tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC September 15, 2013 4:00am-4:31am PDT
obama's strong. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews. in washington, and let me start tonight with this, politics makes strange bedfellows and tonight america is in bed with vladimir putin. is this going to work? can we count on this guy in syria? do our own two countries have a common interest in fighting the islamists? isn't that obvious what chechen nationalists did to us in the boston marathon.
has it come to this, the americans and russians see a common enemy, just as we did in world war ii? could obama be the way to get america and russia fighting alongside each other instead of against each other? could this be the inflection point in history we need? big question, that's coming up in the show. first, the fight here at home, president obama's base support remains strong. a poll shows 78% of democrats, 4 out of 5, approve of the job he's doing right now, that's stronger than the 45% approval nationally, 50% disapproval president obama gets in the full poll, but democrats are holding strong. democrat of new york and columnist for the chicago tribune. starting with the congressman from new york. part of this, i think, may have to do with this hesitancy about going to war in syria. i just think the president is
very much in sync with most democrats, which is, yeah, we might have to do something, but i feel very bad about going to war again. i wonder whether his hesitancy isn't perfectly in sync with the way democrats are thinking. your thoughts, sir? >> i think the president is acting deliberately and also understanding and learning the lessons of what took place in iraq. he knows and most democrats know previously when we went into iraq, it was a hyped war, we were given misinformation. he's trying to give the americans the truth. there's no imminent threat or imminent danger as was hyped in iraq. i think democrats understand that. democrats also understand that if you were to go in to take out assad, that you would owned syria the same way we did iraq, he's not doing that. the best way to do it is try to ultimately have dialogue and conversation, and that's what he's doing. democrats want him to come to
congress, he's come to congress. those kinds of things, which i think were the right things to do for the country, that's going to prevent having the catastrophic problems we had back in iraq, now has driven us to the table where we're talking with the russians is a positive. we have an opportunity, a window of opportunity to do something that won't cause us to have to go to war. >> i think we look at syria when we turn on television with nothing else to do, extreme wrestling matches or something, i don't like either of these guys. i'm not rooting for either of these guys. >> remember kissinger's line about iraq war, pity one has to win. that's the situation between assad -- >> especially watching the papers, the guy getting his head cut off or watching five, seven guys getting executed. >> that's right. we are dealing with an alternative to assad is riddled with al qaeda and other islamist extremists that aren't
guaranteed to bring in democracy either. >> i like that. first time i've ever liked that fellow in texas said, ted cruz, when he said we're going to be al qaeda's air force. >> right, right. that's not unlike vietnam, the way a lot of people saw it, the saigon government -- >> unwavering solid support from his voters that brought him into office. among african-americans, no surprise, 85% approval. still 11% disapproval among hispanics, about the same as the elections, 60% approve. college-educated women, 57%, about 3 out of 5 support the president, 37% disapprove. congressman meeks, when you go around your district, i don't know if it's the same, in a weird way left has been catching up to right or right has been catching up to left, both ends don't like the idea of going into war. what's it like in new york?
>> no one really wanted to go to war, but they also are concerned about doing something unilaterally, wanted more of an international coalition as to what was going on done. they wanted to make sure that was deliberate. in my district, my individuals are asking me to get as much information as i can to make a deliberate and a well thought through decision as to what i should do, but they definitely would not -- do not want to go to war, but at the same token, they want to make sure chemical weapons aren't ute lietzed and understand the line that's been crossed. an international line has been crossed, so the international community should come together to do whatever needs to be done. >> the congressional black caucus, can you tell me where they were going to vote in end on the issue whether to support a strike by our forces against the syrian government, were they going to do it, or not? >> by and large, most members
were still undecided, because what they wanted to do was to watch and get all of the facts, get all of the evidence in. that's what we did actually with iraq even and make sure we understood what was going to take place, what would happen after a strike, how large a strike, so that you can make that decision. the members of the congressional black caucus are not monolithic, so individuals are going to do different things, i believe, as they process the information for themselves and the votes would have been all over the place. >> isn't it fair to say you didn't want to come out against the president, you didn't feel like doing it, people back home didn't want to do it, you were hesitant to put down a mark of nay. >> loob, i'm going to tell you, when you have a vote to decide whether or not to utilize the united states military, it's not about who's your friend and who's not your friend. that's the hardest vote, in my 15 years in congress, the
hardest vote whether or not to use the military. that's a vote of conscious. i think the members of the congressional black caucus will utilize their conscious not based upon the friendship of the president. they want to make sure to do the right thing. >> yeah, but what do you think, clarence, as an objective journalist, was there fear there to put a big nay vote down? this is not just the black caucus. >> it is a vote of conscious. that's why the issue has crossed party lines. you have libertarian republicans that are just as antiwar as the left-wing democrats. it's the kind of issue that also stands out by itself, too. i don't know if anyone's election prospects are going to rise or fall, except president obama, and he doesn't have to worry about elections. >> let's talk about elections. probably the one thing that really got people energized to vote in the black community, liberals generally, they saw voter suppression stuff going on in pennsylvania, down south, all over the country, 36 states.
that galvanized the electorate, damn it, i'm not going to get screwed out of my vote. people showed up. today, are people paying attention enough to what's going on in the right? tremendous effort by people like ted cruz and those to basically make president obama's presidency an asterisk. he really wasn't president. we'll talk impeachment, cessation, repeal obama care, anything we can to get the guy off the record books. whisper about birtherism, so they can say he wasn't on the list of presidents, that face doesn't belong to the list of presidents. maybe i'm paranoid. that's what i think they are up to. >> we've already seen the right refashion history to suit their tastes, but facts are facts. >> what i'm talking about, this attempt to disgown him. >> if we talk about legacy, his legacy stands, and the durability of obama care is right there, these quick-siding votes against it --
>> they are going to shut down the government over it, they are trying to. >> right now it looks like that would backlash against them, just like it backlashed against newt gingrich in the '90s. we're talking about the midterms or general elections, because in the midterms african-americans and others tending to vote democrat are less likely to show up and it's harder to generate that same kind of energy. >> congressman meeks, when you go home, do you hear people talking about these characters? i've never seen this right wing so virulent, basically trying it to erase obama, kill the baby in its crib with obama care. it's like he's barry bonds. he really didn't hit all those homers, he didn't do it. there's something wrong with it. seems this is what they are trying to do. >> that's right, but when history looks back, they are going to show the kind of individuals in congress he had
to deal with, yet his accomplishments. when he came into office, he had three major, catastrophic events taking place, the worst financial crisis, war in iraq, and war in afghanistan, which he got us out of. he passed a health care bill, that we've been trying to pass for decades, and he did a lot of this against the opposition of individuals who wanted to wipe him off the map. that's going to make his legacy that much stronger and better, i think, in the eyes of history. >> that's the best i've heard it. thank you so much, u.s. congressman meeks. coming up, now that vladimir putin stuck his neck out on syria, he's the guy to talk to about chemical weapons. plus, add maryland to the growing list of states where right wingers are pushing secession. and a little democratic payback, harry reid says he'll hold a
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welcome back to "hardball." america is waiting and watching right now, like it or not, russian president vladimir putin is president obama's best hope to peacefully disarm syria. saddled with a war weary public at home and a war weary congress at home, obama pinned his hopes on a diplomatic resolution. and now, nbc news is reporting the senior administration official here in washington suggests the united states would agree to a key russian demand.
that the u.n. resolution will not include the use of military force or the threat of military force against syria as a consequence for noncompliance. politics makes strange bedfellows but as cold war history has shown, our relationship with russia is complicated to say the least. putin's russia may no longer be our adversary but it would be an overstatement to call it a friend. it's no overstatement to say president obama and his team need to deliver on this one in syria which won't be an easy task considering russia's temperament. as winston churchill famously said, i cannot forecast to you the action of russia. it is a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma. perhaps there is a key, russian national interest. now that we're playing the game on their turf, it's worth asking, what makes putin's russia take? with us is simon marks and sergei khrushchev, the son of nikita khrushchev the leader of the soviet union. this is a picture of father and son going back to 1959. sergei is now a senior fellow at
the great brown university's watson institute for international studies. professor, thank you for joining us. i guess the first question what are russia's interests in syria? >> stability. russia don't want to have all this fighting on their borders. he had they are already feared about the taliban in afghanistan and now to have them near the caucuses, it will be nightmare for russia. they need stability and predictability and they think president assad is giving this stability and all this creating uncertainty because nobody who are they and who will be in power would they win. >> do you think, professor, that the united states and the west now faces a common enemy alongside russia of islamtism?
the danger of the chechnians and the danger of the people in al qaeda? do we see the same enemy across the frontier? >> i would not say that islam the enemy to west or to russia. but russia live with the islam peacefully for last 400 years and they had no problems. but of course, all the extremists are very dangerous there and when the u.s. started fighting there, especially when you have this fighting in syria, fighting between different religious groups, the islamist from one side and other side also they're fighting against armenians and against christians. it's becoming very different, because there you just concentrate the strongly motivated people who know nothing against we want to kill you. this is very dangerous for both side. >> you know, a lot of americans don't put things together very quickly because we're not helped by the media. when bobby kennedy was shot by a
palestinian, by sirhan sirhan nobody said wait a minute, this might have something to do with the middle east. and our position supporting israel. and maybe this has something to do with world politics. no, it was just a tragedy and a conspiracy theory. here when we have the boston bomber, nobody puts together, the chechnians are islamic terrorists. common enemy. putting it together and possibly a root to the opportunity for putin in his own russian interests to help us with syria. >> there's a whole raft of self-interests guiding putin in all of this and certainly concern about islamic extremism at home is one of those self-interests driving him. there's more to it i think with great professor than simply a desire for stability. there's also a desire to project an image of russia as a major player on the global stage. that is what has been driving vladimir putin from the very moment that he game russian president, it is a desire to be
seen as sharing equivalents with the united states, both in terms of refusing to accept that will american democracy is a superior political system to the way in which democracy is carried out at home. >> is that a bad thing for the world or for us? >> it's certainly a bad thing for the united states. no question about that because you see a united states that is embarrassed on the global stage after the events of the past ten days. a united states whose government appears substantially weaker on the world stage than it was before. >> we were weak before the russians came along. we were weak because the american people were not interested in a war in syria. not because of anything to do with the russians. >> you're weak because you're being consistently outmaneuvered. the russians outmaneuvered you on -- >> professor khrushchev, do you accept the fact that simon marks just made the argument that a lot of this has to do with ego and the desire of the russian lead to re-establish global equality with the united states? >> i think that the putin
realistic and he understand that russia no more the great power. it is not the superior power. it's not a regional power. the putin position is just to establish his position inside the former soviet union creating the economical union and many other things. of course, he want to be represented in the world and the leading member of the g-20. as any of these countries wanted to be on stage and present their point. but they will not -- interest or challenge the united states like it was during the cold war and when my father was in power. only two powers in the world who tried to deal with each other. >> that's for sure. it was simpler back then. for his part, putin relied heavily on the u.n. security council. he stressed its role in the new
york times op-ed yesterday. your father knew the value of using the u.n. in a very different way, for theater, whether it was pounding the table in protest, or disrupting a speech in protest. he used confrontations as a way to command attention. take a look. >> none of us particularly were welcome in our countries, a large number of officials, a large number of officials from abroad, a large number -- i'd like it translated, if you would. certainly. >> perhaps most well-known disruption was the legendary shoe incident when he removed his shoe and pounded it on the table. the only record that exists of this episode is this "new york times" photograph which shows the shoe right in front.
thank you, professor cruise chef from brown university and simon marks for joining us. up next, i'm going to answer your twitter questions up in a minute. this is "hardball," the place for politics. if you've got it, you know how hard it can be to breathe and man, you know how that feels. copd includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. spiriva is a once-daily inhaled copd maintenance treatment that helps open my obstructed airways for a full 24 hours. you know, spiriva helps me breathe easier. spiriva handihaler tiotropium bromide inhalation powder does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. tell your doctor if you have kidney problems,
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welcome back to "hardball." it's time for our special segment, let's play "hardball." let's kick it off with a request he from jim mcdowell of morgantown, west virginia. he asks, has congress always worked three days a week and not accomplished anything? >> i do believe they do good work in their districts when they're there. here's the big answer to their question. they used to get the budget resolution done in the spring by may 15th when it's supposed to get gone. they used to get the appropriations done during the summer. used to meet the deadline. yes, they used to get their work done and don't now. the next question from john ryan who is currently serving in the peace corps over in kenya. what a great assignment. he asked, what did chris learn in the peace corps he continues to use today?
i'm going to rpcv from kenya. look, the best thing i ever did in the peace corps was join it. the second thing was riding around in a suzuki 120 motorcycle in the middle of nowhere speaking zula with the people i looked nothing like. i was the only white guy they'd ever seen. i was out there teaching business with these people in small trading shops all by myself. it's not like going in the military. it was a growing up experience. it was a great thing. i hope i helped that country. finally this comes from mike who asks, will history see this syria event more positive for obama? i think things changed when he realized that his own democratic party and his loyalists did not support him going into military action in syria. that changed everything. and then oddly enough, the secretary of state said, maybe if they get rid of all their chemical weapons we won't have to do this. the russians were quick witnessed to see the opportunity.
the president has to be just as quick. i think it's very smart we decide we're not going to say as a rule we go to the security council and say we're threatening them. don't throw threats around till we've got a partner. that partner has to be russia. coming up next, "your business" with jj ramberg. [ male announcer ] this is pam.
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