updated 2/29/2008 11:13:40 AM ET 2008-02-29T16:13:40

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Barack Obama hasn‘t won the Democratic nomination yet, but thanks to President Bush it became even clearer today how the Republicans plan to take him on this fall. 

Welcome to the show. 

Over the course of the campaign, Senator Obama has said repeatedly that if elected president he will open direct negotiations with our enemies without preconditions.  John McCain and Hillary Clinton both have painted Obama as naive for that position. 

At a morning press conference, President Bush offered his opinion of the strategy generally if not of Obama directly. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Sitting down at a table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him.  He gains a lot from it by saying, “Look at me.  I‘m now recognized by the president of the United States.” 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  In a moment, Barack Obama‘s senior foreign policy adviser Susan Rice answers the broad criticism of her candidate‘s approach to our enemies. 

Also today we‘ll discuss the mounting pressure on African-American superdelegates like Congressman John Lewis of Georgia to switch their endorsements from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama.  The congressman described the Obama campaign as, quote, “the beginning of a new movement in American political history that began in the hearts and minds of the people of this nation.” 

John Lewis wants to be on the side of those people.  Will his superdelegate—fellow superdelegates follow and make the same move?  We‘ll tell you. 

We‘ll also examine Hillary Clinton‘s final win-or-go-home strategy in the states of Ohio and Texas.  Her campaign is spending every last dime in those two states as new polls show tighter and tighter races.  The furious push happens as Pennsylvania governor and Clinton supporter Ed Rendell says failure in either one, Ohio or Texas, would mean his candidate wouldn‘t make it to Pennsylvania. 

Are these the dying days of Hillary Clinton‘s campaign or the darkness before the dawn of her political renaissance? 

Pat Buchanan and Bill Press join us in a moment. 

We begin with the news of the day, the fight over Barack Obama‘s foreign policy.  Joining us now is one of the people who formulate that policy, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, Susan Rice. 

Susan, thanks for coming on. 

SUSAN RICE, OBAMA SR. FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR:  Good to be with you. 

CARLSON:  So Tuesday night during the debate, Barack Obama said during

in response to Hillary Clinton‘s claim that he wanted to bomb Pakistan, he said, look, wherever al Qaeda is we can respond.  We have the morale right to do so.  For instance, he said, if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq we‘ll do something about it. 

Well, the following day, yesterday, John McCain comes out and says if al Qaeda is in Iraq?  If?  To which Obama said this in response to John McCain.  Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  I do know that al Qaeda is in Iraq, and that‘s why I‘ve said we should continue to strike al Qaeda targets.  But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.  They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11.  That would be al Qaeda in Afghanistan that is stronger now than at any time since 2001.  I‘ve been paying attention, John McCain. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  OK.  I‘ll concede the second part of that that there wasn‘t a sizable contingent of al Qaeda in Iraq until we invaded.  I‘ll concede that.  Here‘s what confuses me, is the first part.  He said, “I said we should continue to strike al Qaeda targets in Iraq.” 

I thought he wanted to pull us out of Iraq? 

RICE:  Well, the hypothetical question that was posed to him was, once U.S. forces were all out of Iraq, if there was an insurrection or a civil war, would you be prepared to go back in?  And what Barack Obama said, he says as commander in chief, of course, I reserve the right to do what‘s necessary to protect our interests.  And if al Qaeda were forming a base inside of Iraq we would deal with it. 

So that was the hypothetical answer.  Obviously he knows that there‘s al Qaeda in Iraq which is why his Iraq plan that he put out over a year ago leaves behind after the withdrawal of American combat brigades a residual in Iraq and in the region that is capable and would be mandated to go after al Qaeda cells. 

So that‘s his approach. 

CARLSON:  But those would be combat forces. 

RICE:  No.  You can do that through Special Forces.  You can do that through a variety of means.  You can do it through covert means. 

CARLSON:  But you got to have people with guns in order fight al Qaeda. 

RICE:  You have to have people who are capable of doing targeted counterterrorism operations. 

CARLSON:  Right.  OK.  But so. 

RICE:  You can do that in a variety of ways. 

CARLSON:  OK.  OK.  But they‘ve got to be armed men out to kill people. 

RICE:  Or women or. 

CARLSON:  That‘s not the same. 

RICE:  Or whatever.  But the point is. 

CARLSON:  Are you going to put women in the field teams now? 

RICE:  We—the point is that we will have the capability after the withdrawal of our combat brigades to continue targeted counterterrorism operations inside of Iraq. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But that‘s not a withdrawal of all combat forces. 

RICE:  No.  But. 

CARLSON:  You‘re leaving forces that are preparing for combat.  I don‘t know.  I mean that‘s not a semantic difference.  That‘s a real difference. 

RICE:  As I said, Tucker, you know, there are different ways to do it, whether you have formed combat brigades, which is what Barack Obama has said he would remove or smaller units that are special forces and others, which are typically what we use to do counterterrorism operations. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

RICE:  That‘s to be determined.  But there—his plan is that we‘ll take our combat brigades out at the pace of one to two a month with the aim of having them out within 16 months.  That‘s a pace that our military leaders say is manageable, reasonable and safe for our forces. 

Barack Obama‘s plan has always contemplated a small residual behind in Iraq and in the region that can do two critical things.  One is, obviously, protect our embassy and remaining civilians.  And the other is to continue counterterrorism operations. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So I just—I mean my question is really a political one as well.  Do you think that the anti-Iraq voters, who are supporting Barack Obama understand clearly that under an Obama administration, there would still be Americans firing guns in Iraq? 

RICE:  There would still be Americans doing targeted counterterrorism ops.  And he‘s said that repeatedly. 

CARLSON:  OK.  OK. 

RICE:  He‘s been very clear so I hope people are paying attention. 

CARLSON:  All right.  The other sort of contra top over Barack Obama‘s foreign policy positions is long-standing, and that his policy, proposed policy to meet with people who don‘t like us without preconditions.  The president came out and said, I‘m not going to play the sound bite, you probably saw it, and said look, that‘s a foolish idea.  It reduces our prestige and you‘re not getting anything by doing it. 

Part of that‘s correct.  Why wouldn‘t we attach a precondition to meeting with people who hate us?  Why not get something out of that? 

RICE:  For the same reason that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy didn‘t.  They all negotiated with our adversaries—China, the Soviet Union—and we‘ve made some progress in fact.  This notion of George Bush‘s, and it‘s really unique to him, that somehow we are rewarding our adversaries by sitting down and engaging in tough-minded, well-prepared negotiations is one of the many products of his failed presidency. 

If John McCain wants to take his foreign policy advice from the most disastrous president in our lifetime, that‘s his prerogative, but Barack Obama is not going to do that. 

CARLSON:  But doesn‘t a meeting with the American head of state have value?  It‘s a commodity, it‘s worth something. 

RICE:  It is a means to an end.  If it means to. 

CARLSON:  But is it also worth something? 

RICE:  It is a means to an end, Tucker.  That—first of all, these negotiations would be well planned.  But we‘re not going to take the view that the Bush administration has taken that if—that the—we‘re only going to negotiate with our adversaries after they do what we—what it is we seek to accomplish in negotiations. 

That‘s the position we‘ve taken with Iran.  We won‘t sit down and talk with you until you‘ve ended and suspended your nuclear program, which is, of course, what we need them to do.  That‘s counter-productive.  That assume—that ensures that we‘ll never have direct dialogue with Iran.  Whereas they are continuing their nuclear program unabated, we‘re having trouble getting sanctions, which we need to push forward on, and we are therefore losing because time is on the Iranian side. 

Now the Bush administration hasn‘t applied this foolish policy consistently.  They have negotiated finally and belatedly with North Korea.  And as a consequence we‘ve made some progress with North Korea.  It‘s not done, it‘s not complete but we‘re a lot further along than we were before. 

CARLSON:  But they already have the bomb so... 

RICE:  Well, no, but the whole point of the negotiation is to roll that back so you know. 

CARLSON:  Very quickly, there‘s this kind of minor (INAUDIBLE) brewing on the Internet about Senator Obama‘s remarks about NAFTA during the debate on Tuesday night. 

CTV, a television station in Canada, reported that someone from the Obama campaign, high level, called the Canadian ambassador to Washington before the debate and said, look, we‘re going to attack NAFTA.  Be assured we don‘t really mean it. 

Was there any contact between anyone in the Obama campaign and anyone in the Canadian government about NAFTA? 

RICE:  Well, the Canadian ambassador issued a statement saying that that story was absolutely false.  There had been no such contact.  There had been no discussions on NAFTA.  So we take the Canadian‘s (INAUDIBLE) at their word. 

CARLSON:  Period. 

RICE:  Period.  That‘s what he said. 

CARLSON:  You‘d take the Canadian‘s—will that be your policy?  Do you believe that in the Obama administration, take the Canadians at their word? 

RICE:  I—you know what? 

CARLSON:  And is that a wise policy? 

RICE:  If we can take the Canadians at their word, we‘re all in trouble. 

CARLSON:  We may be. 

Susan Rice, thank you very much. 

RICE:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Barack Obama has gained superdelegates in significant numbers since Super Tuesday.  He‘s even had a few defections from Hillary Clinton‘s campaign including prominent congressman John Lewis of Georgia.  Will we be seeing more of this?  More of Clinton‘s African-American supports defecting? 

Plus it‘s often said that politics is all about addition.  So to Bill Clinton 1,000 really more like 5,000.  Details in a moment. 

You‘re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA:  Forty-three years ago I marched across the bridge in Selma.  That was much easier than the decision that I have to make.  But I had to make it. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  You‘re saying this decision was harder than the Selma March? 

LEWIS:  It was much tougher. 

MITCHELL:  Congressman, you got your head beaten in.  Your face was covered with blood. 

LEWIS:  But this is tougher.  I‘m dealing with friends, people that I love.  People that I admire.  Part of my extended family. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You heard that right.  The march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge was easier than throwing his support behind Barack Obama.  A remarkable statement from John Lewis and it may represent the beginning of a wave of superdelegates doing exactly the same thing, abandoning Hillary Clinton and going to Barack Obama.  Will it? 

Joining us now, we are proud to welcome MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press. 

Pat, this—I mean, it‘s—well, first, the political implications of this. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, it‘s a break in the dam. 

And I think you‘re going to see other people moving in that direction. 

But I‘ll be honest, I don‘t think it‘s a proud moment for John Lewis. 

I mean, look, he gave his loyalty to Hillary Rodham Clinton, all right?  Barack Obama won that district.  Supposed John Edwards won it, would he have shifted to Edwards?  He said it wasn‘t politics or pressure.  That suggests to me that he can‘t stand up to the heat from African-Americans in his district and in the country. 

And I think it‘s a diminishing thing because you give your word, you ought to go down to defeat with your candidate.  And I don‘t know why he didn‘t.  Hillary is at the critical moment in the fight.  Looks like she‘s not going to win.  And you choose this moment to walk away from someone who really needs loyalty at this moment and has done nothing to deserve to lose it. 

I don‘t think it‘s a good moment for John Lewis at all. 

CARLSON:  No.  I agree with that.  And I don‘t think it‘s impressive.  I do think that there are probably an awful lot of forces on poor Congressman Lewis.  I feel for him.  I wouldn‘t want to be in that position.  He‘s a challenger apparently in the primary for the first time in a long time who has said pointblank, “I‘m doing this because he‘s not supporting Barack Obama.” 

BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST:  Yes.  Yes, I agree—well, Pat and I, I think, grew up in the same school of politics, which is you pick your friends and you stick with them.  You stick with them as long as they need you.  And then if it doesn‘t work out, then, you know, you just picked the wrong horse. 

But I have to say, I think this is part of a broader movement.  I mean I talked to a lot of Democrats in the last few weeks.  I mean people have a feeling that the train is leaving the station and you better be on the train. 

CARLSON:  If you want to be ambassador to Belgium, sign up now. 

PRESS:  You better be on the train if—when it leaves the station or you may never get on it.  And it‘s happening.  It‘s not just the black caucus.  I mean John—I think John Lewis is going to have an enormous influence on members of the black caucus but it‘s across the board.  And it‘s not just superdelegates.  You know it‘s just average voters all the way up to elected officials, some of whom haven‘t endorsed yet and some of whom think they picked the wrong horse.  And they feel they better get there. 

CARLSON:  I think John Lewis‘s spokesman owes “The New York Times” an apology.  He gave an interview to “The New York Times” a little over a week ago in which he said basically the same thing.  It came out—there was an uproar.  The Clinton people leaned on him, and he sent his spokesman out and his spokesman came out anyway and accused “The New York Times” and the Associated Press of somehow misreading what he said, which in retrospect was completely not true.  They‘re obviously reading it correctly.

PRESS:  Yes, they got it right. 

BUCHANAN:  I can‘t wait until after the Texas and Ohio sort of decides things.  It‘s a couple of days or even after Pennsylvania before he does this.  The truth is, Tucker, I think John Lewis would have been far more respected if he stood there alone. 

CARLSON:  Sure. 

BUCHANAN:  .with Hillary Clinton, even if she goes down to defeat then says Obama, if you don‘t want my support, fine, I‘ll give you everything I can in the general if you win.  But—I mean I was—you know I know—I didn‘t know him personally, but I knew John Lewis very well back in the 1960s.  I was at march on Washington.  And I don‘t think this is in character of what he represented at least then. 

CARLSON:  Well, there‘s—he, as he said, in that clip, kind of an amazing clip with Andrea Mitchell, has, I think, really a legitimate personal connection with the Clintons.  He knows them well, he spent a lot of time with them.  He‘s a little bit different than a lot of Democrats here in Washington.  I am surprised by the thinness of the loyalty to the Clintons.  Everybody thought they had—you know, the bulk of Democratic mockers were sort of indebted to them.  But it turns out, not so. 

PRESS:  Which is why I have never felt this superdelegate thing is going to blow up to be the problem that some people fear that it‘s going to be because these superdelegates, all of them, I think all of them, are elected officials or appointed officials.  They go where the wind is blowing.  And if they feel that Barack Obama really has—that he‘s, in effect, the nominee of the party, they‘re going to go with him. 

CARLSON:  It kind of makes you wonder. 

PRESS:  No matter what they said about Hillary Clinton. 

CARLSON:  .Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

BUCHANAN:  What bill is saying all the elected leaders and the party officials of his party are opportunists. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  When (INAUDIBLE) they ride it. 

PRESS:  I would just say—but no, not just in my party. 

CARLSON:  Not just in your party.  But it‘s—pretty repulsive if you think about it. 

Here I am sympathizing with Hillary Clinton but I do sympathize.  So a lot of donors do, apparently, because Hillary Clinton raised $35 million this month, more than a million a day.  Reportedly she‘s spending all of it or nearly all of it trying to win in Ohio and Texas.  What happens after that? 

Plus New York mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is not running for president.  He does plan to endorse one of the candidates.  Who will that be?  How much will it matter? 

We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  She was once a sure thing but now Hillary Clinton‘s campaign has been forced to throw the kitchen sink at Barack Obama as polls in Ohio and Texas grow closer. 

What form is that sink taking?  And will it be enough to win or at least revive her chances? 

Back with us MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press. 

Bill, they are putting everything into Ohio and Texas.  She raised 35 million bucks. 

PRESS:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Which I think, you know, it‘s a lot less than Obama has raised, a lot less.  But still, for someone who nobody believes can win, it‘s pretty amazing fundraising. 

PRESS:  I don‘t think she has any choice.  I think Hillary is still in this game. 

CARLSON:  The donors have a choice.  They are giving her money. 

PRESS:  They had given her money, which is a sign there‘s still a lot of loyal Hillary people out there. 

CARLSON: Yes. 

PRESS:  There are—still a lot of loyal Hillary voters.  I think she‘s going to win Ohio.  I think she‘s going to win—let‘s not forget Rhode Island. 

CARLSON:  You honestly believe she‘s going to win Ohio? 

PRESS:  I do.  I think she‘s going to win Rhode Island.  And I think you can make a case that if she wins Ohio and Rhode Island, that‘s enough to keep her in this race.  The problem is, as I see it, it‘s hard to make that case when her husband has already gone out and said, “If we don‘t win Ohio and Texas we‘re out of the game.” 

CARLSON:  And not just her husband but the governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, who I believe was the first Democrat back in 2000 to tell Al Gore to stop contesting Florida.  So many Florida Democrats hated him but he—he has come out and said she‘s got to win Texas and Ohio or she‘s not going to make it in Pennsylvania. 

PRESS:  And she will win Pennsylvania so. 

BUCHANAN:  That sounds like Ed Rendell didn‘t want to go down the tubes in Pennsylvania as the leader of the (INAUDIBLE). 

CARLSON:  That kind of sounds that way, yes. 

BUCHANAN:  But I—you know, I agree with Bill.  Look, Ronald Reagan, he came back on Ford.  But he was behind Ford, I think. 

PRESS:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  .must have been 100 delegates or so, or something like that, Tucker, going into the convention out there in Kansas City and he stayed in there and he went to the convention and lost on the floor and then went down and endorsed the guy.  So I don‘t know why she‘s got to do it, other than all these pressures we see, get out, because we‘ve got to get behind Barack and all the rest of it.  Under normal conditions, I don‘t know why she should get out before this thing plays itself out. 

CARLSON:  You know, Harold Ickes is quoted today in the paper, as saying, she‘s better than her campaign.  Campaign is lettered down.  You‘re hearing that referring from Democrats all over town.  I think it‘s total crapola actually.  I think her campaign has been run fairly well.  I think she‘s up against a candidate who‘s better that she is, who has a broader appeal than she does, who‘s just fundamentally a more appealing guy. 

PRESS:  First of all, I don‘t know anybody who knows nuts and bolts politics better than Harold Ickes or. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

PRESS:  .who is better at it.  I think he‘s right on.  I think her campaign has served her very, very poorly.  Her campaign staff.  I think she started out with the wrong strategy, she started out with the wrong message, they squandered the resources. 

Look, she‘s the candidates so the candidate ultimately is responsible.  But I don‘t know whether you can sue for political malpractice.  But if I were Hillary, I‘d sue Mark Penn for political malpractice. 

CARLSON:  Boy, he is the most hated man in Washington. 

What do you think, Pat, of her sort of new John Edwards turn.  She started a poverty tour, kind of, you know, remembering the least among us.  It‘s going to cost $5 to $6 billion she said.  Where is that money going to come from in a time of recession?  She‘s going to make the IRS tougher.  She‘s—all those uncollected taxes out there.  I mean. 

BUCHANAN:  Look, she‘s trying on a new role every night.  It‘s just not credible.  You know she‘s a different Hillary every day, every—and something like that, I think, is not credible.  I think it‘s a problem.  I do think she—her campaign—the strategy—of course she‘s ultimately responsible for it.  I mean she‘s no novice in campaigning.  She‘s responsible for her strategy.  I think it was designed to have her win this thing and wipe him out by February 5th

PRESS:  But they. 

BUCHANAN:  And Barack Obama is the one guy who‘s got the base to go after February 5th.  And that‘s appalling to someone of her experience. 

PRESS:  They made early on—we talked about this so many times—the decision that her long suit was her experience, her expertise. 

CARLSON:  Right.

PRESS:  .and the country was looking for something different and Barack Obama picked it up with change.  She could have started out.  She started out as the candidate of change, which she could really represent, I think, legitimately, she‘d be way out.  She‘d have left him in the dust. 

CARLSON:  I think that the problem is deeper than that. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  This is the kind of candidate who says things, frankly, aren‘t believable.  I‘m going to reorganize health care but add not a single new bureaucrat.  Not one.  That‘s a crock.  I‘m going to spend $6 billion on the poor but not raise taxes.  I‘m going to take that money from uncollected taxes, which is somehow been missing, like gleaning, falling wheat off the (INAUDIBLE) room floor.  That‘s just not true. 

PRESS:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  Yes, getting fraud, waste and abuse. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly—like the Republicans used to say, we‘re going to make it up in fraud, waste and abuse. 

BUCHANAN:  (INAUDIBLE) 

CARLSON:  We‘re going to stop buying $10,000 toilet seats.  Come on. 

PRESS:  Tucker, Tucker, the results of the primaries do not reflect anybody looking at all of those of details of this program or that program.  I mean, come on. 

CARLSON:  Oh I agree, I agree.  But no, I agree. 

PRESS:  It‘s based on the two personalities because you‘re right. 

CARLSON:  But she‘s not believable. 

PRESS:  The one overwhelming personality. 

CARLSON:  She is.  That‘s all I‘m saying.  She is not as good as he is.  And I don‘t care how brilliant you are, I don‘t think, you could make her better than him. 

BUCHANAN:  It‘s very difficult.  But I will say that she doesn‘t have

she didn‘t come in with a big message. 

PRESS:  That‘s the point. 

BUCHANAN:  It‘s imperative we nominate Hillary for this reason.  And what is it?  I‘ve got more experience than anybody else in the party?  I‘m better qualified?  You need a message. 

CARLSON:  No, no, no, it‘s not that. 

BUCHANAN:  You need a message. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve got the principle not to release my tax returns until I‘m the winning nominee.  That was the winning message. 

PRESS:  She went out from the beginning with the wrong message. 

BUCHANAN:  You better not be in Texas, Tucker.  You‘ll be in trouble. 

CARLSON:  I‘m in trouble.  I‘ll be the first one to be audited. 

Hillary Clinton and John McCain both have years of experience in the federal government.  Barack Obama, not so much.  What matters more in a president, experience or character? 

Plus the FBI is investigating whether baseball great Roger Clemens lied to Congress about taking performance enhancing drugs.  Why is Congress getting involved in a question like that?  Let‘s step back for a moment and feel outraged. 

You‘re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent‘s youth and inexperience.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  If anyone knew how to diffuse a sticky issue with  wit, it was Ronald Reagan.  Age versus youth, experience versus character; that issue comes up in every campaign that features a newcomer pitted against an established political veteran.  Hillary Clinton has failed to bury Obama with her experience pitch, but John McCain will surely take the same tack if Barack Obama becomes the nominee. 

But, which is more important, standing back, experience or character?  Does it matter to voters and will it work against Obama.  Here again, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press. 

Bill, here is what confuses me: Democrats, who have said for seven years, with some justification, maybe it was a mistake to elect a guy who didn‘t really know anything about the rest of the world and had no experience running a foreign policy apparatus, president.  Now they are blindly running toward Barack Obama, who has even less experience than George W. Bush.  Why? 

PRESS:  Because it worked in 2000 and we‘re hoping it will work in 2008. 

CARLSON:  Finally, an honest man. 

PRESS:  Let me just say, there is something to it.  Look, we all want a president with experience, particularly in these troubled times. 

CARLSON:  No, we don‘t. 

PRESS:  But I‘m not—experience alone, we‘ve learned, doesn‘t get you to the job.  I wouldn‘t say it‘s experience versus character.  I think it‘s experience versus likability or charisma and popular appeal.  And Obama has got it and Hillary Clinton doesn‘t.  And I think this election is not going to be determined on the issues at all.  I think it‘s going to be determined on the personalities. 

CARLSON:  As if it ever is.  I agree with you.  It‘s always on that.  Pat, you know, my theory is we never care about experience unless the bombs are falling, at which point we want it.  But other than that, we don‘t care. 

BUCHANAN:  You make a very good point.  If there‘s a sudden terrorist attack on this country, I think the country will move right to McCain.  what the Republicans have got to do is not simply inexperience.  That doesn‘t do it.  You‘ve got to portray him as naive.  I will say this, Bush hammered him today on meeting with foreign evil dictators without preparation because he‘s given them something.  And who did Bush pick?  Raul Castro. 

This is a move on South Florida to lock it up for John McCain.  That‘s why he didn‘t pick Ahmadinejad or somebody else.  Straight to south Florida. 

(CROSS TALK)

PRESS:  This ludicrous, weak-chinned loser who inherited Cuba, who is a cross dresser. 

PRESS:  That policy is 50 years old.  That dog—

BUCHANAN:  One more time, it will work.

PRESS:  No, no, no.  That dog don‘t hunt anymore.  Raul Castro has already said, he wants to improve relations with the United States.  He‘s already made an opening.  We‘d be nuts not to take advantage of that. 

(CROSS TALK)

BUCHANAN:  You‘re talking policy.  I‘m talking politics.  Do you think Raul Castro is a big deal in the United States because he wants to talk? 

PRESS:  No, I‘m talking politics, too.  That dog don‘t hunt anymore.  People are ready to normalize relations with Cuba, even you turned around on this issue. 

BUCHANAN:  If I were running, I wouldn‘t be over there, Bill. 

CARLSON:  I can‘t resist doing this.  This is really apropos of nothing.  This comes from the “New York Observer,” and it‘s a profile of Mark Penn, who we noted a moment ago, maybe the single least popular person in American politics, I think unfairly.  A source in the campaign, speaking in background, said Mr. Penn‘s philosophy was perfectly represented by a comment he made during one of Mrs. Clinton‘s debate preps at campaign headquarters.  Fifteen staffers in a room discussing how to position Mrs.  Clinton; one of the aides, the source recalled, had an idea.  I think you need to show a little humanity, said the aide. 

Mr. Penn interjected, come on, being human is overrated.  Fantastic.

PRESS:  May I ask, what‘s the alternative? 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  Being robotic and humorless.  How is that working out for you?  Speaking of Mrs. Clinton, this is a terrifically interesting story, I think.  I believe this happened today out on the campaign trail in Texas. A supporter of Mrs. Clinton named Adelfo Caleho (ph) spoke to reporters and said this; she said, I‘m for Hillary Clinton because African-Americans never help Hispanics when they gain power and influence.  She would never vote for Obama. 

She said, quote, “Obama‘s problem is that he happens to be black.” 

Mrs. Clinton was told what this women said, what do you think of this? 

Mrs. Clinton responded, people have every reason to express their opinions.  I just don‘t agree with that.  I think we should be looking for individuals who are running.  Do you still want her support, asked reporters?  Mrs. Clinton laughed, and said, you know, this is a free country.  People get to express their opinions. 

Wait, said the reporter, you criticized Obama for not rejecting support from Farrakhan.  I don‘t see any comparison at all, said Hillary Clinton. 

BUCHANAN:  Do you reject and denounce this Hispanic lady?

CARLSON:  That‘s unbelievable.

BUCHANAN:  I know it is.  We‘re going to be in for it.  If you‘ve got this kind of identity politics in the race already and it‘s in the Democratic party, wait until they get going with the Republican party back and forth.  This is all we‘re talking about. 

CARLSON:  Isn‘t this what Democrats get for 40 years of pushing multi-culturalism nonsense, identity politics, grouping people by race and gender, and now they are reaping the whirlwind. 

PRESS:  Don‘t try to make a big thing of this.  First of all, I just got to say, between John McCain‘s apology and Barack Obama‘s apology and Hillary Clinton‘s eventual, which she did—an aide eventually came out and said, she did reject and denounce this remark.  We‘re having a lot of apologies lately, with all these spokespeople. 

But, you know what, don‘t make a bigger picture.  This is just one person who made an outrageous remark.  Hillary should have denounced it right away. 

BUCHANAN:  Did you see Howard Dean, though? 

CARLSON:  Let‘s put it up on the screen, Howard Dean‘s remarks.  I have it right here.  He was at Georgetown.  This is from the “Georgetown Voice,” Dean contrasted the two party‘s presidential candidates.  He said that “with a woman and an African-American as the two front-runners, the Democratic field, quote, looks like America, while the all white male Republican field looks like the 1950s and talks like the 1850s. 

I must say, I‘m not going to sit by a single more time and listen to someone slag on, quote, white men.  Television hosts do that. 

BUCHANAN:  I am offended by this.  What did white males do?  They were the only guys signing the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, all the dead at Gettysburg, all the dead at Normandy.  Why is it, Bill, OK to mock, backhand the white males.  No wonder you‘re losing white males. 

PRESS:  What do you have, white guilt? 

(CROSS TALK)

PRESS:  No, Howard Dean told the truth.  If you look at the Democrats on stage when they are up there, you had a Latino; you had an African-American; you had a woman; you had young; you had old, and then you contrast that with the ten Republican all white men over 50. 

BUCHANAN:  He didn‘t say all ten.  He said these two look like America.  In other words, it‘s not just—every president has been a white male, Bill, every one. 

PRESS:  Pat, he said Democratic candidates.  It is true, if you look at the diversity, if you look at this country, Pat, at the population of this country, they are all not all older white men. 

(CROSS TALK)  

CARLSON:  Let me say this, I think—people say, you‘re a white man, that‘s why you‘re defending white men.  Actually, I‘m being sincere.  I‘m defending this purely on principle.  I don‘t think you ought to cavalierly attack people based on their race or gender.  Consider if that was any other group, this group is so-and-so, or such and such; there would be an uproar. 

I think, when you allow this—Howard Dean is not very smart.  He gets kind of a pass, but a lot of smart people say this sort of thing. 

PRESS:  He is telling the truth.  It‘s the same thing, when you look at the floor of the Democratic convention, and look at the great diversity on the floor, in terms of men and women and people of color, and then look at the floor of the Republican convention, and it looks like the white person society meeting with hardly not that many women and hardly any minorities at all.  One reflects America and the other doesn‘t.   

CARLSON:  You‘re right that it is much more diverse, the Democratic convention.  I‘ve been to all of them in the past 15, 20 years.  There‘s a hostility toward white men that‘s not even cloaked, and that, by the way, is wrong.  It‘s immoral to attack people because of their skin color. 

PRESS:  There is no hostility toward white men.  You guys—

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  I hear it at work.  I hear it here.  I hear it in politics. 

BUCHANAN:  You‘re saying because it‘s a woman and an African-American, only those two, it is morally superior in some way to the Republicans because their candidates are white males. 

PRESS:  May I say this as clearly as I can?  If you want to reflect what this country is all about, OK, you don‘t put ten old white men on the stage, period. 

BUCHANAN:  Look, they didn‘t put them on.  These are guys who ran for the nomination of the party.  I will remind you, every single president has been a white male.  Is that wrong? 

PRESS:  That‘s going to change this year.  We‘re going to have a woman or we‘re going to have an African-American as president.  It will change this year. 

CARLSON:  Let me just bring up one final white man, and that‘s Roger Clemens, the baseball great.  This has been bothering me for the past two weeks.  Where does Congress get off bothering Roger Clemens about his vitamin and/or steroid regimen. 

BUCHANAN:  Congress should have nothing to do with that.  Baseball should clean it up.  Where it got into a problem was apparently he challenged Mitchell‘s group, which was sent by Congress to investigate.  I agree with you, Tucker. 

Look, let‘s get out of it.  If they have a messed up baseball system, let the commissioner clean it up and baseball clean it up and the fans decide whether they did.  Keep Congress out of it completely.  Keep government out of it.  There‘s no need to do that. 

CARLSON:  I bet you agree.  Who is the constituency for Congress overstepping its bounds. 

PRESS:  Could I humbly suggest that ending the Iraq war, doing something about global warming, or doing something about health care are more important issues than whether or not Roger Clemens takes steroids. 

CARLSON:  Coming up with a new Susan B. Anthony dollar is more important than that, pasting ceremonial resolutions is more, anything is more important than harassing baseball players. 

PRESS:  I don‘t get it.  I think they have more important fish to fry. 

We agree on that point. 

BUCHANAN:  I think even the Democratic chairman was wondering at the end why they were all up there, didn‘t he?  Waxman?  Or does he like to investigate that stuff too? 

PRESS:  He‘s the top cop of the House.  I don‘t know how this thing came about.  Henry Waxman is usually—

CARLSON:  Bring back Ken Starr.  At least the sex investigations were kind of interesting.  The steroids stuff is boring. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Bill, Pat, thank you very much. 

Do the crowds and the calls for change actually create a backlash against Barack Obama.  How the politics of hope may become a bust. 

From the Eiffel Tower to the Sears Tower, the guy has scaled the side of more buildings and bridges and just about anything else you can imagine.  Our very own urban climbing expert, Bill Wolff, tells us where he‘s heading next, a building near you.  Be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope.  In the end that is god‘s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  It‘s hard to believe it‘s only been three years since Barack Obama made that speech.  It‘s almost harder to believe that when he gave those words on the floor of the Democratic Convention in Boston, it was actually as an endorsement of John Kerry and John Edwards. 

Obama-mania has since swept the country.  And his followers, intoxicated by his message, have been filling up stadiums, chanting, yes, we can in unison.  Yes we can, what though?  And is optimism enough? 

Our next guest responds, yes, we can‘t, and suggests that historically speaking, the politics of hope have often been a bust.  Joining me now to explain is professors of history at Cooper Union, contributing editor to the “City Journal,” all around smart guy, Fred Siegel.  Fred, thanks for coming on. 

FRED SIEGEL, “CITY JOURNAL”:  Thanks for having me, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  You point out the example of Deval Patrick, now the governor of Massachusetts, close friend of Barack Obama, from whom he has borrowed some rhetoric, as someone whose politics of hope have not panned out as expected. 

SIEGEL:  That‘s right.  Deval Patrick and Barack Obama are peas in a pod.  Deval is the first African-American governor of Massachusetts.  They have the same campaign manager, the same slogan.  In many ways, the Deval Patrick 2006 gubernatorial race was the dry run for the Obama presidential race.  Once he‘s been in office, the old bulls in the Massachusetts legislature, all Democrats, have not cooperated with him.  He has gotten no major legislation through. 

He has, however, bought a fancy new car for himself.  Romney used a Ford, he used a Cadillac.  So he is jokingly being called Coupe Deval. 

Much more important, like Obama, Deval Patrick is enthralled to the teachers unions.  In 2005, 2006, 2007,  Massachusetts led the country in educational improvement, led the country in all four major categories.  The organization that helped allow this to happen, the organization that made sure the tests in Massachusetts were on the up and up, is being deconstructed, dismantled by Deval Patrick.  That evidently is his version of the politics of hope. 

CARLSON:  I thought Barack Obama was at least open to innovation in education, open to throwing of the orthodoxy of teachers union, looking at vouchers, looking at merit pay.  Is that not true? 

SIEGEL:  Those are a few verbal faints early in the campaign.  Patrick, when he governed, engaged in those same verbal feints.  When a guy like Obama says the problem with education is money, when educational expenditures have increased dramatically, almost doubled in the last 20 years in real terms, it‘s hard to see him as credible on this subject. 

CARLSON:  Huh.  So is it the promise of hope that is itself the problem or is it just the fact it‘s a nothing burger. 

SIEGEL:  Well, the politics of hope asks more from politics than politics can deliver.  If you want transcendence, go to church or synagogue.  Politics does not provide for transcendence.  What‘s likely to happen if Obama is elected is there will be an enormous letdown.  Think about this for a minute.  Here is a guy who says I‘m an internationalist, who wants to unilaterally invalidate our trade treaties with two of our largest trading partners.  The realities of government and the poetry of campaigning have very little to do with each other. 

CARLSON:  How can we know what Barack Obama will do if elected?  If you‘re listening to an Obama speech, what should you look for to get an indication of what kind of president he will be? 

SIEGEL:  You should look for some hint of being realistic.  During the last debate, where Hillary Clinton was given a variety of lines she could have knocked out of the park, Obama said democracy in Pakistan will make it easier for us to fight terrorism.  Exactly the opposite.  The two parties that just beat Musharraf wants less American involvement.  They want to give Waziristan and the Taliban more economy.  There is a lack of intelligence in the campaign. 

Let me give you one other example.  Here is a guy who says he‘ll negotiate with Ahmadinejad without preconditions.  But when he‘s asked if he‘ll keep his pledge to maintain public finance, he says he‘ll have to negotiate with McCain over whether to keep that pledge.  Had Hillary Clinton made that point, this might look like a different race today. 

CARLSON:  Good for him she‘s pretty lame.  Mr. Siegel, thanks a lot. 

SIEGEL:  Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  If there was ever an authority on drug use and it‘s affect, it would have to be Keith Richards.  So pay attention to what he‘s saying to kids.  His somewhat surprising comments coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  That‘s the news from Washington tonight.  For a view from the heartland, we go now to Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  Yes, the heart of Manhattan, the heartland of Manhattan, Tucker.  Here in Manhattan, parenting is just about a competitive sport.  From the time the kids are conceived, they are preparing them to be ballerinas and Mandarin interpreters and all that other kind of business. 

There‘s a kid in Lubbock, Texas, who has got them beat.  She is 17-months-old, and, ladies and gentlemen, she can read.  That child right there can read.  She puts her eyes to the paper and out come the words.  She also understands sign language.  So she is bilingual.  If she lived in Manhattan, of course, she‘d have to go through the interview phase because they can‘t let just anybody into Manhattan‘s prestigious day care centers, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That‘s pretty good.  I‘m not just saying this out of envy, but is it good if you can read at 17 months. 

WOLFF:  I can‘t say.  I know those that have read at the age of two, and they are not doing all that great.  Too much information can be a bad thing, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Probably a third of your class at Harvard, the ones in rehab right now.  They started reading too young. 

WOLFF:  I can‘t comment on any of that, Tucker.  Now, to address the youth of America, one must have a lot of credibility.  So, it will be interesting to see what the teen drug use rates are not that Keith Richards has spoken out on the subject.  The legendary narcotics indulger and Rolling Stones guitarist said to the BBC that young people should, quote, skip dope. 

He said I understand the fascination, but it just ain‘t worth it, said Keith Richards, and I quote there.  He also went on to say that his lead singer, Mick Jagger is a, quote, power freak, end quote.  When asked what he thought of the Led Zeppelin reunion, he said he wasn‘t aware of it, but that “Stairway to Heaven” wasn‘t that good a song. 

So to review, don‘t do drugs, don‘t get in a power struggle with Mick Jagger, and Led Zeppelin is back together, it doesn‘t matter because “Stairway to Heaven” stinks.  There you have it from the mouth of Keith Richards. 

CARLSON:  He‘s an oracle.  That‘s been my position for many years.   

WOLFF:  He doesn‘t look a day over 120. 

CARLSON:  In that range. 

WOLFF:  When you have survived what that guy has survived, you do have a certain amount of credibility, whatever you‘re talking about. 

CARLSON:  I will listen to your body care advice. 

WOLFF:  Exactly.  Next up, we have something called daredevil behavior, not something I endorse.  There‘s a man named Elaine Robert (ph), if you can‘t speak French.  There he goes.  This guy is known as the French Spiderman.  That is San Paolo, Brazil.  It is a 46 story building, which he went up and down, Tucker.  And here is the kicker, without safety equipment.  You heard me right, he went up and down without safety equipment. 

Now there was a crowd of morbid onlookers cheering him on.  When he came down, you could see he was thrilled.  He was wearing sunglasses.  But the bad news is, the gendarmes were nearby and they gave him a ride to the local big house. 

I must say, Tucker, I cannot endorse such dangerous behavior.  Keith Richards said don‘t do drugs.  I‘m telling you, don‘t scale buildings without the requisite safety equipment. 

CARLSON:  I completely, heartily disagree. 

WOLFF:  Really?

CARLSON:  Yes, I totally admire that.  I think we should be holding up the brave, if not reckless, as examples for our kids. 

WOLFF:  Well, as the lower third would indicate, there‘s a fine line, Tucker, between fearless and stupid. 

CARLSON:  I‘m still impressed. 

WOLFF:  Impressed, I suppose.  But I‘m a man of deep seated fear.  I just want to go quietly and painlessly.  I really don‘t want to wind up severely injured or in pain. 

Finally, Tucker, we have great news about Uno the Beagle.  He was the first Beagle ever to win the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  There he is.  He is on his way home.  Before he got home, he visited 91-year-old Rose Marry Cram (ph).  That‘s Rose Mary on the couch there.  Now, Rose Mary lives in central Illinois and she told her home nurse practitioner that she‘d been in a terrible mood, terribly depressed until she saw Uno the Beagle on television. 

Uno the Beagle stops by Rose Mary‘s house and Rose Mary says, I can now leave this earth.  I can die, because I have met the great Uno.  There you go, one of the cutest dogs of all time, a happy story, gratuitously cute video for our audience in these hopeless times.  The kicker of all kickers, Tucker, Uno comes from—where do you think? 

CARLSON:  St. Louis. 

WOLFF:  Belleview, Illinois, a town well within the St. Louis metropolitan area.  I‘m not saying everything good comes from St. Louis, but there is mounting evidence that that may be true. 

CARLSON:  That‘s kind of the motto of the show.  If it‘s good for St.

Louis, it‘s good for America.  Bill Wolff, one of the great products of St.

Louis.

That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Be back here tomorrow night.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  Have a great night.

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.

Transcripts

Watch Tucker each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,