tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC October 30, 2011 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> this is ohio show. >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> i can hear you. >> a time for change has come! chris: facing mount rushmore. he promised us change and said he would be transformative, the kind of president who turned history. has the time come for barack obama to learn from a leader who did, the most inspiring democrat of our time. does jack kennedy have stuff to teach barack obama? the brothers and sisters, kennedy had the irish mafia. obama has tried to do it alone. has he have time to build a team. political confederates who can fight for him. can he pull a solo act and start to lead? finally, bad news bears. where do they find this crew? perry is falling, bachmann is
falling. something is raising cain but nobody knows what. with time flying, the vast american middle is fleeing. with their chances good, why are the republicans so bad? hi, i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us today. the "washington post" bob woodward, nbc's andrea mitchell, the bbc's katty kay and the "new york magazine's" john heilemann. first up, since the 1957 shock of sputnik, there have been few times as unsettling as today. can we shake off this sense of decline in the country? where is the leadership that will say yes, america is still the hope of the world? comparisons are made to the early 1960's now, the time 50 years ago when jack kennedy connected with the country's yearning for a mission and a leader to lead us. i'm proud to say i have written a new book just out that brings back in a heroic time we all want back. we had a flashback three years ago. >> over the years, i have been deeply moved by the people who
have told me that they wish they could feel inspired and hopeful about america the way they did when my father was president. i am proud to endorse senator barack obama for president of the united states. [cheers and applause] chris: well, caroline and ted kennedy were seen in this young leader a connection to their father and brother that many voters saw. >> so my fellow americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. >> the time is now to shake off our slumber and sluff off our fierce and make good on the debt that we owe past and future generations. together, we can finish the work that needs to be done and usher in a new birth of freedom on this earth. thank you very much, everybody. let's get to work! >> bob woodward, he was sort of the man the country needed back
in the early 1960's. the country thought it was losing a step in the cold war and he gave today sense of mission. >> i have read your book this week on a plane. it's a real treat and what comes through and it pulses in the book is it's almost a personal quest for you, who was this jack kennedy? why did it work? what was his spirit? you go into the mother, father, brother psychological personal, the political, and you're looking for that special magic, expect factor, whatever you want to call it. you define it in the book and right now, it's pretty obvious with president obama, there is not that emotional connection that enough people have with him and what he is trying to do in the presidency. i found that a really interesting contrast and how would jack kennedy have done in
the net age, we'll never know. it certainly was a different time. the book is more than a treat. congratulations. chris: thank you so much, bob woodward. you know about best sellers. andrea, it seems to me that one thing he did, i went back and checked where it came from, ask not what your country can do for you but what you could do for your country. it came from what his head master said in school. obama hasn't asked us to join no peace corps or the special war effort. it has been watch me, i'm smart. >> congratulations to your achievement on your book. you went back and found the roots of those calls and of the political appeal and what you grasp is that with jack kennedy, politics was poetry. and with president obama, it seems to be prose. he doesn't have that connection. there is no call. i trace it back not just its generational perhaps because it's not just barack obama, no call of the service. we didn't have that call to
service from gorge w bush after 9/11. you were a product of those who went into the piece corporation 50 years ago was the birth. chris: hard to believe. >> hard to believe it's a half of century. i am of that generation. my family were peace corporation volunteers. no one is asking us to make sacrifice. we're asking those to make least able to, that is occupy wall street. chris: how this president stacks up with leadership, i don't know what he would do if he didn't have an opposition out there. it's one thing to make fun of the tea party, do you know what obama stands for, where he would take us? i don't know. >> no, it's been one of the questions about this presidency, what's the narrative of this presidency, what is the aim of this president? in some respects, to give the white house a break, this is incredibly hard. i'm not sure in this time that we are shifting from a manufacturing economy to an economy based on brains and
technology which by definition has fewer workers associated with it, that's a challenge for any leader and these challenges that are facing us economically today here and europe and around the world are extraordinary complicated for any president to take on. chris: but all the harder for the people? the president gives them a picture of where we're going? >> the one thing that we do know that president obama came into office wanting to do was health care reform is probably the thing that distracted the white house from tackling jobs and the economy in the way they should have done the first year. that's a criticism they'll have to answer. chris: you're the expert on barack obama. i have written about kennedy here and try to find the ways of the inspiration that seemed to move the country. let's get this country moving again. i mean obama could say that tomorrow morning and it would engage people. >> first of all, congratulations on the book. the striking thing at the very beginning, you quote kennedy saying that the reason read biography is to figure out what is this guy like. your book does an incredible job of showing what jack kennedy is like. on the question of obama,
remains like in the subtitle of the book, he remains an elusive hero or elusive villain if you don't like him. there is also the other side that kennedy didn't have to deal with, people trying to define you and villify you. because he is not projecting a sense of himself that people can attach themselves to, he has allowed his enemies to define him in a way that is crippling over the first 2 1/2, three years. chris: one thing that people liked about the kennedy brothers, they were tough. as i wrote, "jack kennedy would be the one making other politicians do his bidding. this would be wooing some or play hardball with the ones he couldn't woo. bob, if you look at how kennedy dealt with ross barnett in mississippi. george wallace in alabama, he kicked their butts. he brought in the federal troops and taught them a lesson and integrated the schools, >> one of the very big differences is that jack kennedy
never was a law professor. barack obama has been a law professor and it shows. he is a professional deliberator and he knows how to, on this side and on that side and he chooses and lives in the center lane. >> jack kennedy had been to war in p.t. 109. that? one defining experience? chris: you were in the navy. >> yes. kennedy's experience in your book shows vividly, and this is something he shares with obama. obama doesn't like war and kennedy didn't like war. much of their time governing was making sure that we either get out of wars or avoid the catastrophic war. so that's something that is shared. i think when i talked to obama, i found that he, look, i mean, he just came out, sat right there and he said, you know, war and for the commander in chief is managing chaos. chris: i want to talk about the tough guy.
this week, speaker boehner, who nobody dislikes, he is not a bad guy. but the president is laughable and what he is trying to do through executive orders. shouldn't there be a little fear of the president? >> they have not projecteded fear factor which is surprising. they were tough initially. you would think with rahm emanuel as the first chief of staff, they would be very tough. but they basically gave the writing of health care to nancy pelosi and the house caucus. there is a sense that he can be rolled. eric cantor is stepping up to the president about benjamin netanyahu. chris: let me ask you about something kennedy did that was so effective. after the bay of pigs that was a disaster in 1961, it was his fault, should obama, to prove he has learned on the job admit that he made some mistakes early on with the stimulus package, its composition, the promises he made about it so people can say he has learned, he'll be a better second termer. >> i think it would not be an unwise thing to do. one of the things that people look for in presidents is strength and another is a
capacity to grow in the office. i think one of the things that obama has lacked, we just talked about the ways in which he lacked projecting strength, but there is also the sense that he has been kind of static through these three years. there is an element where if he acknowledged that the scale of the problem was bigger than he understood, he could do that in a way that didn't sound as though as well a screwed everything up. chris: katty, do you agree with that? >> it carries risks in this environment. it's different times than the 1960's. you can see it being picked up by republicans as president obama saying i screwed it up. >> chris: how does he is a i have learned? >> i mean, i think one thing he could do is have more of his people out there defending him. >> for the millionth time. >> one big obama supporter in 2008 who is having wobbles when i spoke to him recently, he didn't come in like clinton did with a whole back bench of people who were going to ram rod through his aenda.
>> but he can't come out and say,s hard and, gee, i screwed up. that's not much of a message. what he has got to do is look -- and this is the thing i think people and it's in your kennedy book, people really like, even if they somewhat disagree, a president acting and using presidential power to fix problems. you need to get somebody going in there slamming the fist down and say, let's everyday work on using this power to fix problems. chris: starting to do that with executive orders. before we break, i'm a guy who loves movies like most of us here. there are some movies about jack kennedy that have captured his magic. many haven't been as good as simply watching the black and white newsreels. one of the elusive quality of jack kennedy that i wrote about in my book was the contradiction of his very being, his desperate physical health and his courage. he had the last rites given to him as a result of his addison's
disease. the army and navy rejected him because of his bad back. he got in the navy in 1941. when the p.t. boat he skippered was rammed by a japanese destroyer, he rescued 10 of his crewmen. hollywood had cliff robertson play him in the movie which came out in june of 1963. here is robertson as j.f.k. reuniting with his crew. >> we're getting you home! >> hello, skipper! >> skiller! >> you made it! >> here we are! >> i told you. chris: did you catch that gilligan's island soundtrack there. a more intimate take on j.f.k. is "the kennedys" that reairs this week on the reels channel. i like this portrayal of jack and jackie. she was different than the usual girls he went out and he liked that. >> jackie is a roving photographer for the "times herald." she worked in paris.
and jack. >> well, i have read your column. >> i read your speeches. >> oh, you read "the congressional record." it's the dullest thing on paper. >> that's the challenge trying to find signs of intelligent life. >> jackie. >> so what do you do when you're not photographing? >> i write horses. >> what do you do when you're not congressing or cutting a swath through washington's women? you have quite a reputation. >> it's not true. half would be dead by now. >> orcas in bronze. chris: cast in bronze. that's suggestive. another favorite and a great movie, "13 days" about the cuban missile crisis. it reminds us that jack kennedy's confidential and hatred of war fought to find an end to the cuban missile crisis
despite pressure from the pentagon. here is the general dressing down the commander in chief. >> you're in a pretty bad fix, mr. president. >> what did you say? >> you're in a pretty bad fix. >> so maybe you haven't noticed, you're in it with me. those god damn kennedys are going to destroy the country if we don't do something about this. >> i'll tell you one thinks, they have one big advantage. we do what they want us to do. none of us will be left alive to tell us what is wrong. chris: afterwards, the generals talked against them. we didn't see that leader. when we come back, they hope that he is a one term president, can't believe what the republican candidates are saying these days. "scoops and predictions" of these top reporters. be right back.
chris: welcome back. unbelievably, texas governor rick perry reached into the old tea party bag of tricks this week and tried to use the discredited birther issue to try to rescue his campaign. conservative leaders are worried about what perry and herman cain might do to chances of beating barack obama. >> if you associate yourself with a nutty view like that and you damage yourself, those people in the republican primary have got to lay off this stuff. they're forcing their leaders, the frontrunners into positions that will mean they lose the general election. well, if they want to lose, this is the game for losers. chris: wow. john, when you get to the right of pat robertson and you get that squirrely, what is going on here >> pat robertson in the center, we're in the bizzaro world.
look, the serious point is that all of these candidates who are trying to be the not romney, they are trying to appeal to a part of the party that is, they're like a little bit. they're doing what they have to do is try to consolidate the party. chris: is that smart? he doubled down it and he lost a new hampshire leader who switched. chris: what is going on, bob? >> romney looks better and better and more rational and more reasonable and some of this stuff, i mean, the marginal candidates, rick santorum coming out against contraception? wow. >> i do think that romney had a bad week in that he switched around on the ohio ballot issue and he needs to show consistency. the problem with him is that unfortunately it fed into the
idea that he isn't consistent. >> remember the polls that we talked about a couple of sundays ago where actually that showed the angry bit of america is not as big as we thought it might be. people do want compromise from their politicians. they do want the middle. i think pushing off this far to the right is not going to win. chris: when he can come back, when you believe in the future, you're always looking ahead... to what's next, to what's possible. confident that taking action now, is the way to create a better tomorrow. that's why we're announcing, that with the planned merger with t-mobile, at&t will begin bringing five thousand jobs to america from overseas. we will invest eight billion dollars more... and deploy the next generation of wireless broadband to nearly everyone in america. this investment will create as many as ninety-six thousand american jobs. here at at&t, we believe in the future.
chris: welcome back. bob, tell me something i don't know. >> that the white house has a secret plan to win the election and it's complex and it's secret, but, look, barack obama wants to win so badly as i understand it, everything in the white house is driven by the election and that level of commitment will take them to a point where he is going to show some leg in a way that people are going to say, wow, he really wants the job and this emotional
connection could take place. chris: wow, i am impressed by that. andrea. >> in 1961 soviet and american tavegs facing off in berlin and the president j.f.k. says to his general, we got to show them we have nerve. and the general says, mr. president, what we need to show is that the nerve is in washington. >> amongst latinos, president obama is fast becoming known as the deportation president. almost as many illegal immigrants have been deported in the last three years as were deported in the whole of president bush's term that can hurt him with hispanic voters. >> these guys are all so serious. right now between now and the end of january, 15 presidential debates that are scheduled. rick perry is not going to take part in them all. he is not alone. i predict that not all 15 will take place. chris: 50 years ago this weekend, the soviets tested the most powerful h bomb, 50 mega
chris: welcome back. exactly 50 years ago, president kennedy had to lead this country through a two-front face-off with the soviets. tanks confronted each other at the berlin wall and the soviets surprised the world with a test of a 50 ton bomb. here he is 50 years ago. >> i do not have to dwell on the irresponsible nature of the sole yet actions. the soviet union has shown its complete disregard for the welfare of mankind. chris: his single goal was to have the cold war not turn into a shooting war. what is president obama's biggest goal on the world stage? >> win the election. i mean that is the driving force and i think, you know, it's political, but i think it is
becoming an internal commitment because like most presidents, they think they're the person for the job. chris: the country needs him as he sees it. >> they declassified all of those c.i.a. documents from 50 years ago. the driving thing now is avoid another recession. >> i think it's to get america's act in the way it acted with libya, as part of a coalition of nation, to be anything really about president bush on the world stage. >> get together with the world community. >> from the beginning, the president believed that the united states' reputation had been badly damaged by george w bush and his main foreign policy, the goal has been to repair the image with the rest of the world. chris: thanks for a great discussion of two pts. >> can i hold up your book, because it would be shameless for you to do it. [laughter] chris: bob woodward does it, it's fine with me and andrea mitchell as well. my goal is to bring jack kennedy back to life in this book. i think we really need his spirit now. thanks to andrea mitchell as
to what's next, to what's possible. confident that taking action now, is the way to create a better tomorrow. that's why we're announcing, that with the planned merger with t-mobile, at&t will begin bringing five thousand jobs to america from overseas. we will invest eight billion dollars more... and deploy the next generation of wireless broadband to nearly everyone in america. this investment will create as many as ninety-six thousand american jobs. here at at&t, we believe in the future. we're not hesitating. we're investing in america now. why? well, we know it's good business. because america has always been...
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