Thursday, August 26, 2004

M*A*S*H Doctor Veterans for Truth

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to HARDBALL. Tonight we have Democratic Presidential Candidate Dr. Frank Burns and the leader of M*A*S*H Doctor Veterans for Truth - Dr. Benjamin Pierce.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I'm Chris Matthews let's play Hardball.

MATTHEWS: This half-hour on HARDBALL, Korean Veteran Dr. Ben Pierce, Frank Burn's longtime nemesis, on his contested new book, "Frank Burns Eats Worms." Dr. Pierce is here to debate Dr. Frank Burns, the Democratic nominee for President.

Dr. Burns and Dr. Pierce served together in the same unit in Korea but while Dr. Burns returned home to a successful practice and political career - Dr. Pierce suffered a mental breakdown and is now making a living as an author attacking the beloved Frank Burns and his politics reportedly at the behest of the Republican Party.

Let me ask you gentlemen about these questions. But let's start with the central notion that a lot of us have of Frank Burns. Whatever you think of his politics, he was a war hero. Is that true?


MATTHEWS: Why isn't it true?

PIERCE: Well first off he fabricated the citation for his Purple Heart, I think conclusively, based on the documentation in my book.

MATTHEWS: But according to the Army - Dr. Burns received the medal for getting a shell fragment in his eye as the result of an enemy attack on your hospital unit. Are you saying the Army is wrong and you are right?

PIERCE: It was an egg shell fragment. Frank was having breakfast at the time of the attack. Frank put himself up for the medal. The medal is a fraud. Tell him Frank.

DR. FRANK BURNS, DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT: Chris, who are you going to believe? The Army or this man who is clearly working on the instructions of the Republicans to smear me?

I understand that Hawkeye has been a bit disturbed since he came home from the war but what you have to understand is that Dr. Pierce has always been jealous of me both because I was a better surgeon than him and because I was his superior officer.

PIERCE: Oh please! Frank you know that is a load of...


MATTHEWS: Dr. Pierce, is it true that you had an issue with Frank's authority?

PIERCE: What authority? Nobody listened to him.

BURNS: Chris when I served I considered myself a surgeon first and a soldier second. I wasn't there to order people around. Pierce was the one who had to have all the attention. Always doing things to shine the spotlight on himself. Things like showing no nevermind to rank or military authority.


PIERCE: Surgeon first? Frank was like regular Army. He got a big kick out of his rank.

BURNS: Pierce what would you know about regular Army? I mean you wouldn't even carry a gun.

MATTHEWS: Is that true? You wouldn't even carry a gun?

PIERCE: When I got thrown into that war I had a clear understanding with the Pentagon: no guns. I said I'll carry your books, I'll carry a torch, I'll carry a tune, I'll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to Old Virginia, I'll even 'hari-kari' if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun.

MATTHEWS: Was that supposed to be clever? Were you afraid of carrying a gun? Are you jealous of Dr. Burns because he was not?

PIERCE: What's to be jealous of? I'm just here because those of us who served with Frank in Korea know for a fact that he is unfit for command. Especially as Commander in Chief.

MATTHEWS: In your book "Frank Burns Eats Worms" you allege that Dr. Burns had a breakdown of sorts and that's why he was shipped out of Korea but isn't it true that you're the one who went into a mental hospital?

PIERCE: This isn't about me. This is about Frank Burns complete inability to be a leader worthy of respect.

BURNS: Chris, when I was transferred out of Korea I was assigned to a veterans' hospital in Indiana, and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Would the army promote a crazy person? I'll also have you note that Pierce was never promoted. Chris, I think it is clear that the Republicans must be putting Pierce up to this.

MATTHEWS: Dr. Pierce are you a Republican? Are the Republicans putting you up to this?

PIERCE: Me a Republican? I can't see how anyone could possibly picture me as a Republican. I mean that's laughable. I mean if I was an actor and you put me on the most successful show on TV - even then nobody would be able to see me as a Republican. I mean I'd probably kill that show if they tried to show me as a Republican.


MATTHEWS: Then why are you doing this?

PIERCE: Because Frank is lying about his service in Korea and those of us who served with him know him to be unfit for command and in fact the biggest danger I think our country has ever faced.

BURNS: Well, you know that President Bush never served in Korea.

PIERCE: Frank - he would have been 6-years old at the time

BURNS: Well, I'm not here to...


MATTHEWS: Thank you to Dr. Burns who clearly has nothing to hide and to Dr. Pierce who must be working for the Republicans. Next time on HARDBALL - does Jimmy Carter's spit cure cancer?

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