updated 12/13/2006 11:15:24 AM ET 2006-12-13T16:15:24

Guests: G. Gordon Liddy, A.B. Stoddard, Peter Fenn, Steve Biddell, Jeff Dufour

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the show.  And we welcome our sterling panel, associate editor, the Hill newspaper, A.B.  Stoddard, G.  Gordon Liddy, host of the “G. Gordon Liddy Show,” and “Fear Factor” contestant, successfully, and author of “Fight Back:  Tackling Terrorism Liddy Style,” Democratic strategist and our friend, Peter Fenn.

But, first, breaking news from Capitol Hill today.  The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, one of the most important jobs in Congress, has almost no idea what he‘s doing. 

Democrat Silvestre Reyes of Texas was recently chosen for the sensitive position by Nancy Pelosi, incoming speaker, after someone reminded her that her first choice, Congressman Alcee Hastings of Florida, had once been impeached and removed from  the federal bench for corruption.   Whoops.

Until yesterday, Reyes was not  a controversial choice.  Then he made the mistake of sitting down with Jeff Stein.  He‘s an editor of “Congressional Quarterly.”

“What Muslim group makes up Al-Qaeda,” Stein asked.  “Predominantly Shiite, probably,” Reyes replied.

Not only was that the wrong  answer, it was an absurd  answer.   Al-Qaeda exists, in part, to kill Shiites or, as Stein put it in his piece, quote, “If a Shiite showed up at an Al Qaeda clubhouse, they‘d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.”

Stein then tried again, asking Reyes about Hezbollah.  The answer, quote, “Hezbollah.  Uh, Hezbollah,” long uncomfortable pause, “Can I answer in Spanish?”

As it turns out, Reyes didn‘t know the answer in any language, though it‘s telling  that when pressed, he claimed limited English proficiency. 

The interview got more embarrassing from there.  You can read it yourself.  It culminated with Reyes unable to explain or possibly even to remember his own proposals for Iraq. 

The point is Reyes was ignorant, painfully so.  If you‘re planning to run the  United States House Intelligence Committee, that‘s a big problem. 

There are a number of lessons here, but the most obvious is this.  If you‘re going to attack the president as stupid, you‘d better be smarter. 

Don‘t you think, Peter Fenn?

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Why didn‘t you tell us that one in the meantime, Tucker? 

CARLSON: I don‘t know what to say about this.  I mean, where‘s the A Team?

FENN: He does have a little learning curve, I would say.

CARLSON: A learning curve?

FENN: But, of course, we have a president that didn‘t know who the head of the government in India and Pakistan and China was when he was running for office.

CARLSON: But he wasn‘t president at the time.

FENN: But he was trying to get there. 

CARLSON: Isn‘t that the whole point, wow, this president‘s not up to the job, we need a group of people who is?  Let‘s get Silvestre Reyes.  Hezbollah, I‘ve heard of them.

Doesn‘t he read the newspaper?

FENN: He‘s got to get a few more briefings, I would say.

CARLSON: How about reading “USA Today?”

G. GORDON LIDDY, HOST, “THE G. GORDON LIDDY SHOW”: What I think is the important point is not so much that, but the fact that there was a very, very competent woman who was in line, a Democrat, to have it and she was denied it on the basis of personal pique, and that is not a smart way to be the speaker of the House of Representatives.

CARLSON: That‘s right, Jane Harman of California. Hawkish, relatively A.B.  Do you think that‘s what it came down to, the fact that she and Ms.  Pelosi don‘t like each other?

A.B. STODDARD, HILL NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATE EDITOR: No one can really get to the cat fight between Jane Harman and Nancy Pelosi.   The word cat fight is always  thrown around. 

But, no, I think the answer lies somewhere in California, but very few people know what it actually is based upon.   They have a personal history.  There were times when they were allies and they are no longer. 

She made it clear, actually, early in 2006, that Jane Harman was not going to get the job and there is a whole seniority question.  But this issue with Silvestre Reyes is embarrassing and that is because I would imagine there would be full discussions with committee members about who is sort of the opposite of lightweight on the committee, who is going to best serve us on television talk shows and coming out of the starting gate on a very important issue, which is the Iraq war.  

And I imagine that Rahm Emanuel and all the very able members of leadership sitting anywhere near Nancy Pelosi would have had these things on their mind.

FENN: Guys, one of the points here you have to raise is, look, this government went into Iraq not knowing very much about Iraq.  They were going to have a red carpet.   There was going to be no insurgency.   They did not understand. 

They probably knew about as much about Sunni and Shiites as Reyes did when they went in, and they were supposed to be experienced foreign policy types. 

CARLSON: But that was three years and one war ago. 

FENN: I‘m telling you, we would   not be in this situation and this poor guy wouldn‘t be answering these questions if this administration had done it right. 

CARLSON: I agree with you, his ignorance is Bush‘s fault.  But let‘s get to Bush.

STODDARD: But, actually, terrorism, with or without our invasion of Iraq, is a problem that we would be dealing with and they should be ready.

CARLSON: I agree with that.

FENN: And Tora Bora would have been invaded.  

CARLSON: But he still is the president.  He‘s still is in control, regardless of the Democratic victory last month.  He indicated, his aides did, on background, anyway, to the press, that he was going to be rolling out some new Iraq strategy at the end of this month, December. 

Now we‘re hearing, as of today, no, we‘re waiting until January.  What is the wait?

LIDDY: I think he wants to hear mainly from the military commanders.   We would not have had the problem had we listened to the military commanders.   The military commanders said we needed a lot more troops, boots on the ground, ab initio, right from the beginning. 

And they tried to do it on the cheap in terms of the numbers of troops and we still need more people.

CARLSON: Mike Murphy, pretty well known, I think pretty smart political consultant, had a piece in the “LA Times” today in which he said Bush ought to   basically get out in front of the Iraq study group report, which, obviously, the White House doesn‘t like, and replace it with some sort of bipartisan Iraq commission that would include people like Joe Biden and Carl Levin and sort of the Democratic brain trust on foreign policy.

Here‘s the point he makes.  He says Democrat critics who find the Iraq war is much easier to criticize than to manage, basically, if Democrats continue to be excluded from the strategy sessions that determine where we‘re going next, they‘ll have every   incentive to continue with what Murphy calls his reckless campaign mode of rhetoric, where they‘re calling for things they don‘t really believe in order to whip up the base.

Do you think there is any chance Democrats, Peter, would agree to that?

FENN: I do not.  I do not think Democrats would be part of any war council, as this president would suggest.

CARLSON: Why?

FENN: And let me make this further point.  What they‘d agree to is ongoing consultation, is working with the president, is trying to come up with some bipartisan  approaches to this problem.  

But the difficulty with this is that this isn‘t about putting a group of folks together to run the war.  I mean, I‘d rather call it a peace council, to be perfectly honest with you, if I were on the Democratic side.

But, look, this is a president who has not consulted with this Congress, especially Democrats in it, for six years about this situation.  So to have him switch, I would love to see it.

I think that Carl Levin, Joe Biden, the rest of them would love to have weekly meetings with the president of the United States down at the White House to talk about how to get out of this.

CARLSON: I don‘t know.  It‘s one of these pie in the sky, Gordon Liddy, ideas, but it strikes me as actually politically intelligent, because it establishes bipartisan  culpability for the future of Iraq, and it would, in one swoop, eliminate some of the hostility that prevents progress.  

LIDDY: No matter who is consulting with whom, so long as you have bad policies on the ground in Iraq, such as the catch and release thing, I mean, the troops catch the bad guys.

CARLSON: Right.

LIDDY: They intern them there, I think they can keep them for 18 hours, then they‘re sent someplace else and then they‘re turned loose.

It‘s the same bad guys they keep capturing and releasing and capturing and releasing.  As long as they‘re doing that, you can have every wise man in the country putting his head together in Washington and it‘s not going to help.

STODDARD: I think the Democrats have to have some kind of ownership over this and they to have it soon.

CARLSON: Do they want it? 

STODDARD: The problem is.

CARLSON: The issue is they don‘t want it, though.

STODDARD: I think they probably don‘t. 

FENN: They want to get to a resulting peace and that‘s two more years.

STODDARD: They probably don‘t, but that‘s what I‘m saying.  In order for any kind of resolution—look at Bush.  I do remember hearing the  president say he was waiting for the results of the Iraq study group.

That was just after the election and after Rumsfeld‘s departure or the announcement of.   Then he starts pulling back, “Oh, it would be one of many options” that he would be reviewing.

Then it came out.  It is now Tuesday.  We‘re less than a week away.  It‘s buried 13 feet below the White House lawn now.   It is complete afterthought.   It‘s history.   And he is onto, “I need to get this out by Christmas,” but now he‘s saying early January.

I mean, the guy appears to be sleeping well at night, with no stomach disorders, and I think this could go on.   I don‘t think this is killing him.  And the Democrats, I keep  plugging them for answers, they feel like they have to come up with a consensus   position in their party, but they really don‘t have one.

CARLSON: Right.

STODDARD: They really don‘t.  If you talk to the sort of  middle of the road centrist Democrats, they say, “God, there‘s some in our caucus that want to pull the funding.  It‘s really not wise.   We‘ll just come up with something.   We could probably come around against permanent basis and for redeployment.”

Well, there‘s about how many redeployment ideas are there on the table?  And it‘s not specific.

So it really sounds like it could be a Republican plan.   So this is a problem for  them and I think finding a way for Bush to end his agony and drag them into this process would help find a solution faster, forcing the Democrats into some kind of  accountability.  

CARLSON: I agree with that.  I mean, Gordon Liddy, you‘ve been around a president in a time of crisis, constitutional crisis, President Nixon.  Is there any chance you think that this president is unaware that his legacy is going to be determined by Iraq?

LIDDY: Yes, I think he may feel that his legacy is going to be more than Iraq.   And from the point of view of the Republicans, he did the right thing with respect to  the nominees of the Supreme Court of the United States.

CARLSON: Right.

LIDDY: That is a very long-lasting contribution.  He‘s done some things that   were very good and with the perspective of  time, I think that Iraq is not going to be the frenzy to historians that it is right now. 

CARLSON: I bet you 20 bucks that one of those nominees winds up being liberal.  Just my guess.  I hope I‘m wrong, of course.

Coming up, more on the president‘s listening tour about Iraq.   We know what he heard from the Baker-Hamilton group.  What else is he hearing and is he listening?  One of the men who talked to the president joins us next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Up nest, President Bush‘s listening tour on Iraq.  Will it be in one ear and out the other or are we about to hear a brand new strategy for victory?  We‘ll tell you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: So President Bush has heard from a wide range of wise men about what his new way forward in Iraq ought to be. 

Too many questions to list, but we start with the obvious.  What is he hearing, is he listening, and what‘s the likely outcome of all of this?

Joining me now with some first person insight, Steven Biddell.  He‘s senior fellow for defense policy on the Council on Foreign Relations.  He met with President Bush yesterday.  Mr. Biddell, thanks for joining us.

STEVEN BIDDELL, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON: We were talking about, right before you came in, the obvious question.  Is this subject of Iraq something that keeps the president up at night?  Did you get a sense he was filled with anxiety about Iraq?

BIDDELL: I‘m not enough of a psychologist to know whether he‘s feeling anxiety or not.  What I do know is he was very interested in what we were saying.  He was engaged.  He was asking good questions.  He was pressing people for the evidence behind what they were saying. 

I mean, he was a guy who clearly cared, wanted to hear from us, and was intellectually engaged. 

CARLSON: He seemed well informed?

BIDDELL: He seemed well informed.  But we were doing most of the talking, so we weren‘t quizzing him on his knowledge base.

CARLSON: You were doing most of the talking?  He was on receive rather than transmit?

BIDDELL: He was on active listening.  He was asking questions to clarify, to explore options.  But he was there to hear us.  He wasn‘t there to spin or speechify or inform us. 

CARLSON: Is it your sense that he is gathering information in order to make this announcement sometime in January?  Is that the reason that this speech we heard about last week has been delayed?

BIDDELL: I don‘t know why else he would ask us to come in.  The five people he asked to come in and talk to him were people who were on the record with divergent views on the war. 

So I can only assume that he wanted to hear divergent views on the war. 

CARLSON: What were the range of the views, from what to what?

BIDDELL: Well, I promised I wouldn‘t say what was discussed within the office, but in terms of the things that people were on the record as having said before they went into the room, there were some who were in favor of a rapid transition out of the combat role into a training role, there were some who opposed that, there were some who wanted more troops in Iraq, some who wanted less troops in Iraq.  It was pretty diverse. 

CARLSON: All in the room at the same time?

BIDDELL: All at the same room at the same time.

CARLSON: What‘s your position?

BIDDELL: I think there are two intellectual defensible positions on Iraq and a big middle ground in between that‘s militarily unsustainable.  The two that I think are defensible are the largest possible troop posture that we can sustain, a new mission for those troops and to make those troops‘ presence conditional on progress by the Iraqis toward some sort of political compromise leading to a cease-fire. 

That I think is an intellectually sustainable position.  I think it‘s also intellectually sustainable to conclude that even with the best approach we can make, the odds of success are too low to make it worthwhile.  Therefore we should cut our losses and get out. 

What I don‘t think is sustainable is the collection of in between options for partial reductions, robbing Peter to pay Paul by shifting the same forces around within Iraq and changing their mission, but not changing their numbers. 

Unfortunately, the political system wants to go to the middle.  Everybody wants to be reasonable and centrist.  But I think in this case, the middle isn‘t militarily sustainable. 

CARLSON: And you‘d have to say the default position, if the middle is not sustainable, is the second position, which is get out.  I mean, that seems to be looking at—we‘ve got all the polls here and the polls, in fact, don‘t make sense and we‘ll get to that in a minute.

People have conflicting feelings about what they want in Iraq.  But let‘s say we do get out, which strikes me as the most likely, whether or not it‘s a good idea, what happens then?

BIDDELL: I think if that happens, very likely the sectarian violence level rises dramatically and we go from what is today a low intensity civil war rapidly to a high intensity civil war and one that could very easily spread into a regional conflict in the Mid-East.

CARLSON: Does Iran benefit from our departure as much as it would seem to?

BIDDELL: I think, arguably, the best case for Iran is continuation of the status quo.  If we leave, they run a significant risk of chaos on their border and significant refugee flows into Iran, none of which they want.

CARLSON: Right.

BIDDELL: If we succeed in Iraq and create a Jeffersonian democracy on the border, they don‘t like that either.  On the other hand, what they‘ve got at the moment is a situation where the instability threat washing over into Iran isn‘t all that great. 

The United States is pinned down.  They have substantial influence over what happens.  I think if I were an Iranian and asked what would be my best case, it‘s more of the same. 

CARLSON: We‘re caught up and impotent and because we‘re involved in this, we have very little leverage to prevent them from building nuclear weapons. 

I just want to bring the panel back here to talk about some of these poll numbers.  You were saying the Gallup Poll, 8 in 10 Americans say it‘s important to succeed in Iraq.  OK, nobody wants to see defeat.  Six in 10, though, say it‘s a war not worth fighting.  We have to succeed, but we shouldn‘t be there.

Two to one, they say the costs of succeeding in Iraq outweigh the benefits.  What does this mean? 

I mean, Peter Fenn, you are a member of a party that spends a lot of time talking about democracy and the will of the people, and the message of this last election was what exactly?

FENN: Well, obviously, the message was the status quo isn‘t working and we‘ve got to change the status quo.  Then the key question, which, obviously, the public is struggling with, as the president is struggling with, is where do we go from here, what do we do now.

Everybody wants success on one level.  What does success mean?  When the president uses the term victory, what does he mean by victory?  Everybody said that he‘s not going to have a military victory where, at the end of the day, you sit down at a table and sign a peace treaty here. 

So the question is, as you were saying, the question is how is it that you move this thing quickly, because, you know, in 1968, we started this process in Vietnam, when we had wise men in and then a new secretary of defense, 20,000 men had died. 

By the end of that war, 57,000 men and it took us five years to figure out what the heck to do in Vietnam.  Ultimately, of course, what we did was just pull out.  If we‘re going to do this, I agree.  I think we‘ve got to make a decision and make it and move. 

CARLSON: This is a pretty good argument, wouldn‘t you say, Gordon Liddy, for not listening to the polls really.

If the public is going to say you‘ve got to win, but you‘ve got to get out, you‘ve got to stay, but you‘ve got to leave.

LIDDY: Here‘s the problem with the polls.  Everything is focused on Iraq right now and there‘s this big assumption that we can control events. 

The fact is 72 hours ago, I was on the border of Lebanon, Israel and Syria and I was talking to a Druze, one of the Druze who was not faithful to Israel.  He was, in fact, the Syrian Baath party representative up Golan.

And they took the lesson that Hezbollah did something and it worked and they are forming committees to do the same thing on the Golan.  And I predict, in 2007, the president is going to be faced with a war between Syria and Israel and the whole complexion of things is going to change. 

CARLSON: I bet that‘ll be a short war.  Thank you all. 

Mr. Biddell, thank you very much.

BIDDELL: Thanks for having me.

CARLSON: Coming up, how long before Barack Obama winds up gracing the cover of “US Weekly?”  Somewhere amid all the hype and puppy love, there is an actual Senator there.  We‘ll assess his actual power, his actual chances and his actual best strategy to be more than a passing fancy.  A segment about reality.

And just because you‘re going to head up the House Intelligence Committee doesn‘t mean you have to know the difference between the Sunnis and the Shiites, right? Wrong. 

Don‘t look now, but the Democrats are back.  Are they smarter than Bush?  We‘ll see.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. SENATOR (D-IL): Good evening.  I‘m Senator Barack Obama.  I‘m here tonight to answer some questions about a very important contest that‘s been weighing on the minds of the American people. 

This is a contest about the future, a contest between two very different philosophies, a contest that will ultimately be decided in America‘s heartland. 

In Chicago, they are asking, “Does the new guy have enough experience to lead us to victory?”  In St. Louis, they‘re wondering, “Are we facing a record that‘s really so formidable or is it all just a bunch of hype?”

Let me tell you I‘m all too familiar with these questions.  So tonight, I‘d like to put all the doubts to rest.  I would like to announce to my hometown of Chicago and all of America that I am ready—for the bears to go all the way, baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Look at that.  Time to check our Obamater.  That was the man himself, Senator Barack Obama, on “Monday Night Football” last night.  He‘s ready for the Bears to win the Superbowl.

Is he ready, though, to make a run for the White House and is he ready to be viewed as possibly the greatest help Hillary Clinton has ever received in her not yet declared campaign for the White house?  Some say he is.

Joining us, again, associate editor of the Hill newspaper, A.B.  Stoddard, G. Gordon Liddy, host of the “G. Gordon Liddy Show,” and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

The greatest line I‘ve read about Barack Obama in a long time comes from John Dickerson‘s piece in “Slate.com.”  He followed Obama to New Hampshire.  He interviewed one of the Democratic faithfuls, Brenda Bladen, who said this, quote, “I‘m not comparing him to Jesus Christ, but,” that kind of says it all, doesn‘t it?

FENN: Well, if he can get the evangelical vote, he‘s in. 

CARLSON: He will get some of the evangelicals.

FENN: I think he is so good on his feet.  He is so natural and so graceful.  That ad, that smile which we were all commenting on, was terrific. 

The question now is here is a guy with the expectations very high, who is a rock star out there and very quickly became a rock star. 

And what happens if he does announce?  Can he withstand the hard knocks of a campaign?

And as you know, the press loves, once you‘re up there, to take you down. 

CARLSON: Of course, that‘s our job. 

FENN: That‘s right, that‘s your job.

CARLSON: Well, here‘s the question.  Here, G. Gordon Liddy, is a John Podhoretz piece, the “New York Post.”  He says, “You probably remember that Obama gave a masterful speech at the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston.  But what did he say?  Admit it.  You don‘t really care.”

We don‘t have any idea what Barack Obama believes, do we?

LIDDY: Well, yes, we do.  He has a long record in the Illinois senate and the remark was made that he‘s going to get the evangelicals.  Wait until the evangelicals find out that he voted for.

CARLSON: That was a joke, by the way.

LIDDY: . partial birth abortion, against parental notification and things like that.

He‘s a hard leftist and when that gets out there, it‘s going to hurt him. 

CARLSON: Why hasn‘t it gotten out there yet?  I mean, aren‘t there people who are supposed to be disseminating this information?  I don‘t think I‘ve read a bad word about Barack Obama ever.

STODDARD: Like John Podhoretz says, nobody cares right now.  I mean, he voted 97 percent in 2005 with his party. 

We were having this discussion yesterday, actually.  He worked with the republicans in the state senate.  So he‘s bipartisan.  He‘s very good friends with Senator Coburn.  But that doesn‘t make him not a liberal.

CARLSON: No, that‘s right.

STODDARD: This will all be dissected should he become an official candidate.  For now, he‘s going on TV.  He‘s just got the magic touch wherever he goes.  There was a piece in the paper today about him taking the wrong coat off an airplane and a man following him.  Obama put it on. 

CARLSON: Charmingly absentminded. 

STODDARD: And the man had to follow him and say, “I would have liked to have gotten a lot of money on e-Bay for your coat, but, in fact, you‘re wearing the wrong coat.”

Now, the other thing that happened to him recently, which is incredible, not to mention how many people will be watching this announcement on television for the Bears, but he went to Rick Warren‘s church.

And I‘ve got to say that must have been one of the toughest days Hillary Clinton has had in so long.  He was invited.  Then there were these protests about him coming.  And then he got a standing ovation. 

He is not a candidate yet.  It is not time for him to be attacked.  It doesn‘t matter.  None of this matters.  The only thing that matters right now is that people are infected by the fact that he is the non-politician and they want to see him as a non-politician and that includes the media and there‘s plenty of time to fill up.

CARLSON: And if you don‘t like Hillary Clinton, and that includes basically everyone who doesn‘t work for her, you‘re happy to see this happen.

We‘ll be right back.  Coming up, he was about to be indicted.  He was caught with a $90,000 wad of bills in his freezer, but he was still reelected to Congress.  Nancy Pelosi stripped him of his Ways and Means Committee seat, but that doesn‘t mean he won‘t serve on a committee. 

We‘ll be right back with the most ethical Congress in history, the Democratic Congress.

And right after the break, the happy and healthy return of Chris Matthews.  He‘ll join us and preview his upcoming interview with John Edwards in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  With all the talk of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton running two years from now, the other possible candidates seem to be ignored.  Among them, former North Carolina Senator and vice-presidential candidate two years ago John Edwards, who could be the most talented candidate the Democrats have when all is said and done.  MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews will be interviewing Edwards on HARDBALL, The College Tour tonight.  Chris joins me now from the University of North Carolina.  First off Chris, how are you feeling? 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Yes, but did you write that script where it said the most talented candidate, or is that your review or what?  Where did that come from? 

CARLSON:  No, I wrote that.  Yes, I think that. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he is the most talented of all the candidates? 

CARLSON:  I think it‘s a raw politician, as someone who can work a crowd and inspire people.  I think his message is kind of lame, and that‘s my next question, after finding out how you are, is what is his message now? 

MATTHEWS:  So you do the nice stuff.  You say how talented he is and then you want me to put the shiv in, right. 

CARLSON:  Yes, if you would. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s got—you know, all these fellows are right.  He has had like one term in the U.S. Senate and we‘ll see what that‘s worth.  You know, it‘s a tricky thing.  You know, a lot of these guys—

Obama is in his first term.  Of course he has had a very interesting background from his family growing up in Indonesia.  I think there are questions that are going to be raised about these people‘s adequacies and inadequacies, yes. 

CARLSON:  But in the last cycle, the cycle before this immediate one, in 2004, you saw John Edwards run essentially on his biography.  You know, he stood up for the poor and the week, powerless.  His father worked in a factory.  That was kind of the basis of his appeal.  Has he broadened his message, and if so, what is it? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘ll see.  You know, I think that is part of his appeal and his pitch.  It works with some people.  Does it work with you, though, Tucker?  Are you turned on by that son of a mill worker thing? 

CARLSON:  That his dad worked in a factory?  Who cares? 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  It‘s totally irrelevant what your father did.  This is America, man.  We all start fresh, anew, make your own reality.  It‘s about you, not your parents. 

MATTHEWS:  Equal chance at the starting gate, right?  Well, that may be a reaction from some people.  I think it‘s going to be wide open.  Look, this is the first time in our lives that nobody is vice president, nobody is president.  It‘s completely open ion both sides.  We have a two-ring circus out there.  Hillary is the big, you know—big whatever right now, the big momma right now.  On the Republican side, you have McCain is probably the leader. 

But, you know, both of them have huge weaknesses in going into the whole year stretch.  Can McCain go the full year without losing some stamina?  Does he get too old for the race?  Hillary, does she have too many guys hate her?  I mean, all kinds of problems out there.  But if Obama runs—if Obama runs, what you have got to in the beginning is the other guy‘s problems.  If Obama runs and Hillary runs, you have two people fighting it out.  They could crowd out the other candidates.  And that‘s the challenge I think we‘re going to ask Edwards to take on tonight.  How do you get in this fight if two people are going to try to dominate it? 

CARLSON:  If you were running Hillary‘s campaign, would you be happy that Barack Obama, in a way, was sort of a co-equal now?  Does she need that kind of rough and tumble fight?

MATTHEWS:  I can hear your answer in the question.  You have figured it out.  What       Obama does is take away not just the anybody but Hillary vote, and take maybe half of that, but he grabs this other idealistic crowd, that says let‘s go for the long ball, let‘s have an African-American president, let‘s really do it.  And so he appeals to the idealists in the Democratic party, as well as the anybody but Hillary, and takes away.  And then the other guys, like Biden and Bayh and the rest, argue over who is the real anybody but Hillary candidate. 

So, you‘re right, he really does change it from just anybody but Hillary to this new delightful possibility for American history.  I think it rouses Democrats.  By the way, Democrats never think about November.  They have no idea there is an election in November.  November doesn‘t count in D.C.   And they always—oh, is there another election after we pick somebody?  Oh yes, it‘s called the general election. 

CARLSON:  It‘s all about today.  That‘s right.  It‘s the existential party.

MATTHEWS:  They thought Dukakis was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  That guy, Mike Dukakis, nice Greek name, isn‘t this fascinating, coming to America and all this B.S.  And the public saw the guy and goes, he‘s your idea of a middle of the roader. 

CARLSON:  I loved it.  That was a great election.  Chris Matthews in North Carolina.  Thanks a lot, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Tucker, it‘s great to be back on the team.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.  To our panel, A.B. Stoddard, G. Gordon Liddy, Peter Fenn.  What do you think of that, the idea that Barack Obama—I‘m not suggesting he‘s on Hillary‘s payroll—but his presence is actually good for her, because among other things, you know, it toughens her up a little bit.  She needs a tough primary. 

FENN:  I think that is the point that E.J. Dionne made in the “Washington Post” today, is that look, if she can get through this, if she can beat Barack Obama, who is clearly a star in the party, then that gives her general election gravitas.  I think the problem with that—there‘s another side to it—which is right now—

CARLSON:  What if she loses? 

FENN:  Yes, well that is definitely the other side.  Here‘s the thing, though.  We have thrown out the campaign finance system for this next election, and no one is going to abide, with half a brain, is going to abide by the limits of matching funds.  So what that means is who can raise the most money?  Now clearly Hillary is going to have no trouble raising money. 

The other side of this, too, is Obama probably would not have much trouble raising money.  Because if you look back, John Kerry raised 240 million dollars for his primary.  Almost 100 million of that was from the Internet.  Now, Obama is the Internet‘s candidate.  He is a dream candidate for folks.  So—and then where does that leave all the other ones?  Big trouble.  You‘re Joe Biden, you‘re trying to raise money, you‘re Chris Dodd, you‘re Evan Bayh -- 

CARLSON:  What about on the Republican side, it raises the thorniest question of all?  John McCain, this is a guy who is wrapped up in campaign finance reform.  I mean, that‘s his issue.  Gordon Liddy, do you think John McCain can look into the television camera and say you know what, I pushed for this nonsense to become law, but I am going to ignore it because I want to become president? 

LIDDY:  I think he will be pragmatic and, if he needs to, he will raise the excess money.  On the question of - on the question of Hillary, everybody is missing something big, I think, here.  And that is, you know, everybody said that she is polarizing and people don‘t like her and so forth and a lot of that is true.  They are forgetting about women.  Look at her numbers in this most recent election that she won.  Look at the women voters who voted for her, including upstate New York, Republican voters. 

CARLSON:  Right, that‘s right. 

LIDDY:  And that is a real asset. 

CARLSON:  No, it was like a North Korean election.  If you were female, you voted for her. 

(CROSS TALK)

STODDARD:  I think that there is another—

CARLSON:  Why is that? 

STODDARD:  I think that there is a lot of women who would never vote for Hillary, and I know some of them.  So, I just can‘t -- 

CARLSON:  I‘m married to one.  There are others. 

STODDARD:  I talked to Republican women and I talked to Democratic women and I talked to, you know, people in all walks of life about this, because it‘s sort of fascinate to go me.  And I think overcoming the carpet bagger thing, she did it effectively by going and showing New Yorkers that she is a good study, and she did it.  I mean, she really was just an incredible politician, and she became a New Yorker and people bought it.  There are women who get excited about Hillary‘s candidacy, and there are women that say, like they would on the phone to a pollster, hmm, and then you get them alone in the booth and they are not going to do it.  And there are actually loyal Democrats, in this very scary time that we‘re living in, who don‘t know if they want her to be our commander in chief. 

That‘s another thing they might not say at dinner parties, but I think that is a very real factor.  In terms of Obama, the rest of the crowd, Hillary, while Obama could strengthen her in the run during the primary, toughen her up for someone like John McCain, I still think there is sort of this group forming among the base of the Democrats who are, as Chris mentioned, they are feeling idealistic or they are not.  Therefore, they want the future or they are willing to settle for the past.  We have all seen—we did the bush number two.  And I think in the Democratic party, there is some hesitation about looking back into the past and wanting—

CARLSON:  But wait a second, if you want to be idealistic, there is one candidate, the embodiment of Democrats values.  What Ronald Reagan is to Republicans, Dennis Kucinich is to Democrats.  Dennis Kucinich has announced—

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  -- of the “New York Times” yesterday that he is running for president, something that just kind of occurred to him in the middle of the interview.  By the way, I‘m running.

FENN:  Then he had to go out and tell his press secretary in the hallway, by the way, tell everybody I‘m running. 

CARLSON:  His wife was sitting next to him.  You are? 

FENN:  I‘m sure Hillary and Obama were quaking in their boots on that one. 

CARLSON:  Hillary wears boots? 

FENN:  We‘re moving on.  The interesting thing about this, I think, right now, is that Democrats do think about November.  I mean, I agree with Chris, we sometimes get lost in our primaries.  But they want to win.  I mean, that is the biggest argument on Hillary, can she win?  She beats Obama, it shows she can win.  And also, if you look at some of the polls, Charlie Cook did a wonderful, smart poll all the way along this year, started out with, are you nervous about whether or not Hillary can win?  It starts up very high.  After this November elections, folks are emboldened in the Democratic party.  They think she can win.  They think Obama can win. 

CARLSON:  They are right.  They are absolutely right.  OK, Republican members of Congress are already furious about their new five day a week work week.  Now they say Democrats are trying to keep their families away.  We have got details on that. 

And Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejed and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, what are they doing in the same room?  Or more to the point, what took them so long to get together?  It was an obvious matching.  We will tell you. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  If they are whispering about it in Washington, you can bet we are going to broadcast it loud and clear right here.  No gossip is beyond us.  Here with the latest, Jeff Dufour of the “D.C. Examiner.”  Jeff, welcome, what‘s going on. 

JEFF DUFOUR, “THE D.C. EXAMINER”:  The big thing right now is Tom Delay‘s Web site.  Tom Delay yesterday launches this organization called Gain, Grassroots Advocacy Information Network.  This is part blog, part a way to raise money. 

CARLSON:  Tom Delay is blogging now. 

DUFOUR:  Tom Delay is blogging.

CARLSON:  In his undershorts in his mom‘s basement? 

DUFOUR:  I hope not.  He launches it yesterday morning.  Within hours, they have to take down the comments section of the site, because he‘s getting lovely sentiments like, you silly criminal, burn in hell, and you have killed 500,000 of us. 

CARLSON:  Who would those be?  Or that‘s a pointless question. 

DUFOUR:  That‘s a pointless question.  So he takes it down.  Marcos Malitzas (ph) from the Daily Kos Blog, the most influential left-wing blog, calls this a breach of blogger‘s etiquette, that you don‘t take down -- 

CARLSON:  You have got to stand there and take it like a man in the blogosphere, is that right? 

DUFOUR:  Right.  So then it gets better.  Because today he‘s at the Heritage Foundation, with a bunch of—meeting with a bunch of other bloggers.  They ask him about 2008. 

CARLSON:  What a freak show.  I love this. 

DUFOUR:  They had him about 2008.  He says Hillary is going to be the next president.  And he also says that Obama is a Marxist leftist and that the only reason people are still supporting him is because they don‘t yet know that he‘s a Marxist leftist, thanks to the media‘s not reporting it. 

CARLSON:  I ran into Tom Delay in the elevator last night, going home from this very building.  I talked to him for a minute.  He seemed happier than I have ever seen him.  There was a spring, a bounce in his step.  There is a man that is glad to be out of Congress and into the Blogosphere.  By the way, a new survey came out, the average audience for the average blog—one. 

DUFOUR:  One person? 

CARLSON:  One person.  What else is going on? 

DUFOUR:  Speaking of Delay and family values, the Republicans had raised a bit of a stir, as was reported a couple of weeks ago, over the new calendar that the house Democrats are going to put into place, when they get into power, that they are going to go five days a week.  Some Republicans, most notably Jack Kingston from Georgia, were not pleased about this.  They said it was an intrusion on their families, and it shows just how anti-family values Democrats are.  Now, this gets better, because this—rumors are now swirling about the House family room. 

The family room is a chamber across from the gallery, where spouses and kids and whomever can hang out during votes, during the State of the Union, kitchen, the whole thing.  First, rumors are swirling that Steny Hoyer, who is going to be the majority leader, is going to take the family room away and make it into offices.  It turns out that‘s not true.  Now the next set of rumors—

CARLSON:  They are turning it into the trans-gender room. 

DUFOUR:  The next set of rumors are that Nancy Pelosi, wouldn‘t you know it, wants to expand the family room. 

CARLSON:  Of course she does. 

DUFOUR:  Right, because she wants to be family friendly.  So I talked to Jack Kingston today.  He‘s still not happy about it.  He says that this is silly because this is just for people who are in Washington anyway.  A lot of congressional families still live out of Washington, and the only way to help them is to only go three days a week, so people can do half their job in their district, which is what they are supposed to be doing, half here and half in their district. 

CARLSON:  You said you had discovered that Robert Gates, the new secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld‘s replacement, had been blogging under a pseudonym? 

DUFOUR:  Yes, he was the president of Texas A&M, still is for another few days.  This is a Web site called TexasAgs.com, a posting board, a blog, these kind of things.  And it gets thousands of visitors, there are thousands of users.  His name on the site was Ranger65.  Ranger is his dead dog, 65 is when he graduated from the school.  And he was posting.  Nobody knew it was him.  And he was doing this for—I think he had been there for four years, and he was doing it all four years, posting about football, about campus issues, all these kinds of things. 

CARLSON:  Something about that makes me uncomfortable.  I mean, Gordon Liddy, you‘re not of the blog generation, I think it‘s fair to say. 

LIDDY:  That‘s very fair to say.  I‘m barely in the automobile age. 

CARLSON:  Does it make you uncomfortable that Tom Delay and Robert Gates, our new secretary of defense, are blogging, even as you sleep? 

LIDDY:  It doesn‘t bother me at all.  What I want to know from the national—from the Examiner, is it true, finally, finally, finally, as I believe your paper reported today, that they are going to stop dumping raw sewage into the Potomac?  Because I live right on the Potomac and I was wondering where all the raw sewage was coming from.

CARLSON:  Are you going to miss it? 

LIDDY:  No. 

CARLSON:  There is something comforting that the river with toilet paper.  So five day a week work week? 

FENN  Well, this is really tough, of course.  Yes, heaven forbid that Congress should have to work five days a week. 

CARLSON:  Well wait a second, what about the point they do have to go back to their districts? 

FENN:  Look, of course the do, but, you know, if you do go back, this last Congress was, since 1948, the least working Congress, 105 days.  It comes out to about five months.  Now that‘s a lot of down time.  And that was—in the old days, the Congress would be out by July or August and go back to their districts for the Fall.  Their kids would go to school back there.  Now, you know, they can‘t—they have got the 13 spending bills and they can‘t pass 11 of them. 

CARLSON:  I wish they would all go home and stay there.  I really do. 

Peter Fenn, G. Gordon Liddy, Jeff Dufour, thank you all very much. 

Coming up, many people here in Washington believe Al Gore is gearing up for another run at the White House.  Does the former vice president have his eyes on a glitzier prize?  There is one.  We‘ll look at all the red carpet Oscar buzz when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  As always, there was just too much news to squeeze into a single hour.  But there were several other worthwhile stories of remark today.  Willie Geist is here to pass them along, Willie. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hello Tucker.  I would like to point out one obvious thing before we get started.  I‘m all for the D.C.  Dirt segment, but the D.C. Dirt segment is a little, shall we say, nerdier and dorkier than say New York and L.A.  It‘s a little less salacious.

CARLSON:  Yes, I know. 

GEIST:  The Congress‘ family room. 

CARLSON:  The Congress family room, I know.  No, it‘s not the same as Lindsay Lohan.  No, it‘s not.

GEIST:  Tucker, I have got some real news for you.  Al Gore seems intent upon not losing another close election, so he is everywhere these days, campaigning for on Oscar for his global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.  The former vice president has been on Oprah, the Tonight Show, the Today Show and every show in between, plugging the film‘s DVD release.

On Saturday, he‘ll host a nationwide network of 1,600 house parties to watch and discuss that movie.  The Oscar nominations are due out late next month.  Now Tucker, there‘s a really interesting plot twist to this thing.  Ralph Nader also has a documentary called An Unreasonable Man, which could be fighting Al Gore‘s documentary in the Oscar category, and stealing votes from him.  Does that sound like a familiar theme?  It‘s a true story.  It‘s unbelievable. 

CARLSON:  Have you seen the Gore movie? 

GEIST:  No, I have not seen it. 

CARLSON:  I suspect it‘s a shade, what‘s the word, pedantic.

GEIST:  Yes, I didn‘t see it because I had paint to watch dry that weekend, so I couldn‘t get to it, but Hollywood would like nothing more than to help propel him to the White House.  So, don‘t be surprised if gets it. 

CARLSON:  Good point.

GEIST:  Other news Tucker, the White House today condemned a two-day Holocaust denial conference being hosted by the government of Iran in Tehran.  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called the Holocaust, quote, a myth, organized the conference that has drown people from 30 different countries.  Among the attendees, former Klu Klux Klan leader and presidential candidate David Duke. 

Duke says, quote, the Holocaust is a device used as the pillar of Zionist empirialism, Zionist aggression, Zionist terror, and Zionist murder.  Now Tucker, somebody very close to me, who pointed out to me today that if you weren‘t already relieved that David Duke was not elected senator or president of the United States, this probably will put you over the top, this gathering.

CARLSON:  He‘s had some work down.  Am I within bounds saying that.

GEIST:  Absolutely.  It looks that way. 

CARLSON:  It looks like he had it done in the Dominican Republic? 

GEIST:  Yes, the work is not working.  I think he got a deal on it. 

CARLSON:  It‘s really not.  And can I also make the point that if you‘re Iran, I mean, are you trying to fight with Israel?   I mean, they have nuclear weapons, you don‘t, you‘re holding a Holocaust denial conference?  It‘s like you couldn‘t make it up. 

GEIST:  I know.  It‘s a little bit scary, to be honest with you.  Finally Tucker, we go from a group of idiots attacking the Holocaust to a group of idiots attacking a television reporter.  This woman was reporting for Spanish television from Santiago, Chile on the death of General Pinochet, when a Pinochet supporter stole her microphone and began cursing Spaniards.  Spain had begun extradition proceedings against Pinochet because many of his alleged victims were Spanish.   

The woman bravely continued her report, as you see here, as the crowd pelted her with flying objects.  And give her credit Tucker, standing in there like a quarterback in the face of blitz and delivering the football, amazing.  And look at you just sitting in your air conditioned studio in D.C., you and your panel.  You have got it real cushy.  You got to get out there with the people, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Actually, G. Gordon Liddy just threatened me.  I backed down immediately.  It was my only option. 

(CROSS TALK)

GEIST:  I would back down from G. Gordon Liddy too.  I don‘t blame you. 

CARLSON:  Are you kidding?  He won prevailed in Fear Factor.  He won the physical challenge.  I believe he is twice the age of the next oldest contestant and he crushed them, spanked them like the bad little girls they were.  He‘s one tough man. 

GEIST:  I give up. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  All right Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Thank you for watching.  Up next “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  He is live form Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  See you tomorrow.             

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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