Skip to main content

tv   The Chris Matthews Show  NBC  November 7, 2010 10:00am-10:30am PST

10:00 am
>> this is the "chris matthews show. >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> i can hear you. >> the time for change has come. chris: don't go changing. if obama isn't bill, should he try to be? if he's not harry, should he give them hell? should he try to please us or just be who he is? most important, should he change course if he believes in this one? i am what i am. george w. bush's new book shows bush's personality driving everything. what's obama's personality tell us about where he's heading, what he's likely to do, if he's likely to change? and finally, cause for war. president bush's new book
10:01 am
insists he was right to fight the iraq war because it prevented another 9/11. is this an argument he can win? hi, i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us today "the washington posts" bob woodward, author of "obama's wars. bbc's katty kay. nbc's andrea mitchell. and "time" magazine's joe klein. first up, president obama called it a shellacking. several times this week he tried to show he got message. here he was wednesday -- >> i ran for this office to tackle these challenges and give voice to the concerns of everyday people. over the last two years we made progress but clearly too many americans haven't felt that progress yet and they told us that yesterday. as president, i take responsibility for that. chris: he may not be showing it there but the president does hold a strong hand because his personal popularity is stronger than his job approval. bob, you have studied presidents for a long time now. how does this president's personality help or hurt
10:02 am
him? >> well, it's probably too cool. he doesn't have those personal relations with people, where he calls them in and says, let's have dinner and i want to let you know who i am, what i'm thinking. tell me what's on your mind. it's all done in large meetings or that real inner, inner circle in the white house. he's got to broaden it. he's got to talk to other people -- chris: excuse me. do you think he can do the things you could do in the pretelevision age where you can sit down and play poker with a guy or woman wednesday nights and become friends with them and work them a little bit? can you do that with a guy like mcconnell, for example? >> apparently obama is a good poker player so probably no one will play with him. but he's got one hell of a political problem dealing with the republicans. i don't see how they do much. their positions are pretty much locked in, so the only way you can do, you know from the tip o'neill days, personal relations, let's sit down and fix this problem and get it off the agenda.
10:03 am
chris: has the success of the past, which has been almost celestial over the years, look how young he is, president of the united states, won a sweeping election. won the -- beat hillary clinton, beat john mccain. is that success working against him? >> you can make an argument this administration came into the white house believing almost the myth of barack obama, that everything he touches somehow turned to gold in his political career and that they -- that was where the arrogance came from. if there was a lack of salesmanship when it came to something like health care, for example, where the health care -- chris: he got it through. >> he got it through, but did in getting it through did he think, i know i'm doing the right thing. it's just that they don't understand i'm doing the right thing. and that's the drawback of obama's image for me and his manner for me, you almost feel like you're being talked to by somebody who knows they're smarter than you, slightly frustrated if only you were clever enough, you would understand they were right. chris: let's go to the news set, because i want to quote you in "time" this week.
10:04 am
quote, obama will have to be a much better working politician than he's been but he remains widely respected by the american people, if not quite loved. the next click of the political mentioning a beheading his way. joe, you're suggesting he should wait it out and be himself and it will turn his way? >> no, i'm suggesting he has to be the better working politician. the calm that got him elected is a really good small room tactic. you know, it's much better when you're in a small room with mitch mcconnell and john boehner to be calm than to be excitable and angry and so on. his problem is that there are republicans in the world and these republicans are looking more to their right than they are to him to make a deal. chris: mitch mcconnell doesn't want to be caught hugging obama. >> oh, no, he wants to be caught hugging sarah palin!
10:05 am
chris:you know compromise is the only way to get a bill through. does republicans want to compromise? does obama want to compromise? >> the republicans do not want to compromise, number one. number two, he needs personal relations. he has no personal relationships with these guys. he did not meet with mitch mcconnell for 18 months after he took office one-on-one. how do you not call the republican leader in and have a dink, have a merlot, as john boehner says. chris: yeah, red wine for red states. >> how do you not have those kinds of connections. now he has no base because he never has them over. chris: this is so fundamental. you talk about it being calm and almost opaque, everybody's using that word. does that mean he would have to say, i hear you like merlot. does he have to fake it? >> he has to start somewhere. his problem is, he said, famously to one interviewer, i'm lebron. i've got game. valerie jarrett was quoted by david remnick saying that he's never been intellectually challenged or equaled. they believe his publicity and one suspects he views himself
10:06 am
sort of in the third person context and he believes his own publicity. >> and he's not faking it because faking it won't work. people understand -- chris: getting along with the opposition requires charm. >> right. and you've got to decide actually maybe it's genuine and they have a point. rather than always thinking you are the only person in the room with a point. chris: he has to fake it to a fault. his problem is he doesn't fake it at all. he doesn't do the things that he needs to do. i watched an interview and you went into one of the biggest book interviews he will ever do as president, you were in there, bob woodward and i had a feeling he was checking his watch. >> he was. he said you're on the clock. chris: that's not a charm offensive. >> no, it wasn't but he validated what i had. he could have walked away from it. he didn't do it. look at his biography, what's the one word that describes it? he's adaptable. and he knows he's got his rear end in a crack now and so he's going to be tested. maybe that skill he has to
10:07 am
change and do what's necessary, he will figure it out. it's not hard. >> and you can be -- he can be funny. he can use his humor. >> he's very easy and charming when you meet him. however, what he won't do is the kind of cheesy stuff of politics you have to do to promote -- chris: to get back to business here, we know he has to cut a deal on taxes. he has to cut a deal on business tax, has to cut a deal on health care to save it. and he has to deal with people who don'tit's almost like dealing with another side in another necessarily --country. they really at odds. >> when you talk to the tea party folks, which i have done this week, they don't want to cut a deal on the debt ceiling, for instance. john boehner and mitch mcconnell know in their gut they have to do the debt ceiling. chris: that's when you have to do that. >> there are some things you've got to do. chris: let's talk about this the whole week. put this to the matthews meter, 12 of our regularincluding andrea, katty and panelists, joe, who won the post election war message this week? i think we are here hearing that here, president obama or the republican leaders? 9 out of 12 said republicans won the fight. two said the president.
10:08 am
i don't know who that was. i think i do know. one says it was a tie. andrea, joe and katty, you all say the republicans won. you agree with that? >> i think they won it in one moment when john boehner lost it, when he started to cry. it was real. it was the only real moment of the race. >> i think the president's news conference was the moment where the republicans won it. because i just didn't feel that he was -- that he accepted it in sort of the fiber of himself. >> i think they won it when mcconnell stood up there and said we're going it fight everything he's done. we're not going to compromise and we believe in what we stand for. i think that's what the republican base wants to hear. they've sent people to washington who are going to carry on saying no to the president. >> perhaps the republican base but not all of the independents who determined this election. chris: starting with bob, is it policy or personality? even if he becomes charming and talks to the other side and has a slurpee summit or whatever he does, all of that, if he sticks to his guns, health care was right, stimulus was right, financial regulatory reform was
10:09 am
right, aggressive federal government was right, can he get any more popular? >> andrea's made this point. i've heard her on the air about the economy, fixing it is complicated, they need five or ten-year plan. he's got to win the republicans or some republicans over. you can't do this in two-year cycles and it's again the economy. chris: ok. >>also, foreign affairs. he has some gigantic decisions to make in that area. chris: policy or personality? >> i think it's 9.6% unemployment. if he can bring the unemployment rate down, then whatever he -- we will be having a different conversation about his personality. >> i think policy trumps personality. i think he can fake the personality. you can't change the policy. >> it's neither. it's the republicans. he has to respond to them. he's willing to compromise. the question is whether they are willing to compromise.
10:10 am
chris: before we break, george w. bush's memoir said he grave serious thought to dick cheney's offer -- didn't know about this -- to withdraw from the ticket in 2004. look what he writes --, quote, accepting dick's offer would be one way to demonstrate that i was in charge. amazing. "saturday night live" often played off the public perception that cheney was in charge. little did we know it was getting to bush. >> uh-oh. sorry, dick. [laughter] i'll go over to my desk. chris: darrell hammond playing dick cheney without saying a word did the whole act. you were there, very close to watching this whole thing, did you know it was getting to him, this idea? we had a lot of fun with this on television and print. did you know it was getting to him? >> he was concerned about it but i bet if you really
10:11 am
reported that out, you would find that cheney came in and said, maybe you should take me off the ticket. and bush said oh, no, i can't do that. and that was the extent to which it was considered. i think it was not something where there was a big debate about it. chris: the angler angled that one too. >> quite possibly. chris: cheney is a smart guy. when we come back, george w.'s new book said the losses in the iraq war were necessary to prevent another 9/11. does the country accept this cause and effect relationship? plus, predictions from the top reporters. be right back.
10:12 am
10:13 am
chris: welcome book. the george w. bush memoir is the subject of an nbc special monday night. matt lauer's interview with the former president. here's a piece of that. >> i could never forget what happened to america that day. i would pour my heart and soul into protecting this country,
10:14 am
whatever it took. two wars. >> yeah. it took thousands of lives, american lives, billions of >>dollars. you could say it took guantanamo and abu ghraib and government eavesdropping and waterboarding. did it take too much? >> we didn't have an attack. 3,000 people died on september 11 and i vowed i would do my duty to protect the american people, and they didn't hit us again. chris: contrast that to what barack obama told you, bob, in your new book, "obama's wars. quote, we'll do everything we can to prevent it but even 9/11, we absorbed it and we are stronger. a potential game changer would be a weapon of mass destruction in a major american city, because that's one area where you cannot afford any mistakes. is there a difference between these fellas in terms of what to do after 9/11, what obama would have done, what we're doing now? >> certainly obama would not have gone into iraq and, of
10:15 am
course, you know bush is right, they didn't hit us again. chris: is there a connection? >> no, there's not, unfortunately. as we know, there was no al qaeda in iraq until we invaded. and then they came. >> but the sort of political extraordinariness of the bush administration was cheney imagined to convince 70% of the american people that iraq was, saddam hussein was directly behind iraq. chris: you're right, it's in the polling. >> the other piece of it was everyone in that inner circle, in the foreign policy team and at the cia, they felt that it was completely justified. and they had the same mindset that he has now, that he revealed to matt lauer. that was the emphasis of the whole foreign policy team. -- the ethos of that whole foreign policy team. chris: but not the agency people? >> the head -- chris: not the agency people? >> but at the time they felt as long as there was no attack, no second 9/11 -- look -- chris: that's a good question. wasn't colin powell off -- he wasn't enthusiastic about the
10:16 am
war. >> but he never really laid his stars on the table. he just raised and caved. look, if you break iraq, you're going to own it. and he didn't say, don't do it. chris: high human interest story. this is the book we've gotten a look at. the president said his father supported the war effort. is that true? >> boy, i spent eight minutes in one interview with bush going around this question. what about your father's recommendation? well, i don't remember. well, we talked. maybe we should get him on the phone. and i said, but -- but here at the end of eight minutes, here's what he said, he said in terms of strength, i appeal to a higher father. his god. and we never got any information at that point about the lower father's recommendation. now it comes out in the book where he says he supported it. i know that when brent scowcroft, who was busch sr.'s national security adviser wrote this editorial in "the wall
10:17 am
street journal" saying we don't need to invade iraq, he faxed that to bush sr., who essentially approved of it. so we have contradictory information. chris: and both thought the old man was being spoken for by scowcroft. >> both scowcroft and jim baker had the same reservations and george w. bush hired a guy that bush elder hated, donald rumsfeld, to run the war. i mean there was an awful lot of e -- oedipal stuff going on. chris: is this book going to be a redebate? >> you know why we look at that, we still don't know why we went to war. >> stop talking to brent scowcroft. brent scowcroft was removed as head of the intelligence advisory board all for that editorial of "the wall street journal" before the war, august, september before the war, coming out against the war. he was absolutely rejecting the father's advise as represented by scowcroft. chris: i want to know if he follows your advice in the book with the three d's -- don rumsfeld, dad --
10:18 am
>> and dick cheney. his assistant to talk to me and i said answer the question, dick, don and dad. what really happened and what were the relationships? i'm going to read the book. it stounds like it's got the bush staccato style. he tells you what he's thinking. it's all about as karl rove used to say, outcome and results. no attack after 9/11. that's true. that's a big deal for bush. chris: sure. were you surprised by how emotional he was with matt lauer? >> he was like he hasn't heard this before, when matt was throwing at him the cost of the war and the policy implications. >> he look teary-eyed. chris: he was like, i never heard this thrown at me before. he is always emotional. >> and this is the biggest roll-out ever in terms of publicity. i think this is going to be a huge book because -- chris: i think we're helping it. >> it's ok.
10:19 am
chris: he is as emotional as barack obama is unemotional. he has always been that emotional. >> yes. and bush would always say -- and this is the key to bush -- i'm a gut player. i'm a gut player, not a textbook player. no textbooks. chris: when we come back, scoops and predictions from our top reporters. me something i don't know.
10:20 am
♪ ♪ came in last night at half past 10:00 ♪ ♪ that baby of mine wouldn't let me in ♪ ♪ so move it on over ♪ move it on over ♪ move it on over ♪ move it on over ♪ move over, little dog, 'cause the big dog's movin' in ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] a dog & a chevy, what else do you need? ♪
10:21 am
what else do you need? [ male announcer ] build your with the $2.50 breakfast combo. get a 16oz. cup of piping-hot seattle's best coffee and a savory new sunrise subway melt built fresh to your order for just $2.50. subway. build your better breakfast.
10:22 am
chris: welcome back, bob. tell me something don't know. >> obama in india, can he work out some sort of arrangement between india and pakistan to stabilize relations, be the number one thing he can do to help with the afghan war? chris: katty? >> we were talking earlier about relations between obama and the republicans. one thing that might help with john boehner, chris, is they're both smokers. and who knows, he will need everything he can get with the republican leadership at the moment, put fashions behind it. i'm just saying. chris: smokers like the old days. >> the biggest sign what mark rubio enjoys is he was chosen for the post election weekly address by the republican party. they see this cuban-american, republican, smart guy from florida as a real ticketmaker in 2012. chris: and it's the one ethnic group that is pro-republican. has been. >> think what a game-changer that would be. chris: very nationalistic, yes.
10:23 am
>> the reason why the iranians are sending bags of cash to hamid karzai is that they don't want to see the taliban come back in control. and in that regard, they're sending strong signals to us, detailed proposals for cooperation with us in stabilizing the western border of afghanistan. chris: tell me about rubio, why do you think he is earned his success in the big state -- well, maybe i'm answering the question. >> florida, florida, florida. chris: democrats can't win. >> if he's on the ticket -- chris: it's the one state south of the mason dixon line still that's still in play. >> after sarah palin, the vice presidential nominees -- >> is he a smoker? he can go to the marlboro summit you're proposing. >> can't oversell it. he still only got 50% of the vote. chris: look, i think this question of the republicans and how they do the old lee atwater trick of denying the democrats a state they know they need, they can pick that one up because the republicans have to
10:24 am
be a very closely run operation. they have to carry every state they can. >> look at nevada and came as -- california as well with hispanics. you put a hispanic on the ticket in the republican side. chris: cubans count in that regard? >> oh, yes they do. chris: when we come back, the big question of the week, will barack obama face a challenge for the democratic nomination? will he get hit from the left? [ male announcer ] how do you stop tacos falling over?
10:25 am
10:26 am
[ speaking spanish ] ♪ [ male announcer ] old el paso stand 'n stuff taco shells. old el paso. feed your fiesta. go-gurt is specially made to freeze and thaw by lunch time? so kids can have their favorite yogurt in their lunch box go-gurt. freeze it. thaw it. eat it up.
10:27 am
chris: welcome back. tuesday night defeated congressman russ feingold closed with this declaration -- >> it's on to the next fight! it's on to the next battle! it's on to 2012! chris: and his spokesman denied any plan to challenge president obama is in the works but that brings us to this week's big question -- will barack obama down the road face a democratic challenger for 2012? bob woodward? >> i don't think so. who? chris: howard dean or this guy, russ feingold? >> you know, obama should be so lucky. chris: ok. katty kay. >> if obama has to compromise with republicans, obviously the more he does so, the more he will anger the base. the more liberals in the democratic party will say our values have been sold out and
10:28 am
the more they will want somebody to challenge barack obama, whoever does so is probably on a losing wicket. chris: well said. >> yes, he will face a challenge. and when incumbent face challenges -- chris: they lose. >> as george w. bush learned, ross perot. chris: give me a name. >> feingold could or someone else from the left but i think he will face a challenge from the left. >> democrats hate an empty stage. they really do. and so i mean, it might be something like al sharpton will run for publicity but i don't think it will be a serious challenge. chris: thanks for the round table. the president loved what he heard. that's the show. thank you for watching. see you here next week. [captioning made possible by nbc universal] [ older brother ] hey, that's the last crescent.
10:29 am
[ younger brother ] oh, do you want it? yeah. ok, we'll split it. [ female announcer ] made fresh, light... ...buttery and flaky... this is half. that is not half. guys i have more. [ female announcer ] do you have enough crescents? to bring the family together on sunday mornings than with the warmth and aroma of freshly baked pisbury cinnamon rolls. [ wink! ] [ wink! ] ♪