tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC November 18, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
>> no. ♪ but how i hope and pray ♪ that i will ♪ but today i am still ♪ just a bill >> he signed you, bill. now you're a law. a law. l-a-w. you don't even have to think of three things, just one -- signed, you sapresident, is a l. next week i'll libya. "hardball" starts right now. will newt get the boot? let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews down in washington. leading off tonight, hey, newt, how's that front-runner thing working out for you? we've now learned that in representing health care companies, newt gingrich supported what republicans now
denounce as death panels. he came out in favor of an individual insurance mandate. is it possible to take anything he says now seriously? also, when did the gop decide that ignorance is not only bliss, but it's downright presidential? herman cain says americans are looking for a leader, not a reader. but how about reading the newspapers? rick perry criticizes president obama for being the smartest guy in the room, like there's something wrong with it. the days of conservatives admiring their own intellectuals are apparently long gone. and plus, a conversation about america and politics tonight with tom brokaw. why, we're going to ask him, are politicians on both sides of the aisle, left and right, including president obama, having so much trouble connecting with the american people? and it was almost 30 years ago that the actress natalie wood drowned mysteriously after a night on a boat off california's catalina island. now investigators have reopened the case as of today. we want to know why.
and let me finish tonight with this new republican hunt for the least-informed presidential candidate they can find. we start with the apparent gop front-runner right now, newt gingrich. david gregory is the moderator of nbc's "meet the press." and howard fineman is an msnbc political analyst and "the huffington post" media group editorial director. david gregory, great to have you on. we'll talk about "meet the press" coming up this weekend. but let me ask you about this whole thing. don't you think just in a psychological way, what do you think it can does to mitt romney, who's been running for president since the last time to realize that newt gingrich is now the preferred candidate of the republican party, with all newt's baggage. i mean, totally, objectively, he's carrying so much baggage, serial marriages, moved out by his own caucus for the speakership. and here he is back as if none of that happened. >> i think it's troubling for romney. at the same time, i think there's a level of resignation in the romney campaign, that their campaign was not
predicated on setting the electorate on fire. by being this charming historical figure. this was going to be a different positioning for him. he was going to have to run on an economic message, on a technocratic message, on a guy who could figure out what's wrong with the economy. the reality is, in 2008, you talk to top republicans, strategists and otherwise, they had a real problem with mitt romney. a lot of conservatives didn't trust him then. they still don't trust him now. and that is only amplified by this environment that we're in. the tea party has come of age politically and has made a real mark in the midterm election in 2010 and is now rearing some level of power. how much, we don't know. but certainly has some power, so there is a looking elsewhere for an alternative to more establishment republican candidate. >> but here's the crazy thing, howard. and you and i have been through this. here's the weirdest thing. the one thing the tea party hates is the individual mandate. the one thing they hate even
more is the so-called death panels that bachmann made up, in fact. but here's one -- look at this. one of the cases that newt gingrich health care think tank pushed for according to the "washington post" today was that anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year must purchase health insurance or post a bond. in other words, an individual mandate. here, by the way, was a memorable exchange, howard, from a debate last month between mitt romney and newt gingrich on that very subject. how can newt run on the very things that the tea party and the republicans overall hate the most? let's watch. >> actually, newt, we got the idea of an individual mandate from you. >> that's not true. you got it from -- >> no, we got it from you, and you got it from the heritage foundation and you. >> you got it from the heritage foundation and we got it from you. >> what you just said is not true. you did not get that from me. you got it from the heritage foundation. >> and you never supported -- >> i agree with them. but what you said to this audience is just plain isn't true. >> and you supported it in the past? an individual mandate? >> i absolutely did. with the heritage foundation against hillary-care.
>> you did support an individual mandate? >> yeah. we got the idea from you and the heritage foundation. >> okay, a little broader. >> i mean, here he is, in one paragraph, denying and then admitting that he was for the individual mandate. the very thing they hate the most about obamacare. >> well, the irony is on this and a few other things, newt gingrich makes mitt romney look like a rock of consistency. because at least -- seriously. at least mitt romney still defends romney care as it relates to massachusetts. whereas mitt romney -- or excuse me, newt gingrich on the topic of the so-called death panels and on the individual mandate has flipped and flopped 180 degrees on both issues. >> but he seems to do it within the hour. >> he does it with utter conviction. that's the thing about newt gingrich. >> david, i want to first show and then react to this. here it is. we have so many good elements tonight. remember the so-called death panels that republicans used to attack the president's health care plan for? newt weighed in on an end of life care article which he signed in the summer of 2009.
he talks here about a company in wisconsin which happened to be a paying client of gingrich's consulting firm. here he is making the case for if you want to call them death panels. "more than 20% of all medicare spending occurs in the last two months of life. gundersen lutheran health system in la crosse, wisconsin, has developed a successful end-of-life best practice that includes community-wide advanced care planning, where 90% of patients have advanced directives. in other words, living wills. the gundersen approach empowers patients and families to control and direct their care. if gundersen's approach was used to care for the approximately 4.5 million medicare beneficiaries who die every year, medicare could save $33 billion a year." david, the guy's caught. here was newt gingrich a few days after that piece appeared, he was asked about the so-called death panels on abc's "this week." let's watch. >> we know people who have said routinely well, you're going to have to make decisions. you'll have to decide. communal standards, historically, is a very
dangerous concept. you're asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there clearly are people in america who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards. >> well, there you go. he's advocating end-of-life directives, which most people consider living wills, which we're all used to, and most families who take responsibilities for people in their later years do have. i just don't see where you can find consistent thinking from newt gingrich on these issues like individual mandates and living wills. >> and this is a problem when you get into inconsistencies on that level. when you try to pierce through the web of his financial dealings, since he left the speakership in washington. he made money, as he said, he was a small business man, he was a lecturer. he had various foundations and such, and associations that he created, closely tracking a lot of these policy issues, and he's
going to be scrutinized on that. but let me just make a general point. i mean, a lot of voters who are not actually voting yet are evaluating candidates as an anti-romney sort of candidate. maybe they don't even say it that way, but that's kind of what the vibe is, it's what the feeling is. and you see a rick perry who can't get started and then gets into trouble. and herman cain has fits and starts. and then you see gingrich, who's performing well in the debates, taking on the media. they're not looking at the whole composite of this. that's why if i'm mitt romney, i'm still looking at this and saying, who out there is really putting it all together to challenge me? has any one candidate really done that yet? i think it's an open question. >> i think there's still no contender in that regard. >> but here's the problem. mitt romney is a candidate, is a human wet match. he can't strike a fire. he's been at 20 to 25% in the polls for the last year or year and a half. and if he can't start picking up some votes here, then, yes, he can divide the field, but there's still a chance for somebody at the end to come in and beat him in a lot of these places. that's the problem that he still has.
>> and if it's anybody but romney, and he's 25, there's a virgin forest of 75% out there. >> that's why some of these people suddenly get so much traction. if anything, it's possible that newt is peaking too early. >> a wet match. >> right. >> anyway, i like phrases like a headless nail, a guy you can't fire. i love a wet match. david, how do you match little metaphor? >> he can't. >> this is why the voting actually matters. i think howard's right. we get to a point, but there's no legitimate alternative to romney. if republican primary voters still think that the president is vulnerable, does electability all of a sudden in the end become very important? and then romney starts to look a lot stronger if he starts picking up votes. we don't know -- we don't know
whether the anti-romney, you know, he's an inauthentic conservative is strong enough to carry this composite candidates, you know, to make this a longer, protracted fight. we just don't know that yet. >> let's take a look at the issues in newt's past. this is always tricky business when you get the personal life, but this has been rather public. married three times, divorced twice. how will social conservatives view that? richard landau, a well-known baptist leader who speaks out on such issues told the national review that newt will have problem with evangelical women. land says, "he needs to make the speech of his life. and in his mind, his target has got to be 40 to 60-year-old evangelical women. and he's got to convince them that he's sorry, he regrets it, he would do anything he could to undo the pain and the hurt that he's caused. he understands the pain and hurt that he's caused and he has learned his lesson. that he has thrown himself on the grace of jesus, and if they elect him president, he will not let them down. that there will be no moral scandal in a gingrich white house." well, that's, of course -- let's go on here. well, newt has tried to explain his past, not always very successfully. earlier this year, he was asked about his past on the christian broadcasting network, a great platform there, and here was his response, which i count as the
greatest piece of malarkey i have ever heard in my life. let's listen. >> there's no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately i felt about this country, that i worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate. i found that i felt compelled to seek god's forgiveness. not god's understanding, but god's forgiveness. >> you know, david, this is tricky business, because it's about a guy's personal life. but here he is, blaming his patriotism for his third marriage. and the use of the word "passion" is so out of sorts here. it's like that word where you take the wrong adjective and apply it to the wrong noun. i mean, passion is probably the reason he got involved with calis calista, if you will. and here he is saying it's his patriotism. but as a bit of logic, will anybody listening, christian or not, not think this is malarkey? >> in fairness to gingrich, i think i and others asked him
about that clip afterwards and he has moved away from that, and not used the patriotism defense here for what he did. and you know, so i think he's tried to account for that, which is not a judgment about whether it's going to make a difference for voters. and on that point, just some reporting from this afternoon, i have talked to a prominent midwestern conservative, somebody who knows gingrich well, and the question i was posing had to do with whether the lobbying ties were going to be a disqualifier for him. this source brought up, in fact, they were character issues that he thought were going to be the biggest problem for gingrich. and this was not necessarily someone endorsing him, but certainly an ally who thought that was going to be the biggest issue. so if you can see other
conservatives launching on this in terms of paid advertising and the like, it could be difficult. >> a projection here, howard, and you're as good at this as anybody, suppose this does crumble, this personal life issue, the ethics issue, the character issues. throw it all together with his lobbying establishment past and his total inconsistencies about the issues they care about, like the individual mandate and death panels, so-called, who else is the alternative? if they're forced to choose between mitt and newt, do they go back to perry? do they go back to cain? who do they retreat to? >> i'm tempted to say rick santorum still is left. [ laughter ] >> you're laughing. he's a former senator from pennsylvania. >> you're from pennsylvania too. >> i don't know. i really don't know. i will say this, though, about newt and his positioning right now. it's not just a matter of timing. the bar is so low on the republican side, as set by rick perry, especially, in terms of knowledge, in terms of capacity to understand the issues, that newt gingrich gets a lot of extra credit on the score sheet for that kind of thing. he is a ph.d. he's a former speaker. he does know the issues backwards and forwards. he's a terrific debater. he did deals with bill clinton back in the day, in the good old
'90s. >> he's fought in the heavyweight division. >> he's fought in the heavyweight division and he knows how to -- >> i think david was right about that. as a composite, with all his flaws, he may end up having a higher center of gravity than the others do. >> as you know, chris, it's a game of comparison. >> i know. thank you, david. thank you for joining us. and thank you, howard, of course. david interviews this weekend super committee members jon kyl and john kerry. that's sunday on msnbc. david will be back with us later on in the program with that strange story of natalie wood and what's up with that case. coming up, herman cain says americans want a leader, not a reader. what's that about? rick perry says president obama thinks he's the smartest guy in the room, like that's a putdown. when did the republican party decide that it's good to be a little bit out of it, a little bit unaware? well, that's ahead. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. you name it.
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wow, a 20-year-old video of barack obama has surfaced and it's become a youtube hit. the future president appeared in a black history minute public service announcement for tbs. let's take a look. >> the distinguished lawyer charles hamilton houston was born in 1895, eight months before the supreme court's separate but equal ruling in plessey versus ferguson. he spent his career fighting to overturn that infamous division. i'm barack obama, charles houston and celebrating a great moment in our history. >> obama would have been about 29 years old at the time of that videotape we'll be right back. some people want to convict engineers, machinists... ... adding nearly 400 billion dollars to our economy... we're at work providing power to almost a quarter of our homes and businesses... ... and giving us cleaner rides to work and school... and tomorrow, we could do even more.
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himself in new hampshire yesterday. new mexico against critics who said that his lapse on libya earlier in the week shows he's not up to a presidential run. here's more of that defense. >> who knows every detail of every country of every situation on the planet? nobody! a leader is supposed to make sure we're working on the right problem. we assign the right priority. surround yourself with good people. put together plans and lead! we've got plenty of experts. and a leader knows how to use those experts. we need a leader, not a reader. >> wow. if that line sounds familiar to you, it's because the fictional president schwarzenegger said something similar in "the simpsons movie." let's listen. >> i've narrowed your choices down to five unthinkable options. each will cause untold misery --
>> i pick number three. >> you don't even want to read them first? >> i was elected to lead, not to read! >> how could cain have stepped into that? if there's a strong strain of anti-intellectuals taking hold of the republican party, could that be the case? and will voters go for that anti-intellectualism? david corn and washington bureau -- i'm sorry. i'm looking at the other guy there. he's washington bureau chief for mother jones, and ron christie, who's now broken into a smile, is a republican strategist, and fellow at harvard university institute of politics, very impressed. although i'm not, just kidding. let's go now to david corn. let these people speak for themselves. first of all, leader, not a reader. what does he mean? you don't have to read the paper? you just get experts to do it for you? like when is he going to know these things? my question is, if you don't know it know, do you need briefers to tell you where libya is? >> i think that's exactly what
he means. and i think the question you could put to herman cain, would you hire someone to be a ceo that couldn't read a profit and loss sheet. this whole notion that he doesn't have a single thought about the most significant military action in the past year should disqualify him. he could have the wrong thought, he could have a opinion one way or the other, and he'd be in the arena. but to run to president and say, i have no idea what you're talking about when you ask me about libya, i mean, there should be no one on the stage behind him! he should be alone in a room somewhere, you know -- >> let me tell an old yogi berra-iism to my friend, ron. there's a line saying, you know, we're lost, but we're making good time. you know, a guy would understand that. we're lost -- he sounds like the guy that says, we're lost but we're making good time. i am totally confident of where i'm going, even though i'm lost.
don't you have to have a basic curious habit that you and i and everybody here has picked up over the years, you can't wait to get to the paper in the morning. you read the newspaper, you know what's going on in the world, because you're just curious about it. it's got nothing to do with running for president. now here this guy admits, the u-becky-becky-becky-stan, and makes fun of all that stuff, it's the basics. libya has been in the headlines for six months. doesn't he have a gut sense of that issue? your thoughts, ron? >> chris, here's one that you and i are absolutely in agreement on this. i heard that clip and i said, are you serious? are you seriously going to sit there and say that you need to get folks to surround you, that you don't need to read all that stuff? you've worked in the white house, chris. i've worked in the white house for the president. the president is always taking in information, always sifting. always trying to figure out, how can i best lead the country? and if you're saying this now, you're not ready for primetime. this guy is not ready for primetime. i wish the republicans would say, look, herman, you've had a great successful run in business, good for you. if you want to run in politics, why don't you run for city council or congress. but you're going to say those sorts of things and think you should be the next president of
the united states? with two wars going on, with the economy the way it is, i think that it's pathetic. >> i've got another entry for you here. rick perry, he criticized president obama, saying he thinks -- here's talking about president obama, he thinks he's the smartest guy in the room. let's listen. >> his thinking that he can go and negotiate because of his great debating skills anyplace in the world. well, we've seen a number of examples of that, where it's just been an abject failure. and as a matter of fact, his thinking that he's the smartest guy in the room has hurt america around the world, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. >> what do you make of that? you first, david? >> my follow-up question would be, give me three examples. because it's all this generalization. he's smart, we should be scared of that, that he's smart? was he -- was he too smart to save the auto companies? was he too smart to get osama bin laden? i mean, that's not the issue. if you have a candidate out there, i mean, ron just put it pretty well. if you're a president, you've got to be smart.
you've got to have intellectual curiosity, as you talk about often. you've got to be able to absorb information. you may end up with -- >> so you don't think there's a reason -- somewhere a kernel of truth in the charge that somewhere the president floats above the people, too elite in his experience -- not his experience, but his sense that he can think through anything and solve it. >> i think he has a lot of confidence. i think george w. bush had a lot of confidence. and you can argue maybe it didn't work out so well in some ways. >> you go on in here, ron. here's rick perry again criticizing president obama. let's listen. >> he grew up in a privileged way. he never had to really work for anything. and he never had to go through what americans are going -- you know, there's 14 plus million americans sitting out there, some of them watching this program tonight that don't have a job. this president has never felt that angst that they have in their heart. and we need a president who has been through their ups and downs
in life, understands what it's like to have to deal with the issues of our economy that we have today in america. >> so barack obama was born on third base, right, ron? >> i mean, here's a guy with a stepfather in rhodesia, his birth father splits when he's 2 years old, never really meets the guy, his mother raised him with the help of her parents. i mean, he does have sort of a bounce-around life, which wasn't exactly what you'd call top drawer. >> you know, the thing, and chris, we've talked about this many times. i don't like class warfare being played. if you want to attack a politician based on their policies or their positions, fine. barack obama came from a is background of privilege? his mother was even on food stamps at one point. so the guy went to columbia, so he went to harvard law school. i say given the upbringing that he had and the tumultuous past that he had, good for him that he did that. >> scholarships. >> yeah. i don't like what rick perry is trying to insinuate here, that somehow, oh, if you come from privilege -- well, you know
what? if you come from privilege, you still have to apply yourself and dedicate yourself. he still was the chairman of the "harvard law review" here at harvard university, and i think barack obama being the first african-american president certainly worked his tail off to get to where he is and he should be commended. i'm a hard-core right-winger -- >> david, this is one night we're going to let ron christie end the discussion. because you can't beat what he said. ron, five stars. thank you, david corn, thank you, ron christie. you'll pay for it with your republican pals tonight. up next, you won't believe it but michele bachmann actually says she hasn't made a gaffe ever or done anything that caused her to drop in the polls. what is this, gravity that's brought her down? that's next in the sideshow. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] in 1894, a small town pharmacist
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apparently gop candidate michele bachmann has taken note of the recent campaign blunders of her opponents, rick perry and herman cain, but how about when it comes to her own campaign missteps? well, let's take a listen to what she had to say yesterday on how she has fared so far when it comes to those embarrassing campaign moments. >> i haven't had a gaffe or something that i've done that has caused me to fall in the polls. >> you've had a few little gaffes. maybe not recently, but you had the historic reference in massachusetts, i think, and i think you had one here -- >> well, i got elvis presley's birthday wrong, but i don't think that's a disqualifying factor for being president of the united states. >> what? i don't think elvis presley's birth date was quite what the host was talking about right there. more likely, it was this. let's listen to this one. >> what i love about new hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. you're the state where the shot was heard around the world at lexington and concord. >> how can you not know that lexington and concord was in massachusetts? she was in new hampshire when
she gave that speech. wow. anyway, if it's not the gaffes, i wonder what bachmann would say was her disqualifying factor? what's brought her down? what's keeping her from grabbing this nomination is it and finally, guess who. looks like rick perry has some company in trying to bring down -- misrepresent obama's upbringing. let's hear how pat robertson's jumped on the president's trip to indonesia this week. >> he spent four years in indonesia. i don't know if he was trained in a madrassa, one of those muslim schools, but nevertheless, that is his inclination. his father was a kenyan socialist, and he talks about the roots of his father. i don't know what his mother was doing. she just sort of flitted around. this may give him a warped perspective what needs to be done to make america the greatest nation on earth. >> if you take that guy's advice, maybe you shouldn't even have a vote. last month, by the way,
robertson advised gop candidates to lay off this the birther crap. i guess he forgot his on advice. i think the guy's in his dotage. up next, a conversation about american politics with tom brokaw. i'm going to ask tom why so many political leaders, president obama included, are having trouble connecting out there. and that's a real problem for all politicians today, connecting with real americans. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. and having enough income when you retire. that's why i'm here. to help come up with a plan and get you on the right path. i have more than a thousand fidelity experts working with me so that i can work one-on-one with you. it's your green line. but i'll be there, every step of the way. call or come in for a free portfolio review today. ♪ and just let me be [ male announcer ] this is your moment. ♪ your ticket home
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"new york times" is reporting that the second mile, is preparing to close its doors for good, handing off the charitable works to other organization. and joe paterno's son has announced that his dad has been diagnosed with a treatable cancer. and the fda has approved avastin citing potentially life-threatening effects. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." well, can any candidate for president actually connect with the american people this year? the latest pew poll shows mitt
romney stuck in neutral, if you will, at 23%, with flavors of the month like herman cain at 22 and newt gingrich creeping up now to 16%. no one seems to be catching fire, including president obama, i must say. joining me now is nbc's tom brokaw, who is the author of the book "time of our lives: a conversation about america," which is in bookstores right now. tom, thanks so much for coming on. because you come to us with a wealth of recent information about the pop-out there, about the feelings of people. is there any one sort of thematic that you could point to about their feeling towards what we do, what politicians do in america today and what they don't do? >> i think they feel entirely walled off in the process, chris. if i were to describe it one way, i suppose it would be that politics, really, our political culture is analog, and the real world is digital at this moment. they're playing by the old rules, and people who have deep concerns about this systemic
recession that we're so involved in here, hear not have many answers that are going to provide them with the kind of relief that they're looking for. i spent the last couple of days in the southeast, and i just saw an astonishing number, i was in alabama, and an international forecasting firm has said that in alabama, georgia, and florida, it will be another five years before they return to the employment levels of the pre-recession time. in north carolina and other states around them, it will be four more years. there are 20 million homes in this country that are if not under water, they're in peril of being foreclosed on. and it's that kind of reality that is the greatest concern to the country. and they don't see what they think are really reasonable answers for addressing that. you know, we were told that the recession ended in 2009. you can't prove it by the folks who live on main street, chris. >> boy, tom, i hear the same thing from way up in new england, places in rhode island, which are really bad off. the same thing about the mortgage situation, where so
many homes, so many foreclosures, so many -- well, let me -- rather than quote from your book back to you, because you wrote it, i want to ask you about a couple of things. about the geography of the problem right now. is there a sense that brains matter? that's a pretty primitive question, but it used to be, we looked for somebody pretty smart to be president. kennedy or nixon were smart guys, both of them. we looked at bill clinton as certainly a very bright guy. is that still the hunt, for the smartest guy? or is there a new sense of almost a populistic anti-intellectualism? because i smell it some places on the right, at least. >> i think there's some of that, but i also think this is at a time when the junkies are involved. that's what's reflected in a lot of the polls. and i think the reason newt gingrich and herman cain are holding up as well as they are is because they are targets for a lot of people and they have their advocates who say, hey, we're going to fight back against the establishment view on this. by the way, this is why we have these long run-ups in these primaries, so we can find out
who these people really are. but as you know, as well as anyone, chris, in the final analysis, people go into the voting booth, and they vote, i believe, on three criteria. will this person make my life safe, not just for me, but for my children? is it someone that i'm comfortable with personally? and does he or she have the intelligence to operate in what is really a more complicated world at this time? and that will come into play a lot more as we get into the end of this year and the beginning of the process, chris, in iowa and new hampshire and south carolina in the early primaries. because the field will begin to broaden in terms of who's paying attention and what their criteria are for the candidates. >> your book's called "the time of our lives." one thing about our time is it seems to be getting more virtual. you mentioned about digital a moment ago, about the way people connect. i always kid about this, people go down into their basements in their parents' home and failure to launch, they're still at home, and basically living their lives on laptops.
they're communicating with other friends, even, through social networking. how does that make americans feel? does it make us feel more or less connected to the people pulling the levers? >> that's a new universe that we're still working our way through. i like to tell young people, this is the most transformative technology of my lifetime. i never anticipated that it would have the reach that it does. but i also say to them, you can't eliminate your student debt by hitting backspace or delete. you're not going to change global poverty, for example, by hitting escape. and i don't care how often you text someone that you really care about, it will never replace the first kiss. and i don't want to hear a lyric that goes "a tweet is just a tweet" as time goes by. so we have to find a way to find the common ground in all of this. in terms of the impact on the political culture, chris, it's both good news and bad news. the bad news is that you can organize very quickly with a keystroke a movement to create a kind of jihad against a candidate you don't care about,
or the candidate who doesn't hue exactly to what your very narrow special interests may be. on the other hand, it does give you the opportunity as a voter to do the research that you like to do, to hear his speeches, or to read the press releases of people in realtime on a daily people in real time on a daily basis. so we're still working our way through it. we still haven't come entirely to grips about how we're going to use this new technology. >> you know, you say something in your book that we always have to do around here. you warn people to pay attention to what they're consuming on the internet. you write, quote, what we're missing, however, is a national dialogue about the wise use of these powerful instruments of communication. in the hands of reckless or vindictive users, they are used for intimidation and malice. they can be the electronic equivalent of pulling a pin on a grenade and rolling the explosive into someone's private life. what came to be called fraging in vietnam." so when somebody's putting out something viral out there, it's almost like one of those rumors on the stock market, it could be anything. and i always yell to people, where'd that come from?
who told you that? but i'm not sure everybody does that, you know, that discerning kind of, wait a minute, who told you that? >> well, part of the purpose of this book is i'm now 71 years old, i've been asked this for half a century, i have grandchildren and i'm concerned about the kind of world that they'll inherit. and this is a nonpartisan book, chris. what i'm just saying is that we all have to get involved and take control of our own destiny, and our generation, especially, has to determine what kind of a legacy that we want to leave. the phrase that i've been using with a lot of citizens is, you have to re-enlist as citizens. and that means hard work. you can't be a couch potato, just sit at home and watch "hardball" or any of the other offerings. you have to get up on your toes and go online and find out what you can rely on and what you can't. it can be a really exciting time, you know. i wrote about the greatest generation. think about the challenges they met and gave us the lives that we have. one of the things i've been saying to audiences 50 years from now, what will our children and grandchildren say about the lives that we left for them? i think that's the real test of the year 2012. >> wow.
thank you so much, tom brokaw. the name of the book is "the time of our lives: a conversation about america." there it is. good luck with that, tom. thanks for coming on "hardball." up next, investigators have reopened one of the hollywood's most enduring mysteries. what happened to actress natalie wood? we all loved natalie wood. she died on that yacht in a terrible -- whatever. we really don't know what happened that night out there in the pacific. and there's new information about the case. this is "hardball," only on msnbc. americans are always ready to work hard for a better future. since ameriprise financial was founded back in 1894, they've been committed to putting clients first. helping generations through tough times. good times. never taking a bailout. there when you need them. helping millions of americans over the centuries. the strength of a global financial leader. the heart of a one-to-one relationship. together for your future. ♪
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do i agree with the part where we intervened with rockets and missiles? do i agree with siding with the opposition? do i agree with saying that gadhafi should go? do i agree that they now have a country where you've got taliban and al qaeda that's going to be part of the government? >> the taliban's in libya. really, mr. cain? so first you didn't know about the neocons that took us to war in iraq. you didn't know china already had nuclear weapons. and now this. we'll be right back. be si evergirl. i've seen this before -- the old "impromptu in-law visit."
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dennis davern. david gregory is back with us to discuss the case, he's moderator of "meet the press." but this morning on the "today" program, he had an exclusive conversation with the captain, davert who said he lied to police back then. let's see a portion. this was the hardest-going interview i have seen in a long time, getting something out of this guy. >> sir, my question is, what happened that led to her death that we didn't know before? >> i can't answer that question right now. >> and why not? you're referring to mistakes you made. have you changed your story from when you spoke to investigators years ago? >> i did lie on a report years ago. >> and what did you lie about then? >> it was just a mis -- i made mistakes by not telling the honest truth in a police report. >> well, i know you struggled
with him. you must have gone around it five or six times, just to get that information, that he lied. and then later on he said that he believes that mr. wagner was guilty. >> well, here's the interesting. so the sheriffs office in los angeles has re-opened the investigation. the question is, why? the book that davern wrote was two years old. he wrote a book about his version of events. a couple years ago. didn't go anywhere. he and his co-writer have been pressuring this trying to get the case re-opened. what are the new leads? what does he ultimately say in this interview, and it took a while to get out of him, wagner lied that he lied, they covered up the big story. they had a bad fight, robert wagner and natalie had a fight. the result of which davern says was her death. he didn't say pushed over by wagner or specifically murdered but when she falls, when she goes missing, his charge this morning is, wagner basically says, we're not going to look real hard for her. doesn't use the big search
light. >> what does that mean? >> doesn't use the big search light. >> what's the implication? >> the implication is presumably the more charitable view is wagner was saying, look, i don't know where she is, but she's afraid of the water, maybe she went to shore on the dinghy, went to the restaurant or something. >> there's all kinds of possibilities, she could have had a fight and gone outside and slipped. that would have been a cause/effect, doesn't mean he did it. >> when this happened, it was ruled an accidental drowning. there were questions of whether she was bruised, you know, was she, you know, was she under the influence -- >> yeah. >> did she fall off the boat, even getting into the dinghy? the oars weren't used, the moore wasn't turned on. christopher walken was asleep at the time. they'd been out earlier on. the point da verksvern is sayine was a fight he tried to get in the middle of and wagner told him to stay out of it.
he didn't tell the truth 30 years ago. now he's saying he had an agreement with wagner to soft peddle this. >> he blames robert wagner. the l.a. sheriffs department this afternoon said wagner is not a suspect. i'm not sure what that means legally. here's more of your interview, david, this morning. let's watch. >> was the fight between natalie wood and her husband, robert wagner, what ultimately led to her death? >> yes. >> how so? >> like i said, that's going to be up to the investigators to decide. >> was he responsible for her death in some way? >> well, like i said, i think we all made mistakes that night and -- >> mr. davern, that wasn't my question. was he responsible for her death? i'm not asking about your story.
>> yes, i would say so, yes. >> david, this is going to be used in journalism school someday. what i call an uncooperative witness. he wanted to get something out. what do you think was the minimum amount of information he sought to put out? here he is agreeing to be on television. what did he want to say? he didn't say much except you pushed him to say he believes wagner is somehow responsible. >> somehow responsible and when i laid it out for him, i said, do you think he pushed her over or do you think it's basically he was responsible by not doing much to look for her when he knew that she was in some sort of trouble or went missing and that he was so worried -- he writes about in the book is that wagner says to him, according to davern, he was so worried about his public image, they didn't want to make a huge deal of the search and rescue effort because it would make him look bad at the time. davern in his own memoir talked about expressing remorse of what happened. it's never gotten beyond the idea he's somehow culpable, only
that a terrible accident occurred here. what davern was trying to get across, he had a fight he had not divulged before. let's put this in context. what wagner has said he welcomes the re-opening of the investigation. he did imply davern is trying to profit off this. >> 30 years later. just happeneds to be the anniversary. it might be something else. thank you, david gregory. unusual territory for us. people really like natalie wood. she's a fabulous memory in this country of us moviegoers. this sunday on "meet the press" david interviews supercommittee members john kerry and jon kyl. there's a frustrating story. when we return, let me finish with the shown show being performed by those republican presidential candidates. ♪
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let me finish tonight with this. running for president shouldn't be amateur hour, much less a clown show. i spent night after night here watching this parade of absurdity. donald trump, let me spell this out. you're an incredible showman and business tycoon, but you're not a presidential candidate. going after the president's birth certificate was a brilliant gimmick, but a gimmick nonetheless and one that ended up blowing up. michele bachmann, please. you began with this nonsense about the founding fathers working their hearts out to end slavery. every schoolkid within a bus
ride of mt. vernon have seen the slave quarters where the washingtons kept those people you say they were desperately trying to set free. no, they weren't. as ed rendell pointed out, the washingtons liked having their slaves, they even brought them up to philadelphia to share george's presidential years. rick perry, he threatened to have texas secede from the union, pointing to some provision to the texas annexation that allowed for it. no such provision exists and neither does the possibility of this cowboy getting into the white house without a pass issued under the authority of a real president. herman cain, excuse me. you don't even read the newspapers. you don't even care enough to take a few minutes a day to know what's happening in our country, and you say you want to run it. newt, i have to hand it to you. imagine the pain and self-doubt you must be inflicted on mitt romney. imagine being mitt and see the latest polls republicans prefer you with all your baggage from previous marriages, a reprimand from the congress and being driven from the