, it appears that Obama`s presidency will be a tough act to follow, I would argue. I`m joined right now by the HARDBALL roundtable April Ryan is the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst. And Anne Gearan is political reporter with "The Washington Post."   Gene, thank you. I want you to start in the middle there. It`s too early because anything could happen. EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. MATTHEWS: But he has sort of an Obama way, that no-drama Obama, the way he won the presidency the first time. It`s the tortoise in a way, but it`s not really the tortoise. It`s steady, but it isn`t actually slow, but it`s definitely steady. ROBINSON: Well, he`s always said and his people have always said that they play a long game. And just wait, just wait, we`re going in this direction, and we`re going to get there. We may not get there as fast as people like, we may not get there the way people like. But you ticked off that list of accomplishments. And it`s quite substantial. I mean, this is a very important second term. You can argue first term, second term, because I think the Affordable Care Act, because it establishes the principle of universal health care and the direction toward universal health care, it will be a lasting and very significant accomplishment. MATTHEWS: Insurmountable achievement, you think? ROBINSON: Oh, yes. I think we`re on that road. And I don`t think anybody is going to deviate. If the Republicans get power, they will call it something else. As President Obama says, they will call it anything but Obamacare. But -- but I think we`re heading in that direction. MATTHEWS: Yes, I was reading about the employment act of `46 the other day. And the first time in history after World War II, we said no more depressions. The presidents can`t just sit back and say, well, that says law, the markets all stabilize and we`ll get to it. You have to be personally be leader of a country that fights for full employment. And the principal of health care. That`s the first term. But this is second term, let`s get back to the second term, because there`s so much -- most of second terms are like, yes, the second string at the White House, the second string in the cabinet, right? And normally. And this time around, Kerry`s done a hell of a job and Lew had done a hell a of job. I think we`ve got a pretty good cabinet.   APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK: He`s got a great cabinet. He`s got a great agenda. This president came in the first time talking about hope and change. He has created hope and change whether you like it or not. And I think you touched on the issue of employment. You know, when he was president, at one point, it was a 10 percent unemployment rate, down to the second term, 5.1 percent, and the White House, many sources in the White House are saying that this term, the second term is just a continuation of what they were working on in the first term. And it`s culminating now, it`s happening. So I believe that both and first terms are history-making and I don`t believe that there`s a lame-duck issue ever again to be said for this president and maybe not for any other president, because you got a lot of variables out there that are unseen that -- MATTHEWS: What do you make of the team that you covered, before you get to the politics, to the PR, does the internal team in high gear? Are they working hard, like a first term presidency, or is it slowing down like they often do? ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I mean, I think the pace is different, but one of the main things that the White House is always occupied with is dealing with a Republican-led Congress. So, I mean, all of the accomplishments that you ticked off there -- you know, yes, the president`s notching things on the belt, but he has to do a great deal of that either by going around Congress or by confronting them directly. And so, that takes a lot of energy and he, yes, there`s been a great deal of turnover, but he`s gotten people in there who generally are just -- MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at how the public`s response to this. Despite as many victories, President Obama`s approval rating currently stands at 49 percent nationally, according to Gallup. But when you break it down by numbers by party, his approval is at 81 percent, more than 4 to 5 among Democrats, 46 percent among independents and just 10 percent among Republicans. Well, the number that jumps off this list is the hatred of this president from the right and even center right, Gene. Even center right. ROBINSON: Yes. MATTHEWS: What is that about? ROBINSON: Well, it`s extraordinary. MATTHEWS: He`s not Franklin Roosevelt. Is he that big that they hate him that big?   ROBINSON: It`s extraordinary. I`m not sure I`ve seen anything quite like it. MATTHEWS: Is it worst than Clinton, worse than Truman? I mean -- ROBINSON: Yes, I think it`s worse than Clinton. I think it`s worse than Truman. And I think there is something about the Republican Party, and there`s something about the president, OK, yes. He`s different. (CROSSTALK) RYAN: How different is he, Eugene? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You think it`s an extra 20 pounds on there from race, just pounded on there? (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: I wish I could quantify. Some political science will try to quantify it someday, but -- (CROSSTALK) RYAN: You think so?   MATTHEWS: You know I`m right about that one. That`s the way you tell me stuff, you ask a question. Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, call it a Trump roast, Stephen Colbert kicks off his first late show with a takedown of Trump. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a history-making day for Queen Elizabeth II. Today, the 89-year-old queen of England became the longest reigning monarch in British history, topping Queen Victoria, her great, great grandmother. Elizabeth, descendant to the throne 63 years ago and seven months, when she was just 25 years old. She marked the day by dedicating a new rail line in Scotland, still part of the U.K. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back. The late wars are back. Stephen Colbert versus Donald Trump this time. In his first appearance as the new host of CBS`s "Late Show", Stephen Colbert sunk his teeth into Trump, and by the looks of it, he`s just getting started.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE SHOW: Governor Bush was the governor of Florida for eight years, you would think that that much exposure to oranges and crazy people would have prepared him for Donald Trump. Evidently not. I promise you, just like the rest of the media, I will be covering all of the presidential candidates, who are Donald Trump. Everybody likes Trump. Even white supremacists, which is amazing, because Trump`s not even white. He`s more "Oompa-Loompamerican. Donald the trump -- Donald Trump, Donald Trump -- I`ve got to exercise some discipline. Look, you don`t own me. And I don`t need to play tape of you to have a successful TV show. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anyway, that was just the start of Colbert`s show. A lot of tape last night of Trump. We`re back with the roundtable, the HARDBALL roundtable, April, Eugene and Anne. April, I have to tell you, I like the show because I like him. I think you`ve got to figure out a little more of the show. But Trump, I am convinced, it`s all about geography. As Ti would say -- real estate people say "location, location, location". Trump`s New York, Hillary`s New York, Colbert`s New York, Jimmy Fallon is New York. They`re going to talk about this guy just because of the fact he`s their own town guy. It`s relentless, my thought. RYAN: It`s not just the fact that he`s New York. He`s Donald Trump, a caricature of himself. How would you explain the president of the United States talking about him at the correspondents dinner and after the president made fun of him and Donald Trump was very stern while the president was making fun of him, he didn`t run for office.   So, I think Donald Trump is the emperor with the new clothes. He has to get an alligator skin because they`re going to be on him. When "Saturday Night Live" -- MATTHEWS: Do you think that hurts? RYAN: Yes, it hurts. MATTHEWS: The Oreo thing last night? RYAN: Yes. MATTHEWS: He was basically comparing the metaphor, chug a lugging. Here he is, Colbert comparing America`s Trump obsession with loving Oreo cookies which I agree, are very difficult to stop eating once you start. Here he goes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLBERT: It doesn`t mean we have to keep talking about you. Someone on television should have a modicum of dignity and it could be me. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) COLBERT: Oh! Oh, Donald, I love you too. But I think -- I think I`m going to hate myself in the morning.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anne, if I was eating that much sugar, a I would be over the top of this table somewhere. I don`t know how he keep putting those That was his metaphor. We just got one Donald Trump. We didn`t do much Trump tonight but it is infectious. GEARAN: It was a sugar rush. That was his whole stick and it was very funny. And he was making fun of the media there for not being able to resist it. MATTHEWS: We`ll see if he does. Ha! GEARAN: Yes, that`s it. ROBINSON: Well, he won`t. And I`ll tell you. MATTHEWS: What are you going to do? ROBINSON: Judging from last night, if the media will keep scarfing down the Oreos, lump about buy them. He will supply them. He will back up the truck full of Oreos. RYAN: He said he will never buy more oreos. ROBINSON: Jeb Bush was on the show last night and we`re talking about Donald Trump. (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: Here he is, by the way, trying to make things exciting last night. He was Colbert`s second day after George Clooney -- second guest. Let`s watch him sort of in action.. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLBERT: Your campaign poster is just Jeb with a J-E-B and exclamation mark. Why the Jeb? JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve been using Jeb since 1994. It connotes excitement. It connotes -- COLBERT: Jeb! (END VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: It connotes excitement. MATTHEWS: That`s the problem. You have to put an exclamation point. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Put an exclamation point. RYAN: Connotes excitement.   GEARAN: I think if you have to say connotes, that that means is not excitement, right? MATTHEWS: Let me try something that will get me in trouble with Trump. So what? I think he`s crested. I watched his performance today with Cruz and the rest fighting it and I thought I was hearing a lot of old material. You know, we`re going to have so many victories we`ll be bored with them. Once you start repeating yourself, you`re repeating yourself and you lose the excitement. GEARAN: We`ll remind you of that that in two weeks when we`re talking about Donald Trump. MATTHEWS: I think he`s running out of material. RYAN: He`s going to have his team. MATTHEWS: Bernie has been selling the same stuff for 50 years, nobody cared. RYAN: I interviewed Bernie Sanders yesterday. MATTHEWS: Any new materials? RYAN: He`s got new material. And he said he was fearful of Donald Trump because of the rhetoric he has. But Donald Trump is going to go -- MATTHEWS: What`s the latest idea for Bernie? RYAN: Latest idea is criminal justice, criminal justice. He does not want to have privatized prisons where private organizations make money --   MATTHEWS: By putting people in. RYAN: Yes. And criminal justice -- MATTHEWS: That actually a scandal in places like Pennsylvania. ROBINSON: Pennsylvania was big a scandal actually. MATTHEWS: Sending kids up the river and getting paid for it. ROBINSON: Getting back to Trump. Applying the standard rules of gravity to Donald Trump hasn`t worked all summer. Now, maybe it will start working now. Maybe it is the road runner who would run off the cliff and wouldn`t realize for a while that it`s going to fall. But maybe not. MATTHEWS: Let`s see if we can eat all the Oreos, how much of a specter could Donald Trump become when he`s already a one-man show on the stump? Let`s watch and eat our Oreos. RYAN: Oh no. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She`s married to Anthony Weiner. You know, the little bing, bing, bing, bong, bong. I love you very much. So think of it. It`s like puppets. Bing, bing. The bing, bing, bang, bang, bong. You know the old days, bing, bang. Bing, bing, bang, bang, bing, bing, bing. You know what that is, right?   I`m used to dealing with killers, people that (INAUDIBLE). What a group? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: In my days, they write down what happened in court. The words. Imagine writing the words, bing, bing, bing, all that stuff, (INAUDIBLE), how do you write that down in a transcript? GEARAN: I had to write a story about what he said about Huma Abedin and how she`s done -- the whole thing about Anthony Weiner, and I honestly had that problem. Like , what do I write? Bing, bing, bong -- (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: That makes my point. I think he is running out of material. Anyway, thank you, April Ryan. We may disagree. Eugene Robinson, the authority figure here. And Anne Gearan, thank you. When we return, let me finish with a strong endorsement Democrats, Democrats have given President Obama, especially this second term. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MATTHEWS: Let me close tonight with this interesting fact. It`s President Obama`s job approval among Democrats: 81 percent, more than 4 in 5. That`s a strong endorsement these seven years into a presidency. Seven years is a lifetime in politics. You look at the polls for most politicians, it is up and down, or up for a bit, and then down eventually with the thud. Well, the fact is this president, Barack Obama, has kept his head above water, especially with the party that elected him. The key is his ability to stake out a direction, a a personal and national mission for himself and focus laser like on reaching it. We`ve got the stimulus bill to get out of the recession, the health care plan out of divided Congress and that was the first term, usually a president`s best. Since then we`ve gotten the climate deal with China, normal relations with Cuba, recognition of same-sex marriage in the country as well as in the courts, and it looks like an agreement to keep Iran from building nuclear arms. Second terms are not supposed to be like this. They`re supposed to be like FDR was tangled up in court packing, Truman stuck in Korea, Nixon obviously in Watergate, Bill Clinton in Monica land, W in Katrina -- well, we`ll have to see. But maybe just maybe, Barack Obama will stump the skeptics and history and put tens of millions of us right to have given this brilliant patriotic man his chance for greatness. 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. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>