updated 8/27/2007 1:29:47 PM ET 2007-08-27T17:29:47

Guests: Peter Hoekstra, Stephanie Cutter, Ed Schultz

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Has President Bush in the last 24 hours lost the domestic political battle over the war in Iraq?  Well, Thursday‘s national intelligence estimate and the apparent defection of key Republican Senator John Warner were followed rapidly this morning by another thunderbolt, this one reported in the “L.A. Times”.

According to that paper, General Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will recommend to the president the U.S. cut its military presence in Iraq by almost half next year.  Pace reportedly will offer his counsel privately, rather than writing a formal report, but the general‘s opinion is said to be that having well more than 100,000 U.S.  troops in Iraq severely strains America‘s military. 

Well, both the White House and the Pentagon called that report premature and speculative, but neither denied it.

Today‘s question: Can President Bush execute his vision of the Iraq war from here forward, or will he be stopped?

Later in the show, we‘ll examine John Edwards‘s latest effort to distinguish himself from Bill and Hillary Clinton and Edwards‘ hope that the distinctions are believable and important.

And late this afternoon, the National Football League suspended star quarterback Michael Vick indefinitely without pay.  They cited cruel, reprehensible behavior.  Earlier in the day, a report declared that the Atlanta Falcons icon has agreed to a plea deal with federal prosecutors in which he does not admit killing dogs or gambling on dogfighting. 

We‘ll tell you what he did cop to. 

Well, we begin again with this week‘s biggest story, the war in Iraq and the fight here at home about how to wage it.  President Bush began the week with improving public perception, according to the polls, of his troop surge strategy.  Well, today, the surge has lost important political and symbolic support in the intelligence community, the Senate, and reportedly among some of his top military advisers. 

Where do these developments mean and where does the country go and the president go from here? 

Joining me now is ranking member on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra. 

Congressman, thanks for coming on.

REP. PETER HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN:  Hey, thanks.  Good to be with you.

CARLSON:  What do you make of this report in the “L.A. Times” that Pete Pace will suggest that we will cut troop levels dramatically by next year?  Is it real?  And why would he suggest that? 

HOEKSTRA:  Well, I think there‘s no doubt that there‘s been a tremendous amount of pressure put on our U.S. military forces.  It is, you know, his responsibility to give his opinion to the president as to how best maintain our military preparedness, and I think the president will look forward to the recommendations that he makes and put it into a larger context of where we go in defeating this threat from radical jihadism.

CARLSON:  But how would—I mean, how would private advice like this, if, in fact, this report is accurate—and no one has denied it, by the way, point blank—how would it get out there in public?  What a mess. 

HOEKSTRA:  Well, that‘s exactly right, Tucker.  I mean, one of the frustrations that I‘ve had with the intelligence community and, in many cases, with the executive branch is the number of leaks that come out that portray the president, his strategy, the executive branch, our efforts against radical jihadism in a bad light. 

This administration, future administrations need to keep a lid on private advice, secret programs, and these types of things, because it just makes it very difficult for the chief executive, for the president, to operate and to function effectively.

CARLSON:  And it‘s embarrassing as hell, too. 

Congressman, I read—and one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you today is I read from you I thought some of the smarted advice about where to go in Iraq from here that I‘ve heard in a long time.  As I understand it, your suggestion to the president is, give up on your plans to impose democracy upon Iraq and focus on the security situation.  Is that a fair assessment of your advice? 

HOEKSTRA:  Yes.  I‘m not sure I would say to the president give up, but I think the advice is very clear.  Our national security objective in Iraq needs to be security and stability.  We need a partner that will—you know, that will join with us in going after radical jihadists and al Qaeda.  The decision as to what form of government the Iraqi people will have moving forward is their decision, not ours. 

CARLSON:  Well, we have spent an awful lot of time, an awful lot of money, missed, it seems to me, an awful lot of opportunities pursuing this ideal of a representative democracy, a republic in Iraq. 

Why did we do that? 

HOEKSTRA:  Well, I think at one point in time, you know, it was the belief, perhaps mistaken, that we could achieve that in the short term.  And what we have now learned over the last three to five years, that establishing representative government in Iraq is much more difficult than perhaps what policymakers believed at the front end, and it is getting away from our primary objective. 

You know, I sit on the intelligence committee.  I have been reviewing this stuff for—you know, for the last six years.  The threat from radical jihadism is real.  We need to stay focused on that threat and defeating that threat, and we need to make sure that we don‘t divert our activities, our interests and resources away from that. 

CARLSON:  Is it your impression, having studied this pretty carefully, that the people of Iraq and their traditional leaders are really anxious to start electing congressmen and senators? 

HOEKSTRA:  No, I don‘t think so.  I mean, I have met—in the last year, I‘ve had the opportunity to meet with individuals who allege that they were Sunni tribal leaders.  And, you know, you start to understand their culture.

You don‘t impose a county commission over a tribal leader.  OK?  I mean, the history of tribal leadership has been there for 1,000 years, and as we are now finding out in Al Anbar province, rather than trying to establish democracy at the local level, embracing the tribal structure, the tribal leaders, the tribal sheikhs, has enabled us to be more successful and get more allies.

Again, what are we trying to do?  We‘re trying to defeat al Qaeda.  The tribal chiefs, many of them are now working with us. 

CARLSON:  Oh, you mean, so, because it‘s worked for a thousand years, it might continue to work?  Is that what you‘re saying?

HOEKSTRA:  It‘s worked for a thousand years.  It may continue to work.

CARLSON:  So why...

HOEKSTRA:  It‘s what these people are used to.

CARLSON:  Of course.  And it‘s kind of a conservative concept that you don‘t upend things that have worked sort of well for millennia, it seems to me. 

But anyway, very quickly, does it seem to you that the United States at any point would be willing to accept a kind of benevolent strongman, who maybe not even so benevolent strongman, but someone who kept the country pro-American and stable?  Would we accept that?

HOEKSTRA:  Well, I don‘t think it‘s for us to accept or reject that.  It‘s for the Iraqi people to decide.

If the Iraqi people believe that that is the best way for them to get what they want, they want stability and security.  They want their families and their children to be safe, they want economic development, they want their education system to begin, you know, to start up again.  If they believe the best way to do that is with a benevolent strongman, at least in the interim I think that we should let them move in that direction. 

CARLSON:  God, I wish you had been in charge from the beginning. 

Congressman Hoekstra, thanks for joining us.  I appreciate it.

HOEKSTRA:  Hey, Tucker, good talking with you.  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Thanks.

Well, John Edwards says if he is elected president of the United States, the Lincoln bedroom will not be for sale.  In other words, the Clinton era will be over.

Plus, Michael Vick admits to financing a dogfighting ring but not to placing bets.  What exactly is he admitting to?

This is MSNBC.


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

If the John Edwards campaign is going down, it‘s not going down quietly.  The sunshine candidate of 2004 has taken a much sharper tone this time around, and the targets of his venom, Bill and Hillary Clinton.  It started with a crack about renting out the Lincoln bedroom to influential political friends, then he went on to tell voters waxing nostalgic for the Clinton years to wake up. 

Can Edwards get traction with rhetoric like this, or is it his farewell act?

Here to tell us, Democratic strategist and former communications director for the John Kerry for President campaign, Stephanie Cutter, and nationally syndicated talk show host Ed Schultz.

Stephanie, for the four people in America who have not yet seen the famous John Edwards line, I just want to put it up here.  This is John Edwards reintroducing his campaign yesterday.


JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The American people deserve to know that their presidency is not for sale, the Lincoln bedroom is not for rent, and lobbyist money can no longer influence policy. 


CARLSON:  Wow.  I don‘t think it could be clearer than that.  He is attacking the Clintons. 

Who is he talking to? 

STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think if you talk to his campaign, they make the point and I think he made the point yesterday that he is not just talking about the Clintons, he‘s talking about the Bushes, who have had over 200 people sleep in the Lincoln bedroom, and many administrations before that.  But, there is no mistake that he is including the Clintons in that comment. 

You know, who is he talking to?  He is talking to the millions of people that are angry out there and are angry with Washington.  He‘s running as the Washington outsider.

CARLSON:  But he‘s—so you are suggesting that there are millions of liberals, because he is running as a liberal candidate.  He‘s not going to get conservatives voting for him, so there are millions of liberals who are mad at Bill and Hillary Clinton? 

CUTTER:  No, that is not what I‘m saying.  I‘m saying...

CARLSON:  but there must be some, because...

CUTTER:  No.  There are millions of people that are angry at the way Washington has been working over the past several years, primarily under a Bush administration. 

Now, a couple of points—that, you know, Hillary does use her experience in the White House when President Clinton was in office.  And I think John Edwards is trying to redefine what she talks about experience.  It‘s not just experience, it‘s experience that matters, and the experience that matters right now is outside Washington experience.  That‘s the—that‘s the crux of his argument.

Whether or not it‘s going to work, particularly against someone who has 88 percent approval rating amongst Democratic voters and who—you know, all of these stories are well-known stories and, you know, there‘s not a lot of new information to introduce here—I don‘t know if they‘re going to work. 

CARLSON:  But Ed, I‘m struck by the fact that here you have the only two-term president since FDR, who died in 1945.  There‘s just one, his name is Bill Clinton.  And yet, there is not, that I can see, a single Democrat running for president directly on the Clinton legacy, on NAFTA, for instance.  Nobody is running as a centrist, as a moderate, a DLC Democrat this time around.

It‘s kind of a rejection of Clinton, isn‘t it? 

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, I think what John Edwards is doing here is he‘s putting the Clintons on notice and trying to get them in the corner and trying to motivate some media people to go ask Hillary, OK, Hillary, if you‘re the president, is it going to be business as usual?  Are you going to sell the Lincoln bedroom?  Are you going to be a corporatist, or is it going to be a presidency that‘s going to care about jobs, that‘s going to care about people who may have been left behind in this economy?

I think in a roundabout way, you‘ve got John Edwards trying to challenge the Clintons and trying to motivate the media to try to be a little tougher on Hillary Clinton, and is this the way it‘s going to be if she‘s in the White House?  Will she sell and will she raise money through the Lincoln bedroom?

I think it‘s a valid question. 

CARLSON:  Of course it‘s—of course it‘s a valid question.

SCHULTZ:  Because I think there‘s a lot of—there‘s a lot of base liberals out there that don‘t like that stuff.  So, there‘s... 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a completely valid question. 

But you know, Hillary‘s response, Stephanie, fascinates me.  She is basically being called a cynical Washington insider by John Edwards and, to some lesser extent, Barack Obama.  And she has basically said, yes, that‘s who I am. 

She‘s defended lobbyists.  She went after Edwards today as naive.  She said, you know, reform is not so easy to pass when you‘re actually in the Congress.

She doesn‘t run away from the label of Washington insider.  Why? 

CUTTER:  Well, again, I don‘t think she is painting herself as a Washington insider.  I think she‘s painting herself as someone who can get things done. 

You know, this stuff cuts both ways, that if you‘re running on experience of getting things done in Washington, does that mean you‘re a Washington insider?  To some, yes, it does.  And that‘s what John Edwards is trying to get across to people. 


SCHULTZ:  But I think John Edwards is making it very clear—this is who I am.  If I‘m in the White House, we‘re not selling the Lincoln bedroom.  That is direct talk, and I think it deserves a response from the Clinton campaign on how they‘re going to operate. 

CARLSON:  But Ed, he is also making the point not just that he is purer than Hillary Clinton, though he‘s definitely saying that, but he‘s saying he‘s also more ideologically pure, not just morally pure.  He said in a speech yesterday, basically, no compromise, we‘re not going to find the middle ground that Bill Clinton found.  You know, we are left wing and we‘re going to have a left-wing administration if I‘m elected president.

Are there a lot of people who want that? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think that there are people that want NAFTA repealed.


SCHULTZ:  I think there‘s a lot of people that want the American jobs not outsourced at the pace that they have been outsourced.  And I think John Edwards has been out in front probably more than Hillary on that issue. 

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s for sure.

SCHULTZ:  I think Hillary is focused probably more on health care, and she‘s focused more on the war.  But this is, I think, getting more than interesting, because I don‘t see John Edwards getting out anytime soon.  He is in this thing for the long haul, and he‘s going to ratchet up the pressure on the leader. 

CARLSON:  I just can‘t believe they are attacking Bill Clinton.  I didn‘t even think that was legal.  If you‘re a Democrat, I thought you had to sign a loyalty oath to Bill Clinton, and here they are telling the truth about the corrupt nature of his regime.

Bravo to John Edwards.  That‘s my—that‘s my point of view.

We‘ll be right back in mere moments.

Some say Michelle Obama attacked Hillary Clinton‘s family values. 

Nonsense, says her husband.  Who‘s telling the truth?

This is MSNBC.


CARLSON:  Within the last half hour, the NFL suspended Michael Vick indefinitely and without pay, citing cruel, reprehensible behavior.  This comes after he pled guilty today to being ininvolved in a dogfighting ring.  But Vick reportedly did not cop to killing dogs himself or to gambling on the blood sport.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback does admit to bankrolling the operation.  And just this afternoon, we learned that police near Phoenix raided the home of and arrested rapper-turned-actor DMX.  His home was raided, and 12 distressed Pit Bulls were seized, as well as several firearms. 

Is the Michael Vick story just the beginning of many stories about dogfighting that are going to come to light, and does today‘s reported plea deal let Vick off the hook?

Back to discuss it, Democratic strategist and former communications director for the Kerry campaign, Stephanie Cutter, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Ed Schultz, who also happens to be a former collegiate head quarterback at Moorhead State in Minnesota.

Ed, congratulations on your...

SCHULTZ:  Years ago.  Years ago.

CARLSON:  Years ago.

Let me ask you this—the NAACP is a faithful arm really of the Democratic Party, and it has come out officially to defend Michael Vick against these charges, saying that they‘re racially motivated, these charges of dogfighting, to which he has now apparently decided to plead guilty.

Will the Democratic Party take a position in favor or on the side of Michael Vick, do you think? 


SCHULTZ:  Tucker, the Democrats have absolutely—now, hold on a second.  The Democrats have nothing to do with this story, and it‘s a stretch to try to connect them to something like this, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Well, what do you think—of course it is a stretch, and I‘m half joking.  But what do you think—and I don‘t think anybody‘s going to defend dogfighting, but the NAACP is defending dogfighting, and what do you make of that? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think the NAACP is doing what they‘ve always done for the advancement of colored people in our society, and that is, give a man his day in court.  He has not been convicted to all of the charges and you really have to give Michael Vick an opportunity through the legal system to restore his reputation.

It is a horrible story.  It‘s a story...

CARLSON:  Oh, come on.

SCHULTZ:  The NFL had to do this.  The NFL waited until the plea came in.  But he may not be guilty of some other things as well.  So, give him his due and give him a chance through the legal system to try and work himself out of this.

That doesn‘t exonerate him, but this is how our judicial system works in this country. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, I don‘t—with all due respect, I don‘t think it advances the interests of black people or white people or any people in this country to defend something as gruesome as dogfighting.

And I wonder, Stephanie, if it turns out to be true—and I think it will turn out to be true that Vick has pled to certain charges but has not admitted killing dogs directly or gambling on dogs, which is kind of a way to keep open his options in professional sports, he‘s kind of skating on this, it sounds like to me.

CUTTER:  Skating on it, like trying to get off scot-free?

CARLSON:  Well, trying to get off without paying the appropriate penalty, right?


CARLSON:  Because the gambling is the really significant charge and the point of view of his job.  You can‘t gamble and be in the NFL.

CUTTER:  Right.  Right.

CARLSON:  He apparently is not admitting to that.  I mean, could you see a scenario in which he comes back as an NFL star when he‘s out of prison in a year? 

CUTTER:  Well, you know, it depends what he‘s pleading guilty to, what the facts are, and what‘s ultimately proven to be true or not true.

You know, I can see a million different scenarios here, but we have to let it play out.  I‘m certainly glad that Ed got the first question, because I‘m not that familiar with dogfighting.  And I don‘t understand why this would be a racial issue to begin with. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t either.  And I don‘t understand why people take the NAACP seriously.  It was a group whose history we can all respect, and I know I do respect it‘s history.


CARLSON:  But at this point, it‘s a sad joke that should be shut down I think immediately for the sake of everybody. 

Ed, I wonder, though, dogfighting—I mean, we already accept partial birth abortion in this country.  And we accept that.  If we accept dogfighting and shooting and strangling dogs, we‘re basically—like, we‘re not a civilized culture if we accept that, are we? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think you can—nobody is accepting this, Tucker. 

Nobody is accepting this at all.

This is a horrific story, and I think it can go right back to the turbulent relationship and upbringing that Michael Vick had with his father.  His father is out there going after him right now.  Where was he younger in—earlier in his life?

I mean, I think that this is a cultural issue, it‘s an issue about a kid that grew up in the street and who was turning the wrong away early on.  He happens to be a fantastic athlete. 


SCHULTZ:  The NFL is going to do what they‘ve got to do and Michael Vick has got to do what he‘s got to do.  I think someday he‘ll probably come back and play in the NFL after paying his, you know, debt to society.

CARLSON:  But shouldn‘t we do what we have to do, which is kind of enforce some basic societal norms?  Like, look, I‘m for—I‘m actually not a big judger of other people.  I‘m a flawed person, I try not to say anything is beyond the pale.

But torturing dogs to death?  I mean, can‘t we just all agree if you do that, you‘re not allowed—you‘re not allowed to make $10 million for our entertainment after that?  I‘m sorry. 

SCHULTZ:  Tucker, now, he is saying that he didn‘t have anything to do with the killing.  He deserves his day in court. 

He has admitted to some things, and I should point out in a very fair manner that he‘s got the money to fight this, and many people wouldn‘t.  So that might have something to do with his plea as well.

But he is trying to restore his reputation, he‘s trying to set up his comeback to the NFL in years to come.  He is still a relatively young player, he‘s very talented.  He‘s thinking about the future, but he‘s also thinking about, how does he work himself out of this?

No one is exonerating him at all.  It‘s a horrible thing.  And the fact is, is that his upbringing had a lot to do with this. 

CARLSON:  Yes, well...

SCHULTZ:  He doesn‘t have any chip missing, as Sean Hannity said.  Or he doesn‘t have anything, you know, wrong with him.

I mean, it was the way he was brought up.  It‘s part of the same culture, and it needs to change.

CARLSON:  Yes, but a lot of people had crappy childhoods and they don‘t murder dogs. 

Really quickly, Stephanie, it seems to me any of the Democratic candidates, or Republicans, for that matter, would get instant support from a lot of people, frankly, like me, if they just came out and kind of defended animal rights. 

Very quickly, do you hear anybody say that? 

CUTTER:  I haven‘t heard anybody today say that, no.  I agree with you that.  If they came out against dogfighting, it would go a long way. 

CARLSON:  That‘s—I agree completely.

Mitt Romney wants to...

SCHULTZ:  Who‘s for dogfighting?

CARLSON:  Nobody—he tried in Massachusetts.  Will he go with the same plan nationally, or is it not good enough anymore?

Plus, Barack Obama picks up support from one of the most influential foreign policy experts in the United States. 

Details in a minute.



CARLSON:  Hillary Clinton voted to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq and until relatively recently had maintained her support of the military mission there.  But her quasi hawkish positions have not endeared her to American military veterans, apparently.  According to a new Gallup Poll, a reporter by the “New York Post” today, Mrs Clinton is the least popular presidential candidate among veterans.  Just 37 percent of those polled view her favorably.  That compares to 59 percent expressing unfavorable views of her.

Rudy Giuliani received the best response of all, 64 percent favorable.  How important are Clinton‘s numbers among veterans, and why are they so allow? 

To tell us, we welcome back Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter and nationally syndicated radio show host Ed Schultz.  Stephanie, why are they so low?  She‘s not—they are lower than Barack Obama‘s, lower than John Edwards, both of whom have taken a far more dovish position on Iraq than she has.  Why don‘t veterans like her? 

CUTTER:  Democrats traditionally don‘t do that well with veterans, and I think the fact that she is the most well known Democrat is probably not helping her. 

CARLSON:  And yet, let me just say, she was the only candidate in this poll who had a majority of veterans say they didn‘t like her, which is to say the other Democrats had a majority of veterans say we like that person. 

It was Hillary they didn‘t like.  Is there something—this is an

important question.  It‘s a window into something.  It‘s a window into the

visceral response a lot of people have to Mrs. Clinton.  Her campaign has

got to be thinking this through, how do we defeat this response?  Do you

have any idea why people respond that way and what they‘re going to do

about it

CUTTER:  I have no idea specifically why people would respond that way, other than that she is very well know.  They traditionally don‘t like Democrats.  The fact that—you should point out that this is a very strong male contingent.  Most of her support right now is coming from women. 

What should they do about it?  They should certainly pay attention to it.  Veterans are an important voting block.  They don‘t traditionally go to Democrats, but that is something that Democrats have been working on for the past several election cycles. 

She gave a very strong speech the other day at the VFW, and I think she should continue giving them. 

CARLSON:  I think you‘re exactly right when you said this is a group that is 90 percent—more than 90 percent male.  That‘s what it is, the gender gap, because men don‘t like Hillary, I think, by and large, overall.  Ed, the other fascinating fact in this poll, I thought, was how well Rudy Giuliani did; 64 percent of veterans said they liked him, beating John McCain, who spent five and a half years in a north Vietnamese prison camp, a career military officer, the son and grandson of career naval officers.  How could Rudy Giuliani, who has never served, beat McCain, who served so famously? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think McCain has flip-flopped on so many issues, and I think McCain has not been the advocate that everybody thinks he has been when it comes to sticking up for the veterans.  Why have we had so much—so many problems with veterans‘ care and McCain has been out there for 30 years in the Senate.  So, he has had his opportunity to shore his support with these folks and he hasn‘t done it.

Giuliani is a hawk.  Giuliani talks about war.  He talks about staying on the offensive.  And when it comes to veterans, that‘s right up their alley. 

As far as Hillary is concerned, it is a gender issue.  It‘s a demographic issue as well.  Most of these veterans are 55 plus years old, into their 60‘s and 70‘s.  They don‘t like the idea of a woman being president of the United States.  I think that has a lot to do with it.  I also think they look back at the don‘t ask, don‘t tell—they‘re not really high on that policy either, with gays in the military.  And they connect that policy to Hillary. 

I don‘t it‘s something that could deep six her campaign.  I think it‘s something that she can fix.  She has been aggressive.  She has the respect of the 10th Mountain Division.  She‘s worked hard with veterans.  She‘s got a bill out there right now that deals with veterans‘ health care.  So I think it‘s just a matter of time—

CARLSON:  Maybe, and I think the other factor is that her husband was roundly despised by the military, by and large.  You talk to—


CARLSON:  No doubt.  Even today, they are bitter about Somalia and the draw down.  They don‘t like him.  They never did like him.

SCHULTZ:  I think the younger veterans are probably more bitter about Iraq and the way things are going right now. 

CARLSON:  That may be.  I may be wrong.  I don‘t think I am wrong.  Bill Clinton is about the least popular person in the U.S. military and has been for the past 15 years.  

SCHULTZ:  Bill Clinton won‘t be the president. 

CARLSON:  He may, in effect, by the president.  We‘ll find out..


CARLSON:  What do you make of this little—I think very interesting comment that Michelle Obama, the wife of Barack Obama, has made time after time in her stump speech.  I think we have a tape of it.  Anyway, if we do, let‘s put it up.


MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA:  Part of what we want to do as a family is to make sure that our children are safe, but also to model what it means to have family values.  Our view is that if you can‘t run your own house, you certainly can‘t run the White House.  So we have adjusted our schedule to make sure that our girls are first.  While he is 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. 


CARLSON:  Unfortunately, that sound bite was clipped.  We took the center of it out.  I‘m not quite sure why.  Let me read you the whole quote; but also to model what it means to have family values in this country, and we haven‘t seen that for along time.  We haven‘t seen that in the White House for a long time.  I don‘t think there‘s any question this is an oblique slam at the Clintons.  I don‘t think there‘s any question at all.

I know the Obama people deny it.  I don‘t care.  I don‘t know what else she could have been talking about.  She‘s not accusing the president of not having family values.  Even people who hate him realize he‘s a family guy.  She‘s talking about Bill Clinton. 

CUTTER:  Well, the Obama campaign and Senator Obama and Michelle Obama both say that‘s not the case.  I think if you look at her remarks in context, it‘s not the case.  The comment wasn‘t interesting, Tucker.  What was interesting was the way the press covered it.  The press wanted to write the story about the Clintons.  And so they did. 

Even the reporter who first covered this said this was her own opinion.  This was her own interpretation, not something Michelle Obama said. 

CARLSON:  What does it mean?  She says that we have not seen family values in the White House for a long time.  That‘s what—I have the text right here.  So what does it mean—she is not talking about President Bush.  You and I both know that.  Who‘s she talking about?  She‘s talking about Bill Clinton.

CUTTER:  She could be talking about President Bush.  Do you think it‘s family values to cut children‘s health care? 

CARLSON:  OK, right. 


CARLSON:  She was not talking about policy.  She was talking about private conduct.  She was saying we are good parents.  That‘s the pitch she was making.  I‘m a good parent.  I‘m a good wife.  My husband is a good husband.  She wasn‘t talking about the public sphere.  She was talking about the private sphere.  And no one has ever criticized Bush on those grounds. 

CUTTER:  Look at where the American people are.  Look at the evidence.  Look at any poll out there about who shares my values?  George Bush is certainly not at the top.  Those are values of the American people.  Call them family values or American values.  He doesn‘t have them. 

CARLSON:  I wonder—Do you think, Ed, that it makes sense for Democrats or really anybody to run around bragging about what good parents they are and what strong family values people—that‘s the kind of behavior that Democrats have criticized Republicans for decades now and now they‘re doing it.   

SCHULTZ:  But it worked in the last several elections.  Maybe not in 2006, but in 2004 and 2002 it did work.  Family values did stick for many of the Republican candidates.  I think it‘s refreshing for somebody on the Democratic side step up and talk about family values.  I will say this about the Clintons; after all they‘ve been through, it looks to me like Chelsea has done well for herself.  And it looks like Hillary has been an awfully fine mother. 

So I think—I don‘t believe Michelle Obama was targeting the Clintons at all.  I think that she was targeting the Republicans.  I mean, how many ex wives do they have over there anyway? 


CARLSON:  She was talking about the occupant of the White House.  Read the text—OK, whatever.  You don‘t want to admit it was about Hillary.  They don‘t want to admit it was about Hillary.  Read it yourself and look inward and tell me it was not about the Clintons.  Here‘s what—I‘m interested in what you think—this is kind of breaking news today.  In an interview on Bloomberg television, Zbigniew Brzezinski, famous foreign policy adviser from the Carter years, comes out and basically attacks Mrs.  Clinton.  He is endorsing Barack Obama. 

Here‘s what he said about Mrs. Clinton‘s qualifications for being president: “being a former first lady doesn‘t prepare you to be president.  I don‘t think this country needs to go back to what we had eight years ago.”

Stephanie, how do you respond to that, apart from conceding that it‘s right?  There‘s no arguing with that.  Being first lady doesn‘t prepare you to be president.  That‘s ridiculous.  And we‘ve kind of given her a pass on that.  We pretend as if being the president‘s wife makes you prepared to be president?  Of course it doesn‘t.  Why are we playing along with that charade? 

CUTTER:  I don‘t think she is saying that being first lady has prepared her to be president.  I think she‘s saying that living in the White House for eight years and experiencing national security crisis and being close to the president of the United States has given her unique insight into how to keep this country safe. 

But she is primarily relying on her experience as a United States senator and her involvement on the Armed Service Committee.  I think that what Brzezinski said today is important, particularly for Obama, who has been running with an experience deficit in the head to head in this race, and how he is differentiating himself, in terms of conducting foreign policy, from Clinton and, in some cases, Edwards. 

CARLSON:  This seems like a major coup, or at least a significant coup to me for Obama, Ed.  If you‘re the Clinton campaign, do you just dismiss Brzezinski as part of the right wing conspiracy?  How do you respond to this?

SCHULTZ:  No, I don‘t.  I think Barack Obama has some real credible people with him.  This is a real fight to the finish.  And I think that there are some really credible people with Barack Obama.  Tom Daschle, who is a very good friend of mine; he‘s working closely and supporting Barack Obama. 

CARLSON:  I saw him this morning at Starbucks, actually.

SCHULTZ:  Well, you know, Tom is very, very involved in Obama‘s campaign, and he is a big supporter.  Look, these Democratic candidates, they‘ve all got people supporting them.  They are out there trying to get as much media as they can.  They are going to have surrogates who are going to attack so that they don‘t have to do it.  I think this is just a classic example of that.  There‘s somebody out there going after the Clinton on a daily basis, and Obama has to do that to make sure he is heard on his issue as well. 

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m on Brzezinski‘s side.  Thanks both, a lot, for joining us.  I appreciate it.  Stephanie, Ed, thanks. 

If you blinked, you probably missed it, Nicole Richie in and out of jail in about the same time it takes to do your laundry.  Is this really celebrity justice served?  We‘ll tell you.  We‘ll be right back.


CARLSON:  In his time as governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney often boasted about his health care plan.  It was adopted by the state legislature to much fan fare.  The plan was quite popular to some.  Many Democrats like it so much that some running for president are now copying it, in effect, but not Mitt Romney.  He seems to be running away from his own biggest achievement.  Why is that? 

Joining us again, Stephanie Cutter and Ed Schultz.  Welcome back.  Stephanie, I don‘t want to pile on—it seems like every day I‘m piling on Mitt Romney for changing his views on this that or the other thing.  But I can‘t resist pointing out, in wonder, the fact that Mitt Romney is now not recommending his own health care plan, which, at the same time, has been taken up, in effect, by John Edwards and Barack Obama.  What do you make of that?

CUTTER:  I don‘t think it should surprise anybody.  He has been running away from his record since the moment he even considered getting into this race.  It‘s health care.  It‘s immigration.  It‘s gay rights.  It‘s abortion.  The list goes on and on.  He is trying to hide the fact that he has some moderate policy positions, because he‘s running in a conservative primary.  It‘s a race to the right and he doesn‘t want to be last.

CARLSON:  Yes, I don‘t think, as a practical matter, that‘s a very smart thing to do.  Here is the reason, Ed, I believe that the Romney campaign is not eager to tout this series of health care reforms, because they include the requirement—in Massachusetts, where I am right now—I am in Boston—in Massachusetts you are required to buy health insurance. 

They understand the most conservatives recognize that‘s an abridgement of personal liberty.  Why would Democrats—why would anybody support requiring people to buy health insurance?  Why should you be required to do that?  

SCHULTZ:  First of all, on a positive note for Mitt—and this is hard for me to admit as well—the people of Massachusetts wanted it, and Romney went along with it.  Now, whether that‘s in contrast to what his true personal beliefs were at the time, the fact is he did go along with it.  Now that‘s something that might enamor him to some people.

When it comes to the ideological struggle of health care, this man is for profit and he‘s a sellout to the insurance companies.  That‘s the bottom line.  And a lot of liberals and a lot of progressives and a lot of folks in the center of this country have had enough of that.  They want basic coverage for people.  They want to make it affordable.  They want to get everybody covered.  They want to make it affordable.

And they also want a better delivery system.  Romney is not going down that road.  He has shifted.  But he‘s doing it, I think, for the big money in the Republican party, and the big money in the insurance companies, and I think that he‘s going to get caught by probably other Republican candidates when it comes to a real tough debate. 

CARLSON:  Stephanie, let‘s take some of the rhetoric and the BS out of this conversation on health care.  You often hear there are this many people not covered by health insurance.  The truth is—

SCHULTZ:  It‘s a fact, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Oh, it is absolutely a fact.  But the deeper truth is, if you‘re under 30, and you‘re healthy, you don‘t need health insurance.  It doesn‘t make -- 

CUTTER:  That is ridiculous. 



CARLSON:  That‘s a problem.  But statistically, you are unlikely to.  Statistically, it doesn‘t make economic sense—hold on—which is why, shouldn‘t it be up to the person to decide whether or not he wants to buy health insurance?  Why should big brother ram it down his throat. 

CUTTER:  Regardless of whether you‘re for or against an individual mandate—

CARLSON:  I‘m against it. 

CUTTER:  You‘re against buying health insurance.

CARLSON:  I‘m against being forced to buy it by some authoritarian government, or some bureaucrat.  I‘m serious. 


CUTTER:  Well, look, you can be on one side or another on individual mandate.  But the belief behind an individual mandate is that unless you require people to get insurance, they will not get it, because they can‘t afford it right now.  The only way to fix the system is to get people on the rolls of insurance. 

CARLSON:  So take the choice away.  You only get to choose when it comes to killing your kids, but no other choices for you. 


CARLSON:  That‘s probably Romney‘s position too, actually, come to think of it. 

CUTTER:  It wasn‘t a year ago. 

CARLSON:  He is a liberal.  You‘re exactly right.  Stephanie, Ed, thanks a lot.  I appreciate you sticking around. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Well, coming up, for all those who say David Beckham is too pretty to be a real footballer, look out, Beckham has just bared his teeth on the field like a dog, albeit a rabid dog with very white teeth.  Resident fancy football correspondent Bill Wolff has the correspondent when we come back.  You‘re watching MSNBC.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Something of a sad programming note, technical difficulties have prevented us from meeting up with our intended guest later in the show today, Michelle Shingalle (ph), a former stripper, who has came out for Libertarian Republican candidate Ron Paul.  But we have no doubt that she will be back next week.  You can‘t keep us away from strippers for Ron Paul.  Look forward to that.  In the meantime, here‘s Bill Wolff with the news. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  One note, Tucker, on your programming note, and a correction of sorts, exotic dancer. 

CARLSON:  Sorry.  I meant—I didn‘t mean that in a pejorative way. 

I‘m just being—libertarians are straight forward, stripper.

WOLFF:  The term is exotic dancer, Tucker.  I‘m trying to help. 

CARLSON:  I‘ll ask her directly.

WOLFF:  Appreciate that.  Lisa Nowak, Tucker, the most ridiculed American astronaut since Homer Simpson took the shuttle for a spin after Barney Gumbel was disqualified, was in an Orlando, Florida courtroom today for some pre-trial hearings.  You will recall that Miss Nowak is accused of driving all night in a diaper from Houston to Florida to stalk her alleged rival romantic interest and fellow astronaut Colleen Shipman in February. 

They were both reportedly, of course, sweet on the same other astronaut, Bill Ofelien (ph).  Now, the long and short of it today, Tucker, Miss Nowak wants to stop wearing the electronic ankle bracelet she has been sporting, because it chafes and it doesn‘t go with her Navy uniform.  Miss Shipman feels safer knowing that Miss Nowak‘s got the thing around her ankle.  There was no decision from the court today.  A very sad story. 

CARLSON:  Wait, so you are saying the diaper girl is still in the service? 

WOLFF:  No.  Yes, she is for the moment. 

CARLSON:  How does that work? 

WOLFF:  Alleged diaper girl.  Apparently she hasn‘t done anything bad to get booted yet.  I would like to say, it‘s a very sad story, but it will be a sadder day when it is over, because we will lose the ability to have banners that say stuff like Astro-Nut and Lost in Space. 

CARLSON:  Good point.

WOLFF:  It‘s been a gift to us.  Sadly for Lisa Nowak, she didn‘t simply drive under the influence or possess a teeny, tiny amount of cocaine in Los Angeles, or she would be all good by now.  So it is for Nicole Richie, the barely celebrity, who has served her debt to society for her driving the wrong way while intoxicated bust. 

And that debt to society turned out to be 82 minutes, served yesterday afternoon at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California.  That‘s the joint made famous by Richie‘s jail bird pal Paris Hilton.  Now, her original sentence, Miss Richie, was to be four days.  But she got sprung because, well, because they have worse criminals than she is crowding the place up. 

Her hard time was served just hours after fellow party casualty Lindsay Lohan got a one day sentence for her intoxicated escapades on the highways and byways of your beloved southern California, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I have spent longer in jail playing capture the flag than that.  That‘s actually—very quickly, who is she?  Like, Nicole Richie, is she a singer, actor, dancer?  What does she do? 

WOLFF:  Put it this way, if celebrity is a city, she lives right across the line in the suburbs.  You know what I‘m saying?  She is not a resident of celebrity town. 

I would only say that, at this rate, the penalty for DUI in L.A., if you‘re a celebrity, is down to you‘ve got to get stuck in traffic near the jail.  Near the pen, you‘re fine.  Go ahead.  Just don‘t do it again. 

Tucker, David Beckham—you remember him—he was interesting—this is breaking news—for more than a minute last night.  It‘s one of the greatest upsets in sports history.  There is video to prove.  This is a soccer game. 

That is David Beckham, the handsome one there, running around.  The weirdly hot wife not pictured.  He got kicked in the ribs by a guy from a team called Chivas (ph) USA, sounds like a plan for five minutes from now, not a soccer team.  Anyway, everybody acted all mad and two guys not involved in the original foul got really mad.  One of them threw a punch and the other went for the head butt. 

And then a boring soccer game resumed.  Beckham his haircut, his strong brow, his mysterious eyes, and his alien supermodel looking wife all unharmed in the incident.  You see, 250 million dollars, a small price to pay for this kind of action on American soil. 

CARLSON:  I sense you don‘t take soccer seriously, Bill? 

WOLFF:  I take it seriously, I just don‘t care one lick about it.  I take meteors seriously also.  I just never think about them.  Get a bat, put on some cleats; let‘s play some baseball.  It‘s summer time man.  This is America. 

CARLSON:  It is an unhealthy foreign influence, let‘s be honest. 

WOLFF:  I think so.  It‘s just like Brussels sprouts for kids.  You‘ll get them to eat it, but they are never going to like them as adults. 

CARLSON:  If you‘re Belgian, they‘re fine.  Not for us.

WOLFF:  Precisely.  Finally, it is Friday, Tucker.  As most of our viewers know, this is cable TV, so it is time for some baby animals.  Yes, first up, dateline Berlin.  That‘s a 209-pound baby elephant as yet unnamed.  It is a girl.  My money is on Helga.  She‘s the second calf born to her mom, but the seventh born to her elephant dad, who has been playing the field.  Tucker, you should see the tusks on that guy. 

Before they turn the latest out on us, we travel to San Diego where veterinarians gave a first exam to this unbelievably cute and demographically friendly baby panda.  No word on the gender of the adorable, watchable fury baby, who is being seen exclusively right here, right now. 

A second exam will reveal the body parts in question and tell us if it is a boy or girl.  The cub weighs 23 ½ ounces.  If all goes well, it will grow to be enormous, furry, cute, and capable of killing humans beings, tearing them apart limb from limb.  In a word, Tucker, Awe. 

CARLSON:  Thanks for reminding us just how dangerous they can be. 

WOLFF:  Pandas? 


WOLFF:  Cute and cuddly until they can rip your face off. 

CARLSON:  Vicious, totally vicious.  They‘ve killed a lot of Chinese over the years.  We ought to keep that in mind.  Bill Wolff from headquarters, thanks a lot Bill.

WOLFF:  Have a great weekend. 

CARLSON:  You too.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Mike Barnicle.  We‘ll see you Monday.  Have a great weekend.



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