Hardball Project

In the book Hardball, Chris Matthews defines the title term:

"Hardball is clean, aggresive Machiavellian politics. It is the discipline of gaining and holding power, useful to any profession or undertaking, but practived most openly and unashamedly in the world of public affairs".

Matthews supports his observations and conclusions with quotes from a variety of sources. Below are a list of political maxims, from Hardball and a series of quotes from the book. Your task is to choose any 10 quotes and for each quote:

(a) Describe the context of the quote, giving appropriate details including the speaker and background of the quote


(b) Explain its meaning using one of the listed political maxims.

Political Maxims-

What've ya done for me lately?

All politics is local.

It's better to receive than to give.


Dance with the one that brung ya.

Keep your enemies in front of you.

Don't Get Mad; Don't Get Even; Get Ahead.

Leave no shot unanswered.

Hang a Lantern on Your Problem.

Politics = Power

Only talk when it improves the silence.


Retail politics.

The quotes are taken from the latest edition of Hardball:

1. "He's not going to win. It's a Republican district. He'd be better for us is he loses. He'll work for me. He'll bring his organization with him."

2. No, Ronald Reagan is a man of the media: the Great Wholesaler ... he was positioning himself with enormous science, establishing himself in the public mind not as an aloof head of government but as the man next door. Every action was designed to make him appear close to the people and distant from the government.

3. "I've lived across the street from you for 18 years ... I shoveled your walk in winter. I cut your grass in summer ... I didn't think I had to ask you for your vote. He never forgot her response. 'Tom, I want you to know something: people like to be asked.'"

4. "Better to have them p....n' inside the tent than outside p....n' in."

5. ... the elections of 1994 were a rough slap in the face. His party lost control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1954 ... Rather than join his fellow Democrats in defeat, he took advisor Dick Morris's advice ... "parroting the rhetoric of the congressional Democrats would merely be sharing the storm cellar with them ... Adopting the Republican agenda begged the question. The president needed to take a position that blended the best of each party's position." (DO NOT USE POSITIONING TO EXPLAIN THIS QUOTE)

6. "... His message came across clear and appealing ... He described America as a country 'where no Catholic prelate would tell the President -- should he be a Catholic - how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote. This is a country where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one Church is treated as an act against all."

7. "Florida Senator, Lawton Chiles, rejected the well-tailored dark blue suit so fashionable in D.C. 'When I dress like that, no one comes up to me in the airport to say hello.'"

8. "We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we posses, but we excel at those which also make use of our defects"...(relate to Ed Muskie)

9. The waiter said, "Well, maybe you don't know who I am." "Well, as a matter of fact, I don't ... who are you" "I'm the guy who's in charge of the butter."

10. "Cry Baby", screamed the headline of the New York Daily News above a picture of Newt in diapers. "Newt's Tantrum: He closed down the government because Clinton made him sit at the back of the plane."

11. "Don't give it all at once. Give five thousand at the start and indicate they can come back for more if they need it. Halfway through the campaign, they'll be back. This time give them another five thousand and indicate that is all you intend to contribute. About a week before the election, they'll be some desperate for money that someone will suggest that maybe you can be induced to come to the rescue..."

12. "It's been said that I'm not the most compelling speaker, and there are actually those who claim that I don't always communicate in the clearest, most concise way. Well, I may not be the most eloquent ... and I may somtimes be a little awkward ... but there is nothing self-concious in my love of country. I am a quiet man, but I hear the quiet people others don't. The ones who raise a family, pay the taxes, met the mortgages."

13. "JFK would call 5 or 6 ... LBJ would take 19 names and call them all."

14. "The purpose of the war room was not just to respond to Republican attacks ... It was to respond to them fast, even before they were broadcasted or published, when the lead of the story was still rolling around in the reporter's mind..."



With thanks to Stephanie Biffar.