tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC January 23, 2011 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
[captioning made possible by nbc universal] >> a not what your country can do for you. >> the time for change has come! chris: can the state of the union be a game changer? can the president, this president, give a call to duty so compelling it crosses the aisles? having taken a beating in november, corgctin course in december, spoken for the country in tucson, can he take the next step and move us together? tiger mom. the new book about the tough love of a mother who raises kick-butt daughters. s it'got people talking. what do we think, as parents is the success of our kids so important we're willing to shoot
them out of cannons? finally, moms of presidents. why do so many our presidents from f.d.r. to george w. bush to barack obama come from the toughest of moms? is there a future in cracking the whip? i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us huffington post howard fineman, bbc's katty kay. "atlanta journal-constitution" cynthia tucker and nbc's norah o'donnell. first up, the president enters his third year on a high with poll numbers that reflect approval of the compromises he forged with republicans in december in his speech in tucson. so with all of washington gathered before him tuesday night at the state of the union, how can the president, like jfk, get this country moving again? howard fineman? >> well, chris, the white house aides i talked to said kind of the scaffolding of the speech is going to be a generational call to the future in the manner of john f. kennedy's call for a new frontier a half a century ago. the president is going to say we need investments in education,
in infrastructure n. research and defense, in research to take on the new global challenger, the chinese. and how we do that and cut the budget and save money and cut down our debt at the same time, how we do those two things simultaneously, is a great challenge and to make it soring and to do all that the way kennedy did a half century ago will be a challenge. chris: that's a lot of cargo. we remembered in the late '50's we were all scared to death putting that satellite went up. when sputnik went up, we were supposed to be first. walty,isne they told us we would be first. we weren't. all of a sudden lots of money going into education and sciences and engineering and it worked. is america ready to do that again? >> certainly when you talk to business leaders, they are looking for more than one state of the union speech. they want real leadership from the president. what they do want is investment in exactly those kinds of things. they say america has the leadership in the moment in areas like health care innovation, for example, but it is ours to lose and that this is
an urgent problem. the chinese, for example, they are giving students who go and study science and engineering incentives to do so, financial incentives to do so, rather than study history or arts. that is the kind of thing they would like and say it has to come from the president. they want actual concrete policies and they say if they do this, you can get more broge, youetan g c more experts and get more employment and the dicefit becomes less. chris: let me ask you this, how do you get people to invest in higher education? money, money, money. that's all the republicans are going to hear. you democrats are talking teachers unions again. want to spend all of our money. >> back in the 1950's and '60's, americans still believed that education was a great gal force for good. teachers were well respected in their communities. now we see different -- chris: the public too. >> public employees are under the gun. the teachers unions are blamed
for a lot of things whether they are at fault or not and it's very difficult to get people on board. another defense is that we have not defined the problem very well. while the president and many business leaders understand we need more investment in education, many average americans are still blaming immigrants for a lot of our problems. chris: yeah. >> so the president has to help us understand what the problem is before we can get to where the solution should be. chris: that gets to the question. the republicans have lined up pa ryan from wisconsin to respond to the president like they did in the state of the union. so they're targeting their response, thereby budget cutting. he's the chairman of the budget committee. how does the president sell us? >> this scaffolding howard talked about, that the whole speech is going to be built around, is not only the economy and jobs and how to make america more competitive again for the future, key word competitiveness, but it's also going tobe to paint the president of the united states as a fiscal vative. and so not only in the short
term creating jobs -- chris: how do you do both? >> becoming more competitive but then talking about reducing the deficit, overhauling the tax code. this is a giant speech for this president in many ways. this state of the union, he's got to use sort of the goodwill from the speech in arizona, his bump in the polls and then unite people around a common cause, which means making america great. chris: you're selling a double feature to me. >> if he doesn't make a double feature a single unified theme he would have failed. what he's got to say bluntly is, some people are going to have to sacrifice in order that this next generation can have its sputnik moment. and oversimplify but only slightly, better off, that is well to do, older people, senior citizens are going to have to pay more and get less from government, so that this younger generation can meet the challenges of the future. he's got say that, which means he has to mention social security. after all, it's part of i his own budget commission.
chris: put that against what we all know about politics, it's the old person with more times on their hands who votes relentlessly, who votes their interest, pocketbook interest, retirement interest, will they give way? >> he's got to speak to them. i think that's a very good point, chris. while republicans are one part of his audience, they're going to be sitting there skeptically saying how much are you cutting, how much are you cut something he's also going to talk to seniors, better off people, people who have done well in the last 15, 20 years and say, look, if you want your children and grandchildren to be as optimistic about the future as you were when you were a kid, and to have the opportunity in terms of education and the american life that you had, then we've all got to pull together. >> it's one thing to say in a speech and outline it in a speech. when it actually comes to cutting health care for seniors or cutting social security spending for seniors, both parties run for that as if this is a fire. chris: the newspaper woman here, how do you write this headline, "the new york times," "atlanta journal-constitution," that says president calls for more
spending on education, viventment, r & d and budget tightening. how do you write that headline? >> actually, this hearkens back to something bill clinton said has president, it's not necessarily about how big government is but how effective government is. an activist government that's more efficient. obama 0 has already started talking about that. he's put this piece of "the wall street journal," talked about cutting back on regulations. you know what, he needs his big -- he needs his business allies. chris: business allies. >> if they want this done, they're going to have to get behind hill and republicans are -- >> they're pointing to examples. the alliance between the government and the industry on semiconductors and they have worked. chris: and all of that could be part of this. >> you're right, chris, he has a lot of credibility to establish on this after the first couple of years. a lot of independent voters are very skeptical about his ain't to control spending. chris: let's bottom line this. we put it to the matthews meter to our regulars including katty,
norah and howard, will republicans get further this year by compromising with president obama or opposing him? can just say compromising without opposing. you all say compromise. but norah, here's the question, intrance gents, opposition of the president worked, they got control of the house. they won the last election. why switch now and support him if they want the white house back? >> because the poll numbers now show that the republicans' honeymoon is already over. >> to some extent it's as simple as that. that part of government f government is totally ineffective, they will get blamed in part. >> they have a problem. chris: i'm with you, howard. going around quickly, is the mood in washington for compromise? >> yes, i think so, except for the tea party, hard core -- chris: in washington? >> except for the tea party people. chris: some of them are. >> it's much more for compromise
than one might have thought on the night of the midterms. >> i think there are two republican parties. john boehner part, he wants to be responsible and compromise but the tea party elements are loud and active and they don't want compromise. chris: are they going to make him cry? >> make boehner cry? anything makes boehner cry. chris: he covered it like anybody else around here. >> the president will use the state of the union and find issues, get people to rally around issues where there can be compromise made like on the tax code, like on fiscal restraint and budget deficit. chris: i think we're all going to be looking at the faces on the members tuesday night to see who's scowling and who has an open face and who's grungey up there. and before we break, a change of subjects, there's a huge book out right now about tiger moms. the book says, if americans want to stay ahead globblely like we have been talking about, we have to radically change the way we raise our kids. parents must be lentless, demand excellence and keep the kids away from distractions like, you know, having friends. no surprise, this turnings off a lot of americans.
but it struck us that many americans who grew up to be president have had tiger moms themselves. one of the most notorious presidential tiger mom was sarah roosevelt, there she is, who schooled her only child f.d.r., who never played with other kids. there he is, the only one. bush mothers have been famously demanding. george h.r. bush describes his mother dorky walker bush has a drill sergeant. ba bra bush, of course, mother of george bush 43 is one tough cookie. >> do you ask your dad for advice? >> sure, i do. >> how about your mom? >> you don't need to ask her. she'll just tell. >> i do give advice. it's no good but i give it. >> to all of us. >> and some of us take it better than others. chris: and then there's bill clinton and virginia kelly. his biography of clinton, the great author emeritus described
that mom this way -- the psychological center of her life seemed to be her son billy. she made it clear she expected him to achieve. well, accepting his presidential nomination bill clinton acknowledged his mother was no petunia. >> well, where i get my fighting spirit, it all started with my mother. chris: a sentiment echoed by his mother. here she was with katie couric on "today" that same week. >> it's been written to understand bill, you must start with virginia. how does he take after you? >> i have a lot of drive. >> and you don't give up easily? >> no, never. chris: finally, barack obama and his mom. this is how he told it in a campaign ad. >> she was working full time so she would make me up at 4:30 in the morning. we'd sit there and go through my lessons and i used to complain and grumble. you can imagine an 8-year-old kid having to wake up at 4:30. if i grumbled she would say, well, this is no picnic for me
either, buster. chris: buster. there's a start. norah, any thoughts on presidential moms? >> they clearly at the center of what has driven many of these men i think to become president. but i also think their fathers, if you look at the history of some of the men who has become president and the relationship with their father is also part of this whole psychological mix that leads someone to have the guts, the courage and determination to run for president and to win. chris: when we come back, why has the tiger moms book struck nerves in this country? is the author right that americans will be global losers if we don't get tough with our kids?
come from this new book that seems to argue -- there it is -- that we're going to lose this economic war with china because we coddle our kids here at home. well, here's the author reading from her book, "battle hymn of the tiger mother." >> there are some things my daughter sophia louisa were never allowed to do, teapedslipeover, have a school date, be in a school play, complain about not being in a school play, watch tv or play computer games, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an "a," not be the number one student in every subject except gym and drama, play any instrument other than the piano or violin or not play the piano or violin. chris: wow. here's what she says it's all about. >> i'm the type of mother, what the chinese parent is saying to their child is i believe in you so much that i know you can be excellent and i'm going to be in the trenches with you for however long it takes. chris: well, katty kay, mother
of four, she seems to be saying don't coddle your kids, arm them against great economic strife out there. >> it's a very different argument from the argument that goes i believe in you so much. well, here you are as you are, but i'm not going to try to change you and i'm going to mollycoddle you because i think you're wonderful as you are. i look, it's very hard -- chris: chinese being 10, a slacker back here being a zero, where are you? >> i feel ike ape -- i look at my kids and getting them up and organized in the morning is tough. what she's done with her children is a full and a half time job. it takes an enormous amount of effort and energy to do the kinds of things she's done on piano and on education. and as she does have two girls, and i wonder if that's a bit of a difference too, i look at my 17-year-old boy, frankly, it's a miracle for a 17-year-old boy studying at all. chris: how is his violin lesson
going? norah, you have three little angels at home. i met them. have i to ask you about this question, they're so young, have you made a decision on this? are you going to be chinese or are you going to be more like ozzy and harriet or whatever? >> i'm fascinated by the debate this book has sparked in part because i think every mother wants to be a good mother and i think every mother is struggling whether they're raising spoiled kids or whether they're raising determined kids. and i i that's they crux of a lot of mothers' guilt and their determination. i have friends who have multiple advanced degrees sending around e-mails critiquing this book. i'm amazed how much self-reflection -- chris: are you worried you're not measuring up to this chinese model of zeal in motherhood? >> yes, i do think that we need to encourage our kids to wor k harder on a lot of different things. yes. and the second thing though is i do worry we praise kids for accomplishment rather than hard work. if you talk to the best
psychologist, that's what the chineose do well, you pray for hard work, not just give a trophy just for participating in the soccer game. chris: you're the little one just starting this process here. >> i'm just starting off but i have to tell you, chris, i have already caved in to her in ways that i did not think i would. i'm already, you know, i used to think she will not watch any tv before she's 6 years old. of course she watches television because i'm stressed out and i need to have a little peace. chris: you're tough on yourself as a parent having know you well and you have kids who already progressed through this level of suzuki-type training and everything is hard work and relentless repetition. how have you done? >> i will tell what you i haven't done well enough, which is to listen. and that requires time. what the tiger mother's story is really all about is parents taking the time. you've got to listen, that's the key. the other thing is it's about character and it's about knowing right from wrong and it's about having that internal compass
that you need. the rest of it in the society, if you work hard, will take care of itself. but listening as a parent is the number one thing and you can ask my kids -- can you ask -- you can ask my kids, that's the thing i haven't done well enough. >> it's not about listening, it's all about whatever their character s. drilling them to success. >> i also think there's largely an upper middle class debate because most parents, american parents, don't -- who in middle class, they're the ones in competition with the very accomplished chinese kid most parents do not have the time or resources to stand over their kids to make them play the piano three, four hours a day. >> it's a function of time, chris. we're a very busy society, too
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chris: welcome back. howard, tell me something i don't know. >> chris, you need to look on the map of the 2012 senate races because the republicans have a very good shot of picking up the senate. and here's a race you wouldn't think about -- hawaii, where daniel akaka has been a democratic senator for eons. he's 86 years old. there was a popular republican governor there. that's a long shot that the republicans are carefully looking at right now. chris: wow. >> more on senators. one indication whether a senator might have presidential ambitions is when they come to washington, they keep a very low
profile. and just focus on their state, who is doing exactly that? marco rubio. it is all about florida the next six months. chris: and they are meeting in florida. i think he's on the ticket. >> with michael steele out as chairman of the republican national committee, farsighted republican are looking for ways to increase the visibility of black republicans on the presidential campaign trail. look for republican big wigs to talk up the candidacy of retired businessman herman cane. he's black, very conservative, he's a radio talk show host and hee ecama republican darling in 1994 when he confronted bill clinton on national television. chris: what is he running for? >> over health care reform. talking about a presidential bid. chris: ok, ok. >> i decided to go back and grade president obama's last state of the union and looked closely and in fact he did deliver when it came to a jobs bill, health care reform, the start treaty, don't ask, don't tell. he promised 1.5 million, we have
had 1.1 million. one area we did not deliver on, changing the tone in washington. he promised in his state of the union to hold monthly meetings twithhe republican leadership. on that he did not deliver. chris: when we come back -- he better do that. big question of the week, if republicans in washington do compromise with the president this year, does it open up a grand canyon between those people up onolapit hill and those gop candidates running for president out there? the internet on a plane! are you from the future?
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chris: welcome back. we've been talking about compromise in washington between republicans and congress in the present. our big question this week, does that compromise between the republicans and the house and the president open up a grand canyon between them and those republicans running out there for the president? howard? >> the presidential candidates are appealing to tea party of the tea party. there's now a tea party establisinent hm washington. most of those tea party members, by the way, are going to vote against the debt ceiling compromise, but the trick will be touset j gt enough republicans to vote for it to pass it. chris: so there will be a divide. >> there will be. >> i think there will be a divide. in the primary season, you run right. that's an interesting conundrum for mitt romney. >> how will the eventual nominee
come back to the center after he spent a lot of time bashing washington? >> there absolutely will be a divide, probably a good thing for the 2012 presidential nominee. they don't want to be tied -- the american people don't like the republican people in congress. chris: it's going to be hot a week in tampa, florida. howard, katty, cynthia, and nora. before we get -- go, a word about sargent shriver. he died this week. he began the peace corps. i want to pay tribute to this great man's leadership and vision. one great american, sargent shriver. one great american, sargent shriver. that's the show, thanks
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