updated 9/27/2007 12:31:25 PM ET 2007-09-27T16:31:25

Guests: Adam Smith, Cliff May, Steve McMahon, Matt Bai

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Here‘s the question, how much longer can Barack Obama afford to stay out of the political back alley without blowing his chance to be the Democratic nominee. 

Welcome to the show.  The Democrats are in Hanover, New Hampshire tonight for a debate right here on MSNBC.  And the prevailing wisdom is that Hillary Clinton who is running away with it at almost every national poll at this point will be subjected to verbal jabs from all directions but Barack Obama who has run second to Clinton for months now yet has to take a run.  You have to draw important distinctions between her record on the Iraq War, for instance, and his own yet to play the sort of politics traditionally necessary to win.  Will tonight be the night when the real battle from the nomination commences? 

Also today, the smoke has cleared from the rhetorical fireworks in the last two days in New York.  Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has come and gone but his problem of his defiant and bellicose regime persists.  The U.S. continues to rattle it‘s sabers at Iran but a war seems too perilous and difficult to fight right now.  What is the next step with Iran? 

And, the “Wall Street Journal” observes the weirdness that sometimes is Rudy Giuliani.  Do moments like the possibly staged phone call from his wife during a speech to the NRA humanize him too much?  He is weird, Rudy‘s enemy on the campaign trail.  We will tell you.  We begin with the race for the Democratic nomination in the case of Barack Obama.  As spring turned to summer, we the omniscient media wondered aloud daily, when not if the Obama campaign‘s money raising prowess, its amazing money raising prowess and its incredibly broad base would threaten the lead of Hillary Clinton.  Well summer turns to fall, we wonder if the Illinois Senator has the will to claw his way back into relevance in the contest for that nomination and will tonight‘s debate be the night when he first shows it?  Joining me now is a surrogate for the Obama campaign, Democratic Congressman from Tacoma, Washington, Adam Smith.  Congressman, thanks a lot for coming on. 

ADAM SMITH (D), CONGRESSMAN, WASHINGTON:  Thanks for having me on, I appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  This is the eternal question but when is Barack Obama going to explain to me why I should vote for him over Hillary Clinton? 

SMITH:  Well, he‘s focused on explaining to you, and everybody else, why they should vote for him because he‘s the best candidate to be President.  He‘s focused on the issues on his desire to bring change to the Country on the fact that he is the one candidate who‘s in the best position to do things differently when he gets into the White House and that that change is what he‘s going to bring. 

CARLSON:  Of course, you know, and he‘s an incredibly fluent speaker. 

And I think he‘s made a good case for himself but he‘s not running alone. 

He‘s being beaten in every poll everywhere pretty much by Hillary Clinton.  Why is he not as good as she?  So, it‘s not just a question of why is he good?  It‘s a question of why is he better than her?  Why is she not as good as he?  Why hasn‘t made that case? 

SMITH:  Well I think, as with all campaigns, the media, it‘s amazing. 

You know, everyone thinks this race is tomorrow. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

SMITH:  Just because we have been talking about it for a year and I think we‘re having about our 45th debate tonight.  It‘s still four months.  If I am doing my math correctly, from the first actual contest and what any candidate will tell you is what they want to do is they want to establish who they are as a candidate.  What they stand for and that‘s what he‘s doing and I think it‘s the right thing to do. 

CARLSON:  We as the press, we desperately, so desperately want him to beat Hillary Clinton.  Not because a lot of people in the press like him more than her, and that‘s true, but because we want a race, we want excitement, we want something unexpected to happen.  We‘re rooting for him, trust me okay?  That‘s not point.  The point is he‘s got—the new numbers suggest he will have about 75,000 new donors.  For some perspective, that is more donors than all Republican Candidates, combined, managed to draw in the first half of this entire year. 

SMITH:  Absolutely. 

CARLSON:  So that‘s an incredible number.  Clearly, he‘s introduced himself to people.  They know him.  They‘re giving to him in numbers unprecedented in the American history. 

SMITH:  You sort of lumped two facts together, 75,000 donors, sure, from all over the Country. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

SMITH:  Okay, those are still a lot of people in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina and Nevada, who haven‘t gotten to know Senator Obama yet and that‘s one of the fascinating things about all these polls we obsess over.  If you drill down about 75% of those people are still basically undecided; they will state a preference but they‘re still saying, “We‘ll wait to see what the candidates come to tell us in Iowa and in New Hampshire and elsewhere.  This thing still has a long way to go and Senator Obama is making that case. 

CARLSON:  Yeah, but I mean, I know but this is like middle-age that this point.  Your life goes really slowly until you are about 35 then it just shoots by and next thing you are in an emphysema ward.  You know what I mean?

SMITH:  I am 42 and the last seven years have gone by just as quickly as the first 35 years. 

CARLSON:  But you see what I am saying.  Time is starting to accelerate.  Why doesn‘t he make the obvious case, she‘s too divisive?  Why doesn‘t he say that?  She‘s in the pocket of lobbyists, why not just say that?

SMITH:  I think the thing that Senator Obama has said, and he‘s said it in debates, he said it directly to Hillary Clinton, is “that‘s the ways of the past.  We need to move forward to the future.”  He has addressed said the issue, that Hillary Clinton, given all of her history in Washington, it‘s going to be very difficult for her to break from that.  And she has not shown any particular inclination to break from that.  He will offer change.  So, I don‘t think it is accurate to say, they got into it over who we should talk to, they got into it over the policy in Pakistan. 

CARLSON:  He sounds like a professor explaining it.  You have to infer.  It‘s like reading contemporary literature, it‘s like you have to catch the metaphors.  He‘s never come out and said, for instance, this is a woman who voted in favor of the War in Iraq.  She didn‘t bother to read the classified intelligence and had she done so, maybe she wouldn‘t have voted for it.  He never said that, why not? 

SMITH:  Again, let me say, as far as the specific charge, I can‘t answer a question as to why he hasn‘t made a specific charge but he has made it clear, he is the candidate of the change.  He is the candidate of reform.  And he‘s also more than once made it clear that whatever Hillary Clinton may want to do, she‘s going to have a very difficult time given how tied into Washington, and everything that comes with it, she is, making that change.  If you want real change, Senator Obama is the guy who comes from the place where you can best deliver it.  He‘s made that case.  He‘s going to keep making it. 

CARLSON:  I went up to a political consultant last night, who knows what all of the candidates are talking about right now, and he said when I look at him, Obama whom this guy likes, he said I can tell he‘s afraid of her.  When he said that, I agree with that.  He looks intimidated by her. 

SMITH:  Well, good for him.  I met with Senator Obama many times, I‘ve watched a lot of these debates.

CARLSON:  He looks rattled by her.  I mean, why doesn‘t just say “slow down there, Hillary Clinton.” 

SMITH:  Absolutely not true.  He has on more than one occasion.  When they went back and forth in the debate when they got into the issue of who he ought to be talking to internationally, they went right after each other.  I haven‘t met the person that Senator Obama is intimidated by.  He is wanting to deliver his message about who he is.  And, you know, historically, does it make sense to go on the offensive and start attacking?

CARLSON:  Yes, yes because in a general election.  

SMITH:  Four months out?  Which candidate out of all of these campaigns, the media must know more than any other person working on a presidential campaign, which campaign has attacked another campaign in the way that you are describing at this point? 

CARLSON:  John Edwards and he is third. 

SMITH:  When?

CARLSON:  John Edwards has gone out - - John Edwards and his wife has gone after Hillary really hard. 

SMITH:  There hasn‘t been any ads, there hasn‘t been any media campaigns, because it‘s too soon.

CARLSON:  John Edwards is trying it now. 

SMITH:  He‘s not trying it anymore than definitively. 

CARLSON:  There‘s a lot of pent-up frustration here.  Speak the truth, Barack Obama!

SMITH:  Well, let me reassure you, he‘s the best candidate.  He‘s running a good campaign.  He has all those volunteers and supporters for a reason and the more he gets his message out to a broader group of people, he going to win in Iowa and New Hampshire and he‘s going to move forward because he‘s got the best message for change. 

CARLSON:  I can promise you every assignment editor in America is rooting for his candidacy.  I am not sure that matters.  They like McCain too.  Congressman, thank you very much. 

Right now the race is between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but tonight, it may be Hillary against all of them.  Will she be able to survive attacks from every side? 

Plus Iran‘s President says the nuclear issue “closed.”  That is not acceptable, though, for the U.S. and the rest the world.  What should we do now?  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  They don‘t call it the Granite State for nothing.  New Hampshire voters, so goes the hoity cliche, are known for their stubborn independence and their no nonsense approach to politics.  In other words, they like a nasty race.  With any luck, they‘ll be getting it tonight as the false humility and cordial exchanges will be dropped and, instead, give way to a serious debate about why people deserve to vote for this candidate or the other candidate.  That‘s what we‘re hoping for tonight anyway.  Joining me at this point, President of the Foundation of the Defense of Democracies, Cliff May, and Democratic Strategist, Steve McMahon, welcome to you both.  I‘m just agitated over this question.  I am, I am actually. 

And here‘s the question, there is this massive—you‘ve run campaigns, Steve, so you can explain this to me—this gap between the incredible—by any historic standards, fund-raising Barack Obama has been doing, the number of people who support Barack Obama and indicate that by so giving money and his poll numbers.  What is that?  Where is the ground swell? 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think, Barack Obama is suffering from the trouble that candidates have when they‘re an idea and an ideal for a lot of people.  He‘s positive, he‘s aspirational, he‘s hopeful, he‘s everything that people imagine that they want in a candidate and it‘s difficult to live up to that because people are basically.

CARLSON:  But he‘s getting the money. 

MCMAHON:  .projecting aspirations onto you, and you‘re just a human, you‘re just a person.  And, when you get down to the differences between Barack and the other candidates on most issues, they‘re not that significant.  So, he‘s in kind in a tough spot. 

CARLSON:  You know what‘s going on.  You know, Cliff, come on, since you‘re not an active Democrat, you can tell the truth about this, can‘t you?  He is being—his campaign is being nipped in the bud, crushed, by the Democratic Establishment that wants to see Bill Clinton‘s wife in office. 

CLIFF MAY, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES :  I

think that‘s true.  I also think it‘s the case that there have been very

high expectations for him.  He‘s sort of the hero riding in on the white

horse.  He‘s going to change democratic politics and the expectations for

Hillary are very low because everyone thinks, “oh, she‘s not likable, she‘s

cold” so she gets on the TV and she laughs almost in a giddy manner to show

I am so approachable and likable.  In other words if he has to come across

with a strong, new, original message and all she has to be do is be

likable, she‘s got an easier time.  That said, he was nine points behind

her in, like, July.  He‘s now like 20 points behind her.  He‘s not making -

MCMAHON:  He‘s focusing on Iowa.  That‘s a smart thing for him to do.

MAY:  Nationally, I mean, how far is he behind her nationally?

MCMAHON:  He‘s 23 points behind? 

MAY:  That‘s what I mean. 

MCMAHON:  But what will happen is, and by the way, I think Cliff just said, what I said. 

CARLSON:  He did, I‘ll concede that.  He did, you both said the same thing.

MAY:  Thank you.  

MCMAHON:  And we weren‘t even rehearsing. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

MCMAHON:  But he‘s focusing on Iowa and what we saw four years with Howard Dean and John Kerry, and I was on the wrong end of that tsunami, was that what happens in Iowa has an impact of what happens later.  So, John Edwards, Barack Obama, everybody is loading up in Iowa and someone will come out of there and there‘s going to be an alternative to Hillary Clinton.  And, it‘s going to be either John Edwards, probably, or Barack Obama, or it could be Bill Richardson or someone who sneaks from the outside. 

MAY:  Maybe Mike Gravel (inaudible)

MCMAHON:  Maybe he might, maybe he might. 

CARLSON:  But let‘s start with the debate, which is tonight on MSNBC. 

MAY:  Okay do we mention it‘s on MSNBC?

CARLSON:  Just so you know it‘s on MSNBC at 9 tonight.  You know the channel. 

She strikes me as very smart, very composed, very tough, but also brittle.  If you‘re Barack Obama, why not needle her until she rips off the mask and reveals the true of Hillary Clinton? 

MCMAHON:  First of all I don‘t accept your premise.  Just so we are clear. 

CARLSON:  Of course you do. 

MCMAHON:  I don‘t buy the mask thing but I do think Barack Obama has been trying to needle her a little bit and do you know what she‘s been doing?  She‘s been ignoring him and that‘s exactly what she should do and she‘s been, basically, running against the field and grouping any individual attack into a collective kind of response to the field.  And she‘s actually, I mean, let‘s just face it, she‘s running a disciplined, very, very effective campaign.  Barack Obama has a lot of hope.  He‘s got a lot of supporters.  He‘s got a lot of money.  He‘s going to have to something with it now. 

MAY:  What he‘s got to hope is that Hillary gets up there and says, “We‘re going to Washington, yee-ha!” 

CARLSON:  But she said.

MAY:  That‘s what he has to hope for.

CARLSON:  . in an interview with Ryan Rezon (ph) in the “New Yorker,” in his piece, she says to an audience, “You know I have dealt with these issues before, when we were in the White House, and they got screwed up again so I have to come back and fix them.  In other words, I have been president before, for a couple of terms, and now I got to come back and do it again.  I mean, it‘s not hard to elicit that kind of response from her, why not get her a little bit? 

MAY:  Well, and Obama could, if he said, “I understand you have been in the White House before but not a as an elected official and Mrs.  Clinton, it may be different.”  That would be an interesting thing to say. 

CARLSON:  Can you get away with that?  I mean, Rick Lazio famously hurt his own campaign in 2000 when he appeared to be rude to Mrs. Clinton.  Can you be as tough on a female candidate without a backlash?

MCMAHON:  No, you can‘t. 

MAY:  You‘re right.

MCMAHON:  I am right? 

CARLSON:  I am glad that you are honest to admit that, with all the whining about with women, the glass ceiling and everything, there is, in some sense, an advantage here.  You can‘t deny it(inaudible).

MCMAHON:  On the other hand, I think, you know, Barack Obama is running a campaign where he is trying to draw some distinctions.  I think some of them may be too subtle for a lot of voters to pick up on and he is going to have to decide whether or not he becomes more aggressive and maybe a little more direct and maybe a little less nuance, to use a term that got thrown around a lot in 2004.  If he doesn‘t do that, it is difficult to see how he gets there from here but he‘s got a lot going for him. 

CARLSON:  Say a prayer.  We want a real race.  That‘s what we want here in the Press. 

Next, Iran declares the nuclear issue off the table.  Not so fast, says America and part of the rest the world.  What happens next?  New Sanctions?  Military Action? We‘ll tell you. 

And plus Rudy Giuliani is leading the Republican field at this moment, by a little bit, but now that we we‘ve have seen his answer his wife‘s cell phone campaign in the middle of the campaign appearance, will he be much longer?  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Today, the U.S. Senate turned up the heat on Iran in a ‘nonbinding‘ sort of way, passing a measure calling on the State Department to designate Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.  Well, the step comes as we‘ve learned the U.S. plans to set up a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe with Iran in mind.  Are these the best ways to contain an Iran with nuclear ambitions?  And if not, what is the strategy?  Back with us, two of our absolute favorite guests, the President of the Defense of Democracies, Cliff May, and renowned Democratic Strategist, Steve McMahon.  Cliff, there are people who are defending Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The troops out and out coalition(inaudible) according to today‘s “Washington Post” marched outside of the White House, signs, “Get out of Iraq.  Stay out of Iran.  Don‘t terrorize Iran.  Don‘t appease Israel.”  How big is this constituency, the Pro-Ahmadinejad-Anti-Israel constituency? 

MAY:  I would hope that the pro-Ahmadinejad constituency has dwindled considerably over the course of this week.  I would hope that‘s what we get out of seeing him at the United Nations, seeing him at Columbia University, where he said, “Oh, there are no homosexuals in Iran and we don‘t oppress those if there are.  We are not trying to gain nuclear weapons, we love the Jewish people.  Women are free in Iran.”  I mean, he just went on telling lie after lie after lie but we have a real problem because, right now, it is almost for sure that most Americans who are dying in Iraq are dying not because of Al Qaeda, which has been diminished significantly over recent months, but because of Iran.  Which has surged against our surge with men and materials and more sophisticated weaponry, weaponry that these ‘penetrators,‘ have you have heard about them?

CARLSON:  Of course. 

MAY:  They have molten steel that goes right through the armor and what you saw today from Lieberman and Kyle is an amendment that would say, we have to control and contain Iran and not let Iran take over Iraq under any circumstances.  Basically that‘s what they‘re saying. 

CARLSON:  Steve, all of the talk has been about Ahmadinejad‘s creepy views on, you know, he‘s a holocaust denier, he hates the United States, he‘s trying to build nuclear weapons, et cetera.  Says he oppresses gays and women, but he‘s actually involved in a war against the United States currently going on now.  Why do so few people say that, I wonder? 

MCMAHON:  Well, he does seem to be involved and I think, you know, that it‘s one of those situations where we‘ve got serious problems in Iraq.  He‘s part of the problem.  But candidly, the reason that we have serious problems in Iraq is because the president created the problems for us by putting us there and by not having a plan to get us out. 

CARLSON:  I will agree with you.  I‘ll grant you that, whatever, that‘s another argument.  What do we do now is the question and why not just say we‘re fighting in a war against these people? 

MCMAHON:  I think what we do now, Tucker, is we tune into the Democratic Presidential debate, which is on MSNBC.

CARLSON:  Which channel is that on? 

MCMAHON:  . at 9:00 tonight. 

CARLSON:  Nice!

MCMAHON:  Seriously though, we‘ve got to obviously ramp up the pressure on Iran.  And do everything that we can and, I think that we‘ve got 73 or 74 votes today, so there is a bipartisan effort to do that.  And you know, candidly .

CARLSON:  Seventy-four votes is not that bipartisan actually. 

MCMAHON:  Well, a lot of Democrats joined a lot of Republicans. 

Hillary Clinton voted with Republicans on this one. 

CARLSON:  You are right. 

MAY:  And Lantos and Russ Layton also had a bill today that is also bipartisan that also ramps up the pressure on Iran.  By the way, it‘s high-time for 30 years, this Iranian Regime has been yelling death to America.  That‘s been their rallying cry and for 30 years we‘ve done nothing about it.  And the reason has been to say, “Well, I know their intentions are but they don‘t have the capabilities to do it.”  Now they are on their way to building nuclear weapons and they are surging weapons and men to kill Americans.  It‘s time we started taking it seriously. 

CARLSON:  But do we really have military options, I mean, if we were even to use air strikes to hit Iran, we‘ve got 140,000 to 150,000 American troops there who are pretty vulnerable to the Shiite militias, aren‘t they? 

MAY:  No I don‘t think they are vulnerable.  I think the Shiite militias are vulnerable to our troops at this point.

CARLSON:  So that would not be a concern.  Iran increasing the funding in Menaminjera(inaudible).

MAY:  What we need to do is, immediately, is frustrate Iran‘s ambitions in Iraq.  And I would like to see bipartisan support for that and then what we must do is make sure Iran doesn‘t get nuclear weapons.  For that, there is certainly bipartisan support.  We should use every means we have, short of military means, but not take it off of the table if that‘s what we have to do.  Eventually, we haven‘t begun to ratchet up the hard economic means yet and do everything we can.  We need to frustrate them in Iraq and we need to stop them from developing nuclear weapons and we need to try to, if we can, encourage the revolutionary forces that are in Iran.  There are very few Iranians who are comfortable with this regime. 

MCMAHON:  You just said something that I think that there is broad agreement on and this is actually the ‘jist‘ of the problem.  That we need to do everything possible, short of military action, and I think that Democrats and Republicans up on the hill would agree on that.  The problem this administration has is even something as simple as this amendment, which ought to have a vote of 100-0. 

CARLSON:  Yes, it ought to. 

MCMAHON:  Is viewed by many Democrats as a backdoor way for this president to declare a terrorist organization in Iran and to invade that country militarily. 

CARLSON:  That‘s so paranoid and crazy.  That‘s their fault.

MCMAHON:  It‘s not paranoid and crazy.

CARLSON:  We‘re not on the brink of invading Iran.  Let‘s get real. 

MCMAHON:  Well, listen, four years ago or six years ago, there were a lot of people who said the president hadn‘t.

CARLSON:  But world is different now. 

MCMAHON:  I understand it is very different.  But you can‘t just start a war with everybody whose policies and whose politics you disagree with. 

MAY:  No but you also can‘t say that a terrorist organization is not a terrorist organization because Bush calls it one and, therefore, if Bush says it is night time, you don‘t say no, no it‘s dawn.  You can‘t do that. 

MCMAHON:  You are right, cliff.  But question is not what the name of the organization is and what labels apply to it.  The question is what the president‘s intentions are and what he‘s going to do with that label and whether or not he‘s going to start another war that Congress has the ability and .

MAY:  As you agree.

MCMAHON:  The Constitutional Authority only to declare. 

MAY:  .we‘re already at war in Iraq with Iran.  We have to recognize that. 

MCMAHON:  But when they cross the border, it‘s a different deal. 

MAY:  What about crossing the border just to hit terrorist training camps?

MCMAHON:  Let‘s just fight everybody, let‘s just invade every country. 

CARLSON:  We can‘t, unfortunately.  You may be onto something there, with your suggestion that we bomb everyone but unfortunately we don‘t have enough bombs. 

We‘ll be right back.  The District Attorney in Louisiana explains the decisions he made in the case of the so-called “Jena 6.”  He says there was justice in Jena, was there?

Plus, it seems that Bill Clinton is more powerful now as a former president.  See how he‘s throwing his weight around now.  This is MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  The protest in Jena, Louisiana last week derived from outrage about the levels of different prosecution at separate incidents at the high school there.  Six black students were charged initially with attempted second-degree murder and ultimately with second degree aggravated battery for beating a white student.  White students who hung nooses from the branch of a tree on campus were never charged with a crime, though they were suspended. 

Reed Walters, the D.A. in Jena, wrote a column in the “New York Times” on the op ed page today that explains the disparity in the prosecution.  Neither he nor the U.S. attorney for northwestern Louisiana could find a state or federal law broken by the people who hung nooses.  It was ugly.  It was awful.  But it wasn‘t illegal.  It was not a crime. 

As for the prosecution of the six black students, Mr. Walters describes the circumstances of their alleged crime and the evidence presented suggests that, in fact, an innocent victim was brutally and criminally assaulted.  Will the facts as presented by the D.A. change public opinion in this case? 

Joining us once again, the president of the Foundation of the Defense of Democracy, Cliff May, and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.  I haven‘t really gotten into this case so much on this show so much on this show, because I have mixed feelings about it.  I don‘t think these kids should have been charged with attempted murder.  But they beat the tar out of this kid.  They beat him unconscious, apparently, because of the color of his skin.  He was not involved in the noose hanging incident. 

And I can‘t help but notice that every guilty white liberal, which is almost everyone in the press, who describes this case, describes it as a school yard fight, and acts like the kid who got beaten didn‘t really get hurt.  Why are people excusing violence, do you think, in this case, Steve. 

MCMAHON:  I don‘t think anybody is excusing violence.  He was cold cocked and apparently six people kicked him.  And now on the other hand, he was at a school event that same evening.  So the nature and depth of the damages—

CARLSON:  I believe this took place during the day. 

MCMAHON:  And that night he was at some school function.  So I‘m not excusing his behavior. 

CARLSON:  So what‘s the point of that.  He‘s exaggerating his injuries?  The kid got beaten for no reason. 

MCMAHON:  Here‘s the point of that.  Should someone be sentenced 22 years in jail for that? 

CARLSON:  No. 

MCMAHON:  It‘s a fight that happened at a school.  It happens every single day all across America.  It shouldn‘t have happened. 

CARLSON:  It wasn‘t a fight.  Hold on, this is—

MCMAHON:  He was cold cocked. 

CARLSON:  That‘s not a fight.  A fight is when I say, put up your dukes.  If I‘m walking down the street and you hit me in the head with a brick, it‘s not a fight. 

MCMAHON:  He wasn‘t hit in the head with a brick.

CARLSON:  He was knocked unconscious with a fist. 

MCMAHON:  He was hit with a fist and then he went to the ground and he was kicked by people in tennis shoes, which were later described as deadly weapons.  Now I don‘t excuse the behavior.  I don‘t condone the crime.  But I think it was seriously and tragically overcharge.  And somebody‘s life—

22 years in jail is what the sentence was.  It was unbelievable and it was outrageous. 

CARLSON:  He‘s not facing 22 years in jail now.  And I just wonder why

look, attempted murder is—I‘m not saying it should have been attempted murder.  I don‘t think it should have been.  This is not the perfect civil rights case, that‘s my only point.  Why is this kid who assaulted someone else a hero? 

MAY:  I thought the D.A. made a very strong argument here.  This was not a fight.  This was an attack on somebody.  He was no knocked down.  He was knocked unconscious.  He was kicked.  That‘s a crime.  If a D.A.  prosecutes too aggressively, that‘s why there are judges and that‘s why there are appeal courts.  But there should be no excuses for that kind of attack. 

CARLSON:  People make excuses. 

MAY:  They are making excuses and it‘s wrong and it‘s the wrong kind of case for Jesse Jackson and even Al Sharpton to be taking part in, but they look for anything to get involved, it seems to me.  And what this D.A.  also mentions is as offensive as it is—and it is to hang nooses from the tree.  And the kid who got kicked had nothing to do with that, as far as we know.  That is offensive.  But he says there is no law against it.  There is nothing I can prosecute anyone on. 

MCMAHON:  There is.  In fact—in fact, my beautiful and talented wife, whom you know well and you know well, was a former—is a former federal prosecutor, who prosecuted exactly these kind of crimes.  The difference between burning a cross in someone‘s yard and the difference between—between that and hanging a noose in the tree is a question for a jury.  There‘s a law that you can charge them with.  Anybody who takes any action to try to interfere with a federally-protected right because of race or gender or anything that is a prohibited discriminatory—or protective class—

CARLSON:  So you‘re describing the attack on this white kid. 

MCMAHON:  I‘m actually describing both them. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s a very simple question.  Which is—I think hanging a noose is something for which you ought to have your butt kicked.  OK, I think it is disgusting.  However is that worse than violence?  People are acting like that‘s worse than violence.  Violence is always the worst thing, is it not? 

MCMAHON:  Well, George H.W. Bush sent the federal prosecutors from the Justice Department down to try these kind of cases and charge people every single day. 

CARLSON:  I‘m asking you a philosophical question.  I‘m not defending. 

I think if is disgusting to hang a noose. 

MCMAHON:  It is a federal crime. 

CARLSON:  OK, that‘s great.  Is it morally worse than hitting somebody?  Isn‘t violence the worst thing?  Why we are excusing him, pretending like it‘s not a big deal?  I don‘t get it. 

MCMAHON:  I have been in hockey fights that were more—that were more dangerous than it sounds like this.  I mean I read—I read the description of the facts.  Listen—

CARLSON:  You want to say that. 

MCMAHON:  The issue this—

CARLSON:  For being white, the kid gets beaten up and we‘re like, oh, it‘s not a big deal. 

MCMAHON:  It‘s probably a hate crime and probably fits the very same statute. 

CARLSON:  But it never would prosecuted because the kid is white and you know that. 

MCMAHON:  No, Tucker it happens every single day in schools all across the country.  Nooses and crosses are different, particularly in the south. 

MAY:  But if they are different, they are different because they are. 

A noose is an incitement to violence.  That is wrong to incite violence. 

But surly carrying out the violence is immoral. 

MCMAHON:  It‘s a misdemeanor.  It‘s not a 22 year felony.   

CARLSON:  I want to be very clear, it‘s awful.  It‘s disgusting.  If my son did it, I don‘t know what I would do.  I hate it!  I‘m just saying we shouldn‘t—because we hate one thing, excuse the other. 

MAY:  It shouldn‘t be a civil rights case particularly because of that. 

MCMAHON:  I don‘t think we should excuse either thing, but I think

what we ought to do is treat them equally and appropriately.  One of them -

there‘s a federal law that was violated with the noose.  And probably the same federal law was violated because it was a racially-motivated attack. 

(CROSS TALK) 

MCMAHON:  It‘s a misdemeanor. 

CARLSON:  That‘s fine.  Rudy Giuliani, a man very familiar with prosecuting crimes, take this call from his wife the other day during a speech from the NRA; I love you dear, cringe makingly uncomfortable.  According to today‘s “Wall Street Journal” editorial page, an ally of Mr.  Giuliani‘s, not the first time he‘s done it.  He did exactly the same thing in a speech in Oklahoma recently, kept the crowd waiting as he took two different calls. 

They describe that as weird behavior.  Do you agree? 

MAY:  Weird behavior and malpractice by his advisers.  It seems to me that at some point, after the first call, someone should have said to him, you don‘t want to do that.  It doesn‘t make you look warm and cuddly.  It‘s kind of a weird thing to do.  If it was his idea, it was an awful idea.  If it was an adviser‘s idea to make him seem more human and seem like he has a great domestic relationship, that adviser really needs to go. 

CARLSON:  Boy it‘s bizarre.  Brian Baird, Democrat, I think a smart guy, pretty liberal guy.  Goes down to Iraq recently during the last recess and decides that he thinks the surge is necessary.  And he makes I think a pretty thoughtful case for it.  He comes back to his district and is just landed on by his constituents.  Here‘s what Jane Schakowsky is quoted as saying today, the Democrat from Illinois, is quoted as saying today in “The Politico,” “Baird clearly has been exploited by the administration to advance their position.  I think that was very unfortunate and frankly misguided.” 

I kind of like Jan Schakowsky, but I think that‘s a disgusting quote for the following reason; Brian Baird gains no advantage from this position.  In fact, it hurts him big time.  He is doing it anyway.  It‘s clearly a position of conscious.  Why don‘t his fellow Democrats give him credit for that? 

MCMAHON:  I think it is probably a position that he‘s taken—it‘s a position of conscience.  I think he does believe it.  And you know, he may have a Democratic primary as a result of it. 

CARLSON:  Definitely, he may lose. 

MCMAHON:  And that‘s perfectly fine.  That‘s what we have democracy for. 

CARLSON:  Why question his motives, as Democrats are doing. 

MAY:  What‘s happened here is he‘s committed a cardinal sin.  He‘s obeying his conscience, rather than obeying MoveOn.org and rather than obeying the very far left of the party.  He was against this war.  He said, nonetheless, I don‘t want to see the United States defeated because it won‘t just be George Bush‘s defeat, it will be the United States‘ defeat if we are.  What‘s more, we‘re making progress.  Let‘s give it some time and let‘s give it some resources. 

He should be able to say that without finding that all of his colleagues in Washington hate him, won‘t talk to him, shun him and consider him to be an outcast.  That is really outrageous. 

CARLSON:  I think it is too far.  Bill Clinton had his lawyer, Doug Ban (ph), pretty nice guy actually, send a very bizarre letter to the owner of a restaurant in New York City that had displayed a picture of his daughter Chelsea Clinton in it.  I want to put up text from this letter, “It has come to our attention that your restaurant, Osso Buco, has displayed a picture of Chelsea Clinton in your front window.  As you know, Miss Clinton, a private citizen, was not consulted prior to this picture being displayed.  Her permission was not given for you to do so.  While she may have dined there, she does not serve as an endorsement.  Therefore, we ask that you immediately remove this picture and any and all pictures displaying Miss Clinton.  We reserve the right to exercise any and all options available to us if you refuse to comply.”

The former president‘s going to sue Osso Buco if they keep a picture of his daughter up.  What could possibly explain behavior like this? 

MCMAHON:  I can‘t explain it.  But I can offer this observation.  I‘m just guessing that when they wrote that letter, they never dreamed you‘d find out about it.  I‘m just guessing now. 

CARLSON:  But you‘re Bill Clinton.  Anything do you—

MCMAHON:  It‘s a little bit like killing a fly with a bazooka. 

MAY:  If you don‘t like that picture, send them another picture and sign it and say, would you replace it?  This is bullying behavior of the worst sort.  And by the way, it reminds everybody of exactly the kind of thing they don‘t want.  It‘s a bad thing for Hillary.  And it‘s a stupid thing for him to do. 

CARLSON:  Cliff, we were getting along so well.  By the way, did you hear there was a debate tonight? 

(CROSS TALK)  

CARLSON:  On that high note, thank you both very much. 

Coming up, the changing face of the Democratic party, what forces are making the biggest impact on the party‘s base.  And the public has spoken; the dilemma over what to do With Barry bonds‘ record-breaking ball has been decided.  Will it be outer space or a trip to the Hall of Fame?  Willie Geist reveals that answer next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The Republican party may be a rudderless ship right now.  In fact, it is a rudderless ship right now, with a wounded president, endless scandals and worse, basic questions about what it means to be a conservative.  But what about the Democrats?  Yes, the Democrats are a lot more popular than they have been in a generation at least.  But take a closer look and a more complicated picture appeals. 

Populists, protectionist, pacifists, liberal hawks, a couple million self-styled bloggers; these are just a few of the voices fighting for air in that party.  But who speaks for the party?  In the coming years, who will define it?  Joining us now is Matt Bai, the author of an unusually smart new book called “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics.”

Matt, thanks for coming on.

MATT BAI, AUTHOR, “THE ARGUMENT”:  Any time.  How you doing, Tucker?

CARLSON:  I am doing great.  So there‘s this movement. 

BAI:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  And it is primarily, but not entirely, online.  It‘s very intense.  It feels like there is this moment.  What is it about?  What do they want? 

BAI:  That‘s a question I spent several years sort of exploring.  This goes back for me to Governor Dean in Iowa.  You recall back in 2003 and seeing the anger and the emotion from those crowds at both Republican government and at the direction of their own party, and coming back to Washington and saying something‘s going on here.  We need to understand it.  And what I have done is really, over the last few years, connect the dots of what is this first political movement of the Internet age. 

And I think it‘s in a process of figuring out what it wants.  But it‘s these donors I write about, and it‘s MoveOn and bloggers.  And a lot of it is just tactical and stylistic.  They want a Democratic party that stands up, very strongly and in a very partisan way to Republican government.  They want to be heard.  They want their anger to be voiced through their representatives and they want to roll back what they see as the conservative dismantling of government. 

CARLSON:  But this is coming at a time where—not to be too Ralph Nader about it. 

BAI:  That would be hard. 

CARLSON:  It would be hard, not that hard actually, because I agree with him on this.  There are fewer and fewer real differences between the parties.  There is a kind of consensus on some big issues and the differences are getting smaller.  It seems to me. 

BAI:  Well, it seems that way to a lot of people.  I think there is great division among shorter-term issues.  There is a tremendous amount of sharp division among the issues that will define this campaign, among Iraq, among taxes, among some domestic issues.  Those will be sorted out.  Over the long term, my essential argument in “The Argument” is that there is no longer-term vision for how you deal with the fundamental changes in government.  Because 21st-century problems are very different from 20th century problems. 

The government we are bringing to address them in the future is not fundamentally different and neither party—there is a void where neither party has really wanted to address systemic changes in the country and how you deal with them, because they‘re sort of litigating and re-litigating a lot of old battles.  And the question for a movement now to be influential, and to have a lot of impact on the direction of American government and the country as a whole, is how you want to change government to adapt to those challenges. 

CARLSON:  But, I mean, is crooks and liars and Daily Kos and fired—are these the places—are these the laboratories for coming up with a new guiding idea for a party, this or any the other? 

BAI:  I don‘t think they are yet.  But I think they can be.  And I think that you see stirrings of that on the Internet, because there are some places where people are debating a policy and larger ideas.  But you have to remember, because we focus on a couple of these blogs, and people get stereotyped.  There are an awful lot of ordinary Americans who are getting involved, getting engaged in politics, who couldn‘t five, six years ago, because of the Internet, because people who could just send a letter to their Congressman or show up at a local party meeting, suddenly can have a voice that resonates.

And they are going to get involved in this discussion.  And they have to play a role in that discussion.  The question I‘m asking is how much resources and energy can you put into talking about what is actually the future of government, instead of just the future of campaigns. 

CARLSON:  And I like political activists, even when I disagree with them.  I respect them.  I respect their sincerity and their intensity.  I feel like there are so many plain out haters right now, people who are just angry.  They‘re so mad they can‘t think straight.  Maybe they don‘t want to think straight.  And it is all about hating.  What are they so mad about? 

BAI:  Well, it is a difficult time.  It‘s heightened emotions. 

They‘re mad at me.  They‘re mad at you. 

CARLSON:  They are definitely mad at me. 

BAI:  There‘s a lot of anger out there because it‘s been a time of very close margins of power. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I agree with that. 

BAI:  Going back and forth.  It‘s a time of very divisive issues.  It‘s a time when the country faces difficult challenges that people—and very little leadership about what to do with them over time.  People have a lot of anxiety and they‘re scared and they‘re angry and they want a government that‘s more representative and I don‘t blame them. 

CARLSON:  Tight elections are a problem.  I completely agree with that.  The 2000 election, the tightness of it, you think that is part of the original problem. 

BAI:  There‘s a whole lot.  When you talk about the progressive movement in particular, and where that anger comes from, you have to remember that a lot of these folks—they‘re Baby Boomer Democrats—they sat out the ‘90s because they loved having a Democratic president, but they really were not comfortable with triangulation and Clintonism.  A lot of them did not give money, were not active. 

Then they got—what did they get?  The election in 2000, which they felt was stolen; 2002, catastrophic House and Senate elections.  And then the vote on the war, their own party.  And they‘re absolutely furious.  There‘s a scene in the book where Bill Clinton comes before a group of wealthy donors and talks about the war and they really light into him.  And he loses his temper and it‘s a very sharp exchange between them.  And I think it is quite extraordinary because it shows this deeper resentment that exists in the party. 

CARLSON:  In 30 seconds, could you get elected—could you get the nomination of the Democratic party without the help of the net roots, the online, the activists right now? 

BAI:  I don‘t know.  We don‘t know because it is a new movement.  The shortest answer is I don‘t know.  I think it is exceedingly more difficult.  I think if there is an obstacle that still exists for Hillary Clinton—and I believe it does.  I don‘t think this is over.  It is this latent resentment for the period she represents, for the ‘90s.  That‘s lying out there in the grass for her and there‘s going to come a moment where she needs to get past that. 

CARLSON:  Nobody ever brings that up.  I‘m glad you have, Matt Bai. 

The book “The Argument,” right here.  He‘s the proof, but buy it.  Thanks. 

BAI:  I appreciate it, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Paris Hilton says she‘s going to Rwanda to do her part.  Has anyone told her Rwanda is, in fact, not a new night club on Sunset?  Our chief Paris Hilton analyst Willie Geist back on the story when we return. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  If Barack Obama can‘t do it, if he can‘t stop the Hillary Clinton express, maybe Willie Geist can.  Hear to tell us, Willie Geist himself. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am up to the task, Tucker, I am sure.  I have no chance whatsoever.  Tucker, it‘s a tough day to be an athlete, I have to tell you.  Michael Vick today tested positive for marijuana.  A judge has sentenced him to house arrest from the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.  And also a tough day for Barry Bonds.  When Bonds hit his 756th career home run last month to break the most prestigious record in all of sports, many said there should be an asterisk next to his name in the record books because of his suspected steroid use. 

Just not sure they meant the asterisk should actually be on the home run ball.  Fashion designer Marc Echo (ph) bought the historic ball a few weeks ago for more than 750,000 dollars. He then conducted an online poll asking people what they thought he should do with the ball.  Well, on this morning‘s “Today Show,” Echo announced that voters decided it should have a giant asterisk stamped onto it, and then be shipped off to the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Bonds, who denies having ever taken steroids knowingly, calls Echo, quote, an idiot.  Meanwhile, the Hall of Fame says it will welcome the ball, asterisk and all.  So Tucker, this hugely important memento in sports history will sit in the Hall of Fame with a giant asterisk on it, suggesting that everyone thinks and most people know that Barry Bonds was juicing when he broke the record. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I‘m not actually sure how to pronounce asterisk. 

GEIST:  I hate that word.  God, can we just take the S out and agree that it is asterisk.  Because that S is really screwing me up. 

CARLSON:  I always thought there was an X in there. 

GEIST:  No, S-K at the end, it really screws you up.  But Barry Bonds, it is pretty clear when the forehead grew and the feet grew a couple shoe sizes when he was 38, it was pretty clear that there was going to be an asterisk next to that record. 

CARLSON:  That‘s usually a sign.

GEIST:  That‘s a little bit of a tip off at age 38. 

CARLSON:  When your forehead starts to grow at middle age. 

GEIST:  Exactly.  Well, Tucker, just when it was starting to look like there was no hope for Africa and no solutions to its countless problem, along comes Paris Hilton to quite literally save world.  Hilton tells E Online that she will travel to Rwanda later this fall, because, quote, there‘s so much need in that area, and I feel like if I go, it will bring more attention to what people can do to help.

When she got out of the jail last summer, Hilton threatened to change her partying ways and to begin to use her fame to help people.  We assumed she was kidding about that.  But it turns out Tucker, I was right all along.  In the end, Paris Hilton will change the world.  And good for her.  Tucker, as you know, I‘m the token television defender of Paris Hilton.  The easy and fashionable thing to do will be to mock her and say, what difference could she possibly make in Rwanda.  But I say, good for you, Paris Hilton. 

CARLSON:  You know what, Willie, I‘m almost there.  I have defended Larry Craig and will continue to do so.  I have defended Britney Spears.  I can‘t quite bring myself to defend Paris Hilton but maybe in time. 

GEIST:  It‘s hard.  It has taken me a few years, but I have come full circle on that.  also, I don‘t if Paris was tipped off but the genocide ended there about ten years ago. 

CARLSON:  Yes, it‘s actually I think about 13 years ago.   

GEIST:  Thirteen years ago, but she‘s a little slow on the uptake. 

But her heart is in the right place. 

Tucker, as you know, it‘s never polite to talk about a lady‘s weight.  But in this case, we just can‘t help it.  This new born weighs only slightly less than Paris Hilton.  She‘s a Russian baby named Nadia.  And she was born in Siberia last week weighing 17 pounds.  Yes, 17 pounds, as in the size of a Thanksgiving turkey that gives you plenty of left overs.  Nadia‘s the 12th child in her family.  She joins eight sisters and three brothers. 

So what‘s the secret to having a giant baby?  Nadia‘s mother says, quote, I ate everything.  We don‘t have the money for special foods.  So I just ate potatoes, noodles and tomatoes.  Now Tucker, my wife just had a child, as you know, six pounds, six ounces.  So this baby almost three times the size of mine. 

CARLSON:  That‘s incredible.  And I bet strong like bull. 

GEIST:  Yes from Siberia; you have to be strong, don‘t you? 

CARLSON:  Strong like bull. 

GEIST:  From the biggest baby in the world, Tucker, we go to the oldest senator in the United States 89-year-old Robert Byrd, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, listened to testimony from Defense Secretary Robert Gates among others this afternoon about new funding for the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.  A group of anti-war protesters showed up at the hearing and with gavel in hand, Byrd decided, he did not want their help. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA:  I‘ve tolerated all I can stand.  I‘ve stopped it before you were born and I said stop it before you were ever born.  I said don‘t go into it before you were ever born.  Get out of this place.  Here, let‘s go. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  I‘m not entirely sure what he said, Tucker, but I know I was amused.  Something about before you were born.  I don‘t know. 

CARLSON:  He is—when his dog died, he got up on the floor of the Senate and gave this—oh—eulogy for his dog that made up for all his sins, which are many. 

GEIST:  Nothing if not entertaining. 

CARLSON:  Great.  Willie Geist, thanks a lot, Willie.  Thank you for joining us.  We appreciate it.  We‘ll be back here tomorrow.  Hope to see you then.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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