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Why in the hell does MSNBC keep giving this petulant liar a format? And yeah, I'm talking to you, Ed Schultz, as well. Chris Matthews brought on Cheney sycophant Ron Christie, who proceeded to do what he always does when he appears on MSNBC -- lie, feign outrage and talk over the other guests. I feel your pain, Joan Walsh.
Christie of course spent the segment making excuses for the Bush administration and the outing of Valerie Plame and our invasion of Iraq. Christie looked like he was going to pop a gasket when Joan Walsh dared to point out that she like most of us have some trouble figuring out where George Bush's "moral" and "psychological compass" were at after we watched him yucking it up with his "have mores" making jokes about not being able to find and WMD's in Iraq. The horror! How dare you point out the painfully obvious Joan Walsh?! This guy makes my head hurt about as badly as Pat Buchanan does. I'd love to see MSNBC show both of them the door.
Transcript via Lexis Nexis.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Bush`s discussion with Matt Lauer of course on NBC about his "December Points," the name of the book. It`s literally coming out tomorrow, though everybody has gotten a peek at it.
The books begins with an effort to shape his presidential legacy, obviously. Earlier on "The Today Show," Matt Lauer asked him about Scooter Libby. Now, Scooter Libby, to those who are not experts on "HARDBALL," was chief of staff to Vice President Cheney. He got convicted of about five felony counts of obstruction of justice and perjury. The president commuted the sentence to time served or whatever.
Let`s listen to him discussing that now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TODAY SHOW")
BUSH: Scooter is a loyal American who worked for Vice President Cheney who got caught up in this Valerie Plame case, and was indicted and convicted. And I chose to commute his sentence. I felt he had paid enough of a penalty.
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": Critics immediately said, if you`re loyal to Bush, you don`t have to go to prison. So, it didn`t come without a price.
BUSH: That`s right.
LAUER: And yet, Vice President Cheney wanted more.
BUSH: He did. He wanted me to pardon him. And this was a decision that was -- well, the last decision of the presidency, really. And I chose to let the jury verdict stand, after some serious deliberation. And the vice president was angry.
LAUER: Yes. When you went to him and you told him, you said he was furious. And he said, "I can`t believe you`re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield."
BUSH: Yes, he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he didn`t actually leave the verdict stand, because Scooter was supposed to go away for many years to prison for numerous felonies, but apparently the president let him off and thought that was letting the jury have its way. The jury wanted to send him to prison for many years. The president let him off.
Ron Christie is a former aide who never got in trouble working for Vice President Cheney, not yet.
MATTHEWS: I`m just kidding.
And Joan Walsh is editor at large of Salon.com.
Joan, I -- here`s the president of the United States, the former president, has been in -- basically in hiding for all these months, appropriately so, I think. He stayed out of the game of politics. Fair enough. Now he`s back selling a book. They all do it. Nothing new here.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: Right.
MATTHEWS: What do you find of his remarks with Matt Lauer the other night educational? Anything new there?
WALSH: I don`t think there`s anything terribly new there.
He wants to make it clear that he stood up to Cheney. He wants to make it clear that he was really his own man, and so he reveals a few things that basically we already new about Libby. I find it -- the idea that Libby was a soldier on the battlefield left behind is just so self- pitying and so dramatic on Cheney`s part. But I guess I...
MATTHEWS: Especially since Cheney made a point of never being a soldier on the field, with five deferments.
WALSH: Really. Really. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: And so the common soldier on the field, or use that reference, like I`m an old battle hand. I have been out there as a warrior. I know how these...
WALSH: And we`re all out there taking fire, when we`re sitting in comfy offices and we`re outing a CIA agent and putting her in danger.
It`s just like the self-dramatization and the self-importance of that line. It`s a great line. But we all -- we knew that they fought about that. You know, I wish he would have stood up. If he was going to stand up to Vice President Cheney, it might have been better over the Iraq war. And some of his revelations about the war are patently ridiculous.
MATTHEWS: Ron Christie, what did you think of the president?
CHRISTIE: Well, I think he looks very relaxed.
This is the George Bush that I have seen, Chris, since he`s left office. I have seen him a couple of times. I will see him later on this week. And I think it`s really important now that people, after two years - - and he really has taken himself out of public light -- it`s his opportunity to explain some of the key decisions in his life, not just his administration`s.
MATTHEWS: How do you explain a guy who committed five felonies, and the jury found him guilty, they sentenced him to prison, I let the jury verdict stand, but I let him off? That doesn`t make any sense.
CHRISTIE: I think Scooter Libby, that was one of the greatest miscarriages of justice we have seen...
MATTHEWS: But he let -- no, where`s the consistency in the president`s account here? He said he let the jury decision stand, but he let him out.
CHRISTIE: I think, if you listen to what the president said, Chris, he said, "I think that Scooter suffered enough."
I think he did.
MATTHEWS: What, by going to trial?
CHRISTIE: His kids were getting -- his -- his kids were being harassed at school, his family. He lost all of his money.
And, frankly, if you want to get to what Joan said -- and Joan, I`m not going to argue with you today -- but if you get to Joan said, Chris, she said
MATTHEWS: Argue with me.
CHRISTIE: Well, I`ll argue with you. I`m in a good mood today.
The underlying issue is that Scooter did not out Valerie Plame. She had, of course, her identity --
MATTHEWS: The jury found him guilty of forgery and obstruction of justice. Was he guilty?
CHRISTIE: Exactly. Chris, look, I don`t think he was.
MATTHEWS: So, if you were on the jury, you would have forced a hung jury?
CHRISTIE: Well, of course, I didn`t sit and I wasn`t in the jury deliberations. But as a lawyer, you can indict a ham sandwich, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, he`s convicted.
CHRISTIE: He -- I`m very well aware of that.
CHRISTIE: I don`t think we want to relitigate the Scooter Libby --
MATTHEWS: No, I`m just trying to know if the president of the United States knows reality.
CHRISTIE: The president of the United States does know reality. He said Scooter suffered enough.
MATTHEWS: He says he let the jury decision stand and he didn`t, Joan. That`s all I`m asking. Can the president separate reality from his own subjective universe? When he says I let the jury stand, then he said, I let him go, most people will say, I`d like to have a jury like that where they let me go after convicted by a jury of 12 people.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Right.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to a thing, much more serious than the war itself, which cost the lives of 77,000 people and counting.
President Bush writes about not finding weapons of mass destruction, quote, "When Saddam didn`t use weapons of mass destruction on our troops, I was relieved. When we didn`t discover the stockpile soon after the fall of Baghdad, I was surprised. When the whole summer passed without finding any I was alarmed. No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn`t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I though about it. I still do."
So, he`s talking about his subjective feelings here again.
And here`s the question: he says later on that he protected us from being hit again by attacking in Iraq, but then says I didn`t find any weapons. He protected us from the weapons that didn`t exist.
WALSH: That didn`t exist.
MATTHEWS: I think it makes no -- Joan, it makes no logical sense to say, I protected us from the weapons they didn`t have. There were no nuclear or biological or chemical. They weren`t there. I protected us by going to war, 77,000 dead people later, and I should get credit because we weren`t hit again by weapons that don`t exist.
It doesn`t make sense to a regular person listening to this.
WALSH: It doesn`t make any sense. I mean, come on, he sits there and says he`s sickened, he`s saddened, he`s angry about it.
MATTHEWS: Who cares?
WALSH: And then, the three -- but also the three of us remember he did that funny little routine at one of the -- one of the big Washington dinners where he`s on his hands and knees, looking behind the couch, where the WMDs? That was hilarious. Are you sickened? Are you sickened or do you think it`s funny? I mean, that`s where this guy`s moral compass and psychological compass -- something`s always off to me. Something --
CHRISTIE: Wait a second. I am not going to let you sit there and talk about his psychological compass for someone who you don`t even know.
MATTHEWS: Help us explicate this poetry. How can you --
MATTHEWS: He said that he was sickened by the fact there was no WMD there. Then he said, by the fact, we fought the war, he protected us from being hit again. By what, the WMD that wasn`t there? There`s no logic to that.
CHRISTIE: No, the logic is very simple. The fact of the matter of is, we were hit on September 11th, 2001.
MATTHEWS: By al-Qaeda.
CHRISTIE: By al Qaeda. The president of the United States took every step necessary, going to war in Iraq, he believed that was the right thing to do -- going to war in Afghanistan, working with Congress to create the Department of Homeland Security.
MATTHEWS: But the question was Iraq.
CHRISTIE: No, Chris, the question is --
MATTHEWS: The question was Iraq.
CHRISTIE: You asked me to justify --
MATTHEWS: Matt Lauer asked him, how do you justify all the horror stories that were accompanied to the Iraq war? He answered it was justified because we weren`t hit again.
MATTHEWS: Nobody got killed when we defended -- let`s listen to Matt. Let`s listen to the exact discussion so you can focus here again. Here`s President Bush in the 9/11 attacks in his interview with Matt Lauer. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Here`s something else from the book, "September 11th redefined sacrifice. It redefined duty and it would redefine my job. I could never forget what happened to America that day. I would pour my heart and soul into protecting this country whatever it took."
It took two wars.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes.
LAUER: It took thousands of lives, American lives, billions of dollars. You could say it took Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
LAUER: And government eavesdropping and waterboarding. Did it take too much?
BUSH: We didn`t have an attack. Three thousand people died on September the 11th, and I vowed I would do my duty to protect the American people and they didn`t hit us again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The decision point was going to Iraq. How does that decision to go to Iraq save lives?
CHRISTIE: Part of his overall strategy.
MATTHEWS: How did that -- that`s the issue.
CHRISTIE: Well, you`re taking out a very unstable dictator.
MATTHEWS: Seventy-seven thousand people dead. How did that stop us from being hit again by the al Qaeda?
CHRISTIE: Because you`re taking out a very unstable dictator who used weapons of mass destruction against his own people.
CHRISTIE: You didn`t let me --
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Make your point, but I don`t hear anything here.
CHRISTIE: My point is it was part of a broader comprehensive strategy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Homeland Security. You can quibble with his decision to go to war, Chris, but the fact of the matter, is president was able correct. We were not hit again after September 11th.
MATTHEWS: What does Iraq have to do with the decision by the enemy, whoever it is, which enemy we`re talking about here.
MATTHEWS: Joan, what is the role of an Iraq in keeping us safe?
WALSH: I don`t believe that there`s any role, Chris. I don`t believe there`s any role. There was no al-Qaeda involvement in Iraq. There was no Iraqi involvement in 9/11.
It was a war of choice. It was a war that the neocons had been pushing and pushing literally for years. They got their man. They got their man to do it, and, you know, we`re still stuck there many thousands of lives later.
MATTHEWS: It`s the same old conflation, game of conflating. He always conflates. He conflates 9/11 with Iraq. He did it again there. He kept conflating weapons of mass destruction, keep it confusing what kind of weapons we`re talking about.
CHRISTIE: We didn`t get hit again. You can say all you want conflation all you want.
CHRISTIE: Part of a broader strategy, we were not hit again. He made it his number one mission to protect the American people and that, we have a lot to be grateful for.
MATTHEWS: And to 77,000 people dead in Iraq had nothing to do with it.
Thank you, Ron Christie. Thank you, Joan Walsh.
Scooter Libby, what is he? (INAUDIBLE) I can`t tell from the president.
Coming up, President Obama -- is he a soldier on the field or what? He`s a casualty of Dick Cheney I think. Anyway, let`s get into the question, the right and left and what`s coming up here.
We`re getting -- is the president isolated? See that man right there. Is he isolated from this kind of debate we`re having right now?
What`s it going to take for the president to get things back on track? Does he need to do a major shake-up inside the White House to get it done? That`s my question. I think it`s an open question.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back for what President Obama needs to do to get back in the game. He`s over in India. What`s he need to do when he gets back?
HARDBALL, back after this.