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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  February 16, 2010 5:00pm-5:30pm EST

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know the situation up there. plus, for all the talk like dick cheney, who are dining out on the false claim that president obama isn't tough enough when it comes to fighting terrorists, this bit of news. real news. cia and pakistani intelligence forces just captured the taliban's top military commander in pakistan. this is a huge fact. he's the most significant taliban leader catch since the start of the war in afghanistan. and he's being interrogated right now. nbc chief foreign correspondent richard engel will give us the latest from out there. lts's start with what's happening in the senate right now with former senator john broh from louisiana, a democrat. and former senator william cohen. he served as defense secretary for democratic president bill clinton. mr. secretary, you first. let me show you first of all something you're familiar with. this is what senator bayh said this morning on my colleague's show "morning joe" about what's wrong with congress.
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let's listen to the about to be retired senator bayh. >> i don't feel the senate or congress in general is working as well as it should. i think you've got a lot of good people trapped in a dysfunctional system right now. with regard to the left-wing bloggers, i believe in the first amendment. they've got a right to criticize me. sometimes it gets a little personal. you're only human, you don't like that. but you've got to accept that in our society. so i do. i do think what people are yearning for and i've discussed this before, what our party needs to understand, people want practical progress. they're tired of the two extremes. they're tired of people who focus on short-term tactical political advantage rather than getting the job done. some progress is better than none. >> well, senator, he took a shot at the left-wing bloggers as he call them. is that part of the didn't of being a u.s. senator? you get hit from the left and right if you try to work a deal in the center. >> i think one of the problems is the center in the country is getting larger while the center in the congress is getting smaller and smaller.
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there's not a significant center like they used to have. tip o'neill used to speak more than in one day about bob michael than speaker pelosi speaks to john boehner in a year. >> literally. >> literally. >> they tonight talk? >> they don't talk. they don't go to games together, they don't go to dinner together. they're only here tuesday through thursday. you can't stick someone in the eye that you had dinner with the night before. but if you don't talk to them, deal with them, it's easy to be partisan. >> a gravitational pull to the extremes on both the right and reth. left. i wonder who said that. bill cohen, do you recognize those words? they go close to home, i believe. >> it sounds very familiar, chris. as a matter of fact, you could take senator bayh's comments and just substitute my name for those comments. they're almost identical. i think that those of us ho served in the senate and the house found that the middle was
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collapsing, that we were being pulled apart. those in the senate were just dismissed as being the mushy middle that had no principle, and those planting their feet in the streams, being seen as true justice in the american way. >> what do you say to the j.d. hayworths on the right beating the heck out of john mccain? and katrina over on the left raising hell about the democrats like you, senator? anybody that might go to the middle. mr. co-hen, what do you say to your extremes when they get all the noise on tv? they got nothing to lose. i guess that's what you can say, you've got nothing to lose. >> how do you make government work. if you try the government at the extremes, nothing will take place. what we're seeing now is very little movement made on the key issues that affect our country, on national security, our infrastructure. we are rotting away from the inside, as well on a physical sense. when you start looking at what other countries are doing investing in those things that make a country strong, you say,
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why can't we do this. what's wrong is, no one is willing to take tough decisions that used to be when senator breaux were in the congress, in the senate you could be a statesman for four years and run for re-election in the last two. now it's running every moment, raising money, out on the road. what we're seeing is the polarization taking place and no decisions being made because they're too tough. well, we need tough decisions. you need tough leaders. you don't need people at the extreme saying we have an absolute solution. which doesn't accommodate anybody else's view. >> i've got to ask you the same question. abraham lincoln built the railroad, all during fighting the civil war. >> we used to have a centrist coalition in the senate bill. the problem now, chris, i think is the activists on both parties tend to be far to the left or far to the right. the country is not there. but the people who are in control of running the political elections out there want you to be pulled all the way to the left and destroy your --
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>> just take somebody on these shows, katrina, a woman on the left in nation magazine. and aryan a huffington. they blast away at people in the middle. they don't like them. they think they're crooked. they think they're bought. >> i would say to people on the far left and far right, you don't represent the majority of the people that are in this country. and this is a government by a majority. when you become the majority, then your view can be the predominant view. but you're not in the majority. we'll listen to you, but you have to govern from the center. >> i respect bernie sanders from vermont. he's a socialist basically. independent, calls himself a socialist. he said you're not pure enough if you're a democrat. >> the people who have elected me, the majority of my state feel i'm the right person for this job at this particular time. when your opinion becomes the majority, then you can elect someone who agrees with you 100% of the time. until then, the majority has to rule.
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>> let's look at this. i want you to respond, senator cohen, respond to this charge from oh-this j.d. hayworth guy is -- had's so incredibly incisive. he is attacking john mccain for being john mccain. here's senator bayh talking about deal making and president obama. let's listen. it's today. >> the president is making a sincere effort to reach out and try and bring the two parties together. he knows about the dysfunction here. but it takes two parties to make that work. i'd say to the far right, disagree with the man if you must on some policies. he is reaching out and you should cooperate and compromise with him where you can. i say to some of my friends on the farther left, look, sometimes half a loaf is better than none. >> who's going to buy that, senator cohen these days, people on the left want the full loaf, people on the right want no loaf. >> both will wind up getting exactly what they are bargaining for here, nothing. those on the left will get no
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action, those on the right may not want any action. here's the irany involved. here you have conservatives on the right saying they want less government, less taxes, but more service. and this is something that the american public has to understand. they can't keep beating up on government and yet want the same level of service or more for lower taxes. so something has to give. either you're going to have higher taxes, or you're going to have less government, or something in between. that something in between has to be part of the solution. we know what the solution is to dealing with the insolve vensy of social security, or what's happening with medicare and medicaid. no one is willing to take the decisions that have to be taken. and this leads to paralysis, stagnation, and no action. so maybe the republicans want no action at all. but -- and they want less government, so i would say how about about less centers for disease control, less nih. let's go through the list of things you don't want. >> remember that congressman
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jimmy burk, he voted for every spending bill and against every tax increase. people said, why do that, he said, why shouldn't i. we have deficits of $1.6 trillion, we have a debt facing us of $13 trillion, because nobody will pay for what they're spending. on either side. >> and you have a congress who has a 70% disapproval rating for that reason. and the people say it has to be more liberal, and it has to be more conservative. actually, it has to be a more cooperative congress to get things done. >> the problem is starting in the '70s, senator, when -- senator cohen when the party said we're going to stop cutting programs. and stop taxing programs. neither party did what it believed it should do. don't cause any pain, just promise a lot of pleasure. and the people will be fooled. that seems to be the game everybody plays now. >> i think it has been played
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now. the public is justifiably outraged in terms of what has happened. now they look at the long-term deficit of this country in terms of what the pain is going to be inflicted on their children and grandchildren. when i was in the senate, i said we are engaging in fiscal child abuse. we need to have fiscal discipline. i think the republicans are right on that. the republicans who are campaigning in that theme ought to measure up in terms of their actions. but both parties have been giving the public more and more, and the public has a responsibility here, too, to understand that they can't keep asking for more without paying for it. what we need to do is have some kind of a resolution here saying, here are the big issues. social security, medicare, medicaid, and firemen, also our infrastructure which is crumbling. we need to take action on this, or else. we're going to find ourselves being shifted to send and third world status over a period of time. >> would you recommend, senator, somebody who is in their 30s or
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40s, a moderate democrat, who represents the south, for example, like you did, to run for the senate today? would you actually tell them that's a good move? >> absolutely. >> you would take the chance? >> it's a great -- >> even with all this hell you're getting from the left and the right? >> that's why you need good people who are willing to work on both sides of the aisle. i think as much as it is a different in issues, it's also a difference in personalities where each party says we've got to destroy the other party in order to be successful. if you have that attitude, you don't want to go to congress, especially the united states senate. >> i know who you two guys are. i watched both your careers. you are what you say you are, a moderate democrat who liked to make deals. and a true moderate republican from the northeast who is willing to be defense secretary for bill clinton. you're what you say you are. pay attention. these are the real deal. thank you. by the way -- >> happy mardi gras. >> a big day for you guys. congratulations on the saints.
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and bill cohen, congratulations on your wife. capturing the taliban's top commander. the highest level taliban figure up there with mullah omar. he's not just the tuttle, he ran the show. we've got him. the pakistani intelligence people who we wondered about picked him up. this is so interesting. it's on obama's watch. he gets credit for it. here, kitty! here, kitty! oh, just come snuggle with momma! missing something? now at sears optical, get 2 pairs of glasses for $99.99. with bifocals just $25 more per pair. sears optical. don't miss a thing. affect wheat output in the u.s.,
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tonight we have just released footage from the day john f. kennedy was assassinated. this film of kennedy's arrival in dallas was taken by a 15-year-old standing in the crowd. you can see the president coming off the plane in a moment. jackie kennedy. lyndon johnson, of course. they were walking off air force one and making their way to the tarmac. jack's tanned and healthy looking. jackie wearing that unforgettable pink suit. no one was aware of the horror
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to come that day. almost 50 years later, we're still learning things and getting information about that fateful day. yeah, i got to go. ♪ [ engine revving ] ♪ he said he was a professional student. no. of life. [ laughing ] i'm so sorry. single lane ahead. i'll be in that lane. [ male announcer ] the chevy malibu. a consumer's digest best buy with a 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. you can depend on it so people can depend on you.
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welcome back to "hardball." the taliban's top military chief was caught by cia and pakistani forces in pakistan. he was the second in command to the taliban founder mullah omar. what does this capture mean for
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the taliban's fight against u.s. forces in afghanistan? could this lead to mullah omar himself or even osama bin laden who they've been hiding over there. nbc news chief foreign correspondent. here's the toughest question in the world. could they lead -- could this capture through interrogation lead us to the ultimate bad guy? >> reporter: i thought you were going to ask me the toughest question, what am i doing in london. but the question, could it lead to osama bin laden. probably not likely. the trail more likely would go to mullah omar. the two of them were very, very close. childhood friends. they were two of the founders of the taliban. however, we've been told that because of the pressure on the taliban, the mullah abdul barader who was arrested last weech in karachi only met with omar a few times a year. so he might not know where he is right now, only know where he
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was last. >> but he's operations chief, wouldn't he know if he ooh operationses chief pretty much everything, including where the old man is, the guy that they protect? >> reporter: he would know a lot about the operations. he would know a lot about the financing. he would know about where equipment is brought. he would know where weapons are cached. right now mullah omar is playing a role more like osama bin laden, of a spiritual adviser. someone who comes out from the dark. he offers some guidance, and then disappears. he's not playing an active day-to-day role. the person who was arrested was playing that role, so i think he could have a lot of tab tick al evidence. we've been told u.s. officials have been given access to that interrogation. that's highly significant. u.s. officials are very happy with his level of cooperation from the pakistani isi. they said that only recently they would never have gotten access to somebody this high level. >> would the isi be using miranda rights?
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>> reporter: probably not. but it seems also unlikely that they would torture somebody like barader. he was considered a moderate in the taliban. there are still efforts under way to try and reach some sort of agreement. so they're certainly trying to get information. i can't imagine they're treating him terribly well. but he is the kind of person they may eventually want to strike a deal with and release him and try and use him to get other people onboard. so i think with somebody this important, when negotiations are under way, that it would be unlikely it would be water boarded or treated like that, like other suspects have been. >> before we go to iraq, let's step back. we've got men and women over there fighting for our country, getting killed, risking their lives every night, every hour. what are we aiming for as a goal over there in the next couple years? we're only going to be there a few more years obviously. what are we trying to get done in the next couple of years in
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afghanistan? >> reporter: try to prevent the taliban from taking over the country again. and i think if afghanistan were able to become a country like, let's say sierra leon or some relatively nonthreatening, fairly undeveloped country in west africa or central africa, i think a lot of people would be satisfied with that. as long as it's not a direct threat to itself or its neighbors, and is just something of an undeveloped relatively violent place, i think people would be satisfied. >> is pakistan on our side in trying to reduce or eliminate the taliban in afghanistan? are they actually on our side? i hear they're afraid of karzai. they think he's pro-indian. they want some check on his power. what would they like to see? because there's our key ally. >> reporter: they definitely want quid pro quo. the question is, who are you talking about, is pakistan on our side. right now, there seems to be, and this week there seems to be close cooperation between the
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u.s. military and the pakistani intelligence agencies. there are major rivalries, however, between the pakistani civilian government and the pakistani military. u.s. also has close ties to the pakistani civilian government. so it's often like peeling back an onion when you're trying to figure out who's really in charge in pakistan, often it just ends with more tears. >> can we get out of iraq if we don't let the sunnis participate, if we let the current government run by shia basically keep sunnis out of the country? can we ever have stability in that country and leave peaceably that way? >> reporter: these elections are bringing up old wounds. there are concerns that the election next month could trigger sunnis to go back into the opposition if they feel they weren't given a proper chance. a lot of sunni candidates right now are complaining that they're being discriminal natd against
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unfairly by the shia government. much of that is political posturing. there are monitoring stations set up. if the sunnis feel excluded and are excluded, there is a danger that old wounds could be resurrected. that would keep u.s. troops there longer. >> thank you so much, reporting on afghanistan and iraq. what does hillary clinton think about sarah palin. what would she do if sarah palin actually got elected president of the united states. what would she do and where would she live. she was asked that question at a town hall in saudi arabia. and gave a very powerful answer. which you will fully enjoy and appreciate when we come back in the "sideshow." hillary clinton speaks out on a presidency of sarah palin. i'm at the doctor getting my shoulder looked at.
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back to "hardball." to the "sideshow." hillary clinton couldn't escape the speculation who the republicans will run in 2012 in saudi arabia this morning. the question was about sarah palin. >> and i assume a relatively liberal person, does the prospect of sarah palin one day becoming president maybe terrify you? and if so, would you consider immigrating to canada or possibly even russia in the event of this happening? >> the short answer is, no.
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i will not be immigrating. it is part of the american political environment that people are always speculating on who will run for president, and who will become president of the and i've gone through that experience personally. so i'm very well acquainted with it. but i'm not going to speculate on who might or might not be nominated by the republicans. i am very proud to support barack obama, and i will continue to support barack obama. >> that could turn out to be a very important statement by secretary clinton. an off-the-wall question got an important question. mitt romney was flying back from the vancouver olympics yesterday when a fellow passenger got up and took a swing at him. romney asked the man seated in front of mrs. romney to return his seat in the upright position prior to takeoff. the passenger was removed by the plane's crew. i'd love to know more about the condition that character was in.
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or does he normally swing at people for doing what he's supposed to be doing. remember ken starr? his dogged investigation of whitewater and the lewinsky scandal led to clinton's impeachment in 1998. school officials cited starr's christian ideals and profound commitment to public service. i wonder if bill clinton greece with that commendation. the democrats' doomsday scenario. they lose both the house and the senate. according to the oddsmakers over at dublin, what are the chances of the senate getting control by the republicans? 29%. puts the chance of democratic disaster at 29%. tonight's "big number." that's "hardball" for now. stay tuned for coverage of the winter olympics in vancouver and women's ice hockey team. usa versus russia. big one.
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welcome to the vancouver olympics. it's women's hockey. the united states against russia. 31-year-old jenny potter already has three olympic medals. she's looking for her fourth jessie vetter is about to play in her first olympics, she's the goalie for team usa. across town from thunderbird arena, we're at canada hockey place, our home for everything hockey in these vancouver olympics. hi, again, bill patrick alongside cammi granato, tell us about this young netminder for team usa, jessie vetter. >> she's won at every el

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