updated 1/4/2007 11:39:53 AM ET 2007-01-04T16:39:53

Guests: Dick Armey, Rosa Brooks, Steve Jarding, Robin Wright, Jeff Dufour

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the show.  We are just hours from a new Congress and potentially a new direction for the U.S. government.  President Bush gave his opinion about that today and we‘ll get to it in just a minute.

But first, there is more fallout from the execution of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.  Authorities there have arrested the man they say is responsible for using his cell phone to videotape Saddam‘s death.  The tape makes it clear that in the moments before he died, the former dictator was yelled at and taunted by many of the witnesses present.

As “The New York Times” put it today, quote, “The video and the scenes it depicts have prompted a wave of revulsion around the world.”  In an ostensibly straight news story that newspaper described the images as quote, “an almost a gothic display of intimidation and death.”

Apparently the world is shocked to learn that executions are ugly and executions carried out by primitive Third World governments are especially unattractive.  Surprise, surprise.

Actually, what is surprising is that we didn‘t anticipate any of this in the first place.  From the beginning, allowing the Iraqis to govern themselves has been a central goal of American foreign policy and from the beginning we have refused to acknowledge that an Iraqi democracy might look very different from our democracy.

Because no matter what the president claims, the Iraqis aren‘t like us.  They are different.  They are a lot more brutal than one thing.  So here‘s the choice.  Step in and run Iraq like a civilized country with American standards and values or stand back and let it become what it will become.  Either way, you can‘t criticize the Iraqis for acting like Iraqis which is what they did.

Well, more on the aftermath of Saddam‘s execution in a few minutes but first it is the even of a new Congress and we are joined now to discuss it by Dick Armey, the former House majority leader and current chairman of freedomworks.com, an organization that promotes lower taxes and less government.  Amen.

“Los Angeles Times” columnist Rosa Brooks and Democratic strategist Steve Jarding.  Welcome to you all.

Mr. Armey, what are the president‘s options at this point?  A Democratic Congress comes in tomorrow.  He wrote an op-ed in the “Wall Street Journal” this morning sort of restating his basic values, small government, lower taxes.  But can he really take control of the policy debate?

DICK ARMEY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN:  Well, it‘s very difficult and it‘s always difficult.  The Congress now initiates legislative process.  The president can accept it or reject it and eventually negotiate.  We used to have enormously long and sometimes successful negotiations between our new majority and the Clinton White House.  Sometimes they were frustrating but that‘s the way the process goes.

But the president must accept this fact that the new Democrat majority will want to assert itself.  They feel like they won an election.  I think the Republicans lost but still, nevertheless, they have the majority and they will assert it and the president needs to be able to work with them.  It may be that he needs to get his veto pen out.

CARLSON:  That might be nice.

ARMEY:  And that might be helpful.  But it is going to be an interesting contest.  Everybody has to learn new skill sets now, and the quicker they can learn them, the better off they‘ll be.  We had trouble learning them fast enough in ‘95, and ‘96, we made some fairly bad scenes of ourselves but on the other hand, for a party that had never had a chance to run the legislative process, frankly, I think we did fairly well.

CARLSON:  Well, the Republicans for all the mistakes that you just referred to, did think big.  Rosa, are you disappointed about the micro quality of the Democratic initiatives in the first 100 hours?  They‘re pretty small.

ROSA BROOKS, “LOS ANGELES TIMES” COLUMNIST:  They are small but not unimportant.  On the one hand I don‘t think we‘re going to see a lot of big, exciting things happen in the next two years.  The Democratic majority is much too slender.  They know that they can only do things that are going to be not too, too controversial.

But I also confess, although I am little bit disappointed, there are lots of sweeping, radical things I‘d love to do, on the other hand I think .

CARLSON:  Nationalize the railroads.  Universal health care.

BROOKS:  Any second now.  On the other hand I sort of think that maybe we need period of slightly more low key work to get us past the unbelievable divisiveness.

CARLSON:  Holy smokes (ph), Steve, it‘s pretty little though.  I mean the minimum wage?  Basically even the Chamber of Commerce .

BROOKS:  Not that little

CARLSON:  You‘re right.  But when even the Chamber of Commerce, sworn enemy of mandatory minimum raises to the minimum wage is resigned to this, you can‘t call this radical.

STEVE JARDING, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  But I don‘t think anytime you set forth a 100-hour agenda, you‘re going to change the world in 100 hours.  I don‘t think this Congress will make its case in the first 100 hours or the first 100 days, frankly.

I think they have got a mandate from the American public.  I don‘t disagree with former Congressman Armey.  I think what the voters said was we don‘t think the Republicans are governing the way we want and we‘re going to give you a shot, Democrats.

CARLSON:  Well, what‘s the mandate?  What is - Apart from Iraq, which is .

JARDING:  I think that the mandate was we want leadership.  The American public is under assault.  You look at health care costs have gone up 73 percent in the last six years, wages are down six years in a row even though productivity is up 15.7 percent.  We‘re outsourcing jobs, you‘ve got 20 percent of the people in some parts of the South, kids going to bed hungry.

You‘ve got families out there that are struggling .

CARLSON:  Twenty percent of kids in some parts—I don‘t accept that as even close to true.

BROOKS:  It‘s good that you don‘t accept that because the Bush administration doesn‘t accept it either.

JARDING:  In some parts of the South, it‘s even higher, but when you look - particularly the region in the South or rural America .

CARLSON:  Which is the bigger problem, obesity or hunger in this country?

JARDING:  Well, obesity is clearly a problem but listen, when somebody goes to bed hungry, convince that kid that obesity is the biggest problem.

But the bigger point is - I think the point I‘m trying to make, I think the Democratic Congress has two years to say we‘re going to lead.  Yes in the first 100 hours we‘ll tackle minimum wage and we‘ll tackle some things but it‘s not that 100 hours they‘ll be tested.

They‘re going to be tested - are they going to put forth programs that move the American family forward, that give opportunity to people, that give people hope again.  Because I think in what we have seen in the last few years, a very cynical administration that cut taxes for the rich, gave a lot away, got into a car without asking the American people their opinion and the American people said stop, this is not our government anymore, we‘re going to give the other guy ...

CARLSON:  So Dick Armey, you just said you hope the president will use his veto pen more than just once in eight years.  On what issues will he do that?

ARMEY:  Well, the president has said that he wants to get to a balanced budget.  Quite frankly, if you‘re going to get to a balanced budget you‘re going to have to do mandatory spending reform, what‘s known as entitlement spending reform.

You can cut back on the ugliness of the earmarks.  Who doesn‘t want to do that?  And so there can be some reform, some change, I think the Democrats have an opportunity to make the body look for civil than it has looked, that‘s, again, not hard to do so they have a great opportunity to do a lot of things that can be endearing to the American voter but if they are going to accomplish the things they say they commit to, like eliminating the deficit, the big things, they are going to have to do big things and one things I think the Democrats are going to find even in this 100 hour agenda is that there‘s a big gulf between the demagoguing of it and the doing of it.

And for example, the idea of implementing all of the 9/11 Commission things, the fact of the matter is, it‘s probably physically impossible to examine every carton that comes into the United States port and yet they‘ve set people up with expectations.  I think to some extent they‘ve been wise in their 100 hour thing to try to play down expectations because it‘s going to be hard to ...

CARLSON:  But isn‘t there an internal contradiction in the democratic plan.  On the one hand they want to be the deficit hawks, it‘s now the Democrats who are going to keep spending down because they care about saving your money, right?  And on the other hand, they are still talking, Barack Obama the other day, talking about universe cal health care.  You can‘t have both.

BROOKS:  You have to roll back those Bush tax cuts, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Look, you roll back the tax cuts.  You raise taxes.  Even that, you are not going to get universal health care and eliminate the deficit at the same time.  Come on.

BROOKS:  I think you‘re right which is mainly, though, because they have inherited a very bad situation and they‘re in a somewhat untenable position.

CARLSON:  But next year, that excuse won‘t work.  So what are they going to do then?

BROOKS:  I think that excuse won‘t work forever.  They are going to have to decide in the short run whether they want to bring the deficit under control or whether they want to try something big and creative in the hope that it is investment in the longer term.

CARLSON:  Right.

BROOKS:  And I think that the next couple of years are fraught with peril for both the Democrats and the Republicans.  If the president uses his veto power too much he looks obstructionist and helps the Democrats.  If the Democrats don‘t succeed in do anything other than really bread and butter stuff that nobody dislikes they‘re going to look like they haven‘t done that much.  Everybody is going to have to be feeling their way here, a little bit.

CARLSON:  This ethics stuff strikes me, Steve, as particularly ridiculous.  I mean, I don‘t think Washington is very corrupt.  I think it‘s all overblown in the first place.  That‘s just my personal view.  But the Democrats ran on it, polls say they got elected partly because of their commitment to ethics and then all of a sudden, you have wait a second, there‘s Jack Murtha, there‘s John Conyers, Chairman John Conyers who has just been scolded for using his staff for personal errands.  They can‘t claim to be the party of higher moral standards, can they?

JARDING:  Sure, the Republicans could if they came forth with an agenda today and said here‘s how we‘re going to clean up Congress.

Sure there are a lapses but the problem is if you let the lapses continue and we talked about earmarks.  Look at your definition of corruption.  I don‘t know if it‘s corrupt but I know that lobbyists spend $200 million a month to lobby this government.

CARLSON:  And why shouldn‘t they?  They‘re voters, too.  Why shouldn‘t their views get a hearing before Congress?

JARDING:  I am not suggesting they shouldn‘t get a hearing but the dilemma is and the congressman can probably attest to this more than anything, you have got members of Congress now that arguably are working about six months out of the year out raising money trying to fill their campaign coffers for six months out of the year.

I know members of Congress that don‘t necessarily go to a lot of committee hearings because they‘re raising money.  There‘s something broken in the system when you can have as many earmarks as you had.  We had more earmarks in the transportation bill last year than the total number of earmarks in any other year combined.  We had them in one bill.

Democrats, you‘d better change that.  The system isn‘t working.  I‘m not

saying people shouldn‘t get a hearing but the problem is rank and file

Americans, Tucker, are not getting a hearing.  In this Congress, if they

come back and say we are going to listen to the American public

Our mandate was, you are angry out there.  You did say, you‘re not governing for me and we are going to put money in your pocket through some sort of investment in your kids, in health care, whatever it is, we have to do it by balancing the budget, if that‘s the right way.  Maybe we should resurrect the Balanced Budget Amendment.  The Republicans had it in their contract with America in 1994, maybe Democrats should bite the bullet.

CARLSON:  I totally agree with that.

JARDING:  I just believe they have to lead and come forth with these ideas and they have a fairly small window, a two year window to show the American public that they are not just in this to rip Bush or impeach him or do all that silliness.  They are not in this to now exact revenge because Republicans have been in control 12 years.  Their mandate is you better show me leadership or we‘ll boot you back out.

CARLSON:  Coming up, of course Saddam Hussein‘s execution hurt the United States.  The question is how much did it hurt the United States.  We‘ll give you answers next.  Plus we know how Cindy Sheehan feels about the Iraq War and now the Democrats know too.

Mrs. Sheehan proves herself to be an equal opportunity screamer.  It happened in Capitol Hill today.  We‘ll tell you all about it.  We‘ll be right back.


CARLSON:  Saddam Hussein, dictator, mass murderer, convicted, hanged and now dead.  But wait.  People are suddenly starting to feel bad for him.

How did an evil Saddam become a sympathetic character?  U.S. officials are now saying if they were in charge of the execution it would have been done very differently.  What does that mean, exactly?

Meanwhile the Iraqi government is up in arms about the cell phone video of the execution.  That has been seen all over the Internet, arresting three men in connection with the video including one man they believe to be the one who actually recorded it.

Joining me now to help us make sense of all of this is “Washington Post” correspondent, Robin Wright.  Robin, thanks for coming on.

ROBIN WRIGHT, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Nice to be with you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  How big a deal is this?  We‘re getting conflicting reports from Iraq about the aftermath of this, demonstrations in the street.  Is this significant?

WRIGHT:  Clearly it is fueling sectarian divisions within Iraq.  This has been a very sensitive issue but at the same time one of the most noteworthy things about these demonstrations and protests is that so far they are peaceful.  We have not seen any violence that is yet related to or tied directly to the hanging last week.

CARLSON:  So for those of what who have not followed this, can you just outline the narrative very quickly for us?  Is the idea that the execution makes Sunnis mad at Shiites because they feel persecuted by them?  What is the conflict here?

WRIGHT:  I think what happened was the original version of events and the execution was that it was a moment of grave seriousness, that there was not a confrontation.  What happened with the release of the video is you see there was a real confrontation in the last minutes of Saddam‘s life that underscored the tensions between Sunni and Shiite with some of those present.  Some of the guards apparently shouting “Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada” which was after Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the largest Shiite militia in Iraq.

And it looks like these were not neutral government employees but people who were real partisans and felt they were taking out vengeance for some of Saddam‘s attacks on the Shiites.  This looks as if it was tied to the direct Sunni Shiite tension rather than the follow through on a sentence of justice after a trial.

CARLSON:  How exactly could the U.S. government have done this differently had U.S. authorities been in charge of the execution?

WRIGHT:  Well, it was clear that the U.S. was very unhappy there were cell phones there that videotaping this and released on the Internet.  They wanted this moment to be a moment of decorum and not one of bitterness and sectarian divide.  How they would have done it differently, specifically, the U.S. hasn‘t said but there are a different intent and I think it underscores one of the real challenges that the U.S. faces in Iraq.

That increasingly, as they turn over responsibilities for all kinds of

government activities whether the carrying out of justice or on the

military battlefield that the Iraqis are not nearly as experienced and they

made some of their own emotional issues may play into decisions and actions

and this will backfire and show just how fragile and young and

inexperienced this government is.  They may make other mistakes

CARLSON:  There are reports this afternoon that one of the men who filmed the execution on his cell phone may have been an official in the Iraqi government.  Do you know if that‘s true and does that have implications for the government?

WRIGHT:  I don‘t know whether that‘s true but yes, I think it already has serious implications for the government.  The fact that the government could not control something this important to Iraq‘s history is a reflection of just the kind of inexperience that I was talking about that this is not a government firmly in control even of those who are responsible for the judicial system and the execution literally of justice.

CARLSON:  All right.  Robin Wright from the “Washington Post,” thanks a lot.

WRIGHT:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Coming up, is there a lonelier thing than to be a supporter of President Bush‘s reported new way forward in Iraq?  We will tell you what the president is thinking and who agrees with him.

Plus, Barack Obama revealed his own cocaine use years ago before he entered politics.  Will his admission now be taken as refreshing candor or will it disqualify him for the White House?  Stay tuned.


CARLSON:  Just a couple of months ago, it was hard to imagine the situation in Iraq getting more cartoonishly bad than it was, but here we are.  Saddam Hussein dies looking like a victim and President Bush‘s new way forward is reported to be a plan nobody else supports.

Back to discuss the situation, Dick Armey, former House majority leader and current chairman of freedomworks.com, an organization that promotes lower taxes and limited government.  “Los Angeles Times” columnist Rosa Brooks and Democratic strategist Steve Jarding.  Thank you all.

Dick Armey, is there support on the Republican side for 20,000 more troops in Iraq?

ARMEY:  Well, I suppose you could argue with if you want to get out of Iraq, you first have to establish some kind of order that you can dare to vacant and leave behind.

CARLSON:  Right.

ARMEY:  Maybe this is it.

I don‘t know.  When I talked to the president before this, I said, you can‘t get in there and win that war in three weeks and then you‘ll never figure out how to get out of there.  From my point of view this is probably as good a plan as any.  I hope this is a plan devised by real professionals, real military, police, people with a professional understanding of things rather than political advisors.

CARLSON:  But do you think Republicans on the Hill will sort of reflexively follow the president‘s lead as they have in the past or will they say, hold on, tell us more.

ARMEY:  I think they probably won‘t understand but again, everybody, Republican and Democrat alike are saying we have got to find a way to end our involvement in Iraq.  Now this is a plan that I think has a possibility of working and right now it is one plan more than we had yesterday, so let‘s look at it and let‘s see if there‘s a way to examination to improve on it, but it seems to me we have to find some way to get out of this place.

CARLSON:  And Rosa, it‘s one more plan than the Democrats have and once the president gets up next week and says .

BROOKS:  That‘s not at all true, Tucker.  People can always say the Democrats—the Democrats do have plan, it‘s just the Republicans don‘t like it because it‘s essentially withdrawal over time.

CARLSON:  We get into this (ph) every day.

I am not clear what the Democratic plan is.  I know what some Democrats think but what is the Democratic .

BROOKS:  I think that the vast majority of Democrats are in agreement that we need some kind of timetable for withdrawal.  I think that a surge of troops is not going to do anything.  There is increased likelihood of U.S.  casualties.

CARLSON:  Do you think that will be the Democratic response, that this is a bad idea?

BROOKS:  Yeah.  I think so.

And I think one of the many biggest problems with this surge plan is it‘s too little too late.  We keep saying well, maybe we‘ll get the job done.  Maybe it will get the job done.

But the problem is we don‘t even know what the job is anymore.  We don‘t have any idea anymore what we are doing.  And the fiasco in connection with Saddam‘s execution is further evidence of that.

If I were one of our troops sitting there in Iraq somewhere, I would be thinking, I‘m fighting to support a government that executes Saddam and has people chanting the name Muqtada al Sadr, who is trying to kill Americans?  What is this for?

CARLSON:  Right.  I‘m supporting a government that is in some cases trying to kill me, that‘s an excellent .

BROOKS:  This is crazy.  That‘s part of the problem here is that—if we could throw 300,000 troops in, maybe we could do something real but we can‘t do that unfortunately, maybe.  The only alternative is to get out.

CARLSON:  You may be right but let‘s be real though, for a sec.

Steve - here is the political reality as I see it.  If the president gets up next week and says we need to finish this job, I want to get out and everybody wants to get out of Iraq and I‘m first among those that want to leave, but we can‘t leave until the situation is more placid than it is.  We need more troops to accomplish that.  Twenty thousand is the number the experts tell me will do it.  Let‘s do it.  Democrats cannot credibly stand up the next day and say no.

I don‘t think they can.

JARDING:  I disagree for this reason.  I don‘t think the president is the right messenger now.  The president has lost all credibility in this war.  We went in for weapons of mass destruction, we went in to establish democracy, we went in for all kinds of reasons.  Mission was accomplished.  We were going to be liberators.

You see Saddam die and the night jokesters on TV are saying I guess we can get out of Iraq now because Saddam is dead.  Well, that‘s the problem.  We don‘t get out of Iraq.  This guy has bungled this thing for whatever reason.  There was no exit strategy.

So just to say - my point, Tucker, would be to say this president has not earned the right to say I don‘t think to the American public, give me some more young men and women to die over there.

CARLSON:  If the president has no credibility in Iraq and I tend to agree with you.  I don‘t take at face value anything this president says about Iraq personally.  However, who has more credibility?  In other words, the president stands up and says, I thought this through, all these smart people over here thought this through.  Here is our conclusion.  Democrats stand up and respond by saying what?

JARDING:  The problem is, the president did have a lot of smart guys come to conclusions and he has ignored them.  He is not doing with what the Iraq Study Group said he should do.  We are not talking to these other nations, bringing them in.  We are not moving our bases and putting our soldiers out of harm‘s way.  They are targets over there.

BROOKS:  And another group that thinks that is the wrong idea is actually our troops.  One of the least reported stories that ought to be getting more right now is last week the “Military Times” came out with their annual poll of military personnel and this is considered the barometer of feeling among the professional military.  It‘s about 70 percent officers, 30 percent enlisted in the pool.  And a plurality now think that we either need to decrease or .

CARLSON:  You are saying now you want our troops to be making policy.  There are a whole bunch of other issues they can weigh in on, like abortion.

BROOKS:  But I think that you raise the question of President Bush says all the experts are behind this.  What experts are behind this?  I haven‘t seen the experts lining up behind this.

CARLSON:  I‘m imaging.

BROOKS:  If he had experts that would be different.

ARMEY:  Let me cut to the bottom line.  The bottom line is simple, there is one commander in chief.  It doesn‘t matter if I‘ve got the best plan in the world or you do or Nancy Pelosi does, the president of the United States has to order the execution of the plan, so the fact of the matter is I think the president has said this is the plan I am inclined to do.  We ought to examine it, we ought to consider, we ought to recommend, criticize and we ought to hope that we can find a way out of this place by executing something that the president will execute.

The military will operate at the direction of the president irrespective of their opinions .

BROOKS:  Sure.  Absolutely.

ARMEY:  So what we need to look at this plan and hope the president is open to advice by people who are knowledgeable.  My problem is we have got an awful lot of people that have opinions and attitudes on these things that don‘t have professional training and experience.

CARLSON:  On that we‘re going to take a quick break.

Coming up another corporate executive screws up and makes hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.  Here the latest story from the “He got what?” file.

And in case that leaves you feeling depressed, there is in fact, for once, good news.  A story of absolute, unadulterated heroism from the New York City subway system.  It will give you goose bumps.  Stay tuned.



CARLSON:  We‘re back with breaking news from North Carolina, where two of the three Duke lacrosse players originally charged with raping a stripper—that charge dropped last month—are now invited back to Duke, welcomed to enroll this coming semester.  Joining me with the details is NBC Ron Mott.  He‘s in Atlanta, Ron.   

RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi there Tucker, good afternoon to you.  This may be the strongest signal yet that Duke University believes, perhaps, that the three players have seen the worst of this case thrown at them.  When those rape charges were dropped on Friday, December 22nd, University President Richard Brotthead (ph) issued a very strongly worded statement in which he questioned the validity of the remaining charges. 

Now these three players still face first degree kidnapping and sexual offense charges, very serious charges indeed, but yesterday, the university invited two of the three players back to campus.  The third player graduated the day before he was indicted.  So Collin Finnerty and Reid Seligman were given two notes that said the following, in part, quote, as circumstances have evolved in this extraordinary case, we have attempted to balance recognition of the gravity of legal charges with the presumption of your innocence.  Now, with the approach of a new term, we believe that circumstances warrant that we strike this balance differently.  At this point, continued extension of the administrative leave would do unwarranted harm to your educational process.”

So the two players have been invited back to campus.  The spring semester begins a week from today, Tucker, and so presumably Collin Finnerty and Reid Seligman will rejoin their Duke lacrosse teammates for the Spring season.  So, this is indeed big news, and perhaps, as I mentioned off the top, the university probably believes there is not much left to this case.  Back to you.

CARLSON:  Ron, do we have any indication at all that they will go back to Duke? 

MOTT:  At this point no, but within the last hour the attorney—one of the attorneys for Collin Finnerty said that the family, obviously is indeed happy at this invitation back to the campus, that Collin Finnerty has spent his time working with a charity over the Fall semester, while he was unable to attend classes at Duke. 

Both players, from their attorneys, have not exactly committed to returning to campus, but Finnerty‘s attorney said that he does indeed enjoy his experience at Duke, and perhaps he will come back.  So, that remains to be seen for both of these young men. 

CARLSON:  NBC‘s Ron Mott in Atlanta.  Thanks a lot Ron.  Just hours from now, the Democratic party will officially take control of the Congress.  After cocktails and the dancing there‘s reputed to be an actual agenda.  Here to explain what it might be we welcome, once again, Dick Armey, former House majority leader and current chairman of FreedomWorks.com—it‘s an organization that promotes lower taxes and limited government—“Los Angeles Times” columnist Rosa Brooks, and Democratic strategist Steve Jarding.  Welcome to you all. 

I want to see if we can put up on the screen—there was a remarkable moment today on Capital Hill, Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist who lost a son in Iraq, showed up at a press conference Rahm Emanuel, congressman from Chicago, was giving about ethics reform, and started screaming and chanting, along with a bunch of other protesters.  You see her right there.  Do we have the tape. 

That‘s just the greatest thing I think I‘ve ever seen.  Steve Jarding, it seems to me Cindy Sheehan has a really solid point.  Democrats were elected because, in my view, of dissatisfaction with the Iraq war and by liberal activist groups, online and otherwise, and they‘re not getting what they voted for, and they ought to be mad. 

JARDING:  Well, we don‘t know that they are not getting what they voted for.  The Democrats have not been sworn in yet. 

CARLSON:  But they‘re not calling for one world government, so we know that they‘re not getting all that they want. 

JARDING:  Well, they may not get all they want, probably everybody shouldn‘t get all they want, but they should be heard.  And certainly Cindy Sheehan has earned the right, gave her son up fighting for this country, and she has a right to be heard. 

CARLSON:  She didn‘t give her son up.  He died.  He enlisted in the military on his own volition.  I mean, she had nothing to do with it.

JARDING:  Well, I understand, but if it‘s my son, my son died for this country, then I think I  have got a voice.  And so I give her that.  She‘s earned that.  I think all the families of the men and women who are fighting certainly have earned a voice, well deserved, but I would argue that Democrats need to do what we talked about a little bit ago.  I mean, they need to come to the table and say, here is what we are going to do.  We‘re going to offer an alternative. 

The president says, potentially, we are going to send more troops.  What is the alternative?  Are we going to adopt some of the stuff in the Study Group?  Are we going to challenge the president?  Are we going to try to move this thing to a resolution that works?  As opposed to either a knee jerk or whatever.  It deserves the Democrats to come forth. 

CARLSON:  Well yes, I mean, Rosa, I mean, there has got to be profound dissatisfaction in the wild eyed crazy community?  Isn‘t there?. 

BROOKS:  I don‘t know, I‘m not a wild eyed crazy.  Why are you looking at me like that?

CARLSON:  Because the Democrats won this election, in many cases, the series of elections back in November, by running candidates who are far to the right of what one thinks is the template of your average Democratic candidate.  That‘s got to bother the activist wing. 

BROOKS:  I think it does bother the activist wing.  I think it doesn‘t do the Democrats now in power in Congress any harm to be screamed at a little bit from the left.  I think it never does anybody any harm to be screamed at from anybody, because, you know, it‘s good to hear what people are thinking out there. 

That said, I think two things, number one, I think that the Democrats

it‘s true that they have to be a little bit tougher and that means risking doing something that‘s going to be unpopular.  That doesn‘t necessarily mean doing exactly what Cindy Sheehan wants them to do, but I think you‘re right.  The Democrats have a lot of responsibility themselves for the perception that they have no feasible Iraq plan.  Because whenever anybody asks them, they tend to kind of go on, and not really say anything in particular because they‘re afraid of failing. 

Well, we‘re at a situation where the current plan is failing.  The surge is likely to fail.  It may very well be that withdrawal would fail too, but I think frankly at this point, people are going to be expecting the Democrats in Congress to say something and risk taking the heat later on if it fails. 

But I also think, and this is getting to a broader issue about whether the activist demands on the new Democratic majority in Congress should be acceded to.  This press is spinning some things as weird fringe activist demands that frankly are not, things like should we stop torturing people and make sure that we restore habeas corpus.  It was taken away by—


CARLSON:  -- historic sense they may not be fringe demands, but they are not in line with prevailing sentiment of this country.  They‘re minority views. 

BROOKS:  I thinks wrong.  I think that‘s just plain wrong. 

CARLSON:  OK.  I put my poll numbers against yours poll numbers any day. 

BROOKS:  I think one of the most important things right now for the Democratic majority in Congress to do is be willing and able and brave enough to come out and just buck the immediate trend to paint these things as radical, when they‘re not. 

CARLSON:  Brave enough to buck the immediate trend.  Good luck hoping for that.  Dick Armey, you‘re the one person here who‘s been elected.  You must know what it feels like to be caught between your base basically and political reality. 

ARMEY:  This is the new speaker‘s dilemma.  She has got a very energetic base, very demanding base and that base is represented by personalities in her conference and then she has the voices of moderation, which I think right now the best adviser she has got is Charlie Rangel, myself.  I don‘t think she‘s necessarily going to live with him, but I go back to something I said before the election. 

CARLSON:  If I could stop you right there—You said Charlie Rangel. 

ARMEY:  Charlie Rangel said this is not a time to get even.  This is a time to get serious and be congenial and collegial in the way we treat other people, and I think he is correct.  And Charlie Rangle, more than any other member of the minority, when they were the minority, had a reason to feel mistreated by the abuse that he had to suffer as the ranking member of that committee, and he has come out with the right advise. 

Now, I said at the time of the elections for the new speaker, the most instructive election was that of Lieberman.  Lieberman was thrown out in the primary but his angry base and he came out back in the state, before all of the people of his great state, and he won the general.  That‘s a very important thing.  If you let the base define your behavior, you will lose general elections. 

CARLSON:  What do you make of that Rosie?  You just said that most Americans are in tune with the demands of Cindy Sheehan, but Lieberman.  That is a great example of how, in fact, most people don‘t care and they are put off by it. 

BROOKS:  In some ways, I‘m not sure Lieberman is as good an example, actually.  I mean, in some ways I think it had to do with personality and Connecticut politics.  It was not as much of a referendum on anything to do with Iraq in the end, in the general election.  The Republicans didn‘t field a serious candidate.  A lot of Republicans went over to Lieberman‘s side.  I actually don‘t think you can make that much of the Lieberman election, the general election, although I do agree very much with the idea that, at this point, voters, including many Democrats, don‘t particularly want payback. 

They want to move on.  They want to get things done.  And I think it‘s entirely appropriate for the Democratic majority in Congress to say to the base, we hear you, you know, some of the things that you‘re saying we agree with and we would like to do maybe someday.  Some of the things we don‘t agree with anyway, but either way, this is a moment to focus on what we can do, what we can do that everybody needs, because that is how we are going to move forward. 

CARLSON:  Do voters really want—Steve, you pay attention.  You‘re a political consultant.  You have got a pretty good handle on what voters say they want and what they really want, what actually moves them to vote.  Do people really want results?  We want our members to get things done.  Do they really care?  They seemed signified with gridlock, to me, a lot of the time. 

JARDING:  No, I think they really want it done.  I think a better example is Jim Webb, not Lieberman.  I mean, the base of the Democratic party had every reason to go against Jim Webb in that primary.  He used to work for Reagan.  We‘re not even sure you‘re a Democrat.  But he won. 

CARLSON:  He‘s got a concealed weapons permit. 

JARDING:  He does, and not only did he win, he won the most liberal areas of Virginia, in that primary, was where he won his biggest margins, Arlington, Alexandria, 70 percent of the vote.  So I think the base was saying, no, we want someone who will govern.  We are tired of the gridlock.  We‘re tired when George Allen stopped and said, you know, let‘s not cut and run.  Let‘s stand behind the president.  The people of Virginia said, no you‘re with the president 96 percent of the time, and you know what, I don‘t feel so good.  Maybe we want on independent voice, which is what Webb embodied.  So, I think he‘s more telling of what the American public was looking for, including the Democratic base, by the way. 

CARLSON:  Speaking of what the American public wants, I‘m sure you all have read Barack Obama‘s first book, in which he admits smoking a lot of pot, doing a fair amount cocaine, is that, you know—someone who has the finger on the pulse of America, is this a problem going into the presidential election?  Have we reached a point where voters no longer care, or do they care?

ARMY:  As long as he is going in through a Democratic primary, I don‘t think it‘s a problem for him.  We‘ve seen with the Clinton presidency that people who have a disposition to vote for Democrats have a high tolerance for abhorrence.  So, Obama will not be hurt by this, very likely could get the nomination, and could be elected president.  If he had to try to enter the presidency through a Republican primary process, he wouldn‘t have a chance, because they have a very, very low tolerance for abhorrence.   

CARLSON:  Does this make you more or less likely to vote for him, Rosa, the fact that he did Cocaine and admitted it? 

BROOKS:  The fact that he did Cocaine is irrelevant to my view of him.  The fact that he admitted it—This guy is not standing up and saying, I did Cocaine and I would do it again. 


BROOKS:  He is standing up and saying, I was a messed up kid and here are some of the things that I did when I was a messed up kid.  And boy am I glad I‘m not a messed up kid and I hope no other kid ever goes through that.  I‘m not even sure I agree that Republicans wouldn‘t not vote for someone with a story like Obama‘s in a Republican primary.  Because I think Americans like redemption stories, and I think Americans like honesty.  Speaking just personally, I recently read his memoir and I thought it was a terrific book, and one of the things that was just most striking about it was that this was an honest book, and I think that the sense—I don‘t think I‘m alone in feeling a huge revulsion against the kind of falsity that characterizes American publics today.  I think he is going to be rewarded for being a straight-forward guy. 

CARLSON:  I think I agree with you. I think I agree. 

ARMEY:  Many Republicans would vote for a person with such a story, but not enough to nominate him. 

JARDING:  Just for the record, I do not think the Republican party has a corner on the market of who they would nominate based on values.  I mean, there are plenty of illustrations.  Newt Gingrich is third in the polls -- 

CARLSON:  So you don‘t think that Democrats are inherently more abhorrent? 

JARDING:  No, I do not.

CARLSON:  All right, well on that note, Steve Jarding, Rosa Brooks, Dick Armey, thank you.  Coming up, Pelosi Palooza under way.  We have a mole, a man who sneaked in to the new speaker‘s tea for the ladies these afternoon.  The inside scoop moments away. 

Plus, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress prepares to take his oath on a copy of the Koran.  Wait until you hear who‘s copy of the Koran he will use, remarkable.  Stick around. 


CARLSON:  Enough about Saddam, President Bush, the new Congress, Barack Obama even.  Turn up the volume on your tube, because now comes the good stiff, the dirt from Washington, courtesy of Jeff Dufour, the man behind the “Washington Examiner‘s” Yeahs and Nays column.  Have you changed jobs? 

JEFF DUFOUR, “WASHINGTON EXAMINER”:  No, not recently.  Not since I‘ve been here.

CARLSON:  You snuck in—well I asked that because you apparently acted the role of an impostor today and snuck into a Nancy Pelosi event, risking life and limb. 

DUFOUR:  Not only that, but it was a women‘s tea event.  This was a tea that she held for 400 women.  It‘s mostly donors, it was about 25 to 30 lawmakers, women congressmen. 

CARLSON:  Did you go in drag? 

DUFOUR:  No, I was penned in.  We were corralled into a press area.

CARLSON:  What‘s it like in there? 

DUFOUR:  There were not very many Y chromosomes in there.  We got a couple of favors as we left.  We have this one, Rosie the Riveter, if you can zoom in on that.  I woman‘s place is in the house.  And then we have “MS. Magazine” with Nancy Pelosi.  That was on the way out. 

CARLSON:  My issue hasn‘t arrived yet.  So was it explicitly a feminist event? 

DUFOUR:  No, not explicitly.  It was mostly donors, DCCC donors, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  There were a couple of surprises there, Linda Carter, Wonder Woman herself, she was there. 

CARLSON:  In costume? 

DUFOUR:  No, not in costume.  The truth lasso did not make an appearance.  Cathy Linnier (ph), the new female police chief for the District of Columbia, was there as well. 

CARLSON:  So an all star crowd.

DUFOUR:  It was.  The most interesting one for me was Jane Harman, who

Pelosi and her do not get along.  She‘s the congresswoman from California who was set to be the chair woman of the Intelligence Committee and Pelosi essentially blocked her from taking that spot, because the two don‘t see eye to eye, they don‘t get along, but there she was on stage next to Pelosi. 

CARLSON:  Interesting, sorry I missed it.  What else is going on? 

DUFOUR:  Well, Bob Ney is the guy who will not leave Washington. 

CARLSON:  Former Congressman.

DUFOUR:  Former Congressman Bob Ney.  They cannot get rid of him.  Ney, of course, was implicated in the Jack Abramoff scandal.  He pled guilty to corruption, but it took him seven weeks to resign.  His own party was saying get out of here, this is no good for us.  They even threatened to kick him out.  It took him seven weeks, the assumption was that he still needed his paycheck.  So finally he resigns.  He goes back to Ohio and his seat goes to Democrat named Zack Space (ph).  It was a token Republican opposition.  Space won.  So Space gets into town, as he told a radio reporter, gets into a cab during orientation, his first day, and the American driving the cab is named Ney, and he ends up asking Space for a job. 

CARLSON:  Was it, in fact, Bob Ney? 

DUFOUR:  No, it was not Bob Ney, it just happened to be a guy named Ney who wanted a job, as it turned out.  So the voters of Ohio may—

CARLSON:  Where are they now?  Cary Condit, last I heard, was running a Baskin Robins in central California.  Bob Ney, I have a feeling, will wind up doing something similar.  Jeff Dufour of the “Washington Examiner,” thank you.

DUFOUR:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  It used to be when you left a job you got a gold watch and an office party.  Wait until you hear what the send off Home Depot‘s CEO is getting.  Think nine figures.  We‘ll have the staggering details, the nauseating details, when we come back in mere moments.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Often accused, never convicted, joining us now Willie Geist from headquarters. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey Tucker, I‘ve got someone who might—should be convicted.  Listen to this story.  If those 20 million dollar year end Wall Street bonuses had you worked up, wait until you hear this one.  Home Depot has announced that its CEO Robert Nardelli (ph) is stepping down after six years on the job.  And just as a little parting gift, the company will send him out into the world with some walking around money, 210 million dollars worth of it, as a matter of fact. 

That unfathomable severance package includes stock options, 401-K, cash and other benefit programs.  Nardelii has been criticized by Home Depot share holders in the past for that very generous compensation that he‘s been receiving.  Tucker, there‘s been some talk today that, you know, he kind of ran the place into the ground and he‘s still getting this.  Not totally true, their revenue and profits are up, but their stock price is down.  Any way you slice it, it‘s hard to justify 210 million dollars, don‘t you think?

CARLSON:  What, for six years work?  I guess I‘m not good enough at math to figure that out.  It‘s more than I make.  It does seem like if I were a share holder, I would show up to the guy‘s house and demand some back.   

GEIST:  You have to either do that or play for the Yankees to make that kind of money.  Well Keith Ellison, Tucker, the Minnesota Democrat and first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress, caused a stir on Capitol Hill when he said he would be sworn in on the Koran and not on the bible.  Republican Congressman Virgil Goode was among those who criticized Ellison for breaking with tradition.  Well today, in a very smart political move, Ellison announced he would be sworn in on a Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson.  Ellison requested the book from the Library of Congress last month and will use it at his unofficial swearing in ceremony tomorrow.  A smart move, don‘t you think Tucker?   

CARLSON:  Amazing.  He not going to wear Jefferson‘s robes. 

GEIST:  No, no.  By the way, that‘s the unofficial ceremony.  The official one, there is no bible.  So the controversy is a little backward.  Finally, Tucker, we finish on an amazing story of heroism.  It might seem a bit overdone if you saw it in a movie.  Wesley Autry (ph), a 50-year-old construction worker and Navy veteran saved the life of another man by jumping onto the tracks in front of a New York City subway train yesterday.  The 20-year-old had a seizure, rolled off the platform.  Autry left his two daughters behind, jumped on the tracks, laid on top of the man as the train passed over him safely.  An incredible story of heroism.  One like we‘ve never seen. 

CARLSON:  Amazing.  That‘s great news for once.  Willie Geist from headquarters, thanks Willie.  Thanks for watching.  See you tomorrow live from Congress.  Have a great night.



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