updated 4/6/2009 9:53:53 AM ET 2009-04-06T13:53:53

Guest: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Brad Blakeman, Lt. Col. John Burson, Carolyn Malony, Austan Goolsbee, Mark Halperin, Mike Barnicle

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE.  I‘m Mike Barnicle.  President Obama is in France tonight ahead of tomorrow‘s NATO summit.  And he and first lady Michelle Obama are taking the French, not known as America‘s biggest fans by storm.  The Obamas were mobbed by cheering crowds appearing with French President Nicholas Sarkozy and French first lady Carla Bruni outside the Rohan Palace in Strasbourg.  And here‘s an extraordinary sight that would have been unimaginable just a year ago.  The American president holding a town hall in France.  Today, President Obama did just that.  Assuring Europeans the era of cowboy diplomacy is over, but expecting a change in their attitude as well.


BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT:  There have been times where America‘s shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.  But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious.  Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world.

There have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what‘s bad.  On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common.  So let me say this as clearly as I can.  America is changing, but it cannot be America alone that changes.


BARNICLE:  And the 47-year-old president who got so many young Americans engaged during his campaign, today, reached out to the younger generation abroad.


OBAMA:  . we can change this world is because of men and women like the young people who are here today.  Each time we find ourselves at a crossroads, paralyzed by worn debates and stale thinking, the old ways of doing things, a new generation rises up.  We must renew this relationship for a new generation in a new century.  We must hold firm to our common values, hold firm to our faith in one another.  Together, I‘m confident, that we can achieve the promise of a new day.


BARNICLE:  The president spoke openly to the 3,000-person crowd, many of them students about feeling burdened as leader of the free world and the frustrations of living inside the presidential bubble.  And there was some humorous moments as well when Europe also wanted to know when the Obama girls are getting their puppy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I was wondering whether the dog was already in the white house or not.

OBAMA:  We are getting a dog.  This is very important question in the United States.  What kind of dog we‘re getting and when we‘re getting it.  It should be there soon.


BARNICLE:  More on the president‘s extraordinary town hall in France.  Let‘s go live to Strasbourg, Chuck Todd is there traveling with the president.  Chuck, let me ask you if, like me, back here in the states watching this, I was struck by President Obama‘s sense of presence on the international stage.  It‘s one thing in Iowa, it‘s quite another thing after meeting all these world leaders in Strasbourg.

CHUCK TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  First of all, I feel like I‘m in Iowa.  OK? 

Look at it behind me.  This could be any gymnasium.  Look at this place.  It‘s a gymnasium.  It could have been Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the high school championships are held in Lynn County.  It‘s about the same size.  You know, the lines for the bathroom are about as ugly and bad as it could be somewhere in the Midwest as it is out here.  That could be one reason he seems so comfortable.

But I‘ll tell you, that‘s an interesting observation you had.  These first four days, there has been a comfort level.  I mean, we‘ve always known this president was very confident in himself.  But there is a—he is truly comfortable being this star on the world stage.  He seems to be enjoying it.  And he‘s just—I just say he‘s probably got to be careful.  He‘s walking that line to where you cross from confident to cocky.

I don‘t think he‘s quite there at the cocky yet but he, you know, he‘s been very comfortable saying, you know, my election led to a way for other people to view us differently.

Sometimes do you wonder do you let somebody say that?  Do you let Sarkozy say that or let Brown say that?  Maybe he shouldn‘t be saying that.  But all in all, I think he truly is enjoying himself.  I mean, every president, you know—anybody who runs for president, they don‘t run for president because they want to sign these great tax writing laws or spending packages.  What are history books written about?  They‘re written about Churchill and FDR.  They‘re written about big moments on the world stage.  That‘s what your memoirs are about.  And I think he clearly sort of preening a little bit and enjoying it.

BARNICLE:  You don‘t run for president—nobody runs for president without some substance of ego involved.  But let me ask you before they play the Final Four in the gymnasium behind you over the weekend or at least that‘s what it looks like .

TODD:  More like the frozen four.  Feels more like a bean pot.  It has the intimate atmosphere here, brother.

BARNICLE:  You gave us the feeling of the president and his feeling and his presence in his four, five days in Europe so far.  Give us a sense of the excitement of the crowd.  Was that Iowa-like?  The crowd today?

TODD:  No.  No.  Iowans are more reserved.  Frankly like the Germans were today.  They were a little more reserved today.  Iowans have a lot of German ancestry in them.  Boy, the French were really excited.  You heard screaming.  One woman—average French women wanted to kiss the president even as Nicolas Sarkozy‘s famous wife, Carla Bruni, didn‘t want to kiss him, only shook his hand.  I think that gives you a sense of the sort of screaming girl excitement that you had here for the guy.

BARNICLE:  On that note, we‘ll say good night to Chuck Todd.  It‘s late over there in Europe.  Chuck, go .;

TODD:  Forty eight hours, buddy.

BARNICLE:  Go to lunch, go fill out your fantasy baseball thing, we‘ll get back to you next week.  Chuck Todd.

TODD:  That‘s happening in an hour.  OK, buddy.

BARNICLE:  So how does Team Obama think the president‘s first trip is going so far?  Joining us now, Austan Goolsbee, the greatest name in the history of economist, he is the chief economist of the president‘s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  And he joins us live from the White House.

Austan, unemployment 8.5 percent now.  630,000 more jobless last month.  The president obviously in Europe.  We heard sound bites earlier in the program.

One of the themes of this trip seems to me the president addressing some responsibility for the United States‘ role of the economic collapse in the past five or six months.  Do you think Europe is correct in lying so much blame on the United States for the economic catastrophe that has affected now the whole world?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER:  No.  If they‘re trying to put all of that on the United States, I think that is inaccurate.  It‘s clear the United States is the biggest economy in the world and it‘s clear we had, you know, a bubble then bust that has affected others.  But there have been a lot of bubbles going on all over the world.  And we got to address these problems as a group in concert.

And I think the president did a good job at this G-20 summit, they achieved far more than people expected they would be able to achieve.  Working in concert that we‘re all going to try to put forward stimulus, that we‘re all going to try to get on the same page with financial regulation.  I think things like that are pretty important.

BARNICLE:  Hey, Austan, a week ago, today, the CEOs of most of the largest banks in this country were at the White House for a glass of water and a good spanking from the president, according to press reports that I‘ve read.  And, according to some press reports the president was quoted as telling them this administration, your administration, is the only thing standing between them, the bankers, and pitchforks.  I‘m not going to ask you to address the accuracy of the quote that‘s been in a couple of reports, Politico being one of them.

But is there that sense in this administration that you are, indeed, the only one standing between the pitchforks and the big banks?

GOOLSBEE:  Well, I wasn‘t in that meeting, so as you say, I‘m not going to testify on what the exact words were.  For sure the president has been very public in his statements to the banking community and to major corporate leaders that we‘ve all got to get on the same page and we‘ve all got to be working in the same direction.  That if America feels like there‘s some small connected few who are taking advantage of the system or taking advantage of the American people, there‘s going to be a lot of anger and a lot of resentment.  And that‘s going to backfire on those—on that small group in ways that are not going to help them out.

So I think you‘ve certainly seen him take that attitude.  I don‘t think I‘d characterize it as colorfully as the pitchforks, but the view that we‘ve all got to be on the same page I think would be well-received by anybody.

BARNICLE:  You know, Austan, one of the things the president addressed today in Strasbourg was this country‘s pension for instant gratification and the idea that the fix us to the economy are going to take some time.  It‘s not going to happen in a week or two weeks.  My question to you is actually about the stimulus package that was passed now a few weeks ago.  The money in the pipeline.  Where is it?  Is it showing up yet?  I mean, we‘ve got this high unemployment rate that continues to rise, probably will rise some more during the spring.  When can people expect stimulus package money to get to their states to put people to work?

GOOLSBEE:  Well, look, that‘s a key question.  We‘ve lost more than 5 million jobs since the recession began.  And we‘ve got to get the stimulus money out as quickly as possible.

Now it is April.  We‘re starting to adjust withholding table so the tax cut portion for 95 percent of workers is going to start going out the door immediately.  You‘ve seen some of the money going to the states so that they cannot fire or they can hire more police, firemen and that sort of thing.

Much of the big programs of infrastructure and things like that will take a little longer to get out the door by the end of this year and going into next year.  You start seeing the big kick ins on those kind of things.  So it should go in kind of two to three waves.  A big wave starting now, a big wave at the end of the year and another big wave next year.

BARNICLE:  Hey, Austan, before I let you go.  When are you going to come on MONRNING JOE.

GOOLSBEE:  Any time.  Let me ask you a question.  Chuck Todd was in Strasbourg, France, and he thought he was confused he was in Iowa?  That guy needs to get back here.

BARNICLE:  I think he wants to get back.  Austan, thank you very much.  We appreciate it.

GOOLSBEE:  Take care.

BARNICLE:  The late night comics are having a field day about the president‘s trip overseas especially his gift to Queen Elizabeth.


JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST:  President Obama and first lady Michelle met the queen of England.  As a gift, they gave the queen an iPod.  And I guess she can use that while she‘s jogging.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when they were here, they gave Prime Minister Brown a DVD box set.  Looks like they‘re saving the big gift, a Nintendo for the pope.


BARNICLE:  Badabadoom.  Jay Leno.

And coming up, we‘re following the money or lack of it for another 663,000 people.  The unemployment rate Jumps to 8.5 percent.  The highest since 1983.  We‘ll talk about it with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee.

Plus, John Burson is 74 years old, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army but he‘s back on the job and serving in Afghanistan right now.  We‘ll talk to him from the war zone when we come back on 1600.


REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY, CHAIRWOMAN, JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE:  Are there any bright spots in this month‘s jobs report?

KEITH HALL, BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS:  There are few bright spots in this month‘s jobs report.

MCCARTHY:  Are there any anywhere?

HALL:  To be honest, no.  I guess one of the biggest concerns is things don‘t improve.  This is falling very quickly right now and I‘m not sure the labor market can fall any quicker than it is right now.


BARNICLE:  This is sunshine for you on a Friday night.  That‘s a pretty dire assessment of our labor market.  That was the commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics speaking before the Joint Economic Committee earlier today.  Our nation‘s unemployment is the worse it‘s been in 25 years and could get worse.  The jobless rate rose to 8.5 percent in March.  Another 660,000 people are out of work now.  More than 5 million jobs have been lost since the start of the recession.  And that suggests even worse news is coming for states that have already been hit hard by the recession.

State jobless figures are a month behind the national number.  Michigan already has 12 percent unemployment.  And Michigan isn‘t alone.  Six other states reached double digit unemployment.  North Carolina and Rhode Island had their worse month on record in February.  And California, South Carolina, Oregon and Nevada also reported rates above 10 percent.  Will these figures make it tougher for President Obama to follow through with the pledge to create 3 million jobs?

Joining us now, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York.  She is the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee that held today‘s hearing on the state of our labor market.  Congresswoman, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D) NEW YORK:  Thanks for having me, Mike.

BARNICLE:  Too off in my estimation, I land at LaGuardia Airport and I come through a good portion of your congressional district on the way into New York City and I pass through another portion of your congressional district on the east side of Manhattan.  But especially in Astoria, Queens, I feel know a lot of people who live there.  Because they are like a lot of people who I know around Greater Boston who put a lot of stuff on their credit cards over the last five or six months to keep the household going.  Those credit cards are going to come due in May or June.  They‘re not going to be able to pay them.  What happens then?

MALONEY:  We talked about it at the hearing.  That the middle class, it is showing they‘re putting more and more debt on their credit cards.  We have before Congress a bill that I authored called the Credit Card Bill of Rights that would stop the tricks and traps and most onerous practices and pricing from credit card companies and would give tools to the credit card holders to consumers to better manage their credit.  It stops any time, any reason, rate increases, the retroactive rate increases on balances, it stops charging interest on balances that have already been paid.  So passing this bill will give consumers more tools to better manage their debt, their credit.  And I think it‘s long past due.  The Federal Reserve has come out with a rule that is very similar to my bill.  They got over 66,000 comments, more than any time in history in support of it.  And they came forward with a strong rule that will go into effect in July of 2010.

But why wait?  Let‘s put the protections in place now.

BARNICLE:  Where does your bill stand?  Where is it now?

MALONEY:  It passed out of the subcommittee.  When we come back in two weeks it will be before the full committee and then go to the floor of Congress.  And it passed in the last session.  So I believe it will pass again with strong bipartisan support.

BARNICLE:  You know, on another matter that is before you and that you‘re familiar with from the Banking Committee, a thing passed two days ago, was put in effect two days ago, not a congressional thing, it was a regulatory amendment that changed the mark to market ruling.  Without having people at home tape their eyelids open while you explain it, can you put in English what mark to market is and why banks seem to like it and why the stock market shot up once this new regulation went into effect?

MALONEY:  That was the probably only good economic indicator that the stock market is up.  The mark to market rule was very strict and said you had to price them at what the market rates are.  Well, right now the markets are frozen.  That‘s why we have this large unemployment, hard to get credit.  The markets aren‘t functioning properly.  So they were marking them way, way down which put a tremendous stress on the financial institution.  We in Congress in a bipartisan way called upon FASB to come forward with a rule that was more flexible and that would really reflect the true value of the pricing if the markets were functioning in a proper way.  And the markets have reacted very positively.  I hope this rule will move forward and it‘s part of our economic recovery plan.  But the news we got today, Mike, it couldn‘t be worse.  It‘s in every sector and in every section, every state is hit.  And no good news in the unemployment numbers are staggering.  For five straight months we‘ve lost over 600,000 jobs a month.

BARNICLE:  Congresswoman, I have a quick question calling for a quick answer because we‘re running out of time.  Hank Greenberg, not the Hall of Famer but AIG‘s Hank Greenberg basically said he had nothing to do with what happened at AIG.  But nothing—What was your reaction watching that?

MALONEY:  Well, it was absolutely ridiculous.  He obviously was there when they created the risky credit default swaps.  They were deeply engaged in them.  And he was there when the risky Financial Products division was created.  So for him to say that the derivatives—he was involved in all of it.  What I thought was very interesting, the most interesting thing he said, is that he felt AIG, the country, taxpayer would have been better off if they had gone into bankruptcy.  Which I thought was an extremely interesting statement.  Some economists are saying the same thing.

BARNICLE:  Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.  We appreciate it.

MALONEY:  Thank you.

BARNICLE:  Coming up, President Obama‘s European tour.  How much is he changing America‘s image overseas?

Plus, Newt Gingrich, he‘s back.  He has a warning for fellow Republicans. 

Get your act together or say bye-bye to the conservative wing of the party. 

The panel weighs in next on 1600.



OBAMA:  In Europe there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious.  Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what‘s bad.


BARNICLE:  Welcome back.  That was President Obama at a town hall meeting in Strasbourg, France, earlier today.  On his first trip abroad, the president has taken flak from some critics for saying the United States needs to show humility and listen more to its allies.  But today he showed that change goes both ways, calling out European‘s anti-Americanism.  For more, let‘s bring in Mark Halperin, editor at large and senior political analyst for “Time” magazine, a man who has still failed to cut an enforcement deal from the Japanese company who makes the green tea that he drinks all day long.

Mark, that‘s too bad, but we‘ll get on to bigger things.

MARK HALPERIN, “TIME MAGAZINE”:  I have no announcement at this time is all I can say.

BARNICLE:  Right after the sound bite we heard the president speaking, he said this to the same group, obviously, about the anti-European attitudes in America or anti-European attitudes in Europe.  “The fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.”

He‘s having a pretty good day over in Europe, a pretty good few days.  No?

HALPERIN:  This is a very strong trip.  You can analyze these trips as a matter of theater or stagecraft.  You can also do substance.  What‘s most impressive to me.  Two things are most impressive.  There‘s been a lot that‘s been impressive.  Not just by the president but by staff and speech writers.

One thing is he‘s doing it and making it look easy.  There are a lot of talented people in the world, in this country, in all walks of life.  The really talented people do it and make it look effortless.  And so far I don‘t see this guy breaking a sweat in doing all this very impressive stuff.

The other thing impressive to me is saying this stuff, some critics have singled this out, it isn‘t about how exceptional America is, but rather somehow critical of America.  If a past Democratic president or presidential candidate had done that they would have been open to attack that would have been withering.  President Obama is doing it in a way that‘s from his heart.  It‘s what he believes.  But he does not seem politically vulnerable.  That‘s quite a trick for any president, particularly for a Democrat.

BARNICLE:  You know, actually you raised an issue that has fascinated me for the past couple of days and it‘s the cosmetics of this trip.  It his stage presence.  It‘s his astounding self-confidence.  We all know he has self-confidence.  You can‘t run for president and get elected without it.  But it‘s one thing to show it on stages here in the United States on a domestic political platform.  Yet, today, and I don‘t want to overstate this.  Watching him in that town hall meeting I began to wonder, did he ever go and look at old clips of John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan and their appearances before huge European crowds?  Because he had that it, for lack of a better phrase.  He‘s had it this entire trip.

HALPERIN:  He may not have gone to Holy Cross or Boston College, but Harvard Law, good.  He is a very worldly guy, more worldly than the guy he‘s succeeding.  Remember, a lot of people said whoever gets elected as the president succeeding George Bush, when he or she goes to Europe is going to have a pretty easy time.  He‘s not just having an easy time because he‘s following George Bush.  He‘s having an easy time because he knows what he believes.  He‘s carefully thought it through and he‘s saying it.  And these countries, not just the politicians love him because he‘s popular but even the general public loves him and, again, what summits and international trips are for presidents is thinking about the television pictures.  That‘s a big part of it.

Coming back home and in the overseas market.  And again, they‘ve thought this through so carefully in terms of when they are, and every press conference he‘s had has been masterful so far.  They have thought this through so carefully in terms of when the events are, how spaced out they are, what the message is, very strong.

And every press conference he‘s had has been masterful so far. 

BARNICLE:  You know, given his popularity both here and clearly in Europe, it makes you wonder whether he can move the meter over there on the continent, with regard to things like more support for Afghanistan, more support for our view or partially our view of what happens economically, globally going forward.  You wonder about that. 

HALPERIN:  Well, I think every issue is going to be a bit different to try to build coalitions.  Clearly, with both the French and the Germans, who are a big part of Europe, a big part of Nato, a big part of the G-20, there‘s some problems.  There‘s some real fundamental disagreements. 

Again, what‘s been so strong is the differences—they‘re not being papered over.  They‘re being talked about.  They‘re being accommodated.  He‘s trying to find a way to get movement on all sorts of things.  We‘ll never know what this trip or this—the early days of this administration would have been like were he not facing an unprecedented economic crisis; how much the focus would have been on some of these security issues, for instance.  We‘ll never know. 

I think, again, one of the really strong things—and I‘m trying not to be hyperbolic, but I think it‘s been so impressive—is the balance they‘ve struck between these economic issues, which are paramount right now, and still addressing Afghanistan, Pakistan, terror, the future role and mission of NATO and America‘s role in the world.  So important for a Democratic president to speak from the heart and not be vulnerable to political attack.  There‘s some people on the right attacking him.  It‘s not part of the mainstream dialogue as it would have been for past Democratic presidents. 

BARNICLE:  I agree with you.  I absolutely agree with you.  Mark Halperin is sticking with us.  He‘s going to have a cup of green tea and he‘s coming back. 

All charges have been dropped against former Senator Ted Stevens.  He‘s still out of a job.  Now, some of his fellow Republican in Alaska are trying to change that too. 

Plus, reporters were expecting a briefing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  But they got something a little different when they called into that 800 number they were given. 


BARNICLE:  Welcome back to 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE.  I‘m Mike Barnicle.  We‘ve been following a developing story all afternoon on MSNBC.  Just a short time ago, police wrapped up a news conference on the deadly shooting in Binghamton, New York.  A gunman opened fire in a room where immigrants were taking a citizenship test.  The shooter killed at least 13 people before reportedly turning the gun on himself.  Four others in critical condition.  New York Governor David Paterson spoke about the tragedy minutes ago. 


GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK:  Here in Binghamton, we probably have the worse tragedy and senseless crime in the history of this city.  We all just have a profound sadness and sorrow over what so many of our neighbors have had to go through today. 


BARNICLE:  Police say they do not yet have a motive for the shooting. 

Well, we‘re going to stay with that story, obviously, here at MSNBC tonight and throughout the weekend. 

But moving on now to the latest political news.  In Washington, the Justice Department dropped charges against former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens on Wednesday, citing prosecutorial misconduct.  The 85-year-old is likely to be off the hook for taking hundreds of thousands in gifts and free home renovations.  Mark Begich, who ousted Stevens from the Senate after a close race in November, was courteous to his former rival, saying, quote, I always said I didn‘t think Senator Stevens should serve time in jail, and hopefully this decision ensures that is the case.” 

To show their appreciation, the Alaska GOP said Begich shouldn‘t serve time either in the United States Senate and threatened a special election.  Yesterday, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, remember her, she chimed in, saying she wants a do-over as well.  Maybe there‘s another solution.  Here‘s a Republican representative from Palin‘s home state, Don Young. 


REP. DON YOUNG ®, ALASKA:  Personally, I would like to see him run for governor, and that‘s my personal feeling.  And so we‘ll see what happens down the line. 


BARNICLE:  Hello, Governor Palin.  That‘s not exactly a ringing endorsement for the current governor, who has had a tough month.  Back with us now, “Time Magazine” editor at large Mark Halperin.  Also with us, MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell and Republican strategist Brad Blakeman. 

Brad and Lawrence and Mark, before we get to Senator Stevens and other political stuff, Brad, I want to ask you, what‘s your take on—as a former assistant to president George W. Bush, what‘s your take on President Obama‘s trip to Europe, and what he said today about anti-European attitudes here in the country and anti-American attitudes over there in Europe? 

BRAD BLAKEMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I think the president‘s optics were spectacular, campaign-esque.  Certainly, a president who is new to the job was going to get a fantastic reception wherever he goes.  I think the whole world is excited to see our new president. 

My problem is with the deliverables, the work that was done at the summit.  I disagree with the fact that we only got a trillion dollars out of 20 countries, when we‘re putting up so much of the bill for a global problem.  In addition, I don‘t believe we should be participating in an international regulatory commission with 20 other countries, regulating the American economy. 

The optics are good.  I don‘t believe the deliverables are where they should be.  Hats off to the president for speaking frankly at the town hall meeting.  I think that was a great move by him. 

BARNICLE:  Lawrence? 

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Mike, the most important thing that happened at the meeting was the agreement not to do something.  That is to not engage in a trade war.  Reverting to protectionist policies now when your own industries are threatened domestically is the natural inclination for a lot of governments around the world. 

You have to remember, the Democratic party is the protectionist party.  When we run presidential campaigns on the Democratic side, they all pander about how they‘re guest Nafta and they‘re against these different trade agreements.  Then when they get in office, they become adults about it and they continue the standard policy on trade. 

That‘s what you‘re seeing this president do.  Having pandered, like all the rest of the Democrats do in the Democratic primary, he‘s now taking this responsible world view of the importance of international trade and preserving it.  That‘s, more than anything else, what that meeting was about, to head off a trade war.  That meeting succeeded on that, at least.

BARNICLE:  Brad, don‘t you think it‘s a good thing that he went over there and didn‘t, you know, stick his thumb—his American thumb in the European eye, which he went out of his way not to do? 

BLAKEMAN:  No, I don‘t think we should do that.  On the other hand, we shouldn‘t go there hat in hand and say, we apologizes, it‘s all our fault. 

O‘DONNELL:  He didn‘t say that.  He didn‘t say that. 

BLAKEMAN:  No, he didn‘t.  But his actions—look, the fact he didn‘t get the deliverables we should have gotten tells me—

O‘DONNELL:  What were we looking for?  What were you looking for in. 

BLAKEMAN:  What I was looking for was the president to say absolutely no to an international regulatory commission that will affect American business.  We‘re not into that.  And also, Europe‘s got to step up to the plate more.  It‘s their responsibility as much as it is ours the financial condition that affects them.  They should be required to foot more of the bill, not America. 

BARNICLE:  Mark, what‘s your take on this? 

HALPERIN:  Well, personally I‘m still trying to figure out if international regulation is a good idea or necessary.  There‘s clearly no consensus on it, not just the United States, but amongst Europeans and around the world.  I do think that part of what everybody wants is confidence in the system.  A lot of what Obama is doing at home now is trying to restore confidence in our financial system. 

I think we need not just for citizens, but even perhaps in this case more important, for elite players, for business people, for international financial people, a sense that markets will be stable worldwide.  Maybe Blakeman is right, international regulation is too much.  I do think there needs to be a more stable system, where the rules of the game seem transparent and fair. 

BARNICLE:  Lawrence, I mean, you‘re familiar with all of this stuff.  You worked in the Senate for a long time.  You‘re familiar with the tax code.  You‘re familiar with regulatory systems.  I mean, clearly the president of the United States didn‘t go over on this trip in order to be surprised.  Most of this stuff was laid out well in advance, don‘t you think? 

O‘DONNELL:  Oh, yes.  There were no surprises.  They knew exactly what was going to be in there.  With all these trips, you always know what‘s going to be in the final document before you get there.  There‘s nothing in there that‘s uncomfortable for Obama.  All the talk of regulation in their final document is optional for every country.  They‘re just going to come out with some guidelines about certain kinds of regulation that they think are inadequate in certain ways. 

Now, Obama has made it clear we‘re going to do our own regulations.  We‘re not interested in whatever the Europeans have to suggestion to us on that. 

BARNICLE:  Bard, you don‘t really believe that this president of the

United States is going to allow some guy sitting in the Hague to sit over-

in terms of authority, like the FDIC here, do you? 

BLAKEMAN:  Look, i hope not.  Based on what we‘ve seen in the last 60 some days, anything is possible.  The amount of spending that the Democrats have done, the fact that we passed bills for literally a trillion dollars without reading the bill—nobody read the bill.  Yet, it was signed because the president wanted it done and Harry Reid and Pelosi.  That troubles me. 

If you told me a year ago that would happen, I would say it‘s impossible, but it did. 

BARNICLE:  Don‘t you think there are some Republicans in there who should have gone to the reading course as well? 

BLAKEMAN:  Look, if we were given the time, we certainly would have read it.  Like Barack Obama said, there would be a five-day window of opportunity to review the bill.  That didn‘t happen. 

HALPERIN:  Brad, did you oppose the Tarp bill that President Bush supported? 

BLAKEMAN:  I did.  I don‘t think we should have been throwing money with a gun to our head at institutions that had threatened failure.  I don‘t believe we should have done that.  I don‘t believe we should continue on that course.  I don‘t believe we should be passing trillions of dollars of debt on to our children and grandchildren without knowing what we‘re voting for. 

BARNICLE:  Brad, quick, you know something, we‘ll get back to that.  Come back in a couple of blocks.  I‘ll give you a couple minutes to think about how we got to, as you describe it, this potential failure.  Did the regulatory system or lack of regulations have anything to do with it?  You get a good four or five minutes to read the bill and think about it. 

Up next, he‘s 74 year old.  He‘s retired.  And right now he‘s serving in Afghanistan.  We‘ll talk with Lieutenant Colonel John Burson about his third trip to a war zone in the past few years. 

Plus, why Vladimir Putin‘s black Labrador might soon be living in the dog house.  But first, a little late-night fun at the queen‘s expense. 


JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  What is the big deal about somebody breaching protocol with the queen?  Who cares about protocol? 

JON OLIVER, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Jon, this isn‘t a protocol issue.  You don‘t know? 


OLIVER:  It‘s the queen.  The queen is p—

STEWART:  What, Jon? 

OLIVER:  She‘s poisonous. 

STEWART:  What?  You‘re not supposed to touch the queen because she‘s poisonous? 

OLIVER:  Oh, she‘s deadly poisonous, Jon.  She oozes toxin from every pore of her being line sulfur from the rim of the devil‘s own volcano.


BARNICLE:  Welcome back to 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE.  Tomorrow‘s NATO summit is likely to focus on the reluctance of its member states to offer the U.S. assistance to Afghanistan.  Today, President Obama tried to persuade Europeans, who have been very reluctant to send their troops into combat in Afghanistan, that the United States‘ mission there is targeted and necessary. 


OBAMA:  Understand, we would not deploy our own troops if this mission was not indispensable to our common security.  We have no interest in occupying Afghanistan.  We have more than enough to do in rebuilding America. 


BARNICLE:  Our next guest is serving his third tour overseas since 2005, when he was amongst several doctors charged with a non-forgettable assignment, to keep watch over Saddam Hussein.  Retired Lieutenant John Burson thought he had hung up his uniform for good when he retired in 1985.  Then he got an e-mail from the army surgeon general seeking volunteers and he hasn‘t looked back. 

He‘s an ear, nose and throat doctor, currently serving with a unit of the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan.  Joining us by phone now from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan is Lieutenant Colonel John Burson.  Doctor, we‘re going to have a little bit of a time delay here in the response, but we appreciate you joining us.  Thank you for your service.  Why did you want to go back to a war zone? 

LT. COL. JOHN BURSON, M.D., US ARMY:  Thank you, Mike.  I get asked that question a lot.  I guess the quick and dirty answer is that I owe a real debt to all those people who went before me.  And they did great sacrifices so I could live the American dream.  In a very quick way, I guess that‘s the way I would characterize why I‘m here today. 

BARNICLE:  Tell me about—excuse me.  Tell me about your average day.  What you do, when you wake up, what is available to you, hot showers, hot food, Internet, e-mail, things like that? 

BURSON:  OK.  We‘re (INAUDIBLE) my typical day, I usually get up around 6:00 or 6:30.  We have hot showers.  (INAUDIBLE) The water is hot.  It‘s very good.  I go to our (INAUDIBLE), which is the current nomenclature for a chow hall, and have a very good meal.  The food is extremely good here. 

Then I walk across the street to the battalion aid station.  I‘m the only MD here for this FOB.  I get to see most of the patients who come in.  We have about 12 or 13 medics who take care of soldiers who are injured.  We have local nationals that we take care of and contractors.  So my typical day is seeing those patients who come in for routine medical care.  as well as any trauma that occurs. 

You do see quite a few local nationals who are injured on the job or injured at home.  For some reason, we have a large number of gun injuries to young children over here.  We‘re the closest facility.  So we see a lot of burn injuries.  That‘s kind of a quick look at my day. 

BARNICLE:  Colonel, in terms of the local nationals who you treat and who you deal with, what percentage of them, when they come to see you, whether it‘s for a burn, a headache, a bad cut, a break broken arm, what percentage do you think it‘s their first time seeing a doctor? 

BURSON:  They do have a local health system here.  I think it‘s generally pretty poorly run.  I would say 50 percent of those I would say it‘s the first time they‘ve seen a doctor.  It‘s very difficult for them to get into the local health care system.  They do have a hospital here, but that is very limited for the local nationals. 

BARNICLE:  When you were in Iraq, colonel, and you monitored Saddam Hussein during the last months of his life—this might sound like a ridiculous question—but did you like him? 

BURSON:  He was a very likable guy.  I characterize him—like being in the room like a typical politician, like a Bill Clinton.  He had a lot of charisma about him.  He really loved the Americans.  He did a lot of dastardly things.  But he was a very pleasant guy to be around. 

BARNICLE:  Colonel Burson, I want to thank you for joining us.  Your service represents who we are more than a lot of what we do.  We appreciate it very much.  Thank you very much. 

Up next, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a phone briefing about the upcoming NATO summit.  But unfortunately most of the reporters missed it.  It seems there was a bit of the mixup with the 800 number.  You‘re not going to believe what the White House gave them to dial.  We‘ll explain when we come back on 1600.


BARNICLE:  Welcome back to 1600.  There‘s a lot going on today.  Here are a few things we thought you should know.  As President Obama once said, Vice President Joe Biden is prone to, quote, rhetorical flourishes.  Well, we love Joe, but he almost made another one last night, but caught himself before it happened.  Take a listen to what he said at the 21st Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner at the Hilton in Washington, D.C.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Some of the guys from Delaware I know, you know, humanity is a hard word to associate with, you know what I mean?  But the truth of the matter is, as gruff and tough as you all act, as bad—as—I keep forgetting I‘m not back in my fire hall. 


BARNICLE:  That‘s why we love Joe.  The vice president wasn‘t as lucky last time around.  Last month, a microphone caught him dropping the F-bomb at an event announcing stimulus funds for Amtrak.  I drop the F-bomb every time I ride Amtrak.  So it‘s no big deal.

A big whoops from the White House, reporters trying to dial into a foreign policy briefing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser General Jim Jones were solicited for phone sex instead.  A woman with a sultry voice greeted the callers, asking if they had any hidden desires.  I bet they did.  If so, whip out a credit card.  After a few phone calls to the White House, they updated the phone number. 

They say an aide accidentally mistyped the 800 number.  OK.

But my favorite story this week, the 28-year-old guy from Ohio who was charged with drunk driving after crashing his motorized bar stool.  The bar stool was powered by a deconstructed lawn mower and could go up to 38 miles an hour.  Kyle Lydle (ph) was hospitalized for minor injuries and was only arrested after he told police he had 15 beers before crashing his bar stool.  He plead not guilty to the charges.  He‘s requesting a jury trial.  Wouldn‘t you love to be seated on that jury on your bar stool? 

Now, the panel is back, Mark Halperin, Lawrence O‘Donnell and Brad Blakeman, who has had plenty of time to read the bill and answer the questions.  What happened to the regulatory agencies, the financial watch dogs, under the administration of George W. Bush?  Did they not play a role in this? 

BLAKEMAN:  I think they did play a role in this.  Dumb and dumber played a role in it too, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.  Before the president should fire the head of an American corporation, he should get rid of those two.  They were clearly asleep at the switch as well.  Enough blame to go around. 

BARNICLE:  Brad, you get it now, right?  Their constituents—the president—the Constitution exists.  A president can‘t fire a senator or a Congressman. 

BLAKEMAN:  He‘s not supposed to fire a corporate executive of a private corporation but he did that. 

BARNICLE:  Lawrence, some thoughts here? 

O‘DONNELL:  Look, the SEC was weakened under George W. Bush.  That‘s very clear.  There‘s no real dispute on that record.  That‘s part of our big problem now. 

BARNICLE:  Well, we‘ve got to go.  This show just went by like that.  I appreciate it.  That‘s the view from 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE.  Mark, I appreciate you being here too.  I‘m Mike Barnicle.  Thanks for watching. 

Reminder, “THE ED SHOW” premieres Monday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, only on MSNBC, the place for politics.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.



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