updated 8/23/2007 10:18:32 AM ET 2007-08-23T14:18:32

Guests: Tom Matzzie, Kate O‘Beirne, Rich Masters, Tina Brown

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show. 

With rare and precious momentum for his troop surge strategy, President Bush took his political fight to unexpected and possibly risky ground today.  In arguing the case of extending American military presence in Iraq, Mr. Bush spoke before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, and he drew comparisons to America‘s withdrawal from Vietnam. 

Here‘s how he phrased it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  An unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America‘s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens.  And like in Vietnam, if we were to withdraw before the job was done, this enemy would follow us home.  And that is why for the security of the United States of America, we must defeat him overseas so we do not face them in the United States of America. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Is the comparison apt?  Is it smart politics?  We‘ll examine this controversial rhetoric from both sides of the issue.

Then on the trail to succeed President Bush, Michelle Obama describes the challenges of working, mothering and being a wife in her stump speech.  Is her description of the Obama family a swipe at a competing campaign family?  Oh, like, say, the Clintons?  Or is Mrs. Obama simply offering voters a look at who she and her husband as human beings?

We‘ll tell you.

Plus, the international fascination with Princess Diana remains at a boil as the 10th anniversary of her death approaches.  The great Tina Brown knows more about the Diana, Prince Charles and the whole story than just about anybody alive.  She joins us to talk about it.

We begin tonight with the case for the troop surge in Iraq and President Bush‘s controversial comparison between withdrawal from this war to America‘s withdrawal from Vietnam, which was completed 32 years ago. 

To assess what Mr. Bush means and whether or not there is merit to his argument, we welcome a consist critic of the war and its commander in chief, Tom Matzzie, the Washington director of MoveOn.org. 

Tom, thanks for coming on.  I appreciate it.

TOM MATZZIE, WASHINGTON DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG:  Thanks, Tucker.  Happy to be here.

CARLSON:  I doubt the president‘s speech won you over. 

MATZZIE:  No, not this one.

CARLSON:  OK.  Good.  I just want to get that assumption out of the way and have you verify it as true.

But—and it didn‘t win me entirely over.  And I don‘t think the purpose of American foreign policy is to ensure the well being of people in other countries.  I‘m a Libertarian.  That‘s my view.  But liberals historically have believed that was a chief aim of our foreign policy, was to avert humanitarian disaster, keep genocide from happening again in this world. 

It seems to me, President Bush‘s point, that if we pull out there is going to be a humanitarian disaster, is being ignored by the left.  And I‘m not sure why.

MATZZIE:  I think that‘s wrong.  I mean, I think we—we need to look at this.

George Bush just said Iraq is Vietnam.  And Americans have to ask themselves if they want an endless war like we had in Vietnam that was just a complete disaster, or should we get out decisively in a way that we can refocus or protect... 

CARLSON:  OK.  I mean, I think you probably make a fair point about whether it was a smart political or rhetorical move to compare this war to Vietnam, but there really is no debate about what happened when we pulled out of Vietnam.  Hundreds of thousands of people were rounded up and killed in Indochina...

(CROSSTALK)

MATZZIE:  Because of our policy.  And I think that‘s what‘s happening...

CARLSON:  Well, because of the totalitarian policies of the communist dictatorships that took over once we left.  But that‘s—look, whatever the cause...

MATZZIE:  Well, we broke those countries.  And as a—what happened as a result of our policy choices. 

I think it‘s important to look at what George Bush is trying to do.  He‘s trying to flip the moral equation and say, what I‘m doing is the right thing for the people in Iraq.  And I think we all need to look at what he is exactly doing.

He‘s supporting the Maliki government that is complicit in ethnic cleansing.  Let‘s put that on the table.  Let‘s talk about these militias that we‘re giving the guns to and their attacks on American soldiers and their attacks on Iraqi civilians. 

CARLSON:  So the option is what, to leave and give them free reign to commit even greater atrocities? 

MATZZIE:  I think there‘s a caricature of what people mean when they say getting out of Iraq.  We want an exit plan that include troop withdrawals, diplomacy, economic and humanitarian commitments to the Iraqi people.  We‘re not going to abandon the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.  But let‘s be clear, George Bush is giving guns...

CARLSON:  Well, what does that—wait, no.  Come on.  OK.  Hold on. 

Wait.

MATZZIE:  ... to people killing Iraqis.

CARLSON:  OK.  He‘s giving guns to people who are killing Iraqis. 

We‘re killing Iraqis.  I mean, a lot of Iraqis are dying in various ways. 

But there‘s really no debate about what‘s going to happen if American soldiers, the guys with guns, leave in large numbers.  The lunatics on the ground in Iraq are going to kill one another in much greater numbers.  Nobody disputes that.

And my question to you is very simple.  As a liberal, does that bother you or doesn‘t it? 

MATZZIE:  I know that the policy that the president is pursuing will make things worse when we leave.  We need a policy that gets us on the right path and gets us out of Iraq.  And also brings in all the parties in the region so that we can protect the Iraqi people, because we have to be clear about something right now. 

Like I said before, we‘re giving guns to people that are killing Iraqis, that are killing Americans.  They were on the front page of “The New York Times” just a few weeks ago about missing guns in Iraq.  You know, arms deals to the Saudis that we know are going to go to Sunni militants that are killing Americans.

CARLSON:  Right.  No doubt.  I think the there‘s some truth in what you say. 

I wonder, though, how—my concern, my guess, about MoveOn.org is there‘s a close-minded quality to your rhetoric.  I‘ve been against this war for a long time, I think it was a tragic mistake, I think I‘ll always think that.  And yet, I want to be open minded enough to recognize change when it happens. 

And if the country is becoming more stable thanks to the troop sure—and there‘s evidence it is—I want to be open minded about...

MATZZIE:  There is no evidence that the troop surge is making things better. 

CARLSON:  Hold on.  I want to be—I want to be open minded enough to recognize that.  I don‘t think you are.  I mean, all these liberals, all these Democrats, confirmed war opponents, have come back from Iraq saying, actually, we are making progress.  Are they lying?

MATZZIE:  Well, I think you‘ve got to look at the facts on the ground.  They‘re getting the dog and pony show from the White House.  And they‘re having one quote out of their entire speech pulled out and, you know, skewed out of context. 

CARLSON:  But that‘s not true.  Wait, wait, wait.  No. 

MATZZIE:  You need to look at the facts.  There is the bloodiest summer in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Hold on, man.  Slow down. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Slow down.  On this show yesterday, we had Brian Baird, Democrat—five-term Democrat from Olympia, Washington.  He‘s a liberal, voted against the war.  He‘s nobody‘s right-winger, nobody‘s neocon.

And he came back.  He didn‘t give a single sound bite to me.  I talked to him for six minutes, and he said, actually, the troop surge in some ways is working. 

I mean, do you—is he lying? 

MATZZIE:  We need to talk about the facts.  Let‘s list the facts.

CARLSON:  Where does he come up with that? 

MATZZIE:  The bloodiest summer in Iraq yet.  More Americans killed June, July and August of this year than any year since we went in.  That‘s a fact.  Right?

The second fact we need to look at is, Iraqi parliament on vacation. 

No political reconciliation in the country.

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a fair point.  And it‘s disgusting.

MATZZIE:  The third point we need to look at, the Iraqi cabinet, 38 cabinet ministers, 17 of the 38 cabinet ministers are boycotting the government.  They‘re not showing up for work. 

CARLSON:  Right.  But you still haven‘t—I‘m not defending the Iraqi government, which is lame—actually, criminally lame.  But the point—no, no.  Here‘s my point, and you haven‘t responded to it. 

MATZZIE:  The point of the surge was to force the Iraqi government to make progress. 

CARLSON:  I understand.  But...

MATZZIE:  Things have gotten worse, not better. 

CARLSON:  But you haven‘t—and we‘re almost out of time, but just in three sentences, tell me what you make of these liberals and Democrats who are coming back from Iraq, saying, actually, there is being progress in the sense the country‘s becoming more stable?  Are they stooges?

MATZZIE:  That‘s not what they‘re saying. 

CARLSON:  That‘s what Congressman Baird said to me personally yesterday.  Why would he say that? 

MATZZIE:  Well, if Congressman Baird got...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  So he‘s an idiot? 

MATZZIE:  No, Congressman Baird is a Ph.D. psychologist.  I‘m not saying he‘s an idiot, but he was shown certain facts. 

I‘m presenting you facts which are, you know, very crystal clear. 

Bloodiest summer in Iraq yet.  More Americans killed June, July and August. 

August isn‘t even over yet.

Iraqi parliament on vacation.  The cabinet ministers are boycotting the government.  That is not progress.  That is an utter failure of the surge in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  All right. 

Tom Matzzie, MoveOn.org.

I don‘t think—I don‘t think I moved you at all from your position. 

But it was nice to try. 

Thanks.

MATZZIE:  Try any time, Tucker.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Michelle Obama appears to have taken a potshot at her husband‘s chief rival, Hillary Clinton.  But did she really do that?  Are we just imagining it here in the fervent press corps?

Plus, Michael Dukakis lost the 1988 presidential election and he blames himself.  Now he‘s warning Democrats that Republicans could win again next year if they‘re not careful. And he‘s offering up his advice.

You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  President Bush took a bold step today, comparing calls for a drawdown in Iraq to withdrawal from Vietnam 35 years ago.  Americans should have remembered the lessons of that war, the president said, as they consider the current one and what to do next.

Is Bush suggesting we should have stayed in Vietnam?  What exactly is he staying? 

Here to tell us, The National Review‘s Kate O‘Beirne and Democratic strategist Rich Masters.

Welcome to you both.

RICH MASTERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Kate, if you think about it, I thought the speech had a lot of high points and I thought it was kind of compelling.  And I love the fact that this is being debated at a pretty high level.  It‘s great, you know, and important. 

On the other hand, should we have stayed in Vietnam? 

KATE O‘BEIRNE, “NATIONAL REVIEW”:  Well, that‘s not, of course, what George Bush was saying.  He had a couple of, I thought, legitimate points to make.

CARLSON:  Yes.

O‘BEIRNE:  But I think today, Tucker, we‘re reminded that to talk about the lessons of Vietnam is to enter into a quagmire.  Right?

CARLSON:  Well put, Kate.  Yes.

O‘BEIRNE:  The lessons of Vietnam are clearly in the eye of the beholder. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

O‘BEIRNE:  What George Bush was saying is, some are now arguing that the situation in Iraq would improve if we would leave.

CARLSON:  Yes.

O‘BEIRNE:  I remind them, some made the same argument about the U.S.  leaving Vietnam.

CARLSON:  Right.

O‘BEIRNE:  And look what happened—the devastation, the millions who were killed, the boat people in Cambodia. 

CARLSON:  Right.

O‘BEIRNE:  He‘s also arguing that many took a lesson from Vietnam, many of our enemies, that was lost at home.  That the American people—there are quotes from al Qaeda operatives to this effect, al Qaeda leaders. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

O‘BEIRNE:  The American people forced to withdraw from Iraq, from Vietnam.  The American people should do the same with respect to Iraq. 

The spectacular attacks we see in Iraq, killing civilians are aimed at American domestic opinions.  That‘s a lesson they took from Vietnam.  And then finally, he points out that Vietnam was part of an ideological struggle, just as World War II was. 

CARLSON:  Right.

O‘BEIRNE:  And just as the war on terrorism is.  And we‘ve won these in the past, and with determination we can win it again.  But clearly, talking about Vietnam invites the kind of criticism...

CARLSON:  Yes, because I thought, actually, his comparisons to the political situation right now and the political situation during Korea that Harry Truman faced, I thought that was much—a much smarter...

O‘BEIRNE:  Safer. 

CARLSON:  Yes, much safer. 

Rich, the president wouldn‘t be daring to compare this war to Vietnam if he didn‘t feel like he had some kind of momentum behind him politically for this troop surge.

I want to show you an ad that a group called FreedomsWatch.org headed up—or at least represented in some way by Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary, is putting up in support of the president‘s Iraq policy.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Congress was right to vote to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I reenlisted after 9/11 because I don‘t want my sons to see what I saw.  I want them to be free and safe. 

I know what I lost.  I also know that if we pull out now, everything I‘ve given in sacrifice will mean nothing. 

They attacked us.  And they will again.  They won‘t stop in Iraq. 

We‘re winning on the ground and making real progress.  It‘s no time to quit.  It‘s no time for politics. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That‘s going to infuriate liberals in that it appears to draw a connection between 9/11 and going into Iraq. 

On the other hand, pretty compelling on an emotional level, isn‘t it?

MASTERS:  Well, I mean, listen, we‘re talking about Ari Fleischer. 

We‘re talking about a really, really good communicator.  And I think the ads are really good.

The interesting thing, I think, Tucker, today, when the president talking about Vietnam, I think it‘s about time we started looking at history.  Because I think if we look at the mistakes that were made in Iraq, had we paid attention to history—as a candidate in 2000, George Bush said, what was the biggest legacy—what was the biggest legacy you would have learned from the Vietnam era, and he said pretty simply that political leaders need to listen to the leaders in the Pentagon.  And I think when the leaders in this Pentagon told the president, you weren‘t going to have enough troops in the ground, you needed more boots on the ground in order to run the country and occupy the country, and you needed a plan in order to—a political plan to go along with the military plan.  It wasn‘t just a military victory, but you need to have had to control the country, and they needed to develop a plan like we did in World War II. 

What the Bush administration did, unfortunately, was they ignored that lesson of Vietnam‘s history and went straight back to going in without any kind of...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Right.  And no one—at least I will not defend the invasion, how it was done, or even the rationale for it.  However, this is a discussion about, where do you go from here? 

MASTERS:  Correct.

CARLSON:  And that‘s what the president was using the comparison for today. 

O‘BEIRNE:  Well, the president would argue, actually, that he has been

had been listening to his military leaders, is the argument he makes. 

CARLSON:  Right.

O‘BEIRNE:  Rich, I‘ve been in the Oval Office when he sits and says—he points to the desk, the president‘s desk, and says, I‘m not going to be like LBJ, second-guessing my military commanders and picking targets in Vietnam.  My military commanders are in charge of my military policy in Vietnam. 

He decided to replace his military commanders, many would argue belatedly, with the new strategy being led by General Petraeus.  But I think he would strenuously argue that he has been listening to... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  See, the problem—I mean, not to belabor—but since the president brought it up...

O‘BEIRNE:  Right.

CARLSON:  ... the Vietnam comparison, obviously it‘s very complicated and there are many, many Americans who actively wanted the North Vietnamese to prevail, and that was disgusting, and I‘m not defending them. 

On the other hand, we pulled out.  We lost.  And in the end, the Soviet Union fell anyway.  And Vietnam is becoming freer by the day. 

O‘BEIRNE:  Well, of course we won the major ideological struggle with respect to communism...

CARLSON:  Yes.

O‘BEIRNE:  ... affecting the Soviet Union, which is, at the moment, not around the corner with respect to fighting Islamic terrorism, I think, is what...

CARLSON:  Right.  But I guess the point is, we gave up and allowed that domino to fall.  And yet, it didn‘t set off a chain reaction. 

MASTERS:  As they thought it would.  And I mean—I mean, two points. 

One, you know, General Shinseki said we were going to need more troops and he was rewarded by basically being fired from his job in the Pentagon.  I think that was a big mistake.

But again, back to your question, Tucker, where do we go from here, because I do think it‘s important to—you have to understand where we‘ve been in order to understand where we‘re going.  And I think if you look at what the Democratic candidates are saying, the top Democratic candidates, both Barack Obama...

CARLSON:  I don‘t understand a thing they‘re saying.

MASTERS:  ... and Hillary Clinton—well, I mean, they‘re saying flat out—both of them said the surge is working.  At least temporarily.  And let me tell you why.

I mean, if you‘ve got crime on the streets, whether it‘s here in Washington, D.C., or somewhere else, you flood the criminal zone with more people.  And what happens?  The crime rate goes down.  And then, once the police go back, the crime rate comes back up. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MASTERS:  The question is, in America, do we want a long-term engagement in order to police the streets of Baghdad?  The answer to that is clearly no.  So, unless we want to continue a surge strategy way into the future, we have got to come up with an exit strategy. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think anybody disagrees with that.  I just have not heard—and I listen carefully—what their alternative plan is.

MASTERS:  Well...

CARLSON:  It‘s, I don‘t know, let Iran run the country.  That appears to be—unfortunately, we‘re out of time.  We will be right back, though.  I promise.  You can trust me. 

John Edwards criticizes Hillary Clinton for saying the surge is working.  He says you can‘t be for the surge but against the war.  Is he right or just trying to grab a headline?  Has he succeeded?  Yes, he has.

We‘re talking about it.

Plus, Fred Thompson takes a shot at Rudy Giuliani over New York‘s gun laws.  Studying examples from his days working in the city on “Law & Order”.  Giuliani‘s campaign says it‘s political theater.

The latest on that next.

This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA‘S WIFE:  Part of what we want to do as a family is to make sure that our children are sane (ph), but also to model what it means to have family values.  So our view is that, if you can‘t run your own house, you certainly can‘t run the White House. 

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  So we‘ve adjusted our schedule to make sure that our girls are first.  So while he‘s traveling around, I do day trips.  That means I get up in the morning.  I get the girls ready.  I get them off. 

I go and do trips.  I‘m home before bedtime. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was an excerpt from Michelle Obama‘s stump speech, delivered as recently as Monday.  Her description of her family‘s life in the midst of a presidential campaign has raised the obvious question.  Is Mrs. Obama simply boasting about her own family life, or is she also taking a veiled swipe at the less conventional lives of her husband‘s competitors, namely the Clintons? 

Joining us again, Kate O‘Beirne and Rich Masters. 

There‘s been a lot of debate about this.  The Obama campaign says, no, of course not.  You know, it has nothing to do with the Clintons. 

I don‘t buy that for a second.  I don‘t think anybody includes the line in his or her stump speech during a presidential campaign without thinking about the implications of it.  You don‘t keep repeating the same line for no reason. 

It‘s about Hillary. 

MASTERS:  I disagree.  I mean, first of all, I think what she was trying to do—and I think in a brilliant way. 

I‘ve seen this clip now 10 times all day.  And she‘s such an impressive human.  And I think that line was so good on so many levels. 

Whether it has to do with the Clintons or not is irrelevant.  It also has to do with Rudy Giuliani.  It has to do with John McCain.  It has to do with, I think, a lot of people. 

I mean, here‘s a campaign that has had a stable family life.  And they want to talk about it.  And I think that‘s a good thing. 

CARLSON:  Oh.

MASTERS:  Especially for Democrats to be talking about.

I don‘t think it was necessarily directed to Hillary.  I think it—I think it hits a lot of the campaigns. 

CARLSON:  But it‘s such a lie.  And Republicans do this too.  And they lie too.  And I‘m not singling out Mrs. Obama.

Anybody who‘s running for president who tells you that he or she is putting his or her family first is lying to you.  Because when you run for president, your family suffers and your little kids really, really suffer. 

You‘re not around.  People are mocking you.  You have no privacy. 

It‘s terrible for your family.

So, don‘t look in the camera and tell me you‘re putting family first. 

That‘s a crock. 

O‘BEIRNE:  Now, this kind of political ambition obviously takes a real

toll on one‘s family, but I don‘t think Michelle Obama was making a veiled

reference to Hillary Clinton. 

CARLSON:  You don‘t? 

O‘BEIRNE:  No.  I think she was talking about her own children, who are very much in evidence on the campaign trail.

I think this is what she was doing.  They‘re devoted to those two cute

little girls.  And she and her husband are elites.  She‘s Princeton

educated, she‘s a Harvard-educated lawyer.  And in talking about her family

and it does seem that she‘s trying the best she can in the unforgiving environment of a campaign to be home as much as possible—in talking to audiences about the girls, she connects in a way with those audiences. 

She talks about wanting to be home at night.  She talks about getting their school supplies to get them back to school. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

O‘BEIRNE:  I think she talks about it a lot not because she‘s trying to challenge directly Hillary Clinton, but because I think it‘s been an effective way for her to connect with the audience. 

CARLSON:  And I—let me say, I think it‘s appealing.  And I feel so sorry for anybody who has chosen to go through this who has small children, because it‘s just got to be really, really tough.  And I think every point she makes appeals to me as a conservative.

O‘BEIRNE:  Right.  I think that‘s its intent.  But look, it‘s a landmine when you talk about family values in the vicinity of Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

CARLSON:  Right.  No, I think that‘s right.

But it‘s also—she also talks about—I mean, this is an attempt to appeal to women, as I think you‘re suggesting...

O‘BEIRNE:  Yes.  Oh, yes.

CARLSON:  ... from Mrs. Clinton.  And she this long spiel which I think is part of her stump speech where she says, you know, you can‘t have it all as a woman.  You can‘t have a career, and you can‘t have a family at the same time, and, you know, devote equal attention to them.

Well, what‘s the point?  What‘s the point?

MASTERS:  Well, I think there‘s a couple of points.  And I think Kate, you know, hit on—hit on a couple of them. 

When you‘re running for a presidential campaign, you don‘t have a running mate.  You don‘t have someone else out there.  You look to your spouse I think in this day and age to kind of prop up your weaknesses. 

Barack Obama is a rock star-style candidate.  But he comes across very cool, very methodical. 

When I watch Michelle Obama on television, I get a sense of a real person behind this kind of real man, working with this guy in tandem, talking about their family, talking about the real sacrifices they‘re making, and talking about things that every—bread and butter issues that every family talks about every single day.  And so I think from a political standpoint, it‘s a genius move to move her out front. 

She‘s very articulate.  She connects in a way I think, really, that Obama really can‘t in many ways. 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s right.  She stopped bragging on him, too. 

She used to say, you know, he‘s a great man, but he‘s still just a man. 

And, you know...

MASTERS:  Picks up his socks.

CARLSON:  ... he leaves his dirty under shorts around and stuff like that.  And she stopped.  She‘s knocked that off.

O‘BEIRNE:  I think that was—I think that was smart.   She was doing it in a fun sort of way.

CARLSON:  Right.

O‘BEIRNE:  Again, I think it was a way to connect with the audience, because there‘s a lot of eye-rolling about husbands who leave their dirty socks on the floor.  But it did—it did unintentionally sort of diminish this young, inexperienced candidate. 

CARLSON:  Well, I kind of thought—I kind of thought it did.  It would hurt my feelings if...

O‘BEIRNE:  So she knocked it off.

CARLSON:  Yes.

O‘BEIRNE:  But I think the family talk, that is a way to connect with audiences.  And I agree with you, I think it looks like it‘s effective, from what I can tell. 

I am—I have so much in common with all of you.  We might be surrounded by the Secret Service.  You see me on television all the time.  I‘m out there campaigning.  But you and I really share the same concerns. 

And I think that‘s the intent. 

CARLSON:  All right.

Well, coming up next, it‘s the battle between the real New Yorker and the one who played one on television.  Rudy Giuliani versus Arthur Branch, now known as Fred Thompson.

Plus, it‘s been nearly 10 years since the death of Princess Diana, yet she is still in the headlines.  Joining us, her biographer, Tina Brown. 

That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s unclear who the Republican front runner for the party‘s 2008 nomination is at this point.  But Rudy Giuliani is absorbing the most pounding from his rivals this week.  Mitt Romney continues to rip Giuliani‘s immigration record in New York City as unforgivably lax.  Now Fred Thompson has weighed in, via his blog, on the restrictive gun policy of Giuliani‘s New York.  Thompson concludes that, quote, “New York is trying again to force its ways on the rest of us, this time through the courts, to skirt the second amendment.”   

A Giuliani spokesman responded this way, quote, those who live in New York and the real world, not on TV, know that Rudy Giuliani‘s record of making the city safer for families speaks for itself.  No amount of political theater will change that. 

So there.  Who‘s getting the best of it at the moment?  Here again, the “National Review‘s”  Kate O‘Beirne, and Democratic strategist Rich Masters. 

I must say, Kate, people always think of abortion as the third rail in Republican politics.  I think gun grabbing is kind of a bottom line issue for a lot of Republicans.  If you‘re seen as against the second amendment, I don‘t see how you get the nomination.  

O‘BEIRNE:  Tucker, you‘re exactly right.  Gun rights are critically important to the Republicans.  But frankly, the issue of gun rights is pretty important beyond the Republican party, which is why, as you may have noted, why the Democrats have dropped it as an issue. 

(CROSS TALK)

O‘BEIRNE:  The new Democratic Congress is not—

CARLSON:  Gun control legislation doesn‘t work.  So that‘s also a problem.  The facts are getting in the way too. 

O‘BEIRNE:  They finally realized politics of it—they were paying a very heavy price owing to the politics of it.  A lot of their union member supporters favor gun rights.  Any of their members who represent red states get in a whole lot of trouble when they do guns.  So it goes beyond the Republican party. 

But you‘re exactly right, it‘s critically important.  And Rudy Giuliani has favored all sorts of national gun control laws in the past.  He‘s trying to change his position now, but hasn‘t done it very effectively yet. 

CARLSON:  And pretty extreme.  I think if people knew the position the city of New York has taken on guns, suing other municipalities because their guns wind up in New York, because the people of New York can‘t control themselves, so it‘s some other state‘s fault.  I mean it‘s an outrage. 

MASTERS:  He‘s way further to left on gun control than I am.  I spend a good time in the south.  I understand.  So he‘s way to the left of me on this.  I think you‘re seeing these stepped up attacks because I think a lot of us were expecting that the Rudy Giuliani campaign would be in a ditch somewhere with the wheels spinning by now.  And he‘s not.  He‘s still—he‘s still polling strong.  He has run a remarkably organized campaign. 

And a lot of his positions, not just on gun control, but abortion and other things, are so out of the mainstream of mainstream conservative America that I think the time is getting late.  So I think these attacks are just the beginning. 

CARLSON:  They are just the beginning.  But, I mean, it‘s pretty easy

we could spend the rest of the show—and I might enjoy it—slamming Giuliani‘s positions on this, that or the other thing as far to the left of the average American.  But this attack from Fred Thompson needs at some point to be backed up by Fred Thompson‘s own impressive credentials as a candidate. 

Is Fred Thompson going to match the rhetoric here, and actually be an electable person? 

O‘BEIRNE:  We obviously don‘t yet know.  The promise of him being able to do so seemed more concrete a couple of months ago.  There‘s a lot of frustration on the part of Fred Thompson fans. 

CARLSON:  Why isn‘t he in the race yet?

O‘BEIRNE:  Now apparently at some point in September it will happen. 

But I thought Rudy Giuliani, of course, still does have a lead in the national polls, although not nearly as formidable as Hillary Clinton‘s.  He has been sinking some.  But he‘s still has the rejoinder, both to Mitt Romney on immigration, and Fred Thompson, with respect to the assault on gun.  I‘ve run a city.  I have an incredible record on law and order.  I‘m not just appearing on TV shows.  I‘ve actually delivered the goods. 

He‘s responded that way to both the attacks from Romney and Thompson. 

And that is still his strong suit. 

CARLSON:  You know, we almost never talk about the Republicans.  They are this kind of the after thought in this election because --  

O‘BEIRNE:  Their side is so much more interesting. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Absolutely right.  It‘s not clear who‘s going to get it.  But most Republicans I think are resigned to the fact that the Republican is not likely to win.  Most Democrats I know—the real Democrats, who know their party well enough to know they could screw it up.  The Democrats know how lame the party is.

MASTER:  I wake up worried about that every morning. 

CARLSON:  I bet you do.  Mike Dukakis is worried about it.  The “New York Observer” reports says Mike Dukakis believes the Democrats could lose, and he is right.  But he is also working, in some way, with Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic party, to organize voters.  Is this real?  Is this a good idea?

MASTERS:  Listen, Tucker, I think it‘s real.  I think you know that at the beginning I was not a big Howard Dean fan.  This is a guy who I think has done a remarkable job by saying we‘re going to go into the place where Democrats have not done well.  We‘re going to fund them.  We‘re going to put party organizers on the ground.  We‘re going to go into these precincts.

Michael Dukakis is right on this.  If you look, -- I mean, he talks about the fact—

CARLSON:  Does Fritz Mondale have a role too or just Dukakis? 

MASTER:  Doesn‘t have a role here, but they talked about in 1988.  He had a 17 point lead coming out of the Democratic convention.  He was planning his first 100 days as president.  He wasn‘t looking at actually winning the election.  They neglected to do the hard gritty work of campaigns.  And that‘s going precinct to precinct, neighborhood by neighborhood. 

And he‘s making the point that Barack Obama, who has 300,000 campaign contributors, who have given 100 dollars or less, they need to reach out and grab these people and make them activists on the ground.  He wants the DNC to be doing that.  Howard Dean has already put the structure in place.  So, it is a real concern.  Although, I think if we continue to move in this direction, organizing grassroots on the ground, feet on the street, we‘re going to have—

O‘BEIRNE:  Michael Dukakis apparently has drawn a lesson from his 1988 loss that he didn‘t aggressively organize at the local level enough.  Michael Dukakis could have had a precinct captain in every house in America, and he was not going to get elected in 1988. 

CARLSON:  Because he was a bad candidate. 

O‘BEIRNE:  A bad candidate, famously proud, ACLU, card carrying liberal.  Ronald Reagan was popular.  George Bush was, when you thought of a third term for Ronald Reagan.  He couldn‘t have won with the best organizing on the planet in 1988. 

MASTER:  I think that‘s right, but his point is well taken.  There was a lot of bad parts of that campaign.  But the one thing that we can—we can fix that—we‘ve got two great top leaders.  We‘ve got great candidates.  What we can fix as a party is what we do on the ground, precinct by precinct. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  What about the message?  What about the idea that the candidate‘s going to run on?  And the idea, it seems to me, would be what do we do next on Iraq?  There is not even anything approaching a consensus on the Democratic side about that.  I mean, you saw today the John Edwards campaign, David Bonior, former Democratic leader in the House, attacking Hillary Clinton essentially a tool of the Washington establishment and the Bush administration for saying the surge worked.  What‘s the Democratic position on Iraq?

MASTER:  I think the two top front runner have a strong position on Iraq.  They‘re saying, listen, we need to start a withdrawal and a phased redeployment, so we can actually fight the terrorists where they are. 

O‘BEIRNE:  They‘re in Iraq. 

MASTERS:  They‘re in Iraq because we created that. 

CARLSON:  OK, that may be right.  We may have imported them by the truck load to Iraq.  But that doesn‘t mean they aren‘t there.  They are there!

MASTERS:  That‘s why the two front runners of the Democratic primary are saying right now that we don‘t just pull out and leave 100 percent.  They‘re saying we have got—

CARLSON:  We fight the terrorist, but with fewer men?

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  General Shinseki said we didn‘t have enough men.  So we take most of them out and the ones who remain, they fight the terrorists.

MASTERS:  No, we tell the Iraqi leadership, listen, the time is done. 

We‘re going to—

CARLSON:  They‘re unable even to convene.  They‘re on vacation. 

MASTERS:  Why are they on vacation?  Because they know we‘re going to secure the streets, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Because they‘re infantile.  They‘re incapable of governing themselves.  That‘s the position of the Democrats.  I actually happen to agree with it.  So we‘re going to put them in charge?

MASTERS:  They‘re never going to take control of their own destiny unless they know that America is not going to take 100 percent of their security. 

CARLSON:  That‘s partly true.  That‘s kind of a right-wing argument. 

That‘s the welfare reform argument. 

O‘BEIRNE:  It‘s impossible to argue that the national government would step up to admit these incredibly tough decisions they have to make after we announce we‘re leaving.  I mean, that‘s a completely implausible argument to make.  What David Bonior, on behalf of John Edwards, of course, is telling Hillary Clinton is, when you acknowledge the success of the surge, you‘re undercutting the case against the war.

CARLSON:  Exactly.  David Bonior—

O‘BEIRNE:  He‘s exactly right.  It does undercut the case against the war.  Yet, Hillary Clinton is left acknowledging the success of the surge and still trying to keep the left wing base happy by supporting a withdrawal. 

CARLSON:  Edwards is a Hugo Chavez candidate.  He really is.  He‘s that far out and I criticize him all the time for it.  You‘ve got to give Edwards credit for being ideologically consistent, logically consistent.  He‘s making a consistent case against the war.  He‘s also apologized, something Mrs. Clinton has never done, for supporting the war in the first place. 

When it shakes all out, what is going to be the Democratic nominee‘s position on Iraq? 

MASTERS:  When it shakes all out, the Democratic position on Iraq is going to be that we‘re going to have a withdrawal in Iraq, and a redeployment of the troops, in a way that forces the Iraqi government to come up with the political solutions that they need to.  They‘re never going to come up with political solutions. 

CARLSON:  What about all the al-Qaeda guys in Iraq?  What happens to them?  Aren‘t we supposed to be fighting them? 

MASTERS:  Over there, so they don‘t follow us over here?

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  We‘re just against al Qaeda because they‘re bad and they hate us.

O‘BEIRNE:  Tucker, just as the administration can be rightfully criticized for not changing the military strategy in response to what was happening on the ground, people who are looking if political reconciliation also ought to be held accountable to watching closely what‘s happening on the ground.  The idea had been that at the national level it was going to take place.  That hasn‘t happened.

But at the local level it‘s beginning to happen.  There are these bottom-up reconciliation going on, certainly in Anbar province.  It‘s why the administration is now talking about the importance of local elections.  There might actually be a way to get to political reconciliation, beginning from the grass roots local level. 

MASTERS:  How long will it take?

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know why we don‘t just give up this democracy nonsense and import a strongman, just my view.  Thank you both.  You were great.  I appreciate it. 

Her death sent shockwaves across the globe.  Ten years later, the fascination with Princess Diana has not faded.  Why are people still so interested?  We‘ll talk to Diana‘s best biographer by far, Tina Brown.  That‘s next. 

Plus, the White House tries to silence anti-Bush protesters.  But it‘s how they‘re going about it that‘s raising eyebrows.  MSNBC‘s Willie Geist reveals the not so secret strategy.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  August 31st will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana in a car accident Paris.  Neither a head of state nor a sitting royal ten years ago, Diana has yet inspired perpetual fascination worldwide since her death.  What insight into her life and the lives of her families have we gained since then?  And how do we explain her undying appeal? 

Here to share what she knows, which is plenty, is the great Tina Brown, author of the “Diana Chronicles,” the best book ever written—or will ever be written about Princess Diana.  Tina, thanks for coming on. 

TINA BROWN, AUTHOR, “THE DIANA CHRONICLES”:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Why do we care so much? 

BROWN:  Because she was a great golden icon cut down in her prime. 

Only perhaps Marilyn Monroe and JFK have had the same kind of abbreviated life at the peak of their glamour, in which the world participated every step of the way. 

CARLSON:  Is—I mean, what does she represent?  Clearly, people don‘t—don‘t sort of become obsessed with a figure like this unless they see something of themselves in that person.  So what do we see in her? 

BROWN:  The thing about Diana was that we participated all the way through her story.  We were there as she married as a young blushing, virgin bride.  We were there when it went wrong.  We were there when she became the dynasty Di, with all her glamour and her glitz, along with the rest of the world, obsessed with soap operas.  Then she became this great global celebrity. 

All the way along, she was sharing how she felt.  She wore her heart on her sleeve.  When she went public with her postpartum depression and her bulimia, and her sad marriage, and jealousy of her husband‘s mistress; all these things represented aspects of life that women, in particular, could identify with.  They said, you know, caring somehow seemed equivalent to sharing.  And they felt that they were her girlfriend or they were her friend.  They had experienced those thing too. 

It made a tremendous bond between the princess and the public. 

CARLSON:  Do you think she really believed when she got married at 19 that her husband genuinely loved her as a person? 

BROWN:  I think Diana was in love with the dream of being married to the Prince of Wales.  She was 19-years-old.  Now I have a 16-year-old daughter.  I have to say, 19 seems incredibly young to me.  When people say, she knew what she was getting into.  How could anyone know what they‘re getting into at 19.  She really dreamt all her life of marrying a prince. 

She loved romantic fiction.  She used to read the novels of the Mills and Boon (ph) writer Barbara Cartlin (ph).  And she used to gorge herself on these trashy novels, where she dreamt literally of being the bride of a king.  That‘s what she became. 

CARLSON:  Amazing.  Are there still—do you think that there are legitimate questions still about her death?  And are there still people who believe she was murdered? 

BROWN:  I really don‘t.  I think all the research I did really pointed to the result that we see in the inquest, which is that she died in a fatal car crash driven by a drunk driver not wearing a seat belt.  I can understand why people want that conspiracy somehow to be true, just as the JFK grassy knoll believes still believe that‘s true.  It‘s just hard to believe that a woman who was so beautiful, so young and so special, could have been snatched away in such a brutal and meaningless way at the end.

CARLSON:  What do you think she would be doing now if she were still alive? 

BROWN:  I think Diana would really have furthered this whole humanitarian campaign of hers.  I‘m sure she would have a giant foundation now that would rival Bill Gates‘ foundation.  I think that really, in a strange way, she‘d be doing something of what Bill Clinton is doing.  You know, in a way, Diana got there first.  She herself was already thinking in the last days of her life—I learned from one of her close friends—producing documentary films and presenting them about the causes that she believed in. 

She wanted to really take that leverage that she found she had with her celebrity, which she put to such great use with the land mines campaign, and really further that and go about it in a more organized way.  And leave a kind of structure in place so that she could continue to be involved.  Really, very much like what Clinton is doing. 

CARLSON:  And finally, you knew her?  Did you like her?  Was she an appealing person? 

BROWN:  She was immensely appealing.  She had such a kind of accessible charm, a light and this extraordinarily dazzling glamour.  When you have great beauty and great position, and enormous friendliness and accessibility, it‘s a very beguiling combination.   

CARLSON:  Certainly is.  Certainly is.  Tina Brown, author of “The Diana Chronicles,” really a great book.  Thanks a lot. 

BROWN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  How big is David Beckham these days.  Scientists are using him as a reference point to explain the behavior of dinosaurs.  Paleontologist Willie Geist tells us what that means when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  If Diana was the people‘s princess, then Willie Geist really is the people‘s producer.  Such is the reverence we have for him.  He joins us now.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I like to think of myself as America‘s rose, Tucker.  I don‘t know if that applies. 

CARLSON:  If we could only get Elton John to write a song for you. 

GEIST:  That‘s my favorite tune of the 1990s, “Goodbye England‘s Rose.”  Boy was that nauseating.  Anyway, speaking of Brits, Tucker, David Beckham mania has reached critical mass.  It happened today when British scientists used the dreamy soccer star to explain their study of dinosaurs. 

Researchers at the University of Manchester in England used computer models to determine the land speed of several different dinosaurs.  They found that the T-Rex, seen here, ran at a clip of about 17.9 miles per hour.  For a little perspective on just how fast that is, we turned to paleontologist Phil Manning.  He says, quote, while not incredibly fast, this carnivore was certainly capable of running and would have little difficulty in chasing down footballer David Beckham. 

Now I get it.  Tucker, I think it‘s a good measure of just how big a star you are when measurements—your name is being used for measurements.  How many feet in a yard?  That‘s about half a Beckham, I believe. 

CARLSON:  That doesn‘t bother me.  I like David Beckham so much more than I like the metric system.  I would trade him for that any day.

GEIST:  That‘s an excellent point.

CARLSON:  Thank you.  I mean it too.

GEIST:  Let‘s go with that thing.  Anyway, Beckham is huge.  You have to give him his due when he‘s being compared to dinosaurs.  Well, we have been striking surveillance camera gold around here lately, Tucker.  Our run continues today with this armed robbery of a convenience store in Kansas City. 

As the robber sticks a shotgun in the back of a clerk—that‘s not funny—and waits for him to unload the register, a customer walks in.  This could get ugly, or not.  The customer asks the robber for a pack of cigarettes and he obliges.  The gunman calmly gets the Newports—yes, they were Newports—and hands them to the woman.  Need any matches for those? 

The customer‘s boyfriend wasn‘t leaving without getting what he came for either.  He got the robber to hand him a couple of cigars before the couple walked out calmly.  Tucker, we are learning now maybe it was a little too calmly.  They might have been in on the whole thing and really just poaching some free Newports out of the deal, just salt on the wound, if you ask me. 

CARLSON:  What were the odds those cigarettes were going to be Newports? 

GEIST:  One hundred percent, Tucker.  Now this isn‘t the first smoking-related crime we have seen within the last month.  I don‘t know if you remember this.  I think we have video from Phoenix.  The high-speed car chase that nearly ended when the man stopped his truck and got out at a convenience store to buy a pack of cigarettes.  Remember that?  It happened last month. 

He was cruising around and he said, you know what, this is pretty stressful. 

CARLSON:  To buy a pack of Newports. 

GEIST:  Yes.  This is getting stressful.  I need smoke.  Anyway, cigarettes and convenience holdups, high-speed chases, they go hand in hand. 

Tucker, another story for you, a woman has been fired from her job at Michigan state forensics lab after she was found to have used the facility to test her husband‘s underwear for the DNA of another woman after she suspected him of cheating.  An investigation found that the woman abused state resources for personal purposes, I guess.  She admits to testing her husband‘s underwear and, in fact, finding DNA belonging to another woman. 

She is suspected of using the lab to help her build evidence against her husband in a divorce proceeding.  Tucker, I guess that‘s wrong, but she kind of got what she came for.  Didn‘t she?

CARLSON:  She kind of did.  But let me also point out that the DNA could have just come from the washing machine. 

GEIST:  Is that how that works?

CARLSON:  Absolutely.  Just because—just as you can get chlamydia from a bath towel. 

GEIST:  Of course you can.  You can get AIDS from sitting on a toilet.  Everybody knows that.  Finally, Tucker, given the president‘s approval ratings, I guess it shouldn‘t come as a surprise that the White House has an entire handbook dedicated countering anti-Bush protests.  The “Washington Post” got its hands on the book and has published some of the strategies. 

One of them is the creation of rally squads to shout down protesters.  The handbook explains, quote, the rally squad‘s task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform.  The demonstrators are yelling.  Rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protesters.  USA, USA, USA” for example.  

Tucker, I have a feeling he‘s not the first president to have a handbook, but it is the first to be leaked.  Therefore, we bring it to our viewers. 

CARLSON:  It‘s really unbelievable.  I mean, you know, every political operation has—figures out ways to get its message out and to try to drown out the message of its opponents, of course.  But to write something like that down, especially if you are already in the White House, is shocking. 

GEIST:  I don‘t think I would sign up for a rally squad.  It‘s a little demeaning.  You are sort of a puppet of the regime. 

CARLSON:  No, if it‘s like 1971 and the cultural revolution is in full swing, right, and you are busy chucking people with eye glasses outside window, and forcing the bourgeoisie out to the rice fields, yes, I think it makes sense. 

GEIST:  I chant USA, USA anyway.  I don‘t need to be on a rally squad to do that.  I love America.  

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  And it demeans a slogan that I sort of like. 

GEIST:  That‘s exactly right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, thanks Willie. 

GEIST:  See you tomorrow.

CARLSON:  For more Willie, and you can‘t get enough, check out his Zeit Geist video blog.  That‘s at ZEITGEIST.MSNBC.com.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with the great Mike Barnicle.  We‘ll see you tomorrow.  Have a great night.

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

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